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Old November 23, 2012, 04:26 PM   #1
HamMach1
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What does "+P" and "+P+" mean?

Hello all. Forgive my ignorance, just learning as I go with the gun and ammo world. What does the above mean?
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Old November 23, 2012, 04:28 PM   #2
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Plus pressure, plus plus pressure. Meaning they add more powder to increase internal chamber pressure resulting in higher velocity.
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Old November 23, 2012, 04:30 PM   #3
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Oh. Well that's simple. Can +P and +P+ be ran on all hand guns?
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Old November 23, 2012, 04:42 PM   #4
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NO, they have to be rated to take it, check your manual it should be there. Some guns can shoot +P or +P+ just not a steady diet of it, others may be able to shoot it all day, that all should be spelled out in the owners manual.

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Old November 23, 2012, 04:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Can +P and +P+ be ran on all hand guns?
Not always - your owner's manual is usually the best place to start.

Older pistols - generally not a good idea.

Modern, new production guns are generally ok with +p, but as there is no SAAMI specification for +p+, they can sometimes be loaded to ridiculousness amounts.
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Old November 23, 2012, 05:18 PM   #6
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Most modern (current production) handguns can safely fire a few +P rounds, but check the owners manual. IMHO, VERY few can handle +P+. The gun may not blow up, but the higher pressures cause things to wear and stretch a lot faster than they should.
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Old November 23, 2012, 05:35 PM   #7
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The fact that +P+ is not a recognized standard by SAAMI is why I will never shoot it. Some manufactures may be smart about it, some may not.

The small gain in power is not worth it to me.

Even on guns rated for +P, I do not feed them a steady diet of it. It will increase wear and tear on the gun.
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Old November 23, 2012, 05:41 PM   #8
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As said, +P stands for increased pressure, most calibers about 10% over standard under SAAMI standards.
If they chose the powder well, it will mean increased muzzle velocity, usually about 5%. If they did not, you might only get increased muzzle blast and no more bullet velocity.
It won't increase the wear enough to worry about on a quality modern gun.

Be aware of advertising claims. There are only a few calibers that have SAAMI specifications for +P. There are others that are just overloaded. There is no such thing as a .40 S&W +P, for example.

+P+ stands for greatly increased pressure. There is no standard, it is whatever the manufacturer thinks the guns will stand. It is usually to some government agency specification, they know what issue guns it will be shot in.
I would be very careful about shooting +P+ unless I knew what it was actually meant for.

.38 Special +P+ is good for unlimited shooting in a .357 magnum revolver. That is where it came from, there was an agency that worried about adverse publicity if one of their people shot a perp with a MAGNUM.
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Old November 23, 2012, 08:06 PM   #9
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In addition to what's already been said... it's a bit dependent on caliber.

SAAMI only recognizes a +P variant for a handful of cartridges: 9mm Luger / Parabellum, .38 Special, .38 Super (more about this in a bit), and .45ACP. FWIW SAAMI stands for the Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturing Institute, the voluntary organization that sets firearm standards in the USA. (The equivalent European standardization organization is the C.I.P., which sets slightly different pressure standards for some cartridges, and AFAIK does not recognize +P.)

.38 Super is officially always designated as +P because it's dimensionally identical to the earlier and less powerful .38ACP cartridge, but it's loaded to pressures high enough to damage some .38ACP guns. (Please note that .38ACP is not the same thing as .380ACP!)

9mm+P+ has its roots in older European and Israeli ammo that was loaded to extra-high pressure for use in submachine guns and carbines. Very few gunmakers endorse the use of +P+ in their pistols, officially or otherwise, and using it may void the pistol's warranty. This has often been a touchy subject when it's come up in the "Semi-Automatic" subforum, so I don't want to discuss it much more than that.

As Jim Watson correctly states, .38Spl+P+ basically started out as a legal sham to allow cops and security guards to use ammo comparable to .357Mag in jurisdictions that officially disallowed "Magnum" calibers. This ammo should only be fired in Magnum revolvers. However, as you might imagine, many authorities figured out this fraud years ago, and this fact- together with the general switch to autoloaders- has caused all but one company to drop this ammo from their product lines.

.45 Colt+P is basically synonymous with a "Ruger Only" (sometimes "Ruger & Freedom Arms") load. These are higher-powered loads that are not suitable for weaker and/or older .45 Colt revolvers.

.380ACP+P and .40S&W+P are recent marketing gimmicks used by a handful of high-end defensive ammo makers. It's open to debate whether these loads are safe to use in, well, anything. The same warranty disclaimers for 9mm+P+ apply.

.44 Special +P is a colloquial designation for a .44 Magnum load that's optimized for low(er) muzzle flash, recoil, and noise when fired from a short barrel. There is a BIG power jump between .44Spl and standard .44Mag, and the latter can be temporarily blinding and permanently deafening when fired indoors from a 4" or shorter barrel. Consequently, many shooters prefer to use lower-powered .44Spl ammo in these guns, and the +P version gives them performance a little closer to .44Mag without having to step up to the full-bore version. .44Spl+P should generally be used only in .44Mag revolvers.

Hope this helps.
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Old November 23, 2012, 09:42 PM   #10
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CARGUYCHRIS: Very good explanation.
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Old November 24, 2012, 03:21 AM   #11
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I know of NO handgun manual (maybe someone can show one) that says +P+ is ok to shoot in it. The reason being rather simple, it will cause more wear on the gun. You need to talk to the Gun Mfgr. directly and ask them if the gun can handle it.

I have discussed this with several manufacturers. Some say, "we don't recommend it" .... and I've had to re-ask them... is the "gun built to handle it" . Eventually they would say "yes" , but we don't recommend it because a "steady diet " (key words there) will cause additional wear on the gun. If questioned further, a "steady diet" to them was anything over 2000 - 3000 rounds of it.

Others , will say NO .. period.

Others will say , "yes" ... it's fine, it will cause more wear over numerous rounds and there are some springs that you may have to replace sooner.

It's typically not recommended in shorter barrel guns, even if they could handle it in terms of pressure, because it cycles it too quickly and may have FTF's, etc. as a result.

As mentioned, there is no "standard" for +p+ ammo, but 10% over +P is what I found some manufacturers state in terms of their ammo.

I have shot both. For my .02 cents, stick with +P at the most, as you won't see any real difference nor advantage in the +P+.
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Old November 24, 2012, 08:47 AM   #12
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It's not just wear to be concerned with. Using +P in a handgun not rated for it can cause frame stretching.
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Old November 24, 2012, 05:07 PM   #13
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You guys are badass. Thanks for the explanations.
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Old November 24, 2012, 07:29 PM   #14
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My S & W 642 .38 Airweight is +P rated. However I only use these for CC. I use regular loads for practice.
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Old November 24, 2012, 08:35 PM   #15
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A link to SAAMI...

http://www.saami.org/specifications_...tion/index.cfm

SAAMI is a voluntary industry organization that ammo manufacturers belong to and voluntarily abide by SAAMI standards.

Some manufacturers do not belong to SAAMI or abide by their standards. It is usually these that show +P or +P+ loads for calibers that don't officially have +P designations recognized by SAAMI.

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Old November 25, 2012, 12:14 AM   #16
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Quote:
My S & W 642 .38 Airweight is +P rated. However I only use these for CC. I use regular loads for practice.
That brings up a good point -
Even if the manufacturer does rate the firearm for +P loads, it still may not be a good idea to feed those loads to the handgun on a regular basis.

The ".38 Special +P" S&W Airweights/Ladysmiths are a perfect example. They're built on the 'magnum' frame with the same cylinders as the .357 Magnum versions, and have "+P" stamped right on the barrel.

But... actually feeding them a steady diet of +P ammunition will shake them apart in no time at all. They are built to handle the pressure with limited use - not digesting it on a regular basis. My own S&W 642 has had less than 250 rounds through it, and already has issues. Everything I have put through it was +P ammunition. (I don't think the previous 2 owners put more than 20 rounds through it, total. The original owner carried it for 3 years, and the second owner was scared of it after firing only 2 shots.)
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Old November 25, 2012, 10:39 AM   #17
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From the Ruger Web site FAQs:
What type of ammunition should I use in my Ruger 9mm pistol?
The Ruger 9mm pistols are chambered for the 9x19mm NATO Parabellum (9mm Luger) cartridge, compatible with the U.S. and foreign military or commercial 9x19mm loads manufactured in accordance with NATO, U.S., SAAMI, or CIP standards, including high-velocity, subsonic, tracer, hollow point, ammunition loaded in aluminum, steel, or brass cartridge cases, +P and +P+ ammunition. Note: The LC9™ is not rated for +P+ ammunition.


http://www.ruger.com/service/FAQs.html#Q53

I have referenced the above a few times in discussions of +P and +P+ 9mm ammo here. After reading Eagleks post about never seeing a reference to +P+ ammo in a manual I would have bet the egg money that my SR9c manual said exactly the above. I would have then been without eggs. What it says is this:

The SR9c (TM) pistols are compatible with all factory ammunition of the correct caliber loaded to U.S. Industry Standards, including high-velocity and hollow-point loads, in brass, aluminum, or steel cartridge cases. No 9mm Parabellum ammunition manufactured in accordance with NATO, SAAMI, or CIP standards is known to be beyond the design limits or known not to function in these pistols.

The difference in language on the Web site compared to my manual is interesting. Since there seems to be no defined standard for +P+ 9mm (or any other caliber) the Web answer does not make sense to me. Since a quality +P load is as much gitty-up as need, I won't let it worry me. Just an FYI.
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Old November 25, 2012, 09:29 PM   #18
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I'm no ammo expert. I can only offer what I see in catalogs. One particular standard caliber ammo choice of interest was about 1000fps as described. Then there was a +P selection listed as 1100 fps. So to me, +P adds 10%. Not sure what +P+ might be. Just as a guess- maybe another 10% above that? Making for 1210fps? Naturally resulting in higher pressures, velocity, and energy however those numbers are calculated.
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Old November 27, 2012, 05:47 PM   #19
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Quote:
One particular standard caliber ammo choice of interest was about 1000fps as described. Then there was a +P selection listed as 1100 fps. So to me, +P adds 10%. Not sure what +P+ might be. Just as a guess- maybe another 10% above that? Making for 1210fps?
There is no direct correlation between pressure and velocity. Numerous other variables come into play.

My guess is that the precise 10% velocity increase is a coincidence.
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Old November 27, 2012, 07:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
What does "+P" and "+P+" mean?


Usually it just means that you feel the gun you have is inadiquate and you wish you had a more powerful cartridge.
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Old November 28, 2012, 02:27 PM   #21
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The +p+ loadings were developed for the uzi, it has a big heavy bolt, and it all but guaranteed reliable cycling of the action, don't use them in anything else you plan on keeping.........
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Old November 29, 2012, 03:47 AM   #22
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From a box of WW 38 Spl +P+
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Old November 29, 2012, 12:43 PM   #23
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Quote:
The +p+ loadings were developed for the uzi,
As I recall, and I could be off a bit, it was the heavier than normal 147 gr. loads that were developed for the Uzi and other machine pistols and small machine guns. I'm not exactly sure of when this occurred, off the top of my head, but I recall that being the reason.

+P and +P+ loads have a different development history.

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Old November 29, 2012, 02:31 PM   #24
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Yes, IIRC the 147-158gr 9mm loads were developed for submachine guns, but AFAIK the original intent was to combine decent hitting power with subsonic velocity for suppressor use. Most standard 115-124gr 9mm FMJ ammo is supersonic when launched from an 8"+ subgun barrel under almost all conditions, making it impossible to effectively quiet it down. However, dialing back the velocity by reducing the powder charges with the same 115gr-124gr bullets would result in underwhelming muzzle energy and poor functioning.

AFAIK the higher-powered 9mm subgun ammo appeared in the 70s not because standard 9mm was unreliable, but rather because there was a big upswing in terrorism, prompting the authorities to look for something with a little more "oomph". For many European police forces in this era, a 9mm subgun was a standard backup weapon, the equivalent of a 12ga pump shotgun to an American cop. The higher-powered ammo gave them more power without requiring the replacement of large numbers of existing guns already in inventory. Since the vast majority of postwar subguns were built much stronger than they really needed to be, the decision was a no-brainer.

This ammo "crossed over" to American shooters because, in the 1980s and earlier, the 9mm Luger was largely viewed the way that .380ACP is viewed today- it's a nifty cartridge that fits into some interesting and easily-concealable guns, but it's barely adequate for self defense, so maybe you should consider upgrading to something "More Serious" with "Real Stopping Power!" You don't have to know much about gun enthusiasts to realize why this sort of general attitude would create demand for this Super-Duper Extra-Powerful European / Israeli Anti-Terrorist Ammo, even if it's really not safe for most pistols, particularly those with 70s and earlier vintage aluminum frames. Commercial +P+ loads were a logical next step.

Nowadays, I would argue that there's much less reason to use 9mm+P+, since (a) standard and 9mm+P JHP loads have gotten much better, and (b) pistol calibers have emerged that have more power than 9mm but don't sacrifice much magazine capacity; it's no longer a choice between 8rds of .45ACP and 15rds of 9mm with nothing available in between.
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Last edited by carguychris; November 29, 2012 at 04:23 PM. Reason: minor reword...
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Old November 29, 2012, 03:07 PM   #25
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"I know of no handgun manual (maybe someone can show one) that says +P+ is okay to shoot in it."

The HK USP manual says +P and +P+ are compatible with the USP pistol but with the caveat that it will accelerate wear and reduce the service life of the pistol.

(see page 21)

http://stevespages.com/pdf/hk_uspt.pdf
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