by Josef Riekers

photography by Josef Riekers

April 1st, 2008




Over the past 20 years I have been forced to carry certain guns loaded with specific ammunition based on agency regulations.  Once upon a time it was NYPDís intuition that forced upon me a 6 shooter with lead semi wadcutter ammo.  Not even plus P, the loads gave us the impression the bureaucrats didnít want us to hurt anybody too badly. 

The handguns have evolved over time along with the ammunition selection.  Iíve been with the same Federal agency for the past decade and finally I like the choices they have made for me as far as my duty weapon and my duty ammunition.  Given unlimited resources and no restrictions, I might go with a different handgun but I probably would still stick with the current issued ammunition.  That ammo is the CCI (Speer) Gold Dot 165 grain in .40S&W caliber. 

I have used tens of thousands of rounds of Gold Dot in both 9mm and .40 with absolute satisfaction.  I havenít used more than a few thousand in .45ACP but the results have been equally pleasant.  The reliability with issued Glock 23ís has been perfect.  Not a single malfunction has been due to ammunition problems.  Accuracy is outstanding and tactical characteristics like muzzle flash and penetration are among the best Iíve experienced in extensive testing. 

I carry a Kahr PM40 as my personal handgun and my wife carries a PM9.  Both have been fed a steady diet of Gold Dot without any problems.  The performance of the ammo in these compact pistols is consistent with that which I have witnessed from hundreds of service Glock 23ís .  In spite of offering special short barrel ammunition with Gold Dot bullets I have had nothing but perfection with the standard Gold Dot 165 grain 40 caliber or 124 grain 9mm in either of our Kahr pistols.  No other ammunition out of the dozen different types I have tried have proved 100% reliable in the Kahrs.

I once stumbled upon an axis deer on our Texas concession that I had never seen before.  I guessed him to sport nearly 30 inch antlers and he was only 24 yards facing away from me.  I leveled the Glock sights behind his leg and took up all the ďGlock SlackĒ from the trigger.  When he stepped to his left a bit more I sent the 165 grain Gold Dot through both of his lungs and into the front of his opposite shoulder.  After a short sprint of 20 yards into the brush he fell dead.  The buck weighed 210 pounds live weight.  I found the bullet just under the hide in a textbook mushroom configuration.  The penetration was approximately 17 inches.  That is a pretty close representation of a full sized human wearing a lightweight jacket. 

Now the Government picked different ammo for us.  Winchester just won a huge $54 Million contract, primarily with the Department of Justice and those Agencies under the DOJ umbrella.  It is reported that this is the biggest single ammunition contract in the history of Federal law enforcement.   Part of this deal was the inclusion of training, reduced lead and frangible ammunition along with the duty carry ammo.

The new .40 caliber ammunition will feature a 180 grain bullet with a bonded core construction and jacketed hollow point.  In testing, the bullet performed admirably against heavy clothing, wallboard, plywood, steel and auto glass.

I have very high hopes for the new Winchester ammunition.  From 1993-1998 I carried Winchester's 180 grain Black Talon ammunition that later became the Ranger "Law Enforcement Only" ammunition when Black Talon was dubbed politically incorrect.  At the time I supervised a squad that was involved in nearly a dozen shootings in that same time frame.  Those Winchester bullets resulted in some very dead bad guys with a minimum of Hollywood stunt moves. 

I used a Glock 23 with a 180 grain Black Talon to take a 170 pound whitetail deer that walked within 20 yards of my tree stand.  The bullet hit right in the center of the shoulder and the deer took three steps backwards and fell over dead.  The bullet passed though leaving a very noticeable exit hole between the neck and shoulder.

I have some concerns about the new Winchesters in my Kahr pistols.  I have not found any ammo other than my beloved CCI Gold Dot in 165 grain that has never contributed to a pistol malfunction in that gun.  My wifeís Kahr will gobble up Gold Dot 124 grains and seems to have a sweet tooth for Winchester 147 grain sub-sonic loads too.  I hope these new Winchester prove to be just as reliable in the stubby little Kahrs.  Just about anything works well in the Glock as far as function, but only time will tell what the actual downrange performance and terminal capability will be. 

Regardless of actual performance, I will have to learn to live with the new Winchester loads once they are standard issued ammunition.  If I can get my Kahrs to take a liking to them that would be awesome too.  I hate to switch ammo because I adhere to the ďif it ain't broke donít fix itĒ rule, but if anyone has the ability, technology, research and experience to produce a round as good or superior to my favorites, it is Winchester Ammunition.  

Joe Riekers


Ed. Note:

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Click pictures for a larger version.


210-pound Axis deer taken with Speer's 165 grain Gold Dot ammo.





170-pound Whitetail deer taken with Winchester's 180 grain Black Talon ammo.