Speer Gold Dot .22 WMR Short Barrel Personal Protection Ammo

By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff

Speer Gold Dot .22 WMR Short Barrel Personal Protection cartridges and bullet
Illustration courtesy of CCI/Speer.

When Speer (www.speer-ammo.com) announced their .22 Magnum 40 grain Gold Dot Hollow Point load for short barrel revolvers (GDHP-SB), we were immediately interested. Most of the staff here at Guns and Shooting Online own one version or another of North American Arms mini revolver. We requested samples of this new Speer load so we could chronograph it from the 2" barrel of an NAA Black Widow, as well as longer barreled revolvers, and compare the results to the Winchester Super-X .22 Mag. 40 grain JHP load.

This new load is tailored for a 2" barrel, so the Black Widow was the perfect test gun. In fact, it is our understanding that the good old boys at CCI/Speer (CCI loads this ammo under the Speer name, as both are subsidiaries of ATK) used a Black Widow for much of their product development. Mini revolvers are in widespread use for personal protection, none more so than the popular Black Widow model.

We did our chronographing on a fine, 70-degree F, spring day at the Izaak Walton outdoor gun range south of Eugene, Oregon. We placed the Chrony 10' from the muzzle. Guns and Shooting Online Staff members Chuck Hawks and Jim Fleck did the shooting, while Rocky Hays and Bob Fleck operated the chronograph and set targets.

In addition to the Black Widow and new Speer GDHP-SB ammunition, we brought a Colt .22 New Frontier Convertible with a 4-3/8" barrel and a Ruger Super Single Six Convertible with a 6-1/2" barrel, plus a box of Winchester Super-X JHP ammo. This Super-X load is the original .22 WMR offering and it has always been a top performer in our full size .22 Magnum revolvers. Its JHP bullet expands reliably and violently in small game animals at normal handgun muzzle velocities of around 1300-1550 fps. Following are the results of our testing.

NAA Black Widow (2" barrel)

  • Speer 40 grain GDHP-SB: Average velocity = 970 fps; Extreme Spread = 48 fps
  • Win. 40 grain Super-X JHP: Average velocity = 1025 fps; Extreme Spread = 79 fps

Colt .22 New Frontier Convertible (4-3/8" barrel)

  • Speer 40 grain GDHP-SB: Average velocity = 1143 fps; Extreme Spread = 214 fps
  • Win. 40 grain Super-X JHP: Average velocity = 1319 fps; Extreme Spread = 52 fps

Ruger Super Single Six Convertible (6-1/2" barrel)

  • Speer 40 grain GDHP-SB: Average velocity = 1484 fps; Extreme Spread = 147 fps
  • Win. 40 grain Super-X JHP: Average velocity = 1523 fps; Extreme Spread = 105 fps

As you can see, the Speer GDHP-SB load was more consistent in velocity than the Super-X reference load from the short barrel of the Black Widow. In fact, this combination produced the smallest extreme spread in our test. The Super-X posted an average velocity 55 fps faster than the Speer GDHP-SB, even from the short barreled gun. However, the Speer Gold Dot HP bullet is designed for personal defense and optimum expansion at the reduced velocity attainable from a 2" barrel and seems to us the best choice for use in mini-revolvers, exactly as Speer claims.

In the standard length barrels of the Colt and Ruger revolvers, the traditional Super-X hunting load delivered both higher velocity and less extreme spread. It remains our .22 WMR small game hunting load of choice.

We didn't do any formal accuracy testing with the Black Widow/GDHP-SB combination, but our impression is that out to 10 yards, the longest range at which we fired the mini revolver, there was no discernable difference in offhand group size between the Speer and Winchester loads. It is worth noting that the NAA Black Widow has always delivered superior accuracy (and reliability!) to the .22 and .25 caliber pocket autoloaders we have tested. In the future, when we pack a mini revolver for protection, it will be loaded with Speer GDHP-SB ammo.

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