90 grain 9mm +P Ammo and small pistols

Greetings to all,
I am in need of knowledgeable opinions or guidance on a topic that I have been researching of late. I purchased a Sig P365 XL which I am very happy with. However, I wanted to know what would be the best defensive round for this small pistol. I have watched several YouTube videos and other internet sites but instead getting answers I got more questions. For example, after reading a bit, I “think” for this size pistol it would be better to carry a lightweight bullet with the little more pressure the +P offers. Am I correct in this thinking? I read the light bullet will help mitigating muzzle flip, but then there is the +P energy. Am I taking one step forward then one step back with this combo? As the tittle implies, I am considering buying a box of 90 grain +P ammunition for testing. After this I will know how it feels, but I need more data. Probably the most important information I need is how does it perform for defensive purposes? Does it have realistic stopping power? I know heavy full metal jackets tend to over penetrate, and lightweight hollow point bullets under penetrate. Does under penetrate mean under perform? If I need to defend myself against a “human” does it matter a lightweight bullet only goes 10 inches into ballistic gel according to some? Has anyone tried or knows someone that tried this combo of P365 XL and a 90 grain +P bullet? ANY help will be greatly appreciated!!!

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You are going to get a lot of different opinions on this. Here is mine:

I find the lighter +p bullets to be a little snappier than the heavy standard pressure though I can shoot either just fine.

Most of the FBI calibrated testing by qualified people that I have seen show that the 124 and 147 grain bullets generally give the best expansion and penetration without over penetrating. These weights seem to be what most LE agencies are using these days though I have read of some using 115s. I don’t know of any using 90s. But I haven’t researched this extensively in a year or two so things may have changed.

The gel tests are a proxy for real life. A bullet that penetrates 12-18 inches is considered optimal. Any less and the bullet may not go deep enough to hit something important, especially in the likely event it encounters bone. More than 18 the bullet is more likely to overpenetrate and risk hurting a bystander.

I use 147gr HST in my P365 (3.1” barrel) for what it’s worth.

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3.7" barrel practically gets you out of the small pistol category as far as ballistics are concerned.
Running Hornady 115gr standard pressure in my 3.1" P365.

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@Samuel40 Sig Sauer makes ammunition formulated with the same velocity and energy for the P365 both in FMJ and JHP. Federal also makes a lower recoil product now for CCW: Personal Defense Hydra•Shok Low Recoil 9mm Luger.

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Thank you RocketPak!!! Very informative video, but he’s using a larger gun than I am testing and the lightest bullet he uses is 115 grain. I might however follow what he mentioned about “optimized for CCW”. It’s probably what I am looking for.

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As @Robert_M3 mentioned. With the 3.7” barrel you aren’t going to lose much velocity compared to the 4+” barrels most people use. I wouldn’t worry about getting “optimized” ammo which is often designed for barrels of less than 3.5 inches and sometimes doesn’t work well in those either. I would worry more about getting a well designed bonded self defense bullet from a reputable manufacturer. I would stick to the 115-147 range though as the very light and very heavy bullets are less well tested and often gimmicky.

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I think for starters anything but full metal jacket will be ok. If your concerned about recoil and muzzle flip i think the bullet with the least Energy foot pound rating will produce less recoil. So all that’s left to do is decide how much bullet penitration you want in that bullet type ( of course ) excluding regular hollow points re: clothing clogging the point style BULLETS.
Put a tooth under your pillow and hope the good Fairy brings you those bullets cause you ain’t going to get them anywhere, if you find some let me know. PS ANOTHER WAY TO REDUCE RECOIL AND FLIP IS TO GO TO A 380. If you mention a 380 for self defense you will start another 380 fire storm in this Community.
:us::us::us:

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IMO…

I don’t have a P365, although I do own and sometimes carry a Kahr CM9 or K9.

To keep this post simple, I would do two things:

  1. If you are experiencing a lot of muzzle flip, practice gripping the gun higher - web of the hand as high as possible without getting slide bite, and keeping the grip as close to “in-line” with the Radius and Ulna bones as possible. A secondary technique I use for thin micro 9’s is to pinch the frame between my thumb and base of my index finger… but that’s more of an accuracy technique for me (while still having proper trigger finger placement).

  2. Lucky Gunner’s ammo tests can be helpful on deciding what ammo to try.

Personally, I use Rem 115gr HTP +P (at least before the Remington buyout and pandemic) as a compromise of price, performance, local availability, and function with my 9mm SC, C, and FS pistols. However, I usually carry a 45, so my ammo brand/version for my current EDC is different.

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I carry a P365. All of Sig’s current line of pistols will handle +P, although Sig recommends not using it frequently, as in regular practice.

I’m currently loaded with Liberty Civil Defense rounds. They’re only 50 gr, but have a muzzle velocity of 2000 fps, and are as @Shamrock said, quite snappy.

Sig also makes some 365 specific rounds that are supposedly designed to match the pistol better. They’re 115 gr, and come in both JHP for defense and FMJ for practice. I haven’t seen them in stock for a while, however.

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There isn’t much of a difference between the recoil on a .380 and a 9. There are a number of conversations about .380 in the Community that haven’t started a firestorm. :thinking:

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With lighter, faster +p ammo, you do add the chance for more muzzle flash and noise. As far as penetration, I go from 230 grain to 185 when warmer weather gets here. Lighter, faster bullets tend to expand sooner upon impact. Also, lighter faster bullets, typically hit lower point of aim. If it’s ammo your going to carry, check where it hits compared to your usual ammo.

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Thank you Scotty!!! You hit a homerun with the Lucky Gunner’s chart recommendation. I have always been a “data” fanatic, but since I retired I admit I tend to nit-pick more than usual. I don’t have a grip problem when shooting, or at least none that I can see. I know most people say that until someone points out what they are doing wrong. I just wanted to get the best ammo pistol combination that I can get. I can control flip pretty good, but if light shooting ammo will help me further with a small pistol then I believe I can shoot faster and more accurate. That, and I have never shot such a light bullet (90 grain) from a pistol before. Thanks again for the information, it helped immensely.

P.S. I want to thank everyone on this thread!!! Your insight has been invaluable. I want to also recommend the chart that Scotty told me about, there are loads of good information there.

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The first 9mm ammo on the chart is Barnes TAC-XPD in +P, 115 grain. This is what I like best in a 32 ounce compact 1911 with a 4" barrel.

I tried the same ammo in a 16 ounce P938, and the recoil was to the point of uncomfortable for me to shoot more than one 7 round magazine. I have shot standard pressure ammo in the P938 from 115 to 147 grain with no recoil nor getting back on target quickly complaints. I have settled in on the Sig V-Crown JHPs in 124 grain for this firearm.

Just throwing out some more data points to help add to the confusion :grinning:

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I don’t know how easily you will be able to get any particular type of ammo under the current shortages, but one that might be in the direction of what you are looking for (in relation to lower recoil) might be Hornady’s Critical Defense Lite 9mm.

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34 in stock. Going fast. Highly recommend this company having placed 15-20 orders that have gone flawlessly.

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Thank you for the link @Robert_M3! The stated limit were 3 boxes, I got 2.

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The lucky gunners charts have loads of good data that I often refer to. One thing to remember though is that they do all their tests using the 4 layers of denim to simulate winter clothing. Most FBI standard protocol tests use a 4 layer test and a bare gel test. Most rounds perform similarly through both but some don’t. I have seen some tests where the bullets open up much faster through the bare gel and fail to penetrate sufficiently even though they work perfectly through the 4 layers.

If your target is just wearing a tshirt your bullet may perform differently than the LG tests. I usually check out their results first then look for other well designed bare or single layer tests to confirm.

As others have suggested, I find the standard pressure loads easier to fire rapidly and can shoot 147s faster than 115 +Ps. Standard pressure 124 or 115 practice ammo work fine for me as well. Many of the standard pressure SD loads perform as well or better than high pressure loads with the same bullet in the tests. But there are many variables to consider. The most important thing is that you and your gun are accurate and reliable with whatever you choose.

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That’s saying a firestorm is a bad thing. It did show a lot disagreement about the 380 being inadequate for defense. If it wasn’t a firestorm it was a bee nest. Thanks, :us::us:

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I have some 90gr. 9MM I am currently using and so far I am impressed with I would not be afraid to use it in any circumstance. It is built to not over penetrate.

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