Premium self-defense ammo usually costs over a buck per round.
You can look at that two ways, really. On one hand, a buck each for a product that could save your life, or that of a family member, is practically nothing. Heck, I’d have no problem spending a dollar to protect most of my family members. Just kidding, ALL of my family members. Besides, you don’t need to shoot the expensive stuff all the time. Once you figure out that it works in your carry gun reliably, you can remove it before practicing, then reload the fancy stuff when you’re done. On the other hand, laying out $25 or so per box of ammo adds up fast, especially in that new gun “do you trust it” period when you’re making sure it works with your choice of self-defense ammo.
With this in mind, I decided to run Remington’s HTP 9mm through the wringer. My friends over at LuckyGunner sell it for $22.75 per box. However, that’s a box of 50 rounds, not the usual 20 for most self-defense ammo. That works out to about 45 cents a round, less than half the price of other self-defense ammo.
Of course, when it comes to self-defense ammo, not only does it have to fire every time, it has to meet some pretty tough performance standards. It should expand, after passing through fabric barriers. It should also penetrate to an adequate depth to do its job and stop an aggressor. Oh, and it should stay in one piece through all of that commotion and tumbling.
I acquired a few boxes and ran it through the exact same tests as the other loads we’ve been testing in the Great GunsAmerica Ammo Adventure. Here’s what I found.
The Remington HTP 9mm round I tested was part number RTP9MM1. It’s an 115-grain Jacketed Hollow Point design with a lead core. By the way, the HTP stands for High Terminal Performance.
Velocity and Accuracy
I did all testing with this round using a Sig Sauer P226 SAO. The pistol has proven itself exceptionally accurate with a broad variety of ammo, so it’s become my default platform to checking the performance of various 9mm loads.
For velocity measurement, I set up a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph 15 feet down range and fired 10-shot strings. I calculated overall average velocity as 1,161 feet per second. The spread from slowest to fastest rounds was only 55 feet per second, which yielded a standard deviation of 18.33. That’s pretty consistent.
For accuracy, I mounted a Bushnell Elite 2×7 handgun scope on the Sig P226 SAO to give me a perfect sight picture and rule out as much shooter sight picture error as possible. I fired some five shot groups, which all measured just a hair over two inches for all five shots, and a shade over one inch for the best three shots within the group.
Expansion and Weight Retention
Just as with our previous tests, I fired into Clear Ballistics 4x4x16 inch gelatin blocks. I placed the four-layer FBI heavy fabric in front of the gel block. This four-layer fabric uses denim for the outer layer and cotton and insulation layers behind. It’s intended to simulate clothing with an outer jacket. Nearly any hollow point bullet will expand in picture perfect fashion when fired into bare gel, but many fail when they first have to pass through the heavy fabric.
I fired five shots into the heavy fabric covered gel block and all five rounds expanded fully. If anything, they might have over-expanded just a hair, as the petals were bent fully backward.
After playing doctor and surgically removing the spent bullets, I measured the expanded diameters and weighed each to see how much of the jacket or inner lead core was lost during the kerfluffle.
As you can see in the photo, all the fired projectiles stayed together just as intended, with no significant weight loss. The average diameter of the expanded bullets was .562 inches or 1.58 times their original .355-inch diameter. Peachy, right?
Penetration was also right in line with ideal performance. Among the five shots through fabric and gel, the penetration range was 14.5 inches to 16.5 inches. Two of the five barely exited the first block while the other three came pretty darn close. Excellent results, and just what you want to see.
Summing It Up
This round was a pleasant surprise in terms of performance. The bullets all expanded as they should and penetrated to an effective depth. One thing I did notice that was different than more expensive rounds was that the expanded bullets were more round when viewed from the top. Many of the premium self-defense rounds will expand into wicked star-shaped monsters that just look exceptionally painful. Just an observation, though, as these rounds did exactly what they were supposed to do, and for a lot less money.