Speer 9mm 124 gr Short Barrel Gold Dot Gel Test Review

We fired Speer 124 gr Short Barrel Gold Dot from a S&W Shield through heavy clothing and bare gel to assess penetration, expansion, and retained weight. The Speer Gold Dot is one of the most highly regarded handgun projectiles for defense, but we find some surprising results with this load.

Buy it at Ventura Munitions.

Guns in this video:
S&W Shield 9mm

Bare gel:
Avg penetration: 15.4″
Avg retained weight: 124.4 gr
Avg max expansion: 0.577″
Avg min expansion: 0.419″

Avg penetration: 22.3″
Avg Retained weight: 123.6 gr
Avg max expansion: 0.494″
Avg min expansion: 0.358″

Average velocity (6 shots): 1,082 fps

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Transcript ….

– Hi, Andrew here.

So continuing our series on defensive pistol ammunition ballistic testing, today we’re testing the gold standard.

That is, we’re gonna test some Gold Dot.

A Speer 124-grain short barrel plus P, graciously provided by Ventura Munitions.

Of course, pocket pistols like the Smith and Wessson Shield, the KelTec PF-11 and whatnot, have gotten really popular lately.

So short barrel loads are in high demand.

And, of course, the Gold Dot is one of the most highly regarded bullets for defensive pistols.

We’re gonna shoot it from a Smith and Wesson Shield at bare gel and four layers of denim to simulate heavy clothing.

Let’s take a look.

(gun firing) (gun bangs) (gun bangs) (gun bangs) (gun bangs) (gun bangs) (rock music) Okay, 16.2.




Let’s see how it does against denim.

(gun bangs) (gun bangs) (gun bangs (gun bangs) (gun bangs) (gun bangs) Okay, so at first I was kinda shocked that this seemed to go way deeper than it ought to.

This one went to 24-and-a-half inches.

These are Gold Dots.

Gold Dots are badass. Why would it do that? That’s because it didn’t expand.

Okay, I have to admit that was very surprising to me.

Of course, it did well in bare gel.

Everything was perfect. The penetration was ideal.

Expansion, the weight retention, everything was exactly what we want to see.

But what was surprising was that it didn’t expand at all when fired through heavy clothing.

Now to be fair, it is the IWBA standard of four layers of denim, not the FBI heavy clothing standard, which is easier to pass.

So theoretically, it’s possible that this bullet may have passed the FBI heavy clothing standard, but it’s not as though there aren’t any bullets that can pass both the bare gel and the IWBA heavy clothing standard.

Now, doing it from a short barrel is a difficult task, but I’m very surprised that the Speer Gold Dot, especially the short barrel version, didn’t actually get it done.

Now does that make this totally useless for defence? No, of course not.

It pokes holes in things and that’s the point, isn’t it? Poking holes in the right bits in the right places at the right times is what defensive pistol shooting’s all about.

And of course, it does poke holes in things.

Just not as big of a hole as we’d like to see if it encounters heavy clothing first.

It should still do well against light clothing like a Tshirt or naked tweakers.

But it may not be the very best choice for defensive pistol use with a short barrel.

We’re gonna keep looking for some loads that work well in a 9-mm short barrel because of how popular they are.

And if you have some suggestions, make sure you let us know.

Head on over to Ventura Munitions website, see what they have in stock, and let us know what you’d like to see us test.

If you have any questions or if you think I got something wrong, as always, leave a comment below.

And of course, like and share and subscribe.

That really helps support our channel.

I hope you enjoyed the video and found it entertaining and informative.

You have a great day.

(heavy rock music)



Andrew is a combat veteran of OEF and has performed hundreds of ballistic tests for his YouTube channel, The Chopping Block (https://www.youtube.com/user/chopinbloc). He is an avid firearm collector and competitor and lives with his family in Arizona. If you have any questions, you may email him at choppingblocktests@gmail.com


  • The Dude

    Shoulda got that rip bullet. They say it kills the best.

  • USMC03Vet

    Guess I’ll stick with Winchester 147g Defend then.

  • Big Daddy

    As far as I know Speer does not make these short barrel rounds anymore. I have not seen them for sale, even the 135 +P .38 special. So this test should be done with ammo available. Like the regular Gold Dot 124 +P.

  • mmyers08

    Short barrel—9mm—-lighter is better. If you want to have a heavy bullet, man up and carry a .45 or a .40.

    115 grain 9mms expand. And they reduce the weight of your carry pistol.

    • Big Daddy

      115 grain bullets in 9mm are notorious for not being reliable expanders except for one of the full copper ones, I forgot the maker.

      124 and 147 grain bonded JHPs are prefered. As far as I know Speer no longer offers these short barrel rounds.

      • keazzy

        What’s funny is I remember 147 being a niche weight that went too slow to transfer its energy. Relegated to suppressor work. I do think the 124 is a sweet spot.

    • The Dude

      “Man up” shut up.

      • mmyers08

        Aww…did I hurt your widdle feeeeewings?

        • The Dude

          You’re incapable of hurting anything grandpa.

          • mmyers08

            That’s not what your mom said last night….

          • The Dude

            I bet she also said “look who can’t get it up again!”

  • RogUinta

    That is why
    I pack a .45
    Where nobody knows
    Right inside my boot.

    — With no apologies to Perry Farrell.

    • Martin frank

      i sir, get that reference

  • Jim B

    2nd post. First got rejected I guess….maybe it was the link I included?
    Anyway go on over to luckygunnerdotcom or google luckygunner bullet test. They have a multitude of loads with the S&W MP9c with 3.5 inch barrel as the test gun. The gold dots do not expand, but the Federal HST’s and bonded loads work very well.

  • missourisam

    Before you spend thousands on one of the custom .45s take a look at the light weight Commander sized Ruger 1911. I bought one for less than $600.00 tax included, and went shooting with a friend that has a Wilson Commander. The Ruger is lighter, shoots just as well, but I have to admit it is not as pretty. When it came to shooting, reliability, and accuracy the Ruger was the match for the much higher priced gun. I’ll spend the difference on powder, primers, and bullets to practice with my “cheap” gun. At 28 ounces it does not drag you down either.

    • Swarf

      Are you in the right place?

      • BillyOblivion

        He’s from Missouri. You’ll have to show him.

    • ShooterPatBob

      Do you advertise for Ruger no matter what article you’re looking at? Because this is about a 9mm defensive round.

    • DIR911911 .

      do you also make hundreds$$ in your spare time?

  • PK

    Federal HST 124gr or 147gr. +P or not, they all meet my standards from all my carry guns, bare and denim.

  • Aerindel Prime

    So, poor penetration and poor expansion, worst of both worlds.

    • DIR911911 .

      4 layers of denim , who would ever wear that?

      • Sam Damiano

        The pocket of a denim jacket is two layers, four layers at the flap. The strip of buttons is four + layers. Though small areas the chances of hitting multiple layers of denim increase quickly. Three layers would be hit the sleeve then a body shot.

        • BillyOblivion

          So if you see a guy wearing Denim that needs shooting, shoot him in the face.

      • Swarf

        The trick is to me sure your opponent is wearing drywall.

  • Marcus D.

    Everything I’ve read suggests that the Gold Dot has had its day. There are better bullets out there now that are far more reliable in penetration and expansion, especially for short barreled guns, the best of which (and one of the more expensive) is probably the HST. The GD does much better out of a 5″ barrel than in this test, but the fact is that small pocket 9s are extremely popular these days, whether S&W or ruger or Sig, guns that have barrels that are at most 3.5″ (or less).
    I also think that for these small guns that weigh only a pound or so, the 124 gr is the best compromise for velocity and mass as between 115 and 148. The heavier round really needs the longer barrel to maximize the velocity lost due to mass, and the 115s are a bit light and tend to have lower penetration.The 124 does everything it needs to do on both scores.
    But I am not one to speak. My current load is GDHP 124gr +Ps (I tend to cycle through whatever I can find on the shelves) for my 3.5″ Kahr CW9. When SHTF, I have a stick or two of Lehigh Extreme Penetrator solids that will shoot through walls and a few car doors (and kick like a mule, even if not rated at +P) should the need arise.

  • DIR911911 .

    what psycho is out there wearing 4 layers of denim? might as well start up the leather jacket testing

    • BillyOblivion

      If you shoot them right in the centerline between two buttons you’ve got 4 layers.

      Or, I guess, in the zipper of the jeans. But then you’re REALLY unlikely to need more than 6 inches of penetration…

      As for leather jackets, real biker leather is tougher than that trendy fashion cr*p.

    • Dan

      Denim? Canadians, People from Wisconsin, northern minnesota. All heavy on the candian tuxedo fashion

      • noob

        Why would you shoot a Canadian!? They are peaceful, majestic hosers…

    • noob

      Note, you are not allowed to ask somebody to strip naked before shooting them with your short barreled 9mm loaded with gold dots. I think there’s a law against it.

  • David

    Nothing wrong with someone testing ammo which someone else has already tested – who knows what one will find out? Lots of variables.

    Overall, I don’t expect much from a shorty 9mm, though they are all the rage, and the GD is still a fine bullet. Can’t complain about HST’s, either, though.

    As for biker leather – head shot.

  • keazzy

    Carhart jackets stop a 9mm every time 😉

  • Haulin’ Oats

    I’ve seen what 380 from a mouse gun can do with Lehigh extreme penetrators loaded by Lehigh or Buffalo Bore; so I’m sure it will do rather well from a short barrel 9mm.

  • Lew Siffer

    Very good discussions, but any one of you could adequately defend yourself with cheap 9mm ball ammo. Or am I wrong about you?