Old School Ammo

home defense ammo

This is a guest post by Andrew Betts

Old School Ammo – Is it good enough for home defense?

For decades, many law enforcement agencies issued the Federal 9BPLE load before it began to be displaced by newer projectiles such as Gold Dot and HST. It is currently available at many retail outlets and online at prices that rival FMJ. Does it perform well enough to be seriously considered for carry or home defense?

We plan to test this more extensively, but these initial results are disappointing. 11.0” is well short of the FBI recommended 12” minimum. Deep enough to reach vital organs if your attacker stands still and faces you with his arms at his sides, sure, but if he were doing that, he would also not be attacking you. 12” is the minimum, and 14” is preferred, because bullets fired in a fight often strike the torso at an oblique angle and often have to pass through limbs before reaching the torso.

This test shot reached that 11.0” penetration after passing through denim. Further testing in bare gelatin will likely reveal even less penetration because the clothing fibers tend to retard expansion.

On the positive side, the size of expansion and the weight retention are outstanding, especially considering the vintage of the design. The high velocity and low projectile mass both contributed to the shallow penetration and we suspect that the standard pressure 124 gr would be a better choice for 4”-5” pistols. The 115 gr +P+ might penetrate a little more when fired from a short barreled pistol as well and we will check that hypothesis in future testing.

With the wide availability of high performance defense ammunition, there seems no reason to recommend this as regular carry ammo. For the price, it is certainly a candidate for range ammo or possibly a good choice to put away in bulk for emergency preparedness, though one could argue the wisdom of choosing sub-par ammo for that application as well.


Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan. Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.


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