The Best 9mm Ammo in 2020: Our Favorites

Best 9mm Ammo (2020)_ Our Market Favourites

The best Parabellum ammo (the name comes from the German manufacturer’s telegraph code) dates back to the turn of the 20th century, served as a weapon in both world wars, and became something of a European standard too. While the sizable 9mm service side arms are proven useless for civilian everyday carry, the cartridge stimulated a lot of interest nonetheless, as NATO standardized it. 

The best 9mm ammo Parabellum has, in more recent years, become virtually the world-standard handgun cartridge for LE agencies. The use of the 9mm as a sporting or defensive round has grown alongside or marginally in the wake of its official popularity. 

The best 9mm ammo calibre wars between the best 9mm Luger ammo and several other high-powered handgun cartridges have been going on for several decades. However, neither of them have the winning combination of power, reliability, and economics showcased by the 9mm Luger; therefore the Nine wins the popularity contest. 

Though the 9mm Parabellum has always been a widely-used cartridge. There are still many misinterpretations and misunderstandings of this favourite round for best self or home defense.

AmmoNameEditor’s CommentRatingGet The Deal
Winchester – USA White Box Ammo 9mm Luger 115gr FMJ

Most Recommended Option

1. 115-grain bullet with MV of 1,190 fps and ME of 362 ft-lb
2. FMJ bullet style provides positive experience
3. Recommended only for practice

10/10Check Current Price
Hornady Critical Defense Ammo 9mm Luger 115gr FTX

Premium Option

1. Intended for concealed carry handguns and home protection
2. Delivers controlled expansion of the 115-grain bullet
3. Cannelured and crimped to avoid bullet setback

9.5/10Check Current Price
CCI Blazer Ammo 9mm Luger 115gr FMJ1. Comes with 115-gr protected-base FMJ bullet
2. Boxer primed reloadable brass cases
3. It is not allowed in some indoor ranges
9.0/10Check Current Price
American Eagle – Syntech 9mm Luger 150gr Total Synthetic Jacket Action Pistol Ammo 1. Muzzle velocity is 875 feet per second
2. Very affordable practice-type ammunition
3. May require changing of recoil springs on full-size pistols
8.5/10Check Current Price
Remington UMC Ammo 9mm Ruger 115gr FMJ1. Lead core non-magnetic MC (A.K.A. FMJ) bullet
2. Intended for competition, target, training
3. Clean-shooting Kleanbore Primers
8.0/10Currently unavailable

 

How to Choose 9mm Ammo 

Whereas the assortment of a compact carry weapon (CCW) is relatively easy, ammunition selection is a complicated job. Especially if you are in the market for the best 9mm best self-defence ammo. 

Before we explain some of the best qualities of 9mm ammo for self-defence, here’s a basic rule to remember: proper shot placement and hitting the important regions of the attacker are a must when using pistol calibre ammunition for best self or home defense ammo. 

Penetration 

A 9mm bullet has to achieve sufficient penetration to disrupt the vital organs for self defense ammo, stop the bad guy, and not cause much collateral damage. The perfect 9mm self-defence load for side arms, according to the FBI, must deliver penetration depths of 12 inches minimum and 18 inches maximum when fired in 10% ballistic gel for self defense 9mm ammo. 

Expansion 

Another notable self defense 9mm ammo feature is a bullet’s capability to enter a target and expand to create as large of a wound hollow as possible. This type of projectile made for expansion is usually a JHP, as the opening in the bullet’s exposed, soft nose will improve expansion once the bullet hits the target, creating a larger wound channel. 

Weight Retention 

A heavier bullet infiltrates barriers better and causes more damage if it remains in one piece. All well-made defined rounds should showcase excellent weight retention for self defense 9mm ammo. For example, the bullet has to stay in a single piece while it penetrates light or heavy clothing and travels through the soft tissue. 

What is 9mm Ammo Best For? 

While many harbour well-founded doubts about the 9mm’s lethal effectiveness, actually, the 9mm Parabellum`s qualities in the last century were largely logistical. Its modest dimensions allow the use of high capacity, double-column magazines in pistols. It is precisely the firepower factor that has led many American police departments, as well as sporting shooters worldwide, to opt for the 9mm ammo. 

However, recent technological developments in bullet and propellant design have backed the 9mm’s skyrocketing popularity. The best 9mm self defense calibre is having something of a renaissance these days because people are more attracted than ever in concealed carry compact pistols purpose-built for continuous wear and reactive use. 

In the world of personal defence, the best 9mm self defense has become one of the most popular concealed carry calibre due to its solid ballistics, wide options of self-defence ammunition, lower recoil, and affordability. 

However, in a gunfight, the person who wins is the one who can place well-aimed shots at the right time. Furthermore, we recognize that training and practice are compulsory to every handgun owner. 

When compared to other high-powered handgun cartridges, 9mm ammunition is less expensive. Especially when bought in large quantities. That same lower cost also inspires handgun owners to practice more for less money. 

However, you have to distinguish between the 9mm ammunition envisioned for defensive purposes and the practice ammo that you plan to use for the range. For training and even plinking, you can buy FMJ ammo cases or buckets of 500 or more in order to lower the cost per round. 

On the other hand, many experts have supported for years the “bigger is better” theory of defensive handgun rounds. However, with engineering and performance of modern 9mm cartridges, lighter and faster 9mm projectiles can compete with the slower and heavier .45 ACP in terms of wounding capabilities. 

Ammo 101 – Bullet Types Explained 

In the firearms market, you usually have the following types of bullets: lead non-jacketed bullets, FMJ or full-metal-jacket bullets, and finally, the JHP or jacketed hollow points bullets. Since most leading handgun manufacturers forbid the use of lead bullets in their firearm, the other two are most often found within our arsenals. 

FMJ (Full-Metal Jacket)  

A lot of criminal records and serious tests have proven that full metal jacket ammunition attains great over penetration and minimal expansion, making this type less suitable for self-defence. This makes the round go clean-through the target and continue on.   

JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)  

On the other hand, the modern, bonded JHP 9mm bullets are greater than full metal jacket projectiles, providing the minimum performance standards we are looking for self-defence purposes. Hollow point ammunition with modern bullet designs such as JHPs is made to expand upon impacting soft tissue to stop your attacker efficiently. 

Today, there are a few newer bullet designs that have evolved from the 4th generation rounds such as the infamous Cor-Bon Glaser Safety Slug that comes with an excellent status when it comes to stopping power. 

Statistically, 87% of people shot with 9mm FMJ ammunition survive, yet to date over 90% of people shot with Glaser rounds have died. As the matter of fact, the projected survival time of a person shot in the front, mid-abdomen with a Glaser slug is about 3 days. 

Although they come with advantages like the minimal risk of ricochet or over-penetration, the Glaser Safety Slugs are entirely defeated by any form of angled cover, such as glass window or indoor soft-wood door. 

The best instances of improved and advanced designs are the Lehigh Defence Xtreme Penetrator cartridge and the Novx Extreme Self-Defense ammo. Lighter than an archetypal 9mm bullet, both provide deep penetration, whereas these projectiles generate a permanent wound cavity diameter that far exceeds wound channels made by most expanding bullets. 

Review of the Best 9mm Ammo 

In the next section, we introduce you to some of the best 9mm ammo offerings you can find on the market (as of this writing). Now, all you have to do is research your load’s terminal ballistic performance to find a proper load for your Wonder Nine.

1. American Eagle – Syntech 9mm Luger 150gr Total Synthetic Jacket Action Pistol Ammo

American Eagle - Syntech 9mm Luger 150gr Total Synthetic Jacket Action Pistol Ammo

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The first on our list is a load coming from Federal Ammunition that has manufactured ammunition for nearly an entire century. Their sub-brand, American Eagle, has released into the market a new handgun range ammo round with the exclusive total synthetic jacket (TSJ), which decreases damaging heat and friction. 

Topped with 150-grain, heavy, flat-nose bullets this ammo is enhanced for power factor necessities in action shooting sports. This AE soft load attains a muzzle velocity of 875 ft/s and muzzle energy of 255 ft-lb. 

While Syntech loads offer reliable knockdowns on steel targets in competition, they also reduce splash back on steel targets, followed by the notable reduction in perceived recoil over standard FMJ loads. 

The American Eagle special polymer coating means that the lead-alloy core is covered entirely by a thick, durable, red polymer layer, so no heavy metal is exposed. 

This new ammunition is loaded in brass cases and is fortified with the new lead-free Catalyst boxer-type primers. Syntech synthetic jackets tolerate the bullets to glide through the barrel, preventing copper and lead from fouling and keeping your gun cleaner. 

Although the Syntech Action Pistol ammo is very soft in shooting, there are some complaints that this range ammo may not cycle in heavier handguns without changing to lighter recoil springs. While it seems that self-defence ammo is all the rage these days, the American Eagle Syntech Action Pistol series of ammunition is manufactured as practice-type ammo for a serious day at the shooting range and for high-volume competitive shooters.

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2. Remington UMC Ammo 9mm Ruger 115gr FMJ

Remington - UMC Ammo 9mm Luger 115gr FMJAnother venerable and honoured American ammunition maker is known for its design innovation and manufacturing excellence. For obvious reasons, it is Remington Arms and their united metal cartridge (UMC) brand of ammunition, an excellent choice for practice, target shooting, or training exercises. 

The Remington UMC 9mm Luger is new production ammunition that is an outstanding blend of value and performance, featuring a non-corrosive boxer primer and brand new brass casings for those gun aficionados that love to reload their 9mm ammo. 

This Remington 9mm Luger ammo comes loaded with non-magnetic, 115gr metal case (MC) bullets, which is Remington’s spin for a standard, lead core, full metal jacket projectile. The 115gr ammo load reaches 1,135 ft/s and produces a muzzle energy of 328 ft/lbs. 

The UMC line of handgun ammo propositions reasonably priced loads for the high-volume shooter, making target and practice shooting a more pleasurable and very affordable activity. However, with such low-priced ammo, you may expect some holes in quality control inspection reflected in a small percentage of fail-to-function (FTF) failures. 

The UMC 9mm features American-made quality and economical first choice handgun ammo intended for plinking, tactical training, action-pistol competition, or any target shooting activity.

3. Winchester – USA White Box Ammo 9mm Luger 115gr FMJ

Winchester - USA White Box Ammo 9mm Luger 115gr FMJ

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Our next suggestion also comes from one of the legendary US ammo manufacturers and is sold as the Winchester “USA White Box” line-up. The USA White Box 9x19mm calibre ammunition has a default usage for plinking and target because of reliable accuracy and positive functioning of full metal jacket bullet. The 115-grain bullet is loaded in the brass case and charged with rapid and clean burning powder. It reaches 1,190 ft/s with 362 ft-lb muzzle energy. 

While this ammo with manufacturer code Q4172 is a smart choice for practice and plinking, it is less convenient for competitions. This is due to sporadic feeding or extracting issues in some handguns. However, for the most casual shooters, the percentage of FTF or FTE’s is negligible. 

Whereas this ammo has a bit more wallop than common target/plinking loads, rare and sporadic FTF issues will provide you with a prospect to practice clearing a stoppage, making this range ammo more comparable to real self-defence ammo. 

The brass cases are good news for reloaders. And also if you so happen to be shooting at those ranges that do not allow you to pick up your spent brass casings. Winchester has made White Box ammo for a very long time, allowing generations of newcomers to become proficient and serious shooters without breaking the bank by buying more expensive 9mm Luger ammunition.

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4. Hornady Critical Defense Ammo 9mm Luger 115gr FTX

Hornady - Critical Defense Ammo 9mm Luger 115gr FTX

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Utilizing a different approach to modern self-defence handgun ammunition, Hornady Critical Defense has established a new series of ammo called “Critical” based on their LeveRevolution ammunition. It is intended for lever-action rifles. Firstly, please do not confuse Critical Duty with Critical Defence ammunition, as they are different types manufactured to address very different needs in this handgun caliber. 

Hornady’s Critical Defence ammo is quite similar to a traditional JHP but with an added polymer tip inside the hollow point. Designated as the Flex Tip Expanding (FTX) bullet, this load distributes flat trajectories and helps with feeding as well as performance. 

In this way, Hornady FTX’s Flex Tip design provides adequate penetration and controlled expansion between 1.3 and 1.6 times the 9mm’s initial diameter. While all Critical Defence bullets with flexible tips are valuable for preventing clogging of hollow points, they are also cannelured and case-crimped to circumvent bullet setback. 

Although Hornady loads their Critical series with clean-burning and steady propellants to launch the 115-grain bullet at 1,140 fps of muzzle velocity and 332 ft.-lb. of muzzle energy, it also comes with a bit of an excessive but manageable recoil feature. 

Unlike Critical Duty ammunition, the Critical Defense lineup was not made to pass the full FBI protocol. Instead, it was purpose-built for defensive situations where no in-between barrier was involved. Furthermore, Critical Defence is made to be fired from short-barrelled, compact carry guns.

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5. CCI Blazer Ammo 9mm Luger 115gr FMJ

CCI - Blazer Ammo 9mm Luger 115gr FMJ

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The 9mm Blazer Brass ammo made by CCI is envisioned for use by the casual shooters as a reliable training and practice ammo. It features muzzle velocity 1,125 fps and muzzle energy 323 ft.-lbs., CCI Blazer Brass 9mm Luger is an inordinate cartridge for practice, target shooting, and training exercises since it mixes economical pricing with premium CCI primers and protected-based FMJ bullets for clean shooting. 

The Blazer 9mm is laden in brass casings and topped with an FMJ-RN (full metal copper-plated jacket-round nose), 115-grain bullet. Its virgin brass can be reloaded up to 5 times due to its remarkably high quality. 

There are some restrictions for use of the Blazer Brass Ammunition in the indoor shooting range carry ammo due to jacket separation issues. It is also a goal why the Blazer Brass carry ammo is not intended for use by the law enforcement community and law enforcement agencies. 

On the other hand, from a budget aspect, the 9mm Luger by CCI is the best choice for bulk 9mm target shooting ammo. While this CCI Blazer Brass, low-cost carry ammo has some disadvantages, it is quite tolerable ammunition for target shooting or just plinking around at the range ammo, as well as for reloaders in law enforcement agencies in handgun calibers and self-defense ammo for self-defense. 

CCI brings shooters ammo built to SAAMI standards that are capable of more extended shooting sessions without an expensive price tag or operational issues ball ammo for self-defense 9mm 115 traffic duty pistols. 

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Conclusion 

Whether for the protection of yourself and those you really care about or just for casual plinking, you really must not forget that a fully loaded magazine, even with some of the best ammo on the market, alone will not help achieve your goal. However, success will come through your consciousness and awareness, ball ammo, proper mindset, and marksmanship, coupled with your choice of high-quality felt recoil popular 9mm p ammo. 

Without a doubt, all who look for the highest level of performance for self-defense 9mm ammunition should reflect the use of expanding and fragmenting ammo such as hollow-point bullets. 

There are many different kinds and brands of 9mm JHP cartridges that offer a phenomenal increase in stopping power, achieved by utilizing the bullet`s energy in the most efficient way possible. On top of that, while the controlled expansion of the jacket into “flower petals” creates a much larger bullet diameter in the target, the adequate expansion will also avert over penetration to minimize collateral damage from bullets passing through the target. 

We hope that you never have to shoot your firearm in self-defense. However, like any reasonable adult, you should really prepare yourself for the worst scenario by applying the collected information and considering your budget for buying the best defense ammo, as well as for training and practice. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) some people may have about the best 9mm ammo. 

Q: What is the Difference Between 9mm and 9mm Luger Ammo? 

In the previous sections, you may encounter different names for the same cartridge. By adopted terminology, the round is called 9x19mm. However, we also call it “9mm”, “9mm Parabellum”, “9mm NATO”, or “9mm Luger”. For the most part, all of these refer to the same 9x19mm round. 

These are numerous names for the same cartridge, but you should also know of at least dozens of other rounds in the same calibre (9X18 Makarov,9mm Kurtz,9×21 IMI) that are not currently substitutable with the most common handgun rounds. 

Q: What is the Difference Between 115 Grain and 124 Grain 9mm Ammo? 

We don’t think that the different bullet weight may make much difference if you can maintain fairly tight groups. Loads with lighter bullets may have a little less apparent recoil and higher velocities than heavier bullets. However, since the bullet weights are similar, the differences are negligible. 

On the down side, it’s true that a lot of the time, bullet weight matters very little, but when we discuss self-defence and hunting, our guidance is to search for ballistics gelatine tests or real-world reports of a specific load’s performance. 

Q: Is Steel-cased Ammo Bad For 9mm? 

First and foremost, if you are a reloader, just don’t bother with the steel cases. This is because they are more troublesome than they are worth. Secondly, the steel-cased ammo is made as an inexpensive substitution for the conventional brass offerings. 

Furthermore, the harder than brass, the hard steel shell casing causes more wear and tear on the weapon and there can be more extraction issues. However, it only comes in straight-walled cases. As we know, 9x19mm features a slightly narrowing case which will be less prone to harder extraction. 

Since the steel-cased ammunition is knowingly cheaper than comparable brass-case ammo, it is best suggested to use it for practicing and training. 

Q: How to Store Ammo? 

The general rule of the thumb for ammo storage is to keep it in a cool, dry, and dark location. While most of you will first think of gun safes, it shouldn’t be the best place for ammo storing. The main reason is the temperature swings on a daily basis can cause moisture, which is the real hazard to your ammunition. One way to avoid such increased humidity is to buy desiccant canisters or to get a good dehumidifier. 

Another way to manage the amplified humidity is to store your ammo in rubber gasket military style 30 and 50-caliber ammo cans. Useful ideas for proper ammo storage are good and proper organization and discipline. Meaning that you should label your ammo cans. If you store your ammunition in nearly ideal conditions, modern ammo will last you many centuries. Otherwise, if you store your ammo unsuitably, degradation starts pretty much almost immediately. 

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