Firearm ammunition is not a one-size-fits-all commodity, even within a given caliber. The type of ammunition selected for a particular activity must be appropriate for that use. A great example of this is the ubiquitous 9mm cartridge for handguns, carbines and submachine guns.

Of all the ammunition fired at the club, the 9mm Luger is by far the most popular. While this particular cartridge is offered in various configurations, the most common is the 115 gr. full metal jacket (FMJ). This is an excellent round for practice, matches and informal “plinking.” However, it is a terrible choice for self-defense because of its penetration capability.

As part of the overall expansion program, ballistic penetration testing was performed at the Club. A particular style of barrier was tested with various types of ammunition ranging from 44 magnum to 22 long rifle cartridges. Surprisingly, the only round to fully penetrate the barrier was the 9mm 115 gr. FMJ. One would have expected the 44 magnum to have the greatest penetration capability, but that was not the case. That cartridge certainly did the most damage to the barrier, but it did not fully penetrate as did the 9mm 115 gr. FMJ.

The purpose of this article is not to discuss various types of self-defense ammunition, or to make recommendations. The goal is to point out that the 115 gr. FMJ 9mm round is a great choice for practice and for matches, but don’t load your self defense handgun with that same ammunition. We simply do not want that level penetration if we are forced to shoot in self-defense inside our homes , businesses or on the street. This is especially true for people living and condominiums or apartments where they may have neighbors above and below them and on either side. The safest choice for self-defense purposes is a hollow point round, regardless of the caliber. This is especially true with 9mm handguns and carbines.