The 9mm Silvertip was the reason that, subsequent to the infamous "Miami FBI Shootout" in April of 1986, that the FBI went back to the drawing board and the 10mm cartridge was developed.
The repeated failures of the Silvertip to kill Matix and Platt has been examined in detail over the past 36 years. Caused the FBI to abandon the 9mm for several years, going through the 10mm and then the .40 S&W before finally jumping back into 9mm.
Frankly, I don't know why the round survives. I've seen nothing indicating that Winchester has done anything to improve this bullet in 9mm.
I will add that I scored a great deal on a 500-round case of 125-grain .357 Magnum Silvertip JHPs a few years back, and I'm using these, they're quite accurate.
The reason that the 9mm Silvertip survived is because their tests did not find that the bullet type mattered. The one bullet that did not reach the heart, was, well one bullet, So, they did all their testing and guess what, not one 9mm brand of bullet of any type could reach the 12 inch limit with proper expansion. I have copied their test results below.
And also, I will point out over and over. That bullet went thru his forearm before it his chest.
The 9mm Silvertip is the bottom one here. It only penetrated 11.37 inches, an average of 40 rounds. And a predictability rating of only 35% success. The 3 Hydra-Shok rounds all had a predicted rating of 75-82.5%.
But if you look at the chart only 2 rounds had a 100% predictability rating, the 357 and the 10mm. The 10mm was a 170 grain bullet at 1,358 fps. My 400 Corbon 165 grain factory loads go 1,361 fps, and produce about 670 foot pounds. So, that is what their tests said they needed. But I promise you the recoil of those rounds would shut down 90% of most folks from carrying. I love it, for a little while. The muzzle flip and blast is similar to my 44 mags.
The other 100% stopper was the 357, a lowly 158 grain bullet at only 1, 183 fps. My 3 inch model 60 J frame shoots factory ammo faster than that, but there is also recoil. Now go thru the chart and look at each of the silvertip ratings, almost all of them failed miserably. Look at the 380, only a 20% success rate predicted. And the 38 special at 17.5%
But then the 357 Silvertip had a predicted success rate of 82.5%. So, what did that tell us? I suggest it told us that the Silvertip just blew up too shallow into the target. The 12 inch penetration requirement is what killed most of their predictability ratings. So, based in this chart, they went to the 9mm.
So, what does that tell us today? Nothing. Look at that 9mm ST velocity, it was 1,091. Now it is rated at 1,225 fps..
The 45 tested at 951, today they say it will get 1,000 fps. The 38 was 843, today they claim 945. I have tested some Winchester 38 ammo of recent production out of my 3 inch 357 and get about 925-930, significantly more than what I would normally get. So, I assume they just speeded it up. Silvertip Handgun Ammo - 9mm & Magnum Rounds | Winchester Ammunition
Anyway, the Silvertip that did not reach the heart if I recall correctly was fired from the side, not a straight on shot. and went through the forearm. But to fix the penetration issue, the FBI just went to a bigger 9mm bullet, to get more penetration. Note the comment from the FBI.
“The 9mm Winchester
Silvertip, which didn’t penetrate enough during the Miami shootout, was replaced with a Winchester 147-grain hollowpoint subsonic, which worked well in 9mm. Until then, expansion was considered the most important factor in a round, assuming a target was facing the shooter squarely…After Miami, much more consideration was given to penetration.”
So, then in 2017 or so, the went right back to the 9. The Silvertip was only 1/2 inch short of the protocol they use now. How would it compare with other 9mm bullets all in a frontal shot? Who knows.
And as I recall, the Silvertip that got all the blame from the FBI for dead officers, when completely through his forearm before it hit his chest. Some people have claimed the FBI created the Silvertip controversy to take away from failed tactics and poor planning. I dunno, but I know they have gone back to the 9mm, which they said was not suitable for a duty gun. Yea, I know better bullets.
I carried lots of different ammo in several different LE jobs. That said, I have no problem carrying Silvertips today. But then, I am confident with 45 ball too, so FWIW