View Full Version : 124 vs 147 grain HP 9mm ?

January 6, 2011, 01:18 AM
Is 147 HP better than 124 HP for self defense (same bullet design , same pistol with 4" barrel)?
Is there a difference? Does it matter for self-defense purposes? Penetration issues?
Just trying to up the power of 9mm pistol which is normally loaded with 115s.

January 6, 2011, 02:39 AM
'Power' is a function of both bullet mass and velocity. In most guns (firearms and otherwise), replacing a lighter, faster projectile with a heavier, somewhat slower projectile will show improvements in energy to a point, before the curve heads back down. I don't know if you can generalize far enough to say that every 147 grain bullet will carry more energy from any given gun than a 124 grain bullet, or vice versa.

I'm sure someone more well-versed in ballistics and terminal performance can either provide an immediate generalization, or offer links to performance testing.

January 6, 2011, 03:13 AM
I wouldn't want to get shot with either. ;)

January 6, 2011, 03:58 AM
147 hollowpoints aren't as popular as the lighter ones due to expansion issues. The bullets simply don't move fast enough to give reliable expansion. The most popular self-defense loads for the 9mm are 115 gr +P hollowpoints.

January 6, 2011, 05:38 AM
The adoption of the 147 was based on nonsense .The early ones were poor the newer ones better.
I stick with the 115-124 gr .For more effective rounds use +P premium rounds.

January 6, 2011, 05:50 AM
I'm all about accuracy...

124 gr shoot better. (YMMV)

W/near .357mag (from a "snub nose") velocities for the 124gr. +P 9mm out of a Hi Power or CZ75b, I see little reason to use the 147.

January 6, 2011, 06:11 AM
oops - double tap!.

January 6, 2011, 06:58 AM
The new 147 grain loads are much better than the old ones which had issues expanding reliably and not functioning properly in guns. If you choose a newer design you should be just fine. If you can find it, the 147gr. Federal HST load is very impressive. Some 147's are better than some 115's or 124's and visa versa. Personally, I stick with 9mm loads in the 115-124 grain range. Not that its right, just my preference. There are a lot of good loads for 9mm anymore.

January 6, 2011, 07:31 AM
Imo the only reason to shoot 147gr bullets is if you use a surpressor otherwise I use 115gr in the 9mm.

January 6, 2011, 09:10 AM
Design is more important than weight, every single bullet, every single time. There is nothing wrong with modern 147's because nowadays they are being designed to shoot and expand from normal sized guns are are no longer considered SMG rounds.

My personal favorite HP's are Hornady XTP's because they are a controlled expansion bullet in that they are designed to stop expanding at a certain point to ensure penetration. So what you have is a 115, 124 and 147 bullet that will all expand to approx the same diameter but with the 124 and 147 each penetrating further than the next. I keep my gun loaded with 124's and don't feel +P as needed for a 4 inch barrel.

January 6, 2011, 09:17 AM
A big difference is that you might be able to get +P 124 grain JHPs. Because of case capacity issues, 147s are almost always standard pressure. This means that the 147s generally have more momentum but less energy than the 124s.Design is more important than weight, every single bullet, every single time.This. There are old 147s that suck. There are a lot of old 124s and 115s that suck too. Buy decent carry ammo.

January 6, 2011, 09:29 AM
The differences in quality ammunition are so small that they barely matter. The person getting shot will never know the difference.

If anything needs to be worried over, it should be the reliability of the ammunition in your firearm. After that, the pursuit of quality training and competence, not picking nits over which bullet gives you 10 Newtons (I prefer physics in metric) more energy.



January 6, 2011, 09:31 AM
Here are some posts (on various forums) that I've used to decide what 9mm bullet weight to use:

Concealed Carry - what weight (http://concealedcarryforum.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=11911)
M4Carbine - Service Pistol Duty (http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=19887)
M4Carbine - stickies in the Terminal Ballistic Information section (http://www.m4carbine.net/forumdisplay.php?f=91)

I personally go with 147 grain weight for the following reasons, in order:

they are more accurate in my P99
Remington Golden Saber's run flawlessly through my P99
I can get good pricing per round on 50 count boxes of 147 grain Golden Saber

IMHO, each gun is going to have it's own "sweet spot" for ammo weight and performance. For me and my P99, I ran almost a thousand rounds through it before settling on my SD ammo. Soon I'll have a 9mm P99c AS, at which time I'll once again run through different ammo weights and brands to find it's sweet spot. I hope it's also 147 (simplifies ammo reloading / purchasing), but it may not be.

As always, YMMV - Fargazer

January 6, 2011, 09:48 AM
As has been already said, the idea that the 147 grain bullet doesn't expand is obsolete when talking about modern designs. They expand and they do well. Frankly though, expansion isn't much of a consideration for me. I look at it like a bonus. I'll take it if it's there but only if it doesn't kill penatration to achieve it. IMHO, penatration is much more important and in that, the 147 usually excels.

That being said I really don't think there is a ton of difference. I shoot what works and is accurate in my gun. Currently I'm running Ranger 127's in my M&P.

January 6, 2011, 12:14 PM
From all I know, is the 124g is the perfect compromise. I have GDHP 124g +Ps in all my 9mm's, all two of them. Actually my last 5 shots are 115g Fiocchi +P+ FMJs Nato's (cross circles).

January 6, 2011, 01:00 PM
It's like comparing a 300hp camaro (gets there faster) vs a 300hp suburban (pushes through harder).

throw a +P into the equation (more gun powder)

It's like comparing a 400hp camaro vs a 400hp suburban

For SD and HD, I say go for the heavier projectile.

I likie them 230 grains bestest

If you don't think the shot will penetrate, then either the target is in full body armor or you are standing too far away from the target and you should run the other way instead of shooting.

January 6, 2011, 01:11 PM
I've tested 124 and 147 grain Gold Dots from my Ruger P95 (3.9" barrel) on water jugs. This is not meant to be equal to a gelatin test but a comparison of the two bullets. The 147 penetrated roughly 50% further with a smaller amount of expansion and apparent damage. I'll stick with the 124 grain for my pistol and use the 147's in my PC9 carbine where they show excellent performance.

January 6, 2011, 10:57 PM
People-shooting tests have confirmed that 115--127g JHPs going fast work superbly.
Think 115g +P+. (Think Secret Service, who recently switched from 9x19 to 357 SIG for more of the same).
Think 124--127g +P. (Think 357 Magnum, 357 SIG, 9x23; Texas DPS who switched from 45 ACP to 357 SIG for "better performance").

Think "high velocity medium-weight projectiles ranging from 115g up to 127g launched at +P pressure".

Notice no mention of 147g?

cougar gt-e
January 6, 2011, 11:39 PM
In my mind, I used to obsess about caliber differences, bullet weight, construction, etc etc etc:barf: Now, I just concentrate on hitting the second button from the top. Do that every time and it really doesn't matter what you used. 380, 9, .40 or .45. Holes there turn the traffic light from green to red for the BG.

January 7, 2011, 03:10 AM
Different strokes for different folks. I like the momentum advantage of the higher weight projectiles. I use Buffalo Bore 147 grain.


9mm Luger +P+ Pistol and Handgun Ammo
9mm Luger +P+ Pistol and Handgun Ammo - (+P+) 147 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point (1,175 fps/M.E. 451 ft. lbs.) -

January 7, 2011, 08:24 PM
I load my own.

Winter I use a 147gr XTP on the +P side of life. The rest of the seasons 124gr XTP +P loads. Load up until I start loosing accuracy and or flatting the primers. Which ever comes first. I can run hotter loads in the Sigma that the PF-9.

Tom Servo
January 7, 2011, 11:09 PM
Texas DPS who switched from 45 ACP to 357 SIG for "better performance"
Heresy. Absolute heresy.

It's very simple. We all know that the 9mm simply will not kill anything. While it may cause some surface irritation, and possibly induce an infection, it is not a tenable self-defense loading. The only reason our military uses it is because ammo is cheap, and it's compatible with what the Dutch or whoever are using.

If I absolutely had to trust my life to such a meager loading, I would likely choose the 115gr or 124gr loadings. I know of no current factory handgun sighted in for 147gr, and some will have problems cycling it. You should be practicing with something that prints reasonably close to the same POI as your defensive ammunition, and there's not much 147gr ball out there.

(Oh, and all but the last two sentences are in jest :))

January 9, 2011, 02:39 AM
When my outfit went from round guns to flat ones, the universal transition pistol was a SiG P228 and the issue load was the 9mm 147 gr JHP.

Stories began to circulate immediately and one was that the 147 JHP was never intended as a pistol ctg but was for use in suppressed sub guns, namely the MP-5. Unknown if there was truth to this or not.

What was pretty evident was that in the use of the 9mm for finishing off deer, in deer v. car MVA's and dealing with an occasional feral domestic animal, the 9mm/147 from the stubby P228 seemed weak. Sorry, the agency does not have a lot of shootings v. felons.

When the opportunity came to "upgrade" from the transitional 9mm, to either .40 or .45, a huge percentage of personnel did, mostly to .40, the old guard to .45.

The 147 ammo largely disappeared as it was shot up in quals and training, and those few that retained the 9mm switched to 115 or 124.

January 9, 2011, 09:30 AM
In 9x19mm or 9mmNATO, I'd say the top pick for general carry/duty/protection is the highly rated Winchester Ranger T 127gr +P+ JHP. My local PD(around 900 sworn LE officers) uses the 127gr JHP 9mm load for their "new" SIG P226 sidearms.
As for the posted topic, I'd choose the 124gr load. It has similar ballistics & recoil or milspec training-practice rounds or carry/duty rounds.
Many like the 147gr designs, but I'd select a 124gr +P or maybe a 115gr +P+ JHP. CorBon/DPX, DoubleTap Ammo, Speer Gold Dot, Remington Golden Saber(bonded) all have great 9x19mm loads available to the general public.

January 9, 2011, 11:33 AM
thanks for the input.
I guess, I will stick with what I carry now, 115s and 124s.

January 9, 2011, 12:02 PM
Due to the greater momentum that is maintained by the heavier round the 147 grain 9mm penetrates gel better than the lighter, but faster, loads.

January 10, 2011, 12:35 PM
Tom Servo wrote:

... It's very simple. We all know that the 9mm simply will not kill anything. While it may cause some surface irritation, and possibly induce an infection, it is not a tenable self-defense loading. The only reason our military uses it is because ammo is cheap, and it's compatible with what the Dutch or whoever are using....

Well everbody has one ... an opinion. I note that the 'Jello shooters' have pretty much concluded that the main 'Service' calibers, 9mm, .357 sig, .40, and .45acp are all pretty equal if the right loading is used.




My thought is to practice what you have chosen to use and stop trying to justify ones choice. The four seem pretty equal. My personal choice is one step up, a .357 magnum, or .44 Special ... but then there are those that will cast negative spells on those two.

Bottom line seems to me to pick what you are comfortable with and shoot well, and then practice, practice, practice.

Mike Irwin
January 10, 2011, 01:35 PM
The newest generation of 147s are showing the ability to expand well at the velocities at which they're fired.

Many modern bullets have been designed specifically in the velocity range in which that cartridge/bullet weight combination traditionally operates.

It used to be that getting a bullet to expand when fired from a 2" .38 Special was hard to virtually impossible.

New designs, however, show excellent expansion capabilities.

Some months ago I fired some Speer Gold Dot 135 +Ps out of my 2" J frame at a water-filled garbage can.

Based on what I was seeing, out of 7 shots, penetration would have been in the 18 to 20" range, and expansion was perfect.

I also fired several rounds into a dirt bank, and recovered two. Expansion on those was also perfect.

January 11, 2011, 07:27 AM
I am with 'dirt'.