Every major ammunition manufacturer has at least one line of premium self defense ammo. Ammunition lines like Critical Defense, Gold Dot, Golden Saber and PDX1 all maximize the potential stopping power from a handgun. But those premium lines come with a cost.
Premium ammo is more expensive than traditional hollowpoint ammunition, sometimes a lot more. Many of the high-end rounds have special construction techniques and all of them have a lot of engineering time behind their development.
For anyone working within a budget, the extra cost of these ammunition lines simply may not be affordable. At more than $1/round in many cases, it becomes expensive to test your preferred handgun with the ammo to make sure it will cycle reliably and provide reasonable accuracy.
So the question is “Will cheap ammunition work for self-defense?” In at least one case, I say: “Yes.”
Remington UMC 115 grain JHP
The UMC line is Remington’s pedestrian line of ammunition. There isn’t anything hyped in this ammo series: just quality handgun and rifle ammo at reasonable prices.
The Remington UMC L9MM1B ammunition is a 115-grain jacket hollowpoint load packaged in 100-round boxes. I’ve found these at the gun counter in Walmart for less than $30 before the recent ammo shortage. These rounds are packaged in relatively non-flashy green and white boxes.
Even though I prefer to carry a premium self defense ammo in my firearms, I can’t deny that having a small stockpile of good, but inexpensive, hollowpoints makes sense for my needs. On more than one occasion, I have handed a box of this stuff to a friend or family member when they purchased a gun, but didn’t buy any hollowpoints to feed it.
This particular load uses a standard lead core hollowpoint with a copper jacket. A 115-grain bullet is on the light end of the most popular bullet weights in 9mm, which means it tends to have faster muzzle velocities than other loads.
Remington publishes the muzzle velocity as 1145 fps from a 4-inch barrel. This is fast enough to ensure reliable expansion in most situations, and produce about 335 ft-lbs of energy. From the specs, this appears to be a decent self-defense load that is operating at normal (not +P) pressures.
I’ve tested the 9mm Remington load through a variety of handguns including:
- Bersa BP9CC
- Glock 19
- Glock 26
- Kahr CM9
- SIG Sauer P226
- Smith & Wesson M&P9
With more than a thousand rounds put downrange, the ammo has functioned very well in all of the handguns. Additionally, the load is easy shooting due to the standard pressure and light bullet weight. In the guns I have shot, accuracy is better than I expected.
I ran the ammunition over a chronograph while shooting a SIG P226 and Glock 19. The P226 has a 4.4-inch barrel and the Glock 19 has a 4.02-inch barrel length. The ammo velocity averaged 1251 fps out of the SIG and 1176 fps from the Glock. Both of these velocities were more than the published specs on the ammunition.
However, the velocities were not consistent from shot to shot. With the SIG, I measured a standard deviation of 136 and 134 with the Glock. So it is possible that I got a box of ammo that didn’t hit Remington’s normally high quality standards – or my chronograph was infected by gremlins.
Taking a look at a review of this same ammunition at Pocket Guns & Gear, the reviewer obtained much better consistency (SD of 12.5) and velocities more in line with my expectations (average: 1015 fps) with a Kahr PM9 (3” barrel).
In that same review, the Remington round penetrated 12 inches of ballistic medium covered with two layers of denim. The recovered bullet had expanded to 0.567 inches and retained 114.2 grains of weight. That is pretty darn good results from a “cheap” hollowpoint.
In head-to-head competition, a premium hollowpoint load will likely perform better than this Remington UMC load in a wide range of testing. The UMC bullet is not bonded, so it is more likely to have problems than a bonded bullet when going through hard mediums such as windshield glass. Fortunately, most citizens in a self-defense shooting don’t need to punch through hard cover.
Standard hollowpoints like this one rely heavily on velocity to ensure reliable expansion. More expensive rounds like the Hornady Critical Defense use technology to help ensure expansion, even at low velocities. So, the Remington UMC’s use in very short-barreled pistols may not produce the expected performance.
Even though there are arguably better performing rounds on the market, I still feel this Remington load is a solid choice for self-defense. It offers respectable performance at a very reasonable price (in a normal market, anyway). Plus it is likely to be found at common retailers.
If you need inexpensive self-defense ammo in 9mm give the Remington UMC a look.