Defense Caliber choice: 9mm +P, 9mm +P+, or .40 cal.?


December 31, 2002, 04:48 PM
Being the new owner of a Browning Hi-Power in .40 cal and about to buy another Hi-Power in 9mm, I'm wondering what the differences might be in terms of recoil and stopping power between a 9mm +P and the .40 cal. Also, I'm not sure how well suited the Hi-Power is to +P ammo.

Please share your thoughts.... thanks.

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December 31, 2002, 05:11 PM
Gold Dot 124 +p ammo is just about the best 9mm defensive ammo out there.

As far as ill-affects go this is the only help I can offer:

Sig Forum BHP MK III Thread (

December 31, 2002, 06:11 PM
One thing to look at is the vintage of the HiPower in question. Post 1994 HiPowers are said to be stronger. Go to Hi Power page ( to check out date of manufacture by serial number.
For a regular diet of +p ammo I'd go to a heavier spring, say a 18.5 or 20 pound spring. These are made by Wollf springs. Some like the idea of a recoil buffer also. HiPower afficianado Stephen Campbell recommends this. I see no reason to question or contradict him.

Dave Markowitz
December 31, 2002, 06:15 PM
My choice for defensive ammo in my 9mm BHP is the Federal 9BP load -- NON +P 115 grain JHP. I'm willing to give up a few FPS for less blast and better controllability.

"Handgun stopping power" is an oxymoron, anyway. If you need stopping power, use a Buick. :)

December 31, 2002, 06:58 PM
Defense Caliber choice: 9mm +P, 9mm +P+, or .40 cal.?
None of the above. That's why the .45 was invented.


December 31, 2002, 07:45 PM
Thanks for your helpful contribution, dev_null. Yes, .45's are fine weapons; I've got a dozen or so 1911's in .45.

But this thread is about 9mm and .40 cal., not .45. :rolleyes:

December 31, 2002, 08:17 PM
Use a Buffer Technologies Buffer and shoot anything you want..

I prefer Ranger 124s

December 31, 2002, 09:25 PM
I'd worry more about the longevity of the .40 S&W caliber BHP ... because of the .40 S&W cartridge ... than I'd worry about the amount of +P ammunition in the 9mm pistol. ;)

There's +P, and then there's +P ammunition ... I've mixed Remington and Winchester +P ammunition in with standard pressure ammunition for some of our shooters, and many of them didn't even notice a difference. The +P+ ammunition has enough increased "snap" for most people to notice, but not as much as you'd think. As long as you stay with QUALITY ammunition, especially from the major manufacturers, you'll probably enjoy many years of reliable service from your 9mm BHP.

Once, during a S&W armorer's class, we asked about service life with the standard aluminum framed 9mm pistols when +P and +P+ ammunition was used. We were told the service life would probably be less if a steady diet of the higher pressure ammunition was used, but that we should look for indications of accelerated wear. Two examples were the recoil spring becoming weakened sooner with the higher pressure loads, and the slide stop starting to exhibit a slight "outward" bend. Recoil impulse and forces travel more than just rearward, you know ... Basically, the lateral recoil harmonics might eventually cause the 90 degree angle of the slide stop to "open up" to beyond 90 degrees, and this might be a potentional problem if the slide stop tolerance changed enough that it no longer properly engaged the side plate plate in the S&W pistols. This required a lot of shooting ... if it occurred at all. It was just something to watch during inspections ...

Don't know if this will apply to your BHP, but I thought I'd mention it ...

I'm not sure most folks could easily afford enough +P ammunition to cause this sort of a worry, though ...

Wolff Company can be reached at 1 800 545-0077, or online at:

They offer both conventional and variable rated recoil springs for your pistols. The 9mm recoil spring has a listed factory rateing of 17lbs, and the .40 S&W of 20lbs ... and Extra Power ratings of 18.5, 20 & 22lbs, although you'll have to call to ask about what's available currently, as these things can change ...

They're good folks, and they can help you assess what you might want to try out. Be aware that if you increase the recoil spring strength too much, you might also consider using increased power magazine springs, so feeding isn't adversely affected. The folks at Wolff's can advise you much better in these matters. We call them whenever we have questions, and they've always been very helpful ... Nice folks.

Oh yeah, regarding buffers ... Test fire your pistols for reliable function if you install one of the polymer "spacer" buffers. Depending on the pistol design, these can shorten the slide travel, and this may, or may not, affect extraction & ejection of empties ... Not to mention that some buffer materials can brfeak down and create loose debris within the recoil spring area, which can also affect functioning. Some work well ... and some folks like them ... I quit using them in some defensive pistols after observing these exact issues in a Colt Combat Commander ... BUT, the exception to this? ... The King's barrel bushing & guiderod assemblies I've seen installed in a couple of our Officers Models required the use of buffers, and they've always functioned fine without these problems ...

Sometimes I suspect that our pistols have the same variance of personalities that we do ... :)

Let us know what you eventually decide ...

Oops! The "stopping power" question ... notice I didn't use capital letters ...

I carry either a 9mm or a .40 S&W caliber pistol on duty, depending ... as I'm issued both. The .40 is "full size", for uniform use, and the 9mm is a "compact", for planclothes use. Since I'm presently assigned to plainclothes work, I often switch back and forth.

The ballistic effectiveness of the RA40TA 165gr .40 and the RA9TA 127gr +P+ 9mm just doesn't seem all that much different, all things considered, using our last ballistic gelatin testing lab results. I have confidence in both ... I do, however, find it "easier" to shoot the 9mm slightly faster in many circumstances. Slightly better recovery and controllability, but that's a subjective issue to be determined by each of us ...

January 2, 2003, 01:09 AM

Excellent ammo, I use 124 gr. Gold Dots +P that they mfg with their brass and powders. Very highly recommended. I also use Corbon 115 gr. +P.

January 2, 2003, 01:28 PM
With all this talk of 9mm Ultra Mag +P+++++ ammo, have you considered trying a few different types in a rental 9mm and see what effect it has on controllability? In my view a hard-to-control 9mm +P+ or .40 is a worse choice than a milder standard 9mm round. If on the other hand you have no trouble controlling it in rapid-fire use what you like.

January 2, 2003, 01:59 PM
Now that I've put about 180 rounds through my new Browning Silver Chrome .40, I've come to the conclusion that rather than buying my next Hi-Power (Standard in polished blue) in 9mm, I may go for another in .40. I'm so accustomed to shooting full power .45's, that I found the forty to be no big deal at all... easy to shoot. I'm thinkin' that .40 definitely has an edge over 9mm as a defense round, why not choose it over 9mm if I can shoot it well? If it's 11 rounds of forty in a Hi-Power vs. 14 rounds of 9mm, there's not that much of a significant difference in capacity. Would I rather have 14 than 11? Of Course! But I understand that for the average Joe, a defensive encounter is most likely to end well before 11 rounds are fired, especially if they are more effective rounds. I know this argument has strong and valid points on both sides and I can see them... that's my dilemma....

January 2, 2003, 02:10 PM
Ditto on the +p 124grain Gold Dots.

Bob Locke
January 2, 2003, 02:13 PM
I use standard pressure Gold Dots (124-gr.) in my Glock 19. Have never felt that it wouldn't get the job done.

July 31, 2007, 10:58 PM
Age is creeping up on me and I'm looking at 9mm for those long practice sessions, but I'll continuue carrying my 45. But again, I don't buy anything that I can't also carry. Soooo.....I'm debating with myself about which 9mm pistol to buy. I don't like the BHP---got rid of the one I had years ago and kept the old Beretta. I'd really like the new Para TAC-5, but money is an object. I may opt for one of the Taurus jobs. Which one? And where can I get myself a supply of +P+? Recoil? After my 45 I don't worry about the 9.

Deaf Smith
July 31, 2007, 11:13 PM
All the above! +p for such as the Kel-Tec P9, +P+ for the Glock 26, and .40 for the Glock 27. All will do very well.

August 1, 2007, 08:26 AM
I use Federal Hydra Shok +p+ in my G26 and Speer Gold Dots in my G27 and feel equally armed using both calibers. To me, it boils down to shot placement and proficiency with your firearm. If you can't hit them with a 9mm what makes you think that a .40 will cure your problem? That's my argument.

Heck, I carry a .38 +P S&W J-frame more than I do my Glocks so anything in 9mm and .40 is comforting.

August 1, 2007, 09:09 AM
I'm not a fan of +P as it seems to be you should have bought more gun to begin. There was the 38/44 loads in the 1930s before the 357 but +P originated with Super Vel in the 1960s. It was more a politically correct move where police departments could use it and still say they were using 38s and not...omigod...magnums.

I'll use +P in K frames and +P+ in magnums but even there you're not gaining a lot. You're only getting an extra 100-150 fps in 9mm with +P or +P+ and that's not a lot in a round going 1100-1200 fps to start with. If you can find the CCI/Speer chart showing performance of std, +P. and +P+ rounds through different mediums. Not much difference between them.

If you want more velocity in an auto pistol get a 357 SIG, in essence a 9mm magnum.

August 1, 2007, 09:12 AM
I would go with 9mm. The recoil will be a little more manageable, and the ammo will be much cheaper.

August 1, 2007, 09:47 AM
these are what I use for +p 9mm

August 1, 2007, 09:49 AM
I use what the local police use - NYPD in my case. The use Speer GoldDot 9mm. I shoot a Glock 17 - shoots great and the Speer is a great round

August 1, 2007, 09:59 AM
Wow, this thread started in 2002!:)

Use whatever you shoot best with.


August 1, 2007, 11:57 AM
My choice, in that selection, is Win Ranger T 127g +P+. Whether that works well in your gun I don't know.

August 1, 2007, 12:00 PM
Gold Dot 124 +p ammo is just about the best 9mm defensive ammo out there.

That's what I have in my HP. It is accurate and feeds very well.

August 1, 2007, 12:21 PM
I use Corbon DPX 9mm +p in my carry Walther and have been very satisfied. The nice thing about the DPX bullets is that there is no jacket to seperate on impact - the whole bullet is made of copper. And Corbon makes one hot round - but surprisingly controllable. I'd recommend the same bullet in .40S&W. Hornady TAP is also pretty good as is GoldDot, Hydrashock, etc.

I think your cartridge choice should be highly dependant upon the platform you'll be shooting and how recoil sensitive you are. If you can place your shots with a polymer micro pistol in .40S&W then go for it. If not, find a platform that works for you, then mess with ammo choice based on:

1. Reliability of feeding in the pistol
2. Recoil/flash
3. Bullet weight/type.

Basically, shoot the biggest caliber in the smallest pistol that you can accurately control. That said - get thee to a shooting range. :D

August 1, 2007, 01:04 PM
I have a HP Practical and shoot 9mm +P, 9mm +P+ in it as well has having shot an HP.40. I can't tell the difference. I'd get the 9mm as you can fire cheaper ammo than .40. I use Winchester Ranger 127 grain +P for carry and shoot regular 9mm for practice.

.357 magnum
August 1, 2007, 07:16 PM
I think thats great! It is still relevant today. In my 9mm for defense I use the Remington 124gr +p Golden Saber one of the best loads for a 9mm. I also like the Speer Gold Dot 124gr +p. I honestly do not think shooting plus P ammo in a modern semi-auto is going to really hurt it. It may speed up the aging process a bit, but that's about it. The .40 cal has so many good loads. The Winchester 165gr SXT is one of the best , along with the Corbon 165gr and Reminton 165gr Golden Saber. You also have the Federal 155gr Hydra-Shok. Currently I am using Winchester 180gr SXT and Federal 180gr Hydra-shok's. Thats just because I shoot better with the 180gr load.

The Best to All!


April 1, 2008, 06:42 AM
I think the difference between +P and +P+ for defense purposes is pretty moot. Especially indoors. I think one could get away best with a downloaded .40 for in-home defense purposes.

April 1, 2008, 06:46 AM
In a barrel under 4 or 5 inches I think +p is wasted. Try the 147 jhp in the

May 20, 2008, 07:12 AM
I like the 124gr 9mm. I used to carry 115gr in the 9mm, but decided after some research and testing of my own, that the 124 was a better performer. Speer Gold Dot is my favorite. Doesn't have to be the +P, standard velocity works fine.

I get so tired of hearing so many people saying "buy a .45" or anything along those lines when anyone asks about the 9mm for self defense. Sure, a .45 will make a bigger hole and it is a proven man stopper. But what it all boils down to every time is SHOT PLACEMENT! If you can't hit a damn thing with a .44 or a .45 but you can drive nails with a .22, carry the .22!

My department issue duty weapon is the Glock 17 9mm and our duty ammo is standard velocity 124gr Speer God Dots. And every time someone asks me what I carry I always hear the .45 comments. I own a couple of .45's as well as several other caliber pistols and I can shoot all of them very well. And when it comes to my duty weapon, I can put all 17 rounds fairly rapidly where they count at combat distances. So I don't feel "under gunned" with a 9mm. As a matter of fact I don't feel "under gunned" with my Ruger MKII loaded with CCI Mini-Mags because I can snap off 10 rounds and put them all in a 4-inch circle with phenomenal speed and accuracy. Let Mr. Bad Guy take ten .22's to the face and see how he fares afterwards.

May 20, 2008, 06:25 PM
115 grain Corbon DPX + P all copper tops

May 20, 2008, 07:36 PM
.45 aficionados can't get over the fact that the .40 is as much as effective and powerful if not even more than their loved big bore...

Get a life guys!!! ballistic technology evolved from 1906 you know.....

There are 9 mm loads (non +P) that can almost equal the energy leved of a standard 45....some 9 mm +P can get close to some 45 +P

May 21, 2008, 02:53 AM
Don't Know much about the oft metioned Double Tap (is someone here a vendor?) or Speer but I do know that in any caliber it is hard to beat the terminal perfomance of the Glaser Safety Slug, and you have the added benifits of no overpenetration and reduced risk to "bystanders" should a round miss the target since the Glaser disintegrates on impact (this is assuming you didn't actually hit the bystander, of course).
But what it all boils down to every time is SHOT PLACEMENT!
Very very true BUT you don't have to be as picky with your groups with a .45 or .40! When it comes to a choice of being victim or victor, I prefer large holes in vital areas.

Phil DeGraves
May 21, 2008, 10:27 AM
This is like asking which is more effective; hitting a bad guy eight times with a Louisville Slugger or 15 times with a fireplace poker or if you swing it hard or a little bit harder. If you hit him in the head, what does it matter?

Claude Clay
May 21, 2008, 11:17 AM
in new england , my P239 in 40 is a 3 season gun. all season BUG is a 642 or a 332. winter is a colt defender--45 with ball ammo or Rem GS 185gr +p JHP.
the 40 (Rem 180gr JHP) does penetrate well; minimal, if any deflection through a windshield.
i have a p11 that is dependable as a errands piece(with the belt clip) and i do not feel under gunned caring with 9mm +p Rem GS 124 gr JHP or silvertips
i have 9mm/357sig and 40s&w bbls for the p239. a +p+9mm 124 gr is a weak 357sig. loaded proper a 124gr 357sig is a 357 mag. 357sig is LOUD; so i carry in 40. a 180gr 40 crono's the same as a 180gr 45acp. smaller area but essentially the same performance--given the importance of shot placement i find no downside to the 40/45 equation.

Phil D--- but if you only have time to swing once...what would you rather have in your hand?

May 21, 2008, 11:27 AM
Don't know if this'll help if you're looking for +p+ 9mm results, but it's 9mm +p, so I guess you can add (or subtract, depending?) some numbers in your head, thinking of +p+? :D

Here are official gelatin results for all of the DoubleTap loads!


All of these tests were done using 10% ballistic gelatin provided by Vyse gelatin using all FBI protocols and 4 layers of denim and two layers of light cotton T-shirt in front of the gelatin.

DoubleTap 9mm+P
115gr. Gold Dot JHP @ 1415fps - 12.00" / .70"
124gr. Gold Dot JHP @ 1310fps - 13.25" / .70"
147gr. Gold Dot JHP @ 1125fps - 14.00" / .66"

DoubleTap .40 S&W Penetration / expansion
135gr. Nosler JHP @ 1375fps - 12.10" / .72"
155gr Gold Dot JHP @ 1275fps - 13.00" / .76"
165gr Gold Dot JHP @ 1200fps - 14.0" / .70"
180gr Gold Dot JHP @ 1100fps - 14.75" / .68"
200gr XTP @ 1050fps - 17.75" / .59"

Here're links to DoubleTap Ammunition website for their 9mm +p and .40 S&W rounds to buy:

9mm +p:

.40 S&W:

Click the list at the top-left of those pages to scroll through their other [powerful] lineup in different calibers, as well. You won't be sorry, if you're truly looking for POWERFULLY loaded factory ammunition! DoubleTap is the spot you'll love! :cool:

May 21, 2008, 03:52 PM
Recoil-wise, there's a substantial difference in recoil between 9x19mm and .40S&W.

I've got a Glock 22 and a Glock 19. Even though it weighs more, the Glock 22 recoils a LOT more than the Glock 19.

I'm looking at buying a CZ75B in .40S&W because I think the .40S&W benefits from more weight than the Glocks provide.

May 21, 2008, 03:54 PM
What's stupid is, people who advocate 40SW or 9mm +X+X+XP whatever rounds somehow don't compare it to their equivalents in other calibers.

HP expansion isn't anything too great anyway in lethality on a pistol round, it might give you a bit more flexibility if you can't get your shot placement right but it's not the end all.

May 21, 2008, 06:09 PM
Simply carry what you shoot the best. Load it with quality hollow points and make sure to put 'em where they need to be.

June 3, 2008, 01:50 AM
HP expansion isn't anything too great anyway in lethality on a pistol round, it might give you a bit more flexibility if you can't get your shot placement right but it's not the end all.
Absolutely shot placement is critical, but so too is energy transfer and penetration. We are all aware that hollow points serve to increase the wound channel and stop the projectile in the traget. A 9mm hole going straight through is not as effective as a 9mm expanded to a half inch or so stopping in the thoracic cavity and transfering enrgy to the vital oragns via hydrostatic shock as well as amplifying the effects of central nervous system shock. Conversely, a 9mm that expands before sufficient penetration has occured (I believe the FBI standard is 12", though feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) will expend energy in the soft tissues and may not cause the necassary level of trauma to stop an assaillent. As stated by Flypenfly the hollow point does offer flexibility and does so in situations where the shooter needs every advantage available to them. In those very tense moments when your actions will determine whether you or your attacker will be at room temperature the following day, it would be foolhardy not to take any advantage offered.

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