9mm NATO stopping power

A guy who would know said “they’ve built entire graveyards for guys killed by 9mm NATO ball ammo.” While the team here at Gun Nuts always recommends quality defensive ammo, we also believe that having a gun with bullets of some type in it is better than nothing.

9mm nato ball

For a number of reasons, I’m a fan of 9mm NATO ammo, and if I had no choice but to carry FMJ ammo in my guns, it’d be NATO spec ball ammo. Important things to remember about 9mm NATO, it is loaded to a higher pressure than regular 9mm 115 grain FMJ, and usually produces a snappier recoil impulse. What’s funny is that whenever someone starts talking about “stopping power” they mention how .45 ACP ball ammo has been dropping guys for 100 years. They then conveniently forget that 9mm ball ammo has been doing the same thing for just as long.

Handgun stopping power is a myth, so the title of the article is a bit misleading. I know that NATO ball ammo isn’t going to be any deadlier than any other FMJ 9mm ammo, but I still like it. It’s like a security blanket. I know that ammo loaded to this exact specification is in use across the world putting fools in the dirt, and that makes me feel better. So whenever I see some for sale, I usually end up buying it.

I’m not saying that you should dump your Ranger/HST/Gold Dots for NATO ball. Definitely not. I’m certainly not going to take the XTPs out of my gun and replace them with this ammo. But if it was all I could get my hands on, for some reason I’d feel better with NATO ball than plain jane FMJ.


  1. I would buy pretty much nothing else for training and stashing ammo if the NATO stuff was still availavle. Used to be pretty cheap to shoot and stock up on.

    One of the very real advantages to going with the 9mm with quality ammo, if stuck with using FMJ ammo, is that it consistently gets through barriers that stop a .45 bullet.

  2. Higher velocity, within certain parameters, is a good thing. Seems to me that the problem with ANY round-nose bullet, of any caliber, is that it disrupts tissue less than a HP or even a wadcutter. I won’t forgo HSTs for carry, either. But I believe it’s important to train with FMJ ammo, to understand its capabilities and shortcomings. After all, in any ammo shortage, the first items to disappear are HP handgun loads. If I can only get FMJs, whether NATO spec or not, I want to know what I can accomplish with them.

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