What exactly is +P and +P+? (aka plus P info request)


February 15, 2005, 11:15 AM
I've been around here a while, read many a post, and learned quite a bit. But I must admit, I don't know what +P or +P+ mean. It is obviously a more powerful version of the said caliber, but I would like to know more specifics, the history, etc. Does +P/+P+ apply only to .38 spcl and 9mm?

I hope this is not a blatantly duplicate post. I tried to search, but '+P' is ignored by the search function.

Thanks in advance for the wisdom.


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February 15, 2005, 11:20 AM
+P is a SAAMI standard for higher pressure loads


+P+ is sometimes a non-sense term - you have no way of knowing whether the ammo in question is merely a shade over +P or really overpressured. Generally, as shown by the link below, +P+ is generally 15% more pressure than +P (i.e. really hot). To me, the benefits of slightly higher velocity are questionable.

For a more complete description, go here:


February 15, 2005, 11:29 AM
Are +P and +P+ ammo considered "hot rounds" because of the higher pressures? Or is the term "hot rounds" usually refer to high hand loaded rounds? Thanks.

February 15, 2005, 11:29 AM
What Mulliga said.

+P is regulated for most calibers -- there's a SAAMI maximum pressure and as long as your firearm is rated for +P ammo in its caliber, you're fine to shoot it.

+P+ ammo is not regulated by SAAMI -- there's no set maximum pressure. Most +P+ ammo says to only use in "high quality firearms in excellent working order" or something like that.

February 15, 2005, 11:33 AM
"Loaded hot" (to me, at least ;) )means any load that has higher than normal pressure, or at least is near the recognized maximum pressures for the cartridge in question.

Typical example of "the difference" between +P and +P+:


The +P+ 9mm has over 400 ft lbs. of muzzle energy, a good 20% more than the average 115 grainer.

February 15, 2005, 11:48 AM
Thanks. I've been to some ranges and they have signs posted stating to the effect "No Hot Rounds." I guess they don't want to have their deflector or whatever it's called at the end of the range damaged or for outside ranges, the steel targets damaged.

February 15, 2005, 11:56 AM
Be aware, the +P(++++) thing is often just marketing bogus, nothing else.

Jim K
February 15, 2005, 04:26 PM
The +P+ business in .38 Special was not "marketing". It was an exercise in hypocrisy. Police departments wanted more powerful rounds, but did not want to go to the .357 Magnum because it is not "politically correct". So the ammo makers gave them the .38 Special +P+, which can/could be ordered only under contract (which is why the headstamps have the date in the military fashion). The warnings issued specifically say that .38 Special +P+ is to be used only in revolvers chambered for the .357 Magnum. (.38 Special +P can be used in any modern .38 Special revolver.)

So, when a cop shoots Joe Sleazebag, the police PR guy can deny that poor Joe was done in with that awful .357 "Mangle 'em" and correctly state that the police were using their plain old .38 Special, which they have used for years. Of course the .38 Special +P+ IS a .357 Magnum in a .38 Special case.


February 15, 2005, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the info.

On the "SAAMI" page, I find it interesting that +P is used only with the handgun calibers: .38spcl, .38 Super, 9mm, and .45 auto. Does anyone know why this is?

February 15, 2005, 06:24 PM
Here is a pic of the law only ammo keenan was speaking of. I tested the ammo and it produced 980 fts with 110 grns of weight, whereas .357 mag high pressure load was 1050 fts with 158 grn. Note the warnings on the box.

Eric Bryant
February 15, 2005, 09:38 PM
I'd recommend checking out the Buffalo Bore .44 Mag +P+ (http://www.buffalobore.com/ammunition/default.htm#44P) to understand what "+P+" really means.


Bart Noir
February 16, 2005, 08:43 PM
And to confirm the PC slant for this explaination, the box says "controlled expansion" but not hollowpoint. I just bought 5 boxes of that load and will only use them in .357 Magnum wheelguns. 10 bucks for a 50 round box of mini-magnums ain't a bad price.

Bart Noir

February 16, 2005, 10:00 PM
The US Treasury used to issue their agents .357 Magnum revolvers but their policy was for all agents to carry only department issued .38 Special ammo unless they were on Presidential detail they they were issued .357 ammo.

The ammo pictured above states on the back of the box that it was loaded to US Treasury specifications.
Having fired some it is several years ago i can attest it is hot stuff. in a S&W Model 42 it will sting your hand. That's when i decided that danged grip safety had to go!

Another THR member bought the last five boxes of this stuff from a major ammo dealer at our last local gunshow. For $9.95 a box no less!

Man I hate being broke.

February 16, 2005, 10:02 PM
You know, you should never open a thread before dinner and then answer it afterward without refreshing the screen.

Don't worry Bart, I didn't mention your name so they'll never figure out it was you. :D

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