High-Performance 9mm an “Experiment” With New Ammo Technology


9mm Luger +P 115gr DPX
9mm Luger +P 115gr DPX
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- It’s no secret that 9mm is king right now, particularly among Operators who routinely carry guns, for serious purposes.

  • 40S&W is still around, but over the past five years it has assumed a distant second place, more distant by the year!
  • 357Sig is all but dead. Scant demand from both private and pubic sectors.
  • 45GAP is dead. No demand, from anywhere. Even Glock could not keep this caliber alive!
  • 10mm, long-since dead and buried, is currently experiencing a “popularity resurrection,” but probably a brief one!
  • 38Spl is steady and slow. People will always carry snubby revolvers!
  • 45ACP, also steady and slow, but no growth in this sector.

For 9mm carry-pistols, I’ve long-recommended a +p HP round, between 115gr and 125gr, from a reputable manufacturer. Federal, Underwood, Super Vel, Cor Bon, Winchester, Black Hills, et al, all make suitable candidates. Muzzle velocities are between 1200 and 1350 f/s.

Until recently, most (even Federal’s pillared Hydra-Shok) have featured “cup-and-core” bullets, a soft-lead core, encased in a bore-riding, brass cup. This combination enjoys a long and respectable history. LEO friends in South Africa have shot hundreds of people with 115gr +p HP rounds (mostly Cor Bon), and they’ve been very happy with it, much happier than they ever were with hardball.

Starting several years ago, some manufacturers have offered the same projectile-weight and velocity, but with all-copper, HP bullets. Superior to cup-and-core bullets in reliable penetration and expansion, plus they are less deflected/deformed by intervening barriers, such as car-glass.

All-copper bullets do not come apart after impact, so penetration of car-doors is far superior to that of cup-and-core, HP bullets.

However, these bullets are difficult to manufacture! The ultimate external shape, along with the hollow cavity, must be extruded, via multiple steps, from a cylinder of copper, cut from copper wire (of appropriate diameter). In addition, there are multiple annealing stages, necessary to keep the copper soft and malleable.

Cost per bullet is thus much higher than with cup-and-core.

In any event, that is what I’m currently carrying in my 9mm pistol (Cor Bon 115gr DPX). I’ve shot a lot of it, and I’m confident this represents a good choice.

Lehigh Defense 45 ACP Xtreme Defense (XD) Projectiles
Lehigh Defense 45 ACP Xtreme Defense (XD) Projectiles

The “latest” pistol-bullet technology, and one with which I’ve had only a little experience, is (for lack of a better term) “scalloped bullets,” called by manufacturers non-descriptive names, like “Extreme Defense,” “Extreme Defender,” et al.

These bullets are also homogeneous copper but look like hardball, save for deep, symmetrical scallops in the ogive.

Scallops are cut-in, rather than extruded-in, so these bullets costs less to produce than “conventional” all-copper HP bullets.

In gelatin tests, this new technology appears to be very adequate! There is no hollow-point to plug-up, and there is thus no danger of the bullet failing to expand in living tissue. The bullet is not designed to expand, nor break-up, nor change shape in any way!

Scallops are said to “redirect fluids” and thus inflict as much tissue destruction as conventional, controlled-expansion bullets. Penetration conforms to the respected FBI Protocol (12″-18″)

However, the jury is still out!

Until we dig a few of these new bullets out of decedents, I’ll not have a factual basis upon which to establish an authoritative opinion.

For now, I’m continuing to carry 115gr, all-copper, HP +p 9mm ammunition in my pistol. I’ll let others “experiment” with this new technology!

Maybe a year or so from now, I’ll be sufficiently confident to carry it myself!

“Experience is a hard teacher, because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.” ~ Vernon Sanders Law


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

  • 26 thoughts on “High-Performance 9mm an “Experiment” With New Ammo Technology

    1. What happened to the school of thought of carrying two guns? I carry a m&p bodyguard .380 that is equipped with a laser in my pocket and keep a 9mm close at hand also. A lot of law enforcement carry a backup in case they need it. You never know when your primary weapon might jam or you get it taken away during a struggle. The .380 goes in places where I want to be discreet and not have to worry about printing. It also would come in handy in low light situations where I might need to aim without using a light. I keep the 9mm where I can get to it easily. When I am at home I am even more safety conscious. I keep a .44 magnum close too. I sleep very well knowing I have enough firepower close enough to handle about any situation that might arise. Like the old Cajun chef Justin Wilson said, he was a safety engineer. He wore a belt and suspenders.

    2. I too appreciate Mr. Dunlap’s viewpoint. I am a retired Marine who packed a bolt-action long gun, so .45 acp was my sidekick in RVN, with the usual old 230 ball, but more than once it sufficed. Fast forward to a federal career in a job where most likely encounters were out in the woods, affording plenty of cover, and at some distance. Then I realized how much my personal favorite, 10mm, would have been my choice for work use. Alas, the FBI short romance with it removed it from the federal carry options except for spec ops. Thankfully, .40 S&W helped fill the gap between 9mm terminal energy, and .45 terminal velocity. So, you see, right there in one man’s resume, three calibers played a part. An open but educated perspective is my suggestion.

      1. I would defer to your experience, and thank you for your service. The industry does seem to reinvent the wheel a lot. I’ve never owned an auto pistol, always stuck to revolvers. I missed a chance at a .38-40 Vaquero a few years ago 🙁 , which duplicates the ballistics of the .40 S&W. According to Wikipedia, the .38-40 was supposedly an attempt to get close to the performance of the .44-40 with less recoil. Sounds familiar.

    3. What about accuracy? I used to carry a 9mm as my duty gun, until one day I experimented with a 45ACP, and found that the 45ACP was far superior than any of the 9mm rounds, even when experimenting with several 9mm makes and makes, models, and brands of ammo. Yeah, I know that accuracy shouldn’t be a serious concern, in the 3 to 7 yd range where most gun fights occur, but the 45ACP gave me a lot more confidence that my round was going to hit what I was aiming at.

      1. Oh great. They made a round that doesn’t meet the definition of “armor piercing” so, it would be legal for civilians to own but, they still won’t sell it to anyone but military and law enforcement.

    4. If jacket separation is your concern simply switch to a bonded core bullet like the Speer Gold-Dot. Recovered bullets retain 99.8% of their weight and are far less expensive than a solid copper HP.

    5. It sounds like they are counting on hydrostatic shock from low velocity pistol bullets, which has been proven in the past not to occur. Until we see street results I’ll stick with proven designs. Remember bullet A expands to .45, bullet B expands to .45, etc., etc. But with a 45 any expansion you get is a bonus.

      1. True. 45 Auto has much more kinetic energy potential than 9mm in all cartridge format comparisons: especially utilizing the Lehigh projectile. Modern cartridge designs are not discreet to specific calibers and are an advantage across all calibers. It expands much larger affording more tissue destruction and vascular damage in FMJ and HP formats.

    6. One piece of very important info that is almost always missing from penetration/deformation data is barrel length. Many of us are carrying shorter-barreled pistols, and we all know this can have a large effect on the end result of bullet behavior. I’m trying to understand why this info is so didficult to find when we are considering purchasing new or unproven defnsive rounds.

    7. The new popularity with the 9mm is, in part, because it is easier to shoot (less recoil) than the .45, .40, 10mm and other pistol rounds. The .40 was created because the FBI agents couldn’t handle the recoil of the 10mm. Supposedly the advancement in bullet technology is the other factor, along with less recoil for the resurgence of the 9mm. From personal experience and from a lot of research over the years (forensic ballistics) it appears to be logical that whatever you can hit with consistently, is what is going to be the best caliber/gun for you to choose, regardless of bullet configuration. There is no such thing as a “magic bullet” or consistent “one-shot stoppers”. Some bullets perform well more consistently, but it is overwhelming more about bullet placement than configuration. A good hit and/or consistent hits with a .32 is far more effective than a poor hit or a miss with a .45.

      1. Well played Joe. Sometimes it just takes hearing the same things different ways. A lot of folks will say bull crap to this but I know that a .22 wouldn’t even be a bad carry gun. If you want to talk about bullet travel after entering flesh then that equates to damage too, yes? If you take 5 rapid shots at a torso & they’re all good then they count. Professional hit men made good counts with small calibers. I’ve carried a .22 as a carry, from time to time. I know I can recover fast between shots & group good.

    8. I always though that the gold standard of testing is getting a dead pig or cow of suitable thickness and shooting side by side comparisons. Sure, the gel block is nicely clean and perfectly textured. But it still isn’t the real thing, and the closer you get, the more realistic your expectations can be.

    9. You might want to check out http://www.luckygunner.com/labs to see extensive testing of all the popular calibers for penetration and expansion in cloth-covered gelatin. It’s well worth your time. I myself use Winchester Ranger T-Series 147 grain (RA9T) on the basis of their tests in my Kimber Micro 9. In my 1911s I use Winchester Ranger T-Series 230 grain (RA45T), again on the basis of their tests. I’ve never had a serious social situation develop to the point of shooting, but from field tests on dead hogs, I feel confident with both loads.

    10. I think we over think all of this. 9mm, 9mm +P, .40 S&W, 10mm, .45, penetration, expansion and so on. I dont see an ideal round. Big rounds tend to cost more than little rounds (in handgun rounds Im really not sure why, there isnt that much difference in materials), tend to hit harder and possibly go through things a little further. I think whats important is you can shoot whatever it is you carry, and you carry. You practice and build up muscle memory. The more relaxed you can be the better your odds of succeeding when you need it.

    11. Lehigh’s “Extreme Defense” .45 ACP bullet looks remarkably like the late Charley Kelsey’s “Devel” bullet. Did Lehigh buy the rights from Charley’s estate?

    12. Ammo advancements continue and we have to be willing to have open minds and accept newly minted types of bullets that seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago, but are very effective in smaller calibers.

    13. Looks cool but is it just another gimmick ?
      Standard ball ammo redirects fluid to do as
      much tissue damage also.

      1. The new scalloped-nosed, fluid diverting bullets do a ton more soft tissue damage but carry a much greater risk of overpenetration. Jury’s still out. Maybe in a .32ACP?

    14. I think the obituaries for the .357 SIG and 10mm are a bit premature. Glock alone still offers five models in .357 and six in 10mm. They also offer four in .45 G.A.P. for some reason. I’d like to see sales figures. The 10mm is a .41 Magnum for auto pistols, and like the .41, it has developed a diehard following among handgun hunters and others who understand its advantages. It isn’t going anywhere. the SIG will be around for a while yet for similar reasons. The 9mm is so popular because, like the .22 LR, it works well enough, it’s cheap, and it’s literally everywhere. I suspect that, as bullet tech like that shown in the article continues to improve, the 9mm will finally be unseated by an as yet to be created small caliber, high velocity round akin to the .22 TCM. I would bet that it will be a 6.5 or 7mm, though a .25 isn’t out of the question.

      1. re: John Dunlap’s comment. That’s a well thought, respectful, and quite logical comment. I guess you’re new to the internet…..

        1. Re: John Dunlap’s observations.
          Very astute. Personally looking back at the 7.62×25 round with its velocity was highly effective against flak vests and helmets during Vietnam Nam war. Something in that with the lighter weight projectile such as ARX could be loaded to 2600-2800 FPS without a problem and the fluid dynamics from such a round most likely would be devastating. 32 cal was a popular pocket carry round for many many years with good reason.

        2. Umm…….yeah there John Dunlap……..you need to do some google search time and really research handgun calibers. This knowledge will allow you not to sound like a young, inexperienced gun newbie. On a positive note, ………

        3. Compliment appreciated, and no, not really a newbie (I started building my own computers in 1998). I read here regularly partly because the discussions are (usually) cordial and thoughtful.

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