TFB Round Table: The BEST 9mm PCC Rounds for Competition

    9mm pcc

    Welcome back to another edition of TFB’s Round Table sponsored by Ammunition To Go! For those who are first joining us, this is a multi-part series where TFB will discuss the characteristics of great ammunition for specific applications. This could vary from big game hunting, plinking, precision rifle matches, small game hunting, or even pistol competitions. Chances are there is someone here at TFB who can offer you advice on buying the right round for your task at hand. This week I will offer up some suggestions on the BEST 9mm PCC (Pistol Caliber Carbine) rounds you can be shooting! It was just announced yesterday by our very own James Reeves that Heckler & Koch is bringing the MP5 (a real one, not a knock-off or cheap imitation) back to the United States! This will surely spike everyone’s interest in the PCC market if they were not gamers already. So with that being said, let’s dive into the addicting world of 9mm PCC ammunition!

    tfb round table: what’re we looking for here?

    If you are dabbling in the world of PCC firearms, they can come in many forms. You have some PCC models that are AR-15 Pistols that we attach braces to. Other firearms are true, blue rifle platforms with 16″ barrels or longer. A 3rd category are the semi-auto, sub-gun variants traditionally used for defense (ex. H&K MP5) that are finding a home with competition shooters. Regardless of the specific type of PCC you lay your hands on, there are always certain elements you want in your ammunition.

    • Low Recoil Impulse
    • Flat Trajectory (Sufficient Velocity)
    • Accuracy

    If you do not have all of these characteristics manifesting in your ammunition, you likely are not going to catch many podium spots in your journeys as a PCC shooter. To put things into greater perspective, we will break them all down one by one, and then offer up some suggestions of ammo you could shoot.

    As far as a low recoil impulse, that is desirable for nearly all types of shooting. For one, it allows you to more quickly follow-up with successive shots on target. This gives you faster times and means you are spending more time engaging and aiming at targets than you are re-acquiring your sight picture from snobbish recoil. Also, low recoiling ammunition allows the shooter to more acutely focus on the act of shooting: consistent breathing, trigger press, etc. The last thing you want in competition is to be grimacing in anticipation of recoil that is about to hit you. Some people in the reading audience might attest that they can handle anything! But if you throw out all machismo and think more clearly with your noggin, you will agree that low recoil makes you a better shooter.

    9mm pcc

    Photo Credit: James Reeves of TFBTV shooting the NEW H&K SP5 9mm

    The next component of good 9mm PCC ammo is something with a flat trajectory or a sufficient enough velocity to reach your intended target. In USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) PCC competitions, the longest shot you are realistically going to be taking is around 30 yards. In some more wild and unique PCC competitions, you might be shooting further, but in the grand scheme of things, you are not lobbing 9mm PCC rounds extreme distances like 100+ yards.

    So knowing some of the distances you will be shooting, you will want to match your ammo’s velocity/trajectory to that. With greater speed you can simultaneously get more recoil (depending on the weight of your bullet), so you do not just want a screaming fast round. You need to delicately balance velocity, bullet grain weight, and the resulting felt recoil like you are walking a tight-rope. Thankfully, we can leave this enigma up to ammunition manufacturers and enjoy the sport of shooting.

    The final piece to the “perfect 9mm PCC ammo” puzzle is accuracy. Frankly, that speaks for itself. If the ammo you are using is wildly inconsistent, does not group well, has unreliable ignitions, and makes your shooting patterns look like buckshot thrown from a shotgun… well, your ammo honestly sucks.

    tfb round table: ambitious reloading considerations

    If you are of the select group of people who reload their own ammo like you are a one-man ammunition army, there are even more things to consider. One common mistake handloaders make is chasing after big bullets. Heavy bullets are not necessarily your friend because you need enough velocity to exit a long barrel. This is a common pitfall for reloaders because although many people shoot heavier bullets in handguns with great success, but they do not do as well in rifles. One of the most common customer service inquiries that JP Enterprises fields for their PCC firearms are squib rounds stuck in barrels. Shooters will unknowingly take their choice competition handgun ammunition, run it in a long PCC barrel, and it does not have enough OOMF to exit the barrel.

    Anecdotally, people may state they have ammunition successfully cycle in their PCC firearms from as light as 100 grain to as heavy as 150 grain ammunition, and they are likely right! While some shooters are trying to achieve the least amount of recoil impulse possible, other shooters are simply trying to spend the least amount of money and still have their firearms go, BANG!

    There is no perfect ammunition for PCC. You need to decide what YOU want to get out of your shooting experience. Cheap ammo in volume for fun? Extreme accuracy? Little to no recoil? Chase the pink elephant that is all-of-the-above?

    tfb round table: best 9mm PCC ammunition

    So there you have it! You might have guessed the 3 key traits you want in good 9mm PCC ammunition, but they are worth stating for some shooters who might be newer to the addiction of PCC shooting. A final characteristic that we did not mention would be clean ammo. The word “clean” is kind of an advertising buzzword for ammo makers, but that can be achieved through cleaner burning powders, fully encapsulated bullets (TMJ – Total Metal Jacket, Syntech, etc), and cleaner igniting primers.

    As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe out there, have fun while shooting, and we will see you next time for TFB’s Round Table brought to you by Ammunition to Go! Also, let us know what you think in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.


    Speer Lawman 9mm 124 Grain TMJ

    9mm pcc

    Speer has designed this training round from their Lawman line of ammunition in order to match as closely as possible the performance of a comparable personal defense load. Accordingly, training with this round ought to prepare you well for the moment when you are called upon to draw your pistol and take aim.

    The key feature of this round is its 124 grain total metal jacket projectile. The bullet delivers all the benefits of a traditional full metal jacket, including its promotion of positive functioning and inability to effect lead fouling within a weapon’s bore. However, because even this bullet’s base is encapsulated by its jacket, the lead in its core will not vaporize in reaction to getting licked by superheated propellant gasses. That makes it the ideal choice for training indoors, where ventilation might be suspect and you’d not like to inhale lead. Lead has no known health benefits, save for the instance where a lead bullet theoretically could save your life.

    Federal Syntech Training Match 9mm 147 Grain Total Synthetic Jacket FN

    9mm pcc

    This 9mm cartridge by Federal features the awesome performance of the Total Synthetic Jacket. The layer of polymer that encapsulates the round’s 147 grain projectile totally prevents metal from making contact with your pitsol’s bore and its riflings, drastically reducing the kind of friction that gradually wears them down and keeping them clean in the process. The TSJ furthermore nearly eliminates splash-back from turning your training into something potentially dangerous!

    This round fires remarkably cleanly. Not only does its bullet’s jacket keep the lead in its core from evaporating during ignition, but its Catalyst primer doesn’t contain barium, mercury, or lead for you to breathe in. This round’s bullet is optimal for shooting paper targets, as its broad meplat will stamp a clean hole that you’ll have an easier time spotting downrange. Federal engineered this round to provide recoil and point of impact like that of an analogous HST round, making it an indispensable training companion if you’d rely on HST to keep you safe!

    CCI Blazer Clean-Fire 9mm 124 Grain TMJ

    9mm pcc

    Do you do a lot of shooting indoors, either for your job or just for pleasure, but aren’t certain about just how well your range is ventilated? There’s no reason to put your health at risk — invest in Blazer’s Clean-Fire line of ammunition and breathe easy! This 9mm round has a 124 grain TMJ bullet, the jacket of which protects the projectile’s base in order to keep hot propellant gasses from evaporating it.

    This round further offers CCI’s Clean-Fire primer, which eliminates airborne lead, antimony, and barium in order to give you a safer shooting experience but without sacrificing realistic recoil. Take a look at the casing after you’ve fired it — it’ll be as clean as a whistle compared to other brands’ casings!

    On the subject of the casing, this round’s is made of heat treated and aircraft grade aluminum. It’s a lot lighter than brass, which really adds up if you’re going to take a big haul of ammo to the range.

    Federal Syntech Training Match 9mm 124 Grain Total Synthetic Jacket FN

    9mm pcc

    This 9mm round from Federal’s Syntech Training Match line of ammunition is truly excellent for shooting steel targets. Its flat nose profile is ideally shaped for knocking down plates of metal, and its 124 grain projectile’s Total Synthetic Jacket contains no copper that could dangerously ricochet back at you. The purple polymer that the TSJ is made of will also greatly reduce bore fouling, and lessens friction to a point that will drastically improve your barrel’s lifespan!

    This cartridge fires even more cleanly thanks to its lead-free Catalyst primer, and because its bullet’s TSJ covers the base of the bullet the lead in its core won’t become evaporated by hot propellant gas during ignition. This round is crafted by Federal to exactly emulate the performance of their premium Personal Defense HST and Tactical HST lines of self-defense ammunition. Short of training with more expensive ammo, this round is the best way to acquaint yourself with the one that might one day save your life.

    Federal American Eagle IRT 9mm 147 Grain TMJ

    9mm pcc

    This affordable 9mm Luger (also known as 9×19 Parabellum) ammunition is manufactured by Federal American Eagle at the Lake City Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri. Perfect for high-volume indoor practice, Federal American Eagle Indoor Range Training (IRT) ammo features primers that contain no toxic metal. Each factory fresh cartridge is loaded with a 147 grain reduced-lead total metal jacket (TMJ) projectile fully encapsulated in copper. This design minimizes lead exposure to provide cleaner shooting and safer indoor ranges.

    Each round produces a muzzle velocity of 960 feet per second and a muzzle energy of 301 foot pounds. Providing ballistic performance equivalent to most standard duty rounds, this ammo offers realistic training for real world situations. This ammunition is non-corrosive and brass cased. Each package contains 1000 rounds packed in 50-round boxes.

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