How to determine the best 9mm round

How to determine the best 9mm round

This is a discussion on How to determine the best 9mm round within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; The thread by DaltonGang "the best 9mm round" got me thinking of what determines the best round. I just got done making a spreadsheet that ...

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Thread: How to determine the best 9mm round

  1. #1
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    How to determine the best 9mm round

    The thread by DaltonGang "the best 9mm round" got me thinking of what determines the best round.

    I just got done making a spreadsheet that shows 170 of the more popular rounds with weight, muzzle energy, and velocity.

    Assuming everyone would fire flawlessly from my gun, what do I look at first?

    Does weight determine the spread?
    Does energy determine the knockdown force?
    Does velocity determine accuracy?

    And how much does my shorter barrel affect these factors ?

    Can some ammo guru help me understand?


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    Good questions!
    For me it is what is in the gun at the time I need it

    I look forward to your report!
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Am no 'guru' on any of this, but I've shot tens of thousands of rounds of all sorts, over a ~25yr period. I tend to note differences and alter my ammo acquisitions accordingly, given that I don't happen to have Warren Buffett's investment portfolio.


    Ballistics can be tricky, when you consider actual, practical terminal performance. The physics dictates weight and velocity as the primary drivers of energy imparted.

    How much velocity can be imparted will vary by the type and amount of powder charge used, and the length of barrel over which the pressures can build.

    And how fast that bullet gets going will affect the amount of expansion upon impact, which typically takes greater velocity and a non-clogging bullet design to achieve.

    Depends, also, on what is struck (bone, tissue, liquid-filled cavity, car door, windshield), as different weights and types of bullets will penetrate differently. Yes, barrel length alters how much overall pressure can exist over what amount of time, so it'll affect speeds that bullet is flung out the barrel.

    About all you can do is to compare equivalent platforms with different cartridges, testing their repeatable average velocities and energies; evaluate and compare the terminal ballistic performance in calibrated media (ie, ballistic gel slabs); and not long-term performance in actual sides of meat (beef, elk, whatever).

    Most folks don't have any time for all that. And so, most simply rely on the two key measurements most makers publish: muzzle velocity and muzzle energy. Most folks can only easily test for velocity). But anyone can shoot into a country ham or similar.

    Adjust to something better matched for shorter barrels, if that's what you're going to use them in, given that only so much powder of a given rate of burn can be effective in raising pressures cleanly, else the rest is wasted in blast, flame and unburnt powder.


    Like you, I wish it were simpler. But, in the end, targets vary, shots vary. You compare to the best of your ability with the data you do have, and hope it's sufficient. I try to err on the side of deeper penetration and greater expansion, if nothing else.

    As a starting point: consider the DoubleTap 9mm JHP 124gr +P or the Winchester RA9TA Ranger T 127gr +P+ cartridges, then compare alternatives to those. That'll be a good standard, all things considered.
    JMO.
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    Member Array maestromsv's Avatar
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    No guru here either. I do like what the others said above. Best short answer is the best ammo is the one you train with and most accurate with!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    As a starting point: consider the DoubleTap 9mm JHP 124gr +P or the Winchester RA9TA Ranger T 127gr +P+ cartridges, then compare alternatives to those. That'll be a good standard, all things considered.
    JMO.
    I could not find that particular Winchester round, but I I did have a close round for comparison
    ScreenHunter_20 Apr. 12 09.36.jpg

    You are right, these two rounds perform better than most rounds. I also have no where near Buffetts funds for testing, though that would be a nice problem to have.
    These two have similar energy, but what about expansion? I know that bullet design affects this, does weight?
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    Easy question:



    Look at these 9mm bullets after expansion. Look at the one that you'd most want to have. It's the Corbon DPX 9mm. The others are your Speer, your Hornady - not the worst, but nothing can match Corbon DPX.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    Easy question:



    Look at these 9mm bullets after expansion. Look at the one that you'd most want to have. It's the Corbon DPX 9mm. The others are your Speer, your Hornady - not the worst, but nothing can match Corbon DPX.
    Those are some interesting results. Thanks

    I know it's not a real popular round but another to look at is the PMC. I especially use it in the 45 and it works very well. I've used it in my nine some and have had good results. Sorry no pictures
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    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    Easy question:



    Look at these 9mm bullets after expansion. Look at the one that you'd most want to have. It's the Corbon DPX 9mm. The others are your Speer, your Hornady - not the worst, but nothing can match Corbon DPX.
    Can you provice what round is what? like weight, charge, etc.

    The 2nd from left with the separate parts had better expansion, but it looks like the area of expansion is smaller than the one on the left. If the energy for both is identical, which would have the best stopping power?
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    It's about shot placement. The brand/type is probably the least important aspect of ammunition.
    Don't let the facts cloud your judgement
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    Second from left, upper, is the DPX 9mm 115-grain +P. It reliably opens with sharp, jagged edges, even through 4 layers of denim (as tested).

    As anybody will tell you, there's no magic bullet, no perfect round. Placement trumps all other considerations. Hitting your target beats anything. The best hollowpoint and worst full metal jacket all do about the same job. I'd never claim that one round is better than another.

    Still, I spring the extra few bucks for the Corbon. I want those sharp, jagged petals doing that special job that they do.
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    I carry the solid copper bullets because theres no chance of jacket/core separation. Ballistics (internal and external) will drive you stark raving looney. And then add in the performance on soft tissue/bone, and have a great time trying to differentiate the smallest differences. That old saying; "figures don't lie but liers can figure" also comes into play. The best we can do is choose a round that we are comfortable with and a bullet that has a proven street history and hope we never have to "test" out our choices in real life conditions.
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    Start from the realization that a 9mm is incapable of "knockdown".

    From there, it is easy. Heavier projectiles tend to penetrate more reliably than lighter ones (stay away from non-lead core)
    Jacketed hollow points tend to create a larger wound channel (disrupt more tissue) than non JHP. Also, modern hollow points require less velocity to reliably expand than rounds 20+ years ago.
    Bonded bullets tend to retain mass better than non bonded.

    So, go with heavy for caliber, top name brand JHP. Speer Gold Dot, Winchester PDX1, Federal HST... All in 147 gr or 124 +P. modern pistols should reliably cycle most of these. Field test before committing to one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Str8upguy View Post
    It's about shot placement. The brand/type is probably the least important aspect of ammunition.
    So long as it meets performance minimums, yes. Absolutely.

    The trick is being comfortable with sufficient minimums for the various situations one will have to deal with. And finding cartridges that repeatably meet those minimums in independent testing.

    No shot that's right on the money but that fails to cause enough damage is going to get the job done, no matter how perfect a shot it happened to be.

    Which is why it's so important to at least consider what one will have to shoot through ... windshields (ie, LEO's), doors, heavy winter clothing, cracked/cranked addicts who don't feel pain, etc. Marginal rounds that are perfectly shot might well not cut it, if below minimums.
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    No pistol round is worth much when compared to a rifle or shotgun. Whatever you can shoot quickly and accurately is better than something that you can do neither with. A hit with a 9mm FMJ is far better than a miss with a .460 S&W magnum that could stop a grizzly bear (if you hit it correctly). I used to think anything less than a .44 or .45 was a waste of time, then my wrists started acting up and shooting the heavier calibers became painful, I carry a M&P 9c and find I can shoot it quite accurately and quickly. Yes I use hollow points, but there could be some 124gr flat point in the mix as well. Frankly, I'm more concerned with hits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuvMyPX4 View Post
    The 2nd from left with the separate parts had better expansion, but it looks like the area of expansion is smaller than the one on the left. If the energy for both is identical, which would have the best stopping power?
    The problem is that energy numbers are one-dimensional, pictures of spent bullets are two-dimensional, wound tracks in ballistic jello are three dimensional, even with the fourth dimension of time (i.e., videos of bullet performance in test media), none of those will adequately predict bullet behavior in terms of "stopping power." So many variables are involved, such as the bullet's velocity exiting YOUR gun (affected by action type and barrel length), intermediate barriers (cloth, glass, dry wall, sheet metal), density of tissue hit (muscle, fat, thin bone, thick bone) and organs and blood vessels displaced or ruptured. See how complex it is? And while performance in lab tests is noteworthy for its consistency, that performance does not equate to a 1:1 correspondence with performance on the street, although the trend is in that direction. Lab performance is useful and suggestive of real-world performance, but it's far from a guarantee.

    Most of us here on DC are "gunnies" and we're interested in the BEST defensive ammo we can get for our blasters. Some folks pursue this like the quest for the Holy Grail, chasing the latest and greatest. The good news for us is that bullet development really got interesting once autoloaders displaced revolvers in LE agencies, and then it really got intense following the FBI Miami Shootout when bullet performance was deemed a factor (unfairly or not in the outcome. We are now in what is probably the third generation of expanding bullets for defensive use, with a wide assortment of effective rounds commercially available to Jane and John Q. Citizen.

    The bottom line is that one can make a career out of studying bullet performance, but the marketplace has made life easy for us. Even second-generation expanding ammunition like the Winchester Silvertip and the Federal Hydra-Shok are hardly poor performers, in spite of newer stuff being available from the same makers. If you stick with a known major brand (Winchester, Federal, Remington, Hornady) and pick a mainstream bullet weight, you will be well-equipped.
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