Best 9mm Luger Ammo: Defense & Cheap Bulk for Sale

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / October 02 2021

  1. Best 9mm Defense Ammo on Sale
  2. 9mm Defense Ammo FAQ
  3. Cheapest 9mm Ammo on Sale
  4. Bulk 9mm Ammo FAQ

Best 9mm Defense Ammo on Sale

We only recommend the following 9mm defensive ammo for their strong expansion while meeting the FBI standard of 12-18 inches of penetration.

Round Avg. Penetration Expanded Diameter (standard 9mm = 0.35")
Winchester 147 gr Ranger T-Series
16.5" 0.74"
9mm Federal 150 gr Micro HST
(for barrels under 4 inches)
17.3" 0.71"
9mm Barnes 115 gr TAC-XPD +P
13.4" 0.70"
Black Hills 115gr. Barnes XP +P
13.76" 0.69"
Federal LE Tactical HST 124gr. +P HP
18.72" 0.68"

We also recommend Underwood Xtreme Defender 65gr or 90gr (+P or +P+ optional), ARX Inceptors, and similar rounds. Why? They perform at the same level or better as the best hollow points, they have much greater effect when hitting vitals (heart, head, liver, etc.), and they stay effective when there are barriers or heavy clothing in the way. For more info, see our Defensive Ammo Guide.

And for your convenience, here are the best in-stock prices online for on those rounds:

Updated hourly

Federal 9mm 124gr +P HST (50)
$1.75/rnd
$0.80/rnd
@ Outdoor Limited
Bullet Copper HST JHP
Casing Nickel-plated Brass

Compare prices

9mm Defense Ammo FAQ

Can 9mm FMJ be used for self defense?

It can, but compared with defense ammo like hollow points, it wont' stop threats as fast and it risks over-penetrating targets and hitting bystanders.

Is 9mm a good self defense round? Will it stop an intruder?

Absolutely. 9mm defense rounds have been developed to perform about as well as most .40 S&W and .45 ACP defense rounds, while offering less recoil,more ammo capacity, and (usually) less cost.

And remember: With pistols, shot placement matters most.

What 9mm ammo do cops use? Do police use FMJ or hollow point?

Police use hollow point ammo, as it stops threats faster and has less risk of over-penetrating targets.

Will a 9mm hollow point go through a person?

In most cases, no. All defense ammo is designed around the FBI standard of 12-18 inches of penetration in a human-like target. That's just enough to reliably hit vitals, while not over-penetrating and endangering bystanders.

Will a 9mm kill a bear?

With perfect shot placement and hard-cast or solid-copper bullets, a 9mm can take down a bear. There are documented cases of 9mm killing black, brown, and Grizzly bears.

What is the most deadly 9mm round?

If by deadly, you mean "stops threats the fastest", then the absolute best is the Underwood Xtreme Defender 65gr or 90gr (+P or +P+ optional). If you can't get them, these hollow point rounds are the runners-up for meeting the FBI standard of 12-18 inches of penetration, while also expanding around 2x the size of a standard 9mm:

Round Avg. Penetration Expanded Diameter (standard 9mm = 0.35")
Winchester 147 gr Ranger T-Series
16.5" 0.74"
9mm Federal 150 gr Micro HST
(for barrels under 4 inches)
17.3" 0.71"
9mm Barnes 115 gr TAC-XPD +P
13.4" 0.70"
Black Hills 115gr. Barnes XP +P
13.76" 0.69"
Federal LE Tactical HST 124gr. +P HP
18.72" 0.68"

For more info, see our Defensive Ammo Guide.



Cheapest 9mm Ammo on Sale

Check out the best in-stock prices online for 9mm Luger / Parabellum ammo today. Updates every hour!



Disclaimer: I get a small commission on purchases through the price links above, at no extra cost to you.



Bulk 9mm Ammo FAQ

Can FMJ ammo kill?

Absolutely. The 9mm bulk ammo you use for range practice or training is the same kind used by modern militaries today. The specific kind they use is 9x19mm NATO. FMJ ammo won't stop threats as fast as defensive ammo, though.

Is FMJ bad for your gun?

If it's copper FMJ, it's much better than exposed lead bullets. Non-jacketed lead bullets foul up your barrel and require you to clean it, while copper FMJ does not.

If it's bi-metal FMJ, it will wear out your barrel faster than copper, but we're talking replacing your barrel after 50,000 rounds instead of 100,000. How many rounds do you shoot a year? Unless you're a professional shooter, you won't ever tell the difference.

What is the most accurate 9mm ammo?

Look for "match-grade" ammo. It's made to higher quality standards, and is more consistent in how fast it exits the barrel. Consistent ammo is more accurate.

Beyond that, you'll have to try different types and see what works best for your pistol, due to differences in barrel harmonics. Barrels vibrate when shot. One brand of match-grade ammo may consistently exit the barrel around the node, or midpoint of the vibration. That's where the vibration causes the least movement. Another brand of match-grade ammo may consistently exit around the peak of a vibration, where there's the most movement.

What grain 9mm should I shoot?

For most people, any grain works fine. 115gr is often the cheapest and easiest to find, so start there.

For max accuracy, test 115gr, 124gr, and 147gr and test which one your pistol shoots best with using a bench rest.

What grain 9mm has less recoil?

Short answer: Heavier bullets tend to recoil less.

Long answer: It depends on the total energy of the bullet when fired.
Kinetic energy = 1/2 x (Mass x Velocity2)

What adds energy? More bullet mass, more gunpowder, and faster burning gunpowder. Energy from more gunpowder is squared, while energy from heavier bullets is not.

Heavier bullets take up more space in the casing, so there's less room for gunpowder. Heavier bullets also add more pressure to the chamber when fired. There's an upper limit to safe chamber pressure, so usually more bullet weight = less gunpowder = less total energy.

But that's not always the case. To know for sure, check the manufacturer's listed muzzle energy for their ammo. It's listed in foot-pounds (ft⋅lbf), or joules (J). More energy = more recoil.


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References

  1. 2019 Solid Copper Defensive Ammunition Wound Ballistics Test #2 (2019)
  2. 9mm Ballistic Gel Test Results (2019)
  3. Why Ballistics Gel Works and Caliber Arguments are Dumb (2019)
  4. Testing 9mm Ammunition for Serious Purposes (2019)
  5. Lehigh Defense Lehigh Hunting 6th Night Last Chance South Texas Feral Hogs 9mm 90gr Xtreme Defense 3 (2018)
  6. 2016/17 JOINT AGENCY BALLISTICS TEST FOR DEFENSIVE HANDGUN AMMUNITION (2017)
  7. Underwood Xtreme Penetrators VS Deer. (2017)
  8. NightHogs Generation 3 Night Vision Hog Hunting: Lehigh Defense (2016)
  9. 9mm Luger (9x19) Ballistic Test Results (2015)
  10. Power Factor & Recoil: Which Bullet Weight Gives You the Edge? (2014)
  11. Dr Andreas Grabinsky Lecture on Gunshot Wounds (2013)
  12. Best Chocies for Self Defense Ammo (2012)
  13. Barrel life? (2012)
  14. Wound Ballistics of Injuries Caused by Handguns With Different Types of Projectiles (2009)
  15. Barrel life (2007)
  16. Officer Involved Shooting (2006)
  17. A Reconsideration of the Wounding Mechanism of Very High Velocity Projectiles - Importance of Projectile Shape (1988)
  18. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE WOUND BALLISTICS LITERATURE, AND WHY (1987)