Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Personal Protection Rounds - 9mm Stopping Power

My recent acquisition of A Taurus PT-111 pistol as an additional means of personal protection has required me to do a little research on what would be a good personal protection round for this pistol. Since it has been quite a few years since I've owned a 9mm semi-auto pistol, I sought the advice of friends and relatives in this regard.

A friend and current co-worker who is a former LEO recommended the Federal 147 gr Hydra-Shok round for personal protection. Basically, it was the round he and many of his fellow officers carried in their 9mm pistols as active law enforcement officers. It is also fairly available due to it being used in my local area and can usually be obtained fairly easily, even with the current tendency of short supplies.

For those of you looking for a good source of ammo, this website seems to have plenty available:

There is still a lot of differences of opinion on the best 9mm round to carry in your 9mm pistol for personal protection. It seems to be mostly a matter of light and fast versus heavy and slow. With a little practice I'll probably be able to tell if it will be a good round for my use. These particular 9mm rounds are about twice as expensive as regular target rounds which will make practicing with these rounds a little more costly.

Staying above the water line!



Bitmap said...

I have no idea what's best over all. If you hit 20 people in the same place from the same angle with the same round you will probably get 20 slightly different results.

The best thing is to try and hit them the best you can and plan on it not working with the first or second or fifteenth round.

That way you will be prepared for the worst and you will probably be pleasantly surprised at some point.

Don't forget to hope and pray you never have to test this out in real life.

shiloh1862 said...

I use the Ranger or Black Talon 147grain when I can get my hands on it. Usually only carry it and practice with 124 or 115 grain.


Wyn Boniface said...

Federal, Corbon, and Gold Dot though many people also mean +p when they say those manufacturers. I would make sure the 9mm you have can handle a +p or +p+ ammunition.

Bitmap has a point and FMJ has stopped/killed more people then the most premium hollow point ammo. I am not saying FMJ is the best. I am just pointing out that it is about shot placement. I do not believe in a silver bullet. I believe in dumping rounds until the target is stopped.

Anonymous said...

I keep some 115grain hollow points for everyday carry. Cheap target loads to practice. I'll be on the lookout for some higher grain bullets and try them out.

Kentucky Preppers Network

Ken said...

...i like the 124 JHP,practice with ball...in both the nines,wifes is a Khar K9,my CZ75 likes it the best...

...my carry is a K40,two Gov't Models for the saddle up rig...

...(.45,because a 9mm 'might' expand)...lol,if only i could afford a Commander size 1911...

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong, but I seem to recall that these heavier rounds had some issues with slide damage due to higher slide speed retraction, the law of inertia not playing favorites. But I could be way off base.

David said...

I've got two of the PT111's and love 'em. No worries on getting special rounds. If I hit you with my FMJ's, you'll hurt just the same. ;-)

Mockum said...

I was lucky to pick up 500 rounds of Hydra-Shok before the price went way up. Don't know how good it is yet; haven't had a chance to shoot anybody. Goddamn busy schedule.

Check out http://www.ammoengine.com to compare ammo prices at various sites.

Machinist said...

The 9mm subsonic was developed to give the excessive penetration the FBI called for after the Miami fiasco. Police do need more penetration than private citizens do as they are much more likely to have to shoot through a wall or door or car coachwork. A citizen defensive situation will almost always be a close range exposed target with at most, heavy clothes to deal with. The problem is that the 9mm is a marginal round. At just the right balance of dynamic energy transfer through expansion and penetration it gives good results but there is no reserve of power, so a move to excess penetration leaves it with inadequate energy transfer and the subsonics have indeed shown the poorest results next to FMJ. The 115 grain +P JHPs have the best record for success. The hydro-Shok is a good bullet and will make the most of the energy available but this is not the best answer. It is also important to test any subsonic thoroughly as the 9mm was not designed for that weight of bullet and some guns are not reliable with it. As Anonymous said, the slide timing is wrong.

If you want these loads and have proven their reliability with a couple of hundred rounds at least, then you can practice with a cheaper round with the same bullet weight. Be aware that the common over penetration with subsonics means that the bullet will likely exit with enough energy to be dangerous to family and neighbors, even if your shot is perfectly placed. This energy is not extra and is energy you needed in the target, not flying wild.

Machinist said...

This marginal energy is why the FBI and so many police departments switched to the .40 S&W, .357 Sig, and .45 ACP. These cartridges have the extra energy to give ample penetration and dynamic energy transfer.

riverwalker said...

To: Bitmap

Never having to use it in a personal defense situation is my hope also.
Thanks for the advice.


riverwalker said...

To: Shiloh1862

I'm leaning towards the 124 gr FMJ, which is the recommended load for this pistol per the manufacturer.

A few more practice rounds will probably be the deciding factor.



riverwalker said...

To: Wyn Boniface

I fear this round may be too much for my particular pistol as it does exceed the recommended type. A steady diet of this type of ammo in order to develop some accuracy shooting this round may be too much for the gun itself.

Bitmap made an excellent point about shot placement. This is especially true since you may only get one shot. Thanks for the advice.


riverwalker said...

To: matthiasj

I keep a few rounds of the 115 gr for practice also but to insure the best accuracy I figure I will need to practice with a defensive round for the best results. Thanks for the input.


riverwalker said...

To: ken

124 JHP... will need to look into that as an option. Thanks.


riverwalker said...

To: anonymous

Have seen some comments on this also in regards to slide problems. Also seen some comments on blow back problems with this type of load.

Thanks for the heads up.


riverwalker said...

TO: David

That's good to know! I need some input on what may work the best for this particular pistol before making a final decision. Thanks.


riverwalker said...

To: Mockum

Thanks for the link! Sounds like you got a decent stock of ammo set back.


riverwalker said...

To: Machinist

I was hoping you check in with some good advice. Your remarks are in line with a review that I studied on 9mm hollow points. The penetration rate for this round was almost 18 inches which is a considerable amount.

This is a link to the review:


As usual, some excellent advice and this will help me in making a final decision. Thanks.


Machinist said...

I believe bullets expand better in water than flesh so you can expect more penetration. I strongly urge you not to carry FMJ for defense. These combine the worse qualities of the round, poor energy transfer and dangerous over penetration. You should only use them if the gun will not handle hollowpoints and in that case you should get something else. You would be better off with a .38 spec. or .380 with hollowpoints than a 9mm with FMJs.

In the movies the bad guy stands there jerking while Mel pumps round after round into him until he drops like a rag doll. It doesn't work that way. I would prefer a five or six shot revolver or auto with a proper cartridge and load to a 15 round 9mm with FMJs. The first hit is far and away your most important and has the best chance of stopping your attacker. After that you are dealing with an adrenalized man who will be almost immune to shock. Unless you smash a major bone structure or nerve center you will have a very hard time stopping him. There are no magic bullets that will knock a man down but proper loads greatly increase the effectiveness of a cartridge in police shooting stats, by 30% to 40% in some cases.

Machinist said...

The only defensive cartridge I would be comfortable carrying with FMJ would be the .45 ACP, and even with that I much prefer good hollow points.

riverwalker said...

To: Machinist

Thanks again.

The review I posted in my comments was a test using water and one of my main concerns with any defensive round is the possibility of over penetration. Ultimately you will be held accountable for every round you fire...

I'm still leaning towards a decent hollow point round for a defensive load.


Machinist said...

If you are concerned about that then a light hollow point is called for. Corbon makes a 90 grain JHP that would get very good velocity from your short barrel and should give very dynamic expansion with reduced penetration. It is actually less than ideal for penetration so I stay with 115 grain but it might suit you well. They are expensive but you only need to prove the weapon with them and then occasionally rotate your carry ammo. You can practice with the cheaper FMJs. The best compromise is probably still the 115 grain JHPs in a +P load but for a short barrel I might consider the 90 grain if it was reliable and comfortable in my gun.

Machinist said...

If you want to avoid +P loads I suggest you check out Hornady's new Personal Defense loads. This 115 grain standard pressure load tests out very well from short barrels though I have not tried them myself. I do intend to try some.

In an independent test they produced over 13" of penetration in 10% gelatin and expanded to .56" consistently from a short barrel. This is good performance for a standard pressure load. It should be easy to control and easy on the gun. I would consider this ideal for a gun like yours. Mine is a Sig P239. It is a little heavier and is mild with +P loads.

Machinist said...


From a short barrel expect about 1050 fps.

riverwalker said...

To: Machinist

Sounds promising. Will check it out and let you know the results with an update later. Thanks for the link!


Machinist said...

Thank you Sir. I will look forward to it.

Ammo Allen said...

Thanks for the great online resource for .223 ammo. It is nice to have more reliable sources for supplies that have been tested by other consumers who have had a positive experience.

S. Ammunition for sale said...

Thank you for this article! I think that is the gun for me! Do you know why they called it 'stop ammo'? I wonder where I can find this ammunition for sale...Supplies seem scarce lately and I'm hoping that it isn't nationwide, but it's short in my town.

sdague said...

I have shot many different 9mm pistols and ammo, plus I have read a lot of data on ballistics and terminal performance. For my 9mm, I load Corbon DPX in 115gr. It is one of the best overall performing 9mm rounds when used agains barriers, auto glass, denim, etc. Other solid choices are Federal HST, Double Tap brand loaded with TAC-XP bullets, and Gold Dot. I use HST in 40S&W. Price can be high for HST or DPX, but its not like you need to shoot it all the time. Have a 100 or 200 rounds on hand (if you can afford it) and just shoot FMJ for training and proficiency. My 2 cents...

BY the way, great site, good reads and keep up the good work.

labillyboy said...

The stopping power discussion is circular because there is no right answer. No pistol will stop an attacker 100% of the time. They get you out of a jamb that occurs so fast that you can't get to a real gun. I use the biggest I can carry given the circumstances. A 9 with a hicap if I can't fit extra mags, a .45 if I can.

There are good reasons you don't see soldiers using pistols on the battlefield unless it is a last resort.

If I see a fight coming my pistol is just to get me to my Shotgun, 300 Win Mag or AR. A semi auto 12 GA Shotgun with 00 buckshot... now THAT is stopping power, it can remove limbs. The AR can hold off a bunch of people at 200 yards and the sniper rifle in 300WM will drop a man like a bag of wet cement at 1000 yards... your .45 projectile is in the dirt at that range.

Anonymous said...

I carry a glock 19,corbon 115 +P is my first choice.Corbon powerballs,speergold dot 124 +P are also very good choices

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