9mm 115 grain vs 124 grain JHP

Say your accurate with both and both work well with your gun. Ballistics nerd stuff aside. Do you think either is that much better than the other?


For me no difference. Same results with accuracy and reliability.
Perhaps some firearms perform differently with both weights, but I personally stick with 115 gr as I train with the same grain.

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Since we have to ignore all the nerdy ballistic stuff I’ll simply say that I don’t think there is all that much difference. I personally prefer the 147gr because I feel that the recoil is slightly more push and less snap so I am a little quicker with follow up shots and it’s a little quieter since it is subsonic. But a magazine full of 115gr bullets will be a little lighter than the other two options.


That depends on your OCD. To me no difference but when my OCD kicks in it’s about bullet type and power factor.


Unfortunately the nerdy ballistics stuff is the answer to your question. In short mass and velocity tell the tale of performance. IMHO I’m with @Shamrock and pick the heaviest commonly available round and learn what it does at various distances. If they all perform well in your platform throw the heaviest rock you can and inside 10 yards the ballistics are essentially moot.




There’s not a lot of difference with most defensive-capable rounds (in the way of actual effectiveness), regardless of caliber. So I typically like to stick with what I train with so use 115gr.


Good question @William976 , glad to have you here :+1:

I used to shoot enough that I could notice the difference in recoil between different weight bullets. Quite honestly, I don’t think I could tell any difference now, and I don’t think anyone will notice either when adrenaline is pumping through your body in a self defense moment.

I own two 9mm pistols. I carry two completely different 115 grain Hollow Points (HP) based on which pistol. The first has a 3.1" barrel. Sig Sauer markets a 115 grain HP designed and tested specifically for 3.1" barrel pistols. Based on that, Elite V-Crown 365 is what goes in that one.

The other is has a 4" barrel. It gets Barnes TAC-XPD 115 grain copper HP based on Lucky Gunner testing with a 3.5" barrel. Handgun Self-Defense Ammunition - Ballistic Testing Data (luckygunner.com)

Edit: the unfortunate thing is I wish the manufactuers at least provided test barrel length for their velocity and energy table on the box. I presume what they publish on the box is the optimum velocity for proper expansion, but maybe I give them too much credit?


I can tell the difference, sort of, between bullet weights when shooting but am able to shoot them all equally well enough so it doesn’t really matter one way or the other.

I don’t think anyone on the receiving end could tell a difference and from what I’ve read, autopsy studies don’t show differences either.

Nonetheless, I carry 124gr ammo so that’s what I practice with.


Well I’m with the 147 grain group here. Been shooting some 124 at the range because it was a cheap buy. But in my carry gun it’s Federal 147 grain HSTs. I do have a stock of 147 grain Federal flat nose range ammo but I bought the 124 grain Blazer brass cheap and I’ve been shooting working off of that thousand rounds.

Back in the day when all I would carry was a 45 concept was Carrie biggest load you can find under the concept of you’d rather shove a 2x4 through someone then a pencil. It was 230 grain jacketed hollow points traveling if you were lucky a thousand feet per second.


My buddy and mentor is a very high level Federal Law Enforcement Agent and they have been issued new 147gr HPs as carry ammo. His agency’s and his personal tests on living tissue convinced him that it works the best he’s experienced in decades of service. Ps. He’s NOT a desk guy, and he’s got all the scars to prove it.


Which exact rounds would you like to compare?

Manufacturer/bullet construction matter far more than which of those weights it is…and shot placement matters far more than the rest.

Shot placement is king, penetration is queen, everything else is gravy

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I have two pet self defense rounds, both in 124 grain and +P. I like the middle ground that 124 grain gives me with velocity and foot pounds.

  1. Fedeal HST Law Enforcement. I like the sealed primers and the ballistic gel test results.

  2. Speer Gold Dot. See above, but no sealed primers. Easier to get as well.

I practice with 124g Blazer Brass usually. When avialable, I get Speer Lawman. It is hot feeling and better replicates the recoil impulse I get with my SD rounds.


Those are the two IMO. Although with the HST I don’t think 124/147 and standard pressure/+P matters much they are all great, whereas Gold Dot is exclusively 124+P variety as the real go-to from what I gather

And I think 115gr Speer Lawman is the best bulk range training ammo. It’s one ofthe hottest FMJ bulk rounds out there (see any YouTuber who tests over a chrono), clean, accurate, reliable. Nothing wrong with 124 or I guess 147 but the issue IMO with heavier range FMJ rounds is the velocity gets that much farther way from defense rounds (even defense `147), for POA=POI you want the closest velocities between carry and JHP which usually means you want lighter weight (but higher velocity) for your FMJ vs carry


Roger that sir, interesting. I will look into it. Thanks,

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I think I have been focusing (too much maybe?) on foot pound numbers when selecting my SD ammo. I have somewhat correlated ft/lbs with the idea of momentum and/or terminal energy avialable, both before and after expansion.

Can one make a reasonable connection between ft/lbs and terminal performance?

How do you guys interpret foot pounds when selecting your SD ammo? Is it something you consider as important?

I don’t think ft lbs of energy is a decision making criteria in the realm of concealed handgun cartridges.

Penetration and expansion, given that it’s reliable for you in your firearm, using standard reproducible quantitative known-good tests (FBI bare and denim calibrated gel)…combined with real world results as much as we can find usually from law enforcement agency issue.

The wounding mechanism for a typical handgun round is poking a hole. Where is the hole, how deep is it, how wide is it, in that order

I don’t look at, know, or give a rat’s butt about ft lbs of energy.


Interesting again. So you focus primarily on terminal effect, regardless of the numbers per se. That makes sense in that the terminal effectiveness can be achieved with many different methodologies in play simultaneously.

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Not regardless of the numbers at all…just looking at the numbers that matter for how pistol rounds out of pistols work. Which is by poking holes. Where, how deep, what diameter. That’s really it.


Does the higher of the two grains have a higher “kick” or recoil per se? If so, personally I’d be willing to go with the lower of the two grains for better accuracy, and forgo the higher fire power per se. IDK.

Generally speaking, lighter faster bullets (lower grain) have more perceived recoil. See .357 mag in light revolvers and shooting 125gr vs 158gr for an example many are perhaps familiar with. See also the heavy slow low recoil competition rounds like 9mm 147 grain and heavier being what pure competition guys lean towards, when they want to hit a certain “power factor” or whatever, with the lowest recoil possible, they go heavy.

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