What is +P Ammunition?

+P Ammunition Header

A Guide to Understanding +P Ammo

About +P Rated Ammunition

+P” rated is a designation used for certain types of Ammunition, indicating higher pressure and velocity than standard Ammunition. This designation is typically used for handgun ammunition and is intended for use in firearms designed to handle the increased pressure and recoil.

+P Ammunition
Notice that +P Ammunition doesn’t look any different than regular Ammunition.

The +P rating is not standardized and varies depending on the cartridge and manufacturer. In general, +P-rated Ammunition produces higher velocities and more significant energy transfer upon impact, making it more effective for self-defense or hunting. However, it can also generate increased recoil and muzzle blast, which can be uncomfortable or difficult for some shooters.

Not all firearms are designed to handle +P Ammunition, so it is essential to check your firearm’s manual or consult a qualified firearms expert before using this type of Ammunition.

Common Calibers for +P Ammo

+P -VS- Regular Ammo

+P Ammunition is available in several calibers but is most commonly used for handgun cartridges. +P Ammunition doesn’t typically look any different than standard ammunition. Some of the most common handgun calibers that have +P variants include:

  • 9mm Luger +P
  • .38 Special +P
  • .357 Magnum +P
  • .45 ACP +P

Check the manufacturer’s recommendations before using these types of Ammunition.

Handguns rated for +P Ammunition

Many modern handguns including, 1911s, striker-fired, and revolvers are designed to handle +P Ammunition. Still, it’s essential to confirm whether your gun is. Some examples of firearms that are commonly ordered for +P Ammunition include:

  • Glock pistols: Many Glock pistols are rated for +P Ammunition. Check the owner’s manual for your specific model.
  • Smith & Wesson revolvers: Many Smith & Wesson revolvers are rated for +P Ammunition.
  • SIG Sauer pistols: Many SIG Sauer pistols are rated for +P Ammunition.
  • Ruger revolvers and pistols: Many Ruger firearms are rated for +P Ammunition.

Further, some models of handguns rated for +P ammo are:


  • I was not able to confirm all the above models on their websites, so please confirm with your manual or with your manufacturer. I did talk with trusted experts but with something like this, you want to be 100% sure.
  • On Glock’s Websites FAQ section this question is posed and this is their response:

Q: What kind of ammunition should I use in my GLOCK pistol? Can I use +P and +P+ ammunition?

A: We recommend using ammunition that is manufactured and meets SAAMI or other industry standards, and while some +P ammunition meets these guidelines, +P+ usually does not. This ammunition may generate a higher pressure than standard ammunition, which could shorten the life of the parts of your firearm.

Source: Glocks Website FAQ

Advantages of +P Ammunition

The advantages of +P Ammunition can vary depending on the specific cartridge and application. In general, some potential benefits of using +P Ammunition include the following:

  • Increased stopping power: +P Ammunition generally produces higher velocities and more significant energy transfer. Upon impact, it can be more effective for self-defense or hunting purposes. This increased energy can help to stop a threat more quickly and effectively.
  • Improved accuracy: Some shooters report improved accuracy with +P Ammunition.
  • Better penetration: +P Ammunition may be more likely to penetrate barriers, making it a good choice for self-defense.
  • Greater range: The higher velocities and energy of +P Ammunition may allow for a greater effective range than standard Ammunition.

Typical +P Ammo Cost Difference

The cost difference between +P and regular Ammunition can vary depending on the specific cartridge and manufacturer, but for the most part, +P Ammunition tends to be more expensive than standard Ammunition.

cost of ammunition

The cost difference can vary widely depending on the caliber and the specific brand of Ammunition. For example, a box of 50 rounds of standard 9mm ammunition may cost around $15 to $20. While a box of 50 rounds of 9mm +P ammunition from the same manufacturer may cost about $25 to $40.

Similarly, a box of 50 rounds of .38 Special standard Ammunition may cost around $20 to $25. At the same time, a box of 50 rounds of .38 Special +P Ammunition from the same manufacturer may cost about $30 to $45.

It’s important to note that the higher cost of +P Ammunition is due to the materials and manufacturing processes. At the same time, the increased cost may be a consideration for ammunition application. It’s essential to prioritize safety and effectiveness when selecting Ammunition for self-defense or other high-stakes situations.

Manufactures +P Ammo

Many ammunition manufacturers produce +P Ammunition, including some of the most well-known brands in the industry. Here are a few examples:

  • Hornady: Hornady produces a variety of +P Ammunition, including options for 9mm, .38 Special, and .357 Magnum.
  • Winchester Ammunition: Winchester offers several +P options for handgun calibers, including 9mm, .38 Special, and .357 Magnum.
  • Remington Ammunition: Remington produces +P Ammunition for several handgun calibers, including 9mm, .38 Special, and .357 Magnum.
  • Speer: Speer produces a variety of +P Ammunition for handguns, including options for 9mm, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, and .45 ACP.

It’s important to note that not all ammunition manufacturers produce +P versions of their cartridges. Hence, it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s website or contact customer support to confirm whether +P Ammunition is available for a particular cartridge.

Ballistic Comparisons

The ballistic performance of Ammunition can vary widely depending on factors such as the bullet weight and design, powder charge, and velocity, among other factors. Comparing the performance of +P and regular Ammunition from the same manufacturer may show differences in velocity, energy transfer, and other factors. Still, the specifics of the comparison would depend on the cartridges being compared.

test firing ammunition

In general, +P Ammunition is designed to produce higher velocities and more significant energy transfer upon impact than regular Ammunition, which can result in improved stopping power and performance in specific applications. However, using +P Ammunition can also have some potential drawbacks. Some drawbacks include increased recoil and muzzle blast, faster

wear and tear on the firearm, and potential safety risks if used in a gun that is not rated for this type of Ammunition.

Ballistic Example

Here’s a comparison between two types of .45 ACP ammunition from Federal Premium Ammunition:

  • Federal Premium HST .45 ACP 230 gr +P: This cartridge features a 230-grain HST bullet. It is designed to expand upon impact and deliver high-weight retention and deep penetration. The +P rating means that this cartridge is loaded to higher pressures and velocities than standard .45 ACP ammunition. It produces a muzzle velocity of around 950 feet per second and a muzzle energy of about 461 foot-pounds.
  • Federal Premium HST .45 ACP 230 gr: This cartridge is similar to the +P version above but is loaded to standard .45 ACP pressures and velocities. It features the same 230-grain HST bullet but with a muzzle velocity of around 890 feet per second. Additionally, a muzzle energy of about 405 foot-pounds

This is one example but there are more dramatic differences in some ammunitions. In the below 9MM example, the +P Ammunition has over double the fps (1000 fps vs 2040 fps).

+P and regular ammo comparison 9mm
Left standard JHP bullet and right +P Ammunition

In terms of ballistic performance, the +P cartridge offers higher muzzle velocity and energy than the standard cartridge. This can result in deeper penetration and greater tissue damage upon impact.

It’s important to note that the specific performance of a given cartridge can vary depending on certain factors. Those include barrel length, temperature, and humidity, among others. Thus, the above comparison is a general guideline and may not reflect the exact performance you would see.

Factors Regarding Bullet Grain

Some of you may notice in the above example the +P round is less than half the grain of the standard round and are wondering how is it faster and more powerful.

The amount of powder in a cartridge is not the only factor that determines its velocity and energy. Other factors such as bullet weight, shape, and design, as well as the pressure generated by the powder charge, also play a significant role.

Bullet Manufacturing

+P Ammunition is designed to operate at higher pressures than standard Ammunition. Which allows it to generate more energy and velocity even with less powder. The higher pressure also allows for better utilization of the powder, leading to a more efficient burn and faster muzzle velocity.

Additionally, +P Ammunition often features specially designed bullets with higher sectional densities or ballistic coefficients, which can help to increase their effectiveness and energy transfer upon impact. These bullets may also have a more aerodynamic design, reducing air resistance and allowing them to maintain velocity over longer distances.

Overall, the combination of higher pressure, efficient powder burn, and specially designed bullets allows +P Ammunition to achieve higher velocity and energy with less powder compared to standard Ammunition.

Common Uses for +P Ammunition

concealed carry

+P Ammunition is generally used for self-defense, hunting, and law enforcement applications, where maximum stopping power and performance are critical. The higher velocity and energy of +P Ammunition can help to ensure that the bullet effectively penetrates and expands in the target delivering more energy and damage to the target than standard Ammunition.

Common uses for +P Ammunition include:

  • Self-defense: +P Ammunition is often used for self-defense applications, where the shooter needs to quickly and effectively neutralize a threat. The increased energy and stopping power of +P Ammunition can help ensure that the bullet effectively stops the threat.
  • Law enforcement: Some law enforcement agencies use +P Ammunition in their service firearms. It can help ensure that officers can quickly and effectively stop a threat.
  • Hunting: Some hunters may use +P Ammunition for hunting applications. For example, to take down larger game, such as wild boar or bear. The increased energy and penetration of +P Ammunition can help ensure that the bullet effectively neutralizes the animal.

It’s important to note that the use of +P Ammunition should be limited to firearms that are rated for it.

Ammunition Storage Considerations

ammunition storage

If +P and standard Ammunition are stored together, there is also a risk of accidentally mixing the two types when loading a firearm. This can happen if the Ammunition is not clearly labeled or stored in a way that makes it easy to identify. If someone mistakenly loads a firearm with the wrong type of Ammunition, it can lead to serious malfunctions or accidents when the gun is fired.

To avoid these risks, it is important to store +P Ammunition separately from standard Ammunition, in a clearly labeled and secure location. This can be a separate container or compartment within a larger storage area, or a completely different storage location altogether. By keeping +P Ammunition

separate from standard Ammunition, gun owners can ensure that they always know which type of Ammunition they are using and avoid the potential for dangerous mixing.

+P ammunition FAQs

What does the “+P” in +P Ammunition stand for?

The “+P” stands for “plus pressure.” The Ammunition is loaded to higher pressures and velocities than standard Ammunition. It can provide improved performance in certain applications.

Is +P Ammunition more expensive than standard Ammunition?

Yes, +P Ammunition is generally more expensive than standard Ammunition. The higher quality components and additional testing add to the cost

Is +P Ammunition legal?

Yes, +P Ammunition is legal for civilians to purchase and use in most states. However, it’s important to check your local laws and regulations to ensure that you are using it legally.

What caliber is +P Ammunition available in?

+P ammunition is available in a variety of calibers, including .38 Special, 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, among others.

Does a +p round look the same as a regular round of Ammunition?

Generally speaking, +P Ammunition looks the same as standard Ammunition, as it is typically the same size, shape, and weight as standard Ammunition. However, +P Ammunition is typically labeled as such on the packaging or cartridge itself. So it’s important to check the labeling or markings to ensure that you are using the correct Ammunition for your firearm. Some manufacturers may also use different colored casings or other markings to help distinguish +P Ammunition from standard Ammunition. It’s important to always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings before using any type of Ammunition.


  • Michael Hodgdon

    A firearm, shooting, outdoor, and hunting enthusiast for over 35 years. Thank you all for the suggestions on topics you would like to see; we'll keep posting as you keep sending them in. Please comment; we will try to answer all comments quickly.

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