Remington’s Golden Saber is one of their premiere defensive handgun loads, and has been for many years. In this test, I’m trying out the 9mm version in both 124 and 147 grain. Now, there are many versions of the Golden Saber out there, including standard pressure, bonded, and +P. For this evaluation, I’m using the standard pressure, non-bonded versions; part #’s GS9MMB and GS9MMC. As a side note . . .
there is a list maintained at AR15.com for self-defense ammo FAQ’s. There’s a list there of ammo that’s recommended for self-defense purposes, and the GS9MMC Golden Saber 147 is included. However, the testing done on those rounds was all conducted from pistols with barrels of 4″ or longer; none of the testing was done with the 3″ barrels of today’s common pocket pistols. And that does make a difference — a few of the loads on the AR15.com list that perform well from the bigger handguns, just don’t work well from the short-barrel pistol (examples being the Gold Dot 147-grain, the Gold Dot 124-grain in standard pressure, and the Barnes 115-grain XPB).
At the same time, some of the loads I’ve tested that are included on that list have been excellent performers from the 3″ barrel also (including the CorBon DPX 115-grain, the 147-grain Winchester Ranger-T RA9TA, the Speer Gold Dot 124+P, and the HST 124+P and 147). Which list will the Golden Sabers end up on? On the “use in 4-inch or longer barrels only” or on the “it works great in everything” list?
Well, let’s put it this way — I first started shooting the denim rounds and I stopped after three bullets. It was obvious these were just not going to work. They showed complete core/jacket separation, and overpenetration issues. I finished off the block with two shots to bare gel, just so we had a complete picture of how the Golden Sabers perform, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to recommend it.
Interestingly, when I tested the 147-grain bullets, the performance was nearly identical. The bare gel bullets were superb, and the denim rounds separated and overpenetrated.
It wasn’t a disastrous performance; the bare performance was excellent, and every bullet at least made it past the 12″ minimum. That said, I still can’t recommend them — there is just no valid reason to accept compromised performance, jacket separation, and overpenetration, when there are so many other fine rounds on the market that just don’t have those problems.
I do plan on revisiting the Golden Sabers when I can find some of the bonded version. If they can perform as well through denim as these non-bonded bullets did in bare gel, then yes, that would really be something to talk about. But as for the non-bonded, non-+P versions as tested here, my recommendation is to avoid them in your 9mm pocket pistol.