Recommendation for 9mm defensive ammo?


Ukraine Train
September 13, 2004, 08:20 PM
Can you guys point me to some gel tests or something like that? Or just give your own opinions. From what I've seen most people use 124gr +P's but I have no clue which brands are reputable. I will be carrying my Arcus throughout the cold months so I'd like to have decent penetration but still keep it an HP, not FMJ.

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September 13, 2004, 08:29 PM
I like Federal 9BP 115 gr. It's a standard pressure ammo with a good rep.

Mr Jody Hudson
September 13, 2004, 08:38 PM
The Powerball tested best if I recall in Ammolab tests. Gold Dot H.P. is excellent. Ranger is excellent but I've found the Speer 124 gr GDHP +P to be nearly as fast and it has almost identical stats if I recall, to the Ranger +p+. I use the Speer 124 gr GDHP in everything.

I don't have local access to small quantities of Powerball but I picked up a LOT of the Speer at a Gun Show and I've found it perfect.

The AmmoLab tests found all premium ammo in 9mm, .45 and .40 to be VERY similar in performance!!!!! The cheap Walmart Winchester 115, 124 and 147 H.P. did quite well and they are by far the least expensive I've found.

Edited to clarify the load I prefer.

September 13, 2004, 08:43 PM
I think as long as you stay away from CorBon, many 9mm loads have very respectable penetration numbers from full length barrels. This is not meant as a slight against CorBon whose ammo seems to have very high street effectiveness, but penetration is not their strong suit.

The Speer Gold Dot 124 Gr +P load is pretty much the standard against which the others are judged... Not to say they are the very best in every regard, but it does all things very well, esp direct into soft tissue and soft tissue after reasonable clothing. It is my carry load and has been in all 9mms in which it is reliable (which has been 100% of the 9mms I've owned over the last 5+ years). I actually carry Georgia Arms' Shear Power loading of the Gold Dots. Bought in bulk it's cheaper than the Speer stuff for me. And I still have a couple 250 round boxes of the 'reclassified' stuff from Speer which makes excellent practice ammo, but I wouldn't carry it as they supposedly can have hard primers mixed in.

The Winchester Ranger Ts, both in 127 +P+ and standard pressure 147 grain loadings seem very respectable as well though they are no doubt more difficult to obtain for most of us. I'd really like to have cheap access to about 500 rounds of the 147 grain stuff but the only thing I can easily get are the 180 Gr 40s.

Many have reported good things about the Winchester White Box 'Personal Defence' stuff... I've shot a bit of it but have no first hand knowledge of its expansion abilities.

Honestly, the 124 +P Gold Dots are so widely available and so widely hearalded, it seems like an obvious answer if they are reliable in your particular gun.

Mr Jody Hudson
September 13, 2004, 08:58 PM
EXCELLENT post cratz2

R.H. Lee
September 13, 2004, 09:02 PM
I like Federal 9BP 115 gr. It's a standard pressure ammo with a good rep.

That's what I keep my CZ75 loaded with, but I've never shot anybody, so I don't know how well it works.

September 13, 2004, 09:07 PM
That's what I use in my G26 and have chono'd it last weekendusing a ten shot string ten feet from muzle to my Digital Pro-Chrono. Here are some numbers.

Hi=1276 fps. Lo=1170 fps. Avg=1192 fps. Es=46 fps. Sd=15 fps.


C. H. Luke
September 13, 2004, 09:56 PM
Win. Ranger 127 +P+ "T-Series" marked "LE Only", {NOT their other "Ranger"}

127 +P+ only, stay away from the heavier weight in 9mm.

September 13, 2004, 11:08 PM
Here you go, enjoy

September 13, 2004, 11:18 PM
You probably won't go wrong with either the 147-grain Winchester Ranger T or the 147-grain Gold Dot. Both are delivering superior performance in actual LE use. Since penetration appears to be one of your major concerns (winter time, heavy coats, etc.), the 147-grain loads have a couple of advantages: the extra mass/sectional density will aid penetration, and the extra mass give the bullets designer a little more to work with so you'll have less chance of clogged hollow point than with lighter bullets. An added benefit of the 147-grain loads is they tend to be easy shooting and accurate loads.

September 13, 2004, 11:25 PM
I use the Winchester 115gr JHP, but haven't had the time/money to do function tests with any other ammo right now.

September 13, 2004, 11:32 PM
I like Federal 9BP 115 gr. It's a standard pressure ammo with a good rep.


That's what I keep my CZ75 loaded with, but I've never shot anybody, so I don't know how well it works.

That's funny, because I also use a CZ-75. I've never shot anyone either, but the round has a good rep among the police agencies that have used it.

I prefer a standard pressure round for the reduction in recoil. It's not that big of a deal to me, but it is important to my wife. She handles the CZ with that load very well. Same goes for her Sig 239. It just doesn't make any sense for the two of us to use different 9mm loads.

September 14, 2004, 03:02 AM
I use WWB 147gr JHP in my beretta, and 115gr in my kel-tec (didnt like the 147gr at all). Looked pretty good on ammolab, easy to get, and cheap. I dont even have enough cash to shoot this stuff nearly as much as i should, better stuff is out of the question for now.

September 14, 2004, 07:31 AM
No one likes Golden Saber eh?

My picks are: (and in no particular order)

Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P
Rem Golden Saber 124gr +P
Cor Bon 124gr +P
Cor Bon 115gr +P

although I'm tempted to try out some Black Hills and Magetch +P JHP offerings just for the hell of it...

September 14, 2004, 08:18 AM
Speer Gold Dot 124 Gr +P is the round which NYPD uses and they seem to be pretty well satisfied with the results.

With the obesity epidemic in the USA a deep penetrating bullet may come in useful.

George S.
September 14, 2004, 12:22 PM
I have my P89 loaded with the Remington Golden Saber 147gr JHP's. I found a website that showed pics of bullet expansion tests and this particular bullet seemed to expand to a wider diameter that any of the Federal Hydra-Shoks and many other bullets and actually appeared to be very close to the Gold Dots in terms of expansion.

The velocity is a bit lower than the 124gr JHP rounds but the energy in lb-ft was close to the same.

The ProLoad JHP's feature Gold Dots and they are supposed to be a very good defensive round.

September 14, 2004, 12:23 PM
Any reason no one recommends Federal Hydra Shock? That's what I have in my gun right now. Anything bad about this ammo I should be aware of? TIA.

September 14, 2004, 12:23 PM
It's not that I don't like Golden Sabers... in fact for standard pressure 45ACP loads, the 230 Gr Golden Saber is my favorite. And I've probably carried 165 Gr 40S&W loads than any other 40 load, but for some reason, they just don't inspire confidence in 9mm... at least not for me... Not sure why.

With the obesity epidemic in the USA a deep penetrating bullet may come in useful. Point very well taken... one of the reasons I moved away from the 115 Gr CorBons. A guy that weighed 400 lbs wearing a leather jacket or a couple layers of denim... Might want a bit more penetration.

September 14, 2004, 12:26 PM
What about hydra-shoks?

Whats everybody thoughts on that round?

September 14, 2004, 12:29 PM
go with a medium weight bullet pushed as hard you can. 124grnjhp is probley the best choice for 9x19 i know it's what i use. as for the brand, i guess you'll just have to find out which one your gun likes best and go from there.

September 14, 2004, 12:32 PM
My personal favorties are 124/147gr Gold Dots (Black Hills) and Winchester Ranger. They have nice penetration and pretty consistent expansion. I have to say the Barnes X loaded by CorBon looks pretty good if you want a lighter round though, as does their PowRBall ammo.

Added: A lot of people do not recommened Hydra Shok anymore because the performance seemed to suffer WRT other premium JHP ammo that has been recently upgraded, introduced, redesigned, etc. I understand Federal recently upgraded their premium line substantially, though I am not sure if they did so under the Hydra-Shok name. At any rate, the new stuff is likely a good solid choice.

Alos, some people like to push bullets as fast as they can. The better choice, in my opinion, is to find the velocity threshold for which the bullet was designed and insure that it operates at that velocity from the gun in which you intend to use it.

September 14, 2004, 12:32 PM
i know i carry 155grn hydra's in my 23 but test have shown that 124grn hydra's don't do very well. i still cary it though because i trust the brand and my weapon likes it

Gabby Hayes
September 14, 2004, 01:49 PM
Any "premium" load from the major ammo makers (Remington, Winchester, Federal or Speer) should suit you just fine. Now that just about everyone has standardized on the FBI protocol for developing and testing new products, they're becoming more and more like peas in a pod. You can hardly go wrong. The local department still uses Hydra-Shok 124gr +P+ and seems to like it. It's an older design that still works, but some of the newer stuff does better in the FBI's barrier testing.

You'll see a lot of recommendatons for LEO loads like Winchester's Ranger T and Federal's Tactical line, but these are both expensive and hard to get reliably by mere "citizens" like most of us. Speer sells to anyone, including the NYPD, who seem content with the 124gr+P Gold Dot. Get something that works in your pistol and be happy.

Mr Jody Hudson
September 14, 2004, 05:05 PM
The post in the Hydroshock bullet seems to cause it frequent clogging with cloth and causes it to be just an expensive fmj, unless you are shooting nekid goblins. ;)

September 14, 2004, 08:10 PM
127 +P+ only, stay away from the heavier weight in 9mm.

Why would that be? As late as the 80's, I would have agreed with that statement, but things have changed since then.

There are quite a few subsonics out there that reliably expand, such as the 147gr Ranger. Below is a picture I took after a test involving a short-barreled handgun (Kahr K9), play dough and two layers of denim.
This performance is typical for the 147gr Ranger from a short barrel, with greater diameter of expansion achieved from a longer barrel.

What my Kahr shoots best

Safety First
September 14, 2004, 09:32 PM
I just picked up couple of 50 round boxes of Speer 124 gr +p Gold Dot JHP's and plan to test them soon in my Sig P239. I will report back on accuracy after I try a few magazines. I have been shooting WWB USA 115 gr and have been satisfied with those. I have read so much positive info on the Speer 124 gr +P I thought I might switch to those for my carry load if my Sig likes them.

September 15, 2004, 01:02 PM
For FACTS go to Click on the terminal effects forum and do a search on 9mm performance. Great site. They're all about comparison testing and FACTS. Happy trails.

Ukraine Train
September 17, 2004, 02:04 PM
Yesterday I tried out 115 and 147gr Speer Gold Dots and 124gr Cor Bons. The 147gr has a totally different feel to it when you shoot. The recoil feels more like that of a .45 - more of a "shove" than a "snap" and there's less muzzle flip than with the 115 and 124. Also, the sound of the shot is a much lower frequency. It appeared, though, that I was slightly less accurate with the 147, but I don't think I fired enough shots to make that a conclusive statement (20 of each type). I think I'm going to go with the 147gr rounds. I was really surprised that such a seemingly small difference in weight could have such an effect. Do you guys think the 147gr bullets don't expand as well due to a slower velocity?

September 17, 2004, 09:01 PM
This is probably a non intelligent question but what is the difference in 115gr,,,,124,,,,and 147gr ammunition......I'm still learning so please bare with me.....
Is the 115 less powerful than the other gr...

Do the +p ammunitions state +p or +p+on the box?? I have never seen any....drf

Ukraine Train
September 17, 2004, 09:23 PM
7000grains = 1lb. 115, 124, 147, etc. refers to the weight of the bullet. I'm no expert, but when you're talking a difference of 32gr between two bullets, I don't think you'll see a big difference in muzzle energy, which is a function of muzzle velocity and projectile mass. Your mass increases with a heavier bullet but the velocity decreases so you stay close to the same. A heavier bullet will tend to penetrate further. As for the +p designation, I'm not sure if it's always printed, I would assume it is. The GoldDots I shot didn't have it on there.

Mr Jody Hudson
September 17, 2004, 11:20 PM
Actually the power facter is weight times velocity times velocity again... therefore speed is much more a factor in the energy than weight is.

Grains are small things but the percentage difference is what is important. And, what makes that important is that the weight is based on the exact same diameter of bullet. Therefore a 30% heavier bullet for instance becomes more and more like a long heavy penetrating instrument... take this out a long way to a 2000 grain 9mm bullet if one existed and you would have a long heavy arrow-like projectile which would penetrate VERY deeply.

Now lets go back to the actual weights and speeds. Since a pistol must keep a ballance of weight and speed so as not to "explode" to violently when the cartridge goes off, or it would damage or explode the gun - as the weight goes up the speed must come down some to keep the explosive pressure at safe levels.

Heavier bullets act more like an arrow and penetrate more deeply, even at slower speeds. They also tend to expand a hollow point more slowly at say 10 inches of depth instead of 7 inches into the wet tissue. Some prefer to have a heavy and deeply penetrating bullet. Some prefer to have a faster and therefore more quickly expanding hollow point that becomes effectively a larger caliber even if it does not penetrate as deeply.

Therefore there are debates over size and speed and penetration... on gun boards as well as girls locker rooms! :neener:

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