In the never-ending 9mm Ammo Quest for the best pocket pistol load, TTAG published my test of CorBon DPX 115-grain, and it was really an excellent performer. But it also triggered quite a few requests, all along the lines of “when are you going to test the 95-grain version?” Now, normally I prefer heavier bullets over lighter rounds, all other things being equal, but testing from the short-barrel pocket pistols has forced me to re-evaluate that default position . . .
In general, it’s turning out that the heavier bullets really aren’t performing all that well from the little pistols. The short barrel just doesn’t get those heavy bullets up to enough initial velocity to ensure that the ammo performs properly. I’ve found a couple of 147’s that perform properly from a 3″ barrel, but in general 147’s haven’t really performed well. On the other hand, a number of 124’s and 115’s that are performing better than their equivalent models in 147 have.
So…why not try the 95? 95 grains is very light for a 9mm bullet; 95 grains is more normally associated with .380 ACP than it is with 9mm. But CorBon follows a “velocity is king” philosophy, and they claim that the 95-grain version from a pocket pistol should deliver results comparable to how the 115-grain version performs from a full-size pistol. Well, the 115-grain was fantastic from a pocket pistol, and one would presume it’d be even better from a full-size, so — that inspired me to want to test it — and CorBon was happy to supply a box for testing purposes, so — test it I did.
And I was surprised — it performed much better than I was expecting. The velocity was, on average, over 200 fps faster than the 115-grain version; that was to be expected. The surprising part was that the bullets basically all met the FBI minimum 12″ penetration guidelines (except one, and that one came in at 11.50″) and they all expanded to a much bigger size than I was expecting. I was expecting bullet sizes comparable with the .380 ACP Ammo Quest, but no, these little 95-grain bullets turned in a respectable 1/2″ diameter expanded bullet.
The effect of the higher velocity is mainly seen in the size of the initial stretch cavity, where the little CorBon DPX’s created quite a disturbance in the gel when first entering. Most ballistics professionals don’t put too much emphasis on that however; most body tissue is quite stretchy and handguns are typically not able to produce stretch cavities that exceed the elastic limit of most body tissue, so that big expansion cavity usually doesn’t result in additional damage being done. However, there are certain body tissues that aren’t elastic can definitely be damaged from stretching (the liver is an example) so there are some cases where that larger stretch cavity may actually result in more wounding.
In general though, I’m looking for the biggest bullets that penetrate deeply (and by deeply, I’d like to see in excess of the 12″ that the FBI and IWBA determined to be the minimum necessary to be able to impact and destroy vital organs from all angles and through arms if necessary). 12″ is the bare minimum, and generally 14-15″ is considered preferable. The 95-grain DPX generally met that 12″ minimum, which is commendable for such a lightweight bullet. However, the 115-grain DPX penetrated quite a bit further, and also made bigger holes when doing so because the bullets expanded to a larger size. Because of those two factors, I would still lean towards using the 115-grain version in a pocket pistol, but the 95-grain version acquitted itself very well.