Lucky Gunner's tests are worth time to review, but please note the authors' conclusion:
Looking at all of this data, itís tempting to try to sift through the numbers and determine once and for all which load is The One Bullet To Rule Them All. If that kind of data analysis gets you excited, then go for it. If, on the other hand, you just want to find a decent load for your carry gun, you probably donít need to go through all of that trouble. To the contrary, we did all of this work on these tests so you donít have to obsess over the ballistic performance aspect of your carry ammo.
If the self-defense load you use is listed here, and youíre not confident in the results youíre seeing, just pick another one that performed at a level youíre more comfortable with. But keep in mind, even though the gelatin tests can tell us a lot, thereís plenty of things they donít tell us. Ballistics testing doesnít tell us anything about the felt recoil of a load. We also havenít addressed accuracy or muzzle flash (which can be an issue in low light). And maybe most important of all, no gelatin test can tell you if a given load will run reliably in your own self-defense pistol. This is all stuff youíll have to test on your own at the range with your gun.
Once you find a load that works, whatever you decide, try to keep all of this in perspective. Choice of caliber and bullet are not the most important aspects of successful self-defense. Awareness, proper mindset, marksmanship, and discernment of when to use your firearm are generally far more critical to your survival than choice of gear. Having said that, knowing your carry ammo works not only provides peace of mind, thereís a chance that choosing a solid defensive load could be the one factor that tips the scales in your favor in a fight for your life.
Honestly answer a few questions:
1. Have you taken any professional defensive pistol training?
2. How often do you practice drawing from concealment?
3. How often do you practice more than standing in place and just shooting?
4. How often do you practice drills that require thinking about shoot/don't shoot?
5. How often do you practice malfunction drills, weak hand, or shooting in the dark?
Link to the ammo tests for review:https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/#conclusions
fwiw - I carry Federal HST or Winchester Ranger T's - .45 ACP, 230 grain.