The majority of people around the USA find that the best pistol for self-defense is the 9mm. Mainly due to how compact they are, low recoil, and easy to carry on their person. Once someone has a 9mm the biggest challenge is what ammo to use and what ammo tends to offer optimal performance. Thus we created this compact guide on the best ammo you can use with your 9MM. Whether you have a Glock 19, Glock 17, HK VP9, Springfield XD(M), Sig Sauer P320, FN509, Ruger SR9c, or other then these are the best rounds we have found for you. Regardless of the type of firearm you have, always use a trusted gun safe.
Buyer’s Guide on Finding the Best 9mm Ammo
For those who don’t have much background on firearms, choosing ammo for self-defense can be quite intimidating. With lots of misinformation and geek speaks on this topic, resorting to a firearm for your protection is still a taboo topic. However, with the right sense of responsibility and handling skills, there’s no reason to be afraid of purchasing one for yourself. This article will serve as your guide in buying the best ammo for self defense as well as for your concealed carry pistol.
Why a 9mm Is a Great Self-defense Asset
Yes, guns can be quite terrifying if used improperly. However, you must also acknowledge its ability to protect you and your loved ones in times of danger. All you have to do is be professionally trained and seek for the best ammo that suits your needs. With the right gun ownership responsibility and clean intentions, owning a 9mm pistol will be more of an asset than a liability.
Best Rated 9mm Ammo Brands
If you opt to buy your very first ammo online, it is advisable to contact your gun manufacturer if your chosen model can handle +P loads. For an easier ammo shopping experience, here are the top seven most popular 9mm loads for self-defense:
Blazer Brass 9mm Review
For those who have just started venturing into ammo, this model is perfect for you. This is due to its extremely cheap price, which makes it ideal for practice shooting. However, take note that its brass can be quite challenging to reload.
CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 124gr FMJ RN is a full metal jacket bullet manufactured by Cascade Cartridge Inc, an American ammunition manufacturer based in Idaho. This cartridge is one of the best choices for target practice and plinking around the range, it offers low recoil providing great target results. CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 124 grain is a new production re-loadable ammunition with clean-burning propellants. It is created using non-corrosive, Boxer-primed brass cases. Affordable 9mm cartridge with an average muzzle velocity of 1090 feet per second and average muzzle energy of 327 foot-pounds. This cartridge is ISO certified and built to SAAMI standards.
Federal Premium 9mm LE HST JHP Review
This model is the favorite ammunition among law enforcement agencies. As its bullet is of the Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) type, it offers massive expansion and deeper penetration.
Federal Premium LE HST JHP 147 is manufactured by Federal Premium, an American ammunition manufacturer located in Minnesota. This 9mm ammo features noncorrosive Boxer primer and a nickel-plated brass casing. It was created strictly for law enforcement, but it became popular on the streets too, it is one of the best types of 9mm jacketed hollow point ammunition. This is new production, noncorrosive, reloadable ammo with an average muzzle velocity of 1,000 feet per second and average muzzle energy of 326 foot-pounds. Federal LE HST 9mm handgun ammunition is designed to deliver high performance and it is mostly used as self-defense ammo.
Since this model is a bit too powerful to the untrained eye, only trained gun-abled professionals must consider buying this model.
Hornady Critical Defense 9mm FTX Review
If you’re into convenient and long-lasting ammo, opt for this model. Its bullets are designed to cater to individual loads – which makes it convenient. Its nickel-plated cases make them resistant to corrosion. As a result, they have a higher shelf life compared to other brands.
Hornady Critical Defense, 9mm, FTX, 115 Grain is manufactured in the United States, and it is mostly used as critical defense ammunition. This cartridge is loaded with 115-grain Flex Tip Expanding bullets which, unlike conventional hollow point bullets, has a soft polymer insert that eliminates clogging and inconsistency. Hornady Critical Defense, 9mm, FTX, 115 Grain is non-corrosive ammunition in Boxer primer and reloadable brass cases. Critical Defense ammo is loaded into nickel cases which increases visibility in low-light surroundings. This cartridge is designed for personal protection and self-defense. It will perform equally in all temperatures, and it will reduce the recoil. Hornady Critical Defense, 9mm, FTX, 115 Grain has an average muzzle velocity of 1140 feet per second and average muzzle energy of 332 foot-pounds.
However, take note that this is of a Flex Tip (FTX) bullet. With its soft polymer, it allows the bullet to consistently expand once it penetrates the target. As this is as dangerous as the illegal hollow points, use this with caution.
Magtech Guardian Gold 9mm JHP Review
If you’re into affordable ammo, this product is perfect for you. Despite its economical price, it doesn’t slack off in terms of effects. This model provides great penetration and weight retention upon firing. This is due to its alloy-coated hollow points, which makes it ideal for trained gun enthusiasts.
Magtech Guardian Gold JHP 115 grain is manufactured in Brazil and sold in over 50 countries around the world. It is designed as the personal protection ammo and it is one of the most reliable and most affordable self-defense cartridges. This ammo is featuring Boxer primer and brass cases and it is reloadable and non-corrosive. Magtech Guardian Gold
jacketed hollow point 115-grain ammo is chosen by numerous police agencies throughout the world as a training and service ammunition. This cartridge has an average muzzle velocity of 1246 feet per second and average muzzle energy of 397 foot-pounds. All Magtech ammunition is loaded to SAAMI and CIP specifications.
Remington Golden Saber 9mm Luger +P BJHP Review
This is another excellent ammo for self-defense gun enthusiasts. Its brass coating, wide opening, and spiraling serrations make it a phenomenal product. This model assures impressive terminal ballistics, extreme expansion, and deeper penetration. As a result, its highly durable and long-lasting properties make a threat-dropping effect on any target.
Remington Golden Saber BJHP 147 grain was designed in the United States specifically for law enforcement and self-defense, and it is currently one of the most popular cartridges for personal protection. This cartridge features a brass jacketed bullet with precise hollow point cavity designs which increases penetration because of the minimal lead core deformation. Remington Golden Saber BJHP 147 gr is non-corrosive ammunition in Boxer primer and reloadable brass cases with an average muzzle velocity of 990 feet per second and average muzzle energy of 320 foot-pounds.
This cartridge was designed to meet four fundamentals: match-type accuracy, deep penetration, maximum expansion, and virtually
100% weight retention.
Speer Gold Dot +P “Short Barrel” JHP Review
This model is another favorite by law enforcement agencies. This is due to its impressive consistent ballistics and impressive stopping prowess. Aside from law enforcement, its lightweight feature makes it ideal for self-defense. For better context, a lighter bullet weight means better grouping and less recoil. This makes the ammo easy to use and fairly easy to conceal.
Manufactured in Lewiston, ID, Speer Gold Dot cartridge is designed for personal protection and home defense. This ammo is one of the first choices among law enforcement officers because of its accuracy and dependability. Speer Gold Dot JHP 124 grain is jacketed hollow point ammo that features a Boxer primer and a nickel-plated brass casing. This
cartridge is loaded with bonded core bullets with an average muzzle velocity of 1150 feet per second and average muzzle energy of 327 foot-pounds. Non-corrosive, new production ammunition is re-loadable and designed for critical defense needs. It will provide you with the most consistent level of high performance.
Winchester Elite 9mm PDX1 +P Review
Again, this is another home-friendly and easy-to-conceal weapon for self-defense. Despite its quite expensive price, this ammo remains to be a popular model among gun enthusiasts.
Winchester Supreme Elite 9mm +P JHP 124 grain is manufactured in the United States and it is a pa of the Winchesters premier line of self-defense ammunition. The Winchester Supreme Elite was chosen by the FBI as their primary service round. This cartridge features a bonded jacketed hollow point bullets in Boxer premier nickel-plated brass cases. With an average muzzle velocity of 1200 feet per second and average muzzle energy of 400-foot pounds, it is one of the most effective self-defense ammo. This cartridge will have slightly more recoil but it will also provide you with the maximum possible reliability.
Wolf Performance 9MM Luger Ammo Review
Wolf Performance 9mm Luger Ammo 115 Grain FMJ is mostly used for target and practice in competitions or recreational shooting. This cartridge is loaded with full metal jacket bullets in Berdan primer and steel cases. Wolf Performance 9mm Luger Ammo 115 Grain FMJ is affordable and non-reloadable ammunition providing great reliability, consistency and accuracy. This cartridge features the Bi-Metal bullet and the thin polymer coating providing smooth feeding and extraction. 9mm Wolf Performance 115 gr FMJ has an average muzzle velocity of 1150 feet per second and average muzzle energy of 338 foot-pounds.
TulAmmo 9mm Luger Ammo Review
TulAmmo 9mm Luger Ammo 115 Grain FMJ Steel Case is manufactured by the Tula Cartridge Company, the leader company in Russian ammo manufacturing. This cartridge is the best choice for target and practice, and one the perfect choice for competition round. 9mm ammo by Tula Ammo is non-reloadable and non-corrosive ammo with Berdan primer
and polymer-coated steel case. TulAmmo 9mm Luger Ammo 115 Grain FMJ Steel Case has a copper wash over the bimetal case with a lead bullet with an average muzzle velocity of 1150 feet per second and average muzzle energy of 338 foot-pounds. Mostly used for training and sports this ammo will shoot well in all weather conditions.
PMC Bronze 9mm Luger Ammo Review
PMC Bronze 9mm Luger Ammo 115 Grain FMJ Battle Pack ammo is manufactured by PMC Ammunition, an American ammunition manufacturer based in Texas. All PMC ammo is produced to either SAAMI or US Military Specification standards. This cartridge is mostly used for target and practice shootings and if features a full metal jacket bullet types in Boxer primer and brass cases. In addition to the full metal jacket rounds are developed with a lead core bullet. PMC Bronze 9mm Luger Ammo 115 Grain Battle Pack is a reloadable and non-corrosive ammunition with an average muzzle velocity of 1150 feet per second and average muzzle energy of 338 foot-pounds.
The Ammo Lingo: Know What You’re Talking About
The main job of ammo is to project a severe amount of force towards a selected target. Typically, the projected force is strong enough to be lethal.
Except in the United States, the rest of the world uses the metric system to determine an ammo’s dimensions. Usually, it is measured with a diameter-to-length ratio.
If you’re a newbie to the firearm community, you might encounter several unfamiliar words as you scan through articles. Save yourself the trouble and check out the following terms commonly used in ammo lingo:
This is the branch of mechanics that studies firearms and projectiles. More specifically, ballistics deals with the launching, flight behavior, and firing effects. Its main goal is to achieve the firearm’s desired performance.
Caliber is the unit of measure used to identify the bullet’s diameter. It can be measured in millimeters or per hundredths of an inch. The higher the caliber, the bigger the bullet’s diameter.
For instance, a .45 caliber means 45/100th of an inch. The same example can also be referred to as 45 mm caliber.
This is an acronym for “feet per second.” Its main use is to determine the speed of bullets upon firing. This will further identify your gun’s ability to project its ammo towards a specific target.
In ammo lingo, the grain isn’t a type of food. It’s the unit of measurement used for mass. However, it’s an extremely tiny unit. To give you a better context, one-gram amounts to 15.43 grains.
- Hollow Point
The hollow point is a type of bullet with an expanding ability as it penetrates inside the target. This means that upon entry, it can stay inside soft tissues.
Most law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) use hollow points due to their strength and fatal effects. However, no civilian must use hollow points for any reason. Yes, you heard it right. Although their prowess is promising, using them for self-defense is illegal.
You might ask, “What makes hollow points illegal?” According to the Geneva Conventions and Hague Declaration, hollow points are labeled as inhumane weapons. This is due to their ability to cause severe damage to internal tissues and organs. For the untrained civilian, hollow points can be accidentally or purposely used to cause physical damages.
This ammo jargon is the shortened term for “overpressure ammunition.” A +P ammo is a cartridge loaded with a higher amount of gunpowder than what’s ideal for its caliber. When this happens, its internal pressure increases – which makes them ideal for self-defense.
To put it simply, the plus sign means additional while the letter p means pressure. Combine them and you’ll get additional pressure.
The Ammo Physiology
Ammo has four basic parts – the case, primer, gunpowder, and projectile. To further understand how an ammo works, below are detailed explanations on how each component works:
This is the container that holds other ammo components together. Typically, it is made of brass, copper, or steel.
The primer is a chemical compound that ignites the gunpowder when struck by a firing pin. It has two possible locations – either on the rim or on the center of the case’s base.
The gunpowder is a chemical mixture that changes into expanding gas when ignited.
This is the object that the handgun barrel discharges upon firing. An example of a projectile is the bullet itself.
Different Types of Ammo
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to learn about the different types of ammo. Below are five basic types of ammo, along with their features and uses:
- .308 Ammo
Introduced in 1952, this is a good alternative to the 5.56 and .22LR ammo. .308 ammo is ideal for hunting and general survival activities.
- .223 Ammo
Another name for this rifle cartridge is the .223 Remington. It was previously called .222 Special until it was changed to its present name.
The .223 ammo is primarily used in varmint hunting and self-defense. Aside from its accuracy, it is also ideal for practice sessions.
- .22LR Ammo
Out of all types of ammunition mentioned in this article, the .22LR ammo is the most commercially available.
The .22LR ammo is arguably the best ammo for all-around survival activities. Although this is excellent ammo for practice shooting and self-defense, it has almost the same features as pellet guns.
- 9mm Ammo
With its close-range power, easy firing, and little recoiling, the 9mm ammo is the most globally-used pistol round. Also called the 9×19-mm parabellum, this is ideal for close-range shooting and self-defense.
As this is considered to be the most popular ammo, questions are circulating about this topic. You may be wondering, “is a 147-grain subsonic load sufficient for 9-mm ammo?” The answer is yes, it is the most commonly used amount.
Another concern would be its speed. Typically, its nominal muzzle velocity is about 1,246.7 FPS.
- 12 Gauge
For shotgun users, the 12 Gauge is the most widely used ammo. This is ideal for forest hunting, flying games, and self-defense. Aside from its versatility, its cheap price makes it desirable to use during survival situations.
What You Need to Know About 9mm Major Ammo
The 9-mm Major ammo is practical for target shooting competitions. Recently, it got a rise in popularity during Open division gun tournaments due to its reduced power factor.
Yes, you might find the 9mm Major ammo pretty cool. But, this isn’t for the faint-hearted. This ammo even got the nickname the “wildcat of +P+ loads” due to its way too high pressure. While the recommended pressure for 9mm Luger +P is only 38,500 psi, the 9mm Major ammo boasts of a soaring 50,000 psi.
With this in mind, you can probably tell by now that its overwhelming pressure is its most notable factor. For safety purposes, its chamber pressure must be kept to a minimum at all possible times. This makes the 9-mm Major ammo suitable for experienced players in target shooting competitions.
Best Uses of 9mm Ammo
If you’re looking for versatile ammo, 9mm ammo is the right one for you. Its small stature makes it suitable for concealing and carrying self-defense weapons. Aside from being travel-friendly, this is also ideal for home defense due to its easy maneuvering and accurate shooting.
Aside from its technical benefits, the 9mm ammo is also perfect for those looking for cheap ammo. This is because you can buy them in bulk.
Criteria for Choosing an Ammo for Self-defense
To ensure that you achieve premium self-defense through the aid of ammo, it must comply with the three considerations stated below:
- Type of Cartridge
9mm ammo may utilize any of the two types of cartridges explained below:
The first type of cartridge is the Full Metal Jacket (FMJ). By far, this is the most common cartridge type in the market. With its soft lead center and hard metallic covering, this ammo is perfect for short-range shooting.
However, its only disadvantage is its weight. Since this ammo is quite heavy, FMJ cartridges can be challenging to manipulate during situations that need an immediate response. These include hunting and self-defense events.
The second type of cartridge is the Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP). This type of bullet expands as it hits the target. As a result, the target will acquire intense damage – which makes this type of cartridge illegal in some states.
Despite its controversial status, JHP is the safest cartridge to use for self-defense. This is due to its almost instant result that immediately stops an attacker from doing anything further.
- Type of Primer
As the primer plays a vital role in an ammo’s ignition, it must be made of the finest available materials. So far, its most popular type is the boxer brass.
Since the boxer brass is made of, well, brass, no corrosion will take place. Another advantage of this type of primer is that bullets can be easily removed and replaced.
- Rounds and Costs
When buying an ammo pack, make sure that you get the maximum amount for a minimum cost. For instance, you can get 100 pieces of FMJ ammo for less than $30.