Thursday, September 24, 2015

9mm's having a revival... but sorting through the ammo choices can be tricky

I've always enjoyed shooting 9mm pistols. I've always considered 9mm sufficient for a self defense round.

For this, I've taken some ribbing over the years. ,

"9mm is a .45 set on stun," is a line I remember from the early 1990s,

Then along came .40 caliber, and many police departments quickly migrated there.

Just another nail in the coffin. More proof the 9mm was on its way to becoming a relic of history, or relegated to being a sport shooting round. But yeah, there might be some hopeless neanderthals like me who still packed it for home defense or concealed carry.

Now that ammo shortages appear to be over (at least for now), I've been shopping for 9mm rounds, seeking a balance between price and performance. In the process, I've learned something.

9mm is making a comeback.

An October 2014 article at Concealed Nation notes the FBI now favors 9mm as its primary round. Less recoil, less firearm wear and tear, and a higher ammo count in 9mm handguns versus .40 caliber were among the reasons cited.

Another article, at asserts that the 1990s push to .40 caliber from 9mm was as much a result of then-enacted national Assault Weapon Ban as it was a quest for better handgun performance.
The AWB allowed gun manufacturers to buy back previously issued LE magazines and resell them on the commercial market. That made all those used, abused, high capacity magazines worth their weight in gold. So manufacturers went to agencies and offered to trade them, at no cost, new & improved big-caliber guns for their wimpy little 9mms. The agency got a new gun that fit in its current holsters, replacing old and sometimes completely worn out guns. The administrators and union leaders got to parade the new guns in front of the troops as proof that they were Doing Something Important. And the gun companies got a bunch of guns that they could refurbish for a few dollars and then sell for a small mint simply by supplying one of those pre-ban high capacity magazines in the box.
Advances in ammo technology are another reason for the current 9mm revival. Many of the newly designed bullets simply offer better performance than the hollow points of 20 years ago.

Which brings me back to my original task. Finding the right ammo.

I'm not looking for a super charged LEO round.

My primary quest right now is to find an optimal round for home defense. A round with consistent performance, but one not subject to over penetration in a home setting (Any round's going to penetrate, that's what a bullet's supposed to do. I'm speaking in relative terms).

There are so many different 9mm rounds available, I'm still trying to sort through the options.

Some of the newer self-defense rounds can be pretty pricey, especially if I want to put a few hundred  through the gun to test performance prior to loading a mag for home protection. I suspect it's worth the cost.

On the other hand, some of the older style rounds (often marketed as "classic") are again selling for not much more than typical FMJ target rounds. It might not be a bad idea to lay a stash of classics in reserve should ammo supplies get tight again. It could also be used for practice from time to time.

With most ammo availability and pricing now close to what it was in pre-panic 2012, this is might a good time to top off all your ammo inventories. If you're not prone to keeping a reserve stash, it may be time to start building one.

With elections about a year away, we may again soon see new rounds of gun and ammo restrictions proposed, resulting in another surge in buying. Panic buying made for retail shortages in 2008-09, and against in 2012-13. If the trend holds, we'll be due for another in late 2016 or early 2017.

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