Ammo Test: Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown 9mm 147-grain

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The slower and heavier 147-grain 9mm projectiles worked just fine in the Clear Ballistics 10% gel block test.

The slower and heavier 147-grain 9mm projectiles worked just fine in the Clear Ballistics 10% gel block test.

With the ever-shifting threat environment, it seems that much of the concealed carry community is making another quantum shift towards the Wonder Nine.

Today’s self-defense ammunition isn’t your daddy’s ball ammo anymore, and if you take and honest and very objective look at actual performance metrics like one-shot-stop percentage, lethality, and the number of rounds to incapacitate, you’ll find that there just isn’t much performance difference between the most common handgun calibers. Not to burst the bubble, but .45 ACP is not 19 times better than 9mm, nor is .40 S&W 83 times more potent than .380 ACP. The math of after action analysis just doesn’t reflect a big difference. What that means is that, assuming you choose quality defensive ammunition, caliber or size of the hole is no longer the primary consideration.

With that said, we have more flexibility to evaluate other caliber-related criteria to help make the best possible choice for our carry or home defense needs. For example, cost, availability, recoil, accuracy, noise, and muzzle flash might all enter into our decision criteria.

One factor that I’ve been pondering recently from a home-defense perspective is subsonic performance. Think about it. If you invest the waiting time and are willing to dutifully send your $200 to Uncle Spendy, you can stick a silencer on your home defense pistol.

Accurate? Well, yeah.

Accurate? Well, yeah.

 

If you’ve ever torched off a handgun indoors of anything, you know it’s loud. Well, actually deafening. While long-term hearing damage may be the least of your worries in during a home invasion, the disorientation that comes with isn’t. In the subsonic case, not only is there no supersonic bullet crack, the suppressor wipes out a great deal of the gas expansion “bang.

There’s also the issue of muzzle blast and flash. The odds are that you’re working in the dark. While good defensive ammo often uses low-flash powder, why not nuke most of that flash entirely to protect your night vision? Besides, a suppressor-equipped pistol makes a great club when empty!

For these reasons and the fact that some people prefer a slower and heavier projectile approach, I decided to test out the new Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown 9mm 147-grain ammunition.

Velocity

I broke out some 9mm handguns and clocked average velocity numbers by placing my trusty, and now slightly shot to pieces, Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph 15 feet down range. Here’s what I found.

GunVelocity, feet per second
Sig Sauer P226 Single Action Only997.5
FNS 9 Compact915.3
Springfield Armory XD(M) Threaded with SilencerCo Osprey 45 Suppressor1,032.3
Sig Sauer P229 Legion927.8

As you can see, even the largest of the bunch, the Springfield Armory XD(M) with its 4.5-inch barrel and a full-sized pistol suppressor launched these puppies at well under supersonic velocity. Where I am, that barrier is about 1,130 feet per second depending on current conditions.

Accuracy

For accuracy testing, I felt it appropriate to use two different Sig Sauer 9mm handguns, both proven accuracy masters. For each, I fired multiple five-shot groups from 25 yards and averaged the group sizes. I also mounted a Bushnell 3500 Handgun scope on the pistols using a UM Tactical rail mount to eliminate optical sighting error. The 7x magnification gave me a perfect and easily repeatable aiming point while sandbags provided the stability.

The Sig Sauer P226 SAO is one of those high-end production guns that performs more like a tuned match model. It turned in an average of 1.97-inch five-shot groups from 25 yards.

The newer Sig Sauer P229 Legion did even better, turning in an overall average of 1.602-inch groups when all was totaled up.

Shootin’ the Jello

To see how what sort of expansion and penetration I could expect from the slower and heavier 9mm projectiles, I did what I consider the most “civilian-relevant” portion of the FBI testing protocol. I fired five shots into a Clear Ballistics 10% gelatin block that I covered with the standardized four-layer heavy fabric. This cloth barrier contains cotton, denim and insulation layers and is intended to simulate multiple layers of clothing. It gives self-defense ammunition fits as hollow points can easily clog, thereby preventing proper expansion.

The heavier 9mm projectiles penetrated deep, but still expanded properly.

The heavier 9mm projectiles penetrated deep, but still expanded properly.

I switched things up a little and used a Beretta 92FS as the gun platform. I stuck a SilencerCo / SWR Octane 45 suppressor on the end to serve as my silenced home-defense pistol.

It’s a good thing I used back to back Clear Ballistics blocks because penetration ranged between 20 and 23 inches for all five shots. That’s what a heavier bullet will do for you. All rounds expanded perfectly with final diameters measuring between .48 and .53 inches. No worries there. As you can see from the pictures, the 147-grain bullets are noticeable longer, so expansion remained mostly in the front half of each projectile.

Closing thoughts

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Many times I find that “slower” ammo rapidly becomes more finicky with respect to consistent expansion performance regardless of caliber. I just seems that any extra velocity helps overcome borderline performance parameters.

In this case, the ammo did exactly what it was supposed to. So make your choice, do you feel more comfortable with a slower and heavier bullet that’s likely to penetrate deeply? If so, check this one out.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Scott April 3, 2017, 6:24 am

    Seems great, but I like my Hornady Custom 147gr. JHP’so in my M&P9c. Who knows, I might pick up abox or two of the sig ammo.

  • Lane January 16, 2017, 8:06 am

    I’ve purchased a couple boxes if Sig’s V-crown ammo to try out, but until I it’s confirmed that an L.E. Agency is using it, I stick with what mutiple agencies issue (Federal HST, Speer Gold Dot, ect.) Granted it looks like nice ammo, but has yet to be put to worst case scenario testing like issued L.E. Ammo is / has been.

  • John April 16, 2016, 9:34 pm

    I want to embrace some of these new technologies/products, but have observed in real life shootings some ammunition(s) that are dismal performers in gelatin, ( Winchester Ranger T 147gr. & 9mm & 127 gr. T +P+ 9mm ) show stellar performance in goblins!
    For me the jury is out on these new cartridge combinations, until they have some street credibility. For now, based on real life observation, I go Federal HST across the board in all calibers, with the previously carried Speer Gold Dot in close second. Just my $ .02 worth after 30 years as a Law Enforcement firearms instructor.
    j

  • hey February 28, 2016, 4:56 pm

    The only problem with a slower bullet is you have less explosive shock to the organs, which can be beneficial if you delivered body shots. On the other hand a heavier slower moving bullet can offer more knock down/off balance power and give you more time for follow up shots. I have heard stories of black powered .44/.45 revolvers caliber knocking the victim off there feet back in the day.

  • RJ February 22, 2016, 9:04 pm

    Compared to the Federal HST 147 grain 9mm, the expansion on the Sigs doesn’t look that good. See tests done by shootingthebull410 at:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3VfWkWMzOI

  • Robert McCallum February 22, 2016, 6:53 pm

    Looks like nice ammo, However for my taste , 23 inches of penetration is to much. I will stick with Federal HST 124 grn. In the winter I sometimes switch to Underwood 124+p . He uses bonded Speer gold dot bullets.

  • TPSnodgrass February 22, 2016, 6:02 pm

    I have never been attacked by gelatin. When it happens, I will refer to all of the various “jello” models and see what is best at that time for my situation.
    I appreciate the author’s thoughtfulness in writing this article, and recognize that there is simply not YET enough empirical evidence to suggest that this new offering from SIG is “the” ammo to use. In some locales and climates, perhaps, generally, not so much. Bullet performance depends entirely upon placement and the target into which said projectile is introduced.
    While I am sincerely thrilled that SIG has introduced the new line of ammo, let’s wait for a year or so and see some results from real life incidents before officially pronouncing the efficacy of this particular bullet weight.
    I’ve never appreciated being an unpaid beta tester of the firearms companies, no matter how glossy and tacti-cool the articles and photos are. I think this new line of SIG ammo shows some definite promise for the future, however.

  • Pat Wall February 22, 2016, 9:37 am

    This ammo is manufactured for Sig by Double Tap ammo. As all of Double Taps offerings, this is great ammo. It runs great through my G19 as well as my Kahr and Ruger LCS Pro.

    • D F Cass February 26, 2016, 4:54 pm

      Sig makes their own ammo at their new facility in Eubank, KY.

  • aj February 22, 2016, 7:26 am

    I like the razor-sharp jacket petals, much like the PDX1 rounds. Anything that encourages heavily-bleeding wounds is good in handgun ammunition. Thanks for doing this test!

  • Chief February 22, 2016, 5:50 am

    I prefer the speed of 124 gr plus P in Underwood ammo topped with Speer Gold dot HP .If I were running a can that might be an option.

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