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  1. #1

    Defensive Ammo Questions

    So, I've recently bought my first 9mm, and I'm looking for SD ammo. Heretofore, in my snubbie, I just got the same weight bullet (158 gr) as my range ammo in standard power hollow points. I didn't really put much thought into it, but I was brand new and just bought the same brand I was using for target ammo. I'm trying to actually put some thought into choosing SD ammo for the 9. I've looked through a couple of older posts, and there are several manufacturers to choose from based on INGOer recommendations (Speer Gold Dots, Federal HSTs, Hornady Critical Defense/Critical Duty, Winchester PDX1/Ranger-Ts, etc. I've also seen some stellar reviews for Underwood Extreme Defenders on YouTube.). My questions mainly have to do with the other choices: bullet weight, bullet profile, and power. I saw in this other posts that people were using 124 or 147 gr bullets. Why are the heavier bullets better? Is a standard hollow point best or a "filled" (for lack of a better description) hollow point like the Critical Duty, and why? What about the Underwood and Ruger ARX type or bullet? What are the pros/cons to standard vs +P vs +P+? Obviously, the +P is faster than standard and +P+ faster than everything, but why are these options necessary? Thanks for any input. I appreciate it!

  2. #2
    In real broad terms:
    1) The heavier the bullet, the more it resists being torn apart and deflected by barriers (all else being equal, a cheap target 147 gr won't be better than a well constructed bonded 124 gr). Retained mass is good.

    2) +P is faster, as you noted. It may be faster, that doesn't mean it's better. You will find +P in 124 gr and 135 gr that pass the FBI tests. It's primarily a way to get the lighter bullets through the barriers. +P+ is marketing, there is no SAAMI spec for such a thing. It may or may not actually be faster than +P. You can overdrive a bullet, causing it to fragment or open too fast, reducing penetration. Once again, retained mass is good. This is a rookie mistake, getting caught up in the "energy" stats or thinking that if a bullet at 950 fps is good, 1150 fps must be better. It isn't. Keeping the bullet in the brackets it was designed to expand without fragmenting in is best.

    3) Don't over think it. DocGKR publishes information on FBI testing. Find a cartridge on his list that your gun likes, that's available in reasonable quantities, and forget about it.

    https://pistol-forum.com/showthread....y-load-testing shows three good 147 gr offerings and the results of bare gel, 4 layer denim, and auto glass. Auto glass tends to also show how a bullet does against bone, as it turns out.
    My nuts are the great uniter.

  3. #3
    Just buy whatever weight you want in Federal HST and you'll be fine.

  4. #4
    Plinker
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    199
    I personally have chosen to carry 9mm 147 gr HSTs in all of my defensive pistols.

    I greatly prefer the 147 grain bullets over the 115 and 124 grain variety due to much more consistent penetration. In fact, there are very few 115 grain hollow points that will meet FBI protocol for their performance.

    I do not feel the need to go to a +P or a +P+ loaded bullet. There is more speed, but when a standard pressure will get the bullet to a speed which it perfoms well, then I do not see the big advantage.

    When it comes down to it choose what you feel comfortable carrying so long as it is reliable in your gun and is a reputable manufacturer with a bullet designed for putting holes in people.

  5. #5
    So, how many rounds would be considered "reliable"? I've seen other threads on here where people say things like "If I haven't shot 100 rounds (or 200 or 500, etc.--might be an exaggeration on my part, but you get the point), I wouldn't carry it!" or "I put a mags worth through it; it's GTG!"

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by CraigAPS View Post
    So, how many rounds would be considered "reliable"? I've seen other threads on here where people say things like "If I haven't shot 100 rounds (or 200 or 500, etc.--might be an exaggeration on my part, but you get the point), I wouldn't carry it!" or "I put a mags worth through it; it's GTG!"
    I run 50 rounds of SD ammo and 450 rounds of target ammo before I decide a full size is good to go. With something like the Shield where 450 is a lot of shooting, I'll still run 50 rounds of SD, but tone down the target ammo to 200.
    My nuts are the great uniter.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by BehindBlueI's View Post
    I run 50 rounds of SD ammo and 450 rounds of target ammo before I decide a full size is good to go. With something like the Shield where 450 is a lot of shooting, I'll still run 50 rounds of SD, but tone down the target ammo to 200.
    I didn't make it clear, but I meant the SD ammo specifically, which you did answer. The gun, I'm not as worried about. Until I'm able to try out some different SD rounds, I'll keep putting target rounds through it. I'm already 150 in, and no problems yet! I'm sure by the time I buy, shoot, and choose a defensive round, holster, extra mags, mag pouch, I'll be over the 500 total round count! It's a Ruger SR9E. So, it is duty size. The trigger is SOOOOO light compared to the double action trigger pull on my revolvers!! It's going to take me time just to get used to the trigger.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by CraigAPS View Post
    I didn't make it clear, but I meant the SD ammo specifically, which you did answer. The gun, I'm not as worried about. Until I'm able to try out some different SD rounds, I'll keep putting target rounds through it. I'm already 150 in, and no problems yet! I'm sure by the time I buy, shoot, and choose a defensive round, holster, extra mags, mag pouch, I'll be over the 500 total round count! It's a Ruger SR9E. So, it is duty size. The trigger is SOOOOO light compared to the double action trigger pull on my revolvers!! It's going to take me time just to get used to the trigger.
    Dry fire between range sessions. It will let you concentrate on specific aspects, like trigger control, in a vacuum without worrying about recoil control, etc.

    Just don't get sloppy. Treat it like it's going to go off and use your normal grip, etc.
    My nuts are the great uniter.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by BehindBlueI's View Post
    Dry fire between range sessions. It will let you concentrate on specific aspects, like trigger control, in a vacuum without worrying about recoil control, etc.

    Just don't get sloppy. Treat it like it's going to go off and use your normal grip, etc.
    During my normal dry firing sessions with my revolver, I would try to not let the barrel move. I figured I'd do the same with the semi. I also have to get used to the three dot sights. As you know, typical carry revolvers don't always have the best sights. It sounds weird that I actually need to get used to decent sights. This may sound stupid, but getting used the relatively light trigger pull of the 9, do I need to worry about it hurting my ability to fire my snubbie? I'll still practice with it, but, obviously, it's an entirely different animal, altogether! Until the new gun and ammo are vetted, so to speak, it's still going to be my carry piece, and it'll probably become my car gun after I start carrying the Ruger.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by CraigAPS View Post
    During my normal dry firing sessions with my revolver, I would try to not let the barrel move. I figured I'd do the same with the semi. I also have to get used to the three dot sights. As you know, typical carry revolvers don't always have the best sights. It sounds weird that I actually need to get used to decent sights. This may sound stupid, but getting used the relatively light trigger pull of the 9, do I need to worry about it hurting my ability to fire my snubbie? I'll still practice with it, but, obviously, it's an entirely different animal, altogether! Until the new gun and ammo are vetted, so to speak, it's still going to be my carry piece, and it'll probably become my car gun after I start carrying the Ruger.
    1) It's debatable if 3 dot sights are better. Personally, I don't care for them. I'll use a sharpie to dim the rears on my Sig 3 dots until I replace them. I find three equal dots to be slower to acquire and harder to gain front sight focus on then a plain rear and bright front or a dot up front and a bar in the back. Regardless, the front sight focus is the same and that's what you should be practicing in dry fire.

    2) I have not found shooting semi-autos to affect my revolver shooting or vice versa. I do notice switching between two semi-autos or two revolvers, though. I suspect because my revolver grip and semi-auto grip are completely different (thumb print on thumb nail vs thumbs forward) that subconsciously my brain already knows which type is being held. However it can't distinguish between two semi-autos so my conscious brain has to get more involved. If I do a ton of presentations with a Glock then present with a Sig, I'll point the Sig low. Do the opposite, I'll point the Glock high. It doesn't take a lot of reps to remind my subconscious which I'm carrying and correct, but it is there. (Which is why I try not to bounce between carry guns).

    3) There's more to dry fire than just not letting the barrel move (and I assume you mean the front sight because that's what you should be watching). Note that "doesn't move" and "doesn't move unacceptably" are different things. If you always concentrate just on no movement, I bet your trigger press is reaaaaaal slow. That's fine to train for bull's eye stuff, not really what you're looking for with a carry gun. If you haven't maybe take a look at one of Ben Stoeger's dry fire books and run through some of the drills. It'll help you find the balance of speed and accuracy, but also help ensure your dry fire is realistic in how it simulates live fire. I've made that mistake, dry firing one way and live firing another, and got in my own way for awhile until I figured out what I was doing.

    My nuts are the great uniter.

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