Review: Speer Gold Dot Carbine 9mm Ammunition

You know, it’s weird. I am a massive fan of pistol-caliber carbines (PCCs), yet I own, by my count, exactly one. While I do have a lever-action Rossi Model 92 in .357 Mag., it has a 24-inch barrel, so can hardly be considered a carbine. That leaves my KelTec SUB2000 (first generation) as the sole PCC in my armory, despite being a big fan of the genre. I’ve reviewed quite a number of PCCs, though, including the excellent Smith & Wesson FPC (which may very well become the second PCC in the armory). Having a carbine that can take the same magazines as a defensive handgun makes a ton of sense, especially when you’ve got a lot of those magazines around.

PCCs in 9mm, though, have had an interesting history. Militaries around the world use 9mm submachine guns like the MP5, Uzi and historical guns like the Sten, Madsen, Smith & Wesson Model 76 and countless others; however, when it comes to the semi-automatic versions, we’ve been more or less left wanting. With the massive increase in AR-15-style rifles the past few decades, a number of simply excellent 9mm ARs have been introduced (JP Rifles and CMMG come immediately to mind), including the Springfield Armory Saint Victor. Colt mags, Uzi mags, Glock mags; there’s a ton we could discuss when it comes to PCCs.

One thing, though, has been constant: In general, ammunition for PCCs has been, more or less, “whatever works for 9mm pistols.” That changed, though, with Speer’s Gold Dot Carbine ammo. While Speer has offered optimized Gold Dot ammunition for short-barrel pistols, revolvers and other specialized uses, this new product is engineered for the pistol-caliber carbine. Utilizing Speer’s Gold Dot G2 projectile, the tip contains an elastomer to help control expansion, while the round itself makes use of longer carbine barrels for greater velocity, which obviously translates into greater muzzle energy.

In testing, this absolutely bears out: Three different carbines were selected to test the Speer Gold Dot Carbine ammo (and if you were paying attention earlier, you saw this coming)—a KelTec SUB2000 with a 16.1-inch barrel, a Smith & Wesson FPC with a 16.25-inch barrel and a Springfield Armory Saint Victor with a 16-inch barrel. Testing was spread across the three carbines pretty evenly, with standard Shooting Illustrated testing protocol observed (10 shots for velocity, five five-round groups for accuracy) mixed in with general function testing and drills.

In order to detail the difference of the carbine-specific Speer Gold Dot ammo, I tested it against the excellent Federal HST Deep 135-grain JHP round. Both projectiles are the same grain weight and are both hollowpoint construction, and while it’s not a true apples-to-apples comparison, it’s pretty close. In all three carbines, the Speer was demonstrably faster: there was a 63 fps increase in velocity out of the KelTec, a 127 fps increase out of the Smith & Wesson and a 159 fps increase out of the Saint Victor. That’s a minimum of a 5-percent increase up to nearly 15 percent depending on the firearm used.

Accuracy among all three carbines was consistent, with results from approximately 1 to 1.3 inches at 25 yards from a bag-supported rest (our standard accuracy protocol is at 50 yards for pistol-caliber carbines, but both the Springfield and Smith & Wesson had red-dot sights attached, while the KelTec only had the standard plastic sights. I decided to bring the testing to 25 yards so my poor eyesight didn’t artificially inflate the KelTec’s results. At closer engagements (10 to 15 yards), single, ragged holes were commonplace among the three carbines.

In total, 200 rounds of Speer Gold Dot Carbine were fired through the three carbines with exactly zero failures of any kind. All rounds fed, fired and ejected exactly as expected, despite running from three different magazines in three different firearms. Velocity and attendant muzzle energy were noticeably higher than in other 135-grain 9mm hollowpoints, while accuracy proved more than sufficient for defensive purposes. Speer’s Gold Dot Carbine ammo gives a fast, effective and efficient option for your home-defense carbine, and that’s an excellent option indeed.

Speer Gold Dot Carbine 9mm Shooting Results


Group Size






KelTec SUB2000





Smith & Wesson FPC





Springfield Armory Saint Victor






Velocity measured in fps 10 inches from the muzzle for 10 consecutive shots with a Garmin Xero C1 Pro chronograph. Temperature: 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Accuracy measured in inches for five consecutive, five-shot groups at 25 yards from a bag rest.

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