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One of the companies whose products everyone (seemingly) wants to see tested is Buffalo Bore. I think that I get more requests for tests of various Buffalo Bore rounds than for just about any other company’s offerings. One viewer took it to the next level though, sending me a money order with instructions to buy three specific loads he was interested in. Well, heck, I’m curious about the Buffalo Bore loadings too, and so yes, I gladly took him up on the offer and ordered the requested rounds . . .

First one to be tested here is the 9mm 115-grain +P hollowpoint, part #24D. Buffalo Bore advertises this round at 1300 fps, which would be over 431 ft/lbs of energy. Presumably that rating is from a longer barrel; from the 3″ barrel that I test from, it delivered an average of 1203 fps. That’s still quite potent, it’s still over 369 ft-lbs of energy.

Normally I conduct tests by firing five rounds through bare gel and five rounds through denim-covered gel. For whatever reason, with this round, I did it the opposite way, firing the first rounds through the denim-covered gel. After firing three rounds, I checked and saw that all three bullets had failed to expand, and over penetrated. One was just barely in the “overpenetration” category (19″ depth), but the other two were serious overpenetrators (23.25″ and 26.00″).

Since the standards I test to call for a maximum of 18″ of penetration through gel, I knew right there that this ammo would not be one of my recommended loads. Accordingly, instead of wasting two more bullets through the denim, I used the rest of the block to shoot two bare-gel bullets.

The bare gel performance was really very good, in terms of expansion size and penetration depth. The bullets made a nice large temporary cavity and penetrated to an average of 13.75″, well exceeding the minimum 12″ requirement. They did however shed some of their weight, which is never a good sign. Even so, they still made big holes deep in the gel, which is exactly what you want a self-defense bullet to do.

In the end, I thought this round wasn’t a standout performer overall, because of its subpar performance on the denim test. However, I do acknowledge that at least it didn’t underpenetrate — all the bullets (bare & denim) exceeded the minimum penetration requirements, so they all would have poked sufficiently-deep holes in whatever bad guy you were forced to shoot them at. It’s just that the denim-covered bullets wouldn’t have made nearly as big or nearly as devastating a hole as they would have if they’d performed properly. I’ve tested enough other rounds that do perform properly through both the bare and the denim to say that I really don’t see any reason to settle for self-defense ammo that can’t pass both tests.

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    • Well, what are you planning to hunt with 9mm?

      Seeing they over-penetrate in the denim (and presumably leather jacket) realm, perhaps car-jackers wearing t-shirts in Florida would be appropriate game…

      • I meant in general. If this is the kind of performance we get from the 9mm, we should expect similar performance from the rest of their ammunition, yes? So BB rounds in 10mm Auto and .45 ACP won’t have good expansion against denim-wearers either.

        • I think we can assume that the performance of their jacketed ammo will be similar. But I would still be curious to see what their soft lead revolver hollowpoints do.

  1. How much of this result is due to the bullet used? Obviously BB loads to higher pressure/velocity, but the clogging of the HP probably had a lot more to do with the shape of the bullet itself and the size of the opening.

    • It looked to me that was a big part of it.

      The BB rounds had no serrations to open up as they penetrate. Once plugged, they went on their merry high-velocity way…

  2. Thanks for the test.

    I have a love / hate relationship with BB ammo. The 168 grain TTSX .30-06 load seems to be genius. This 9mm load looks like an overpriced / underperformer. For the price all of their ammo should perform like Ranger and HST, but they certainly don’t.

    • He says it is a 9mm with a 3″ barrel. It shouldn’t matter what gun he used–but by the looks of it, it is a Sig P938 (and I want one).

  3. My suspicion is that Speer has dried up the supply of real Gold Dot projectiles for the smaller ammo houses like Buffalo Bore, DoupleTap and others. DoubleTap started using Montana Gold which are utter crap. This lack of supply from Speer has hurt all the small ammo houses when it comes to personal defense loads.

    The best Buffalo Bore defense loads are probably the ones using Barnes all-copper HPs. Expensive but very good stuff and Tim is probably loading them hotter than CorBon our others.

    • I’m not sure what is being produced at this moment, but DT loaded with Nosler in various weights is on the shelf right now. I just picked up some 147 over the weekend, $5 off per box at Scheels.

      If the DT box does not list a branded bullet, I pass.


    • Well–I don’t work for Montana Gold, but I offer these observations for whatever it’s worth.

      In 2009, TNoutdoors9 tested the Double Tap 9mm +P+ load with the 115gr Montana Gold JHP. It went through four layers of denim, expanded moderately, shed its jacket, and penetrated 20″+ of wet pack. This is perhaps more penetration than ideal but still much better expansion than some other bullet designs give when going through four layers of denim. The MG bullets are similar to the Hornady XTP in that they need to be pushed hard to expand well, and these were doing over 1350 ft/sec out of a Glock 19. I would prefer a bit more expansion but would have no heartburn carrying that load. It’s still better than FMJ, and the expanded lead core has a ragged, jagged shape that will tear more tissue than roundnose FMJ. I like my Gold Dots, of course, and more expansion seems to be optimal, but it certainly isn’t a Nerf dart and isn’t going to bounce off the bad guy’s chest. The controlled expansion and deep penetration might even be advantageous, for defense against large animals while hiking or fishing, or for law enforcement applications where a bullet might have to penetrate auto glass or car doors. And I wonder how well it would have expanded with less denim in the way, against bare gelatin or gelatin with just a t-shirt. I also wonder how it might perform from a pistol-caliber carbine, with more velocity to help it open up a bit more. Maybe that specific bullet design could be improved a tiny bit, with a slightly deeper cavity or a lead core with a little bit less antimony, or both.

      He also tested the Buffalo Bore .45 ACP +P loading with the 230gr Montana Gold JHP pushed at just shy of 1000 f.p.s. It went through four layers of denim, expanded to .70″, and penetrated 17″ of ballistic gelatin, with 98% weight retention. My carry ammo in .45 ACP is Gold Dot–but I would have zero heartburn about carrying it, if they still made it. Its performance seems to me to be close to ideal.

      Several years back The Chopping Block tested a batch of Underwood .357 Mag ammo loaded with 125gr Montana Gold hollowpoint bullets, at a chronographed 1500+ ft/sec from a 4″ revolver. The bullet went through four layers of denim, underwent violent fragmentation, the remaining core expanded to almost .60″, and penetrated over 16″ with almost 85% weight retention. In my opinion, that’s just about perfect for .357 Magnum for self-defense. There isn’t really anything left to ask for here, at least if we’re talking about defense against human beings rather than big bears.

      Others have tested Montana Gold bullets in 10mm and they generally seem to be very good performers as long as they are pushed fast. I am impressed enough that I personally wish MG made a brass-jacketed controlled-expansion 180 or 200 grain hollowpoint for my .44 Mags.

  4. Personally I hate the fact that BB uses such big boxes that only hold 20 rounds. I like to keep around at least a couple hundred rounds of self defense ammo and I just don’t have the safe space for BB.

    That and a 9mm 115gr bullet that fragments at 1200fps in bare gel and won’t expand at 1200fps through denim is just not acceptable. Looks like they got the powder charge pretty consistent though.

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