April 2011

9mm +P and Other Powerful Loads: Black Hills Is a Best Buy

In a followup to our September 2010 test of standard-pressure 9mm loads, nine hotter rounds uniformly produced fantastic downrange results, with the tradeoff of more recoil, of course.

In this second installment of 9mm Luger ammunition testing, we are looking at +P loads. +P loads may also be called extra-pressure loads. The facts are, these loads are not out of line with the 9mm NATO or many of the hot military loads used by the Germans during World Wars I and II. But what a robust military handgun will digest forever and what your pocket pistol will tolerate is a different matter. When +P+ loads are considered, the use of such loads is even more debatable. The question is not necessarily extra pressure. Most pistols have a safety margin built in that will handle increased pressure. Battering is the problem. Eccentric wear, once began, proceeds at an increasing rate. In other words, at 10,000 rounds, the first eccentric wear may appear, and the pistol may be a wreck at 12,000. However, we have it on good authority from a large shop that services thousands of 9mm pistols that the heavy 147-grain subsonic load is harder on the Beretta locking block than the 115-grain +P+ load. It is momentum that is hard on the pistol.

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