a close up of 9mm ammunition

What Is The Highest Grain 9mm Bullet?

The 9mm is one of the most popular cartridges for handguns, if not THE most popular. It’s extensively used for self-defense as well as for law enforcement. 

Most users default to 115-gr and 124-gr 9mm bullets, but there are heavier bullets. So what’s the highest grain 9mm bullet?

The heaviest grain ammunition for a 9mm is Seismic’s 9mm QuakeMaker +M personal defense load. Normally 9mm rounds range from between 115-gr to 185-gr. 

Please keep reading to find out how the different bullet grain affects the performance of the various rounds.

a side view of 5 x 9mm ammunition

What’s A Typical 9mm Grain?

Bullet grain, also indicated as “GR,” refers to the weight of the bullet. It should not be confused with the cartridge’s weight, which refers to the whole ammunition’s weight, including the casing, primer, base, and all other parts of the round.

Nowadays, several manufacturers are producing 9mm rounds with different bullet grain and muzzle velocities. Below are some of the most common.

Round Grain Muzzle Velocity
Tula 9mm Full Metal Jacket 115 1150 fps
Maxxtech Full Metal Jacket 115 1150 fps
Wolf WPA Polyformance 9m FMJ 115 1150 fps
Norma Extreme Terminal Performance MHP 108 1312 fps
Streak Visual Ammunition 147 1065 fps
Winchester NATO 9mm Luger FMJ 124 1200 fps
Sellier & Bellot FMJ 124 1181 fps
G2 Research RIP SCHP 92 1250 fps
Federal American Eagle 9mm Luger 147 1000 fps
Fiocchi 9mm SUBSONIC 158 940 fps
PRVI Partizan 9mm luger FMJ 158 950 fps
Freedom Munitions 165 800 fps
Federal American Eagle 124 1150 fps
Seismic QuakeMaker +M 185 850 fps
Remington UMC 115 1135 fps

The lightest 9mm ammo is the G2 Research RIP with 92 gr. However, most 9mm rounds range from 115 gr to 124 gr. 

Based on the ammo reviewed, the highest muzzle velocity was 1312 fps, achieved by the 108 gr Norma Extreme cartridge.

The Highest Grain 9mm Rounds

Below are some of the heaviest 9mm rounds available.

Round Grain Muzzle Velocity
Streak Visual Ammunition 147 1065 fps
Fiocchi 9mm SUBSONIC 158 940 fps
PRVI Partizan 9mm luger FMJ 158 950 fps
Freedom Munitions 165 950 fps
SEISMIC QuakeMaker +M 185 850 fps

The heaviest 9mm round is the 185 gr Seismic QuakeMaker +M. Considering that most 9mm rounds are usually 115 and 124 gr, this is quite massive. 

Surprisingly, despite being 1.5 times heavier than the standard weight, it still achieves an 850 fps muzzle velocity. This performance can be attributed to the 9mm case designs. They are often made of stainless steel, which is lighter.

The case design also doesn’t limit the amount of gun powder the cartridges can hold. 

Despite being heavy, the recoil is still manageable, and it shoots smoothly. Even though most 9mm rounds are light, this heavy bullet is worth a try if you specifically need the heaviest grain. 

Accuracy tests also show that the 185 gr seismic is as effective as the other rounds, especially for short-range shots.

a side view of 9mm ammunition

The Effects Of A Higher Grain Weight With 9mm Ammunition

9mm rounds are better with lower bullet grain since they often have a higher muzzle velocity, lower recoil, and are relatively more accurate. 

So what happens when you switch to a higher grain weight such as the 147, 158, 165, and the 185? Let’s find out.

There’s no definite way to determine the effects of increasing bullet grain, but most studies agree on some aspects. Generally, when you shoot a handgun, you’ll experience some recoil. 

As a result, the muzzle will move slightly before the bullet leaves the barrel. Therefore, the bullet doesn’t always land where you intended. This recoil increases with bullet weight, lowering the point of impact. 

Most of these rules apply when the muzzle velocity is constant.

Another effect of high bullet weight is the lowered muzzle velocity. Therefore, the bullet will take longer to reach the target when compared to lighter bullets. This also increases the chances of the bullet falling. 

A lighter bullet travels faster, minimizing the time it takes to reach the target. Lighter bullets also maintain the projectile for a longer time.

A typical 115 gr 9mm bullet has an 1150 fps muzzle velocity, while the 185 gr 9mm has an 850 fps muzzle velocity. There may not be a major difference in recoil because the muzzle velocity didn’t remain constant. 

One benefit of the higher grain bullets is they maintain momentum, causing more damage upon impact. Ballistic gel tests ended up with the 185 gr bullet penetrating the gel and falling on the other side.

To achieve better results with a higher grain bullet, you need to understand its effects. It’s more of a trial and error method. You can shoot a couple of groups and observe how far away from the target you’re shooting and adjust your aiming technique. 

You also need to work on your grip. Maintaining a firm grip enables you to maintain accuracy regardless of the grain you’re dealing with. The same grip you hold for a 115 gr should be the same for a 185 gr bullet.

Final Thoughts

The highest grain of a 9mm bullet is 185 gr. 

Most of the 9mm bullets are usually between 115 gr to124 gr. Generally, heavier bullets have lower muzzle velocity and a lower point of impact. But other factors can affect the accuracy and penetration of the round.

Overall, the 9mm is quite effective in US law enforcement. 

The US military mainly uses the M1152 115gr 9mm round and the M1153 147-gr bullet. The FBI also uses the 147-gr Winchester PDX1 Defender. Local law enforcement uses a wide variety of 124-gr, 135-gr, and 147-gr 9mm rounds.

People whose lives depend upon it tend to use bullet grains between 124 gr to 157 gr it seems.

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