Since 2003 there has been an explosion of new designs targeted at concealed carry and the sub 4″ single stack 9mm.  As of this writing there are many options to choose from, including some rumors of more options to be introduced at 2015 SHOT.

Starting with the introduction of the AMT Backup in 1991, which was arguably the first “pocket nine” or “slimline nine” made in all steel, then by arguably the first polymer “slimline nine” or “pocket nine” in 1999, the Kahr P9.  These two pioneering models have since been followed by:

2015

  • Glock 43

2014

  • Ruger LC9S
  • Smith & Wesson Shield No Safety
  • Remington R51

2013

  • Boberg XR9-S
  • SCCY CPX2
  • Springfield XDS

2012

  • Sig Sauer P938
  • Smith and Wesson Shield
  • Sig Sauer P290RS
  • Bersa BP9CC

2011

  • Beretta Nano
  • Sig Sauer P290
  • Kimber Solo
  • Kahr CM9
  • Diamondback DB9

2010

  • Ruger LC9

2009

  • Taurus PT709

2007

  • Walther PPS

2006

  • Keltec PF9
  • Kahr CW9

2005

  • SCCY CPX1

2004

  • Kahr PM9

2003

  • Kahr MK9
  • Rohrbaugh R9

I also want to give special mention to the Heckler & Koch VP70 and VP70Z which was the first polymer single stack 9mm ever made way back in 1970. It was the father of all polymer pistols, but had a 4.6″ barrel so is not considered to be a “pocket nine”.

The big question is what ammo to carry with these small nine? Again, as with the offerings, there is no shortage of modern self defense ammo to feed into these little handguns and I will cover some of them below.

To preface, many rounds have been deemed acceptable to FBI standards, that is in gel testing and four layers of denim gel testing. I am only going to cover the factory ammo, and hand loads out of the handguns I have owned and that I have personal experience with. I am simply going to cover velocity and energy to compare the difference in short barrel 9mm’s so that you can see how fast these bullets are going.

I personally carry the Speer Gold Dot in both 124gr +P and 147gr  in my nines.

The below charts are what I recorded out of my firearms. All tests were done at 730 feet above sea level and at 75 degrees with 12% humidity with an F1 Shooting Chrony at 10 feet from the muzzle. All tests were 5 shot samples.

Firearm: Sig P290 RS 2.9″
Factory Ammo
Ammo Avg Velocity FPS
Energy FT LBS
115 gr Buffalo Bore +P JHP 1312 439
115 gr Corbon DPX +p 1157 342
115 gr Winchester Ranger 1111 315
115 gr Winchester Silver Tip 1076 296
124 gr Doubletap +P Bonded JHP 1191 390
124 gr Federal HST +P 1147 362
124 gr Remington Golden Saber +P 1017 285
124 gr Speer Gold Dot +P 1138 357
124 gr Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel +P 1118 344
124 gr Winchester Bonded PDX1 +P 1157 369
127 gr Winchester Ranger +P+ 1119 353
147 gr Buffalo Bore +P JHP 1056 364
147 gr Remington Golden Saber 949.1 294
147 gr Speer Gold Dot 900.2 264
147 gr Winchester Bonded PDX1 972.6 309
Firearm: Sig P290 RS 2.9″
Reloads
Ammo Avg Velocity FPS
Energy FT LBS
124 gr Speer Gold Dot 5.3 Unique 1039 297
124 gr Speer Gold Dot 5.8 Unique 1098 332
124 gr Speer Gold Dot 6.0 Power Pistol 1058 308
124 gr Speer Gold Dot 6.4 Power Pistol 1140 358
147 gr Hornaday XTP 4.8 Power Pistol 901.7 265
Firearm: Beretta Nano 3.07″
Factory Ammo
Ammo Avg Velocity FPS Energy FT LBS
115 gr Buffalo Bore +P JHP 1320 445
115 gr Corbon DPX +p 1174.7 352
124 gr Doubletap +p bonded 1203 398
124 gr Federal HST +P 1156 368
124 gr Speer Gold Dot +P 1145 361
124 gr Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel +P 1124 348
124 gr Winchester Bonded PDX1 +P 1165 374
127 gr Winchester Ranger +P+ 1121 354
147 gr Buffalo Bore +P JHP 1059 366
147 gr Remington Golden Saber 981.3 314
147 gr Speer Gold Dot 903.4 266
147 gr Winchester Bonded PDX1 983.9 316
Firearm: Beretta Nano 3.07″
Reloads
Ammo Avg Velocity FPS Energy FT LBS
124gr Speer Gold Dot 6.0 Power Pistol 1097 331
124gr Speer Gold Dot 6.4 Power Pistol 1193 392
147 gr Hornaday XTP 4.8 Power Pistol 921.9 277

There are many tests and other resources online for you to research. Here are a few good reads to start you on your way:

Service Caliber Handguns Duty and Self Defense Ammo

Wound Ballistics

New 9mm Ammo Testing

Brass Fetcher 9mm Ballistic Testing

Pocket Guns & Gear Ballistic Testing

Winchester Ranger Ballistic Testing

Federal Tactical Handgun Bullets

Why Four Layers of Denim Cloth?

FBI Ballistic Test Protocol

Wound Ballistics and Overview

The IWBA Handgun Ammunition Specification Package

Wound Ballistics

A Case For Your Carry Caliber and Why They All Suck

In summary, most modern self defense ammunition that has passed the FBI standards for penetration and the 4LD tests are more than suitable for carry. You can get lost in ballistics and velocity and energy and gel tests all day long.The short barrel 9mm single stacks are here to stay and offer an upgrade in ballistics to the ever popular 380 pocket pistols. With the FBI and many Law Enforcement agencies switching back to the 9mm I see many more options and advancements in 9mm self defense down the road, such as the Speer Gold Dot G2.

I do feel the best round is the one that has passed IWBA and FBI testing standards, feeds properly in your firearm, is accurate for you to shoot stationary, two handed, one handed, and on the move. Good thing is there are many choices for you to go through in finding what is best for you. Happy Shooting

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