Isn’t it ironic that Gaston Glock, whose company has sold millions of pistols worldwide, fought off his would-be assassin using only his bare hands?
In 1999, Mr. Glock’s tax advisor Charles Ewert hatched a plot to cover up the millions of dollars he had embezzled from Glock Ges.m.b.H. by hiring a hitman to beat his boss to death in a car park. Crude, yet effective. Ewert didn’t factor Mr. Glock’s resilience into his plans. The 69-year-old endured multiple hammer blows to the head before beating his attacker unconscious, knocking out a few of his teeth in the process.
Both Ewert and his accomplice are still rotting in prison. Good.
Mr. Glock would surely rather spare you the inconvenience of being hammered, stabbed, bludgeoned, or otherwise mistreated by any villain. He invented the world’s first polymer-framed pistol for exactly that reason.
Although polymer frames are pretty standard for handguns nowadays, they made quite a stir when they hit the market back in the ‘80s. The media branded Glock pistols as “ghost guns” which couldn’t be picked up by airport metal detectors – despite the fact that more than 80% of a Glock pistol’s weight is steel, and even its dense Polymer 2 frame is dense enough to be seen using security equipment.
That’s the kind of informed reporting you can expect from the leftist media, as well as Big Tech which assists its efforts when it comes to guns. Look at how viciously they’ve demonized the AR-15 if you want another example.
All that aside…
What kind of ammunition should you buy for your Glock pistol for target shooting or self-defense? We’re going to proceed under the assumption that you have a 9mm Glock: a G17, G19, G19X, G26, G43, or G45. (These pistols all say “9×19” on their slides, because that’s what they call 9mm in Europe.)
If your Glock is chambered for something other than 9mm such as 10mm, 357 SIG, 380 Auto, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, or 45 GAP, our ammo recommendations will still have merit – most ammo manufacturers’ 9mm offerings are available as these cartridges as well.
If you have a 22 LR Glock, then we’ll give you some quick recommendations before moving on: high-velocity CPRN ammo like CCI Mini-Mag (part #30) for target shooting, Federal Premium Personal Defense Punch (PD22L1), or Winchester Silvertip (W22LRST) for self-defense.
Best 9mm Bullet Weight for a Glock
Before we get to specifics, let’s address a couple new-Glock owners’ most common questions. First, what bullet weight is best? The short answer is whichever bullet weight you prefer.
Factory-loaded 9mm cartridges typically come with one of three bullet weights: 115, 124, or 147 grains. As a general rule, the heavier a 9mm bullet becomes, the slower the muzzle velocity it will achieve. 115 grain 9mm bullets are typically supersonic, which gives them a louder, cracking report. 124-grain bullets are a toss-up: They may deliver either a supersonic or subsonic muzzle velocity. 147-grain bullets are always subsonic.
Different bullet weights will affect your shots’ trajectories and how much energy they can transfer to their target on impact. These differences are minor, however, and factory-loaded cartridges with any bullet weight will allow your Glock pistol to feed and extract reliably. Without getting too bogged down in discussions on recoil and ballistics, the best 9mm bullet weight for your Glock boils down to whichever type of cartridge you prefer firing most. Try all three and pick your favorite!
Can you Fire 9mm +P in a Glock?
This is the second most common question among new Glock owners. The short answer is yes; all 9mm Glock pistols are rated to safely fire 9mm +P as well.
The long answer is still yes – with a precaution. Overpressure ammo like 9mm +P is loaded to generate a significantly more powerful chamber pressure. This added force is why the 9mm +P round’s bullet achieves a higher muzzle velocity, exhibits a flatter trajectory, and strikes its target with more energy.
But this added force will also wear out a semi-automatic pistol’s moving parts at an accelerated rate. While it is always advisable to train with the same ammo you would fire in self-defense, extensive target practice with 9mm +P ammo will wear out your Glock faster than regular 9mm.
What about 9mm +P+? That’s a hard no. There are no specifications for the amount of chamber pressure a 9mm +P+ cartridge can generate, so it’s safest for Glock owners to avoid it altogether.
Best Glock Ammo for Target Shooting
Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
As with all semi-automatic firearms, the best all-around ammo for target shooting, range training and plinking with a Glock is loaded with FMJ bullets. The FMJ is comprised of exactly two components: a solid lead core, and a metal jacket that covers everything except the base of the lead core. This economical bullet possesses a hard enough exterior to prevent feeding jams and accelerated fouling of the barrel, and delivers recoil, point of aim and ballistic performance comparable to that of an analogous self-defense load’s jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullet.
Best 9mm FMJ ammo:
- Federal American Eagle
- Winchester USA
- Remington UMC
- Prvi Partizan
- Sellier & Bellot
And many others. You’re fine trying out any kind of 9mm FMJ ammo you can get your hands on when you have a Glock. At worst the pistol will jam more than you would like, but that’s a problem you always risk when you go for cheap ammo.
A bimetal jacketed bullet is also an FMJ. It still has a lead core, but its jacket is made mostly out of steel (with a thin copper-washed exterior) instead of pure copper alloy.
A bimetal jacketed bullet will attract a magnet, but that’s not why many commercial ranges ban “magnetic” ammunition. A bullet that contains steel has a higher chance of ricocheting back at the firing line after hitting a hard surface. It may also create sparks or damage range equipment, which are also things that ranges don’t like.
Why buy magnetic ammo? Because it’s a lot cheaper. The bimetal jacketed bullet contains significantly less copper, which is an expensive metal and also features an economical steel case instead of a brass one (an alloy that is mostly comprised of copper).
Glock pistols handle steel-cased ammo just fine. The steel case’s main drawback is that it’s not as elastic as brass, so it won’t expand to seal the chamber as efficiently during ignition. This will permit more propellant residues to accumulate in the Glock’s action, which will make it dirtier.
Steel cases also don’t return to their original dimensions following ignition. While reloading steel cases is possible, it’s only worth the effort during an apocalyptic scenario when there would be literally no other way of getting ammo. (Plus steel cases have Berdan primers instead of America’s preferred Boxer primers, which complicate handloading even further.
Best magnetic FMJ ammo:
- Red Army Standard
Total Metal Jacket (TMJ)
A TMJ bullet’s jacket doesn’t leave its lead core exposed. Its jacket encapsulates 100% of the bullet, which prohibits hot propellant gasses from vaporizing any lead from the bullet during ignition. Because they produce significantly less toxic lead vapor (which will eventually accumulate on the floor if it doesn’t settle in the lungs first), TMJ bullets are often utilized in poorly ventilated indoor ranges.
Aside from its cleaner performance, the TMJ bullet offers the same performance as the more conventional FMJ.
Best TMJ ammo:
- Federal American Eagle
- Speer Lawman
- Federal Syntech (Total Synthetic Jacket bullets have polymer jackets which increase a barrel’s lifespan, eliminate copper fouling in the barrel, and reduce the chance of dangerous splash-back, but also offer the same advantages as the TMJ.)
A frangible bullet doesn’t contain solid lead and copper like a standard FMJ. Instead, it’s made out of compressed metal powders (usually copper and tin, but never lead).
When a frangible bullet hits a hard surface it disintegrates almost instantly. The frangible bullet’s ability to virtually eliminate the chances of a ricochet or splash-back from occurring makes it optimal for shooting steel targets, especially at close range. Like a TMJ, the lead-free frangible bullet also helps to keep the air much cleaner at indoor ranges.
Best frangible ammo:
- Speer RHT
Best Glock Ammo for Self-Defense
Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)
The JHP is the gold standard as far as personal protection with a pistol is concerned. The hollow point bullet operates on a simple principle: When its nose cavity fills with pressurized soft tissue, it gets forced outward to deliver rapid terminal expansion within its target. The expansion enables the JHP to gouge a wider wound channel into its target than its original diameter alone would allow, transfer more of its energy outward instead of exclusively forward, and anchor itself inside of soft tissue to help prevent overpenetration that could jeopardize innocent bystanders.
Like an FMJ, a JHP’s jacket hardens the bullet for more reliable functionality in a semi-automatic firearm. Most JHP bullets designed for self-defense have notched or skived jackets, which are strategically weakened so they can control more uniform expansion over a wide range of velocities.
When it comes to selecting 9mm ammo for self-defense with a Glock, it’s good to look at what the pros use. In the United States, 65% of law enforcement agencies use Glock pistols (usually 9mm or 40 S&W, and occasionally 357 SIG). Among cops, two types of self-defense ammo are most commonly used.
- Speer Gold Dot
The Gold Dot JHP bullet begins as a rugged alloyed lead core. This core is electrochemically bonded to its jacket one molecule at a time, which makes the Gold Dot bullet at once extremely well balanced and resistant to core/jacket separation (a phenomenon which can cause a bullet to lose weight and resultant momentum during penetration, which in turn may cause it to penetrate to too shallow a depth to effectively neutralize a threat).
The Gold Dot bullet’s nose cavity is formed via a series of precision die presses. The first controls how wide the bullet can expand; the second controls the bullet’s rate of expansion.
Note that the Speer G2 bullet, which features a hollow point nose cavity that is filled with pliant elastomer to prevent clogging with debris that could inhibit terminal expansion, is also excellent for self-defense.
- Federal 9mm Ammo: Federal Premium HST
The HST bullet is similarly designed for optimal terminal expansion, with a nose cavity that is engineered to avoid clogging with fabric or other debris that could hamper its terminal performance. The HST bullet is additionally engineered to avoid core/jacket separation that could rob it of penetration depth, even if it must pass through a tough urban barrier en route to its target.
Federal HST and Speer Gold Dot cartridges both feature nickel-plated brass cases. These reduce metal-on-metal friction, which helps them promote smoother feeding and performance in a semi-automatic firearm. They are additionally corrosion resistant, as well as easier to see during a chamber check in poorly lit environments.
To drive the point home: Speer Gold Dot and Federal HST are both superlative self-defense JHP cartridges for a Glock pistol. (Any pistol, really.) Load either of these two cartridges in your handgun and it will be in the best possible condition to be used as a tool for personal protection.
Are other manufacturers’ JHP bullets inadequate for self-defense? Not remotely, no. Hornady, Remington, Winchester, Black Hills, Underwood, Barnes, Sierra, Prvi Partizan, PMC, Sellier & Bellot, and many other manufacturers also make fine self-defense ammo. But HST and Gold Dot – those are pretty much flawless.
You have another option when it comes to self-defense with a Glock pistol: non-expanding bullets. These may have brand names like ARX, Xtreme Defender, or HoneyBadger, but they all work on the same principle.
These bullets lack hollow point nose cavities. As the result, they feed a little more smoothly, as they lack flat nose profiles that could get stuck en route to the chamber, and they’re also incapable of clogging with debris that could inhibit terminal expansion.
Of course, without nose cavities, these bullets cannot expand. Instead, they have grooves milled (or molded, in the ARX’s case) into their shanks. During penetration, these grooves scoop up soft tissues, pressurize them, and then jet them outward in lateral directions at high velocity. The end result is a cavernous wound cavity within said soft tissue, which has exactly the kind of effect you might imagine on a threat.
It is highly advisable to use ammo that is specifically designed for self-defense, for self-defense. Not only is its bullet engineered to deal maximal damage to the target – it is generally much higher quality than range ammo as well. Ammo manufacturers don’t go out of their way to produce unreliable range ammo, but they’re aware that an FMJ load’s failure to feed or extract won’t jeopardize the shooter’s life during a dangerous physical altercation.
Self-defense ammo is more expensive than target shooting ammo, of course. That’s why it’s okay to stockpile more affordable FMJ ammo for an emergency. It’s still perfectly capable of effectively neutralizing a threat, and its lower price point makes it much more affordable for the average American to stockpile a healthy reserve of emergency ammo.