Shooting the bull 410 ammo quest 9mm
Courtesy Shooting The Bull 410
Previous Post
Next Post

What a long, strange trip it’s been. Everyone’s favorite ballistic expert, Shooting The Bull 410 undertook the huge and valuable project of testing a good portion of the most popular 9mm personal defense loads on the market, shooting them from a 3-inch barrel pistol. The goal was to find the best performing personal defense load when fired from a typical concealed carry pistol barrel length.

Click here to see how a lot of his previous tests went.

Now, finally, Ammo Quest has come to the end. He’s boiled all of the results down to two excellent rounds which performed similarly well; Winchester Defend and Federal Premium HST.

He then put the two through a head-to-head shootout. I’ll let you watch the video above to see which one came out on top.


Previous Post
Next Post


    • Winchester Train and Defend seem to have won US Army contract, as well, as M1152 and M1153 respectively. I’m impressed, both with the Army coming up with the same decision as STB and with STB coming up with the same decision as the Army. I bet STB’s testing cost less.

      • A revisit-apparently not a direct equivalent, since Winchester Defend has nickel plated cases, and the equivalent M1153 does not, brass cases just like Winchester Train/M1152, according to the photo in American Rifleman.

  1. P9HST1 is a great round…no surprise there. Too bad Federal jacked up the price like a bunch of greedy a-holes.

      • You’re living on a 6 month delay. SG Ammo was one of the first online vendors to fall in line with Federals M.A.P. greed on the HST line. They USED TO sell P9HST1 for less than $20 a box, now its $30 a box, unless you buy 20 or more boxes…then they’ll give you a whole dollar off a box. Oh…they’re out of stock too.

        • Ouch! I usually order 250 rounds when I stock.

          Well….is it any cheaper anywhere else. The reason I buy from SG is they were one of the very few that didnt immediately gouge with their ammo prices after Sandy Hook. (looks like it is 30 or 30+ everywhere if IRS in stock).

          I have bought from them since and rarely seen prices that beat their defensive ammo. Federal must be lowering production or be delivering a LEO contract order. It will be back sometime down unless there is another spree shooter. A good reason to stock up when you see good prices.

          After Sandy Hook, I had bulk ammo in my shopping cart at Lucky Gunner waiting to make a decision on one more. It literally doubled overnight in the cart. I buy most of my ammo from SG now.

        • Madcapp is correct, The price increase he speaks of is at the retail level. Federal “ordered” the retailers to all charge at least $29.99 a box versus the free market price which was usually $17-$19.99. It was a MAJOR dick move. Federals “reason” for jacking up the price over 50%…we are not LEO’s therefore we don”t deserve that price and instead should pay through the nose for the EXACT same box. Some retailers as a result ceased non-leo sales.

          Additionally on the Vista Outdoors (Federal’s parent company) web page under “Corporate ‘Social’ Responsibility” is this little gem;

          “..we are actively working with our legislators and policy makers, urging them to do the following:
          Regulate Bump Stocks, which are mechanisms added to semi-automatic firearms designed to mimic automatic fire.”

          Thanks for that Federal Ammo, glad to see where you really stand.

        • On the places that sell to “LEO only” cheaply for 50 round boxes….just go ahead and checkout.
          Trust me.
          It may take a few places.

        • maybe you know a policeman who can do you a solid. oh, that’s right, you hate cops. (addressed to no one in particular).

  2. When I carry a 9mm, regardless of barrel length, I carry Speer Gold Dot 115gr +p+ or Federal 9BPLE.

    I believe he tested these and dismissed them as ‘gimmicks’ because of the high pressure loadings and inconsistent depth of penetration through some barriers. They BOTH expanded quickly, thoroughly, and made consistently large temporary and permanent wound cavities.

    REMEMBER that in self defense you are not shooting blocks of ballistic gel through denim. In reality you are shooting bad guys (some on really good dope) and these two rounds have ENORMOUS ‘street cred’ for a reason.

    • I like 9BPLE.

      I stock it along with Hornaday Critical Duty, Golden Sabre 124+P, and Federal 125 HST +P.

      The only non +P hollowpoints I have are Remington 115 grain from Walmart. They have decent track record in Duty sized guns.

    • Ballistic gel simulates bad guys really darn well. So well the FBI derived a testing standard of 12-18” of penetration in ballistic gel to simulate ideal penetration in a bad guy. If you have more terminal ballistic testing resources than that I’d like to see your data, conclusions, and recommendations.

    • He doesn’t call it a gimmick. He doesn’t like that +P+ is not SAAMI spec and most guns will explicitly say not to use them. You can get equivalent or better penetration from other standard or +P rounds.

  3. Sorry I’m a fan of Paul Harrell’s “meat test” . Bullets hit bone,muscle & lungs. Not ballistic gel. Check him out on YouTube…

    • I’d be surprised if <75% of the commenters here have seen Paul's videos. I think of his data being different rather than better or worse. He is more fun, I'll give him that. I am not interested in mouse guns so I guess STB isn't as often interesting to me. As Matt Easton of Scholagladiatoria says, 'it is all a matter of context':-)

      • Harrell does great videos and I like his realistic approach.

        I agree his methods are just different.

        There is no clear way to define “the cartridge”. We just make the best decision with the information we have.

    • The idea is that the FBI took known effective rounds and used them to set the benchmark in a readily reproducible test. Nobody is saying that gel tests are simulations. What they are are simple, repeatable experiments that let you compare like to like.

      • And the bottom line is, how one round performs on a particular bad guy can change drastically if the shot strikes two inches away. Another round may have performed better.

        Use these results as guidelines…

  4. well I like my little 38 with my hand loads That way I know what in them and how they are going to act

    • The problem is, after a shooting, this gives a prosecutor a potential method to hammer you. Not to mention how “custom killer ammo” could be used against you in civil court or by the news media.

      • And when the defense struts out the criminal record and antics of the deceased the jury may shake his hand on the way out of court.

        • Uh, the previous record of the dead guy is inadmissible in court, isn’t it?

        • Only way the jury gets to hear about the decedent’s record is if the self defender knew about it prior to the event. Otherwise it can’t be used in any way.

      • I still don’t think I have seen any evidence that that happens much if at all. I may have just missed it though. Can you site many cases where it did happen?

      • There is a reason to shoot factory ammunition for self defense. It’s forensic evidence that depends on knowing the characteristics of the cartridge. A few of the major manufacturers (e.g. Winchester and Federal) keep samples from every batch indefinitely. They are available for technicians to compare their behavior with that of the ammunition used in a self defense incident. An example of this is the powder stippling pattern on the person shot. A technician can determine distance from the gun based on this but only if he has a trusted reference sample.

        • Lots of people like to argue that using hand loads won’t matter, but you are right. Having verified samples that can be tested could be very important, especially if there are no witnesses.

          Massad Ayoob is one of the few contemporary writers who writes good articles about real shootings and their legal aftermath. He often is involved as an expert witness in the cases he writes about. If he isn’t directly involved he interviews key players in the trials. So when someone like Massad recommends that you don’t use hand loads feel free to argue. After all what does he know?

          Since there are so many great duty loads available at reasonable cost, I can’t see a justification to carry reloads for self defense against people. It is only when carrying magnum revolvers or maybe a 10mm auto for defense against bears or other animals that I could see a justification for doing this.

        • Your favorite handload may indicate that you were the shooter. Factory loads of any stripe will not.

  5. I really appreciate all the work that STB410 has done on ammo testing. ( as well as Lucky Gunner, TNTOutdoors, and other )

    That said. I say there is no difference in these bullets.

    The parameter of penetration is between 12 and 18 inches to “pass” the FBI criteria. STB noted the ballistic gel does not truly represent a person. Them12-18 inches is the Goldilocks slot of “enough”. No extra points should be given for average penetration being c,oser ro 18 inches. If that were the case, we should look for loads that penetrate from 16-18 or 17-18 inches.

    One other point STB brought up in the video was using a different gel in the earlier test. This brings to question other loads that passed or failed. In my world that would mean re-doing all the test with organic ballistic gel.

    The work STB410 has done is tremendous and a great resource. We still pay our money and take our chances. We just have a lot of good loads to gamble on.

    • I agree with Specialist38, there is not enough difference in the WTI to matter.
      I like GD 115 grain across all barrel lengths for its deep penetration.
      Federals Hydra Shok Deep 135 grain should also be tested.

      • There’s not much point in doing a quest for larger rounds, because they don’t suffer the inherent shortcomings that smaller calibers and little pistols do.

        For example, I have a comparison between a Glock 30 shooting .45 Auto Speer Gold Dot, and then converted to .460 Rowland and shooting an Underwood loading of that exact same bullet. In the .460 loading, half the bullet vaporized.

        The only interest I have in testing .357 Magnum would be to demonstrate how it performs from different barrel lengths. And I may do that at some point.

        As for recoil — I think I’ve shot enough .454 Casull and .460 Rowland that I can probably handle a little .357 magnum…

        • I was being facetious. A lot of disagreement on here about 357 out of a snub.

          As far as testing, I find that shooting general drills with a 357 snub is more plent than chrono testing from a bench.

          I sometime get little weepy after a few different loads…..Ha.

        • And I really do appreciate all the testing you have done.

          Not just the 9mm but the 380 as well.

          The 45/410 testing was entertaining. No way I’m going to carry that.

        • If you do do any .357 testing, please select a couple of full power loads for comparison. Most loads are either designed to not blow up your K frame or to turn your snubby into a 9mm. Some of us like to compensate for the short round count by making the most of each round.

          Also if you get around to it, I’m curious what a Magtech 180gr SJHP .44 magnum load does to a block of gel when shot from a 6-1/2″ Blackhawk.

          Thanks for your good work. Before watching your vids I didn’t appreciate the difference between a 3″ and a 3.5″ barrel in 9mm. Also helped me pick out an appropriate load for my wife’s PX4 Storm subcompact.

    • But we would argue about the barrel length. I’d bitch about another snub test for instance;-)

      • Easy. He can do 2,3,4, and 6. LOL. Should only take a couple of years.

        Lucky Gunner has a number of loads in 2 and 4 inch. Good stuff.

        • Actually, I have but in clear gel, because it was much cheaper and easier. I think I tested 10 bullets at 2-5 velocities each. I have my gun loaded with the one that had the greatest average diameter at 12″ or more. It makes my gun a bit flippy but expands to a very consistent pancake shape and a very consistent average of 12″. I don’t see how it could expand any more (and hold together) even against a solid so I guess that the penetration would not be much (if any) less in real gel. It is still a gamble to my mind. There were lots of loads I liked, that one just made me smile the most.

      • Do what Lucky Gunner did and just compare 2″ to 4″. I carry a 3″, but it’s easy enough to estimate between the two. You’ll get a good enough idea for your 5.25″ as well.

        • I am pretty neurotic about my ammo. I rarely shoot factory ammo and even more rarely carry it. I like to make my ammo just the way I want it. Is this entirely rational? Not really:–) I have perused the Lucky Gunner test reports many times and appreciate them very much though.

  6. I carry a Walther PPS-M2 for my concealed. After testing all sorts of rounds, Reliability and Accuracy are my primary concerns before I worry and gelatin penetration. For some reason my PPS likes the Hornady 135 grain Critical Duty load. Either Plus-P or the normal pressure load. They allow me to make 25 years head shots with a 3.2 inch barreled pistol. My Glocks and Browning P-35 like other loads. Now I am sure it will be pointed out that this retired Cop does not need to worry about 25 yard head-shots with a smaller pistol. But I look at it as assurance I can probably make a 7 to 10 yard eyeball shot, after I am all stressed, should somebody be stupid enough to try using one of my loved-ones as a shield.

    • That’s why you use fmj as a carry load. Or hard cast lead. If someone is hiding behind a loved one you can shoot right thru them and still get the bad guy.

      • Show me that you can consistently do that in under 2 – 3 seconds. Very, very few shooters can do that as you can rest assured that a bad guy with or without a hostage will stand still that long to give you a chance. I am not saying that it is impossible, just highly unlikely in a stressful situation. The club range I go to has round steel drop down targets which are fun to shoot. The distance is from 10 – 25 yards. The plate is just slightly smaller than a head. From a draw, knocking down 6 for 6, even at 10 yards, takes much practice especially trying to do it in under 10 seconds. Remember, I am not calling anyone a liar here, so do not take offense by it. But head shots with any handgun at 25 yards are more are extremely difficult in stress situations. In competition, yes it can be done, when you get a minute or more a shot.

        • Sheesh. You guys are thick, sometimes. He was pointing out the near impossibility of making the claimed 25 *YEAR* head shots, so rare I don’t even know what it means.

    • My PPS M2 gobbles up all flavor of HST, 124 or 147 or 150gr, standard or +P, and does so with excellent accuracy.

    • Yes, placement and function are very important. I’d recommend picking either the winner or a winner’s circle and trying it in your gun. If it doesn’t function or group to your satisfaction, pick another until you find one you like in your gun.

  7. Have just got 40 rounds of new External hollow point G9s out of Idaho for personal defense. They make the rounds Bull 410 tested look like FMJs. Go here for site & 3 You Tube videos on a G9 ammo search with 3 tests listed. Also being carried now through

    • The only one’s get their special bullets. Not for you pleb. Crap like that chaps my ass.

  8. Speer Gold Dot is issued by 6,000 law enforcement agencies. If you’re ever attacked by a horde of gelatin blocks, use what Shooting the Bullshit recommends.

    • Uncalled for. If you want to be an ass, do it in the privacy of your own home, please. And, thank you.

      • he may have been home.
        “attacked by a horde of gelatin blocks” was a helluva lot funnier than what you posted.
        i think horde is misused here though; i believe it should be a suffocation of gelatin blocks. i would also entertain a smother or a jiggle.

    • If you’d care to do similar tests using your neighbors for penetration tests, I will stop calling you an asshole, even before you are executed.

  9. I like both options though I like the Winchester Defends better for my 5″ barreled M&P–in his original video on the round he mentioned that it would likely perform well out of all barrel lengths due to the diameter not changing as the petals peel back farther. (At least that’s how I understood what he said.)

  10. HOLY CRAP IT IS GOOD TO SEE YOU BACK! I’m way behind as always in all these video stuff but when I noticed your media blackout I wondered. Then I noticed a few comments hinting about a health issue. Which kind of worried me more than I probably should have over a stranger on the internet. But it did and I never wanted to think of some of the Youtube stars I watch having a serious issue to the point they disappear entirely. From time to time I would check up on the channel, but you know, long periods of time in between. Well, today I was doing research on equipment, specifically the Panasonic AG-DVX200 camera. Clicked on a youtube video showing off some of the features and BAM! I was slammed with your familiar voice and face. I was shocked really. Didn’t even know until today you work on other videos at all! Saw the date on the video and it was old. But it got me to think about checking the channel again. What do you know, the first video I see on your channel is dated 3/2/2019, a NEW VIDEO, for me at least. Got super excited to find out that everything is alright. But through your story, the emotion, it was rough to sit there and not feel ya. From one stranger to another, I hope everything is well, getting better, and what you said in the video is just what everyone needs to hear. What doesn’t matter doesn’t matter, focus on what does, and take time to enjoy life. Reduce stress. Good to see ya back, you have made your way into many people’s homes and minds.

  11. Your test was conducted using different weight bullets. How did the 147 grain HST compare to the 147 grain Winchester?

    On a side note. How do these bullets perform in the denim test after penetrating the interior wall of a home?

    Thank You,

  12. I would like to see Fort Scott 80 GR TUI. 9mm testing from short Barrel. If shooting the bull comes back.

Comments are closed.