Millitary Usage of 115 Grain 9MM - Why Not Go Heavier?


October 25, 2007, 11:29 AM
If the millitary is going to use 9MM as their main handgun round and keep them FMJ, why don't they try a slightly heavier round?

Or is it a case that the velocity lost going up to say a 147 grain round is too much and the 115 grain is preferred?

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October 25, 2007, 11:37 AM
from what I have read elsewhere, the military fmj round is a 124 gr +p SAAMI NATO spec round

October 25, 2007, 11:37 AM
The military ball round is M885, and is a 124 gr bullet.

Unsure of where you received your information about military ball ammunition, but it is incorrect.

the naked prophet
October 25, 2007, 12:36 PM
The ideal handgun bullet would expand to the greatest diameter that is possible for the bullet to still penetrate 12 inches of gelatin, correct?

Since the military can't use expanding bullets, why not get a FMJ bullet that is so light it only penetrates 12-13 inches, but shoot it at blazing fast speeds to cause as much damage as possible? I know that 1200fps is pretty fast, but if you used, say, a 70 grain FMJ, I'd think that would do more damage, just due to the speed and possibly even fragmentation.

How fast would a 70 grain FMJ go from a 9mm +P+? I know the 115 grain bullets can get up to nearly 1400 fps from some of the hotter +P loads out there, so maybe what, 2000 fps?

Think that idea has any merit?

October 25, 2007, 12:43 PM
Thanks for the correction that we're using 124 grain.

I've tried CorBon 90 grain (I believe that's what the weight of them were), and they are stated to travel at a higher velocity than the heavier ones. I think the problem is going to be that the lower weight isn't going to make enough velocity to be effective.

For example, what is the standard weight of the 5.56/.223 bullet that is used and how fast are they travelling?

October 25, 2007, 12:45 PM
The problem with really light bullets going really fast is that they have a lot less bearing surface when engaging the rifling and tend to be less accurate at any kind of distance. I was playing with the idea of 90 gr hollow points in a 38 for steel challenge shooting and was told by a more experienced shooter that they were unstable and inaccurate out to 35 yards. They also tend to "blow up" and cause nasty surface wounds or do not penetrate to do fatal damage if there is anything in the way, like heavy clothing for instance.

Jim Watson
October 25, 2007, 01:17 PM
While 124 grain 9mm is standard, I have seen service ammo with 115s, NATO mark and all.

The pistol is a very minor consideration to modern military and carbines are taking over from SMGs. Not worth the development time and money to try for a marginal improvement in a secondary weapon.

October 25, 2007, 01:20 PM
Lighter bullets generally have more kinetic energy, since KE rises with the mass but also with the SQUARE of the velocity. If the 9mm 115s and 124s will still penetrate 12"+ of gel, then I see no compelling reason to use heavier, lower-energy rounds, particularly when they all have to be FMJs.

October 25, 2007, 01:40 PM
There's a trade off involved here with penetration. You want penetration in case the other guy has any kind of protection, low grade body protection, heavy clothing, planks, and other barriers, etc.

That's the reason the Soviets went with 30 caliber handguns in WWII. We laughed, but they were thinking of heavy winter clothing, packed snow and plank barriers, etc. the 7.62 Tokarev had the best penetration of any common handgun in WWII.

October 25, 2007, 01:46 PM
One reason is, if you change bullet weight that drastically, all the M-9's in inventory would no longer shoot where the sights are looking.

That would then require sight changes on all of them before they would meet mil-spec accuracy standards.

Bottom line = Not gonna happen.

October 25, 2007, 01:55 PM
I have fired one or two rounds of M882 ball down range, and have supervised several hundred thousand more.
I have never seen, nor used any ball other then M882 Ball used by the USMC, USAF, USA, NG, USN and other components at any of the ranges that i have taught or been a student on.
That of course does not mean it doesn't exist. Can you supply the DODIC for the other then M882 ball that you have seen?
Can you advise what branch was using it? When they used it? Or where they used it?
I am curious as to this.

October 25, 2007, 02:14 PM
Chapter 12 of TM-43-0001-27 is especially enlightening.

It shows a a 115 sub-gun round not for use in the M-9, and says M882 uses a 112 grain bullet.

No 124 grain load is mentioned.

Jim Watson
October 25, 2007, 02:15 PM
Sorry, Pat, that is a trivia item type of recollection. I did not expect to have to document it in casual conversation.

October 25, 2007, 03:02 PM
No sweat Jim- my curiousity was getting the better of me>
I have seen some foreign NATO headstamped ammo that was allegedly 115gr, but as bullet weight is not maked on the box, who knows?

Radio Control Model- A363, the DODIC for M882 (my typos earlier!) is for a 124gr projectile. The TM you reference is dated 1994, and what is interesting is that is calls for the 112gr ammunition to be used in the M3 SMG, a very few of which were ever converted to 9x19 during WW2.

October 25, 2007, 03:13 PM
The military ball round is M885, and is a 124 gr bullet.

+1 that is correct

October 25, 2007, 04:51 PM
I always wondered why they didn't rifle the barrels with a twist that barely stabilized the bullets.
That way they would hopefully at least tumble when they hit.
It would at least do something while still adhering to the rules.

October 26, 2007, 12:05 PM
Yes, Pat Rogers is correct, the 9mm ammo used by u.s. forces is the m-882 124 gr fmj. Usually loaded by Olin or Federal, I've seen both while instructing at MCSF Bn PAC in the early '90's prior to the consolidation and move to MSCF Bn at Norfolk, Va.
Although there are 115gr fmjs used by some of the European NATO allies. When I was stationed in St.Mawgan, England, back in the '80s, the Brits std 9mm round (the 2Z round, if I remember correctly) was a 115gr very hotly loaded, a real screamer! I believe the Italians used a 115gr back then also.....

October 26, 2007, 12:18 PM
The 12-18" goal is generally a law enforcement one, where over-penetration is a problem. In a military setting you really can't have too much penetration.

If you shoot through someone and hit someone behind him, that guy probably shouldn't have been standing there. Oh well.

The ideal handgun bullet would expand to the greatest diameter that is possible for the bullet to still penetrate 12 inches of gelatin, correct?

October 26, 2007, 02:17 PM
I worked a USAF special duty assignment from 84-87 where we were issued M1911A1s. We changed to M9s in 88, but didn't get any M882 for several months, so we were authorized to purchase our own ammo locally and got IMI/UZI 115 +P FMJ. Did about 1300 fps from the M9s. There was also some 158 FMJ available, but it didn't penetrate common tactical barriers as well from a pistol (think it was special purpose ammo intended for suppressed smgs).

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