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Bullet weight for short barrel 9mm

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Balrog, Oct 23, 2022.

  1. Balrog

    Balrog Member

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    If we define short barrel a less than 4 inches, what is the optimum hollow point bullet weight for 9mm? I want the best expansion, and minimum of 12" penetration.

    I generally use 124g JHP's in 9mm pistols, but that is for guns with 4" barrel or longer. Some sources say 147g is better for short barrels.
     
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  2. Hartkopf

    Hartkopf Member

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    It just depends on the bullet design (brand) and velocity. Lucky Gunner’s test were all done with short barrels so their site might give you some ideas. I don’t like 147gr for short barrels but it still depends on the bullet. I’ve tested 124 grain HSTs in clear gel that expanded very well out of a 3” barrel. Same for 124gr +p Gold Dots. Hornady XTPs expanded reliably but not very big(.440). S&B 115gr JHPs did not expand at all.
     
  3. frogfurr

    frogfurr Member

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    Buy the lightest weight bullet recommended and buy the fastest burning powder recommended. That will get you your speed. Expansion works against penetration.

    124GR Gold Dots are what I load for a 4.25" barrel.
     
  4. Alllen Bundy

    Alllen Bundy Member

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    If you only needed to shoot a naked person at 7 yards, most ammo will give you sufficient expansion and penetration. But getting good expansion while your target is wearing multiple layers of clothing, AND is at a greater distance, is more of a challenge.

    Mostly for reasons of availability, I have been using Sig Elite Performance 115 gr JHP cartridges with a muzzle velocity rated at 1,185 FPS through a 4" barrel.

    But my friendly neighborhood gun store is now regularly stocking Sig Elite Performance 124 gr + P JHP Nato cartridges with a muzzle velocity rated at 1,198 FPS through a 4" barrel. It's just a little bit faster for more reliable expansion, with a little bit more mass for better penetration, and won't lose velocity at distance quite as much because there is more mass with nearly the same amount of air drag as the 115 gr bullet. So even with the reduced muzzle velocity with my shorter 3.1" barrel length, it may just get the job done.

    I think that 147 gr cartridges are pushing the limits for a short barreled 9 mm pistol, even with a +P powder load. I wouldn't consider using them with a short barreled pistol.

    I am using a Sig P365 with a 3.1" barrel. But my carry method will allow me to carry with a slightly longer pistol, so I hope to buy a P365XL with a 3.7" barrel in the spring, and gain just a bit of extra muzzle velocity. Here in Minnesota, people commonly wear multiple layers of clothing in the winter. Higher bullet velocity helps to overcome the expansion problems that clothing presents.

    Also, it would be best if your practice ammo had a similar muzzle velocity to your JHP rounds.
     
  5. The_Quartermaster

    The_Quartermaster Member

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    Panics: Use what you can actually find if starting off new.

    Before the panics: !50 HST in my subcompacts but before those were available, 147 HST's. Compacts and duty, 124 GD or 124 HST's.
     
  6. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    147gr loses the least velocity from a short barrel.

    For example, I chonographed Federal 147gr HST from my Glock 43 at 960 fps (five shot average), just 40 fps less than Federal's 1000fps claim for this load.
     
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  7. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    Losing the least velocity has nothing to do with it, it's all about whether or not the bullet stays above expansion threshold.

    Since the goal is expansion from a short barrel I would lean towards 115gr, but it's not so much weight, but bullet design that matters.
     
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  8. Alllen Bundy

    Alllen Bundy Member

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    It might lose the least amount of velocity from a short barrel, but what's the point? It's only traveling at 960 fps.
    With a 4" barrel that is rated at 1,000 fps with an energy of only 326 ft lbs.
    Their 124 gr cartridge is rated at 1,150 fps with an energy of 364 ft lbs.
    Their 124 gr + P version is rated with a 1,200 fps and energy of 396 ft lbs.

    Sig's 124 gr + P version is rated with a 1,196 fps and energy of 395 ft lbs.

    Either of these 124 gr +P loaded cartridges will have more reliable expansion and put more energy into the target than the 147 gr cartridge.
     
  9. The_Quartermaster

    The_Quartermaster Member

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    I've seen enough tests where 147 and 150 HST's worked, I don't need to argue another's 124's choice just to validate my own choices as opposed to theirs.

    One recent video showed out of a Shield 1.0 that 147 HST had passed and surpassed the FBI protocol for testing in media. One didn't fully expand like the rest but all made it past the minimum and that's exactly what I am looking for. Remember, I vet for I'm going to to be using that meets my criteria, not anyone else's.

    YMMV
     
  10. trackskippy

    trackskippy Member

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    I just use what I use in my other guns, these days, its 124 grain HST's that I got a deal on.

    I wouldn't get all wrapped up in worrying about possible minor differences in performance, Id put the emphasis on being able to put quick multiple rounds on target over magic bullets. No matter what you use, youre going to shoot until they are down anyway, and you know exactly how many rounds that takes. :)
     
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  11. Lennyjoe

    Lennyjoe Member

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    I use 124 gr HST for my short barrel subcompact 9’s and 147 gr HST for my compact and larger 9’s.

    After reviewing the Lucky Gunner test results I decided to test fire the HST’s out of all of my 9MM pistols and was satisfied with the results. Mind you, I did not have gel to test with so my testing was focused on grouping, cycling and recoil.
     
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  12. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    Somewhere between 115 and 147 grains . . .
     
  13. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    First off momentum plays a big roll in penatration.
    Second all the major SD 147s (Win, Fed and Speer) are designed to expand down to about 800 fps.
    Third physics being what it is when you start droppin below 4" barrels those 124s start dropping velocity.
    From my LC9 124 +p gold dots were only going 1070 fps.
     
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  14. CNobbe

    CNobbe Member

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    I use HST a lot, but have been carrying Federal "Punch" lately. A review mentioned it penetration in their testing was 20.5" w/ .60" expansion through heavy clothing and that's rather impressive to me.
     
  15. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    Energy is irrelevant.

    The 147gr's velocity is well within the bullet's expansion range.

    Whereas a +P load increases both felt recoil and muzzle flip in a small pistol for zero gain in producing vital tissue damage.
     
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  16. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    The depth of the hollowpoint cavity isn't as deep as 124gr and 147gr bullets, which are longer than 115gr, and because of this 115gr expansion performance is more erratic and unreliable.

    A deeper hollowpoint cavity allows cloth plugs to be pushed to the floor of the cavity to clear the hollowpoint mouth for fluid to enter and expand the bullet.

    147gr resists plugging better than lighterweight bullets and doesn't need to be propelled at +P velocity to ensure reliable expansion.
     
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  17. The_Quartermaster

    The_Quartermaster Member

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    I've heard good things about it too, wish I had more than a box so I could run them first and then carry in my 17 or 45.
     
  18. Mike J

    Mike J Member

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    The gel tests Lucky Gunner did seem to indicate that heavy for caliber bullets do better from short barreled 9mm's. I carry HST 150 grain in my one Micro 9mm.
     
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  19. Balrog

    Balrog Member

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    I put 150 rounds of 124g Federal HST through the gun yesterday, and it shoots tight groups at 25 and 50 feet to point of aim, so I am going to go with that and quit wondering about it.
     
  20. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I used to be a fan of 147's... still am, but in service-sized pistols (think HiPower, etc.) Since I carry one sub-4" gun or another (Kahr CW9 @ 3.6", or CM9 at 3.1") I decided to drop down in weight. Hornady 147grn TAP was only giving me 930fps out of my CW9, but the 135grn Critical Duty gave me 1025fps, and had the gummy plug. TAP has since been discontinued, and I haven't seen a box of 135grn CD in some time... so it boils down to whatever I can get me hands on... and lately that has been Speer GoldDot 124's. Is 11grns of bullet weight going to make any difference at the Moment of Truth? Doubtful. I'll trust in bullet placement...

    FWIW, given my 2 specific Kahr pistols and their respective barrel lengths... the shorter CM9 gives up 95fps to the 1/2" larger CW9 using the 135grn Critical Duty, and 100fps with some 115grn Remington JHP I had for a while. Those are the only two direct comparisons I have. This is also one of the reasons why I carry the CW9 more and more... and leave the CM9 in the BOB.
     
  21. tactikel

    tactikel Member

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    Think Gold Dots, XTPs, HSTs in the lightest weights available.
    Consider an alternative such as a Lehigh defense, Novax ( the old Ruger ARX) any weight. They penetrate barriers, cause a permanent wound channel 2 x most JHP, and penetrate at least 12”.
    I carry Lehigh 68 gr in my .380 EDC, and 90 gr in my 9mm EDC.
     
  22. The_Quartermaster

    The_Quartermaster Member

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    You do you, but that's a hard nope from me.



    Lesser permanent wound channel than the go to GD's and HST's, and it overpens.
     
  23. tactikel

    tactikel Member

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    I get it, have gone back and forth over the years. I’ll take over penetration every time. Barrier blind rounds are important because I frequent an urban area. I’m very likely, in a SD situation, to fire out of or into an automobile.
    SD at 1 meter at an unarmored assailant mandates Gold Dots.
     
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  24. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Here is a long and exhaustive test on YT about 9mm in short barrels. Long story short, he picks Winchster Defender 147gr. And he explains why in nearly every video of the ammo quest. In a short barrel, I would want a tad more velocity that you get with a light bullet and a short barrel. But the 147 does have enough velocity to gain enough penetration based on these tests.

     
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  25. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    I tested Federal Punch 124gr JHPs out of my 3-1/2 gun in Clear Ballistics gel through four layers of denim. Expansions was good, uniform and reliable with penetration of 18-19".
     
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