Best 9mm ammo for 3 inch barrel auto


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TheElyrian
July 24, 2009, 06:39 AM
I've been trying to research this topic for a couple of days now and haven't been able to find a consensus opinion or reliable ballistics results...

Do 147gr 9mm bullets expand reliably even out of a barrels as short as 3 inches?

Specifically, I'm looking for a good SD ammo for my Beretta PX4SC which has a 3 inch barrel. I've looked at all the regular tests and was wanting to use Federal HST ammo (reasons being that they're as good as any of the other top brands but at about half the cost). I really like what I've seen of the Federal HST 147gr 9mm, but am worried that they wouldn't have a high enough velocity to expand reliably.

I've read that 147gr bullets are designed to expand at slower velocities but I'm not sure if that's in reference to just the larger bullet through 4-5 inch barrels or if it also applies to 3 inch subcompacts like mine.

To go ahead and preemptively strike against a couple possible things that might pop up: I'm not looking for a magic bullet or anything and realize that shot placement and practice practice practice are much more important. However, I would most definitely not want to be using ammo that doesn't expand reliably. That would defeat the purpose and I might as well be using FMJ for SD.

Also, this isn't about any brand wars or anything. I'm happy to use any of the premium JHPs that are out there. However, it seems the majority of them cost about 1 dollar/bullet while Federal HST costs about 50 cents/bullet and doesn't have any downside.

So, this question has to do with whether or not 147gr would expand reliably because if it doesn't I'll probably opt for 124 gr Federal HST and wait my 3-4 months to get it. :cuss:

I would really like to use the "short barrel" Speer Gold Dots, but can't justify spending twice as much...

K, I'm half asleep and I hope this is the right forum. I just would like to go ahead and get 3-400 of a good SD ammo so that I can get out to the range and start getting proficient with what I choose.

TIA.

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Steve C
July 24, 2009, 05:03 PM
I have a P38 Walther that was modified to a K version with the barrel being cut off to approximately 3 inches. I ran some ammo from it and an unmodified Walther P1 (P38) for consistency in pistol type over my chrono. IMO 147gr ammo loosee too much velocity.

Factory Winchester USA 147gr JHP's chrono'd at 949 fps average from the full size 5" P1 but only ran at 630 fps from the short P38K.

124gr FMJ Hot Shot, Bosnian imported by Century Arms, was 1,054 fps from the 5" and 952 fps from the short barrel.

A hand load with 6.0grs of Unique behind a 115gr Remington bulk JHP ran 1,247 fps and 1,139 fps respectively.

This was a small test in 2 particular pistols so take the results as you will but I would choose a bullet of 124gr or lighter to use in my short barrel 9mm.

TheElyrian
July 27, 2009, 11:08 AM
The Winchester only ran at 600 something? That's crazy. Were you able to check expansion?

Thanks for the response.

Well, after a bit more research (googling) I've came across some more opinions in support of 147gr out of shorter barreled handguns.

http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs9.htm (about Gold Dots but still relevant)

9mm
If your handgun has a barrel length of 4 inches or longer, consider either the standard 124 grain Gold Dot JHP or the 147 grain Gold Dot JHP.

If your handgun has a barrel length less than 4 inches, consider the 147 grain Gold Dot JHP or the 124 grain +P JHP



http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulletin/defensive-ammunition-ballistics/44800-help-me-pick-load-my-pm9-2.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by skystud1 View Post
Will 147 gr get going enough to expand from shoot barrel?

Yes. (I guess I should ask how short a barrel?) The heaver bullet acelerates slower, and by spending more time in the barrel, the powder burns more completely and the round loses less velocity (as a percentage of being fired from a longer barrel) than a light bullet. Hope that makes sense, pretty tired. Anyhow, check out the 9mm data in the link.

+1. This information is corroborated by the Winchester Law Enforcement Ammo's Senior Technical Specialist who responded to an email asking the same basic question. He recommended Ranger 147gr in short barreled pistols due to the facts in Cupcake's post and also because they've increased the velocity window under which the round would expand by increasing the size of the hollowpoint, tweaking the jacket thickness and the depth of the cuts on the inside of the jacket petal segments.


I realize it's still internet hearsay, but I'm seeing more people saying that the newer 147gr JHPs are designed to expand with much lower velocities and because of the newer design.

I think I'll get a couple boxes of Federal HST 147gr as well as some 124gr and 124gr +P and try to get some wet phone books together. I'll get some 147gr +P if I can find it but I don't even see it on backorder anywhere.

That way I can test the 4 different types, make sure it all feeds correctly (not too worried about that), test for accuracy, expansion, penetration, and see which one feels the best to me. Might be awhile, given the state of ammo right now.

hardluk1
July 27, 2009, 12:56 PM
You might also look at hornady's Cd ammo They have the rubber plug in them and make pistol think there fmj -no ftf and they make them in 115 and 124 grain They do expand after going thru heavy clothing ,some hp's don't. price is cheaper than most defence ammo.

Steve C
July 27, 2009, 03:47 PM
The Winchester only ran at 600 something? That's crazy. Were you able to check expansion?

OOP's, that should have read 830 fps rathr than 530 fps.

I think that the ammo performance would suffer from the reduced velocity in the 147 gr while you may still get expansion I doubt if it would be near what you'd get at the typical 950 fps speed. The old rule of thumb was you needed velocities of 1,000 fps to ensure JHP expansion and its still not a bad guide IMO.

mgkdrgn
July 27, 2009, 07:39 PM
If you are looking for expansion, you need speed, and you'll get more speed out of a lighter bullet weight.

Bass Killer
July 27, 2009, 09:00 PM
I go with 124+p on all my 9mm's, it seems to shoot the distance.But I have used some 147 Winchester JHP's that shot amazingly with my G19.

esq_stu
July 27, 2009, 09:18 PM
Velocity tests with a PM9:
http://www.stoppingpower.net/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=17432
http://www.stoppingpower.net/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=17417
Many more threads on stoppingpower.net report velocities and expansion in gelatin for various loads and guns. Use the search function there. Great site, lots of data.

jocko
July 27, 2009, 09:42 PM
I shot 124 GD in my PM9, extremely accurate, very comfortable round. Lot sof good round sout there also, so my choic is just me. I tend not to experiment alot with defense ammo.; When I find One tha tI like and it feeds 100% then I stay with it.

MJZZZ
July 27, 2009, 10:39 PM
I have always shot Winchester Ranger T RA9124TP in all my carry 9mm's, they are all short barreled guns. I read that sometimes JHP going through several layers of heavy clothing will fail to expand. I have also heard that filling the JHP with wax will prevent the denim from clogging the nose. So I have filled in the nose of 25 rounds of the RA9124TP with candle wax and am going to wrap several layers of heavy denim around 6 wet phonebooks. I'll shoot 25 uncapped rounds through the first set of books, then repeat with the 25 capped rounds. My test guns will be a CZ Rami BD, CZ P-01, CZ PCR and a Kel Tec PF-9. I hope I have good results, as all my carry guns are reliable with the RA9124TP and I don't want to have to switch carry ammo. After my first test with capped bullets I will inspect the barrel for wax residue. Anyone heard of or tried this before?

TheElyrian
July 27, 2009, 11:46 PM
hardluk1: Are those EFMJ?

Steve C, mgkdrgn: I believe that used to be the norm. However, it seems that the newest 147gr JHPs are designed to expand reliably at lower velocities. While I've seen both opinions, out of all of the actual tests I've seen the 147gr HST still expands reliably even at lower velocities.

Bass Killer: Nice. It all has to do with finding what feels right and feeds reliably.

esq_stu: I went to the links and like the site (I'd already been checking it out). However, I didn't seem to find any testing of 147gr bullets out of shorter barreled guns.

jocko: I feel ya. As I said earlier, if it feeds reliably and feels right then there you go. However, I'm at the stage where I just got my first 9mm so I'm trying to find which ammo I want to choose. Once I decide, I'll stop worrying about bullet ballistics and stay with it. I'll be free to concentrate on more important things, like practice practice practice and buying more guns.

MJZZZ- I've heard of some JHP having those issues. I know I've came across some testing of Federal HST through denim and I don't recall them having any particular issues... I just can't find the link right now. Let us know how the wax works out though.



I tried searching for tests done with specific guns with 3 inch barrels, thinking I might come across some relevant info and found this (wet pack testing of different 9mm JHP out of a Kahr PM9):

http://usrange.org/smf/index.php?topic=2254.new;topicseen

Not sure what happened with the pictures but:

These are Federal 147 HST. All I can say is WOW! .599", and .624" expansion from a bullet only traveling at 927.5 and 929.9 fps with a penetration of 8 1/2" and 8 9/16" out of a 3" barrel. I guess that the longer score lines on the side of the bullet help with the expansion. If the formula to convert wet packs to FBI ballistic gelatin standards is accurate, I'd be happy with this round out of a 3" Kahr PM9 in my area's climate.
The expanded flower was so pretty that as a goof I used the expanded bullet to stamp a flower design on some old leather.
This is a nice low felt recoil round. It's true that the heavier 147 gr. have less felt recoil. It's a slower drawn out pulse.

This looks promising. The PM9 seems to be fairly similar to my PX4SC so I'm thinking that the results should be somewhat interchangeable. The supposed conversion from wet pack testing to FBI standards is that wet pack penetration equals 2/3 of the FBI standards. If my math is correct (it rarely is) then that means over 12 inches of penetration.

I'm hoping the regular 147 HST works out. IMO it seems to be the best choice for me from all of the data I've collected so far. I'm aware that none of it means anything until I feel/test/try it out for myself. However, it seems to have reliable expansion, gooood expansion, nice penetration, marginal recoil, and a decent price tag.

Now if I can just find it...

GRIZ22
July 28, 2009, 12:48 AM
1. Find what feeds best in your gun (which should be just about anything).

2. Find what's most accurate in your gun (diffrences shouldn't be that great)

There is no magic bullet. Concentrate on reliability and accuracy.

TheElyrian
July 28, 2009, 01:47 AM
From the OP:

To go ahead and preemptively strike against a couple possible things that might pop up: I'm not looking for a magic bullet or anything and realize that shot placement and practice practice practice are much more important. However, I would most definitely not want to be using ammo that doesn't expand reliably. That would defeat the purpose and I might as well be using FMJ for SD.

GRIZ22
July 28, 2009, 06:33 PM
From the OP:


Quote:
To go ahead and preemptively strike against a couple possible things that might pop up: I'm not looking for a magic bullet or anything and realize that shot placement and practice practice practice are much more important. However, I would most definitely not want to be using ammo that doesn't expand reliably. That would defeat the purpose and I might as well be using FMJ for SD.


My point is most JHPs expand reliably to some degree. You can't depend on tests done by Charlie and Joe shooting watermelons, wet newspapers, etc down at the gravel pit. These only show the bullet's effectiveness on watermelons or wet newspapers. Manufacturer's tests using ballistic gel with layers of cloth, steel, etc are more scientific but are designed to show their product in a favorable light. No matter what ammo you believe is best there are 10 shooters who will claim it's crap.

The "best" is a quest for the Holy Grail.

What I believe is the best answer is in response #12.

TheElyrian
July 28, 2009, 07:15 PM
No offense intended, GRIZ22, and I appreciate the response, but I think you're missing the point of the thread.

I'm entirely in agreement with:

1. Find what feeds best in your gun (which should be just about anything).

2. Find what's most accurate in your gun (diffrences shouldn't be that great)

However, given that almost all (if not all) modern 9mm JHP should feed reliably in my Beretta and should all be approximately of the same accuracy, then I would like to make sure the ammo I choose expands and performs both well and reliably coming out of a sub compact with a 3 inch barrel.

The length of a barrel affects the velocity of the bullet, the velocity of the bullet affects the expansion and penetration, etc etc.

Therefore I am just trying to make sure whatever bullet I choose does all the things I would like it to do out of the shorter barrel of my gun.

If your point is that all modern 9mm JHP expands reliably and penetrates adequately out of 3 inch barrel guns then I'd like to see some kind of evidence for that because that's not what I keep finding.

I realize that internet hearsay is internet hearsay. I also realize that wet pack and gelatin testing is just an approximation of actual shooting ballistics. However, my opinion is that all of the above do have value, if only to provide a bit of insight into the performance of different calibers and rounds.

The problem as I see it is that I would like to use the largest size round I can for the caliber gun I am using and that I have heard two different things regarding this size round of out short barrel guns such as that one I have. With two different (and opposing) viewpoints concerning something that should be verifiable by empirical data (either modern 147gr JHPs do reliably expand in shorter barrels or they do not) I am left in the middle wondering which one of the two is actually true.

This is something that should be able to be ascertained by gelatin/wet pack testing, and most of the tests that meet the criteria of the scenario that I am concerned about is leading me to believe that they do in fact reliably expand.

Again, I know that there is no "magic bullet". This is not what I am attempting to find out. However, there is definitely reason to question whether or not all modern JHPs expand and penetrate reliably out of a 3 inch barrel. This is what I am attempting to find out. Gelatin/wet pack testing (done by myself preferably) should help me to figure this out.

If you don't think whether or not the ammunition you use for self defense expands or penetrates reliably is an important issue then you're welcome to your feelings on the matter. However, it is important to me.

Shadan7
July 28, 2009, 08:01 PM
Since you see the connection between velocity and barrel length:

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/9mmluger.html which includes two real world guns with 3" barrels.

And since you are considering how it performs in ballistic gel:

http://www.brassfetcher.com/index_files/Page1794.htm

Hope that helps.

Jim D.

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