The Story Behind Nosler Ammo
February 12th, 2023
5 minute read
When seeking ammo for your pistols, do you stroll into the store and snap up whatever is left on the shelf? Or, are you the discerning type that knows exactly what weight bullets you are looking for and always run the same manufacturer’s ammo through your firearms? There is technically no right or wrong answer here, but the more you know, the better your range experience can be.
Luckily for us, there are innovative, high-standard companies creating class-leading components and ammunition for the discerning firearms owner out there. I wanted to spotlight a specific company that in some respects stands at the front of the pack with regards to quality and innovation, and that is Nosler, Inc.
Nosler’s roots go all the way back to 1948, being founded by John Amos Nosler as a means to produce a better hunting bullet for large game. Prior to Nosler’s bullets, a common option would be a bullet that often passed through the animal, creating a small wound channel, or a soft-point bullet that sometimes broke into small pieces before moving through bone or muscle tissue. Neither was an ideal option, and that created an opportunity for an innovative man with a desire for excellence.
Never settling for what is, Nosler developed a new bullet design for personal use using handmade, lathe-turned jackets. The round was intended to expand readily at low-impact speeds, yet maintain integrity at high-impact velocities. The bullet was such a success that Nosler began selling them commercially, forming Nosler, Inc., a family-owned company located in Bend, Oregon.
Nosler is known for manufacturing premium component bullets, brass and ammunition; after all, their motto is “Quality First”, something that is evident with every shot. Each round that leaves the Nosler factory is checked for correct length and is neck-sized, chamfered, and trued, and flash holes are checked for proper alignment. Furthermore, powder charges are meticulously weighed, and finished rounds are visually inspected and polished. All this to give you, the customer, the best experience with the highest quality ammunition.
For my purposes, I was very interested in what Nosler had to offer for my 9mm pistols. For this, Nosler has their lines of ASP rounds, which stands for “Assured Stopping Power”. These are match-grade bullets with the addition of an expanding hollow-point bullet designed specifically for duty and defensive use. In 9mm you can expect to find 115-gr., 124-gr. and 147-gr. offerings. The bullets are jacketed hollow points, with other defensive flavors such as bonded or tipped bonded available.
If you’re not familiar with the reference to “grains” such as 115, 124 and 147, this is essentially the mass/weight of the projectile. A lighter bullet, say 115 grain, will travel faster than a heavier bullet, say 147 grain. You could ask 10 people and get 10 different answers on what they prefer and why. Is there a right or wrong answer? I don’t believe so, pick up a few weights and see what feels good and operates reliably in your chosen pistol. You may also find that one type/weight shoots more accurately than the others in your particular gun.
On the range, I was able to test the 9mm ASP 115-gr. and 124-gr. loadings. From long guns to EDC pistols, I wanted to see how reliable and accurate the Nosler rounds were compared to my typical ball range ammo.
My first test was determining accuracy at 7 yards using both my 4.25” 1911 DS Prodigy and my Hellcat Pro using the 115-gr ASP rounds. I was able to achieve five-shot groups in about 1” to 1.5”. I was pretty happy with that, considering the standard of accuracy didn’t change much from a 1911-style platform to a compact. The Nosler ammo was consistent and very accurate in both handguns. Based on the data from the website, the 115-gr. ASP rounds have a muzzle velocity of 1,170 fps and 350 ft-lbs of energy. That’s a quick and capable bullet!
I also tested the 124-gr. ASP rounds in my SAINT Victor 9mm Carbine. The rounds had zero feeding problems and were as smooth and reliable as I had experienced in my two pistols.
I tell ya, it’s going to be hard to go back to my basic range ammo after the levels of consistency and accuracy I was able to achieve with the Nosler ammo. I will be checking out their 9mm +P 124-gr. Tipped Bonded Performance Defensive Ammo for my daily carry. The Performance Defensive Ammo Is developed with the same tech as the Nosler AccuBond line. The AccuBond tech keeps the jacket/core together which gives you better barrier penetration and weight retention for the bullet.
The Performance Defensive are loaded to the strictest tolerances using high-performance powder, and Nosler Premium Brass. Another benefit of the Tipped line is how reliably and smoothly the rounds feed in your pistol. The polymer tip fills the hollow point bullet, which not only resists clogging but also aids in feeding. It basically functions like a round-nosed FMJ (full metal jacket) round. When every round counts in a defensive scenario, you need every advantage you can get.
If there is one thing you take away from this piece, it’s that choosing the right ammunition is paramount to your success on the range, during a competition or in defending your life. Ball ammo is certainly fine for practice and punching holes in paper, but when it counts, you need the utmost confidence in your ammunition and its performance. Nosler certainly has proven itself to me during my testing at the range.
If you are a competitive shooter or carrying a firearm for self-defense, you can count on Nosler to provide you with extreme levels of accuracy, consistency and stopping power. Give the Nosler line-up of handgun ammo a look and put the rounds through your own testing and evaluation. Like me, I am sure you’ll be impressed enough to pick up a few more boxes.
Editor’s Note: Please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in and discuss this article and much more!