Pros: A good standard pressure load that is commonly available and priced right.
Cons: Older bullet technology and might not have adequate penetration.
Originally developed in 1902 for the Luger pistol, the 9mm Parabellum (9x19mm) cartridge has gone on to become one of the most popular handgun cartridges in the world.
In the U.S. the 9mm did not achieve the same popularity as more "American" cartridges, such as the .45 ACP or .38 Special, until the late 1970's and early 1980's. Before that time the 9mm was seen as more of a oddity then a practical cartridge and relatively few 9mm handgun designs were available in the U.S.
Things have changed since then and now the 9mm is one of the top selling handgun rounds in the U.S. with a wide variety of pistol designs available chambered in this round.
Two things made the difference to make the 9mm popular in the U.S. The first was the introduction of the so-called "Wonder-nine" 9mm pistols starting in the late 1970's. These new pistol designs combined a double-action mechanism with then unheard of magazine capacity.
Previously the largest capacity handgun readily available had been the single-action Browning High Power which held 13 shots. The new "Wonder-nines", such as the S&W 59, Beretta 92, and Sig 226, held as many as 16 rounds and featured double-action mechanisms which allowed them to be carried with the hammer uncocked.
At the same time the "wonder-nines" were being introduced a revolution in bullet technology was underway. The development of modern Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) defensive ammunition greatly increased the effectiveness of the 9mm round when compared to the old-style FMJ ammunition. Shooters could now pair their modern high-capacity "wonder-nine" pistols with equally modern and effective defensive ammunition.
The Winchester 9mm 115 gr Silvertip cartridge is one of first modern defensive loads that helped establish the 9mm round as a serious defensive round in the U.S.
The round uses a Jacketed Hollow Point bullet that weights 115 grains fired at a published velocity of 1225 feet per second (FPS) as measured at the muzzle. This is a standard pressure load, not a +P load, and offers what is probably the highest velocity of any standard pressure 115 gr 9mm load.
The Silvertip projectile is no longer on the cutting edge of bullet technology. The bullet itself is lead hollow point with a jacket made of copper and nickel. The nickel coating gives the projectile its characteristic silver color.
More modern ammunition, such as Winchester's own SXT and Ranger SXT loads, uses bonded bullets that are designed to consistently maximize expansion and penetration while retaining most of the bullet weight at maximum penetration.
FBI protocols for defensive ammunition call for a bullet penetration of at least 11" as measured in ballistic gelatin. This 9mm Silvertip round typically tests out as penetrating from 8" to 10" in independent tests. While ballistic gelatin is not human flesh, it does establish a baseline for comparison.
This load is more suitable when fired from a pistol with a 4" or longer barrel and may have more problems with penetration when fired from shorter barreled handguns.
Although it is older technology, the Winchester Silvertip 115 gr 9mm round does offer a few advantages. The first is that it is a standard pressure load with mild recoil characteristics and low muzzle blast. This can be important to some shooters. A standard pressure load is also recommended for older guns that might not be suited for modern +P or +P+ ammunition.
The other advantages of the Winchester Silvertip 9mm load are availability and price. This often is the only defensive load available at many retailers and the price for a 50 round box is often less then the price of a 20 round box of premium defensive ammunition. This is especially relevant since it is important to shoot at least 100 rounds of defensive ammo through any particular firearm before declaring it reliable enough to protect your life.
Although the Winchester 9mm 115 gr Silvertip is no longer on the cutting edge of defensive ammunition technology it is still a viable choice for self defense use, especially for a shooter on a budget.
Here are my other ammunition reviews.
Personal defense ammo for semi-auto pistols:
Winchester Ranger SXT RA9TA 9mm Luger 127 gr +P+ is a top defensive load
Federal C9BP 9x19mm 115 gr JHP is a great standard pressure defensive load
Winchester .45 ACP JHP's for target shooting or self defense
Personal defense ammo for revolvers:
Speer .38 Special +P 135 gr GD SB - Ammo for snub revolvers
Winchester .38 Special +P 125 gr Silvertips are not for Werewolves
Winchester .38 Special 110 gr Silvertips is a good standard pressure load
Blazer .357 Magnum JHP's for inexpensive target shooting with Magnum Force
Economical target ammo:
Blazer 9mm pistol ammo: Blaze away with cheap bulk ammo for target practice
Winchester White Box 9mm 115 gr FMJ ammo is good, cheap target ammo
Remington UMC Mega Pak 9mm ammo is good bulk ammo
Blazer Brass 9mm 115 gr FMJ is good, cheap ammo for shooters on a budget
Sellier & Bellot 9mm Luger ammunition - An OK plinking round
Federal American Eagle 9mm 115 gr FMJ is good, economical bulk target ammo
Winchester White Box 9mm FMJ ammo is 50 rounds of good, cheap practice ammo
American Eagle 9mm 147gr FMJ FP for target shooting
Winchester Win Clean 9mm bulk ammo for lead free target shooting
American Eagle 9mm 147 gr TMJ ammo reduces the risk of heavy metal poisoning
Blazer .45 Auto pistol ammo for 1911 pistols or other .45 ACP guns
American Eagle .45 Auto (.45 ACP) for the classic American 1911 pistol
The Winchester .45 ACP 230 gr FMJ load is a good budget ammo choice
Blazer Brass .45 ACP 230 gr ammo is good, inexpensive fodder for semi-auto pistols
American Eagle .45 ACP 230 gr TMJ ammo reduces toxic chemical exposure
9x18mm Makarov FMJ ammo by American Eagle for the pistol of the Russian Bear
Wolf Military Classic 9x18mm Makarov ammo - Avoid at all costs
American Eagle .38 Special 130 gr FMJ ammo for revolver shooters
American Eagle .38 Special 158 gr LRN: Good cheap ammo for revolver shooters
Winchester .38 Special FMJ Q4171 - You can do better
Winchester Super-X .22 LR target ammo for .22 plinking