Barrier Blind? Pistol Ammunition For Personal Defense ~ VIDEO


Ft Collins, CO –-( “When you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less.” ~ Eric Shinseki

Currently, with serious pistol ammunition, 9mm is “King,” as we all know.

The FBI recently selected a 147gr HP 9mm round as the “official issue-round” for their Glock pistols. Of course with the FBI, the “official issue-round” has historically never occupied that position very long, so this may all change at any time.

Even so, many PDs have taken the hint and currently also issue 147gr 9mm rounds to their officers.

147gr Speer Gold Dot is favored by most.

And, many non-LEO concealed carriers have followed along, simply because “cops are using it.” In all fairness, Speer’s 147gr offering usually works just fine, as do most of the rest, but none represent the best choice for personal defense, in my opinion.

In their enthusiasm to market their individual versions of the 147gr HP to the LE community, manufacturers use the voguish slogan: “Barrier Blind” They point out the way their round will penetrate car-glass, dry-wall, sometimes even car-doors and still expand (at least a little) when subsequently striking human tissue.

All of which is wonderful, but largely irrelevant, to the average non-LEO concealed carrier.

For personal defense, I thus don’t recommend any 147gr 9mm round. They are all too slow, and low velocities invariably translate to unreliable expansion. For reliable expansion in soft tissue, subsequent to the penetration of clothing, velocity is needed.

Thus, for personal defense, the only relevant “barrier” (in my opinion) is clothing, and clothing is what frustrates expansion of low-velocity bullets.

Accordingly, I recommend 9mm +p ammunition in 90-124gr bullet weights.

I like all-copper HP bullets, as well as FTM, but cup-and-core bullets (like Gold Dot) still work just fine.

I like velocities of 1200-1400 f/s [feet per second]. Super Vel, Cor-Bon, Lehigh, Speer, Underwood, Federal, Hornady, Black Hills, Gorilla, et al, all make very acceptable candidates.

Yet, when carrying any pistol/ammunition combination for personal defense, your biggest enemy is going to be “unrealistic expectations.” Precision and volume will always be required, and even then, instantaneous behavioral changes on the part of the felon you shoot are still unlikely. At pistol velocities, we’re mostly attacking the felon’s circulatory system, and subsequent blood-pressure drops sufficient to bring about coma will take a number of seconds, even minutes.

All this can be expected, even with the most effective of ammunition.

Count on it and don’t become a victim of it by “relaxing too soon!”

The foregoing represents my current opinion. But stand-by, it may all change tomorrow morning.

“Nothing is deader than yesterday's news.” ~ Marty Rubin


Defense Training International, Inc

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 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 in-actions.

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  • 10 thoughts on “Barrier Blind? Pistol Ammunition For Personal Defense ~ VIDEO

    1. Reading this article and some of the comments after it shows how much people differ in what they shoot. I read an article the other day that was written by somebody in law enforcement about the different calibers used by everybody. He had studied several hundred shooting incidents by the law enforcement personnel as well as defense shootings by civilians. He stated that in comparing the different calibers used that it really didn’t make a lot of difference what caliber was used. The first shot usually stopped the desire to continue the assault by the perpetrator. In other words, the person that got the first shot in usually stopped the other one from wanting to be shot a second or third time. Please don’t call me out on this folks, I am the messenger not the message maker. I don ‘t know if any of these incidents involved somebody that was drugged out of their head or alcoholics. Adrenaline can make somebody seem impervious to pain. I think that the best thing anybody can do to be prepared for the worst case scenario is to practice, practice and practice some more with whatever you carry. Carry a gun that you practice with so that it is like doing something that you have done a million times before. Use a good hollow point bullet that is made by a reputable manufacturer. Be sure that you have used this same ammo before in your practice shooting because some guns will work fine with hard ball ammo but jam when you put any hollow point ammo in them. Some will balk at certain brands of hollow point ammo. Be aware of your surroundings when you are out in public and try to be ready to defend yourself if necessary. Don’t panic and make a mistake such as forgetting to take the safety off of your gun if it has one. Place your shot or shots. Rely on your past practice time to get you through the trouble. If the first shot doesn’t stop the assault keep on shooting until you do stop them.

    2. I had read a while back, that for the 9mm Luger, the 90. and 100 grain bullets were best. The heavy weights 147 to 158 were for Uzis or MP5, with rifle length barrels.
      Why not use the proven 45 Auto with 230 gr. bullets?

    3. John, this article shows just how far behind the curve you are. I shoot gelatin for a living and call BS on most of your statements in regards to 147 grain bullets being too slow for expansion. The construction and design of the current 147 grain bullets are designed to expand at the velocities they achieve. I do at least one FBI protocol shoot a month for a major ammo maker, for LE agencies,and regularly see 147’s come out of the gelatin at .800 to .900+ . That’s through barriers designated by the protocol. Agencies that have adopted these rounds see the same performance in the field and I have seen a bunch of recovered bullets (usually from dead folks) that show the same level of expansion. John, I have always respected you, but you are talking through your hat on this. Come to one of my gelatin shoots and I’ll prove you wrong.

    4. Stick with federal bple.. you can buy two boxes for the price of one box of 20 of this other crap.. it will get the job done.. just ask the old school Border Patrol, old school Illinois State Police or DeKalb County Georgia deputies.. because you sure can ask the criminals that experienced it…

    5. Sig hollow points in my .380 and my 9mm. I like the expansion of them and they hold together real well. I have been thinking about changing over to the new penetrator ammo in my 9mm. I watched some videos of it and it really looks good. The one recommended is a 65gr. and it has very little recoil. It looks like a small bomb going off when it penetrates.

    6. “I like all-copper HP bullets, as well as FTM, but cup-and-core bullets (like Gold Dot) still work just fine.”

      Just something to take a look at, several of the all copper bullets actually over expand and under penetrate. Others fragment and under penetrate.

      Also, Gold Dot isn’t cup and core, it’s a plated bullet at gets put through a swaging HP die.

    7. I follow the example of nearly every police involved shooting. I’ve watched on video. Which represents several hundred. Shoot until the Threat is either down or the gun is empty. If empty reload and continue until the Threat is down. While many say the use of the double tap technique is difficult and unnecessary. I find with practice it can be very effective also.. As for EDC Ammo. I use Hornady Critical Defense in my Shield 9 and Critical Duty in my P89.

      1. For my EDC I like the Federal Guard Dog, an EFMJ with polymer core. 9mm is a little over 100 gr. They feed like FMJ , but mushroom to expand.

      2. @Darkman, I agree with you and your training. Shoot center of mass until the threat is stopped. A study of human anatomy and further study of post mortem reviews support the center of mass training concept. My Shield 9 has proven to be reliable using Hornady’s Critical Defense ammo.

      3. Dump the Critical Duty and stick with the Critical Defense in both. You’ll have a better chance at telling the rest of us how it worked when you needed it. Other good choices are Speer Gold Dot 124gr. +P, Sig V-Crown 115gr., Federal 124gr. HST, Federal Hydra-Shok 135gr. Low Recoil (it and the .40 S&W version are about the only Hydra-Shoks that work well), Winchester 115gr. sXz and Buffalo Bore 124gr. +P+. These work very well in 4″ or longer barrels; haven’t tried them in compact or sub-compact pistols yet. Should be testing in a friend’s 3.1″ LC9s Pro later this year.

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