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Old November 19, 2013, 08:01 AM   #1
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9mm defense loads.

I'm soon going to purchase a Smith Wesson M&P Shield in 9mm and I am researching defense loads on line. This will be my first 9mm. The problem I am running into is opinions are all over the board. Large grain, medium grain, small grain, standard and plus P, vfarious brands, all have their supporters. It get's a bit confusing. A well placed shot is of course the main factor. So far, I seem to find more folks mentioning Federal Hydra Shocks for defense ammo in 9mm. But there are so many choices and options depending on various factors. So, I thought I would ask here as I am a fairly new member here, and see if there is a particular common opinion on 9mm defense loads within our membership here in the forums.
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Old November 19, 2013, 08:23 AM   #2
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You are going to get a lot of opinions anywhere you ask. I chose Speer Gold Dot because it is bonded and has a good track record with law enforcement. 124 grain +p in my full size pistols, 115 grain regular pressure in my Shield for better control in rapid fire.
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Old November 19, 2013, 11:19 AM   #3
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With defensive loads it's often a balancing act: Light, fast hollow points will often expand more violently and are less prone to over-penetration, but they are more easily thwarted by heavy clothing, barriers, or a bad hit that deflects off bone. Slower, heavier hollow points usually won't expand as violently or cause as much initial damage, but they're less affected by heavy clothing or bone and they tend to penetrate farther (which can either be a good thing or a bad thing).

I usually carry 124 gr. +P loads but I'm not against going heavier. And I rarely stick to just one brand. Here's the thing: it doesn't really matter all that much which load you pick, what matters FAR more is where you place those rounds when it counts.
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Old November 19, 2013, 11:24 AM   #4
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9mm defense loads.

I like mid to heavy. I run standard pressure 124-grain Gold Dot in my Beretta 92FS, since the long 4.9" barrel gives good velocities. In a small carry gun I'd run 124 +p to get velocity back.

Last edited by LockedBreech; November 19, 2013 at 11:35 AM.
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Old November 19, 2013, 11:27 AM   #5
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Try a few different ones. You're gun will probably tell you which ones to use, mainly Point of Aim and Point of Impact may be the same with one grain an different with another. Example, a PX4 Storm 9mm I had awhile back only shot POA with 147g ammo. My Glock does great with 115g. I just stick to what I shoot best.

I do recommend +P hollowpoints for a 9mm though. Speed and expansion are the 9mm's trump cards so use them. I like Remington Golden Sabers personally.
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Old November 19, 2013, 11:33 AM   #6
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124gr +p Golden Sabers in the Shield
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Old November 19, 2013, 11:36 AM   #7
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I am probably not going to help form a consensus but I generally use Fed. Hydra Shock. I want to avoid over penetration that could harm an innocent bystander.

EDIT: Might be more useful to add a pole with the loads you are considering then have people vote just from that. You will still get all the feedback on what everyone would use if not limited to your choices.
Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

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Old November 19, 2013, 01:37 PM   #8
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These are what I usually carry for SD:

Hornady 135gr Critical Duty
Speer Gold Dot 124gr
Federal Hydra Shok 135gr
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Old November 19, 2013, 02:12 PM   #9
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I've conducted performance testing on close to 2000 rounds of factory, handload and exotics in 9mm. Some for articles, some for private security companies and some for LEAs. I still have a short blurb about it here.

I usually recommend one of four loads: 124+P Speed Gold Dot (410), 124+P Remington Golden Sabre (384), 135+P Hornady Critical Duty (324), 115g Hornady Critical Defense (271). The numbers in parenthesis are the energy ratings. If you can afford to try them all, do so and see which one performs the best for you. I use one of the first two.

There is a lot of hype, marketing, and old wives tales surrounding the topic, so just don't get all caught up in that and you will be fine. Keep it foundational: If you have to fire your weapon in defense of innocent life, you STILL have to follow the 4 laws of gun safety. Your job, once you decide to use lethal force, is to stop the threat as fast as possible.
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Old November 19, 2013, 03:02 PM   #10
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CCW/HD/WORK: Glock 19

My favorite starting from the most:

- Winchester Ranger T-Series 127gr +p+

- Speer Gold Dot 124gr +p

- Corbon DPX 115gr +p or 95gr (Glock 26)
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Old November 19, 2013, 07:37 PM   #11
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Shot placement and sufficient penetration are paramount, all else is secondary.
So, I carry 135gr std pressure Critical Duty in all my 9's, regardless of bbl length.
Std pressure has less recoil for faster followup shots and I know CD will penetrate sufficiently (I'd rather have a bullet with less expansion that reaches the vitals than a bullet with greater expansion that doesn't, but YMMV).
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Old November 19, 2013, 07:45 PM   #12
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9mm defense loads

I like the 124gr loads in Speer Gold Dots, Federal HST and Remington Golden Saber. But I honestly don't think there's a great deal of difference among all the top shelf offerings.
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Old November 19, 2013, 08:23 PM   #13
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I like the 115s the best, and since heavy winter coats are rare around here, don't worry much about needing more penetration.

Specifically, I'm on my last case of IMI 115 Di-cut JHPs, but still have 8 or 9 boxes, so that should last me a bit.

Make mine lean, mean, and 9x19!
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Old November 19, 2013, 08:58 PM   #14
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Hornady Critical Defense ammo was designed specifically for short barrel pistols like your shield. Not the strongest of 9mm ammo on the market, but a solid performer and easily manageable recoil in compact handguns.
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Old November 19, 2013, 09:00 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by keithdog
I'm soon going to purchase a Smith Wesson M&P Shield in 9mm and I am researching defense loads...
Originally Posted by Constantine
Winchester Ranger T-Series 127gr +p+
I don't believe that S&W formally endorses the use of +P+ in any of their auto pistols. IOW if the OP's gun is damaged firing it, the warranty and/or Lifetime Service Policy may be voided.

OTOH Winchester offers a 124gr +P Ranger flavor that has a very good reputation (catalog# RA9124TP). The standard-pressure 147gr Ranger catalog# RA9T is pretty much the standard against which all other heavy-bullet 9mm loads are judged, and I find it to have very low felt recoil, but it has more of a "pushy" feel vs. the "snappy" feel of most 9mm SD loads; YMMV.

FWIW if you can't find a dealer who sells Winchester LE ammo to civilians (and who has 9mm in stock!), the 124gr +P "PDX1 Defender" sold at many big-box sporting goods stores is reportedly the same as Ranger Bonded (catalog# RA9BA), but in a small black box; both are basically the same thing as RA9124TP with a slightly different bullet. However, one advantage of the Rangers is that they're sold in 50rd boxes that are more economical per round than the 20-25rd boxes used for most civilian-oriented SD loads, so practice is cheaper. This is the primary reason I generally carry Rangers.
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Old November 19, 2013, 10:29 PM   #16
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Terminal performance

If you want to know what some of the top rounds do in calibrated ballistic gel. Which is how the FBI test their loads. This is a good site to look at: Happy hunting
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Old November 19, 2013, 11:26 PM   #17
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124 gr Federal HST and Speer Gold Dots

There are lots of good options, none are magic, shot placement and multiple hits on target quickly matter more than boolit design.
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Old November 20, 2013, 01:06 AM   #18
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People might think it is strange but I have a magazine loaded with 124 gr. Speer Gold Dot's and another loaded with 135 gr. Hornady Critical Duty rounds. I trust that either one is going to perform well so whichever mag goes in the gun that day is what the bad guy is going to get.
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Old November 20, 2013, 01:49 AM   #19
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My 9mm SD loading is CorBon 115gr +P jhp. 1350fps, 466ftlbs muzzle energy.
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Old November 20, 2013, 01:57 AM   #20
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9mm defense loads.

Speer Gold Dot 124 +p in the G19 and Speer Gold Dot 124+p Short Barrel in the G26.
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Old November 20, 2013, 05:48 AM   #21
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Great site for gel tests and various barriers. 9mm loads include all variants of Speer Gold dot and Federal HST.
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Old November 20, 2013, 07:56 AM   #22
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This has proven very interesting. One common favorite seems to be the Speer Gold Dot 124 GR. I'm not familiar with this bullet so I'll be sure to check it out. The 135GR Hornady Critical Duty intrigues me as a good balance between mid size and heady grain loads. The Golden Saber 165GR JHP is what I now carry in my .40 SW 4013TSW. I get the feeling that either of these three would be a good choice when well placed. I'm leaning towards one of these three. I wish finances allowed me to buy all three and try them out to see which one my gun handled the best. Maybe I can work that out in time. The Shied is supposed to be rated for handling plus P loads, so I'll verify that with S&W just to be sure. Thanks for your input! By the way, on piece of info I should have added is that heavy clothing is an issue where I live in northern Indiana. Parkas and multiple layers of clothing are popular with bad guys 5 months out of the year. So penetration is an important factor.

Last edited by keithdog; November 20, 2013 at 08:06 AM.
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Old November 20, 2013, 08:14 AM   #23
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Carry rounds....

First Id take a 2nd look at buying a new S&W Shield 9x19mm ...
S&W had a factory recall of the line.
In carry rounds, Id look at these top choices for 9mm(9mm Luger);
Corbon DPX, Hornady Critical Duty +P, Ranger T 124gr +P bonded or +P+ JHP 127gr, Golden Saber 124gr +P JHP, Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P JHP, MagSafe SWAT, PowRball 9mm, Federal HST 124gr +P, Winchester PDX1 9x19mm.

I'd suggest packing 9mmNATO FMJ or maybe Buffalo Bore Penetrator 124gr +P+ FMJ 9x19mm for spare magazines. You want that 100% feeding/cycle & with the Buffalo Bore load, you get extra punch if required.

See; .

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Old November 20, 2013, 08:27 AM   #24
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The Shield is fine with +P rounds, we have two and use +P solely for defense rounds. The +P helps to gain some velocity back that you lose in the shorter barrel.

The Shield safety notice, not recall, information can be found in a sticky up top in this forum. Most pistols were not affected(unlike the XDs) and I would have no problem recommending them.

The main reason I went with the Golden Saber round was availability. Gold Dots are pretty much non existent, or at least they were, when I stocked up. I have been quite pleased with the decision as well.
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Old November 20, 2013, 09:11 AM   #25
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I prefer the heavier (124-147gr) +p hollowpoints, bonded when I can get 'em. Remington Golden Sabers seem to come up for me more often than other stuff, but I wouldn't feel undergunned with Speer Gold Dots or Winchester Rangers, either. I avoid +p+ just because of the lack of SAAMI specs.
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