COR®BON 9mm High-Velocity Loads

Two boxes of CORBON ammunition

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.

Black compact 9mm with cartridge on white background
A compact 9mm benefits most from the 95-gr. DPX loading.

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

CORBON 9mm cartridge with gold bottom, copper top on white background
CORBON 9mm offers high cartridge integrity.

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.

Two boxes of CORBON ammunition
The author uses both CORBON loads, depending on a pistol’s barrel length.

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.

Young man in navy t-shirt and jeans shoots a Beretta 92
Capt. Campbell demonstrates excellent control with the Beretta 92.

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.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. I’ve been using Corbon for many years, never had a problem. Now I carry a Glock 33 with Corbon PowRBall 100gr .357 Sig 1600fps/568ftlbs.

  2. Brian,

    It is impossible, physically, for Underwood ammunition- whoever that is-to propel a 90 grain bullet at `1200 fps in the .380 ACP.

    I would be glad to test these loads, however, all the figures I publish are actual velocity from a real handgun using Competition Electronics Chronograph. Ammunition selection is sometimes personal but just the same only verifiable and repeatable results serve the user.

  3. Just for reference, for those unfamiliar with Corbon’s Glaser PowrBall ammo: the 9mm+P is rated (4” barrel) 100gr / 1475 fps / 483ftlbs energy.
    I have used this ammo in .357, 9mm, and .40S&W for years. It feeds reliably in finicky guns, such as a 1911A1 in .40 cal. made in 2001 or 2002. Felt recoil with the lighter bullets is less, but the speed makes up for lighter weight, as evidenced by the energy specs. My wife and I can do much better with follow-up shots in a short barreled concealed carry pistol with this ammo. We keep this ammo in all of our handguns.

  4. I’ve always subscribed to the old adage that you dont argue with a man over his choice/preferences in politics, religion, dogs, knives or guns. I might ought to add ammo?… Good discussion.

  5. I’ve been using Corbon for decades and have had a total of one round not go boom. Early ammo did have trouble feeding but I switched to PoweRball and haven’t had a problem since. My only complaint is availability and pricing.

  6. Gold Dots work as advertised.A lot of Agencies and Departments started shifting to them over the past few years based on performance in actual shootings.

  7. I have used Cor-Bon +P rounds in my backup Glock 26 for probably 10 years, and now that’s my concealed carry weapon since I retired 5 years ago. I never had any problem with them AT ALL and find them to be extremely accurate at normal law enforcement qualifying distances.

  8. Ricky,

    They might have switched for the simple fact that the Gold Dot is a bonded round and Hydra and Cor-Bon were not. I am not sure if Hydra-Shok or Cor-Bon now offer a bonded round or not. This is just a guess on my part not knowing what agency you work for though.

  9. My Dept shifted from Hydra-Shok to Gold Dot a couple of years ago.Never did explain why but I have no complaints about the Dot.
    As for misfires with Cor-Bon Ive never had any.Ive always found it to be quality stuff.
    Interesting.Ill have to go shoot some of my put back stash to see how well its aged.

  10. I have found that my Underwood Ammo in 380 has 9mm performance .
    Technical Information
    Caliber: 380 ACP
    Bullet Weight: 90 Grains
    Bullet Style: Hornady XTP Jacketed Hollow Point
    Case Type: Brass

    Ballistics Information:

    Muzzle Velocity: 1200 fps
    Muzzle Energy: 288 ft. lbs.

    1. That’s not what it says on the Underwood Ammo website:

  11. I use to buy for this ammunition for my department in bulk. We replace our officer duty ammo once a year and take their old duty ammo and use for training. What we found with this ammo was a lot of miss fires. Dented primers but no boom. As you can image that is not good in law enforcement. We now are currently using Gold Dot and have not seen the problems we had with our old Corbon.

  12. I first used Cor-Bon 200 gr ” Flying Ashtray”.45’s (Speer)in the early 90’s and have never regretted it.
    I have several (25 rd) bxs of .357 125 gr Cor-Bons as emergency put-backs for hard time carry.
    Its really,in my humble opinion,one of the maybe Top Three custom loaded ammo offerings on the market.
    I just wish they would bring back my ashtrays.

  13. I really enjoy the log.
    I just want to let you know
    That when you put information
    About cheeper than dirt the price
    That you have generally is not
    The price that C.T.D. will charge.
    The price will change very fast.

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