July 23, 2021

Federal Premium HST vs. Hornady Critical Defense

Self Defense Vs

Federal Premium and Hornady Manufacturing Company are two of the most reputable ammunition manufacturers on the market. Both companies have received contracts from the DoJ, FBI, and other federal agencies for various types of ammunition. While both companies have proven their worth over the years, we’re left to wonder which of the two provides the best self-defense ammunition. To determine which company provides the best value for self-defense shooters, we’ve decided to compare the most common handgun ammunition on the market: 9mm. Let’s compare the specs of the Federal Premium HST 9mm Luger round and the Hornady 9mm Luger Critical Defense FTX® round.

Federal Premium

Federal Premium HST

Originally created to meet the standards set by law enforcement agencies, the Federal Premium HST round was originally created to be used only by law enforcement officers. However, in 2015 Federal Premium released a variation of HST for civilian purchase under their Premium Personal Defense line. These rounds are marketed towards individuals interested in ammunition specially designed for use in self-defense situations, and they have a higher price point to prove it.


  • The Federal Premium HST 9mm Luger weighs in at 147 grains.
  • Features a nickel plated case which is easier to see in low-light situations.
  • Is made for use in pistols with a 4-5 inch barrel length.
    • Federal does sell a micro variant of the HST 9mm Luger made for sub-compact handguns which are more typically used in self-defense. The propellant used in these rounds produced a smaller flash (which should give you better accuracy in low-light situations).
  • Features a hollow point tip.
  • The 9mm HST rounds have a higher price point than your average 9mm round. A box of 20 rounds is going to set you back $35.99 before tax. The micro rounds sell at the same price point.


Critical Defense FTX®

The Hornady 9mm Luger Critical Defense FTX® was specifically created with self-defense in mind. The Critical Defense line was never made to meet the standards set by law enforcement because it was never envisioned for use outside of personal defense. Instead, Hornady has worked to perfect its self-defense line so civilians have an exceptional ammo variation available for purchase.


  • The 9mm Luger Critical Defense weighs 115 grains.
  • Bullets casings are plated in nickel so they’re easy to see in low-light situations.
  • Is made specifically for sub-compact handguns with a 2-3 inch barrel length.
  • Uses a low flash propellant for superior visibility and performance.
  • Uses patented FTX® technology that reduces the bullet’s clogging when it comes in contact with heavy fabric. This provides more consistent bullet penetration and expansion than the average hollow point bullet.
  • The 9mm Luger Critical Defense FTX® rounds also have a higher price point than the average 9mm bullet. A box of 25 rounds costs $29.99 before tax.



Hornady’s proprietary FTX® technology eliminates the issues common in hollow-point bullets (which the Federal Premium HST round uses). In a self-defense situation, you want a bullet that expands once it penetrates your target; this increases the damage done to the attacker and increases the chance of immobilization. The FTX® round was made with this in mind. FTX® rounds are also cheaper, only costing $1.20 per round compared to the $1.80 per round cost of Federal Premium’s HST. The FTX® round is 33% cheaper. While both the Federal Premium HST and Hornady Critical Defense FTX® rounds are high quality and deliver the results you need to defend yourself, the Hornady Critical Defense provides a greater value due to its lower cost and proprietary FTX® technology.

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