9mm Ammo Penetration Test – FMJ vs JHP

9mm Penetration Test
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9mm Ammo Penetration Test – FMJ vs JHP

If you’re like the vast majority of the gun-carrying public, you probably have at least one 9mm ammo type that you carry or keep nearby for self or home defense. And while we know that when using good bullets, the 9mm will perform well against nefarious two-legged targets, do you know what 9mm ammo will do when encountering everyday obstacles or materials?

For instance, how far will 9mm ammo penetrate through interior walls? How much difference does it make if we use a Full Metal Jacket bullet vs a Jacketed Hollow Point? What about a car door? Yeah, we didn’t either. But it would be good to know, right? So we decided to do some not entirely scientific testing to find out.


Background and Types of 9mm Ammo 

Here are some fun facts about the 9mm: it's well over 100yrs old, having been introduced in 1902 by George Luger for his Luger pistols, and it was adopted by the German Army in 1908.

However, it's actually older than the venerable 45 ACP and will undoubtedly outlive John M Browning's portly, boomer-favorite cartridge. *It's ok, you can let the hate flow through you, but it's just a fact. I digress, however…

Ammo Meme

Whether you call it 9mm ammunition, 9mm Luger, 9mm Parabellum, or 9X19mm, it is a reasonably light bullet that moves at a moderate velocity. It commonly weighs in between 115 to 147 grains and moves at a velocity in the 1,000fps – 1180fps range.

Most full-size and compact pistols can be had in 9mm, and it’s probably the most common handgun/cartridge combination in the U.S, despite what 1911 fanboys will tell you. 

9mm ammunition is highly versatile, extremely popular, and is frequently used by military members, law enforcement, and everyday firearm owners. The ammo is produced by all the major manufacturers and is available in various types, depending on which shooting style you're interested in. 

  • Unjacketed: With no outer casing, unjacketed ammo features plain lead bullets that are generally slower and less powerful. This is not common for 9mm.

  • Full metal jackets (FMJ): Primarily used for target and range shooting, 9mm FMJ ammo features a lead bullet encased in copper or another hard metal. 

  • Jacketed hollow point (JHP): 9mm JHP ammo features a lead bullet with a hollow tip that expands on impact. JHP ammunition generally has increased stopping power and is best used in self-defense, home defense, and everyday carry roles.

  • Open tip match (OTM): Accurate and consistent, OTM ammunition is designed for target and competition shooting, similar to hollow points, but not as deadly. OTM rounds are more commonly found in rifle calibers.

  • Ballistic tips: Designed for pistol hunting, 9mm ballistic cartridges have increased stopping power and can travel further distances.

Don’t forget, Ammunition Depot can help you with all your ammunition, firearms, and firearm accessory needs and are your trusted online source for 9mm, 40 Smith & Wesson, 357 Magnum, and even 45 ACP

9mm Penetration Test Results

In this video ammunition review, our Ammunition Depot firearms expert Matt field-tests popular 9mm ammo types by comparing the penetration power of common everyday items and barrier materials.

From 115-grain Total Polymer Jacket, 124-grain Hornady FTX, and XTP – find out how layers of sheetrock, drywalls, and vehicle parts stack up against 9mm ammunition.

Which ammunition do you think will pack the most penetration power? Watch the video to see the actual results and how the bullets performed against other materials and objects!

In our best efforts to make the 9mm Penetration Test realistic, we put together various real-world materials that anyone/everyone is likely to encounter on a daily basis. These items included interior walls, vehicle doors, windshields, cinderblocks, and even a tire!

9mm Dry Way Penetration9mm Vehicle Penetration

A bullet going through sheet rock inside a building is one of the most common scenarios. To demonstrate this portion of the penetration test, we made five little facsimile walls to shoot through with a few different bullet types to see what would happen.

The results were a bit surprising. Every bullet we tested went completely through the five sheetrock walls with ease, in what seemed to be a decent amount of “oomph” still available on the other side.

9mm Dry Way Penetration, Layer 19mm Dry Way Penetration, Layer 29mm Dry Way Penetration, Layer 39mm Dry Way Penetration, Layer 4

We also put a tightly folded, heavy-quilted moving blanket on the other side of the walls to capture some of the bullets. We recovered two bullets in the blanket that still penetrated six to eight layers.

9mm Fired Rounds

One 9mm bullet type, the Hornady FTX Hollow Point, blew through the walls and eight layers of moving blanket with ease. We found the FTX Hollow Point about fifteen feet away in the berm embedded in moving blanket stuffing.

9mm Hornady FTX Hollow Point PenetrationHornady FTX Hollow Point 9mm Ammo Penetration

The test shows us that for better or for worse, interior walls are realistically only concealment, not cover. The 9mm Penetration Test also demonstrates how important it is to get your bullets on target and know what is beyond. After all, you can’t be running around blasting shots off like a Stormtrooper.


Were you surprised by any of the results? Will these results change your thoughts or plans for using a 9mm indoors for self-defense in any way?

Would you like to see this informal but real-world testing on 9mm vs 45 ACP? Maybe try it with 10mm?


BONUS Information

Looking for more information on 9mm ammo types? We’ve got you covered! Check out our informative deep dive on FMJ vs JHP ammunition and more below.

What is FMJ Ammo?

A Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) projectile is a small-arms caliber with two distinct metal parts/types. First is the core, which is generally composed of lead. The second is the outer shell, which is usually made of copper or copper alloy and is referred to as "the jacket."

In addition to being extremely popular amongst new and experienced firearm owners, FMJ ammo is also popular among all the major manufacturers. Available in multiple calibers and dozens of variations, manufacturers have even created their own proprietary variations to enhance the projectile's performance.

Advantages of FMJ Ammo

Compared to other ammunition types, full metal jacket rounds are relatively inexpensive and are commonly used by firearm owners for range training and high-volume competitions. Additionally, many high-volume shooters do not have to sacrifice quality for quantity when utilizing FMJ rounds.

Finally, because FMJ rounds are not designed to expand on impact with softened targets, they can often pass-through targets with very little loss of kinetic energy. Common targets include metals, walls, and many household items.

Disadvantages of FMJ Ammo

Although an excellent ammunition type for range use, FMJ bullets are not typically tailored to maximize energy delivered on targets making them less-than-ideal for hunting. A Full metal jacket round is likely to pass straight through a larger animal (like deer) or get stuck inside should you hit a bone.

For this reason, most firearm owners prefer the design and capabilities of JHP or Jacketed Hollow Point ammunition for hunting and self-defense situations.

What is JHP Ammo?

JHP or Jacketed Hollow Point ammunition was developed to rapidly expand when hitting its target, ultimately increasing the effectiveness of the round and decreasing the chances of over-penetration.

JHP ammo is available in a wide variety of calibers, often separated by shape, design, or the company that manufactures them.

Similar to FMJ, the JHP also contains a functional jacket. Still, the two are vastly different regarding stopping power. JHP ammo has a nose cavity instead of a flat, round, or pointed tip.

Advantages of JHP Ammo

The most obvious advantage of jacketed hollow point ammunition is its stopping power. When you hit a live target with an HP round, it will cause significantly more damage than FMJ, which in most cases will cause the animal to drop immediately.

Many avid hunters consider Jacketed Hollow points to be considered a more humane ammunition type, and the same sediment is shared by firearm owners who conceal carry for personal and home defense.

Disadvantages of JHP Ammo

The most significant and most commonly discussed disadvantage of JHP rounds is the price, especially when compared to FMJ. However, when it comes to firearm owners who are searching for a high-quality and reliable personal defense round, few can match the JHP performance.

Thanks for checking out our latest 9mm Ammo Penetration Test video review and learning more about FMJ vs. JHP 9mm ammo types. Be sure to comment in the section below and let us know what you learned or what surprised you!


Whether you're searching for FMJ or JHP ammo, Ammunition Depot has you covered. Our online inventory of 9mm Ammo and other popular handgun or rifle calibers is available for fast shipping at competitive prices.

Comments
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Leonard S. Constantine
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Talking point for 10mm?
David
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Be curious to see what Norma Shooting's frangible 9mm Luger 65gr round does in your dry-wall test. Would such a round be a good self defense round, to mitigate collateral damage vs typical JHP defense round?
Ammunition Depot
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Yes, frangible ammunition can be a viable defensive load when prioritizing collateral damage mitigation (hopefully the home invaders are not wearing armor, in which case frangible would be a poor choice). We may very well have a youtube short coming up to highlight this very topic! Thanks David
Jose A Carmona
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Excellent Information BUT… …Need fix the writed, because maybe can confusing in Rookies, is when you explain the advantages & disadvantages, in JHP information you write FMJ
Bernie A
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Very surprised by results shooting into a truck door, must be hitting some interior metal brackets ?
marvin carlisle
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Yea me too since I have shot thru 4x4 treated pine and also metal pump tanks and 55 gallon metal drums until they look like Swiss cheese with FMJ 9 mm
marvin carlisle
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Yea me too since I have shot thru 4x4 treated pine and also metal pump tanks and 55 gallon metal drums until they look like Swiss cheese with FMJ 9 mm
Wylie Gunter
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I’m curious about the car or truck door penetration from the inside out. Perhaps from a very close range to the door as in a car jacking scenario shooting from the drivers seat at someone outside the door. If a 9mm is ineffective for this, what caliber would it take?
Ammunition Depot
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It's very likely that 5.7x28 would penetrate but we would need to do more testing to know for sure!
Bill
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I believe a 38spcl would do it
john callaci
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Very informative. I am one of those with the land line and a 1911 and XDS. lol I'd like to see this test with 45ACP. thanks
Ammunition Depot
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Interesting idea, maybe we'll try this out with 45 ACP!
Dave
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Great video! Yes, surprised neither the FMJ or JHP made it through the inside of the truck door.
Tommy Brown
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I would like to know what the interior of the door reveals. If it were to hit an area with no metal, would it exit the door panel?
David James Dunworth
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Question - I purchased ammunition from you a couple months ago, and have never opened the box. What would the process be if I wanted to return it for other merchandise? I am not looking for a refund per se, but have decided not to keep it based on my shooting coach's recommendation. Can you email me the process, please? Thank you in advance, David James Dunworth
Ammunition Depot
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I will pass your info on to my customer service team, you can expect to hear from them soon! Thanks David.
David Armstrong
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Informative in the way you need it. Sheetrock surprised me. It's basically rice paper. Ten layers of spaced sheetrock and 8 layers of blanket later a round is found 15 feet past the blanket trap with pieces of blanket stuffing all around it. That is an actual factual about what would happen if I was shooting in a residential or office space. I would never have guessed that amount of penetration. But not a car door. No penetration all the way through a car door. More valuable information. You can use a car door as a shield. The rest of the video is just as informative and eye-opening. The vision of eating up five sheetrock double-sided walls and eight layers of a folded moving blanket will always be in my Brain. And I would never have guessed ...
Ammunition Depot
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Thanks, David! I'm very curious about what other car doors would resist, and if other makes and models would resist 9mm better or worse. There are far too many makes, models, and years of cars to test them all though.
Bill
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Very good video. Good information. Good job.
Ammunition Depot
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Thank you for that feedback Bill!
Jack
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It was a good video, showing 9 mm capabilities. If the 9 was as inept as the 40 & 45 crow speaks, it would not be as popular as it is.
Wayne
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The windshield test may be compromised by the shot straight at the windshield standing up vertical. What would the test shot be like if the shot angle at the glass as if it were in an actual vehicle at an angle. And the results would be if different?
Joseph Robitaille
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I learned, for the short term, that HP rounds are out of my financial reach so good olé FMJ’s will need to be good enough.
Ronald J Smith
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No surprise except for the cinder block. I thought it would have shattered it on the back side
Rod McKeithan
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Not surprised at all…9 will penetrate well maybe not a car door with two layers of mild steel. Even if you had hit the middle of the door there lies a reenforced federally mandated saftey bar in all vehicles since forever… might have been interesting to see several calibers just for “science” For home something larger and slower is the ticket… that flimsy sheet rock of today won’t stop much so to protect loved ones larger and slower.. by the way disparaging comments about calibers and guns and tech lost you points in my humble opinion.. as I have several.40 S&W 1911’s and a land line… keep it to point next video….
Ammunition Depot
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Thanks for the feedback Rod, we were just joking around about the caliber choices really.
william Miller
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while my 9mm Sig is my choice for the intruder... didnt know that a 45 ACP 1911 meant i was 'old-school'... whats that all about? :)
Ammunition Depot
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Just jokin around William, we love 45 ACP also.
BRUCE AUGUSTINE
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good video, short and to the point, without too much drama or bla,bla.
Ammunition Depot
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Thanks Bruce :)
Leo
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Not compared are rounds like the green tip .226 replacement rounds. Copper core (and tip) with a alloy jacket. On wind shields the round splits one part deflectingup and the other goind straight through. The round goes through hollow blok or brick.
Ammunition Depot
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Leo, I think perhaps you mean 5.56 Green Tip? These use a steel core. Yes, likely 5.56 Green Tip "855" ammo would likely defeat all these barriers. Although, it's also likely that regular 5.56 FMJ or even 223 Remington FMJ would defeat all these barriers.