127-grain +P+ Ranger-T, Federal 9BPLE 115-grain +P+ (a.k.a., “Illinois State Police load”): ShootingThe Bull410 Ammo Test

This is a test of two legendary rounds, the 9mm Winchester 127-grain +P+ Ranger-T, and the famous “Illinois State Police load”, the Federal 9BPLE 115-grain +P+. These are pretty much the rounds that made 9mm not suck; the 9BPLE in particular is really the first 9mm load that earned a good reputation as being an effective 9mm round for law enforcement use. However, these are old, old designs, dating back to the ’80’s. That’s before the modern standards were put in place, and before three-inch barrel pistols were prevalent. These loads . . .

developed great reputations as manstoppers (when fired from police weapons), especially since 9mm was considered a rather poor manstopper at the time. But how do these rounds perform on the modern standard gel test? How do they perform from a pocket pistol? And is it worth it to go to an older +P+ (which is nonstandard ammo), considering the plentiful modern ammo designs on the market today?


  1. avatar pwrserge says:

    Yeah… You need a +P+ rated gun to run these. Right now I use the 9BPLE as the competition round for my 6″ Timberwolf race gun. It’s not a go to self defense round, but pretty damn accurate and able to knock down steel at extended ranges if I go my part. (I’ve used it to get around the need to load slugs in my shotgun in at least one 3Gun stage.)

  2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    I wouldn’t use 9×19 +P+ in self-defense pistols. What’s the point? There’s modern ammo with pressures within SAAMI specs that perform as well or better for penetration and expansion. Why beat up your pistol when there’s no reason to do so?

    If this ammo were dirt cheap (like $0.10/round), then maybe there would be some appeal. But we know with any expanding, self-defense bullet ammo, that will never be the case.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      If standard pressure 147gr HST will open up to 0.6″ when fired at 970fps out of a 3″ barrel, why would I want +P+?

      And, I’m willing to bet it has as much silhouette dropping momentum at 50 yards as 115gr +P+.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Why beat up your pistol when there’s no reason to do so?”

      And your ears, I imagine.

      Has anyone run tests on how much louder ‘plus-pressure-plus’ (and other overpressure) ammo is over standard SAMMI-spec gun food?

      1. I don’t have the equipment necessary to accurately measure gunshot sound levels, but I can say this – it sure sounded hellaciously loud when I was firing it. It seemed notably louder than the typical round.

      2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        The sound pressure level is indeed related to the pressure of the round.

        One of the worst common handgun rounds for your ears is the .357 Mag – which has a higher pressure than most handgun rounds by a fair bit.

        When I’ve shot .38 Supers that have been loaded to high pressure levels to “make major” for IPSC, they’ve been very abusive to everyone’s hearing on the range, because they were typically shot out of a gun with a comp.

    3. avatar Frank in VA says:

      Yeah, if I wanted that kind of performance out of a 9mm bullet, I would buy a 357 sig.

      1. avatar Frank in VA says:

        Come to think of it, I once owned a pistol in 357 Sig for a few hours. I bought a Glock 31 once and then changed my mind the same day before I ever fired it. I took it back to the gun store and talked the guy into letting me swap for a G22 for a small restocking fee. It was roughly 18 years ago when they first came out, and I don’t remember why I got cold feet.

    4. avatar TruthTellers says:

      I agree with you. This extremely hot 9mm is going to wear out the parts of a 9mm pistol faster than standard or +P ammo. About the only gun that will handle this and not have a shortened life would be a .40 caliber converted to a 9mm and at that point, why even bother? You’d already have .40, which has the same power as this +P+ stuff and at a lower cost and is more commonly available.

      Only the 9mm fanboys would see no wrong with +P+ 9mm ammo, because they desperately want to show the world that 9mm can do everything and is the ultimate handgun cartridge.

      1. avatar Big Jim says:

        Total bs Sig for one uses the same frames on p series 9mm as 40S&W unbelievable stupidity , one would not want to run this stuff in a small cheap semi auto . Old 5609s have 80.000 plus rounds of this stuff through them and yes the barrels rifling was wore out no other damage SMH

    5. avatar steve says:

      you said if the price was 10 cents per round you would use . well i found some at 30 cents per round . yes exactly thats 15 dollars for a 50 round box .. would that be cheap enough for you ?? check it out at s g ammo.com

    6. avatar Big Jim says:

      Some guys will never learn , arrows expand and penetrate and they take time to kill , so do the slow moving wonder rounds , the 357mag. stops because of enegy or hydrostatic shock and yes MIT has proven and can now measuse hydrostatic in pistol rounds the ammo manufactures want to keep a lid on this , Thanks I’ll keep my 9bple , Bye the way 40S&W uses the same frames as duty sized nines this guy and many others are confused

  3. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    The modern loads are better and putting old ammo in a self defense gun is a poor idea anyway. Old and even very old ammo will likely fire, but won’t give consistent results when you need it most.

    I have fired very old ammo successfully, some of it was almost 80 years old when I fired it. No idea how much variation there was in the velocity back then, but when I fired it the accuracy was about minute of bad guy, so it would have worked, but….

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Pre-WW 2 might have been more consistent than wartime production, with the pressure of war urgency,

      I’m inclined to believe after-wartime was better simply due to the technology advances during the war effort. The US enjoyed massive machine technology improvement during that period. That likely fueled the post-WW 2 domination in manufacturing in general until Asia caught up in the ’70’s.

      Is anyone aware of tests of the differences in pre-wartime / wartime / after-wartime ammunition?

    2. avatar Big Jim says:

      The slow modern ammo does not match up with the fast high energy loads , gel test are for dummy’s even arrows expand and penetrate.

  4. avatar Big Jim says:

    The only plus p plus rounds I ever shot or federal Plus P plus 38 Special Out of my Colt King Cobra 357 Magnum with 2 inch barrel in stainless steel. I found that the 38 plus P plus Was a very Close 357 Magnum charge cartridge out of a 38 without the recoil of a 357 Magnum It let me shoot all six rounds without much Barrel flip And it seemed to do the job And was very very very loud and shot a fireball out the front of the king cobra look like a dragon. But this was 20-plus years ago.

  5. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I came to the same conclusion as ShootingTheBull410: if you want that sort of velocity, change calibers. Having said that, ShootingTheBull410 suggested .40 S&W and I was thinking of .357 Sig since it offers basically the same diameter and weight bullets as 9 mm … although the greater case volume allows higher velocities without crazy high pressures, or so the rationale goes.

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      I really like .357sig, I just wish it was on par with 9mm pricing, or even with 40. If it was, I’d be on on it.

  6. avatar DavidinNC says:

    Is that video embed from Full30? Yikes, it runs like absolute dick on my Galaxy S6. Autoplay ads, autoplay video, and a scroll bar with Parkinson’s.

    Terrible, terrible mobile player.

  7. avatar Hoplopfheil says:

    Yes! STB is still alive and kicking!

  8. avatar mayhem34668 says:

    Personally I’m a fan of federal’s xm 9001 when i can find it…same projectile as the 9bp and 9bple but right between them on velocity and not even plus p rated…was a canadian LE round from what i have read…very accurate out of my xdm compact and only marginally more expensive than regular fmj…wouldn’t hesitate to use them for defense in a pinch…only 15 – 16.00 a box (50) instead of 25 -30.00

  9. avatar pod says:

    I have Speer 9mm 115 gr +P+ as my EDC load in my H&K VP9. It can take it. However, it’s my EDC load so I don’t shoot it often. The gun seems no worse for the wear, and I do replace components as needed.

    9BPLE usually makes an appearance on the various ammo sites. It’s cheap and most people say it’s good-to-go, so I pick it up sometimes. I’ve seen it for $11.00 for a box of 50.

    I saw RA9TA at a gun show once. The seller wanted $45.00 for the box. No way. I think he was targeting ammo collectors, not people who intended on shooting it.

  10. avatar Tom W. says:

    Real pistol calibers begin with a .4——–

    Before the flaming begins. That’s a bit of humor. I own a few 9’s S&W 6906, FN9, M&P 9, hell, even a 1916 DWM Luger.
    Regardless, Ammo tech has advanced over time. Arnold Palmer never hit a driver regularly over 300 yds, now it’s common. What changed? The ball, and the club.
    Same with bullets. The .380 boom was real when that round was once laughed at. Now there is some decent .380 Ammo.
    Same with the sub compact 9mm boom.
    Ammo makes a difference. +P+???!!
    Not for me. If top shelf standard 9mm defensive ammo with 10-12-17+ rds. Doesn’t work, than defer to my opening sentence.

  11. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    I have to agree here on +P+ loads with 1 exception and no real good reason. Other then I have a case of it. I cant see any reason to take a step backwards with a +P+ round in 9mm for my P398. Im more then happy with HSTs in 124grain. Heres my one exception, though in my 2.5 inch Model 66 357mag. When I do carry it. I use the old NYPD load. A Federal 38spl.149 grain +P+. Not much different to me then say a lighter 357 load. I retired my Hi-Power in 40 S&W only due to comfort level carrying here IWB in Florida. Ill still take my Officers with 230 HSTs any day over all of the above.

  12. avatar Ted Unlis says:

    After watching ShootingTheBull testing on Federal HST 9mm 124gr & 147gr in both standard and +P, I was shocked to see any of those four rounds delivered very similar, but still superior wound cavity, expansion, & penetration results.

    Since there was no significant difference in 9mm 3″ barrel performance by any of those HST rounds, it was a no brainer to go with the standard velocity and I opted for the 124gr, which has a LEO price of 22 bucks for a box of 50 from GT Distributors.

    From what I’ve seen in the STB and LE ballistic testing as well, Federal made a bullet construction breakthrough with the 9mm HST round which approaches the performance of the 125gr Speer Gold Dot 357 Sig round in expansion & penetration.

  13. avatar FormerWaterWalker says:

    Anybody use +P Pow’rball? I’ve had great success shooting it in 9 and 380. Very impressive ballistics without beating up my guns. Yes and I know it separates from the jacket but expansion,velocity and penetration are great…then again I’ve never shot anyone.

    1. avatar Ted Unlis says:

      Objective and unbiased ballistic testing like that of ShootingTheBull demonstrates that grossly overpriced gimmick rounds like Pow’rBall are outperformed by well engineered defensive and duty ammo like the Hornady 380 90gr XTP or Federal 9mm HST 124gr or 147gr (standard and +P) for about half the money.

      1. avatar Frank in VA says:

        That Hornady 90gr XTP pretty much won me over to .380 for pocket carry. It’s why I bought an LCP.

  14. avatar FormerWaterWalker says:

    Dunno’ where you get half the money. And if it FEEDS without failure in my tiny Taurus TCP so much the better…

    1. avatar Ted Unlis says:


      If you’re getting 20 round boxes of Cor-Bon Pow’rBall at discount marked down prices of $16-18 a box there’s a reason, it’s antiquated when compared to the new and improved 9mm ammo that has come out in the last 3 or 4 years like Federal HST, which I paid $21.95 for a box of 50 at GT Distributors in March 2016.

      1. avatar FormerWaterWalker says:

        I got NO idea where you get those numbers. Certainly not checking Cheaper than dirt. Not that I can’t get whatever I want at the local Cabelas…once again feeding a tiny gun is critically important. Gaping hollow points may catch. Oh yeah-I’ve never seen this ammo in the wild…

    2. avatar Ted Unlis says:

  15. Winchester Ranger 115 gr +P+, is the “Illinois State Police load”. Illinois State Police did carry the Federal 9BPLE, but switched to Winchester’s version, because it was made in Illinois. http://www.tactical-life.com/gear/defense-loads-of-choice-the-word-from-the-street/2/ ~ http://winchesterle.com/Lists/CatalogAmmo/Attachments/8/RA9115HP.pdf

  16. avatar js says:

    Love the videos– when I can see them. I can’t get this one to play. Seems to be about 14 trackers/scripts/security risks too.

  17. avatar J says:

    The ISP carry .40s.

  18. avatar Jonathan says:

    I have the 9bple in my steyr M9 for HD as its rated for any 9mm ammo. These seem to fragment more than modern round, which is better for urban defense. My carry guns have HST or underwood xtreme defender.

  19. avatar Specialist38 says:

    The 9mm 115 +P+ is well-proven in the field.

    Few rounds have been around long enough to have a track record that can be attacked.

    Most new rounds have been evaluated through the new FBI protocols for testing but these are protocols not based on shootings.

    Round like the Critical duty have been evaluated on various barriers and still expand in gel. I’m guessing that’s a good thing but I don’t see street data to reinforce the tests.

    Remember, the FBI’s own testing originally led them to the 10mm (full power) and then field evaluation led them to download it. This led to Smith and Wesson saying “We can give downloaded 10mm ballistics in a 9mm frame.”

    Voila – we had the 40 S&W. Law enforcement went to it in droves. A lack of practice and familiarity has led many LE agencies back to the 9mm.

    When we get back to the 9mm then even the “old” loadings (Silvertip, Hydrashock 124, and 115 +p+ perform as well as any.

    Of course, new and sexy always sells.

    Sooner or later, someone will absorb 30 rounds of some new 9mm and LE will go back to looking at heavier calibers.

    The 357 was not abandoned because it was ineffective, but was hard to control if you didn’t practice.

    The 9mm BPLE is a pretty good light 357 round.

  20. avatar Richard Oubre says:

    Federal 9BPLE is the +P+ 115 grain HP…hey everyone has their own opinion. At a velocity of 1300fps, it has a devastating wound channel in the clear gel blocks and the slow motion shows it clearly. Would not want to be shot by this round period! I carry them in my Glock 17 and it absolutely loves them. In a gunfight at 3, 5, or 7 yards! Lights out my bad guy!

  21. avatar Steve says:

    What manufacturer makes a gun that is plus P plus rated?? And also how did the designation of plus p begin ?? Was everybody like don’t shoot that , don’t you do that ?

  22. avatar Richard Oubre says:

    All Glocks are a “Fighting Handgun” built for MILITARY OPERATORS period! I have shot thrue my Glock 34 over 2,000 rounds if Federal 9BPLE 115 grain +P+ JHP. The Glock stacks them on top of each other in a ragged hole at 5 yards! All I changed was the Guide Rod to a 20# spring!

  23. avatar Richard Oubre says:

    All you need to see is this video and for one example, imagine a Bad Man shot under his armpit and the 115-grain +P+ travels across his chest cavity! Wow, that is gonna hurt a little! I have the book “Stopping Power” and the Federal 9BPLE is highly regarded as a Bad Man stopper! Period! (:

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