9mm Ballistics From Every Popular Ammunition Manufacturer

Written by Sam Jacobs Subject: Gun Rights

Understanding the performance characteristics of 9mm ammunition is crucial. In this guide, we'll explore the key aspects of 9mm ballistics, including velocity, energy, and range.

9mm Velocity

A bullet's velocity is measured in feet per second (fps). Muzzle velocity is the rate at which the bullet exits the gun barrel.

Generally, a longer barrel produces a higher muzzle velocity, as it gives the exploding propellant more time to exert its energy against the bullet. This is why you will get higher velocities when firing a 9mm semi-auto carbine than when firing the same ammo in a 9mm pistol.

Bullet weight and design also contribute to a bullet's velocity. Heavier bullets tend to have lower velocities than lighter ones, and 9mm bullets with more streamlined profiles tend to conserve more velocity downrange.

Most factory-loaded 9mm Luger ammo has a muzzle velocity between 900 and 1,500 fps. You can achieve higher velocities by handloading 9mm cartridges. We always advise following the instructions in your reloading manual.

9mm Kinetic Energy

A bullet's kinetic energy is measured in foot-pounds (ft-lbs). Muzzle energy reflects the amount of force with which the bullet exits the barrel. Striking energy is the amount of energy the projectile possesses the instant it collides with its target, just before exhibiting its terminal ballistics. Only two variables determine a bullet's energy: weight and velocity.

The 9mm Parabellum won't blow you away with muzzle energy like the 44 Magnum, yet it still has the stopping power requisite to end a threat quickly. That's why it's a favorite for law enforcement and self-defense. Shot placement still counts for everything during home defense and concealed carry situations, of course, but the 9mm can get the job done with competent marksmanship.

Overpressure rounds like Federal HST 9mm +P 124 grain have about 400 ft-lbs of muzzle energy, whereas a standard pressure 9mm 115 grain FMJ load has about 335 ft-lbs of energy.

9mm Effective Range

Georg Luger designed the 9mm for close quarters applications. It isn't reasonable to expect it to deliver long-range accuracy like a rifle round.

In the hands of a skilled marksman (FBI, U.S. Army, or competitive shooters), the 9mm can remain effective out to 100 yards. In the hands of an average shooter, that range typically drops to 25-50 yards.

How Do 9mm Ballistics Compare to Other Handgun Cartridges?

The 9mm sits among many excellent pistol cartridges. What makes it special compared to rounds like the 38 Special, 357 Mag, 40 Smith & Wesson, or 45 ACP?

Let's find out by comparing the ballistics of some of these calibers!

9mm vs. 40 S&W Ballist
Don't miss our in-depth look at 40 S&W ballistics!

9mm vs. 380 Auto BallisticsDon't miss our in-depth look at 380 Auto ballistics!

9mm vs. 45 ACP Ballistics

For more information on 9mm ballistics be sure to check out our full guide and ammo manufacturer ballistics charts for 9mm ammo.