Saturday, September 29, 2012

Terminal Ballistics Testing Remington UMC 9MM 115 Grain JHP

Walk into just about any mass retailer that sells ammo, and you will probably find several boxes of these on the shelf.  Sold in bulk packs of 100 rounds per box, I can usually find this available in one of several local locations if I'm looking for some ammo before heading out to the range.  One thing that I've not found is plentiful information about how this JHP round performs in terminal testing.  Perhaps it's the very reasonable price point that keeps people away from doing any serious testing on this load.  I'm more open-minded and since Remington is an Arkansas company, I decided to give the home team, and their product, a thorough terminal test.
Pistol Specs:
Kahr PM9 with 3" barrel

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 2 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density.  I shoot the blocks at the range and then bring them home and recover the bullets.  Immediately prior to the terminal test, I shoot a five shot velocity test string from 8 feet over a Competition Electronic ProChrono Digital chronograph.

I was actually pleased that the test shot velocity was lower than any of the velocity test shots.  Not that a few feet per second velocity is going to make a big difference, but it did demonstrate that this bullet consistently expands at right around the 1000 fps mark.  The terminal performance should be representative of what you can expect from this load.  The video below documents the entire test from range testing to bullet recovery.

My Thoughts
I've tested this load on 3 different occasions in barrels that were 3" in length.  The first two tests were done in February and May of 2012.  All of the four recovered rounds have expanded to a diameter greater than .550".  Only two of the test rounds went into a SIM-TEST block, but both of those recovered rounds penetrated at least 12".  What was surprising for me was the velocity being so low from the PM9 on this test versus previous tests with the Diamondback DB9.  This is one of those odd ball things that you really wouldn't see unless you test multiple times in different guns.  This can either be attributed to light charges in the box I used for this test, or perhaps the Kahr barrel/chamber doesn't allow this load to develop the pressure and speed that the Diamondback barrel does.

When I tested this load in May 2012 my comments were:
"For a bargain defense round, I can't find much fault with this loading.  The only real fault I can find is the wide variation of velocities from the three different boxes I sampled.  I shoot quite a bit of this ammo and previously captured velocity of two 5 shot strings with two different DB9 barrels.  Both strings averaged 1063 and you can find that test HERE.  The good news is that when penetration testing our slowest shot (1062 fps), it still expanded and penetrated over 12" after passing through two layers of denim.

Getting decent performance from a widely available ammo that's affordable enough to practice with, and also carry, really elevates this ammo to one I need to keep around.  The fact that it also works great in Diamondback DB9s is just icing on the cake!"

Since my Spring testing, Walmart has increased the price on this load by about $2 a box of 100.  I still think it's an outstanding bargain that will run in just about any pocket 9mm I've tried it in.  The one exception is the Sig P938, but that pistol has extraction problems with many different ammo varieties.  Since May, I've stacked away a few extra rainy day boxes of this load and I was happy to see that it again performed well in testing even with its anemic velocity and energy.

The first photo below shows the recovered rounds from the three times I've tested this load.  The second photo has the stats for the February and May tests.  Back in February, I wasn't capturing penetration data.       

I continue to carry this load exclusively in my Diamondback DB9 because it has proven to be more reliable than any other round I've tried in that pistol.  This round may not have the pedigree or gee-whiz factor of the high dollar state of the art defense rounds, but I value this round for its reliability and consistent terminal performance over multiple tests.  The box to box velocity variation is concerning, but that just means I need to run a magazine full over the chronograph whenever I open a new box.  Technically, each new box could be a new production lot and we should all be doing that with our carry rounds anyway.

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. This round is a "sleeper." Several years ago Massad Ayoob reported that Remington had redesigned their 9mm 115gr JHP bullet to make its performance more consistent while still maintaining the rounded ogive and narrow cavity that allow it to feed as well as ball ammo even in a lot of older military 9mm firearms that don't like most hollowpoint bullets.

    He said that in bare gelatin or gelatin covered with four layers of denim, at velocities from around 1100 feet per second up to +P+ law-enforcement-only loads at 1300+, it expanded very reliably whether denim is present or not, with controlled expansion and good penetration; it very consistently penetrates 12"-13" regardless of velocity or intermediate barriers. Granted, this was several years ago, but it sounds like they're still using the same tooling to make the bullet.

    Oddly, Remington also make a standard-pressure 124gr JHP round, or used to; in every test I've seen of it, it kind of sucks, and is known for failure to expand and behaving like an FMJ round even if no intermediate barriers are present.

    It looks like a very good choice, though some experts tell us that the 115gr bullets as a class are too light for caliber in 9mm and even those loads that perform well in bare and clothed gelatin still aren't good enough, because intermediate barriers like auto bodies are very unkind to light-for-caliber handgun bullets. Still, when I see performance like this, I think you could do an awful lot worse. Stipulated, if I am using a 9mm round with a bullet under 147 grains in weight, I prefer +P+ loadings, and all else being equal I have a bit more faith in bullets in the 124-127 grain weight range, but this looks very, very good.

    1. Mas comes into town a few times per year. Next time I see him, I'll ask him if his opinion of this load remains the same.

      Funny about the comment from the experts that 115 is light for caliber. To the best of my knowledge, 115 was the caliber until the 124 and 147s started showing up.

  2. The performance of this round in the short-barreled Kahr is almost identical to the Olin Q4070, 110-grain .38 Special +P+ LE load, fired from a 3" Ruger. Back in the day the 110-grain Q load was used by many of the Federal "alphabet soup" outfits and at Glynco we shot it by the pallet load. It had a good street record and is still a great load if you can find any.

    1. Another Glynco student here... Intell Analyst...