Help me pick 9mm carry ammunition

Help me pick 9mm carry ammunition

This is a discussion on Help me pick 9mm carry ammunition within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hi, all, so I've taken a break from hunting for a .40 S&W P.P.S. to trying to find a 9x19 SCCY CPX-2. They run about ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array Hobo_Hunter's Avatar
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    Help me pick 9mm carry ammunition

    Hi, all, so I've taken a break from hunting for a .40 S&W P.P.S. to trying to find a 9x19 SCCY CPX-2. They run about $250 online, so with sales tax and FFL transfer, it'll come to less than $300 when it's all said and done. Before I order online, I'm going to see if I can find one at an LGS and avoid the fee.

    In the meanwhile, I've started researching 9mm ballistics. The amount of data I have at my disposal is...daunting. I started at Ballistics101.com and was already presented with about 100 different combinations of manufacturers, bullet weights, etc. Before I get too deep into my research, I've got a few things I'm wondering about that might help me narrow my search.


    First of all, the CPX-2 is "officially" not rated for +P ammunition. According to a number of sources (like Tactical Gun Review), it's allegedly "OK" to to shoot a "limited diet" of +P ammunition. That, of course, is what I would want to carry. Am I correct in assuming "a little won't hurt", or do you think I'm just setting myself up for disaster?

    Second, are there any brands/manufacturers I should probably avoid? I understand PMC kind of has a poor reputation, but I've not even heard of half of the manufacturers on that list. Go ahead, speak your mind...if there are any you wouldn't trust with your life, I want to hear about it. Furthermore, if there are any manufacturers conspicuously absent that I should look into, I'd like to hear about them, too.

    Third, I'm looking for JHP ammunition. However, if there are any other types of defensive round I should consider, I'm always happy to learn new things!

    Fourth, there is the issue of bullet weight. I'm not considering anything under 115 grains. But do I go with a high-energy 115-grain bullet, a heavy 147-grain, or compromise on 124? I've spend some time on the Ballistics101 chart I mentioned above, and I've come up with one of each that so far, I like.
    DoubleTap 115 grain
    Speer Gold Dot 124 grain
    Underwood 147 grain
    I like the idea of the 124 grain the best, but oddly, it has the lowest muzzle energy of the three.

    That brings me to my fifth and final question. Feel free to disregard this one. How do I decide what is "enough" muzzle energy? I don't want to go below 350 ft-lbs--that is my cut-off--and my 'target' is 475 ft-lbs. (Hey, it doesn't hurt to have high standards as long as you're willing to compromise.) I understand this is sort of a contested topic...but, realistically, how do you put a number on what is "enough"/"not enough"? Any charts, studies, ballistics tests, etc. would be welcome. This question isn't really as important as the others, because I have some idea of what I want here, but if you've got an opinion on this you want to add, hey, I'm listening.


    I apologize if this is similar to a bunch of older threads. I've been reading them for a while, but they didn't answer all of my questions. Perhaps I just didn't use the right search terms.

    Thanks!


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Taurahe's Avatar
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    This will be a good one ......

    IMO...... if its not rated for +p ammunition.... dont feed it +p ammunition...period.
    JHP is the gold standard of SD rounds, has worked for many years and will continue to do so for many more. Any modern bullet will suffice, no extra special types needed. Winchester, federal, speer, remington....etc all make a good bullet. I like hornady myself and carry them in all my guns. Find one that cyles reliably and shoots accutately and carry it with confidence. as far as bullet weight goes, I generally carry the heaviest bullet I can for my given caliber. In 9mm, I would carry 147gr, but again it is personal choice. Generally speaking, the heavier the bullet the more the whollop.

    As far as putting a number on "enough/not enough," good luck with that. Think of it this way...... A 9mm bullet traveling at 800 fps makes a hole that wasnt their to begin with..... a 9mm bullet traveling at 1100 fps makes a hole that wasnt there.... if it shoots accurately, feeds reliably and makes a hole in a BG, it will always beat a sharp stick in the eye. Beyond that simple analogy, there are too many variables ou of our control to know what a bullet will do 100% of the time.
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    Member Array 91wm6's Avatar
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    Why don't you look at the Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP designed for short barrels? It's designed with faster burning propellant to increase velocity in shorter barrels. Tuahare is technically correct regarding no +p ammo in a non+p designed gun BUT, most modern quality firearms are fine with a limited diet of +p pressure 9mm ammo. It's up to you to decide whether the risks (possible kaboom, voided warranty etc) are worth the small increase in performance of +p ammo. FWIW the canick 55/ Tristar C100 series are high quality Turkish made CZ 75 clones that have been proven to handle +P ammo and can be had for 299$ plus tax. Once you fix the heavy double action trigger pull these little guns are amazing(especially for the price) plus they accept CZ75 compact grips and mags and even some internal parts. They also have good aftermarket trigger components through Cajun Gun Works. Check it out:
    Tristar C100 Review/Range Report - The Firing Line Forums

    ETA- Don't get caught up with muzzle energy numbers. They don't necessarily equate to real life performance. It's more important to get a well designed JHP (9mm at least IMO) that is 100% reliable in your firearm.
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  5. #5
    Ex Member Array IndianaSig's Avatar
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    In this market? It'll be more like you take whatever you can find.
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  6. #6
    VIP Member Array Adam42's Avatar
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    I have had great luck with Winchester Ranger T 147 grain. But you need to try several to make sure that it works in your pistol, nothing is worse than a feeding jam right when you don't need one.
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    Member Array wsquared's Avatar
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    I tend to carry 147 grain Federal HST in my 9's - but that's not saying that I think you should carry that over a different load. Here's my thought process:

    #1. Choose something that has a FMJ or practice ammo equivalent that is at least similar. You will want to practice with something that causes your pistol to recoil in a manner similar to how it recoils with your carry ammo. Don't load it with 147 grain +P+ and then load 115 JHP steel-cased ammo from Outer Kerblakistan that will barely cycle the slide.

    #2. Choose something that is a high-end defensive offering from a premium manufacturer. Speer, Remington, Federal, Hornady, Winchester - if it was what was on the shelf, I would be fine with buying a product from any one of those manufacturers.

    #3. Personally, I chose the 147's for my 9mm because I've read enough data suggesting that lighter rounds in a 9mm may have issues achieving enough pentration to be effective in some circumstances. Please note - this is not a condemnation of 115 grain ammo...just my way of approaching the situation. Since I know that even 115 grain +P ammo will not be going fast enough out of a pistol to ensure full expansion 100% of the time, I do want to make sure that I am launching enough mass to increase the chances that I'll get the amount of penetration that I should every time.

    #4. Shoot 100 rounds of your chosen ammo through your carry pistol. If you get through 100 rounds without a single failure, you're probably in good shape to carry with that ammo.

    YMMV...but this formula keeps me feeling good about my ammo choices.

  8. #8
    VIP Member Array StormRhydr's Avatar
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    I think you should skip the +P stuff altogether. Standard 9mm, from a quality maker, is just fine for personal defense.

    Most people will rarely, if ever, practice with their carry rounds. Also you dont want to end up practicing, and training with normal rounds, and firing +P at crunch time, being surprised by increased muzzle flip, and the like.

  9. #9
    Member Array Hobo_Hunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 91wm6 View Post
    Why don't you look at the Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP designed for short barrels? It's designed with faster burning propellant to increase velocity in shorter barrels. Tuahare is technically correct regarding no +p ammo in a non+p designed gun BUT, most modern quality firearms are fine with a limited diet of +p pressure 9mm ammo. It's up to you to decide whether the risks (possible kaboom, voided warranty etc) are worth the small increase in performance of +p ammo.
    I'll definitely check it out. If I can get comparable performance without going to +P, that'll definitely make the search and decision process a lot easier.

    Quote Originally Posted by 91wm6 View Post
    FWIW the canick 55/ Tristar C100 series are high quality Turkish made CZ 75 clones that have been proven to handle +P ammo and can be had for 299$ plus tax.
    I checked it out. Unfortunately, the CZ-75 is 38% wider than the CPX. I had this pistol in mind possibly for CC-ing on days where I'd have to leave it in the car for a "gun-free zone"--if it gets stolen, it's not as terrible a loss. So, it's not really useful for my needs. But thanks for sharing!


    Quote Originally Posted by Fisher10 View Post
    I'm pretty sure I want JHP, but if you can explain to me why I should get HST, I'll be sure to look into it.


    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaSig View Post
    In this market? It'll be more like you take whatever you can find.
    I don't actually have the gun yet, so I'm fine with waiting until some comes available
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  10. #10
    Member Array wsquared's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobo_Hunter View Post
    I'm pretty sure I want JHP, but if you can explain to me why I should get HST, I'll be sure to look into it.
    The HST bullet is a JHP bullet. My apologies for being less than clear. Looking back at my post, I can see that I didn't mention that they are in fact JHP - and HST being a three-letter name, it's only logical that you'd think that just like JHP, FMJ, PSP, SWC, JSP, RNL that HST would be a type of bullet. My bad!

    HST is just the name that Federal gave to their current top-end JHP offering. Like "Hydrashock", "Gold Dot", "Golden Saber", or "Black Talon" - HST is just a name. I won't try to sell you on them versus any other JHP because I don't think that HST is special - I chose them because they met the requirements of the FBI protocol, and they are a top-end defensive offering from a reputable ammo manufacturer. I would be okay with carrying anything else on this list:

    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)

    (Which I found here: Which 9mm ammo has passed the FBI standards?)

    I went with 147 grain because I would rather have "slower and heavier" than "lighter and faster" in a 9mm defensive round....but I wouldn't argue with someone that happened to pick the Barnes 115 grain. I like the 147 grain HST because they meet he FBI protocol without being a +P or +P+ loading....which means that by shooting a heavy bullet over a normal pressure charge, I can practice with ammo that behaves in a way similar to my carry ammo. This is important to me, because my practice normally ends up being anywhere from 60 to 300 rounds a week....and that would get EXPENSIVE with carry ammo.

    By the way....Remington, Winchester, and Speer all offer 147 grain JHP's that meet the protocol and are standard pressure. I would say that those options are probably every bit as good as the Federal HST's.
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  11. #11
    Member Array Hobo_Hunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsquared View Post
    I tend to carry 147 grain Federal HST in my 9's - but that's not saying that I think you should carry that over a different load. Here's my thought process:
    . . .
    Quote Originally Posted by Taurahe View Post
    Winchester, federal, speer, remington....etc all make a good bullet. I like hornady myself and carry them in all my guns. . .I generally carry the heaviest bullet I can for my given caliber. In 9mm, I would carry 147gr.
    You make some very good points, especially about bullet weight...thank you very much, especially wsquared. Also, thanks for the brand selection. What do you know about Doubletap, Cor-Bon, and Underwood?


    Quote Originally Posted by Adam42 View Post
    I have had great luck with Winchester Ranger T 147 grain. But you need to try several to make sure that it works in your pistol, nothing is worse than a feeding jam right when you don't need one.
    I'd overlooked Winchester earlier. I just spent half an hour reading about the history of the Ranger T (or should I say SXT, or should I say Black Talon?). Those are very interesting as well. They allegedly expand more consistently than regular JHPs. Thanks!
    Last edited by Hobo_Hunter; August 3rd, 2013 at 03:42 PM. Reason: Oxford comma
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  12. #12
    Member Array wsquared's Avatar
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    I know that Double-tap and CorBon are specialty ammunition makers, and have lots of defensive offerings. If they do offer a 147 grain 9mm that's standard pressure and has been verified to meet the FBI protocol and functions properly in my carry pistol, I'd be fine with carrying it. I might cringe when testing out it's reliability though...some of the specialty ammo can get a little bit expensive, and I like to fire no less than 100 rounds before I call a particular pistol/ammo combination "reliable".

  13. #13
    Member Array bgusty's Avatar
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    I think the Rangers, or the federal HST, or Gold dot are all excellent choices. I too prefer heavier bullets (124 gr or 147). Some of that will depend on the gun too. Sometimes different weights run better through the gun etc. My first choice is the HST then Rangers. Both are excellent bullets, and will run on the less expensive side than the specialty bullets. HST can be found online in the 50 round box for about the same price as the 20 round boxes in the stores.
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    Senior Member Array beni's Avatar
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    Any Premium SD round in 147 gr should work for you, since the heavier bullet will give you more penetration. For Me I personally carry 147 gr Gold Dots. HST, Ranger, Golden Sabers, etc will work.

  15. #15
    Member Array Fisher10's Avatar
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    Federal HST 9mm 147 gr JHP SIM-test w/Denim - YouTube

    Federal's HST and Speer's Gold Dot are 2 of the best bullet designs available for self defense today. The 147gr HST is what you should buy. I linked to you a source that has them in stock at a very decent price (50rd LE packaged = cheap).

    I also like Ranger-Ts but they do not expand as reliably as Gold Dots or HSTs. Barne's DPX bullet is also very good but pretty expensive.

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