Why I switched from 147s to 124s and a warning for those loading 147 for defense

This is a discussion on Why I switched from 147s to 124s and a warning for those loading 147 for defense within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; This is why, simple: The target on the left is Speer Gold Dot 147gr fired from my carry (and HD) piece, a Glock 19 with ...

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Thread: Why I switched from 147s to 124s and a warning for those loading 147 for defense

  1. #1
    Member Array ILoveSigs's Avatar
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    Why I switched from 147s to 124s and a warning for those loading 147 for defense

    This is why, simple:



    The target on the left is Speer Gold Dot 147gr fired from my carry (and HD) piece, a Glock 19 with Trijicon HD sights, from 20 meters out; the target on the right is Speer Gold Dot 124+P fired from the same pistol at the same distance; both were shot with slow, careful, aimed fire, and offhand (not from a bench, though I conducted a similar test a couple weeks ago from a bench and got similar results, for what it's worth).

    The 147s go about 3 inches high at ~20m. The 124+Ps are dead on at the same distance (and closer). I don't know about you, but I want my damned bullets to go where I'm aiming.

    This does not surprise me, it makes perfect sense: gun makers and sight manufacturers - like Trijicon - have to sight their sights in to something, so they're probably going to go with whatever the most popular "practical use" (defense, hunting, or target, depending on what the gun is intended for) load is in that particular caliber. That means, in 9mm, almost every sight out there is going to be set up for a hot 124, almost regardless of what the pistol is intended for, with the possible exception of competition. If the pistol is primarily intended for defensive use by law enforcement or armed civilians, then in 9mm they're going to go with a 124+P, in fact I'll bet you they specifically use Speer Gold Dot 124+P since that's likely the single most popular defensive/duty load out there right now, and for a military sidearm like the Beretta M9 they're going to set it up for 124 NATO which, as many of you know, is a very hot 124 that frequently clocks in +P velocities in the 1150-1200FPS range. So in both cases it's a 124gr bullet doing roughly 1150-1200FPS (yeah, the Gold Dot load is rated for 1220 by Speer but actually comes in around 1205 or so in the real world).

    My point is: realize that your 9mm pistol, or its sights at least (if they're fixed), is almost certainly sighted in for a hot 124gr load and a 147 is going to tend to fly high. I understand that many of you may not care about 2-4 inches at 20 yards, and that's fine, and I will also say that I've been a long-time advocate of the 147 in 9mm because I believed, and still believe, that its terminal ballistics are superior to those of the 124. I believe 147s handle hard intermediate barriers - especially auto glass where their increased mass will lead to less deflection - better than 124s, I believe the 147s will tend to penetrate just a bit deeper due to their increased momentum, and I believe they tend to expand just a little bit more since there's more there to expand. I'm a pretty adamant heavy-for-caliber guy and that includes 9mm. The problem is that you need specialized sights if you want those 147s to hit dead-on since the overwhelming majority of combat pistols and sights made for them are set up for hot 124s. I know of at least one excellent company - AmeriGlo - that makes combat type night sights, for Glocks at least, that have an extra-tall front sight which I suspect is specifically for 147s. That's great. Go that route if you like. The reason I didn't is because then almost all types of affordable practice ammo is going to shoot low on you since most of the inexpensive 9mm practice ammo out there is either 115gr or 124gr, with the exception of Speer Lawman 147 which is precisely what I used to use until it almost completely disappeared from the market due to the panic and now on the rare occasion that you do see it, it's ridiculously overpriced, same goes for most of the other affordable-ish 147gr ammo (Blazer aluminum, Winchester white box, etc.). Not only that, but it was never really that cheap to begin with pre-panic, it was usually around $260-280 per 1000 whereas if you were willing to go with cheap Russian steel case 115 then you could have 1000 rounds for around $185. 9mm NATO was only slightly more expensive. It's currently the same story, except 147 is practically non-existent and the cheap stuff isn't quite as cheap as it used to be (SGAmmo has now got tons of Russian steel case 115, but it's $12.95 a box instead of the $9.95 it used to be).

    Just thought maybe this would help somebody...

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Array ntkb's Avatar
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    So you admit that a heavy bullet is the way to go. Why dount you go fo a 45 with a 230gr bullet and have it done, you wont need to worry about the drop and wilh a bit of pratice you can take out the 10 ring with a good 1911.
    1911 when a follow up shot just isn't an option

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    Distinguished Member Array Hoganbeg's Avatar
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    Yep, heavier/slower bullets spend more time in the barrel, thus more time for recoil to raise the point of aim.

    You have a valid point. Still, I like the better penetration and there is less of a difference in point of impact at closer ranges; say, 10 meters.

    Also. the tests I've seen show that 147 gr bullets tend to not expand as much as the faster 124 gr bullets.

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    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    No, you just proved YOUR gun in YOUR hands shoots high. With 147's.

    To assume that all guns do...is a bit silly.

    Personally, I've not seen a big difference in most of my 9mm handguns. And, really...from a practical standpoint...you just nailed your target in the upper chest instead of center; this is not a bad thing...
    There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.--RAH

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    There is a reason they try and make small bullets act like big bullets--Glockmann10mm

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Reliable function.
    Terminal ballistic performance.
    Accuracy (POA/POI).

    For me, it's about these three. Without #1, none of the others matter. Without #1 and #2, #3 won't matter much. Plus, #3 can be adjusted with minor equipment (sights) changes and improvement in aim and consistency.

    As with a rifle that's shooting a given load one day, but a different load the next, it's entirely likely a click or two change on the scope is going to be required to accommodate the change. No biggie. Such a change doesn't say a thing about the terminal ballistics of one round versus another. I'd much prefer to have something that matches the criteria I'm requiring of it (avoiding deflection through windshields, deep penetration, more-consistent expansion, whatever).


    That being said, my choice in 9mm is generally JHP 124gr +P, at least for mid-sized pistols in the ~4" bbl range.
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    Senior Member Array Happypuppy's Avatar
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    Same as I found. The 115 seemed to shoot low the 147 high. The 124 on target

    "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." -G.S. Patton

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    Member Array ILoveSigs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuda66 View Post
    No, you just proved YOUR gun in YOUR hands shoots high. With 147's.

    To assume that all guns do...is a bit silly.

    Personally, I've not seen a big difference in most of my 9mm handguns. And, really...from a practical standpoint...you just nailed your target in the upper chest instead of center; this is not a bad thing...
    I neither said nor implied that my testing alone "proved" that, it merely illustrated it. Most 9mms and the fixed sights made for them are sighted in for hot 124s from the factory, I think that's a very logical presumption given what most people use as their duty/carry ammo and the fact that the manufacturer is going to need to sight their guns/sights in to something (and so obviously they're going to use whatever is most popular). That and the fact that 147s will impact higher than 124s for the reason already explained means that, of course, most 9mm pistols are going to shoot high with 147s.

    It's a bad thing to not hit where I'm aiming, if I'm aiming for the heart and my aim is correct but the POI is 3" higher than the POA, that bullet is likely going to miss the heart and that's the difference between the threat stopping in 5-10 seconds or so and a minute or longer, presuming no other variables (additional shots on target, etc.). Three inches probably won't make a difference, but it could, and if you can eliminate that risk without causing any new problems then why wouldn't you? That's called "an improvement".

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    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ILoveSigs View Post
    I neither said nor implied that my testing alone "proved" that, it merely illustrated it. Most 9mms and the fixed sights made for them are sighted in for hot 124s from the factory, I think that's a very logical presumption given what most people use as their duty/carry ammo and the fact that the manufacturer is going to need to sight their guns/sights in to something (and so obviously they're going to use whatever is most popular). That and the fact that 147s will impact higher than 124s for the reason already explained means that, of course, most 9mm pistols are going to shoot high with 147s.

    It's a bad thing to not hit where I'm aiming, if I'm aiming for the heart and my aim is correct but the POI is 3" higher than the POA, that bullet is likely going to miss the heart and that's the difference between the threat stopping in 5-10 seconds or so and a minute or longer, presuming no other variables (additional shots on target, etc.). Three inches probably won't make a difference, but it could, and if you can eliminate that risk without causing any new problems then why wouldn't you? That's called "an improvement".
    I'm all for accuracy, but IMHO, aiming for the heart at 20m in a defensive situation is wildly optimistic, unless the BG is tied to a tree or something.
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    Ex Member Array IWIWBig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuda66 View Post
    No, you just proved YOUR gun in YOUR hands shoots high. With 147's.
    This guy gets it.

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    Senior Member Array RightyLefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxwell97 View Post
    I'm all for accuracy, but IMHO, aiming for the heart at 20m in a defensive situation is wildly optimistic, unless the BG is tied to a tree or something.
    You stole my thunder on this. Exactly my thinking. If the OP would have shot from 7 yards or in (which is more plausible for SD situation,) the difference would have been negligible. People often say train with same bullet weight you're going to carry. Most acts of SD it's not going to matter. It's the difference between having to shoot someone hitting that person right between the eyes or square on the nose. That person is dead either way.
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  12. #11
    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ILoveSigs View Post
    I neither said nor implied that my testing alone "proved" that, it merely illustrated it. Most 9mms and the fixed sights made for them are sighted in for hot 124s from the factory, I think that's a very logical presumption given what most people use as their duty/carry ammo and the fact that the manufacturer is going to need to sight their guns/sights in to something (and so obviously they're going to use whatever is most popular). That and the fact that 147s will impact higher than 124s for the reason already explained means that, of course, most 9mm pistols are going to shoot high with 147s.

    It's a bad thing to not hit where I'm aiming, if I'm aiming for the heart and my aim is correct but the POI is 3" higher than the POA, that bullet is likely going to miss the heart and that's the difference between the threat stopping in 5-10 seconds or so and a minute or longer, presuming no other variables (additional shots on target, etc.). Three inches probably won't make a difference, but it could, and if you can eliminate that risk without causing any new problems then why wouldn't you? That's called "an improvement".
    Let's brush up on our anatomy.

    If you are aiming for the heart, 3" high is going to wipe that great big cluster of veins and arteries right above it; net result in time to incapacitation...the same as hitting the heart (possibly faster).

    Aiming for the nose? You hit the forehead. Either way, gray matter is gonna get aerosolized.

    All in all, I think this is much ado about nothing.
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    There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.--RAH

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    Member Array CAS_Shooter's Avatar
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    Beliefs are peculiar things. You said you "believe" a 147 will penetrate deeper and expand more than a 124. This is not a thing that requires a belief system. You can rely on research and the many documented ballistic tests to know that weight in the same caliber is not a predictable differentiator for penetration or expansion.

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    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    I think I'd also point out that looking at the group sizes, the 147's are a more accurate load out of the pistol...
    There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.--RAH

    ...man fights with his mind; the weapons are incidental.--Jeff Cooper


    There is a reason they try and make small bullets act like big bullets--Glockmann10mm

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    Senior Member Array Navydude's Avatar
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    Hmmm. Well it all sounds good but I guess I really don't mind too much if I not always hitting the ten ring. I can tear up a target shooting slow but now it seems all range time is spent on drawing, presenting and firing as quickly as safely possible. I'm not a competitive shooter but a defensive shooter. If I can place all my shots center mass in the area of a spread hand then I feel I am doing good. I shoot center mass, head and groin. Just my couple pennies worth of opinion.
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    Senior Member Array coffeecup's Avatar
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    Very nice presentation,but it is all in vain. In a real life SHTF situation there is no time to take deliberate aim. To do so would put your life in peril.

    As far as penetrating auto glass-----why would you risk heavy jail time for shooting someone who is in an auto and you are outside????

    All that aside--the personal defense ammo you carry is your personal choice. I have chosen the 115gr Buffalo/Barnes. Your choice may differ.

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