How do I choose 9mm ammo?


January 4, 2013, 11:02 PM
I grew up shooting rifles and shotguns but am now just getting my first handgun, a Ruger P95. I've read threads on ammo until I'm dizzy but haven't really figured out how to choose the right stuff.

I'd like to support a local supplier if pricing is at all competitive but also need to know that I can order online when local supplies aren't available.

How do I go about educating myself on this and choosing the right ammo?

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January 4, 2013, 11:13 PM
What do you want to use the ammo for?
Practice, plinking, blasting, CCW?

You can shoot beer cans at the dump just as well with cheap FMJ value-pack ammo from Wally-world as $1.50 a shot uber-ultra-one-shot-stop JHP SD ammo from Cabalas.

Plinking / blasting ammo can be the cheapest FMJ stuff you can find.

CCW carry ammo should be any JHP from a name brand company that functions 110% positive in Your gun.

Everybody's SD 9mm JHP ammo has to very nearly meet FBI performance standards to remain competitive on the marketplace anymore, so it doesn't matter which brand you pick.

JHP bullet design and construction is not that important if you can put them where they need to go.


January 4, 2013, 11:19 PM
That gun will eat anything.

I wouldn't even have a problem using steel-cased Wolf for practice. I prefer 147 grain subsonic for defensive use, but my wife doesn't like the recoil, so she uses 115 gr jhp ammo.

Are you possibly overthinking it?

January 4, 2013, 11:23 PM
For me, it's a simple thing. Buy a few, or more, different brands and loads, and find out what the pistol/you like best. Go from there.

My Ruger likes Winchester of any sort. My Smith M&P likes Black Hills 124 grn hp. But it will eat anything else too. Though it's not a real big fan of Winchester White Box. My Stoeger HATED UMC 115 grn, but loved Winchester and Remington 147 grn hp. Go figure.

January 5, 2013, 08:20 AM
For plinking/practice/training/range use, whatever FMJ is inexpensive, runs and shoots to the sights will do. My 9mm Glocks have digested Wolf, CCI Blazer Al, Blazer Brass, UMC, Winchester, S&B, Federal/American Eagle and doubtless others I've forgotten. (Plus a few thousands of my reloads, way more of those than any factory ammo. ;) )

For defensive use (night stand, carry, car), there are three rounds I personally look for:
1) Winchester Ranger SXT 127gr +P+ (this stuff is HOT)
2) Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P (The NYPD load, also HOT)
3) Remington Golden Saber 124gr +P (nowhere as hot as the first two)

There are tons of other options out there, these are just the ones I've used in my pistols with excellent reliability. Don't worry about the +P rating: I can't tell the recoil difference and the Ruger will eat a steady diet of them without accelerating wear. Just use enough to make sure they work and load up.

January 5, 2013, 10:41 AM
Use cheep ammo for practice. Shoot as much as you can. Wolf or Tula is some of the cheapest ammo around. I prefer standard or regular JHP ammo. Federal, Remington and Winchester has made good regular ammo for a long time. It is usually 1/2 price from the new designer ammo from the same companies. Lower cost means you can practice with your carry ammo more often. I use WW white box 115 gr JHP in by Beretta 92. $20 for 50 is better than $20 for 20.

January 5, 2013, 11:56 AM
Thanks for all of the replies, this helps a lot. mljdeckard, I probably am over-thinking it but that's my nature when I'm not familiar with something. Drives my wife nuts.

I need to learn about loads, pressure, etc. Any suggestions on material or online sources?

January 5, 2013, 02:20 PM


January 5, 2013, 03:53 PM
You can always take the easy way out for defensive ammo and look at the loads used by major police agencies. I carry the Speer Gold Dot 124 grain +P JHP, which is the standard load of the NYPD. I have read reports that The NY Transit Police carry the standard pressure Gold Dot of the same weight and construction. I've never read a critical report about either.

Not a bad idea to adopt a load that has a proven track record where the rubber meets the road.

January 5, 2013, 04:10 PM
Everyone here has given very good suggestions. Just read about it over time; the 9x19 has been around for more than a hundred years; its going to have all sorts of variation.

The biggest ones I would concern myself with as a newbie would be the,

FMJ: Full Metal Jacket- is for practice and plinking

Of course LRN -Lead Round Nose- would suffice for that purpose too...except out of a standard Glock; different rifling

JHP: Jacketed Hollow Points- is for your defensive ammo, and will often will come in this type.

Heck, a whole book could be written about the 9x19: its history, variations, and its future.

January 5, 2013, 09:31 PM
This is all assuming that at this time, you can even FIND 9mm ammo any where

January 5, 2013, 09:49 PM
For some, the best ammo is the one that naturally returns the gun to point-of-aim after each shot.

In other words, you fire with a good sight picture. The gun recoils and returns on its own pretty much right back to the original sight picture, without you having to muscle the sight/gun back on target. Immediately fire the next shot...and both shots end up very near each other on target.

If you end up doing practical matches (USPSA, IDPA, IPSC) the above is very desirable.

January 5, 2013, 10:53 PM
Right now? Whatever you can get your hands on for a reasonable price. For carry or home defense? Whatever hollowpoint from a major manufacturer will reliably go bang and feed in your pistol

January 5, 2013, 11:47 PM
Right now? Whatever you can get your hands on for a reasonable price. For carry or home defense? Whatever hollowpoint from a major manufacturer will reliably go bang and feed in your pistol

I agree- it's kinda hard to be "choosy" when there isn't much ammo on store shelves.

Once production catches up with demand (sue me, I am an optimist :D ), go with a heavy-for-caliber JHP- 147s in the 9mm, 180s in the .40, 230s in the .45.

January 5, 2013, 11:55 PM
Check out these charts:

I'd pick the following:
147gr Federal HST
124 gr +P Speer Gold Dot
124 gr +P or 147gr Winchester Ranger T

Probably the Gold Dot is the only one of the three you will find locally as both HST and Ranger tend to be sold only to LEO groups (though you can find them online). The 147 Fed HST is my choice.

January 6, 2013, 12:44 AM
When I got my first nine I bought some Federal 115 grain from wal mart which worked great for shooting paper. My gun objected a bit to Winchester White Box. I picked up a box of Independence 115 grain (I think it is Blazer but don't remember for sure) that worked pretty well. The last few boxes I've shot through have been my own reloads with 115 grain tmj that I ordered from Rocky Mountain Reloading.

All of mine have been for putting holes in paper though so I have no experience with the self defense rounds.

Like others have said, grab what you can get for the moment, practice, and see what you like.

January 6, 2013, 01:54 AM
As for 9mm self defense rounds...

As of a couple of days ago, you can buy Asym +P 9mm, 124 grain, FBI ammo at Cabelas. A box of 25 will cost $20.00.

January 6, 2013, 02:36 PM
For SD/HD: Barnes XPB 115 gr JHP (copper bullet)
Federal Tactical 124 gr JHP (LE9T1)
Federal HST 124 gr +P JHP (P9HST3)
Remington Golden Saber 124 gr +P JHP bonded (GSB9MMD)
Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP
Speer Gold Dot 124 gr +P JHP
Winchester Partition Gold 124 gr JHP (RA91P)
Winchester Ranger-T 124 gr +P JHP (RA9124TP)
Winchester Ranger Bonded 124 gr +P JHP (RA9BA)
Winchester Ranger-T 127 gr +P+ JHP (RA9TA)
Federal Tactical 135 gr +P JHP (LE9T5)
Federal HST 147 gr JHP (P9HST2)
Remington Golden Saber 147 gr JHP (GS9MMC)
Speer Gold Dot 147 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 147 gr JHP (RA9T)
Winchester 147 gr bonded JHP (RA9B/Q4364)

For accuracy competition: whatever shoots most accurately out of your pistol
For everything else: what ever is cheap and reliably cycles.


January 6, 2013, 04:59 PM
I'd go with the Federal 9BPLE. It is a 115gr JHP bullet doing over 1300 FPS in your Ruger.

January 6, 2013, 05:07 PM
Does Federal still make the bp ammo? I haven't seen any in at least 20 years (red and white boxes).

January 7, 2013, 12:16 AM
Just wanted to say how cool it is to have all of these responses. I'm new to this and really appreciate the support. I've been pretty active on forums since the late '90s and I've gotta say the attitude here is refreshing.

January 7, 2013, 04:45 PM
For practice long as its a jacketed bullet ...and brass can shoot it at any range in the Seattle area that I'm aware of....

but I'd stick with either 115 or 124 grain for practice ammo.../the Federal white box is about the least expensive I see around right now.

For Defense / carry ammo - then I'd carry 147gr JHP Hydra my 9mm's....but break the gun in with jacketed RN in 115 or 124 grain ...then test a little of the defensive ammo you choose to carry, if you choose to carry.
some local retailers should have a decent supply of ammo .../ gun shows in Monroe and Puyallup will have ammo in case quantities. You cannot buy or sell a gun at Puyallup or Monroe shows unless you're a member of the Washington Arms Collectors - but you can still buy ammo, targets, accessories. Show this weekend in Monroe / next weekend in Puyallup. In my opinion - be vary wary of buying reloads from someone...stay with factory ammo.

January 7, 2013, 05:23 PM
I prefer 147 grain subsonic for defensive use...

Why subsonic? I have my 9s loaded with 147gr HST, but it isn't subsonic. Can you even buy subsonic anymore?

January 8, 2013, 12:41 AM
Why subsonic? I have my 9s loaded with 147gr HST, but it isn't subsonic. Can you even buy subsonic anymore?

In your typical handgun, 147gr HST is subsonic, as are most 147gr loads. At sea level, speed of sound is about 1,125fps. The charts I have show your Speer, Federal, and Winchester 147gr loads spitting out around 950-1050 fps....subsonic. Out of a carbine, I imagine it might hit sonic velocity or at higher altitude where the speed of sound is slower.

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