G9 Bullets: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Authors Clay Martin For Handguns Gear Reviews
G9 Bullets: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Test platform, XDM OSP

Many times in our industry, we see improvement that isn’t real improvement. I hate to say a lot of what we see is snake oil and nonsense, but it is. We have seen some real gains in rifle ammunition over the last few years, as well as things like ballistic computers, metallurgy in barrels, and red dots. Meanwhile, we have also been sold 57 flavors of rail attachment, no less than 3 rail attachment systems to go with them, and enough new magic lubricants to sink a battle ship.

One place we have seen some improvement, but nothing earth shaking, is hand gun bullets. Hollow points today ARE better than the previous versions, but actually aren’t all that different than jacketed defensive rounds from the 60’s.

Well, today we see bullets worthy of the year, from a new company called G9.

G9 Bullets: Something Wicked This Way Comes

40 caliber shown, with boxes for 40S&W and 9mm

Like a lot of you, I am a skeptic by nature. You don’t survive very long in the gun business if you aren’t. Or maybe you do, but you sell and re-purchase your collection every 5 years depending on the trends. Anyway, I am a skeptic. Both from my time as a writer and my time in the military, I am constantly assailed by the NEXT BIG THING. And about 99% of the time, it is a bad idea in fancy packaging. So the first time I saw the G9 bullet, I was having exactly none of it.

The box reads “non-expanding hollow point”, which sounds like the dumbest thing in the world. It is sometimes also called an external hollow point, which isn’t much of an improvement. Looking at the shape of the bullet, and the words “non expanding,” I instantly thought, “Why would I want that?” and moved on to something else. From just the package and surface presentation of the website, this looks like a bullet designed only to defeat barriers. I already have FMJ for that purpose, which has done just fine, thank you, and at a very nice price. I actually wondered if this was developed solely for the military, with the dual problems of fighting in the concrete jungle and not being allowed to use hollow points.

G9 Bullets: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Close up of the 40 S&W

About a month ago, a friend asked if I would take another look at the G9 offerings. I owed him one, so I picked up the phone, and in pretty short order was talking to the designer of the bullet. No harm, no foul, I can shoot a gel block or piece of sheetrock as well as the next guy. I thought that at worst, I would video the G9 not expanding in a gel block, tell you all that, and we could go back to arguing about 9mm vs 45 ACP. I was not prepared for what happened next.

I got the basic spiel, to which I immediately countered, “Why would I want a handgun bullet that doesn’t expand, exactly?” The reply was, “Because it doesn’t have to. And it will make a hole 5 times bigger than any hollow point on the market.”

That sounded like nonsense, but he did have my attention. I listened up but was still half thinking I was being pranked for a radio show.

G9 Bullets: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Expended G9 on the left, regular hollow point on right.

The explanation is something akin to this, and I will take full responsibility for mangling the scienc-y words. (So long as the marketing department at G9 takes responsibility for stamping the box “non expanding” and not explaining what that means.) The G9 is a completely different type of bullet. Instead of expanding and crushing tissue, it has another mechanism of injury. Due to its patented fin shape, it actually grabs tissue like a propeller. Then, to do its damage, it uses rotational force and liquid displacement to project the tissue in its immediate path outward like a water jet cutter.

The G9 has a couple of other things working against it, in terms of getting people to understand its function. First, it doesn’t perform as well in gel as it does in real tissue. Gel is exactly that — it doesn’t have a liquid component. For the G9 to work at optimal performance, it needs real tissue. In theory, at least, it would work even better in tissue with the vascular system still working. That is to say, something with a heartbeat still feeding the muscles. But PETA would petition Youtube to shut us down if we did that, so we worked out a compromise. We used pork slabs, soaked overnight in water, to try and at least rehydrate the cells. It isn’t as good as on the hoof but promised to provide a more accurate picture than ballistics gel.

The second thing about the G9 is that it requires speed to work. The higher the muzzle velocity, the higher the revolutions per minute, and the better it performs. This leads to further details the box doesn’t tell you. The 9mm G9 bullet is only 80 grains, moving at an impressive 1480 feet per second. That may or may not send tingles up your leg, depending on which handgun bullet theory you believe in. I am of the big and fast theory, which is why I like 10mm. But in most normal-sized guns, that relegates me to the big and slow club, like 45 ACP. In whatever caliber, I tend to choose the heaviest bullet, i.e., 180g over 165g in 40 S&W. The light and fast crowd has a following too, but normally not my choice. Understanding how the G9 works, though, you see the necessity of a light, fast bullet. Bear with me, even if that is not your flavor.

Still prepared to not be impressed, off to the range we went. We set up the first 18-inch thick target, I loaded up a 9mm, and then the sky cracked open. Ladies and gentlemen, I have never seen anything like the G9 performance out of a handgun. If you watch the film, you will see me at a rare loss for words. The terminal ballistics can only be described as devastating.

G9 Bullets: Something Wicked This Way Comes

9mm entrance wound size defies logic.

When I stuck my metal probe in the wound track, it felt like I was dropping it down a well. With my finger, the results were even scarier. The G9 bullet caught right after entry and left a six-inch cavity as wide as my thumb, easily. The tissue wasn’t pushed out of the way, it was gone. From a slight press on the first fascia layer of the meat, the hole looked like a 12 gauge slug went through it. From a 9mm round.

As far as actual tissue destruction, I am still at a bit of a loss. I have seen serious rifle rounds that do less damage, arguably most of them. Dead meat doesn’t really account for secondary cavitation, and it is an unreliable wound indicator, anyway. But as far as the job of making a gigantic hole, the G9 borders on the unbelievable.

G9 Bullets: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Stopped projectile, at 18 inches penetration. G9 bullet shows no damage

More rounds of 9mm showed the initial test not to be an anomaly. Every round produced similar insane results. For reference, I also shot a conventional hollow point in the same chunk of meat for side by side testing. The results aren’t even in the same ballpark. By the extremely un-scientific testing method of guessing while using my hands, I would put the G9 performance at 5 times that of a properly mushrooming conventional hollow point.

G9 Bullets: Something Wicked This Way Comes

9mm entrance in fatty tissue, with a recovered projectile.

I had a single box of 40 S&W on hand as well, which we also decided to give a go. It was kind of an afterthought since most people have converted to 9mm these days. G9’s inventor told me that the 9mm would outperform anything on the market in caliber, but the 40 did yield additional gains from both surface area and speed. The G9 40 S&W load is an 80-grain bullet, moving at 1640 FPS.

If the 9mm is best described as devastating, the 40 is best described as catastrophic. I have a hand size that prevented a career in proctology, if still smaller than actual gorilla mitts. The 40 cal entry wound was easily two fingers wide, and the cavitation inside was like something out of a horror movie. It is a safe bet it was twice the damage of the 9mm round, which was already impressive. It is a safe bet that if you connect with the 40 cal, nobody is walking that off.

G9 Bullets: Something Wicked This Way Comes

40 S&W was even more impressive.

So while more testing needs to be done, I think we can call this one a winner. The G9 punches well above its weight in testing, at least on inanimate tissue. This needs to be used on a hog hunt for certain, and some street knowledge would be nice too. It advertises as barrier blind, as well as extremely good against auto glass (other things we need to test). But for right now, as it sits, am I impressed? Let me put it this way. I came home that night and swapped it into my nightstand and carry guns, which is the best endorsement I can give.

G9 Bullets: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Turkey loaf destroyed in the name of ballistic science.

Visit G9 to learn more about G9’s bullets: https://g9bullets.com/

***Shop GunsAmerica for all your ammo***

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  • Bubba December 17, 2023, 12:23 am

    Does it go straight?
    How do they run?

  • TK July 29, 2021, 1:10 pm

    Learned about Lehigh Defense when working in a trauma center. Asked if the officer knew what the patient was shot with as our surgeon was losing her mind and I was in the middle of the MTP (massive transfusion protocol). Later, after calling the patient, he showed me and I’ve forever been a fan. I’ll get an occasional hang up in my CZ scorpion Micro when shooting the 9mm penetrator, but it cycles through my Glock/CZ pistols just fine. Haven’t used any of the .223 HPs yet. It was a review/search on those that brought me here.

    I’ve seen first hand what these rounds do in 9mm to the human body. Trust me, you don’t want to be on the receiving end.

  • Mark Potter June 7, 2021, 11:21 am

    I clicked to check out g9 bullets in the link you provided and it is just blank… nothing opens. Do you have an url I could try?

  • James R McCarthy February 24, 2021, 3:20 pm

    Has anyone seen a comparison between the G9 External Hollow point and the Leigh Defense Xtreme Defense? The design looks extremely similar

  • Bruce December 5, 2019, 6:32 pm

    Got an opinion regarding the G9 10mm Woodsman?

    • Ron April 5, 2020, 11:18 pm

      I’ve been searching all over for any test or review of the 145gr 10mm G9 Woodsman…can find anything? I did buy a box recently and plan on testing it out against some Buffalo Bore and HSM Bear Load. We’ll see. I like the idea of the 1450 FPS!

  • Robert Campbell July 15, 2019, 2:06 pm

    Seems like over-penetration might be a concern?

  • John Hoglin March 15, 2019, 9:22 pm

    There seems to be a number of these X shaped bullets on the market, how is theirs so wonderfuly different? I think I will stick to hollow point bullets or critical defense loads. I still think weight matters.

    • RayJN April 9, 2019, 4:30 am

      velocity increases kinetic energy exponentially, weight increases kinetic energy linearly.

  • Comanche March 13, 2019, 9:20 am

    What AJ and Minuteman said! DEFINITELY!!!%👍🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

    • Area 52 March 14, 2019, 1:02 am


  • Glenn March 12, 2019, 4:22 pm

    As a fellow member of the Cult of 10mm, I’m wondering what the results would look like if you pulled a projectile from the .40 Short and Weak and loaded it to a max pressure load in 10mm.
    Might have a “magic bullet” at that point, the velocity (which is apparently what drives the cavitation/tissue damage) should be exponentially higher, possibly deeper if they increase projectile weight a tad.
    Looks like juggling the velocity and projectile weight factors might give us a smoother shooting 10mm that punches WAY above it’s weight class, well into rifle round territory.

    BTW, your digital examination of the targets for some reason made me think of Bragg Blvd, or E-Town over in in KY.

  • Larry N Lawless March 11, 2019, 6:20 pm

    The Army is said to be going with a new hollow point 9 mm round, could this be it ? I know, hollow points have been forbidden forever in the Army, but my source is an active Army Ranger.

  • Leonce LaRouche March 11, 2019, 3:13 pm

    I have over the years have had my defensive mags. in my 9mm loaded with Black Talons , the bullets were taken off the shelves after I bought mine! When I wanted to buy more of them I was told these were to devastating for public use and were taken off the shelves., by the Johnny Law Makers! I shot one bullet in a the deep end of a swimming pool, and dove down to retrieve the bullet, it made a perfect very sharp saw blade. I have seen what the bullets in what they can do to flesh, I shot a Porky Pine and all I can say WOW! As it sounds I may have buy a box of these new bullets to see the difference! I really never heard much about why the Black Talons were taken out of public hands, does anyone know more than what I have heard?

    • Comanche March 13, 2019, 9:06 am


  • DonB March 11, 2019, 1:19 pm

    The G9 test with the auto glass was impressive but your windshield looked to be 90 degrees or flat from you shooting position. How does the projectile perform when you have the glass angled as it is in 99 percent of vehicles?

  • sigmundsauer March 11, 2019, 11:15 am

    Although the tests appear promising, I think it’s important to understand that a fluted, or scalloped, bullet will immediately be more dramatically displacing tissue upon contact, where tissue damage will steadily taper off as velocity is bled off the bullet. Whereas a conventional hollow point will always have, at most, a caliber sized entry hole until tissue starts expanding the hollow point. I would also surmise that the fluted bullet would naturally penetrate tissue better as it slices versus a conventional hollow point’s blunted point. A legitimate question will be – where do you want the most tissue damage? Upon initial entry nearest the surface…or a few inches in where vital organs are most vulnerable? I am encouraged by the results but hesitate to make any premature conclusions. Any given bullet weight, regardless of construction, at identical velocities will have identical work potential due to the laws of physics. It’s mostly a conversation of how that work is achieved in tissue. At any rate, this should at least dispel the emerging myth that there are no practical differences between 9mm and .40. Naturally, the .40 possesses greater potential for tissue damage simply by virtue of large caliber (usually heavier, too) at often higher velocities than 9mm.

  • Gerald L March 11, 2019, 10:46 am

    Also known as the Lehigh defense Xtreme penetrator. Yawn. Nothing new here. If you want to see an incredible wound Channel caused by a Full Metal Jacket type round, check out the Lehigh defense Xtreme cavitator. If you truly want to see a bullet that is just merciless, Lehigh defense makes one called the Xtreme expansion in 45 Colt. The pedals expand out to over a 1 inch in diameter

  • Terry (SquirrelSlayer) March 11, 2019, 9:40 am

    I love to watch Clay when he finds something impressive. I’ve been loaded up with the Ruger branded ARX (80 gr/1445 fps/371 ft lbs) ever since they came out. My main intention was to find a round with stopping power and less recoil. Same reason I dumped my XDS 45 in favor of a Glock 26 – arthritis – 66 yr old. I can tell you that these are astounding as opposed to the standard 115 to 125 grain hp I’d been using. The reduction in muzzle flip will leave you with a grin again and again. I’ve also used the Inceptor branded ARX in 65gr/1620 fps/379 ft. lbs. Its like shooting shooting a PMR 30 22 mag. Now both these rounds are a polymer-copper projectile with the same profile as the G9. I’ve tested them on water jugs with very impressive results. I’d really like to see a head to head match up with the G9. I’m going to grab some G9 as soon as I can find them and give it a try. I’m thinking that with the G9 I could shoot some butts and still put ’em in the smoker – it’d be like smoked butt with potted meat stuffing. Great review as always guys.

    • Dannie Gillispie September 5, 2020, 10:12 pm

      I have some Ruger ARX rnds in my striker fired pistols and others that are light or have a short slide. The difference would be substantially less than the G9s. The ARX are frangible that explode ater hitting solid tissue/bone. The G9 is solid copper I believe.

  • G P March 11, 2019, 9:32 am

    Very interesting round and it seems to make some sense. But I’ll second the motion that the windshield test should’ve been against an oblique angle rather than flat on. The bullet deflection by windshield glass is hugely affected by the angle of incidence.

    • Tom March 11, 2019, 10:35 am

      pretty sure that’s what he did by constantly moving to his right, shooting a more oblique angles. Did you even watch the video?

      • Tenbones March 11, 2019, 11:26 am

        Also, when you compare the bullet patterns on the targets between the standard 9mm rounds and the G9 rounds, you can see that there is a lot more deflection with the standard 9mm round. This should go a long way in substantiating G9’s straight through glass claim.

  • John March 11, 2019, 8:59 am

    what about clothing? I did not see where you tested on pork or turkey that was covered in cotton shirt material or blue jean material. I do not think I will be confronted by a nude criminal or assailant, so Your test was impressive but I thought miss leading.

  • Tail Gunner March 11, 2019, 8:49 am

    One of your best reviews. Wonder bullet? Looks like it.
    The 9mm G9 velocity was stated differently in the writing and the video. 1480 fps? That is a very manageable 119 power factor.

  • Nade March 11, 2019, 8:35 am

    This is not anything new. I have been using the lehigh defense xtreme defense and xtreme penetrator for a few years. This is essentially the same few years after. The dimples in the bullet may be a little deeper but essentially the same idea and design. I will stick with the original.

  • Rane March 11, 2019, 7:47 am

    Sounds a lot like Lehigh Xtreme Defense to me. Slightly different flute design, but same concept. I load the Lehigh’s in 9, 40, 10mm and 458 socom. They are devastating against deer and pig. My 40 load is most impressive. I load a 115 gr .40 behind 9gr of longshot powder and the end result is 1300fps and the bullet went through 7 one gallon water jugs. I know that’s not very fast considering a 135 gr 40 can reach speeds well over 1400 fps, but the copper bullet takes up a lot more case volume than the jacketed lead bullets do. So 9 grains is all that would fit. But I can’t argue with the results even at a slower speed. The concept of forcing compressed air into a cavity without the projectiles expanding is genius and is not just some ridiculous snake oil idea. It really does perform. Like the article states it works really well on things that have a heart beat. It’s the best of both worlds, larger than caliber permanent wound cavity and penetration. Not to mention hyrostatic shock.

  • JC March 11, 2019, 7:22 am

    Penetration? If the bullet does not get to the vital bits, especially the central nervous system, you will not stop the aggressor immediately. Shallow surface wounds look gruesome and the aggressor may eventually bleed out but he could do a lot of damage back to you before that.

    • Comanche March 13, 2019, 9:12 am

      What part of 18in of penetration didn’t you get!!!%🤔🇺🇸

  • triggerpull March 11, 2019, 7:08 am

    These monolithic design bullets which deliver a “hyperpressure preceding cavitation cone” in front of the bullet have been out for a while with several companies offering similar concepts–most notably Lehigh’s pioneering pistol offerings in their extreme defense and extreme penetrator designs (which are more like Phillips heads than propeller heads). Scuttlebutt is the Army actually tested Lehigh’s 9mm penetrators against 40 and 45 conventional ammo and the 9mm outperformed both in penetration, wound cavity and energy delivered.

  • kris fullington March 11, 2019, 6:56 am

    I am a person who is a 20yr Navy veteran, with training as a member of Nuclear Weapons Security Force, (ship board combat), and post Navy as Police Officer. For civilian defense concealed carry and home defense over penetration is a real concern, (or should be). I teach Concealed Carry and home defense in Florida and always recommend the ARX round. The ARX causes a massive temporary wound cavity that will drop a person. I have tested it from .380 up to .458 SOCOM. All my tests confirm the manufacturers claim that penetration will not exceed 18 inches. It is not good for firing at targets thru other materials which for most civilian applications is ideal to prevent collateral damage. I heartily recommend you test this round and share the results to your audience. RSVP Kris R Fullington USN (Ret.)

    • triggerpull March 11, 2019, 5:16 pm

      Have you tried the Lehigh extreme penetrator in your 458 socom? very powerful and very accurate.

  • Dr. Strangelove March 11, 2019, 5:28 am

    I’ve been using the Ruger ARX (same type of bullet in a copper/polymer matrix) in my .380 subcompact because of the reduced recoil. I, too, would like to see some real world results from these new projectiles.

  • Dominic Baldaray March 11, 2019, 4:15 am

    Not a .40 guy. Impressed by the 9mm. Would love to see what the .45 does.

    • Jeffrey Szabo March 13, 2019, 9:53 am

      Ditto. Please test a .45ACP.
      Thank you 😊

  • James M March 10, 2019, 3:41 am

    I take most people’s word with a grain of salt. As for you, always been a straight shooter. Definitely going to try it out. Seems like it’s niche is for pistols. Couldn’t imagine what a .308 would be like. Good against two legged varmints, not so much for four. Unless a person likes making burger before skinning.

  • AJ March 10, 2019, 1:01 am

    I really want to see how this round fares against armor, both soft and rifle plate.

    That is a ridiculous wound channel though. This round will be great for self defense. Unfortunately, I also see it being considered a “cop killer” bullet in the long run. Or being too scary for libtard traitors to be left on the market.

    Great video clay, but I would want to test performance with a properly oriented windshield. Probably won’t make mush of a difference though.

    • LT March 11, 2019, 8:22 am

      Aj must be 5’2″ and hung like a gerbil to have that much animosity for people who live his head. Judging from that post, he must have peaked in 6th grade.
      Lighten up Francis.

      • AJ March 11, 2019, 10:09 am

        5’10” actually… And I may not reach the bottom but I scrape the shit out of the sides…

        As for animosity, no, I just realize that gun owners are becoming the minority. Or at least will if gun grabbers have anything to say about it. Especially now that they want 16 year olds to be able to vote for some reason. And these gun grabbers try to outlaw everything that they consider “scary”.

        As for the windshield, the orientation of a barrier can have an effect on penetration and deviation. Even if it is slight.

        • minute-man March 11, 2019, 11:35 am

          I agree with AJ…completely, -and I will just add, that the ‘progressive’ component of the Democrat party are very nasty frothing communist operatives, getting ever bolder in government as well as with their violent fascist behaviors in the street… America’s rapidly becoming Paris France. And now, .. you have at least 2 ( if not more -I don’t count well ) new anti-American Mooslums who -somehow’ “won” a congressional seat adding their evil to the 100 to 200 or more commies masquerading as “Democrats” and RINO’s … It’s all downhill from here boys…

          Living (?) as I must, in the Soviet Socialist State of New Yawk I have witnessed the gun owning ‘Elmer Fuds” in this country as they looked the other way for years while our constitutional rights have been stolen over and over and over again . Until now, -now you have enough communists ( calling themselves ‘Democratic Socialists’ ) in government to nearly take over the entire Congress and push through any edict they care to. Unconstitutional, or not. …Its only a matter of 1 to 2 election cycles and their work will be done…

          Everyone’s going to need lots of these shiny little babies real soon me thinks.
          Stock up boys…. Oh, and lets not forget those fine Black Hills ‘Honey Badgers’… ‘Same fine story, different title’.

          • Jeffrey Szabo March 13, 2019, 10:07 am

            Unfortunately, all that said here is true. Hard to understand how Congress can take an Amendment, directed at them, to forbid them from infringing on our gun rights, and turn it around to infringe (!?), with the SCOTUS backing them up since 1934! My wife thinks I have enough ammo, but a storm is coming; and, “I have enough ammo” is NOT something they taught me in the Army! Load up, boys! And buy enough magazines, for Heavens sake! And a bayonet! And a machete. And, and, and…

        • BuhBang March 11, 2019, 11:53 am

          Great come back AJ and it deserves a repost

          “5’10” actually…And I may not reach the bottom but i scrape the shit out of the sides”

          I’m still laughing at that

          It looks like LT is the one that peaked in the 6th. grade, he can’t make a educated argument so he goes straight to the insults. Just like the democrats do. I think LT stands for lib tard …just a coincidence perhaps

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