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Top Reasons Around Why You Should Carry Jacketed Hollow Point Ammunition in Your Defensive Handgun



When it comes to handgun ammunition there are a million choices out there. With various manufacturers, various bullet/bullet casing compositions, and bullet weights the choice on what to carry can at times become quite daunting. The choice between exactly which box of bullets to go with will ultimately boil down to its terminal performance on target, the ability of the ammunition to properly cycle through your gun without failure, and lastly the shooter’s ability to consistently control the recoil impulse of the ammunition while shooting. One thing in my opinion that is a constant, is that if your goal of carrying a handgun is for personal protection, you should be carrying a hollow point bullet from a reputable manufacturer vs the cheaper “ball” or full metal jacket ammunition.








Differences in FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) vs Jacketed Hollow Point Ammunition

To begin the discussion, I think that it’s important that all readers are on the same playing field when it comes to an understanding of terminologies of FMJ (Full Metal Jaket) and jacketed hollow point ammunition. FMJ ammunition typically consist of a soft core/lead projectile which is encased in a hard outer shell or jacket (i.e. steel alloy, brass, or copper). Properties of their design leave FMJ ammunition with a reduced capacity to expand after contact with a target.

Hollow point ammunition is that which is typically comprised of a soft central core metal, commonly lead which is often bonded to a hard jacket material (i.e. steel alloy, brass, or copper) with a central open cavity at the tip of the projectile. When this type of bullet strikes a soft target, the soft central core lead deforms and expands in diameter, which the rate of bullet expansion is dictated by the hard jacket material and the kinetic energy imparted on the target at the point of impact.


What Are the Reasons That Support Carrying Jacketed Hollow Point Ammunition vs FMJ for Self Defense?


1. Limitation of Collateral Damage

Being a firearm owner and even further a firearm owner who carriers a gun every day for self-defense is a serious responsibility. Not only are you responsible for your personal safety at any given moment but you also carry the responsibility of not doing any harm to innocent bystanders in the process of lawful self-defense. In the eyes of the legal system when a bullet leaves your gun it has your name attached to it and also a potential lawsuit or court case. It is for this reason that you better carry an ammunition type that is designed to dump its kinetic energy in the target and stops without overpenetration. As mentioned earlier, a fast-moving FMJ projectile because of its full encasing in hard metal, makes it less likely to deform and stop in soft targets (human body tissue) vs jacketed hollow points. Due to this characteristic, it could significantly place innocent bystanders at risk from rounds that over penetrate the intended threat or that miss the threat and over penetrate barriers of harder composition (i.e. walls, car doors, windows).


2. Jacketed Hollow Point Bullets Are More Effective at Stopping or Incapacitating a Threat.

When it comes to stopping a threat there are many factors which come into play. For one being shot is not a pleasant experience, in fact it down right hurts! The psychological component of pain may incapacitate a threat and make them lose the will to fight. There are also the factors of creating body tissue damage and creating hemodynamic instability which are the two points where jacketed hollow point bullets really excel at. Both of these factors are important in stopping a threat as in massive blood loss from a larger wound cavity will cause a rapid drop in blood pressure which will lead to incapacitation. Also, a larger wound cavity with larger degrees of tissue damage may also impact vital neurological structures which will also lead to incapacitation of a threat. As mentioned earlier, by their design this bullet upon impact on soft targets, has a controlled expansion to nearly twice its original diameter with possible fragmentation. The benefit is, as the bullet expands it widens and slows, thus imparting all of its weight and kinetic energy into the target which creates internal pressure waves(cavitation) which disrupts bone, soft tissues/organs, and neurological structures.


3. Other Legal Considerations on Jacketed Hollow Point Ammunition

Heaven forbid you are ever in the position of finding yourself in a court room defending your freedom after your actions of lawful self-defense. However, if you ever are just know everything you use/do will be scrutinized and picked apart by a prosecutor and this can include the ammunition you use. My stance on recommending you only carry jacketed hollow point ammunition for self-defense is because it’s the same ammunition that law enforcement carries. Police officers are considered civil servants whose primary role is the enforcement of domestic law. They are considered civilians just like you and I. Their objective in carrying that particular ammunition is to quickly and effectively stop an imminent threat which endangers theirs or other innocent life. In being a civilian and lawful concealed weapon carrier, this is also your same objective in carrying this ammunition and your defense of why you carry this ammunition. Your aim is to quickly stop a deadly threat and mitigate risk to surrounding innocents. Carrying any ammunition not designed for this purpose could/should actually be viewed as an increased risk of collateral damage.


Also, to this token be mindful of the marketing surrounding the ammunition you choose to purchase and carry in your gun. For example, I wouldn’t buy and use any ammunition called “Zombie Killer”. For obvious reasons you can see this might be bad optics in a jury trial. A skillful prosecutor may use this information to try to demonstrate to a jury/judge a trend of some preconceived malice of a defendant in that the goal was to kill. As a civilian personal defender your articulated/perceived goal should never be going out to kill but merely to stop imminent threat of death or severe bodily harm to yourself or other innocent bystanders. Believe me words and the connotation of those words in the court of law matter a lot when defending your freedom. Still not convinced.... Take a look into former Mesa Arizona police officer Philip Brailsford. Brailsford stood trial for excessive use of force and wrongful death of unarmed suspect Daniel Shaver in 2016. During the process of the trial the prosecution presented before the judge a modification to the AR-15 used in the shooting death of Daniel Shaver. This modification was a custom chamber dust cover with the writing “You’re Fucked”. This evidence was excluded from presentation to the jury, only because the defense of former officer Brailsford was successful in convincing the judge that this detail was not relevant to the case. Former officer Brailsford was acquitted of wrongdoing, but you can easily see if this evidence was presented in court the outcome could have been quite different.

My personal choice in defensive ammunition tends to run along the same line of what law enforcement test and carries. A few examples are Speer Gold Dot, Hornady Critical Defense/Critical Duty, Federal Premium HST. Ultimately what ammo type you choose is up to your personal preference, shooting ability, your personal research, and if the chosen ammunition cycles consistently and reliably through your weapon.


As always, I hope this information provokes thoughts that help you better choose how to responsibly and lawfully carry a firearm and defend yourself and those you love and hold dear.


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