Hornady Critical Defense / Duty / Zombie differences


I recently received some of the Hornady Critical Duty in 9mm, 9mm+P and .40S&W (they only offer those 3 calibers for the “Critical Duty” line) and I took some photos to show the minor differences with the “Duty” as compared to the “Defense”:

On the left is the 115gr Zombie Max, a 115gr Critical Defense, and then a 135gr Critical Duty. The Critical Duty bullet is certainly longer, and the pulled bullet photo below shows how much. It also has a more pronounced knurled cannelure with case crimp to help prevent bullet set back from chambering in some auto guns (apparently this was a problem with some of the older Critical Defense loads, but is hard to believe based on how difficult of a time I had using the inertia puller on them)

Here, the pulled bullets show how the 135gr Critical Duty bullet on the right is longer and has the 2nd lower crimp which Hornady touts as the “Interlock” feature to help prevent jacket/core separation. The Critical Duty bullet also has a higher antimony content to aid in consistent expansion according to Hornady’s website:

The tips are also larger on the Critical Duty, and there is a faint “H” stamped into the rubber nose plug:

The external features on the 9mm and 9mm+P Critical Duty are all exactly the same except for the headstamp and primer color. Below, from left, is the Zombie Max, Critical Defense, Critical Duty +P, and Critical Duty standard:


The tech package I rec’d from Hornady also shows some differences in jacket thickness, etc. that will should show up in cross-section.

ZombieMax and Critical Defense pistol bullets of the same grain weight should be identical except for the color of the synthetic plug; Critical Duty pills are a little more involved. The 135gr is kind of a ‘sweet spot’ for 9mmP, but the gel tests results of the CrDuty rounds do not blow my skirt up; existing products from other makers outperform them noticeably (HST et al).

There have been inconsistencies in the terminal effect testing of many the Hornady plastic-plug bullets so far (LeveRevolution, Critical Defense, etc.) based on differences in the hardness of the filler.