Monday, April 30, 2012

Ballistics Testing Federal Premium HST 9mm 124 Grain +P

One of the big advantages of purchasing the Boberg XR9-S is the ability of the pistol to handle +P ammunition and get good performance out of it with it's 3.35" barrel length.  I decided to test a few of the better known and used self defense ammunition loadings through the Boberg to see how the gun would handle them and also the terminal performance of the ammo  My first test was with Federal's HST 124 grain +P loading.  I've tested this in the standard pressure loading with a 3" barrel previously and liked the terminal performance I observed from that single sample.  Let's see what the +P and additional barrel length did to the performance of this ammo.  The stats below came from the two recovered test rounds.

This test may seem a bit self serving due to my test pistol choice, but I think the results should be very similar to those you would get from the Glock 26 or other small 9mm with barrels in the 3.25" to 3.5" range.

Pistol Specs:
Boberg XR9-S 9mm with 3.35" barrel

 Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at alternate ends of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 5 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density.  I shoot the blocks at the range and then bring them home and recover the bullets.

I'm not really sure what I can say that would add to the data captured above.  The load performed well in both test shots.  The only concern is the unexplained variance in overall expansion that caused the 6 feet per second slower second shot to expand less and penetrate more.  It could be that 1140 fps is the magic velocity that is needed for the terminal performance of shot one and any velocity less than 1140 will lessen expansion and increase penetration.  Regardless of the cause of the difference, the performance of both test shots is acceptable.  The video below documents the test from range to bullet recovery, please feel free to view it if you are interested.

My Thoughts
I really like the performance I've seen from my own 9mm 124 grain HST testing.  Performance in both standard pressure and +P loadings have all been consistently good.  The load delivers both expansion and penetration.  I may do a head to head test with the standard and +P loads at a later date just to see how much incremental performance is gained when stepping up to the added pressure loading.

Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision about which specific ammunition to use for their needs. It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.  Ammunition labeled as +P should not be used in any firearm unless the firearm manufacturer specifically states you are permitted to do so.


  1. Great info, as usual! I would be very interested to see standard vs. +P loads just to see how much more you really get and if it's worth the extra cost/pain in shooting... :)

    1. Thanks Steve.

      I tested both for velocity only in a PM9 last fall. Standard HST clocked a 5 shot average of 1022 and +P HST was running a 1086 five shot average. A longer barrel may demonstrate a greater velocity spread, but for pocket 9's the difference wasn't huge.