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Old September 24, 2012, 03:22 AM   #1
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Ammo selection.. Help please

Hi all,

I have a 9mm SIG. This is my first gun. When I go to a gun shop to pick ammo, I really have no idea. They all look the same to me except the price. Does anybody know where I can learn ammo selection on internet? How do I pick up this knowledge?
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Old September 24, 2012, 04:22 AM   #2
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hl, 9/24/12

Congrats on picking up a nice new 9mm Sig. It should provide you with many years of fun.

First you need to decide what the purpose of the shooting is for. Is it just for target plinking or self defense? If for self-defense this will help you buy practice ammo which is the same weight as your defensive ammo so it should have somewhat similar function. You usually have three weights of bullets to choose from, 115 grain, 124 grain and 147 grain. While many like the lighter or heavier bullets I favor the 124 grain bullets, a good compromise of speed and weight. The 9mm ammo should be labeled 9X19mm or 9mm Luger or 9mm Parabellum (all the same stuff) with the bullet weight listed.

Next check with the range you are going to train at. Some ranges limit the ammo to brass cased ammo (the most common) and may not let you shoot aluminum cased or steel cased ammo. This will help you narrow down what ammo you need to buy. For practice you want FMJ (full metal jacketed) ammo and not hollow points.

And now for the important part- pick out the cheapest and largest 9mm boxes of ammo you can find (find out what's on sale). The 9mm comes in different size boxes- 20 rounds (usually expensive hollow point ammo), and 50,100,250 and even 1000 round boxes. My Sigs and other pistols will take almost any brand of ammo and shoot it well. Examples are- Federal, Winchester, Remington, Remington UMC, PMC, Blazer (aluminum cases), Speer, Magtech, Fiocchi, and Sellier & Bellot. I haven't tried the steel cased ammo- usually Wolf and Tula.

So if it was me I'd drive to my nearest superstore (Walmart, Kmart,etc) and get a bunch of cheap 9mm full-metal-jacket 124 grain brass cased ammo and go shooting. Good luck and have fun.

best wishes- oldandslow
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Old September 24, 2012, 04:39 AM   #3
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What I suggest to get a better grasp on what does what, is to get on Youtube and look at people shooting different ammo. I do this to find different home defense rounds for better prices. Then just look around to get the feel of the prices.
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Old September 24, 2012, 05:53 AM   #4
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There are over a dozen of ammo types for 9mm that are readily available for purchase.

Most common are 100ish, 115ish, 120ish, 120ish +P/NATO, and 147 subsonic both in FMJ and JHP variants.

You have tradeoffs between recoil, penetration, and bullet velocity.

115 and smaller are either target rounds or for small pistols to reduce recoil. I'd probably load a 9mm subcompact with lighter rounds.

147 is a heavier subsonic round that is claimed to have stopping power for defense and is used by some LE agencies.

124-126 is somewhere in the middle, and the +P is a overpressure variant which is a very powerful load--which in a JHP arguably can make the best defense ammo. It also can wear out pistol components quickly.

Buy a box of each, take them to the range, and see what you like. Most people will target shoot 115, because it's cheap and has very minimal recoil. Most larger guns with stiff recoil springs won't cycle 100 grain reliably.
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Old September 24, 2012, 01:31 PM   #5
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When you're shooting at a range...practicing...

buy either 115 gr or 124 gr ..../ make sure you follow the rules for the range ( most won't allow any steel or aluminum cases ) ...some won't allow lead have to shoot jacketed or plated bullets...

At my local range....the practice ammo the cheaper stuff ( although nothing is cheap these days in terms of ammo ) but I've noticed lately its been Federal ammo in a white box, or S&B....for the least expensive.

Picking ammo is all about the size or grain of the bullet - and the velocity ...but in 9mm 115gr or 124gr are by far the most common choices. Every caliber is a little different....

most of the other stuff ..147gr, etc more specialized defense ammo ...don't let someone talk you into shooting that stuff at the range for practice.
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Old September 24, 2012, 02:33 PM   #6
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Thanks for the recommendation!

I actually just want to shoot for fun in a range. So velocity and penetrate is not my concerned.

But what is 9X19mm or 9mm Luger or 9mm Parabellum? And how does the material of the case matter?

Thank you as always...
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Old September 24, 2012, 02:56 PM   #7
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But what is 9X19mm or 9mm Luger or 9mm Parabellum?
All the same thing. But do not get confused with 9X18, or 9MM Makarov. they are different rounds, and not comparable with your gun.
For general range shooting I have found Winchester USA bulk (100 rounds) to be acceptable. Also referred to here as WWB, or Winchester White Box. Full Metal Jacket, or FMJ as it is known is perfect for range use. You don't need to spend the extra money for hollow point ammo for range ammo. Some consider steel case ammo, referring to the casing itself, not the bullet jacket to be detrimental to the extractor on a gun. The steel that the case is made from is much softer than that of the extractor, and shouldn't cause a problem. However, my experience with the cheap steel case ammo is that it just isn't as good of quality all around with many malfunctions being experienced. Others may have a different opinion.
You may find that different bullet weights and designs may work better than others in accuracy, and function. So try several to see what your Sig likes. Guns do have preferences on ammo sometimes.
Also, for range use there is no reason for ammo marked +P which is loaded to pressure levels above that of the standard for certain calibers. If you do decide to use your pistol for home defense, or CCW you will need to practice with what ever defensive ammo you chose to use for that purpose.
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Old September 24, 2012, 02:57 PM   #8
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some ranges sell used brass...and they don't want any aluminum or steel cases mixed in.

Some steel case ammo - has bullets that may penetrate beyond what their back stop is intended to stop. Some of this stuff is coming in from eastern europe / or might be old military inventory ...or whatever...

Lead bullets....smoke a lot more / most indoor ranges won't let you shoot lead bullets / or ammo that is not jacketed.
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Old September 24, 2012, 03:03 PM   #9
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I personally don't mess with steel or aluminum case ammo, it's not worth feeding headaches to save 70 cents on a box of ammo.

Welcome to the sport .
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Old September 24, 2012, 05:10 PM   #10
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Also just do web searches by specific cartridges and calibers.
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Old September 24, 2012, 05:29 PM   #11
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Fortunately, the SIG will eat any ammo suitable for SD. Just gotta decide what kind you want.
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Old September 24, 2012, 07:24 PM   #12
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So in summary, should I pick
1. one box for each weight. 115 grain, 124 grain and 147 grain.
2. Make sure they all FMJ
3. Doesn't matter whether they are 9X19mm or 9mm Luger or 9mm Parabellum?
4. If I am bored with 147 grain, try +P or +P+?
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Old September 24, 2012, 07:52 PM   #13
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Yes. And make sure to have a mix of all of them in the magazine.

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Old September 24, 2012, 08:19 PM   #14
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But what is 9X19mm or 9mm Luger or 9mm Parabellum?
As was said... they are different names for the same thing... But to break it down a little.

When people talk about 9mm, most of the time they are talking about the standard NATO 9mm pistol round. As it is the most common 9mm caliber round.

9x19mm is the metric standard designation. The first number is the caliber/diameter of the bullet in mm and the second number is the length of the cartridge case in mm.

9mm Luger is another name for it. Because one of the first and most popular pistols chambered for it was the German Luger pistol.

9mm Parabellum was the original designation for the round. Parabellum is Latin and translates to "For War"

9mm NATO may be used as well... but be careful. Ammo marked NATO and also marked with the NATO stamp on the cartridge case is actual military issue/surplus... they tend to be higher pressure or more powerful... this is doubly true for ammo designed for machine gun use, as it is loaded to even higher pressures and power. As a new shooter, stay away from ammo marked "NATO" or any ammo that has a small circle with a cross in it stamped on the bottom of the round/casing. If the box it comes in is marked NATO and generic looking, it is possible true NATO military rounds. If it is in a retail box and does not have the NATO head stamp you are fine. (the stamp on bottom of the case is called the head stamp) Winchester Ranger is an example of NATO stamped ammo that is not military issue.

Notice the case on the right... the circle and cross is the NATO head stamp used on military rounds.

DO NOT use any other ammo in your pistol... the names listed are it... no others.

There are Other 9mm caliber rounds that can be called 9mm... and should not be used in your pistol. I will list them here so you do not use them by mistake.

9x18mm or 9mm Makarov... are the same round. It is a Russian designed round. The Makarov pistol was the pistol designed to shoot this round, hence the name.

9x17mm is the metric designation for the .380acp round... also called .380 Auto, 9mm Browning, 9mm Corto, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Short.

There are actually more... but they will not fit into the chamber of the pistol, and are less common, so you should be fine.

For general plinking and range shooting... the 115gr FMJ is the most common and generally cheapest. $10-15 per 50rd box depending on brand and where you shop. For fun, the cheap stuff is fine... experienced shooters can notice accuracy differences between brands and bullet weights, but new and average shooters will not. You do not NEED to use other weight rounds unless you want to...

Hollow Points are for defese use... not target shooting... but if you are using the pistol for defense in the home, you should shoot a few boxes of the brand hollow points you plan to use. This is to make sure they are reliable in the pistol. They are not all the same in design/shape, so they do not feed the same. The Sig should feed most if not all without issue, but test your chosen brand any way.

+P is a designation that means the rounds are loaded to higher pressures and power than the original standards. It is an officially recognized specification that has a min/max pressure rating.

+P+ is a designation that usually means it is loaded to pressures higher than even +P... but it IS NOT an officially recognized standard... some use them... I do not. Its not an official thing, so I don't risk it.

Not all pistols can shoot +p and +P+... the instruction manual will tell you if it is ok or not. Regardless of whether or not the manual gives the ok... +P and +P+ will cause more wear and stress on the pistol and its parts than normal ammo... so shooting a lot of them is discouraged.

115gr refers to the wieght of the bullet/projectile measured in grains... Grains are very small units, there are 7000 grains in a pound, or 15.43 grains per gram.

Bullets are usually lead surrounded by a jacket of copper... this is almost always true... Though you can get rounds that are pure lead with no jacket. 9mm lead rounds are not common in the retail market. There is also a pure copper round, but it is a very light round and is a specialty hollow point design. Some manufactures also make lead free "clean" rounds for use in ranges that do not allow lead... they tend to be expensive.

The case that holds the bullet, powder, and primer is usually made of brass... You can find ammo with aluminum cases. They tend to be cheaper than brass cased...

There is also ammo that has steel case. It is a mild/soft steel, it is usually the cheapest you can buy. It is made in Russia mostly, and can be less reliable. Mostly because of hard primers that do not like to fire in some pistols... and quality control and consistent manufacture are the other common things people complain about. New manufacture Wolf brand steel cased seems to be the best of the steel, followed by the Silver bear... then Brown Bear, then lastly Tula... New Wolf and Silver Bear use steel that has a thin polymer coating that aids in reliability... the others use a Lacquer that can be uneven and even melt in a hot barrel.

I hope that answered some questions.

Last edited by marine6680; September 24, 2012 at 08:33 PM.
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Old September 25, 2012, 03:21 AM   #15
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Yep! Very good information. Now I know what I should get..
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Old September 25, 2012, 05:01 AM   #16
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US or overseas....

Are you in the USA or overseas?
If you are in the US & want to buy new 9x19mm rounds for your SIG pistol, I'd suggest these popular sites; .

For defense or protection use(concealed carry) only use new/factory made 9mm ammunition. No hand loaded or reloaded pistol rounds. In a defense or lethal force event you may be required to explain your actions to law enforcement or in court.
For regular practice or target shooting, there are a few decent, low cost brands to use; CCI, PMC, Winchester white box, American Eagle, Hornady.
For protection-carry use, I'd check out; Ranger T 124gr +P JHP bonded, Ranger T 127gr +P+ JHP, Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P, Corbon DPX, PowRball 9mm, Hornady Critical Duty +P 135gr, Golden Saber bonded +P 124gr JHP.
Some 9mm shooters like the frangible MagSafe SWAT & Glaser Safety Slug loads too.

For duty or concealed uses, I carry JHP rounds in my main 9mm magazine with factory new FMJ(milspec ball) type ammunition in spare magazines. I like knowing if I need back-up magazines I won't need to worry about feeding-cycle problems or malfunctions in a critical incident. A FMJ round may work better than some JHPs against wood, steel, glass, etc in a extended shoot-out with a armed subject. Hollowpoints or frangible rounds are ideal but FMJs are good also.
Keep you ammunition clean & check it often. Dirt, grit, crud, moisture, etc can cause damage. You wouldn't want to deal with it in a gunfight.

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Old September 28, 2012, 01:15 PM   #17
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Good Read

Hello all, I am a new member here and wish I would have come here sooner. There is always great debate over 9mm and 45 ACP. Truth is, new advances in 9mm ammunition have closed the gap between the two considerably, to the point where the 9mm may be the better option for most. Here is a link I ran across that does a pretty good job explaining the different, and preferred, defense ammunition. This article covers everything from 22LR on up. It's worth the read.
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Old November 20, 2012, 11:43 AM   #18
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Great discussion of 9 mm rounds

OldnSlo and others-
That was very helpful. Could someone comment specifically on Speer Lawman
9 mm JHP? It's easy to find on line and cost about $0.02/round. For comparison, how does this round compare with others on the list in terms of being dirty, or other issues. . . Are all of the listed rounds comparable comparable? Is price the only consideration among the listed rounds? What do you consider the best online source.
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Old November 20, 2012, 12:13 PM   #19
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price correction

Oops, that's $0.22/round.
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Old November 20, 2012, 07:43 PM   #20
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Speer/CCI is generally considered very good ammo. If you just plan to punch holes in paper and tin cans, no need for JHP. FMJ is usually cheaper.

Remember, that .22/rd jumps up considerably when shipping is factored in.
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Old November 20, 2012, 10:42 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Boedy:
Hello all, I am a new member here and wish I would have come here sooner. There is always great debate over 9mm and 45 ACP. Truth is, new advances in 9mm ammunition have closed the gap between the two considerably, to the point where the 9mm may be the better option for most. Here is a link I ran across that does a pretty good job explaining the different, and preferred, defense ammunition. This article covers everything from 22LR on up. It's worth the read.
There are much better sources of information than this.

That's a very old article that is simply no longer valid. Self-defense ammunition has gone through tremendous improvements since that was written.
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Last edited by 481; November 21, 2012 at 11:37 PM.
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Old November 20, 2012, 11:07 PM   #22
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All good advice. I am of the opinion that if you buy premium ammo from any of the big makers, you have picked decent ammo that will serve you well. Federal, Winchester, Speer, Hornady etc.

If there was a single round, really better than ll the others, everyone would be carrying that same round, but, they don't. Some like Winchester 115 GR. Some CCI 124. Some like +P etc.

If there is a Police Supply near you, you may try and make friends there, they usually have the 50 round boxes of premium ammo much cheaper than the boutique 20 round boxes that gun stores sell. Or, order online.

To simplify your life, Speer makes the Lawman family of ammo for practice and, then the Gold Dots for duty. Ballsitically pretty close, one full metal jacketed and the other, arguably, one of the best defensive rounds available.

The NYPD is liklely the largest LE agency around that uses 9mm. They use the 124 GR +P Gold Dot and seem plenty happy with it.

Don't overthink it. ANY of the major manufacturers will make decent practice ball ammo (ball=full metal jacket) (115-124 gr) Find the one on sale and buy a bunch. When you shoot all that up and, find that another brand is on sale, buy a case of it. Your Sig (239-228-229-226?) Should eat them all without a hitch.

Don't be shy about shooting +P in a Sig. I honestly believe you will get bored shooting it or, run out of money before you wear it out.
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Old November 20, 2012, 11:27 PM   #23
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@ Cheapshooter: I think you forgot 9x21MM IMI
I had the same talk with my wife when she was first getting into guns; 9MM seems to be one of the most confusing pistol calibers for new shooters simply because as you pointed out there are at least 4 or 5 common non interchangeable calibers out there that might just be called "9mm"

I don't see where the OP listed exactly what 9MM SIG he has; I can only speak to what I have experience with the P226, P229 and P239. Firstly the SIG "Classic" series of pistols (P226, P229 , P239 etc) is good to go with both standard and +P ammo. I have never used +P+ ammo and have no desire to start.

As for range ammo just about any brand is good to go. Some brands you will find shoot better than others, lots of people like to avoid steel cased ammo and certain brands of ammo because it is corrosive. I use Seller & Beloit, Federal or Winchester mostly.

As far as self defense ammo (hollow points) I have yet to find a brand of ammunition that does not feed well consistently with my 9MM P226 or P229.

With any new gun it is good to try different brands of ammo to rule out any issues with one particular brand of ammo.

I have not had any consistent problem with any brand of ammo. I prefer 147gr and 124 gr +P gold dots, golden sabers and 135gr Hyrda-Shock.
If you are looking for value; you can find 50 round "Law Enforcement" boxes of Gold Dot's for about $30.00/box online.
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Old November 21, 2012, 10:27 AM   #24
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The FAQ on Sig's site, that I read when I got my Sig 1911 says +P is fine for SD, or RARE range use, but a steady diet will wear it out quicker. +P+ is not approved, and may (Read WILL) void your warranty.

For range ammo, I've found it's usualy best to hit a Walmart. Luckily in 9mm they seem to always have some, I'm not sure if that means 9mm is so cheap everywhere they don't sell out at Walmart like they do with my .45 or if they just order more of it and keep it in stock. I wouldn't ever buy my .45 at the local range if I can help it. I get 100 Federal rounds from Walmart for $30. 50 rounds of American Eagle (Still Federal, probably not quite the same ammo but close) is $26 at the range. The WWB is $40 for 100 at Walmart... No direct brand comparison at the range, but between 21-26 is what they sell for at the range. If you watch Cabelas/Sportco/etc type stores, they will rarely have sales, though it's more common on .40 and 9mm it seems. I did see Magtech .45 at 16.XX 47? 87? a box of 50 is coming up at one of them as a holiday special.
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