Best 9mm Ammunition


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Which are the Best 9mm Bullets for Self Defense and High Volume Shooting?

There are so many choices in ammunition these days, that it can sometimes be difficult to figure out the best 9mm ammo.  After all, the 9mm is one of the most popular and widely used pistol cartridges in the world.  Naturally, this means that there are many choices of ammunition from many different manufacturers.  This wide variety is a good thing, and at the same time it can make things more difficult to wade through all the choices to figure out what are the best 9mm bullets for defense purposes.  First and foremost, it needs to be said that regardless of whatever ammunition you choose, make absolutely sure that it cycles and fires reliably through your particular 9mm pistol.  It doesn't matter how powerful a 9mm round is in theory, if it misfeeds or jams your gun and never exits the barrel!  So, the first rule in finding the best 9mm ammo is to find one that works well in your gun.  That is something that will require you actually buying some ammo (preferably in a smaller quantity at first) and trying it out.  Once you are confident that it will work reliably in your handgun, then you can stock up with some larger quantities.  Below you will find some suggestions based on my own personal research.  No doubt, there are other good rounds out there too, but I had to narrow it down.  I used price as a factor in my decision making.  Please note that this pricing information is subject to change, but these are the best prices that I could find while scouring the internet.

Speer Gold Dot 9mm Speer 9mm +P 124gr GOLD DOT 53617 124gr JHP +P 1220 fps 410 ft*lbs $ .48
Federal 9BPLE Federal +P+ 115gr FEDERAL 9BPLE 115gr JHP +P+ 1300 fps 430 ft*lbs $ .35
Remington GS9MMD Remington Golden Saber +P 124gr REMINGTON GS9MMD 124gr JHP +P 1180 fps 384 ft*lbs $ .52
Corbon 9mm Corbon +P 115gr JHP CORBON SD09115-20 115gr JHP +P 1350 fps 466 ft*lbs $ .89

CHOICE #1 - Based on my research, I have chosen the Speer Gold Dot as my personal best 9mm choice.  This is based on the fact that it has a proven track record in law enforcement and I was able to find it for a very good price in the Law Enforcement 50 round boxes (53617).  If you buy it in the consumer 20 round boxes, then you will pay much more.  Check places like Midwest Hunters Outlet and Tactical Defense Solutions for the 50 round boxes of Law Enforcement Gold Dot ammo.

CHOICE #2 - In my mind, my #2 choice is close to my #1 pick.  My #2 choice for best 9mm ammo is the legendary Federal 9BPLE round that has been so widely used in law enforcement for more than 2 DECADES.  It has a real world proven track record to be an excellent man stopper.  It has been used extensively in border patrol forces and other law enforcement agencies.  Loaded to higher pressures for increased velocity (1300 fps), the Federal 9BPLE carries a +P+ rating.  Some say that there is really no SAAMI specs for a +P+ 9mm round, but nevertheless this rating is used by more than one manufacturer.  The point in the +P+ rating that you need to consider is whether or not your gun is capable of handling the higher pressures.  If you have a cheapo or old 9mm pistol that is of unknown quality, then I'd recommend you stay away from this and also any +P ammo.  I have a CZ75B that is known to be built very strong, so I have no concern about the +P+ rating.  You also have to figure that law enforcement has been using it for a LONG time and typical duty carry pistols have been using it for many years without problems.  It's your job to determine if your pistol is up to the task of handling +P+ ammunition (or +P for that matter).  If cost is very important in your decision making, then I'd probably rate this as the best 9mm bullets for self defense.  The reason why I prefer the Speer Gold Dots is simply because of the newer technology used on the bonded bullet core.  The Federal round has a traditional jacketed hollow point that is not bonded.  In reality, this probably does not make much difference unless you are shooting through barriers like glass, metal, or walls where a non-bonded bullet might fragment before reaching your intended target.  Again, there is a lot of track record to prove that the 9BPLE is very effective in real life.  They are very economical for a self defense round, but they are sometimes hard to locate.  I've purchased them from Cheaper Than Dirt.  UPDATE:  I was curious how much more pressure these +P+ rounds really had, so I contacted the manufacturer, and I was told that the 9BPLE +P+ is loaded to a pressure of 40,000psi.  For comparison sake, a normal +P 9mm round has a SAAMI pressure limit of 38,500psi.  The SAAMI spec for a regular 9mm round is 35,000psi.  So, the 9BPLE is not much higher (1,500 psi more) than a typical +P round.  Even so, make sure that your gun is able to handle the additional pressure of these +P+ rounds as well as +P rounds.  Some gun manufacturers specifically state that they do not recommend +P ammunition in their guns.  When I spoke to the company rep about the pressure of the 9BPLE, he stated that the higher velocities of these +P+ round increases the speed of the slide.  This can cause more wear and tear on a gun if the slide slams back hard.  If you know that your handgun can handle the additional pressure of the Federal 9BPLE, then you might also consider replacing your recoil spring and/or seeing if you can find a recoil buffer for your particular gun.  This might help counteract the higher slide speeds that will be encountered with these rounds.  One thing is for sure, even though the Federal 9BPLE has an older (non-bonded) bullet design, it has a proven track record in real world use and it continues to be a viable choice today.

CHOICE #3 - The Remington Golden Saber 124gr +P is another good choice.  I've found it for a very reasonable price at places like Sportsmansguide and that's why I consider it a good choice.  It has a bonded jacketed hollow point bullet.  The specs are a little lower than the top 2 choices in terms of velocity and energy, but they are still good specs for a 9mm self defense round.  Again, a big reason why I even bought this round is because of the good "bang for the buck" pricing.

CHOICE #4 - My next choice for best 9mm ammo would probably be the Corbon 115gr +P that has an impressive velocity of 1350 fps and 466 ft*lbs of energy.  Some might say that I have it all backwards!  Why isn't this my #1 choice???  Quite simply, in part it's because I am factoring in cost in my decision making process.  The best price that I could find was around $ .89 per round.  Most places it sells for over $1.00 per round.  Obviously, your life is worth more than a little bit of money difference, but I was just not convinced that the Corbon was that much more superior than the Speer Gold Dot or the Federal 9BPLE.  You can get 3 of the Federal 9BPLE bullets for around the price of 1 Corbon bullet at the typical selling price of $1+ per round.  On top of that, the Corbon bullet is a simple JHP (non-bonded) much like the 9BPLE.  In other words, the Corbon 9mm +P 115gr and the Federal 9BPLE +P+ 115gr rounds are very similar in many ways, EXCEPT the Corbon is nearly 3X the cost!  With all that being said, if cost is of no concern for you, then you will probably not be disappointed in the Corbon for self defense purposes.  It's a solid performer.    

At this point, I'm sure that some people are saying, BUT "you didn't look at the Corbon DPX with Barnes copper bullets or (enter your favorite 9mm ammo here)...".  Yes, I admitted at the beginning of this analysis that I was factoring in cost and my own personal preferences.  There are other bullets out there like the Winchester Ranger 127gr +P+ that can be had for a good price if you can find them in the Law Enforcement 50 round packs.  When it's all said and done, thankfully bullet technology has advanced to the point where you will probably not go wrong if you pick a 9mm bullet that is designed for self defense and is made by a reputable company.  In other words, the best 9mm ammo for you might be different than what is listed above - especially if cost is of no concern to you, and you are not so interested in real life track record data.  Just remember that the best 9mm bullets that you choose for yourself should be ones that feed reliably through your pistol and with which you have practiced enough to know that you can hit your intended target.                  

Best Deals on Bulk 9mm Ammo

If you are not looking for the best self defense round, it is possible to buy 9mm bullets in bulk quantities and save yourself some money.  You can sometimes literally find them in a bulk pack with loose bullets filling a box, but that is not always necessary in order to get the best price.  There are some companies like Ultramax that sell reloaded 9mm bullets bulk packaged in that way.  These bullets are supposed to be reloaded with once used brass cases.  Many people have had good luck with these remanufactured 9mm bullets purchased in bulk packs.  Overall, these reloaded bullets can be a good deal, but interestingly if you shop around, you can often find brand new factory loaded bullets for the same price (and even less sometimes). 

 Bulk 9mm

The chart below shows a comparison of some of the best deals that I've found on 9mm bullets in bulk quantities.  The prices listed below are calculated when purchasing a quantity of 1000 rounds.  That's the way to get the best price.  Currently, my personal favorite place to buy ammunition is online at the Sportsmansguide.  I just find that they often have the best deals on ammo.  This is especially true if you factor in the specials they often run with free shipping, reduced price shipping, $XX off, or other promotions.  In addition, becoming a Club member ($29.97) gives you a further 5% discount on ammo prices and 10% discount on other products they sell.  Below you will find the cost per bullet when purchasing a quantity of 1000 rounds at Sportsmansguide with my Club membership.  This cost does not include shipping, but it's often possible to get free shipping or a further discount with the promotions they frequently run.  Please note: These prices are for comparison purposes and they are subject to change.  Unfortunately, the prices are probably going to continue to go up and up.  That's why if you find a good deal on some good ammunition, then you might want to consider stocking up some.   

Wolf Military Classic 9mm Wolf Military Classic Russia 9mm 115gr FMJ

Lacquered Steel Case

1150 fps

337 ft*lbs

17.1 cents
MFS 9mm MFS Russia 9mm 115gr FMJ

Zinc Plated Steel Case

1214 fps

378 ft*lbs

20.9 cents
Sellier & Bellot 9mm Sellier & Bellot Czech 9mm 115gr FMJ

Brass Case

1280 fps

421 ft*lbs

20.9 cents
Armscor 9mm Armscor Philippines 9mm 124gr FMJ

Brass Case

1299 fps

465 ft*lbs

22.8 cents
Remington UMC 9mm Remington UMC USA 9mm 115gr FMJ

Brass Case

1135 fps

329 ft*lbs

24.4 cents
Federal American Eagle 9mm Federal American Eagle USA 9mm 115gr FMJ

Brass Case

1180 fps

355 ft*lbs

24.5 cents
Winchester White Box 9mm Winchester White Box USA 9mm 115gr FMJ

Brass Case

1190 fps

362 ft*lbs

24.7 cents

As you might expect, the old saying "You get what you pay for" does come into play here, but it is still very possible to shop around and get the best bang for your buck.  You will notice from the chart that the lowest price ammunition is made in Russia.  It comes with non-reloadable steel cases.  The Bi-Metal bullet jackets are also made of steel with a copper plating.  The rest of the non-Russian made bullets in the chart come with a brass jacketed bullet, and a conventional brass case that is reloadable.  This is important for those of you that currently reload or plan to reload in the future.  You can't reload the Russian berdan primed steel cases.  I don't know about you, but I'd personally rather go with ammunition with a brass case.  The brass will be more likely to feed reliably in most guns, since the brass rubbing against the guns internal steel parts has less friction.  Then again, I've used the lower priced steel case Russian ammo in other guns without problems.  The Russian cases are coated or plated.  They sometimes use a lacquer coating, zinc plating, and even brass plating.  It's up to you as to what you prefer, but I find that the brass cased ammunition is not much more expensive than the Russian steel cased ammo.  Especially if you have a really nice gun that is very valuable to you, then it probably doesn't make sense feeding an expensive gun cheap steel cased ammo with steel jacketed bullets.  As always, the choice is yours.   

Oftentimes, you will find the general trend that foreign made ammo is often loaded hotter than USA made ammunition.  You can see this in the ballistics data in the chart above.  The exception to this is some of the Russian made ammo is loaded with powder charges closer to USA spec ammo.  As I've said, I've gotten good deals at the Sportsmansguide, but you can also get good deals on 9mm bullets in bulk quantities at other places online and at various businesses.  Wal-Mart often has competitive prices on ammunition.  In addition, sometimes people will find good deals on bulk quantities of ammo at gun shows.  In any case, this information is just sharing some of my personal experiences spending a lot of time shopping around for the best deal for 9mm bullets bulk.  I thought it might be helpful for others who are searching for the same.  The pricing here will give you some reference points for comparison as you shop around for 9mm bullets in bulk quantities.  If you get lucky, you might even find some better deals online or elsewhere.