Law enforcement only ammo


I have a feeling someone has asked this question before (probably me), but I cannot find it in “search”. It says that this ammo is loaded “hotter” than usual and to use only in pistols. Does it mean my Kel-Tec carbine will blow up?


What Caliber is the ammo? An e-mail to Winchester would likely get an accurate response.



Whatta I know, but the +P+ designation does reflect a hotter loading. I’d be reluctant to run it through any of my guns, at least in any quantity. Not sure as it would blow up your Kel-Tec, but it could certainly strain things. Recoil would be very impressive.


IIRC +P+ is like super hot…+P being high pressure, +P+ is even hotter…don’t know if I’d chance it through a Kel-Tec…why bother when you can buy lots of 9mm out there? Plus, its probably a collectible box, at least a bit more collectible than the garden variety 9mm…


There are many different Law Enforcement Loads, just like there are many different commercial loads. Some are not “hot” at all, while others, like those from the +P+ box you show, are. It just depends on the load. The LE ammo uses the same “Caliber only”, “Caliber +P”, and “Caliber +P+” headstamping system as the commercial loads and will pretty much tell the story.

I agree that the +P+ ammuntion is pretty hot, and I would not make it a habit of shooting that ammunition in any gun - no reason for it. I personally believe it is safe in any high quality pistol or carbine in good repiar and generally excellent condition. I would not shoot it in any very tiny pistol, unless the factory rates the gun for it (remember, today we have titanium-alloy framed, small, 6-shot revolvers - when made in steel not even generally rated for +P .38 Special - chambered now in .357 Magnum!
Regardless, hot ammunition simply accelerates wear in anything it is fired in. It is made for defensive purposes, not for target practice.

Quite frankly, I have never figured out why some of the loads are even rated as Law Enforcement only by the various factories. In some cases, they are not offered to the public when there is seemingly no reason what-so-ever they should not be, and in other cases.

Vlad - if there is any particular load you are worried about, let me know and I will try to find the ballistics for you. I have about six or seven different issues of the Winchester LE Catalog, and a couple by Federal and CCI also, and if you give me the make, caliber, and product code from the box, I can probably find the ME and MV for you.

The load which came in your box, Winchester 9mm+P+ Index RA9115HP+, with a 115 grain hollow point bullet, has a Muzzle Velocity of 1335fps and a velocity of 1258fps at 25 yards; Muzzle Energy in foot-lbs. is 455 with an energy of 404 at 25 yards. This is fired from a 4" test-fixture barrel, which generally seem to give slightly higher velocities than those actually realized in a self-loading pistol, although probably not to the degree that it makes any difference for any purpose. You can see that this is a hot load compared to US-Made 115 grain FMJ ammo, for example.


Found this little blurb on the Guns & Ammo Handgun page:

“I would be remiss not to discuss another P rating: +P+. This designates that the cartridge is loaded above SAAMI specs for +P ammo, and most manufacturers restrict sale of these loads to law enforcement, for good reason. These loads are carefully tailored for modern service handguns and may not be safe in all firearms. Thus they are not offered to the general public.”


Yes, that blurb, which I have seen also, is indicative of the lawyer’s world we live in. It is a polite way of saying that if we sell this ammo to the public, we are more likely to get sued over an accident that if we sell it to LE and they have an accident, even though serious civilian shooters often know far more about the ammunition and even gun safety than do some LE agencies. No great loss - it is better to simply get a gun of adequate power for the job than to worry about trying to soup up a cartridge that is not adequate.


I think the phrase ‘tailored for modern service hand guns’ is a bit challenging. What they really mean is that the service life of the gun is sacrificed against the effectiveness of the round. Since law enforcement officers are valued more greatly than their guns, it’s a small price to pay for the officer’s safety.

Regular (sports) shooter will damage their pistols in the long run when constantly using +P+ ammunition, with the risk of damaging themselves or others in the process.


I suspect that firing 9mm +P+ ammo would be a very quick way of disassembling any Glisenti pistols you wanted to get rid of…


The original 10MM rounds produced for the FBI in conjunction with the S&W 1076 were loaded to +P+ levels, resulting in cracked frames and slides. They quickly adjusted the loadings which resulted in a lower powered round. Ultimately, the .40 S&W was born from this. The evolution of that round for LE is notable in that this case allowed for the use of existing pistols to recaliber with simply a barrel and mag change.


On the other hand these ammunition companies are so risk adverse when it comes to getting sued that terms like +P are more like marketing aids than statements of significant ballistic superiority. Its a bit like having “GT” on your car years ago.

The difference between .38 Special and .38 Special +P is so small as to make no appreciable difference. I quote from a well known powder manufacturers tables
158grn SWC .38 Special 910fps
158grn SWC .38 Special +P 945fps.
(Pressure 17,200psi for +P against 15,500 psi standard load)

In my experience a lot of MilSpec surplus 9mm ammo is far hotter than standard factory made 9mm anyway. Its all relative.

I would suggest that anything made and sold by a major US manufacturer is never going to be hot enough to cause their lawyers any sleepless nights.

Terms like +P+ reassure police officers, thats the truth of it.


The hot 170gr Norma rounds were tested by the FBI during their early 1989 gelatin tests, but were quickly rejected due to their recoil. The test report contained the following on each page of the Norma results:

They had already made the decision to go with the attenuated 10mm loads before the Model 1076 was ever adopted.


Hey Daniel

I won’t argue your point, but the 1076 was tested early on with these loads which resulted in their rejecting the “hot” loads in favor of the .40 Long :-), as it turned out. Few of the agents liked the 1076 and gave them up freely when the time came to revert back to the SIGs. It was too big and heavy for the lesser sex and an anchor to tote around for the guys. Knowing a couple of the folks involved early on in the process, I was afforded the privelege of “field testing” the 1076s, one with S/N FBI1076. Tried to acquire that one when the buyback was processed, but it had been sent back to S&W for evaluation and apparently recycled. Huge internal fracas over the 1076. Some sort of “brother-in-law” deal had gone on in the procurement. A couple of folks were reassigned after the dust settled.


Dan is absolutely correct. The problems with damaging guns did not happen with the FBI loads. The first loads for the Bureau’s final testing were loaded within the Agency itself with Federal supplying the cases, and reuslted in what the FBI considered the best 10mm load for LE purposes, a subsonic load using a 180 grain Sierra bullet at 980 FPS, as outlined in “FBI 10mm Notes,” from the Firearms Training Unit at Quantico. The problems with the first Norma loads had to do with the original testing of the Bren Ten pistol, the parts of which were of dubious quality themselves, not any of the pistols that the FBI were interested in. As Dan said, they had already discovered that the initial Norma loadings were not desireable, to say the least.

I am not sure that interchangeability of barrels and magazines played any major role in the designing of either the 10mm or the .40 S&W. I cannot think, off hand, of one instance where this was done at a factory or institutional level. The resulting pistol. in most cases, would be very oversized for the .40 S&W cartridge - one of the beneftis of that cartridge was being able to use a shooting platform of approximately the size of 9mm pistols, rather than that of .45s (and even larger). The first S&W in .40, the Model 4006, was almost exactly the same major dimensions of the 9mm Model 5904, except that it was beefed up resulting in the heaviest auto pistol in S&W’s line at the time, as I recall.

The FBI initially adopted the Smith and Wesson Model 1076 which was a smaller gun by far than the 1006, although they required a modification to S&W’s design that later proved to be troublesome, as I recall. I forget now what that modification was.At the time of adoption, and perhaps still, Agents could opt to purchase any approved 9mm or .45 pistol at their own expense and carry that instead. Once the issue of 10mm pistols was completed, no revolvers of any caliber, make or model were to be authorized for carry.

One of the problems with the 10mm commercially was the wide assortment of loads for the pistol. Speaking as a merchant who sld that caliber from its inception, the public was very confused on what loads were what as to velocity; even some of us that sold it were confused due to little differention in the labeling between “hot loads” and “light loads” and had to refer to the catalog for about every second sale of this ammunition once all the varying loads started appearing. I real time waster, speaking from a dealer’s standpoint.

Its a shame - the 10 m/m in its more powerful (but reasonable) loads is a good round and yet by the time we closed our store, it was pretty much a dead issue commercially, and certainly totally dead for police use. I know there have been attempts to revive its popularity, but now that I am “out of the loop” so to speak, I don’t know if they have had any real success. Judging from the silence of the popular press on this caliber, I doubt it.

By the way - one of the best uses the FBI put the round to, in my opinion, was in a semi-auto only (but short-barreled) version of the Heckler & Koch MP5 fitted with a normal stock (not collapsible). It was a really great carbine. I don’t know if they still use them or not. I suppose probably not. They had full auto ones too, as I recall, but the semi-auto made a lot more sense to me.


John, Daniel

Pick a report. Quote a file. Whatever.
For the record, the MP5/10 was utilized briefly for the commonality. Quickly went by the wayside upon disposal of the 1076 from the field. The HK UMP in .45 was concocted, partly, on the request of the bureau as a replacement. Here is an early example pictured on the day it was received by an HRT member to facilitate a training day for the local (Memphis) SWAT members. Ultimately ended up at my house for a couple of days, in order to get an unbiased opinion. POS, but that’s another story. All this to convey that the reports were at times contrived and adjusted to fit the times and mindsets. Numerous and varied loads and weapons are used daily, or were, in an attempt to acquire a do-all/fit-all, for their teams. I’m thinking they’ve gotten past that, but then I’ve been out of the loop for a while and I’m sure the new kids are reinventing some wheel some where. Sadly, my memory is my only resource, and the agent’s inherent camera shyness results in very few photo-documented tests. Being that printed “facts” are our only proof, then so be it. But it ain’t all what it seems. FYI, I’m the guy in the ballcap. The dude next to me was the Quantico HMFWIC over weapons acquisition.


The majority of the 1989 FBI testing was conducted using the Colt Delta Elite. (It was reportedly privately owned by FTU Chief John Hall.) The only Smith & Wesson pistols used during 10mm testing in 1989 were prototypes built off of a 4506 and a 4516. The 1076 wasn’t used for ammunition tests until 1990.

The original issue with the 1076 was a modification to the trigger insisted upon by the FTU against S&W recommendations. If I remember correctly, it either had to do with the length of initial takeup or the release point. At the time, agents were being taught to “prep” the trigger during the draw and presentation. The end result was that one pistol completely locked up in the field, in of all places Miami. The agent had just completed a call out and was trying to clear his pistol, only to find that he couldn’t rack the slide. Further examination showed that the trigger could not be pulled either. Two similar incidents also happened on the range at different Field Offices. There were something like two separate mass returns of pistols to S&W for reworking before the Bureau gave up on the 1076.

As to the MP5/10, the Bureau tried to purchase an additional 50 from HK back in October 2005. Judging from the FBO solicitation, these were for the FBI HRT. I don’t know if HK ever filled this order since the model had already been discontinued for several years at this point.


I guess that settles it, then.


Rick - good picture. thanks. that particular weapon is a much later version of the H&K MP than the one to which I was referring. the gun that I saw on the range used by the San Francisco Bay Area offices was much closer to the tradition MP5 and had a fixed stock. It was a very nice carbine.

You are certainly correct that reports are not the whole story. There are side-lights to the 10mm business that aren’t in them and probably not proper for here, including some infighting to which you alluded. However, I find the FBI reports far more comprehensive than most of the similar published material available.

Dan - I recall some problems that had to do with a lever - perhaps the hammer dropping lever - that was right behind the trigger of the first FBI 1076s, rather than slide mounted. Am I hallucinating? It has been years now, and it wasn’t a matter of great interest to me at the time since it was purely academic for me, as that version wasn’t available to the public. I know from contacts I had at Smith and Wesson (We sold a LOT of their product) that they were not happy with the design “forced on them>”

Well, the whole story of the 10mm is interesting, and the guns and testing cannot be divorced from any scholarly study of the cartridge.



Now that you mention it, I vaguely remember a commercial recall regarding the S&W pistols with the SIG-style decockers. The frames of refitted pistols were marked with punch under the decocker lever.