I remember when the 9mm handgun was first issued in great numbers to peace officers. The first generation, before the SIG P226 and Beretta 92, were not very good handguns. They were often unreliable, and the fit, feel and accuracy were poor. The Smith & Wesson Model 59 was much less accurate than the revolvers it replaced. Few officers could successfully quality with the M59 at 50 yards. Yes, we qualified at 50 yards in those days.
The M59 9mm was one reason many academies and departments dropped the 50-yard qualification. With the heavy, double-action pull and poorly designed grip, first-shot hit probability was poor. Even worse, the first generations of 9mm hollow-point loads were pretty poor. The 9mm, when introduced in 1908, was a hot number. Experiencing 115 grains at 1300 fps or 124 grains at 1260 fps was common.
The German Luger, and later the trendsetting P38 Walther, were well-made handguns. The P38 held its own with any modern handgun. Somehow, through the years, manufacturers watered down the 9mm. By the early 1980s, most factory ammunition broke at 1150 fps with the 115-grain JHP. Common with the poorly designed hollow points were failures to expand and unreliable feeds. The result was a bad combination.
Shooters found the 9mm pistol more difficult than the .38 revolver to use well, and the available loadings were less effective than the best .38 loads. That changed with the SIG P226, as far as handgun reliability and accuracy, although the loads were pretty dismal. Then, manufacturers developed the 9mm +P and 9mm +P+.
Designed for law enforcement use, the 9mm +P+ was intended to give the 9mm a leg up and increase wound potential. With a 115-grain bullet at well more than 1300 fps, those loads were effective. When supplied to law enforcement, agencies signed a hold-harmless agreement in case the loads greatly accelerated wear on the handguns. The SIG P226 and GLOCK 17 could take thousands of those rounds with no ill effect. The +P and +P+ loads are actually no hotter than 9mm NATO.
The problem? Manufacturers did not release the loads to civilians. What were we to do?
By that time, handloaders developed a standard handload for personal defense in the 9mm. Many carried handloads because factory ammunition was not the quality we have today. There were few reliable hollow-point bullets. A heavy charge of Herco powder could jolt a 125-grain Speer JSP to more than 1250 fps. I preferred the Sierra 115-grain JHP to a heavy charge of Herco for 1350 fps. That combination got the 9mm up off its knees.
COR®BON Enters the Field
A new company called COR®BON made its name with custom-grade hunting ammunition. However, the greatest boon to shooters was a readily available 9mm hollow-point loading that equaled or exceeded the LEO loadings. The 115-grain COR®BON used the Sierra JHP, a high-quality bullet that often proved match-grade accurate.
As a young man, among the first loads I chronographed with the Competition Electronics Chrony was the COR®BON 115-grain 9mm. From the 5-inch barrel of my Browning High Power, that load cracked just more than 1350 fps. Working with several agencies issuing the 9mm, I knew the 9mm +P+ as a credible service loading. The COR®BON was readily available and equaled or exceeded the LEO loads. Cops could order it with less hassle—overall, a good deal.
I have used thousands of rounds of COR®BON 9mm throughout the years, and they perform very uniformly. I have never seen COR®BON demonstrate high-pressure signs. Every round has performed as advertised, with good feed reliability, excellent accuracy and good quality control. Some lots may run faster than others, although that is the norm for all modern production ammunition.
As an example, I tested COR®BON 9mm +P with the 115-grain JHP that runs about 1300 fps in my M&P 9mm, fast enough for excellent performance. The newest bullet design is also a good example of a company that continues to develop the product, even when they sell every round they can make. Recently, I tested and evaluated another loading from COR®BON that is certain to become a standard for short-barrel 9mm handguns.
A few decades ago, when the 9mm handgun was standard for the European anti-terror teams, the Germans wanted a practical, effective 9mm loading. Not surprisingly, they did so.
The result was the Geco Blunt Action Trauma, known by the acronym BAT in America. It was an 86-grain, all-copper bullet. The softer nose expanded, while the solid base retained weight. The bullet, at 86 grains, reached 1400 fps in service-length handguns at standard pressure and always fed because a cap that covered the cavernous hollow nose flew away when the bullet exited the barrel.
As a side note, my firing tests (performed long ago) showed the cap impacted the target near the bullet at up to 7 yards, not ideal for hostage rescue. The BAT also featured a tiny hole drilled through the bullet, which limited its range in urban areas and, when shot through a tire, excised a piece rather than allowing it to close. However, the berdan-primed BAT was horribly expensive, running $50 a box in the 1990s. Additionally, berdan priming did not store well.
COR®BON offers a 95-grain DPX at 1300 fps that seems ideal for the compact 9mm. The light bullet is fast enough for good expansion. Unlike most lightweight bullets, the X bullet retains its weight and penetrates to the ideal range. That is a front-runner in the carry-load contest for the compact 9mm handgun.
The load is a great choice for a quality 9mm handgun, such as the Smith & Wesson Shield or GLOCK M26. COR®BON also offers a 115-grain DPX loading that I have found very accurate. In short, the COR®BON 9mm +P loads give the shooter great confidence, partly due to quality manufacturing and high standards, and partly because of the loading’s performance.
COR®BON, arguably, was the first with the most 9mm personal defense loadings and remains at the top of the heap after much testing and practical experience.
Have you used COR®BON loads? Which is your favorite? Share in the comments section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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