Ammo Test: DoubleTap 9mm 77-grain for Compact Handguns

This ammo is designed specifically for the new breed of compact 9mm handguns.

This ammo is designed specifically for the new breed of compact 9mm handguns.

Do you suffer from a short barrel? Unfortunately, this problem afflicts millions of gun totin’ Americans.

With the explosive growth of pocket .380 ACP pistols like the Kel-Tec, Ruger LCP, Smith & Wesson Bodyguard and Glock 42, just to name a few, gun makers just had to up the power level as their next move. .380’s are still everywhere, but now we have a new crop of compact 9mm guns. Whether you carry a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, Beretta Nano, Sig P938 or one of the many other pocket nine’s, you’re probably dealing with a short barrel. And by short barrel, I mean right in the vicinity of three inches.

Everyone knows that you just don’t get the same level of satisfaction from a three-inch barrel as you do from a longer barrel when it comes to penetration and expansion. Wow, I’m really treading on thin ice here…

What I mean is that in a shorter barrel, bullets can’t achieve the same velocity as when fired from a longer barreled gun. Mileage will vary depending on the specifics, but you can assume that you’ll lose 100 feet per second or so from any given 9mm load when you fire it from a pocket pistol. This is a big deal because modern expanding bullets are carefully designed to penetrate to a certain depth and expand at a certain rate for a very specific velocity range. Not enough velocity, and expansion doesn’t happen, so the bullet passes through its target. Too much velocity, and expansion is overly dramatic and penetration suffers.

One solution is to use +P+Infinity loads to crank up the speed, but that makes pocket guns impossible to shoot well. Nor it is any fun. So that’s not a very good option. So goes the challenge of pocket 9mm guns. Using ammunition designed for longer barrels, and higher velocity, can be an iffy proposition.

Recoil was shockingly light when fired from this Springfield Armory EMP.

Recoil was shockingly light when fired from this Springfield Armory EMP.

Enter the Godfather of Boom, Mike McNett of DoubleTap Ammunition. He’s designed a lightweight, all-copper, projectile that is optimized specifically for pocket 9mm guns.

This round is 77 grains of pocket wonder. I got several boxes to test for velocity, accuracy and, of course, shooting the gelatin to see if it would perform.

Velocity

One of the big advantages of using a lighter projectile is that perceived recoil is much, much less than you would expect. This round is loud but amazingly soft to shoot. That’s interesting as the rated velocity is 1,600 feet per second from a Glock 17 and 1,435 feet per second from a Glock 26.

I tested velocity from a short barrel and full-size gun. The short barrel test gun was a Springfield Armory EMP. I chose that one mainly because it’s a super-sweet handgun, but also because it has a 3.0” barrel – right in the sweet spot of pocket 9 barrel options. For the full-size I chose a Sig Sauer P226 SAO, also because it’s a super-sweet gun.

Doubletap 9mm 77 grain lead free velocity

Accuracy

To take some of the “compact gun” sighting challenges out of the equation, I shot groups with a Sig Sauer P226 SAO. I added a Bushnell Elite 3500 Handgun Scope, which provides 2-6x magnification, long eye relief, and a near perfect sight picture, especially at a close range like 25 yards. You can mount this optic to nearly any pistol equipped with a rail using the UM Tactical mount system. It’s a brilliant combination that’s been working really well for this kind of thing. While I use this optic and mount combination for accuracy testing, it would make a great hunting configuration for an appropriate semi-automatic pistol.

Most 25-yard groups looked something like this.

Most 25-yard groups looked something like this.

The group shown in the photo here is representative of all the other groups I shot. From the Sig Sauer P226 SAO, it was easy to get 5-shot groups less than 2-inches every time. Best three shots in each group were consistently less than one-inch.

Penetration and expansion

At the recent NRA Annual Meeting, where I pestered the Godfather of Boom about the challenge of effective 9mm compact gun ammunition, he told me this would penetrate about a foot – after passing through the four-layer FBI fabric protocol – and still expand properly. He’s never steered me wrong, so I believed it. Sort of.

Expansion started about one-inch into the gelatin block.

Expansion started about one-inch into the gelatin block.

It turns out that the light, lead-free, bullet design does exactly that. I fired five rounds through the four layers of fabric and into a 16” Clear Ballistics gel block. All five rounds stopped between the ten and eleven-inch mark. More importantly, all five expanded beautifully as you can see in the photos here.

Lingering thoughts

I’ve always been skeptical about those lightweight wonder rounds that travel at Warp 17, fragment explosively and cause nuclear blast damage. That’s according to the marketing material. The DoubleTap 9mm 77 grain lead-free round is not in any way, shape, or form in that category. It’s a regular, expanding, all-copper (I think) bullet. It’s just lighter than most other 9mm projectiles. That’s what allows it to travel fast enough from a short barrel gun to expand reliably while still penetrating to effective depths.

So if you have a short barrel, you no longer have to feel insecure. You can have both expansion and penetration.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Noryb May 21, 2015, 9:41 pm

    Why are people obsessed with tiny guns? I am not a big guy, 190# 5’10” and easily conceal day in and day out, year around, a full size, full capacity 9mm (cz75bd) in a fairly inexpensive iwb holster. Super comfortable, and easily concealed under a t shirt, under a polo, or with a polo tucked in, or with my more common button up shirt, either tucked or untucked. I don’t quite get the logic of tiny guns for concealment sake. That said…..I think this ammo shows potential, although expensive. Just don’t see the logic of tailoring a less than optimal load for a less than optimal gun. I guess that’s why there are 1001 flavours….something for everybody.

    • Russ July 11, 2016, 2:32 pm

      I would not say obsessed. I purchased my Wife a Glock 43 because she wanted a small gun to carry in her purse. She didn’t like the Ruger or Glock 42 saying they were just too snappy to shoot. She does not like my carry guns either a Glock 22,23, or 27 in .40 cal. depending on my mood. We shot the 43 and she loved it, and shoots it really good. We use the Sig short barreled ammo and she has no problems. I have carried for almost 30 years. She just started because of the behavior of people recently in our Country. She has been shooting with me for years but never wanted to carry. The gun I got her lets her do that comfortably, and safely.

  • Jim May 19, 2015, 4:56 pm

    Seems the same as the old “BAT” bullets from GECO..I still have some as they work perfectly and produce excellent accuracy out of my old HK P7.

  • Stephen Alan McAdams May 18, 2015, 5:24 pm

    I looked up this ammo on web crawlers that specialize in ammo sales. None was available – anywhere.

  • petru sova May 18, 2015, 2:34 pm

    Back in the 60’s Lee Juras sold 90 grain 9mm ammo at high velocity. It blew up on ordinary store front glass and did not have enough penetration. Also when you get into light weight bullets they often do not impart enough recoil to reliably cycle the slide of many auto pistols even when always loaded hot. Since mechanics have not changed in thousands of years I am skeptical that this new wonder ammo will pass any of the old tests. I will take the 125 grain bullet any day. Out of my short barreled Glock 19 it has killed 180 lb deer and that is way good enough for me.

  • JT May 18, 2015, 11:56 am

    Listing the manufacturer’s suggested retail price would be helpful.

  • Zeke d. May 18, 2015, 11:10 am

    +1 on heavier rounds, BUT if I read the article right the issue is with expansion. The argument that is unproven to me is whether 77 was the right weight to choose. I would like to see gel tests with various weights and then let the mfgr design the projectile expansion. How about a sidebar from double tap with the logic of the 77 gr.

    Zeke

  • Nick B. May 18, 2015, 9:42 am

    I have a Sig 290RS with a 2.9 inch barrel. I use Corbon JHP 125 Grain, because in a review I read on Gunblast, they gave a velocity of 1266 fps from this pistol. I’d rather bank on those figures with a 125 grain bullet than 1300-1400 fps with a 77 grain, much as I love Double Tap Ammo and use it in 38 special and 357 Mag because it performs so well in 2-3″ revolvers. Unless recoil is a factor, I see no need to go with a lighter bullet weight and less energy.

  • Dave Bolin May 18, 2015, 8:50 am

    Since I regularly carry a 9mm snubby revolver (2 inch barrel) this is of interest. As of now I run Hornady Critical-Defense as my defensive round but am always looking for a more effective ammo if there is one. I wish that a wheelgun had been included in this test.

  • JC May 18, 2015, 8:47 am

    There are lots of bullets out there that will penetrate the FBI minimum depth of at least 12″. Sure this round has less recoil but that’s because it’s lighter, it’s physics. 10″ has been shown time and time again to not always be enough to reach the vitals.

  • John H Wilson III DDS May 18, 2015, 8:00 am

    Guy meets a lady in a bar/ They go upstairs and undress. She looks at his short barrel and laughs, says who you gonna please with That..? He smiles and says..ME!!

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend