9mm defensive ammo choices

Did a little digging and couldn’t find a thread about people’s choice in 9mm defensive ammo. I probably won’t get a definitive answer, but I will narrow it down some to help. I am specifically curious about people who carry a shorter barrel (approximately 3 inches). What brand, grain, +p or no. Additionally, what was the reasoning. Just watching a ton of ballistics videos only to find one shows Gold Dots expanded perfectly, while the next had 3 out of 5 fail? Maybe doing your own tests? Something tells me if you pick any ONE of the “top 3” you should be good, but I am curious what y’all think. I am currently leaning HST 124 (non +p).

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I’m a big fan of HST in all calibers. I will carry Sig V crown in 9mm if I could not get hst in 9mm, but I won’t carry it in larger calibers.

I try to get the ammo with consistent penetration (without over penetration, and consistent large expansion. I think anything that goes band will do, but I still try to carry The best quality I can afford, and feel safe without worrying about over penetration through target.

I use this chart as a reference to carry ammo.

https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/

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I use Hornady Critical Defense 115gr 9mm ammo in my S&W M&P Compact M2.0 9mm with the 3.6" barrel. I chose that because I liked the ballistics of it, follow up shots are easy to put on target, and it is a name brand. It expands rapidly which to me was a huge plus as I am terrified of over penetration. It’s affordable and extremely reliable everytime.

I originally wanted some of the R.I.P. ammo with the slivers that break off and tumble elsewhere through materials. The reason I didn’t was because there were a lot of people saying that it wasn’t always reliable on it breaking apart. Plus in my opinion it didn’t cause enough internal damage as your standard hollow point.

I have no issues with Speer Gold Dot HP and I do have about 100 rds of it in my safe. I haven’t gotten around to the range to see how my S&W like the Gold Dot which is the only reason it’s not my primary ammo for the moment. I like the ballistics of both on paper but the Hornady won the coin toss for first dibs. At least till I try out the Gold Dot.

While my firearm can handle +p ammo it can’t handle the +p+. I use neither anyway cause, as stated previously, over penetration is a big concern. I live in an apartment complex as well and have neighbors on all sides of me.

Hope this helps in some shape or form.

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I use Hornady critical duty and critical defense. I also like Sig Sauer rounds.

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Wow thanks for the link, I just signed up to Lucky Gunner. So I haven’t had time to look around their site. Nice side by side line up and info!!

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Yeah I am seeing more that +p isn’t worth the “extra benefit” based on cost and added recoil. I have a Shield and an XDS, both about 3" barrell. They can handle the +p as well, but not +p+. What gets me is I watch a video and the guy is like “this higher grain round may over penetrate”. Then it only goes 10" into the gel while the 115 grain goes 20". It’s like they don’t get that the higher grains seem to expand better, which leads to more drag and less penetration. While the lower grains don’t hit as hard, which decreases expansion, but actually helps penetration. If running 147 grain means it has perfect expansion every time but only goes 4" into an attacker’s body, no thanks. I’ll take a lower grain that actually hits some organs. Besides I highly doubt most rounds expand in a human target like they do in gel anyway, considering bone and fibrous tissue.

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Yeah I have some Sig rounds because that was all I could find in HP at the time. I keep picking up the box of Hornaday Critical Defense, and then put the back. I don’t know why lol.

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Check out ShootingTheBull410 on YouTube. He does FBI testing on hollow points out of a 3 inch barrel. What you have in HST is some of the best you can get. That’s what I carry in my Hellcat

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Thanks will definitely check it out. Hoping I can watch enough video to find that “middle ground truth”.

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I run Underwood Extreme Defender 90gr +P+. I want to give the 68gr +P a try too.

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Let your gun decide. There have been a number of quality ammo candidates suggested in the posts here and you will likely find your choice in those… but every gun shoots and feeds rounds a little differently and you need to see what your example likes. Make note of the ones your gun likes best because in times like we are currently in you may have to go to your second or third choice if your primary ammo is not available.

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I use Hornady Critical Duty in my full size pistol. The reasoning for me is the barrier performance and law enforcement use. I use the Critical Defense in my EDC pistol as it is optimized for short barrel pistols and has lower flash propellant for night vision preservation.
Good alternates for me are the HST rounds as they are used by some of our local police departments. I have also had good luck with the Sig Sauer rounds.
I have found that all of these options feed reliably in my pistols, which is a huge factor to consider I think. I also tend to use rounds favored by the police for potential liability issues and/or prosecution if some gun-hater DA wants to charge me for defending my wife and home.

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@BigdodgedemoN Go to search at the top and type in, Poll: Favorite Self-Defense Ammunition
There are several threads for this topic. Spoiler. Hornaday Critical Defense was most chosen. :+1:

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For me, in 9mm, Federal HST is my first choice with Speer Gold Dots not far behind, both in 147gr. When it comes to the top 3 or 4 brands, you are really splitting hairs on which is “best”.

The LuckyGunner tests are awesome, and the 9mm Ammo Quest by ShootingTheBull410 is among the greatest round ups of pretty much every defensive 9mm on the market. There are lots of other gel tests if you search Youtube for a specific ammo you are looking at.

Gel tests are good for comparing apples to apples, but the other factor in my decision is that HST and Gold Dots have a looooooong history of real-world usage with LEO and it is the ammo of choice for a great many departments. They are also readily available.

Personally, I go with heavy for caliber in short barrels because you don’t get that much extra velocity in the lighter grains out of such a short barrel. I also find the heavier rounds are ever so slightly softer shooting, so it helps manage recoil just a little bit.

I avoid +p for the same reason. These little sub compacts are snappy enough as it is without adding to it with +p (or +P+).

If possible, find out what LEO in your area is running (if they run 9mm). It’s hard to go wrong if you use the same

Once you have your shortlist, have a look at prices where you would typically buy from, and order a box of each. Make sure they run well in your firearm and mags, and are accurate.

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Yeah I really think I will be favoring the HST and/or Gold Dot. Where I am at though neither is easy to find, and online has been hit or miss. Both the Sig V crown and Hornaday Critical Defense are much easier to find in store. I currently have some Sig on hand just so I have SOMETHING in case of emergency. They fire close to my target ammo so that’s a plus.

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HST in the full size frames around the house and the carries. Like a motorcycle oil discussion, there’s seems to be a lot of distinction without a difference here. People also seem to like Sig a lot.

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I haven’t seen Gold Dots on sale anywhere since COVID first struck and the first panic buying started early this spring. HSTs I’ve seen off and on at SGAmmo and LuckyGunner, just a little pricier than usual.

The new Sig ammo, in all calibers, seems really good in almost every gel test I’ve seen. I would just like to see it with a little more long term reputation like the HSTs and GoldDots. Hornady’s line of defensive ammo is also really good, I always seem to forget them.

Like I said, the top 3, 4, 5 makers you are mostly splitting hairs in performance. Gel tests are great for apples/apples comparisons but then I think we (definitely, I do!) get wrapped around the axle with 0.5" more penetration here or 0.1" more expansion there or 50fps more there… And in a real world situation there will be so many more variables like distance, angle, clothing/barriers, and just plain dumb luck that will play a larger role in success than 0.1" more average expansion.

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I went into Field and Stream on Friday evening and they had some Gold Dot, Sig Sauer, Critical Defense/Duty.

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I’m pretty much limited to buying online. I don’t have any good stores for ammunition here. I have a good firearms store, and as much as I like supporting a local business, their ammunition markups are just too great. With the exception of buying a box of .22lr there, I buy ammunition online.

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No Field and Stream here, best we have is Bass Pro and Academy. Either one if you don’t go the morning of a delivery, they are gone by noon.

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