Help choosing 9mm defense load

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Taylor Jarrell, Oct 14, 2019.

  1. Taylor Jarrell

    Taylor Jarrell Member

    Jan 26, 2018
    I'm new to reloading, but i'd like to do a lot more practice with my actual defense rounds. As of now I've been using factory Winchester rangers (the old black tip), and I'd like to develop my own 9mm load (not picky on grain) that i can afford to practice with some as well as have plenty stockpiled. I can work up the powder charge myself (however still interested in recommendations), I just need suggestions as to what bullet to use. I liked the idea of polymer Noslers, but they're always sold out.
    I use a g19.
  2. LaneP

    LaneP Member

    Jul 31, 2019
    I'm in the same boat as you, but I am basically settled on 124 grain bullets as being a good compromise between bullet weight and velocity.

    Today I tested some Hornady 124 grain XTP JHP over 5.2 grains CFE-P and 6 shots averaged 1126 fps from my 3.1" bbl Sig P365. So I'll probably start looking to buy some bulk hard cast to replicate that as closely as possible and give me some cheap range practice while hopefully duplicating recoil and POI.

    However I also clocked some factory ammo marketed in the personal protection category and thought I would post those results to give some contrast to what can be done on the loading bench (all from the 3.1" bbl P365).

    Remington Ultimate Defense 124 grain JHP: 1038 fps
    Hornady Critical Duty 135 grain JHP: 1006 fps
    Speer Gold Dot 124 grain JHP: 1111 fps
    Remington UMC 115 grain JHP: 1040 fps

    Worthy of note is the most consistent ammo tested was the Hornady Critical Duty...only 15 fps ES in 6 shots.
  3. cheygriz

    cheygriz member

    Dec 28, 2002
    High up in the Rockies
    I carry factory Federal 9BPLE (115 grain JHP +P+)

    "Practice" ammo is loaded to duplicate these with 115 FMJ bullets and a HEFTY charge of HS-6. (Power Pistol and AAC#7 are also superb)
    Tcruse and meesterdon like this.
  4. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

    Jun 19, 2018
    Central MN
    I use the Hornady 124 XTP, both handloaded and factory CCW ammunition. I've been able to duplicate the POI and function in 3 different handguns with HS-6. It's a pretty common and inexpensive bullet, well proven for defensive use and easy to find.

    ACME 121 gr coated comes very close also (with a different charge of HP-38), but mine are from before they changed the profile so that will not help you.
  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    You said bullet weight doesn't matter to you, not good. What you should be trying to do is develop a replica load for your SD ammo. You should be trying to generate the same velocity with the same weight bullet and use a powder that will give you a similar recoil feel. If your SD ammo has a snap to it you should try to find a powder that feels the same. This way you are doing a real practice for your SD ammo.

    My SD ammo is the 135gr Speer .38 Special +P ammo. I developed a replica using 140gr XTP bullet because of price. I then switched to a Speer 135gr TMJ bullet bought at a very good price in Speer brass, CCI 500 primers and AA#5. I'm sure you can come up with a replica 9mm load with a little work.

    If you run into trouble start a thread discussing your SD ammo and making a replica and you will get help, I'm sure of it.
    cougar1717 and rfwobbly like this.
  6. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

    Dec 8, 2016
    The Haymarsh, MI (Aka, Paradise.)
    Do you like them?
    Or rather does your pistol?

    If so, use these as your metric and try to reproduce them.

    Hornady makes the HAP. The Hornady Action Pistol bullets. They are bulk priced and packaged, and replicate the XTP, without the skieves.

    If you prefer coated for practice, a load can still be replicated to feel and shoot to the same point of impact, as ArchAngel suggests.
  7. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

    Nov 14, 2008
    Clarkesville, GA
    Arch Angel gave you the correct answer. Buy a less expensive bullet of the same weight, then use some BE-86 (or similar) to push them at the same speed. The recoil will feel the same, and the price per round will drop from about $1.00, to around $0.12 per round.

    By the way, if you really want to load defensive rounds cheaply, then look at the Berry Mfg Hybrid Hollow Point....
    Their bulk pricing beats everybody.
    Demi-human likes this.
  8. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    You may want to consult this link to see testing on various SD ammunition:
    It gives quite a bit of detail on how well various projectiles perform at recorded velocities. If you like one of those bullets they may be commercially available.
    RMR also sells a 124gr multi purpose round, that's a jacketed hollow point. It'd be very cost effective for a practice round, and may even suit your needs for an SD round.
    Any of the slower powders work well to get the velocities up. I've loaded WSF, N340 and CFE Pistol.
    Good luck!
    Demi-human and Stew0576 like this.
  9. Skeptic13

    Skeptic13 Member

    Aug 18, 2019
    Colorado Springs
  10. cougar1717

    cougar1717 Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    While I wish there was a simple way to suggest a certain bullet, with a certain powder, at a certain charge weight, (at a certain OAL) to replicate a certain carry ammo load, but alas, it is not so simple..

    If it mattered, a reloader could get Winchester cases and primers. The "Winchester" powder is a Hodgdon rebrand. Manufacturer's ammo is made with their own blends, not cannister powder for Joe Average to buy. There are many powders that will work well in 9mm, and while the "low flash" powder is real, how much it matters is debatable.

    However, Winchester chooses not to sell any Ranger bullet as a component. Winchester Silvertips and plain JHP's are available. So a close replication of the Ranger ammo is not likely unless someone out there is selling pulled bullets.

    So the question becomes a matter of what kind of JHP load do you want. If the answer is basically, "Just like the one I have." Then, a reloader needs to know what they have.
    As in:
    How heavy is the bullet?
    Does is shoot to the elevation of your sights? If not, it may benefit to use a different bullet weight.
    How fast is it going out of your G19? (The fps lie written on the box doesn't count.)
    What is the composition of the bullet? Traditional cup and core, bonded, flex-tipped, barrier blind, depleted uranium, unobtainium, etc.
    What are the terminal ballistics? (Almost everything has a gel test on youtube.)

    If you know the weight and where it is shooting, at least you can have some idea of drop and recoil even if you don't know how fast the bullet is going.

    We get back to where we started in bullet selection and talking about terminal ballistics. Here are typical choices for reloaders. Forgive me, if I have left out your favorite manufacturer or pulls that you bought somewhere. These are the typical, new in box branded JHP's. Most of these have been tested somewhere in ballistics gel, either at Lucky Gunner or on youtube.

    Hornady XTP
    Federal Hydra shok
    Speer Gold Dot
    Sig V Crown
    Remington Golden Saber
    Sierra Sports Master
    Winchester Silvertip
    ...and other plain, unbranded JHP.

    Some need a lot of velocity to expand. Some of these don't expand well at any velocity. Some lose their jackets. Some expand excellently in 9mm but overexpand and underpenetrate in 357sig. Etc.
    Taylor Jarrell likes this.
  11. 35 Whelen
    • Contributing Member

    35 Whelen Contributing Member

    Feb 10, 2008
    North Texas
    I handload a couple of HP's for 9mm self defense; a 115 gr. Remington and a 124 gr. Berry's Plated 1150 and 1075 fps respectively. Can't really tell much difference in them when I'm shooting.

    For practice, I cast a 124 gr. TC from a Lee mold and load it to 1075 - 1140 fps depending on the load.



    Super cheap practice load that is very accurate.

    A similar if not identical bullet is available from Missouri Bullet Company at about half the price of jacketed bullets.

    sparkyv likes this.
  12. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Piedmont/Triad, NC
    In developing a load I could afford to practice with, I found a load for XTP 115gr bullets that outshot the factory loads in my S&W Shield, so I've been carrying them ever since.
    Win brass, 4.9-5.0 gr of 231 Win powder and 115gr XTPs at 1.125" OAL.
    It's not so much that it matched what I was looking for in a load to match Hornady's Critical Defense 115gr load's recoil and accuracy, but more about, that load matched what I was looking for in all aspects I have for a good hot load to shoot accurately, and apparently what my gun was looking for also because of it's accuracy with it, and what I consider to be pleasant recoil , all in one load.
    My Shield shoots straight to point of aim with this load at 10 and 25 yds. That's very important to me. I can shoot it accurately out of a $300.00 gun and I don't have to pay $24.00 for 25 rounds to get it.

    Unfortunately you will have to experiment some to find out what is the best load you can shoot accurately, and your gun shoots to point of aim, accurately.

    To me that is the best part of reloading.
    Demi-human likes this.
  13. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

    Dec 8, 2016
    The Haymarsh, MI (Aka, Paradise.)

    This is the perfect way to describe the effort.
    tightgroup tiger likes this.
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