9mm: 115, 124, or 147 grain?


April 12, 2012, 04:29 PM
If all 3 bullet weights were the same price, which 9mm round would be your personal preference and why?

If your favorite of these 3 most common varies by use (targets vs defense I'd love to hear why. Or perhaps you have numerous 9mm pistols and your favorite varies by specific gun?

In the real world, 115 is almost always the lowest cost and no doubt selected for that reason, but simply ignore the price issue for this as I'd like to dig the into non-monetary differences.

115 is the only one of them I've fired as I've have always answered with "the cheapest is my favorite" when buying ammo in the real world.

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April 12, 2012, 04:35 PM
147 due to less felt recoil.

Rail Driver
April 12, 2012, 04:36 PM
I preferred the 147gr JHP when I carried a 9mm (Glock 19, then 26). Slower, but heavier and harder hitting in my opinion.

April 12, 2012, 04:56 PM
147 due to less felt recoil.

Exact opposite of what I'd have guessed. I'd have thought weighing substantially more would give it the most recoil. Though you did specify FELT recoil, so I guess it could actually have the most recoil but be perceived as less.

Is that the case?

April 12, 2012, 05:08 PM
I kind of like well built 115's going 1500+fps.. 1500 is the old 1200 these days. They hold together.

April 12, 2012, 05:22 PM
I'd have thought weighing substantially more would give it the most recoil.

147s are typically slower (and a lot are subsonic), so that could have something to do with felt recoil.

For practice, I usually pick up 115s because that's the easiest to find, but I wouldn't be opposed to using 124s or 147s for practice. For defense I'm using 124gr +Ps because I think it provides a good balance between velocity and weight. But when my suppressor comes in, I'm likely going to be shooting more 147s due to them being (mostly) subsonic. I'm not sure if I'll change my carry ammo, but I'll definitely start stocking more 147s for practice.

April 12, 2012, 05:42 PM
My order of preference is 124gr, 147gr, 115gr.

My reasons are the feel and POA/POI of the rounds.

April 12, 2012, 05:52 PM
The heavier a bullet is, all else being equal, the deeper it will penetrate. So I use exclusively 147gr for my defensive round, and I prefer to practice with the same for the sake of consistency.

April 12, 2012, 06:09 PM
124 seems like the sweet spot. The 115g would be second choice since I think speed is more important than a small amount of extra weight.

April 12, 2012, 06:24 PM
I get the best results with 124 with my g19

April 12, 2012, 06:33 PM
115 for practice or plinking. 147 for defense.

April 12, 2012, 06:42 PM
In my Kahr PM9 I tried some Hornady Critical Defense 115gr and I thought they were mild.
Also tried the 124gr Gold Dot Short Barrel and thought they were snappy.
I settled,at least for now, on Winchester Ranger Bonded 147 gr.(RA9B).
It's weird to describe but they dont fill snappy but they do fill robust coming out of the short Kahr.
Very controllable feel.

Edit to add...I use 115gr. fmj for plinking at the range with a couple of mags loaded with the 147's to make up the difference on the shooting difference.

April 12, 2012, 06:48 PM
My tastes follow 777TRUTH, 124gr, 147gr, 115gr.
I like 124 gr. in the house and on my hip
147 gr. at the range first and last
115 gr. middle range time

April 12, 2012, 08:55 PM
I personally prefer to stay closer to the original design weight...so, my choice is usually 124gr or 127gr for defense. Luckily CCI Blazer makes a 124 gr practice round.

Having said that, my default function round is the old Federal 115gr 9BP...which is what I run in a gun that doesn't seem as accurate as it should be, it eliminates a varible.

I shoot a lot of 115gr Blazer in practice and when teaching, because it is the cheapest round that functions in all my guns and burns very cleanly.

The old 147gr sub-sonic was a poor experience when our department used to issue it...and I just can't seem to shake the taste enough to shoot it

April 12, 2012, 09:59 PM
Whatever the gun likes. My Kel Tec likes a 115 hornady XTP moving at 1263 fps. It shoots POA and 3.5" at 25 yards accurate off the bench and is 100 percent reliable. Whatever works in YOUR gun. Don't sweat the details otherwise.

April 12, 2012, 10:08 PM
I prefer the 147's for target and IDPA, the recoil impulse is much smoother to me and both of my XD's really seem to shoot better with them. For HD all of them are loaded with 124's.

April 12, 2012, 10:17 PM
Exact opposite of what I'd have guessed. I'd have thought weighing substantially more would give it the most recoil. Though you did specify FELT recoil, so I guess it could actually have the most recoil but be perceived as less.

Is that the case?

Pretty much. The recoil from 115 is more of a snap, while 147 is more of a push. Powder charge is usually actually a little less for 147.

April 12, 2012, 10:20 PM
i use whatever works best in my mp5,and i can buy bulk

April 12, 2012, 10:25 PM
Guess it would depend on the gun being used. I shoot older Walther(s) that were designed for the 124/115 grain bullets. They have always worked great for me... no reason to change. With proper shot placement, they will all do the job.

April 12, 2012, 10:38 PM
124gr. To me it is the best of both worlds with the proper load and bullitt design. Big enough to count, yet small enough to still get the proper fps.

Sig Bill
April 12, 2012, 10:51 PM
124 +P for me.

April 12, 2012, 10:57 PM
124 +P for me.


115 or 124 FMJ for the range.

April 12, 2012, 11:32 PM
147g = +p 115g performance without the 115g stresses on the gun or recoil or noise.

April 13, 2012, 12:35 AM
For Practice I shoot 124grn reloads cause I got a good deal on 5k of them a while back. If I carry, I like to have 124grn JHPs of one sort or another. I have a bunch of 124grn Fed HydraShoks that I got years ago that I normaly carry. I also got a box of 127grn +P+ of Winchesters Ranger brand. They have the same sort of bullet design as the old Black Talons. So once I can confirm that there good to go in my pistol that will most likly be the round I stock in my G-19.


April 13, 2012, 12:41 AM
Speer Gold Dot or Remington Golden Saber:

124gr +P JHP

April 13, 2012, 12:07 PM
I carry 127 +P+ JHP (RA9TA) right now. If I were to change, it would be to go to the 124 gr +P version of the same round. Best weight/velocity ratio out there.

April 13, 2012, 12:40 PM
If all 3 bullet weights were the same price, which 9mm round would be your personal preference and why?

My preference for 9mm, in order, are:

124gr +P
115gr +P
147gr +P

I think the 9mm works best with fast bullets. Larger calibers (44sp, 45acp) can get away with slower rounds but I think 9mm needs the speed for maximum effectiveness. In case it isn't obvious, I don't care much for 147gr bullets. The only real benefit of them I can see is better penetrations, and I think modern premium JHPs in 124 ad 115 grain achieve adequate penetration, already, with potentially better expansion due to higher velocity.

My current ammo of choice for my Glock 9mm is the Speer LE Gold Dot 124gr. +P, although I don't feel under armed with similar offerings from any of the major manufacturers.

April 13, 2012, 01:02 PM
I like the way the 147's recoil is felt. It is more of a push instead of the snap I seem to get with the 115. Only way to know is to shoot both and see what you and your gun likes the best.

April 13, 2012, 02:51 PM
The heavier a bullet is, all else being equal, the deeper it will penetrate.

True that. It also means that a given 147 bullet can be designed to expand to a greater degree than a 124, while still penetrating the same depth. That's a little shovelful of win to scoop out of the mass grave of service pistol terminal ballistics.

I just did some fiddling. Using 124/1200 and 147/1050, the 147 will give you 18.5% more mass and 12.5% less velocity than the 124. Proportionally, you're getting about 50% more weight gain than velocity loss. To me, that's important. A nearly 20% increase in mass for a small, high speed object is great.

Going the other way, using the 124/1200 you lose 15.7% of the mass in return for 14.2% more velocity. Granted, it's 14% of a much larger number, but let's not forget that terminal ballistics show some similiarities to external ballistics, only the process is occuring much faster. The 124 will decelerate faster once it hits the person or animal that needed shooting, given the same expansion. I don't know exactly how far into an ordinary tissue blend a 124 bullet will have to go before having less energy than the 147, but if it's as shallow as five or six inches then to me that infers that a 147 bullet of similar expansion is more capable of inflicting damage to the vitals than the 124 bullet.

Personally I don't really feel like 150-200 or even 400 feet per second at service pistol velocities is enough to trump a better designed bullet and a bullet that gives the designer and user some clear advantages like the 147 does. The 400 FPS was using the most apples to oranges comparison possible, the poofiest of 147 grain ammunition vs the most gnarly boutique speed kills 124 ammunition.

I also think there is a good reason why the big ammunition companies have been nearly exclusively introducing new bullet designs in the 124-147 grain weight range. The only real exceptions are the all-copper XPB, which is not the right bullet to use to discuss performance differences between bullet weights for conventional jacketed lead hollow points. Oh and the other exception is the Critical Defense. Accurate, loaded to comfortable levels for any reasonably sized pistol, and delivering very mediocre expansion with poor penetration.

It's telling that the duty-oriented version of the Critical Defense is only being offered with a 135 grain bullet. Kind of like the Federal "Personal Defense" line of bullets, loaded with a very light 135 grain bullet in .40 at unremarkable speeds, and also oddly 135 grain in 9mm, again at low speed. It's why I personally am not willing to pay for bullets advertised as defensive bullets, if the same company sells a different bullet to government buyers. A police officer's weapon is a defense weapon, or it's a rifle/shotgun carried during some sort of SWAT-related event. I don't deserve any lesser performance from my defensive weapons than a police officer does.

I don't buy second-class citizen gigs, and that extends to defense ammunition. I'll take the time to crawl the web, researching to the best of my limited ability the way handgun bullets work, which specific designs deliver the best objective performance, going by the long established FBI protocols, backyard tests, and if available anecdotal stories about either defense or hunting. And then I'll go find the bullet I decide on, if it's a 'Tactical' line of ammunition, then if need be I'll wait and buy decent quantity when I can find it.

FWIW, some Oregon police department supposedly had about 13 shootings with standard pressure 147 HST, and it appears from their experience to show the same consistency in people that it does in test media. I think any bullet that gets past 9" and shows meaningful expansion would be an effective defense bullet, but 12-14" penetration and lots of expansion is to me ideal. That's either flavor 147 HST.

April 13, 2012, 02:54 PM
I train/practice with 115 gr and I carry 115 gr. I'm running 9mm to save money and practice more, so 115 is the way to go for me.

April 13, 2012, 04:39 PM
124 grain Lee Truncate Cone or Round Nose 2R. Because I have a ton of alloy and I just this past Winter cast, sized an lubed approximately 3,000 of each. In my BHP and my three Glocks (26,19,17) these bullets are exceptionally accurate. And 124 grain weight is the sweet spot for my guns when it comes to functioning and accuracy. Plus I get 9-10 more 124s per pound of alloy.

Jacketed is still 124 grain in Golden Saber for the same functioning and accuracy reasons and they can be bought 2,000 bulk packs.

April 13, 2012, 05:38 PM
My Glock 19 shoots 124 gr +P Gold Dots at a chroographed 1250 fps. That is less than 100 fps slower than the same bullet weight from a 4" 357 mag. About the same that you would get from a 3" magnum revlover. That load in 357 mag is the gold standard by which all handgun defensive rounds are measured. Close enough for me.

I've tried 147's but did not get the accuracy I wanted and did not feel the heavier weight made up for the lack of velocity. I prefer 124 gr FMJ for practice, but can usually just use the cheapest 115 ammo I can find. At 15 yards and closer the point of impact is close enough to the 124 +P's to not be an issue.

April 13, 2012, 08:16 PM
My order of preference is 124, 115 and 147 grain.

April 13, 2012, 09:15 PM
My 1in10 twist bbl prefers the original 124/125gr bullets.
Long side-wall bullets are the best of the best for speed and accuracy.

April 13, 2012, 09:56 PM
My load of choice is the Ranger RA9T 147gr JHP, surprisingly its performance is almost indistinguishable from the other two "best" loads to be had in 9mm, the 127gr +P+ RA9TA, and the 124gr +P JHP RA9124TP. Out of my carry G19's these loads perform exactly as advertised, 990fps, 1170fps, and 1240fps.

The 147's are left, 127's center, 124's right.

April 14, 2012, 03:38 PM
147gr. Better recoil with better or equal performance, especially penetration.

April 14, 2012, 07:20 PM
For a full-size 9mm like a Glock 17 or my CZ 75B, 147 jhp +P.

For smaller barrels, 124 jhp +P.

I don't care for the 115, just my opinion - except for target shooting.

Redneck with a 40
April 14, 2012, 07:49 PM
I practice with 115 grain plated bullets that I load. For defense, I've got some Federal 9PBLE 115 gr +p+ rounds, which has a good track record in law enforcement.

In the near future, I'm going to pick up some 124 grain +p gold dot's.

April 14, 2012, 11:29 PM
I use 124gr. HST's for carry.

April 14, 2012, 11:32 PM
I like 135's. Of the weights you listed, I pick 124.

April 14, 2012, 11:47 PM
115 gr. Trained with and shot it all the time. Double the weight and you double the kinetic energy. Double the velocity and you quadruple the kinetic energy. Some times, faster may be better. YMMV

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