A couple questions on 9mm Defensive ammo

A couple questions on 9mm Defensive ammo

This is a discussion on A couple questions on 9mm Defensive ammo within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hey guys I'm wondering if someone can clarify for me the difference in the +P designation. I understand the difference of a more powerful load ...

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Thread: A couple questions on 9mm Defensive ammo

  1. #1
    Member Array Azchief's Avatar
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    A couple questions on 9mm Defensive ammo

    Hey guys I'm wondering if someone can clarify for me the difference in the +P designation. I understand the difference of a more powerful load but as far as effect on target how does it perform versus a standard load ammo. In other words is penetration different or does the +P penetrate the same but just dispense more power at impact or is there a noticeable penetration difference or expansion difference between the two in a defensive JHP round.

    Also how much difference do the grains make. I normally target shoot with 115 grain ammo and my defensive rounds are the same 115 grain. would there be a distinct advantage to going to a higher grain and do you tend to see a difference in "accuracy" or point of impact between grain sizes.

    I know there is alot of information on the forum and I've read through alot and watched videos but if anyone could provide some basic layman explanations regarding these questions or their personal experiences it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks Guys!!!


  2. #2
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    The +P designation by SAAMI (industry standards group) specs means the round is loaded to a pressure about 10% above the normal pressure for the given round. All things being equal - which they rarely are - a +P round of a given weight will have a higher muzzle velocity than the standard-pressure load of the same bullet weight (in that caliber). Just look at the published ammo specs (Winchester, Federal, Remington) for the velocities of standard vs. +P rounds to see the difference.

    The actual effect on target depends on a host of things, which include bullet type, weight, construction, and what it hits. In general, the major ammo makers load good expanding bullets in their +P loadings, but that's not a guarantee.

    There is a lot of discussion about bullet weight and the on-target effectiveness of light bullets going faster vs heavier bullets going slower. Leaving the lighter calibers like .380 aside, the 115 grain 9mm is about the lightest bullet out there among the typical defensive calibers (9mm, .38 special, .357, .40 and .45). Heavier bullets tend to penetrate more deeply than lighter ones, and are more likely to break bones. But the lower velocity of the heavier bullets works against hollowpoint expansion, and it's difficult to put too fine an edge on that, again due to things like distance to target, how hard or soft the target is, clothing type and thickness, presence of intermediate barriers (sheet metal, glass, etc.).

    Over the course of time, LE agencies have migrated to heavier bullets within a given caliber. I'd hazard a guess that 124 and 147 grain loads are more popular in cops' 9mm today than 115 gr, and also that most 115 grain duty ammo these days is +P. In .40 S&W, the 180 grain loads seem to be more prevalent (in duty ammo) than the 165s which were favored 15 years ago. But, while law enforcement ammo can serve as a guide for us non-cop, average Earth people, recognize that we are less likely to have to shoot someone through a car door or window or behind a barrier - i.e., our requirements may be somewhat different.

    With regard to point of impact, yes, that will change as a function of bullet velocity, but as a practical matter, not enough to matter out to 25 yards or so. Accuracy is a whole 'nother ballgame and is not directly related to bullet weight.

    Is there a distinct advantage to using a heavier 9mm bullet? It's hard to quantify, but the trend to heavier bullets is certainly influenced by real-world performance. It's not a case of the 147 gr bullet being a death ray and 115s bounce off bad guys. On a very practical level, it's more important that whatever ammo you choose works reliably in your gun(s), and you know where it hits. It's worth your while to try some different loadings in your own guns and see how they function in your hand, and keep plugged into forums like this one to keep an eye on trends.
    Smitty
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    Member Array Archie's Avatar
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    What GASmitty said. I was all set to write something brilliant, but Smitty beat me to it.

    I'll only add, sometimes the 'trends' one sees in firearms, ammo and such is more fad than fact. And at the risk of being obvious, don't ever think what movies and TV shows portray about guns is reality. When they get it right, it's almost by accident.

    Do yourself a favor. Go down to the local library and see if you can find any books on defensive pistols or defensive shooting. Read several and you'll probably get a better picture of the ammo situation.
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    Ammo selection tends to become a mountain from a molehill.

    There are a number of good, solid defensive loads out there. There is a guy by the name of "DocGKR" who is widely held to be an expert in terminal ballistics. He recommends the following in 9mm:


    9 mm:
    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 +P JHP
    Winchester Partition Gold 124 gr JHP (RA91P)
    Winchester Ranger-T 124 gr +P JHP (RA9124TP)
    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)

    Thoughts on Service Pistols, along with Duty and Self-Defense Ammo Recommendations - M4Carbine.net Forums
    I'd recommend reading that thread, as it has some good information. That said, find a load off that list that your gun shoots reliably (and which you can get from your preferred supplier), and be done with it.

    You're far better served doing 20 minutes of dry fire practice than spending 20 minutes pontificating over which ammo is the "best", IMHO.

    Matt
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    Cost is a factor as well, some companies charge 25 bucks for 20 rounds (Speer, Corbon and BB come to mind). That's ridiculous to me, and I refuse to use ammo that is so blatantly over-priced. Find a good HP that you will be able to afford to put 100 rounds through your gun, performance wise they aren't different enough to bother worrying about.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IAm_Not_Lost View Post
    Cost is a factor as well, some companies charge 25 bucks for 20 rounds (Speer, Corbon and BB come to mind). That's ridiculous to me, and I refuse to use ammo that is so blatantly over-priced. Find a good HP that you will be able to afford to put 100 rounds through your gun, performance wise they aren't different enough to bother worrying about.
    Speer can easily be found in 50 round boxes for less than $30...just look for the LE boxes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azchief View Post
    Hey guys I'm wondering if someone can clarify for me the difference in the +P designation. I understand the difference of a more powerful load but as far as effect on target how does it perform versus a standard load ammo. In other words is penetration different or does the +P penetrate the same but just dispense more power at impact or is there a noticeable penetration difference or expansion difference between the two in a defensive JHP round.

    Also how much difference do the grains make. I normally target shoot with 115 grain ammo and my defensive rounds are the same 115 grain. would there be a distinct advantage to going to a higher grain and do you tend to see a difference in "accuracy" or point of impact between grain sizes.

    I know there is alot of information on the forum and I've read through alot and watched videos but if anyone could provide some basic layman explanations regarding these questions or their personal experiences it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks Guys!!!
    9mm....let's see. I practice with 147gr FMJ, load mine with 124gr+P. About the same recoil and feel, and on target hits. You basically have to work with your pistol and what works well for both of you. IMO...115gr is a bit light for practice or for PD. If you wanted a .380 you would have got one. With a 9mm, you don't have to be so limited. Advantages? I've chosen my likes based upon years of working with them. Not easy to convey real world experience to another over the internet since it only amounts to opinion. Again....what you can operate and hit with effectively is all you need to do. Going into battle you do the best you can to survive. Nothing more and nothing less. If you ever feel you're compromised, then you need to make better decisions. Most advantages don't really come down to ammo selection or platform, comes down to how you deploy your tools and your mind.

  8. #8
    Ex Member Array Yoda's Avatar
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    One additional +P point is that if you are using a short barrel firearm, the "plus" helps to reach a higher muzzle velocity that normally is achieved with a longer barrel. The performance of the bullet is dependent on that velocity. Most if not all modern handguns are okay for +p but not all so do your due diligence.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Array IAm_Not_Lost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuda66 View Post
    Speer can easily be found in 50 round boxes for less than $30...just look for the LE boxes.
    My mistake, I have just generally seen Speer in 20 round boxes for 23 or 25 bucks. Either way, just make sure you can afford to regularly practice and cycle your self defense ammo.
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  10. #10
    Member Array Azchief's Avatar
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    Thanks Gasmitty for all the info I really appreciate it and it answered alot for me.Thanks to everyone else as well. I understand hits on target is far more important than ammo selection but with reading the all the info out there on ballistics my head was spinning and just needed some no nonsense basic explanation. My gun is a Beretta Px4 9mm full size and it states in it's guide that came with it occasional use of +p is ok. I guess it will just be a matter of trying out some different loads and find what feeds consistently and I'm effective with. Thank you again for all the info and support you guys and this forum provide!!!

  11. #11
    Distinguished Member Array onacoma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IAm_Not_Lost View Post
    Cost is a factor as well, some companies charge 25 bucks for 20 rounds (Speer, Corbon and BB come to mind). That's ridiculous to me, and I refuse to use ammo that is so blatantly over-priced. Find a good HP that you will be able to afford to put 100 rounds through your gun, performance wise they aren't different enough to bother worrying about.
    I'm nornally carry Winchester Ranger T-Series +P+ in my HKs and alternate between Speer GD +P and Ranger +P in my PPS. If check out SGAmmo.com: SGAmmo.com | Family Owned and Operated, Stillwater Oklahoma you'll fine most SD rounds for $25.00 per 50 round box. The last Ranger +P+ or +P was $24.95 for 50 rounds. My GD was the same.

    I've attached a Winchester Ranger chart on the T-Series performance. Most SD rounds, Speer GD, Federal HST, Winchester Ranger have performed well in with LE departments and I wouldn't use any that hadn't been LE proven. JMHO!
    Attached Files


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  12. #12
    New Member Array Finnian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onacoma View Post
    I'm nornally carry Winchester Ranger T-Series +P+ in my HKs and alternate between Speer GD +P and Ranger +P in my PPS. If check out SGAmmo.com: SGAmmo.com | Family Owned and Operated, Stillwater Oklahoma you'll fine most SD rounds for $25.00 per 50 round box. The last Ranger +P+ or +P was $24.95 for 50 rounds. My GD was the same.

    I've attached a Winchester Ranger chart on the T-Series performance. Most SD rounds, Speer GD, Federal HST, Winchester Ranger have performed well in with LE departments and I wouldn't use any that hadn't been LE proven. JMHO!

    Another valid point, is that the current generation of handguns continues to lean towards shorter barrel lengths.
    shorter barrel = less velocity of round. Force of Impact is a factor of mass of object (bullet) x Velocity of round at point of impact... longer ranges having less velocity the further out you go. So all these calculations will depend on the ever changing distance to the target. But on Average, say your shooting at a target 25 yards away, your round gets no significant drop in velocity, and the +P round helps bump up the velocity by 10 to 20 % coming out of the barrel, and that can significantly affect damage over non +p rounds.

    If you scan YouTube for 9MM ammo, you'll find lots of clips where folks fire into ballistic gel and show results, some are even using tools for measuring velocity of bullet and all. What is normal, heavy bullets travel slower, lighter faster, so does the increase in velocity make up for the decrease in mass? The answer is really dependent upon the target. How big are they, what layers of cloths are they wearing, what are they behind (windows, drywall, plywood, windshield or car door, etc.). There are a never ending list of potential modifiers.

    All the folks talking about these rounds, failed to discuss the Glaser 9MM Pow'RBall round. It is one of the CorBon Rounds with a polymer cap. Here it's $20.99 for a box of 20. Expensive but very good round.
    Not a plinking round, but a great round for defense or offense. You hear a lot of +p rounds talking about obtaining an upper 1100 fps to a mid 1200 fps velocity. Note the PowRBall rates (on the box and measured) as 1475 fps Velocity, with Energy at 483 ft/lbs. That's freaking huge, and all this in a 100 grain round.

    I was very leary of the lighter weight at first, but the increased velocity it implodes things on impact. In my non scientific tests, it hits targets with definitively more force than heavier grain 9MM at lower velocities. Impact spreads the round into a mushroom quicker and wreaks more havoc in the ballistic gel than other rounds I've tested.

    Common denominators in today's 9MM ammo - Most have the serrated groves in the tip or just below to help facilitate mushrooming into even sized petals quicker. That's no longer a factor found only in special rounds. Many more rounds use a polymer or rubber or teflon or "filler" that helps the round expand faster upon contact.
    They pretty much all provide the same function, pick which one you like the best. Key in on if you can it listed, energy on impact. That Velocity x Mass providing the foot/lbs at impact, you'll be surprised at how some of the lighter faster loads can in fact hit with more energy and create more damage. Again it's all about what type of shooting your doing as well...

    If your a guy at short range and you'r using a silencer, you might want to get slower subsonic rounds that are more easily silenced that stay intact but bounce around after entry. (Dum Dum's).

    Try many, experiment and have fun with it.

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