Excellent Ammo Test – 2

Following on from my last post on the topic, let me turn to 9mm ammo, because I have little or no experience with the Europellet to speak of.

If I’m going to use lesser (than .45 ACP) ammo in my primary carry piece, I’m going to ask quite a lot of the ammo.  Specifically, I want substantial bullet expansion (to bring it up to .45 dimensions), and added velocity to punch the bullet home — therefore, using Lucky Gunner’s metrics, I want penetration greater than 16″, expansion greater than .5″, and velocity higher than 1,100 fps.

Casting my eye at LG’s 9x19mm test results, then, I see that two cartridges seem to be able to deliver said criteria:


Man, this Federal stuff looks like just what I’m looking for:  deep penetration,  consistent expansion, and excellent velocity.


The XTP lags just behind the Federal HST in terms of velocity, but it’s not bad at all, and almost as consistent in terms of expansion (albeit less than .5″).

For the record, here are the results for the load I’m currently carrying in the Browning High Power:

Not bad at all, although the greater expansion of the bullet on the extreme right is the one which dragged the penetration average down.  I like the ammo, though:  it’s wonderfully accurate in my elderly hands and still-more elderly gun.

However, there does seem to be a ringer in the 9mm ammo tested, and it’s this one:

Okay, the Speer looks outstanding — I’ve always been a fan of the Gold Dot, in other calibers — and the lighter boolet (115gr vs the others’  124gr) likely means less recoil.  The only negative to the lighter bullet weight is the penetration — barely breaking the 16″ criterion — but I’m adding it to the list nevertheless because as with the SIG load, one bullet over-expanded to bring the average penetration down.

Feel free to peruse the test results for your own conclusions.  Note, by the way, that several loads achieve much higher penetration than any of the above, but I think one can have too much  of that — think “innocent bystanders” and you’ll get my drift.

Have at it.  Are we having fun yet?


  1. Thank you Kim for these links ! I haven’t dug around the web for such tests in years and these are indeed thorough and extensive. One thing I shot an email to them about…would like to see some testing of ammo thru 16 inch carbine barrels. In 9/45/10mm these short light handy carbines are flying off the shelves for home defense use, especially in non-permissive states. I have one in my home. I spoke to an ammo manufacturer last year and they said that 124gr rounds get a 200-300 fps jump out of this barrel length. But I don’t have solid info on the bullet performance at these speeds.

  2. The Bersa Chat forum crew has done a lot of testing of ammo out of the short-barreled Bersa TPR9C (a carry gun I absolutely adore and can manage to carry and conceal every day), and one interesting favorite has come up: the solid copper hollow point from GBW Cartridge, the Legend Pro. It is a 115grain +P round, so it’s hot, but not so snappy that it hurts my wrists. It expands a lot, and penetrates really well. Out of the 3.5″ barrel TPR9C, it’s hitting 12″+, and out of a 4″ barrel or longer, it’s going to get very close to the 16″-17″ standard you’re wanting.

  3. Thanks, Kim. I’m in the market for just such a round. It also looks like they all have excellent weight retention as well. Maybe a test with ballistic gel with bones would provide a more realistic test medium.

  4. As previously mentioned in these pages (I think) I have been carrying 147 grain Speer Gold Dot as “social ammo” since the early 2000s. At the time I had bought a couple thousand rounds of it at a gun show (a manufacturing error that used the wrong primer) and hence it was cheap enough and plentiful enough to use as practice ammo.

    Speer also makes a “Lawmans” brand that is “TMJ” that has identical ballistics, so I can train with something that shoots and feels just like the social stuff.

    Edited to add:
    An instructor I have taken a few classes from had a “student” up from one of the South American shit hole countries. He’d been in 30+ documented gun fights where he’d prevailed (i.e. killed) at least one bad guy.

    Every single fight was using 9mm FMJ.

    Student was in quotes because after winning that many fights you may still BE a student of gunfighting, but you’re not really anyone else’s student.

  5. Federal HST and the Speer Gold Dots do keep turning up at the top of many site’s lists for best expansion and best self defense rounds.

    If you settle on the HSTs, find vendors that sell the 50 round LE only boxes; Federal only packages 20 round boxes for mere ‘civilians’ at around a buck a round. I’m limited to the vendors who will ship to illinois and paid about $0.63 per round shipped, but I’ve read that you can get the various europellet HSTs for under 50 cents per round shipped to better places.

    I bought a couple boxes of the Gold Dot just to function test but haven’t found them at a comparable price, but again, illinois-imposed limitations…

  6. If you find yourself enamoured of the 9mm 125 gr, you might consider the 9×23 Win.
    The Colt Mark IV Model 80 comes up from time to time in good condition around $1K±.
    It carries in and draws nicely from any dungaree front pocket and is covered quite well under a shirt.
    Muzzle velocity is just under 1500 fps and muzzle energy is just under 600 ft-lbs for the standard 124 gr Winchester JSP round, which supposedly penetrates to ~15″ and expands to ~ .75″; I take all these measurements with a few grains of salt, not having performed them myself.
    I also understand they can be hand-loaded to a max of 55,000 psi; even at somewhat hot loadings (using True Blue with a CCI 450 primer), I find the recoil less than a .45 1911 Springer using a 230 gr slug; certainly nowhere near the 10mm in 180 gr loadings.

  7. Ahhh, the wisdom of a man is measured in the degree that he agrees with me.
    That being said, Kim you are a wise man. The Federal 9mm HST ammo hides within both of my Sig pistols.
    The 229 for EDC (Don’t leave home without it) and the 226 for bedside comfort. Both pistols feed and function perfectly, no surprise there, but had to be tested.

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