Best 10mm Ammo By:

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Maybe you’re a longtime fan of the 10mm or maybe you’re new to it, attracted by the recent increase in 10mm handguns being released. Whatever the case, there’s always more to learn, and it’s well worth figuring out the best 10mm ammunition for your needs. After all, no ammunition is designed the same, and there are numerous applications for this fantastic cartridge. We’ve compiled a list of the best 10mm ammo for specific tasks and we’re going to share it with you. 

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The History of 10mm

The 10mm Auto is the result of the late Colonel Jeff Cooper’s desire to have a big bore defensive caliber that outdid his 45 ACP (basically). Cooper founded the American Pistol Institute—now known as Gunsite Academy—and was actually the gun guy behind quite a few cartridges and guns. When it came to the creation of 10mm, Cooper specifically wanted a cartridge loaded with a 200 grain bullet that delivered superior velocity, and he wanted it as the ideal self-defense option. After all, such a cartridge would also offer an improved trajectory over the 45 ACP, not to mention energy transfer on target. 

In 1982, Jeff Cooper, former Guns and Ammo editor Whit Collins, and pistolsmith Irving Stone set out to design the new cartridge. This was accomplished by cutting down a 30 Remington case to 0.992-inches (the original case length of the 30 Remington is 2.06-inches). They then loaded the cartridge with a .40-caliber bullet. Keep in mind the 40 Smith & Wesson hadn’t yet been designed. Once they had the cartridge, it was time to find a manufacturer to produce it.

This is where the history of the 10mm gets a bit convoluted. According to Dornaus & Dixon Enterprises, they played a key role in the design of the 10mm and just happened to end up teaming up with Cooper. In the company’s 1984 catalog, they wrote:

Dornaus & Dixon Enterprises was formed in December 1979 with the combined efforts of two men, Thomas F. Dornaus and Michael W. Dixon, who had decided to build what they hoped would be the heir to the Colt .45 Auto. In January 1980, they went seeking advice from the most knowledgeable sources available. This effort naturally led to Jeff Cooper. Upon seeking his advice, it was discovered that Jeff Cooper, likewise, was working on such an arm. It was decided that Dornaus & Dixon and Jeff Cooper would join forces, with Jeff Cooper providing conceptual design criteria, as well as technical advice based on his vast practical experience, and Dornaus & Dixon providing the engineering, development, manufacturing, and marketing expertise. To retain his professional objectiveness, Jeff Cooper is not an employee of Dornaus & Dixon Enterprises, nor does he have any authority in the manufacturing of the Bren Ten.

On July 15, 1981, Dornaus & Dixon Enterprises, Inc. became a legal entity and was incorporated by the Secretary of State, in the State of California. On November 1, 1982, the manufacturing facility was dedicated in Huntington Beach, California.

We do know Cooper was already well into the design of the 10mm when he ended up in contact with Dornaus & Dixon. Somewhere in that process, Dornaus & Dixon went to another manufacturer for help with Cooper’s design. In the end it was Norma Precision AB—a manufacturer that was known in 1982 as FFV Norma AB—that took on fine-tuning and mass producing the 10mm. Unfortunately, the 10mm may have been a bit ahead of its time, and it wasn’t exactly met with instant popularity. In fact, it took an entirely new generation of shooters to start bringing the 10mm into more widespread use.

Best 10mm Ammo

Barnes VOR-TXCheck Price
Hornady Handgun HunterCheck Price
Buffalo Bore Heavy OutdoorsmanCheck Price
Remington UMCCheck Price
Federal Premium PunchCheck Price

In the tables below you can find the general specifications of our top picks for 10mm ammo.

We’ve selected different loads that are suited to a variety of purposes. The best 10mm ammo by category is:

  • Best versatile 10mm load: Barnes VOR-TX 10mm 155 grain TAC-XP
  • Best handgun hunting 10mm load: Hornady Handgun Hunter 10mm 135 grain MonoFlex
  • Best heavy 10mm load: Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 grain FN
  • Best target 10mm load: Remington UMC 10mm 180 grain FMJ
  • Best self-defense 10mm load: Federal Premium Punch 10mm 200 grain JHP

Best versatile 10mm load: Barnes VOR-TX 10mm 155 grain TAC-XP Barnes VOR-TX 10mm 155 grain TAC-XP

Barnes VOR-TX 10mm 155 grain TAC-XP

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Barnes VOR-TX 10mm 155 grain TAC-XP Specs

  • Bullet Type TAC-XP
  • Bullet Weight 155 grain
  • Muzzle Velocity 1150 fps
  • Muzzle Energy 455 ft-lbs

Best versatile 10mm load: Barnes VOR-TX 10mm 155 grain TAC-XP

Here’s how these loads work and why we think they’re great choices for the suggested applications (if not more). 

Best versatile 10mm load: Barnes VOR-TX 10mm 155 grain TAC-XP

Barnes is renowned for their high-quality bullet designs and top-performing ammunition, and their VOR-TX 10mm load is yet another fantastic choice. Barnes VOR-TX 10mm 155 grain TAC-XP can be used for hunting, self-defense, and even range time—if you want to put a bit more money into the ammo you use for practice. 

This ammo features a solid copper bullet that’s designed to double in size on impact. It also offers excellent weight retention. And thanks to its energy transfer capabilities, it works quite well for hunting. It’s also a precise load, especially out of a five-inch barrel, and remains accurate even at longer distances. Felt recoil from this load is not excessive but is about as you’d expect from a 10mm. Fired through a variety of guns, this ammo stays accurate and gets back on target fast. It’s not a load that recoils so heavily that you’re going to struggle to re-acquire your target, and that’s important for both self-defense and hunting purposes.

Of course, this is also a cleaner-shooting load thanks to the copper bullet. Cases are Boxer primed and reloadable, so if you’re a handloader, you’re good to go. Other details you might want to know include the fact that it has a ballistic coefficient of 0.189 and muzzle velocity of 1150 feet per second. Muzzle energy is 455 foot-pounds. While this is favored by a lot of handgun hunters, it really can do whatever you want, whether that’s self-defense, target practice, or ringing steel at 100 yards.

Barnes VOR-TX 10mm 155 grain TAC-XP Deals

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Best handgun hunting 10mm load: Hornady Handgun Hunter 10mm 135 grain MonoFlex Hornady Handgun Hunter 10mm 135 grain MonoFlex

Hornady Handgun Hunter 10mm 135 grain MonoFlex

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Hornady Handgun Hunter 10mm 135 grain MonoFlex Specs

  • Type MonoFlex (HP)
  • Bullet Weight 135 grain
  • Muzzle Velocity 1315 fps
  • Muzzle Energy 518 ft-lbs

Best handgun hunting 10mm load: Hornady Handgun Hunter 10mm 135 grain MonoFlex

Perhaps the greatest handgun hunting-specific load to hit the market is Hornady Handgun Hunter 10mm 135 grain MonoFlex. It really comes as no surprise that Hornady would produce a carefully designed line of handgun hunting ammo, and this 10mm offering is great. This load has proven itself on raccoons, feral hogs, and deer, making it a good choice for pest control or putting meat in the freezer.

Hornady 10mm 135 grain MonoFlex does have a lighter bullet than many—if not most—10mm loads, but that doesn’t stop it from superior performance on target. This load features the company’s MonoFlex bullet which is made with a copper alloy and promises an average of 95 percent weight retention. A red elastomer is placed in the mouth of the hollow point for the purpose of aiding in expansion and keeping the hollow point free of debris on impact. It expands reliably, retains weight, and penetrates deeply even through tougher feral hog hides.

So, how does it feel? Hornady’s 10mm Handgun Hunter load produces less felt recoil than a vast number of 10mm options. With reduced felt recoil and a lesser degree of muzzle rise, this load is easy to control and keep on target during rapid fire. It has a ballistic coefficient of 0.101 and a muzzle velocity of 1315 feet per second. 

Hornady Handgun Hunter 10mm 135 grain MonoFlex Deals

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Best heavy 10mm load: Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 grain FN Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 grain FN : Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 grain FN

Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 grain FN

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Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 grain FN Specs

  • Type Hard Cast FN
  • Weight 220 grain
  • Velocity 1200 fps
  • Muzzle Energy 703 ft-lbs

Best heavy 10mm load: Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 grain FN

Dedicated 10mm fans are always looking for a full-power load. That’s because most of the 10mm ammo on the market today simply doesn’t utilize the truly heavy bullets or deliver the enormous energy of the earlier options. Buffalo Bore makes some of the best heavy loads available, and that includes their 10mm offerings. Their heaviest is the Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 229 grain FN. This is a hard cast load with a flat nose bullet, and while that might seem contrary to the usual use of soft points or hollow points for hunting, it works quite well on game (including dangerous game).

Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 grain FN has more available ballistic data than really any ammo. That’s because the company takes the time to do extensive testing and goes ahead and publishes the results to their site. This particular load has data listed from use in three guns: a Glock 20, a Colt Delta Elite, and a Para Ordnance 1911. Buffalo Bore states this is the heaviest bullet that can be run through a 10mm.

As you might expect, this ammunition does have significant felt recoil and muzzle rise. However, it’s still entirely possible to get it back on target with relative speed. This ammo is made to break bone and penetrate deeply, so yes, it’s an option for hunting. If you want a heavy 10mm load, this or another Buffalo Bore load will be ideal for you. This load has a muzzle velocity of 1200 feet per second and muzzle energy of 703 pounds. However, that’s dependent on the gun you’re firing it through—it can move faster and produce even greater energy out of guns with five-inch barrels (or longer). Buffalo Bore states this ammo works just fine in 10mm pistols that are in good working condition (in case you were wondering if your gun can handle it).

Buffalo Bore Heavy Outdoorsman 10mm 220 grain FN Deals

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Best target 10mm load: Remington UMC 10mm 180 grain FMJ Remington UMC 10mm 180 grain FMJ : Remington UMC 10mm 180 grain FMJ

Remington UMC 10mm 180 grain FMJ

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Remington UMC 10mm 180 grain FMJ

  • Type Hard Cast FN
  • Bullet Weight 180 grain
  • Muzzle Velocity 1150 fps
  • Muzzle Energy 529 ft-lbs

Best target 10mm load: Remington UMC 10mm 180 grain FMJ

It gets pricey to burn defensive and heavy loads for practice, so it’s a good idea to have a quality target load on hand. Remington UMC 10mm 180 grain FMJ is a fantastic choice for range use and plinking. It’s well-made, relatively clean shooting, and reliable. These are full metal jacket loads, meaning they do not expand on target and are not meant for self-defense or hunting purposes. What they’re great for is getting 10mm trigger time with a heavier bullet and honing your handgun skills.

Remington UMC 10mm 180 grain FMJ utilizes Kleanbore primers for cleaner use and consistent ignition. It’s loaded in Lonoke, Arkansas according to exacting tolerances and has years of proven performance backing it. This load doesn’t produce unmanageable felt recoil or muzzle rise and is, in fact, a fairly moderate option. That makes it a solid choice for getting more affordable 10mm trigger time. 

This target load has a muzzle velocity of 1150 feet per second that drops to 1103 feet per second at 25 yards and 1063 feet per second at 50 yards. It has a listed muzzle energy of 529 foot-pounds which lowers to 486 foot-pounds at 25 yards. When it’s right on target at 25 yards it has a drop rate of -0.9 inches at 50 yards and -3.7 inches at 75 yards. Overall this is a quality, reliable choice for range use.

Remington UMC 10mm 180 grain FMJ Deals

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Best self-defense 10mm load: Federal Premium Punch 10mm 200 grain JHP Federal Premium Punch 10mm 200 grain JHP : Federal Premium Punch 10mm 200 grain JHP

Federal Premium Punch 10mm 200 grain JHP

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Federal Premium Punch 10mm 200 grain JHP Specs

  • Type JHP
  • Bullet Weight 200 grain
  • Muzzle Velocity 1100 fps
  • Muzzle Energy 537 ft-lbs

Best self-defense 10mm load: Federal Premium Punch 10mm 200 grain JHP

There’s some debate regarding whether 10mm can or should be used for self-defense (spoiler alert: it can). One of the newer loads on the market that delivers superior performance for defensive use is Federal Premium Punch 10mm 200 grain JHP. This ammunition was specifically designed for self-defense applications and it really does provide stellar terminal performance.

Federal Premium Punch 10mm 200 grain JHP is made for a balanced result combining penetration and expansion. It retains weight well and expands to create a significant wound cavity, which is what you need to stop a threat. These loads use new brass and a primer seal. With a 200 grain bullet you also get better energy transfer than many 10mm self-defense loads. Felt recoil with this ammo is stout but manageable and it is possible to rapid-fire a nice five-shot group at 25 yards.

This ammo produces a muzzle velocity of 1100 feet per second and muzzle energy of 537 foot-pounds. When it’s sighted at 25 yards, it has a drop rate of -1.0-inch at 50 yards and -3.9-inches at 75 yards. That really is a good trajectory, especially for defensive purposes which are most likely to take place at close range. This is reliable ammo that expands consistently and is a solid option for your 10mm carry gun.

Federal Premium Punch 10mm 200 grain JHP Deals

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The 10mm bottom line

10mm is a cartridge worth having whether you’re focused on self-defense, hunting, or plinking. It’s versatile and capable of taking all manner of pests and game. There’s also a vast array of 10mm handguns on the market including polymer, striker-fired models and 1911s. It’s well worth having a 10mm—or maybe multiple 10mms—and that means you need the right ammo to feed it. 

What’s your favorite 10mm ammo? Do you think we missed one? Share your thoughts in the comments.