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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?

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  1. 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. 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.

    • 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+.

    • “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?

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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

    • 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

    • 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

    • The 9mm’ s strength relies in its speed.
      This should be a no brainier to some but I will further explain.

      The .357 and 38spl share the same diameter bullet, .357 or 9.07mm

      The 9mm is technically a .355 or 9.02mm bullet. So, what makes the 357 magnum a better stopper than the 38 spl? Speed or velocity. You should see what a 115 or 124gr bullet moving at 1250-1300fps does when it impacts body armour.

      The 9 mm loads that they have today are watered it down due to the bullet design but get a bonded bullet and you have energy in target.

      147gr 9mm’s may penetrate deep due to their weight but they do not provide any shock to the body and are poor street stoppers but police departments across the Nation are using them and having to shoot perpetrators quite a few times.

  3. 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….

    • 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?

    • 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. 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. 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.

  6. 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. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    • Plus b plus loads are never ever to be used in any firearm according to Smith & Wesson. However they use what is called HPT testing. What happens during HPT testing they don’t load a round with about twice the pressure as a normal round. That is their high pressure test. So they shoot plus P plus all the time but they tell us don’t ever do that. Does that sound hypocritical to anyone except me.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    • 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.

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

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


      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.

      • 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…

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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 ?

  19. 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!

  20. 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! (:

  21. According to Smith & Wesson plus P plus rounds are never to be used in any firearm. However they do what is called HPT testing. What happens during HPT testing is they load around with about twice the pressure of a normal round. That is what’s called high pressure test. So in essence they use plus P plus all the time but tell us not to. Does that sound hypocritical to anyone else except me?

  22. The comments i read here boggle my mind. Federal 9BPLE was proven over literally decades and thousands of police shootings to be an extremely effective and reasonable self defense round in any duty firearm. The comments of many posters here would make you think your pistol will blow apart if you shoot one magazine of them.

    These are self defense rounds, and we have people commenting on hearing damage and wear on a gun? As if those issues matter in even the slightest bit in a self defense scenario?

    9BPLE is an outstanding choice, and it’s so cheap that you can stockpile a ton of it for dirt cheap (which should appeal immensely to the preppers out there)

    And one very real world advantage 9mm+P+ holds vs standard pressure 9mm or any .40 or .45 caliber ammo is it’s ability to defeat many common types of soft body armor.

    Given how many of these mass shooters use body armor, that should be a very real consideration for anyone that is a CCW.

    On the other hand, if you can afford it, i think the solid copper Lehigh defense extreme defender round renders all hollowpoint designs obsolescent.

    BTW- To STB, thanks for all these tests.

    • This. The test looks good, the ammo looks good, but there’s an awful lot of derp in the commentary, both here and in the video. The Ranger-T round was developed in the 80s? Really? And here I thought it was an improved version of the Black Talon from the 90s, which was developed to meet FBI specs out of both compact and fullsize pistols. Anyway.

      FACT: US commercial 9mm ammo is very badly underloaded, so much so that it usually won’t even cycle a Luger; there are old American Rifleman articles from just after World War II about how many coils to clip off the mainspring to allow it to cycle with weaksauce US commercial ammo. This is to prevent the ammo from blowing up Great-Great-Grandpa’s war trophy Glisenti pistol, an Italian straight-blowback design that used a dimensionally identical cartridge case loaded to .380 pressures and velocities.

      FACT: SAAMI max pressure for 9mm goes up and down but this week it is, if memory serves, 35K PSI and 9mm +P is 38,500 PSI. +P+ just means “higher pressure than standard, may or may not be higher pressure than +P.” German WWI issue 9mm ammo, and WWII issue 9mm SMG ammo, runs up around 42K PSI or hotter. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone; the “9×23 Winchester” from the 90s, using the same diameter case head and exerting tremendously greater pressure on the breechface, was loaded to 55K PSI and I never heard of it blowing up a gun.

      FACT: Back when open-bolt 9mm SMGs were in frontline infantry service with European nations, they generally loaded their ammo the Germans had, in order to ensure reliable function under adverse conditions, with British “2Z” spec 9mm ammo, infamous for cracking frames on Browning Hi-Powers and SIG P226s, tied with Swedish M39B load introduced in 1962, being the hottest. “9mm NATO” ammo is +P+. Yes, all of it. All fullsize 9mm service pistols have always been designed for a steady diet of it. Load it in a Jennings or Hi-Point at your own risk. And yes, of course it kicks more when you load it into a tiny singlestack CCW pistol, and I am not sure why anyone would expect it not to. Comparing it to the recoil of .40 is a bit silly, though; the difference in recoil is very slight and barely noticeable.

      “Don’t shoot +P ammo” is a liability thing the lawyers dreamed up, mainly after some Treasury Department agents back in the 80s, who were issued .38 Special +P+ ammo with a 110 grain JHP loaded to about 1200 ft/sec for K-frame revolvers, put that same ammo in alloy-framed snubbies and promptly bent the frames and locked them up with five shots or less, this having been an era before scandium-aluminum alloy frames.

      tl;dr 9mm +P+ ammo isn’t “nonstandard.” It is US commercial plinking ammo that is nonstandard; US 9mm +P+ ammo is what the rest of the world calls “normal.” And no, it does not make the gun “kick like a .40.” It may or may not cause the gun to wear faster than underloaded Winchester White Box that just baaaaaaaaaaaaaaarely cycles the slide on a Glock. It certainly will if you shoot tens of thousands of rounds through the gun without normal preventative maintenance like proper cleaning, lubrication, and changing the recoil spring and magazine spring when they wear.

  23. The most accurate ammo I’ve ever shot. No problems with recoil, either (I have big hands).The fact that it has been proven in urban combat is all the testing I need. Keep your fancy uber expansion maximum penetration super duper high energy ammo – I’ll stick with 9BPLE.
    Now if I can only find some in stock….


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