How Effective is Your 9mm Defensive Ammo? 

If you think choosing ammunition is as easy as grabbing a random box off the gun store shelf, think again. All ammunition is not created equally. When it comes to selecting defensive ammunition, the differences become extremely important. It takes research and hands-on time to figure out which loads perform well for self-defense loads, and that can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s where Mike Jones of “Garand Thumb” [YouTube channel] comes in. In a recent video, he tests some popular 9mm defensive ammo and shares his results.

9mm defensive ammo testing
Choosing the right defensive ammunition takes time and research. (Photo credit: Garand Thumb)

What is Defensive Ammunition?

There are a few categories of ammunition you should be familiar with including target, hunting, and defensive loads. As you might expect, target rounds are made for plinking and target practice. These are rounds like FMJ (Full Metal Jacket), and they are made to impact a target without expansion. Because of this, they are prone to significant over-penetration. Hunting rounds are made to perform their greatest on game animals (often specific animals) for a one-shot, ethical kill. Finally, defensive ammunition is made to perform according to long-standing FBI standards for penetration, expansion, and weight retention.

Defensive ammunition is designed to stop a threat as quickly as possible and with the smallest possible risk of over-penetration since through-and-throughs created by target rounds put innocent people at risk of injury.

Garand Thumb tries out various 9mm defensive loads on a ballistic gel torso.
Mike tries out various 9mm defensive ammo loads on a ballistic gel torso. (Photo credit: Garand Thumb)

Which defensive loads are tested?

  • Hornady Critical Defense
  • Speer Gold Dot
  • Federal HST
  • Norma MHP (Monolithic Hollow Point) 

Check out the video to find out how the above 9mm defensive ammo rounds performed on a ballistic gel torso.


From the Comments

Viewers made some interesting comments on this particular Garand Thumb video. In particular, viewers who work in medical fields have real-life experiences that influence their choice of defensive ammunition.

BunkerMonkey777 wrote, “I work in emergency medicine and I’ve seen a fair amount of gun shot wounds. Most of them are fmj from small calibers (25 acp, 22lr, 380). Those patients tend to live unless it’s to the heart, a major blood vessel, or brain stem. The patients I’ve seen with 9mm hollow points don’t live if the patient is shot in the trunk (chest or stomach). Most of the time (if not all of the time) quality hollow points pass all the way through. I personally carry Hornady critical duty because I’ve seen what it does.”

NOLA_RN explained, “As a nurse in New Orleans, one of the largest centers of gun violence in the world, you would be amazed at what the human body can survive. What ya’ll perceive as more powerful, a through and through, usually does less damage. The hollow points that splinter apart generally knick multiple organ systems making them more fatal.”

suzettespencer replied, “I personally operated on several people shot with both FMJ and HP. Other than making slightly bigger holes, there is no significant difference. When a solid organ is shot like the liver, the petals will cause more bleeding in the HP. FMJ do penetrate more, especially when it hits bone.”

Do you have any experience with defensive ammunition in ballistic gel, while hunting, or otherwise? Tell us in the comments below.

This has been a collaborative effort by two or more members of The Mag Life contributor team: to wit, a JWOT (Joint Writing Operations Team). We'll advise which specific contributors in the text of the article. Subscribe to GunMag TV and follow GMW on Instagram, @gunmagwarehouse. Connect on Facebook, /gunmagwarehouse/.

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