Ammo Test: Cutting Edge PHD Handgun Loads

The handgun bullet has gone through quite a few changes since the development of Mr. Colt’s revolver, but the goal has always been the same: to deliver the best terminal ballistics available. This is what the folks at Cutting Edge Bullets are trying to do with their Personal Home Defense (PHD) line of ammunition that features the company’s HG Raptor bullets. The bullets are a solid copper design, feature a very deep hollow-point, and are skived to promote quick expansion. The bullets are designed to cause 1 to 2 inches of severe impact trauma while the skived portion of the bullet (along the sides of the hollow-point) breaks off into four small “blades” that radiate into the target, while the base of the bullet, which remains at caliber diameter, penetrates deeply.

Ammo Test: Cutting Edge PHD Ammo
Cutting Edge Bullets’ PHD line of ammunition uses the company’s HG Raptor bullets, which are a solid copper design with a very deep hollow point.

Being an all-copper design, the bullets are lighter than lead-core bullets of the same length, and thus can be driven to a higher velocity to create a greater impact. Loads in .45ACP—long loaded with a 230-grain bullet as well as with with 200- and 185-grain projectiles-- have a 150-grain bullet. It leaves the muzzle at 1,050 fps, developing just over 400 ft.-lbs. of energy. Likewise, the .40 S&W, 9mm Luger, and .380 Auto ammo feature bullets that are lighter than usual.

At the Range

In ballistic gelatin, the PHD loads performed exactly as advertised, with huge initial wound channels and deep penetration from the bullet base, as Cutting Edge refers to it. I shot some of the .45ACP loads into several thick phonebooks, and while the penetration was very deep, the bullet didn’t expand at all. (I suppose if you had to defend yourself against an armored librarian there might be cause for concern, but I’m not worrying.) The bullet performed well in the gel tests and they opened well when I shot them into sheetrock.

The PHD ammo performed well on two out of three mediums, but is it accurate?

Ammo Test: Cutting Edge PHD Ammo
HG Raptor bullets are designed to give 1 to 2 inches of severe impact trauma, as the skived portions of the bullet (along the sides of the hollow-point) allow four small “blades” to break off and penetrate separately from the base of the bullet after impact.

In my tests, the .45ACP ammo printed 2- to 3-inch, five-shot groups at 10 yards. The .40S&W and 9mm loads were in the same ballpark. This gives more than sufficient accuracy for a defensive carry round. Velocities for the .45 ACP matched claims: 1,043 fps measured versus 1,050 fps advertised. The .40S&W ran about 80 fps faster than the advertised 1,150 fps, but the 9mm ran 100 fps slower than the advertised 1,350 fps. As the muzzle velocity on the company’s ammunition boxes does not specify test barrel length, the velocity variations I found could easily be attributed to the difference in test guns, as a longer barrel gives more time for gun powder to speed up a bullet.

I found the recoil with these loads to be more than manageable. Also, the lighter bullets seemed to minimize the muzzle jump, making it that much easier to reacquire the target.

The best endorsement I can give the Cutting Edge HG Raptors is that I carry them in my own handgun. I’m a believer.

video by M. Everett Groppi III