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Ammunition
The following are different owner opinions and experiences with various types of ammunition. These are NOT intended to be expert evaluations. Readers are encouraged to visit Dale Towert's Stopping Power Web Page for a more information about bullet performance and stopping power.

Also, readers are STRONGLY ADVISED to actually try the various types of ammunition in their guns. What works well in one person's gun may not work well in another's gun.


CorBon 115-grain JHP +P
by Chuck Pena

Almost everything I've read (see, for example, the rec.guns FAQ entitled "Ammunition for the Self-Defense Firearm" says that CorBon 115-grain JHP +P is THE BEST 9mm round for stopping power and self-defense, and I am certainly not going to argue with this assessment. Consequently, I decided to try shooting CorBon 115-grain JHP +P in my P11(s/n 18xxx) -- I figured that if it was the best 9mm round for self-defense, it was what I would want to use. It is important to note that the Kel-Tec P11 Owners Manual clearly states that "[t]he P11 will accept +P ammunition, however not with continuous use." I interpret that to mean that one can use +P ammunition (such as CorBon) sparingly (as in occassionally -- but sufficiently enough -- for practice so that you are proficient) but not a regular and continuous basis (as in your regular practice load).

Shooting CorBon +P (and I assume most, if not all, other +P loads) can best be described with one word: WHOA! Because the P11 is so small and light and the pressure generated by +P loads is so high, it really kicks and flips -- much more so than standard loads (I'm also told that there's a lot of muzzle flash, but I wouldn't know because I was too busy holding onto the gun to notice!) Having said that, I didn't find shooting the CorBon +P completely unmanageable or uncomfortable (and I'm certainly not a "big" or "strong" guy). I managed to place the majority of my shots in the black on a B36 silhouette target at 7 yards. I fired 20 rounds (this was the first time I had ever shot CorBon +P) with 3 complete misses, 2 misses but on the paper, 5 shots in the 7-ring, 4 shots in the 8-ring, 5 shots in the 9-ring, and 1 shot in the 10-ring (for the record, I would characterize myself as an average to above average shooter). Almost all my shots were low.

I found that the Hogue Handall Jr. slip-on grip really does make a difference shooting +P in terms of controllability and comfort (the first time I shot CorBon +P I did not have a Hogue Handall Jr. on my P11). And while I found I could certainly shoot the CorBon +P in my P11, I'm not sure it would be my first choice for personal defense (even if it is "the best" round) because it is relatively "difficult" to shoot/control with the P11's short barrel, small size, and light weight. The issue of shootability/controllability becomes even more important when you start talking about double-taps and follow-up shots, especially with the P11's long DAO trigger pull (although the Cole LaFrance trigger performance improvements make for a much smoother and easier trigger pull, it's still long). The other thing to consider is the fact that even though you wouldn't be shooting CorBon +P all the time, the higher pressures generated by +P loads are going to place more stress on your P11 and cause more wear and tear.

I should note that I experienced several light strike and trigger reset problems shooting my first box of CorBon +P. I was able to get every round to fire, but sometimes only after several trigger pulls (BTW, this is one of the nice features of the DAO trigger on the P11 -- you can just keep pulling the trigger until it fires). At the time, I did not know whether the problem was with the gun or the ammunition. I had been told by several different people (whom I trust) that CorBon +P may have been using "hard" primers in some of their production runs and that some CorBon +P ammo had a red primer sealant and some did not (mine did not), and that either/both of these could have caused my light strike problems. I had also read about some similar problems with CorBon +P on rec.guns. However, when I called Kel-Tec to tell them about my problem, Phil (the gunsmith) immediately told me that it was a gun problem with +P ammo that Kel-Tec was already aware of. So my gun went back to Kel-Tec to be fixed (firing pin and trigger pin) -- FREE, of course! I am happy to report that I have not experienced any subsequent light strike or trigger reset problems (with CorBon +P -- with and without the red primer sealant -- or any other ammo).


Federal Personal Defense 135-grain JHP
by Chuck Pena

I read about the new Federal Personal Defense ammunition in several different magazines (Shooting Times, March 1997; Handguns, May 1997; Guns & Ammo, May 1997). This ammunition is advertised as "high velocity, high energy, and reduced recoil" and it is NOT +P. As the name implies, the new Federal Personal Defense ammunition was developed for civilian personal defense scenarios (e.g., CCW permit holders), not police tactical scenarios. As such, it is not designed to penetrate barriers. And it was developed for short-barrel, concealable guns. Sounds like the Federal Personal Defense ammo was made just for the Kel-Tec P11 (or vice-versa), doesn't it?

For those of you interested in the numbers, Shooting Times reported the following statistics for the 9mm 135-grain Hydra-Shok JHP:

Average velocity: 1009 feet per second
Accuracy: 2.13 inches
50-foot expansion: .634 inches
Average penetration: 10.88 inches
Wound area: 20.31 inches
Wound impact index: 6.52

NOTE: The values for average penetration, wound area, and wound impact index were greater for the 9mm Personal Defense load than the .40 S&W Personal Defense load (also 135-grain JHP Hydra-Shok)

Handguns and Guns & Ammo reported the following:

Muzzle velocity: 975 feet per second
Muzzle energy: 285 foot pounds
Gelatin depth: 11.0 inches
Recovered diameter: .60 inches
Fuller index: 76 percent

NOTE: The 9mm Personal Defense load had greater penetration that both the .40 S&W Personal Defense load (also 135-grain JHP Hydra-Shok) and the .45 ACP Personal Defense load (165-grain JHP Hydra-Shok)

One of Federal's goals with this new line of ammunition was reduced recoil. According to the Handguns article, the .45 ACP "produces 17 percent less impulse (felt recoil)" and the .40 S&W "produces 13 percent less felt recoil." I would assume there would be a similar claim for the 9mm round. I can't validate that claim, but the Personal Defense ammo is relatively "easy" to shoot. I didn't notice significantly more recoil or muzzle flip than the 115-grain FMJ ammo I regularly use at the range. It was about as "comfortable" to shoot as anything else I've shot in my P11. The following are the results of my first firing of Federal l Defense ammo (B36 silhouette target at 7 yards): 20 rounds with 2 complete misses, 1 miss but on the paper, 1 miss but in the black, 5 shots in the 8-ring, 6 shots in the 9-ring, and 5 shots in the 10-ring. Most of my shots were a little low, but not as many or as low as with the CorBon +P.

I'm willing to grant that in "absolute" terms, the CorBon 115-grain JHP +P is "better" than the Federal Personal Defense 135-grain JHP, but I'm willing to guess that the difference is marginal rather than significant. And given that the Federal Personal Defense ammo is easier to shoot than CorBon +P (which I'm willing to bet has something to do with why I was more accurate with the Federal Personal Defense ammo) and the fact that it's not +P (which means I can shoot it more often -- although it's definitely not cheap! -- and it won't beat up my gun), the Federal Personal Defense 135-grain JHP Hydra-Shok is my personal choice (and please remember that's all it is -- I'm not claiming to be an expert!) for a carry/personal defense load in my Kel-Tec P11. I'm willing to give up a small (perhaps insiginificant) amount of stopping power (whether measured by one-shot stop percentage or the Fuller index -- BTW, according to the Handguns article, the Federal Personal Defense "loads have 91 to 96 percent one-shot stops"; moreover, "with a Fuller index of 76 percent, the 9mm 135-grain Hydra-Shok rivals the street record of the current crop of 115-grain and 124-grain jacketed and lead hollowpoints from short-barrel pistols"), for better controllability and accuracy. I think it's a trade-off/compromise that makes sense and is worth making.


Federal Personal Defense Hydra-Shock 135-grain JHP
by Chris Dutton

Caveats: I am NOT an expert. In fact, I just started shooting guns in mid-March of 1997 (2.5 months ago at this writing.) I've put about 700+ total rounds thru my Taurus PT-99AFS and about 500+ total rounds thru my Kel-Tec P11. Mostly target rounds for practice. I've shot 50 rounds of the Federal PD 135gr through the Kel-Tec P11. That said, here are my comments and opinions on the Federal PD 135gr. Note that all results are using a two-handed Weaver stance.

Accuracy It shoots to point of aim at 20-feet and under each and every time I keep my technique. 5-shot groupings at 20-feet are great. Best so far is 1-3/8 inches. Here is a scan of that target. Here is an animated GIF of a typical grouping.

Recoil Seems less than the Cor-Bon 115 grain JHP. Seems just a bit more than the CCI Blazer 115 grain TMJ that I use for target practice. Close enough that I feel good about it. Better than I did with the CorBon. No misfeeds, jams, etc… at all in the 50 I've fired so far.

Price Locally more than the CorBon ( but not too much more. Locally seems about average for defense rounds .

Feel good/confidence factor is high :) Shoots consistently great. Heard and read great things about it on the web and magazines (I know, but I can't test it like they can).

In conclusion, I like it a lot! I wish I could shoot a couple hundred rounds through it, but I can't afford that. Will have to make do with firing off a box every now and then. Like I mentioned above, shoots similar to the CCI Blazer 115 grain in my P11 so that makes me feel better. I will update the round count as it changes.


Federal 9BP (115-grain JHP)
by John Fusek

Most of my research for a 9mm carry round was worked out on my Ruger P95 and I just carried a lot of it over to P11. The criteria I was looking for was an accurate, effective, available round with low muzzleflash.

Let me go over the criteria so one can make their own judgments on my selection process. Accuracy is and should be the main criteria. If you cannot place the round on target everything else is worthless. Effective means a rating of 80% or better on Dale Towert's Stopping Power Page. This was based on studying the relative merit of all rounds on the page and noticing which ones seem to be used more. People using rounds that rated 80 or more seemed to be able to report their results with more consistency. However the 22LR is an exception here and I figure that this is because there are a lot of cheap SOBs out there.

Available meant there had to be several reliable sources with at least one being local to me. Here the reliability of a mail order supplier comes into play. If the supplier has always come through on orders he was acceptable. Midway has always done this and has become my main supplier for mail-order ammo, reloading and cleaning supplies. You need to have a steady supply of your carry ammo as you should be shooting what you have been carrying and getting fresh every month or two.

Low muzzleflash is more personal to me. I wear bifocals and my main cause of inaccuracy seems to be my not being able to see the target clearly at distance when looking at the sights. I don't need something else screwing up my vision. I am a muzzleloading deer hunter so I have had some experience with muzzleflash. One morning right at the start of legal shooting, a half hour before dawn, I shot a nice doe standing broadside about 50 yards away. The flash from 100 grains of FFg made it difficult to reload and find the doe until the sun was fully up. I don't need to half blinded in a serious social situation.

Now you may ask about feeding reliably in my weapons. This is a good point but I have not had anything not feed reliably in either the P95 or the P11. One reason is that I have never used a 147 gr load which has a bad reputation for reliability. Some writers have stated that using a round over 125 grains in a 9mm leads to reliability problems.

So after I got my P95 I took a Saturday afternoon and made a tour of the local gun shops and sporting goods stores. This narrowed my choice down to one of the big three, Federal, Remington and Winchester. I then checked out all the rounds I found locally against the Stopping Power Data and went and bought some, (note: I kept track where I found the best prices). The 9BP round I found at Wally world was accurate in my P95 but I wanted something more exotic. What was the use of having a gun that was built to handle the highest pressures if one didn't push the envelope. I then tried the Federal Hydra-shock which work out OK. Then I went to some +Ps. The Remington 115Gr +P was extremely accurate but the flash was left a purple afterimage even with the lights on. I finally settled on the Golden Saber 124s. I have not found a good source for the +P version of this round. Unfortunately this round did not shoot very accurately in my P11 which is to be my warm weather carry gun. It seems to like 115gr rounds better than 124s. I remembered the results with the 9BP and found some boxes of it cheap at a gun show before I could get back to Wally world. Tried it out and it was accurate though shooting a little high and to the right. I turned down the lights on the range and fired 5 rounds. Muzzleflash was about the same as the Golden Saber which is flash suppressed. According to one gun magazine test report of the P11 this round runs a bit over 1000 ft/sec from the P11 so it should still be fairly effective.

Now a lot of this is very subjective so everyone should do some research of their own. Also no two guns of the same model from the same factory will like the same ammunition. This is more critical with rifles than with handguns but it does happen. My advice is to look around where you live and see what is available. Then if it is feasible go to a gun show and see if you can pick up some of these for a lower price. Then the fun part, out to the range and shoot.


Winchester Silvertip (115-grain HP)
by Jeff Colonne

The ammo I am currently using in my Kel-Tec is Winchester 115 grain Silvertip hollowpoints. The local price is about normal for higher end hollowpoints ($21 / 50). These happened to be the first hollowpoints I tried in my P-11, however, so far, they satisfied all of my criteria for carry ammunition. My criteria are as follows:

Reliability. Any "carry" ammunition has to be 100% reliable, period. If it won't feed, chamber, fire, extract, eject, and cycle the action EVERY SINGLE TIME, then it should not be used as carry ammunition.

Accuracy. From the intended weapon, I require that any ammunition that I use in a carry gun be able to produce a 3" group (unsupported, slow fire) at 21 feet (7 yards). This takes into account the fact that my group size will likely double (maybe worse) under "real life", defensive use stress.

Muzzle flash. Muzzle flash should not be distracting when fired on an indoor range in "dim" conditions. This is very subjective.

Recoil. I don't have a requirement for recoil. I am one of those lucky people who don't notice/aren't bothered by recoil. (I can barely tell the difference between a M1911-A1 in .45 ACP and a LAR Grizzly in .45 Winchester Magnum).

Expansion. When fired from the intended carry weapon into a five gallon bucket filled with water through the top (15" of water) the bullet should expand or fragment. I also prefer the bullet to not penetrate the bottom of the bucket. NOTE: I have not yet subjected the Silvertips to this test.

Other than my last criterion, the Silvertips have exceeded all my expectations.

Reliability: 100%
Accuracy: 2.5" group at 7 yards, 7.5" group at 25 yards.
Muzzle flash: Barely noticable.
Recoil: Comparable to a Walther PPK in .22 LR.
Expansion: N/A (Will be tested soon...I hope.)