In the beautiful Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City sits the firearms training center of UPD, the United Police Department of Salt Lake. It’s a metro agency encompassing the county sheriff’s department and several surrounding municipalities, though not Salt Lake City itself. Some law enforcement agencies are so good they become “teaching departments,” just as some top hospitals become teaching hospitals — their peers come to them for advanced training. The UPD firearms training unit under Rangemaster Nicholas Roberts is a classic example.

I was there recently to attend an ATK law enforcement ballistics seminar hosted by UPD. The event drew almost a hundred LEO’s, primarily instructors, representing agencies from SLCPD to the east coast. We saw, among other things, Speer’s forthcoming Gold Dot 2.

ATK is said to be the world’s largest ammunition manufacturer, with three entities under its umbrella in that market: Federal, Speer and the Lake City Arsenal. While ammo from all three finds its way into police guns, if only on the training range, the first two are the repositories for ATK’s best law enforcement ammo.

After a short discussion in the range classroom, we adjourned to the range. There we found arrayed calibrated gelatin blocks, stanchions to hold angled windshield glass, assorted other barriers and Speer Gold Dot 2 ammunition.


Recovered Gold Dot 2 bullet showed impressive weight retention
(original weight was 147 grs.) and expansion to 0.737″.

Gold Dot 2

The Gold Dot 2 ammo is a new design, intended to be “barrier blind.” It certainly proved impressive in the gelatin testing. When you get some in-hand, you won’t mistake it for anything else. There is a cannelure surrounding the bullet jacket a bit back from the nose. Just below the edge of the hollow cavity is a flat surface, ridged like a miniature shotgun shell, and beneath it is silicone. Contact with a firmly resisting target drives this elastomer rearward and outward inside the hollow point cavity, spreading the bullet outward. We were told no silicone would likely be found on the bullet after it had come to a stop.

The only Gold Dot 2 they brought was 147-gr. 9mm, the first to be produced. On bare gel, it left an impressive wound cavity and delivered 15″ of penetration, expanding to 0.737″ diameter. It went some 15.75″ into the ballistic gelatin after going through wallboard, which plugs so many conventional and even high-tech hollow points and turns them into flat-nosed ball, yet it still expanded impressively.

The ATK rep stated flatly about half the time even the best JHP can plug and fail to expand after going through that type of barrier. A standard 147-gr. Gold Dot 9mm subsonic did exactly that, piercing through 32″ of gelatin after plugging on the sheetrock. On window glass, 147-gr. current Gold Dot and 147-gr. Gold Dot 2 appeared to perform similarly.

We were told that this is going to be the new FBI load, the Federal Bureau of Investigation being poised to switch from .40 S&W to 9mm, and that NYPD — which has had success with their 124-gr. +P Gold Dot 9mm — is eagerly awaiting Gold Dot 2 in that weight and velocity for testing. The ATK folks told us it could be 18 months before US Government production obligations for the 147-gr. 9mm Gold Dot 2 are fulfilled, and two years or more before this ammo is available to the private sector.

We were told the .40 S&W version of Gold Dot 2 had initially proven “problematic,” but research was still ongoing, and early versions of .45 ACP Gold Dot 2 were initially “hard to get to work” in FBI’s .45’s (1911’s and Glock 21’s), but they thought they had the .45 problem licked. Stay tuned for more on that as research and testing continues.


In bare gel, the Gold Dot 2 9mm 147-gr. made an impressive cavity, 15″ deep.


Expanded bullet and loaded Gold Dot 2 round. Note cannelure
just below bullet nose.

Patrol Rifle Ammo

We were told Federal and Speer are now manufacturing only .223-caliber ammo for AR-15’s and similar patrol rifles, since .223 works in 5.56mm chambers but vice versa has proven problematic. Our ATK spokes-folks recommended the Federal 62-gr. Tactical Bonded, designed to expand at a velocity floor of 2,000 fps, for standard patrol rifles, and Gold Dot 62-gr. bonded for short-barreled rifles (SBRs) because it’s designed to open at velocities as low as 1,800 fps. In shooting gelatin through windshields, both loads proved dramatically effective.


By Massad Ayoob

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