9mm Ballistics

9mm Ballistics

An in-depth look at 9mm ballistics. We'll cover the caliber's capabilities and offer velocity, energy and bullet drop data for the most popular 9x19 loads at AmmoToGo.com.

9x19mm Parabellum is by far the most popular handgun cartridge for self-defense in the world. With advancements in technology since its introduction at the turn of the 20th century, the 9mm is able to deliver similar terminal performance to rounds with heavier bullets such as the 45 ACP and 40 S&W. The 9mm’s lower cost and recoil make it an even more attractive solution for effective self-defense. But what can you expect when it comes to 9mm ballistics – velocity, energy, etc.?

Factory loaded rounds are most commonly available with 115, 124, or 147 grain projectiles. As the most popular handgun cartridge, 9mm ammo is available with every conceivable type of projectile including frangible, shot, rubber, and blank.

9mm Ballistic Table

                       
Barrel LengthMuzzle25 yds.50 yds.75 yds.100 yds.Muzzle25 yds.50 yds.75 yds.100 yds.Muzzle25 yds.50 yds.75 yds.100 yds.(G1)(G7)Sect. Density
Blazer Brass 115 Gr. FMJ41145109110471010977335304280260244-0-1.8-5.6-11.60.1550.13
Sellier & Bellot 115 Gr. FMJ5128011741087-963421354304-238-0-0.9--8.70.1060.13
Blazer Brass 124 Gr. FMJ4109010491014984955327303283266252-0-2-6.1-12.40.1690.141
Fiocchi 115 Gr. FMJ4120010891009368303260-0.9-3.80.1580.141
Tula 115 Gr. FMJ411503380.13
Federal Am. Eagle 124 Gr. FMJ41150109510491010977364330303281263-0-0.9-3.8-8.80.1540.141
Federal Am. Eagle 115 Gr. FMJ41180110610481001961356312280256236-0-0.9-3.7-8.70.1230.13
Winchester 124 Gr. FMJ NATO412001143109510541018397360330306286-0-1.7-5.1-10.60.1710.141
Magtech 124 Gr. FMJ4110910631024991961339311289270254-0-1.9-5.9-12.10.160.141
Federal Am. Eagle 147 Gr. FMJ41000976953933914326311297284273-0-1.4-5.2-11.50.2060.167
Federal Hydra Shok 124 Gr. 4112010701028993961345315291271255-0-1-4-9.30.1530.141
Federal 147 Gr. JHP Hi-Shok41000976953933914326311297284273-0-1.4-5.2-11.50.167
PMC 115 Gr. FMJ41150109910571020988338308285266249-0.70-2.6-7.30.1690.13
Sellier & Bellot 124 Gr. FMJ5118110781000-901382319274-222-0-1.2--10.60.0890.141
Fiocchi 124 Gr. FMJ4115010489753643022620-0.8-3.90.1480.141
Magtech 115 Gr. FMJ411353290.13
Winchester USA 115 Gr. FMJ411901125---3623230.13
Federal 115 Gr. JHP Hi-Shok41180110610481001961356312280256236-0-0.9-3.7-8.70.1230.13
Blazer Brass 147 Gr. FMJ4950-903-862295-266-243---1.6--130.1690.167
Wolf 115 Gr. FMJ41150338
Federal 147 Gr. JHP HST41000976953933914326311297284273-0-1.4-5.2-11.50.2060.167
Federal 115 Gr. JHP XM9001412253830.13
Hornady 115 Gr. FTX4114010781028987951332297270249231-0-1.9-5.8-120.1290.13
Speer Lawman 115 Gr. TMJ412001145109810591024368335308286268-0-0.8-3.3-7.81.820.13
Speer Gold Dot G2 147 Gr. JHP4970941915891869307289273259247-0-1.6-5.7-12.50.150.167
Federal Syntech 150 Gr. TSJ4890873857842827264254245236228-0-2-6.9-14.90.2040.17
Black Hills 115 Gr. TAC-XP411753520.13
Hornady 135 Gr. FlexLock41010984960938918306290276264253-0-2.2-6.8-13.90.1950.153
Speer Lawman 147 Gr. TMJ4985957932909888317299284270257-0-1.5-5.5-120.170.167
PMC 124 Gr. FMJ4111010591017980949339309285264248-0.70-2.8-7.90.1460.141
Fiocchi 124 Gr. JHP4110010209613332872540-1.1-4.30.1650.141
Federal BallistiClean 100 Gr. Frangible41240114710751019973341292257230210-0-0.7-3.4-8.10.110.113
Remington Golden Saber 124 Gr. BJHP +P4118011311089383352326--0.2-0.80.141
Speer Gold Dot 124 Gr. JHP +P41220114610851036996410362324296273-0-0.8-3.3-80.1340.141
Speer Gold Dot 147 Gr. JHP4990962936913891320302286272259-0-1.5-5.4-11.90.1640.167
Speer Gold Dot 124 Gr. JHP4115010891039998963364326297274255-0-0.9-3.9-90.1340.141
Winchester PDX1 124 Gr. JHP +P4120011433963600.141
Sig Sauer 147 Gr. V-Crown49853170.167
Barnes 115 Gr. TAC-XP +P41125107810391005975323297276258243-0-1.9-5.7-11.80.1670.13
Hornady 124 Gr. XTP4111010651027994965339312290272257-0-1.9-5.9-12.10.1650.141
Fiocchi 158 Gr. FMJ Subsonic48508147802532322130-2.5-6.20.1590.179
Sellier & Bellot 150 Gr. FMJ Subsonic51001977955-920333317303-281-0-1.6--12.10.2410.17
Black Hills 124 Gr. JHP411503640.141
Black Hills 100 Gr. HoneyBadger413003750.113
Corbon 115 Gr. JHP-DPX +P412503990.13
Hornady American Gunner 115 Gr. XTP4115510901038995958341303275253235-0-1.8-5.7-11.70.1290.13
G2 RIP - 92 Gr. HP412653270.104
Federal Syntech 138 Gr. SJHP410501016985959934338316298282267-0-1.2-4.6-10.50.1750.156
Black Hills 125 Gr. HoneyBadger Subsonic410503060.142
Winchester Ranger 127 Gr. JHP +P+412501180112010711030441392354323299-0-1.6-4.9-100.1540.144
Hornady 100 Gr. FTX Critical Defense Lite4112510571003960922281248224205189-1-1.9-6-12.50.110.113

While not typically considered a hunting round by any means, the 9mm is effective for varmints and even deer hunting with a suitable bullet.

The 9mm was developed by Georg Luger in 1901, who based it upon his earlier 7.65×21mm Parabellum. He removed the bottleneck from the predecessor’s casing to meet the German military’s demand for a larger diameter projectile. Luger presented his new round to both Great Britain and the U.S. before it was adopted by the Imperial German Navy in 1904 and the German Army four years later.

The 9mm earned international attention following WWI, partly due to its relatively small dimensions that permitted the design of high capacity magazines. As the semi-automatic handgun gained traction in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, so too did the 9mm. It effectively supplanted the 38 Special for police use thanks in large part to its superior ballistics and functionality in semi-auto firearms. According to one major online ammo retailer, in 2013 the 9mm accounted for 21.4 percent of all ammunition sales, beating out 223/5.56 by nearly six percent. It is therefore not only the most popular handgun cartridge in America, but very likely the most popular cartridge period.

9mm Velocity versus Barrel Length

115 grain vs 124 9mm ammo

Luger designed his original 9mm to be lethal at 50 meters. Today, modern incarnations of his cartridge significantly exceed that limit.

A 9mm round’s ballistics depend upon which of the three common bullet weights it’s equipped with:

 115 Grain124 Grain147 Grain
Muzzle Velocity1180 fps1110 fps990 fps
Muzzle Energy356339320
Velocity at 100 Yards961949891
Energy at 100 Yards236248259

Bear in mind that these numbers vary by manufacturer. Those who prefer lightweight 9mm projectiles enjoy lower recoil; If you select heavier bullets benefit from deeper penetration of the target. Fortunate enough to equip your firearm with a suppressor? You’ll do well to pick heavier bullet weights that convey a subsonic muzzle velocity.

What About 9mm Carbine Ballistics?

If you’re firing 9mm ammo with a pistol caliber carbine, expect to get another 5-10% velocity out of your ammo.

 3.5" Barrel S&W Pistol16.1" Barrel Ruger Carbine
Speer Gold Dot - 124 Grain1067 fps1346 fps
Federal HST - 124 Grain1135 fps1256 fps
Federal HST - 147 Grain973 fps984 fps

Obviously, the increased velocity will impact terminal ballistic performance. If you’re shooting a hollow point at a soft target, the extra ~100 feet per second from a carbine will give you a slightly different wound channel than firing the same ammo from a shorter-barreled pistol.

9mm Downrange Ballistics

Trajectory

Regardless of its bullet weight, the 9mm provides just the kind of flat trajectory that is most conducive to accurate shooting. Bullet drop tends to range from 10 to 12” at 100 yards. That’s likely more distance than you’ll need for self-defense.

9mm loads frequently deliver a muzzle energy greater than 300 ft lbs. That’s the amount of energy even cautious self-defense experts consider adequate for self-defense. And because 9mm ammo is so relatively inexpensive, it permits its shooter to practice longer and more often. Since the shooter is the main determinant in any weapon’s efficacy for self-defense, that is possibly the 9mm greatest strength.

Other 9mm Luger Attributes

  • The Latin in the 9mm’s full name is short for Si vis pacem, para bellum: “If you seek peace, prepare for war.” This was the motto of its original manufacturer Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken. Also designated the 9mm Luger by SAAMI, and 9mm Luger by the CIP.
  • The majority of U.S. police departments use 9mm. This helps ensure its continued low cost and widespread availability.
  • While predominantly utilized in semi-automatic handguns, AR-15s chambered for 9mm are popular, and 9mm revolvers are not an uncommon thing either.
  • The 9mm NATO is equivalent to a slightly overpressure variant of the standard 9mm Luger. Its maximum pressure is 36,500 psi, which is four percent higher than SAAMI’s spec for the more common 9mm Luger. +P and +P+ rounds are available as well.

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