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ShootingTheBull410 is still blasting gel blocks on his 9mm Ammo Quest, trying to find the best-performing self defense ammo for a 3″ barrel 9mm pistol. In this take, he tests a most promising candidate; Speer Gold Dot 124-grain +P Short Barrel, and compares them against Speer’s regular 124-grain +P rounds. There’s plenty of blasting holes through lots of gel and denim. No end of careful measuring, comparing and tracking data, and crunching of numbers. All to reach an unexpected conclusion. Check it out for yourself.

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    • Slight correction: They perform the same in THIS test. There are unanswered questions that may come into play in real world shootings.

    • I agree. Speer makes a quality product both in HP and plain old FMJ, as I’ve found through endless hours of plinking and some semi-scientific experiments of my own.

    • Quality control seems to be very good in the Speer GS line, doesn’t it! I’ve been carrying .45ACP 200 grain +P Gold Dots for years and have never had a primer fail or casual test show failure to expand.

      I’ve started running them in my only 9mm pistols, the PPQ’s, and they’ve proved very accurate in these. (I will keep the more accurate of the two.)

  1. Easy enough to test if the hypothesis is correct … back up from the gel so the impact velocity is lower. It may no longer be a “standard” test, but it would show if there is a difference in performance at lower vel.

    It’s a very interesting question.

  2. I really enjoy these gel tests. I may do some ghetto gel testing (milk jugs filled with water) this weekend. Its cool to see bullets mushroom, and I’ll take objective, repeatable results over conjecture any day.

    • I used to have an empty powder can full of mushroomed bullets of many types, calibers and weights. They had been shot into water (reduced fragmenting), and I had planned to use them to make a display board of expanded bullets.

      Alas, I never did that, and they got tossed during a move.

      There’s something poetically beautiful about a mushroomed bullet…

      • I’ve still got a box of Hydra-Shok mushroom from back in the 1980’s when my uncle ran the company (prior to him selling it to Federal). We use to put a 5 gal bucket full of water in a plastic bag and shoot away.

  3. I would guess that the “difference” in the two cartridges is that the “short-barrel” rounds use a faster-burning powder. I bought some gold-dot “defense ammo” for my Kel-Tec PMR30 precisely for this reason. Standard .22 WMR makes a hellacious fireball (and annoys the people in the next lane at the range), but the gold-dots make much less fireball. Difference is different powder burn rate. Standard CCI Maxi-Mags are made for a .22 WMR rifle and use a powder with a slower burn rate (so it’s not all burned in the first few inches of the rifle barrel). The gold-dots are made for pistols and the powder burns quicker.

  4. The use of faster burning powder is something that hints at the advantage of shooting a heavy for caliber bullet, 147 in the 9mm. The heavier, inherently slower, bullet will allow for more powder burn while the bullet is still in the barrel compared to a higher velocity light bullet that may still have burning powder in the cartridge after the bullets left the barrel. This apparently allows the bigger slower bullet to perform more within the parameters of its design window compared to a light fast bullet when fired from a short barrel.

    This certainly isn’t my original thinking, it came from a comment by a Winchester engineer that I’m sure a number of you saw on the net a few years ago

  5. Looked like the short barrel version picked up an extra 20-25fps over the standard +p so I’m curious if the bullets aren’t identical and they just use faster burning powder in the short barrel.

    If you need a non +p load, I’d look to the Speer 115gr. Gold Dot. Speer claims 1210fps from a 4″ barrel (10fps less than the 124 +p) and the lighter bullets will tend to expand more easily than the heavier ones.

    Now if I could get him to try the rest of those Gold Dots fired from a 4.9″ Beretta 92 barrel, I’d be interested in seeing those results.

    • I think Speer would prefer to call it “a confidence builder.” The things work in both long and short barrels, but the interwebs pick so many nits that a business has to respond, no?

  6. It appears the short barrel +P was a hair faster, so I am guessing it has a slightly faster burning powder. I would guess that if you shot it out of a 3.5″ barrel you would pick up a couple more fps over the standard +P. Honestly though I would be surprised if it would work out to be an extra 40 fps more over the regular +P, which probably would not make much of a practical difference.


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