Do You Use FMJ As Your Carry Ammo?

Do You Use FMJ As Your Carry Ammo?

Do You Use FMJ As Your Carry Ammo?

By Brandon – Republished with Permission from Concealed Nation.

I was taken aback during a conversation with someone I had just met, after we learned that each of us carries a firearm. For the purposes of this story, we’ll call him Don.

Don is a 30-something financial adviser with a well-kept beard and an infectious personality. We began to talk after he had overheard me talking to another person in line at the coffee shop. Long story short, we both have the same client. “Oh yes, she is a delight to work with! I’ve known her for years!”, he said. As both of us are friends with the coffee shop owner, he quickly introduced us to each other.

Somehow, our conversation turned to firearms.

Before we knew it, were were talking about our EDC’s and even the type of ammo we carry. As our conversation evolved, he said flat out, “I carry FMJ ammo in my Shield 9mm because it’s cheaper than the fancy hollow points and will likely get the job done.”

So many things immediately began to run through my mind, like the world was going to end if he ever had to pull the trigger in self-defense. What happens if he has to do that one day, and what would the repercussions be that could come from using target ammo for self-defense. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t want to be the one in a courtroom trying to explain certain situations.

See Also: 5 Tips on Selecting Ammunition for Concealed Carry

For anyone new to firearms that doesn’t know the difference between FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) and JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point), here it is in a photograph:


Basically what will happen if you shoot someone in self-defense with FMJ is this: That bullet is going to go straight through your target and continue on to whatever may be behind it. If it’s a wall, it could go right through that as well and keep going.

Instead, if you use a JHP round for self-defense, the bullet is designed to open up upon impact in order to expand. This expansion creates a wound cavity and will also slow the round down so that it’s likely not to continue beyond your target with much force, if it makes it out at all.

One of the most dangerous things that can happen if using FMJ for self defense, is hitting another person that happens to be beyond your target. With FMJ rounds, many are definitely capable of going through multiple people.

Here is a picture showing various FMJ bullets after impact. In this example, they were fired at (and through) phone books:

Photo Credit:

Now let’s take a look at what a JHP bullet will do after it’s impacted the intended target. The example below shows various rounds after being fired into ballistic gel:

Photo Credit:

It’s obvious from the photos above that JHP bullets are meant to do damage to the intended target and based on the way they expand, are less likely to continue on and potentially endanger another life past the intended target.

Another thing to think about is stopping power. There is more stopping power in a JHP bullet since it’s expanding upon impact, literally tearing flesh and organs. This is the purpose of these rounds and what they are designed to do; to stop a threat from advancing. If you were to instead use FMJ, the wound channel created would be much smaller compared to the former. That threat could still be very much headed in your direction even after a few shots.

Moving on to Don’s comment on price, I’m not quite sure if he was joking. Truth be told, there is a ton of self-defense ammo that’s comparable in price to FMJ, it’s just a matter of finding it. One great place to find self-defense ammo in bulk and on the cheap is Freedom Munitions. I personally train with what I carry, and it all comes from FM. This is the exact ammo that I use for both range and carry.

Without sounding like a know-it-all, I poked around a bit to try and figure out how long Don has been around firearms. It turns out it’s been about a year, and he has been carrying for roughly half that time. Somehow, he neglected to do research into the different kinds of ammo available, and what is appropriate — and not appropriate — for carry.

We spoke some more about the differences between the types of ammo outlined above, and he acknowledged hearing of JHP but didn’t think much of it when shopping around. He basically picked up a few boxes of cheap target ammo, threw some in his Shield 9mm, and started carrying it around.

What it all boils down to is putting in the time to research the different options available, and find out what makes sense for different applications. Carrying a firearm is one of those things that requires this time and dedication to learn all that you can, and train properly.

I hope that Don comes over to the world of proper self-defense ammo, and I hope that he never has to use it.

See Also: What Do Different Types Of Ammo Do?

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Luke McCoy is the founder of USA Carry. In 2007, he launched USA Carry to provide concealed carry information and a community for those with concealed carry permits and firearm enthusiasts.
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Keep your scam propaganda out this type of post it has nothing to do with the subject of self defence.

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What’s your life worth vs the cost of 8-16 bullets for christ sake…

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Gary Lancaster

This is about bullets you asshat!

Gregory Lesniewski

Used to deal with Freedom Munitions, but not anymore! Otdered once, sent in required ID’s and was told they would be on file (no need to send every time I ordered)! Ordered again, & they couldn’y find my previous P/W! Sent again, and, somehow, they lost this through a “computer glitch”! That ended my dealings with them! I now deal with Lucky Gunner who has competitive prices with FM, has my ID’s on file, and ships a lot quicker!

John P

I carry, personally I would not own a 9mm, they may have less recoil and can hold 15 rounds in the magazine, but you have trained and practi

Jim Miller

John – most studies you look at show that police average hitting their targets 33% of the time during a conflict. That means that a well trained person with ten rounds in their magazine will hit their target 3 or 4 times in an altercation. Remove the training and the numbers will go down.

Add in the adrenaline factor and your opponent may not even know they’ve been hit. It doesn’t take long on Google to find a story about an attacker being struck with a bullet that didn’t slow them down. The unarmed hero that went after the shooter in Oregon was shot 6 or 7 times in the altercation, but it didn’t “stop” him.


Or course, I agree with the crux of the piece, but I can get 9mm FMJ at Walmart for $10/50-round box. If I’m going to practice enough to become proficient, I’d rather not pay twice what I have to for practice rounds if I don’t need to. Is it really that important to “practice with what you carry?” I’ve tested my JHP rounds, and had no issues with them, so I load my carry magazine with them, and use other magazines for my FMJ practice rounds. Am I doing it wrong?


I believe that as long as you’re comfortable with the amount you’ve tested through you’re gun, no one can tell you you’re doing anything wrong.

Steve G.

I prefer alternating JHP & FMJ. That way if the threat is shooting from concealment (like a hollow core door) you can still put a hurt on him. I lead with the JHP assuming MY first shot will be in the clear,


Some guns only work with FMJ. Using Hollowpoints can cause these guns to jam. The military uses FMJ because it feeds reliably and is cheaper. Hollowpoints if your gun can use them you often have to go through several manufacturers to find the best ones that the gun will feed reliably on. There can be small subtle differences in manufacturing that can cause feed errors in one gun but the ammo will run reliably in another gun.


I’m glad you brought this up, because i was going to. I have a Taurus 24/7 that simply is not reliable with HP rounds because the feed ramp is too steep. I am researching and trying brands to see if I can find one I can depend on to function. However, it is very reliable and very accurate with FMJ. It is not my EDC, and it resides in one room of my house so that I am never far from a loaded gun. I have a 1911 with the same idiosyncrasy, and it fills the same niche.

I carry either a Glock 21 or an XD .45, both of which will reliably cycle my HTPs. You have to know what your gun likes, because it is better to carry FMJs that are reliable than carry JHP that you can’t depend on to cycle.


Well that is why its important to go to the range and fire the gun before you have a need of it. I have a gun that if you fire the recommend ammo brands it works perfectly. Use stuff not recommend and it has feeding errors when firing. A lot of people don’t read the manual or listen to the gun seller on what to use in the gun. A lot of cheap guns will only use fmjs for example yet people load them up with hollow points. Nor do they clean and oil the guns. Keep a cobra or hi point on the recommend ammo and cleaned and oiled, it works as well as guns that cost 500 or more bucks. A mugger isn’t going to give a shit if you pull out some fancy gun on him versus a hi point after all. Even on hollowpoints a number of thugs can run like crazy after being shot.


I agree completely. Too many new shooters take their gun to the range and shoot a box of FMJ target rounds, then go home and load it up with defense ammo without ever trying it out. They are playing their own version of Russian Roulette if they need to defend themselves.


Try something like critical defense or similar round with the polymer tip in the hp cavity, it can help to feed the round in finicky pistols. Barring that I’d suggest Federal Guard Dog ammo, it’s an expanding FMJ round and will feed exactly like any FMJ….the down side is since federal re-branded it with the Guard Dog name (used to be Federal EFMJ) the price has gone up,


Thanks, I’ll look into them both.

Much appreciated.


The military uses FMJ because it is illegal to use HP in combat.


It is not illegal for the US military to use HP in combat. Never has been.


The Hague Convention of 1896 made it illegal to use expanding or fragmenting bullets.

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1899 actually and we never signed Article 4 . Of course how much was violated by all the signers the Hague Convention is for all intents null and void anyway. The US and most countries have always been legal to use HP rounds in military conflicts.

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Never have had a firearm that would not feed some or most brands. I’m talking polymer and metal pistols, 5″, 4″, 3″ barrels and including1911 style, Kimber, CZ, Ruger LCP, Kahr MK, Springfield, Rock Island, Sig, Remington; although I’ve never owned a Glock, Beretta, Colt, Walther, Taurus, Kel-Tec or H&K (just to name some the more popular brands) so maybe there are some that exist.

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Try Cobras, Hi points any number of small brands, also a number of antiques will have issues with hollowpoints if they came out before hollowpoints existed. Always gotta be careful with antiques and feed them the right ammo. For example if the antique uses 22lr a good number of modern 22lr could blow up or otherwise damage the gun.


“a number of antiques will have issues with hollowpoints if they came out before hollow points” it is certainly true: many things in life require the use of the elusive “Common Sense”.




Don’t forget about of those Jennings, Bryco, Davis, and Lorcin pistols that won’t feed FMJ or JHP with any reliability.


My last pocket pistol was a .32ACP Beretta Tom Cat. My wife had one too. We both tried every kind of JHP round we could purchase, and we never found one that would cycle reliably. Typically, we’d have two jams per magazine. We had gun smiths look at the pistols and couldn’t find anything wrong. We polished feed ramps with no success. We could only shoot FMJ with any kind of success. Even with JHP, we’d get a jam every 20-30 rounds.

Enough was enough. We dumped the Beretta, and we both switched to a 9mm S&W shield. What a difference. Now we load them with a good quality JHP for concealed carry and don’t have to worry so much about jams.


Good article, Luke.

If you are carrying for the purpose of defending yourself when in mortal danger, you need to give yourself every possible advantage. Anything less is foolish. Sure, I use less expensive FMJ for range time, but I carry JHP in my EDC and BUG. Period. It isn’t THAT expensive to buy a couple of boxes of EDC JHP ammo.

Not everyone can afford to shoot their EDC ammo at the range. But, you need to go to the range and put at least a couple of mags of your EDC ammo through your EDC gun so you can be assured that it will function reliably.

Sir TuberKopf

I’ve been buying hybrid bullets for self defense that have a soft polymer filled hollow point. They feed like ball ammo, but expand even better than many standard hollow point bullets. Technically they are classified as ball ammo. They are quite pricey. The brass is also nickel plated which makes them slicker to aid ejection and avoid corrosion from long term exposure to human sweat from carrying.


There may be times when JHP won’t do the job so why limit yourself to just that type ammo. A 9mm JHP is less likely to make it thru a windshield of a car when you are about to get run down as an example.


To verify the reliability of my firearm/ammo combination(s) I take it a step further. I intermix various rounds, power levels, HP/FMJ/FLEX TIP in the same magazine. Of course the odds of running out are pretty slim if you carry two reloads and the weapon holds 5 minimum. The odds of using something other than what you have on your person are quite slim; unless you’ve entered a war/gang zone . . . .

John Scott

Stopping power with a handgun caliber weapon (with less than a 6 inch barrell) is a MYTH. There is NO stopping power. The only factor is adequate penetration. If you shoot someone in the brain or spinal cord, you will instantly disable them. if you do not, there is no such thing as one shot knockdown, or one shot stopping power. It is a movie myth and should be stopped RIGHT NOW. For smaller calibers (like .380), it makes sense to carry FMJ. For larger calibers, Hollow points are fine due to increased velocity and penetration.


Brandon fails to take into account that some States (such as NJ) don’t allow the use of HP rounds and the chances of being convicted for using FMJ ammo is on an otherwise clean defensive shoot are slim to none, it should also be noted that using HP ammo isn’t a guarantee that over penetration won’t happen (nor is using fmj a guarantee that it will)

Kevin Michaels

Do not forget ,to always inspect your magazines. I use Polished SS .Only.and use Otis and or Break Free to keep a film of oil and keep them clean .Throating and polishing ( To make sure any Uniformed Casing in any 45 ACP Caliber tolerances are safely met.) will help the feed problem in many (Colt recommends FMJ BAll only ) factory 1911 Barrels and Any MAnufactured barrel too…Check out Gene Shuey Armorer 1911 ” my first choice carry gun,”courses.and also S&W ,Glock and SIG,Beretta Course. At AIG with,and any DA,SA Sig or My favorite 9MM, the Third Gen DA,SA,S&W and Second my P226 SIG. The S&W 5906.comes throated and Polished was a factory Built in 1991 in 98% condition I had no problems with SmokeStacking or Misfeeding Problems. even with 250 rounds of Russian Ammo.


Fmj is made for penetration, jhp is for creating wound cavity. Here is the problem. If you use fmj at home in a apartment, condo or townhouse you will most likely send a round or two into your neighbors and could potentially hit them. You will be charged for your stray rounds. I use fmj for target and jhp for self defense at home and carry.

Gary Lancaster

The only way I would ever use FMJ is if I ran out of JHP and was too busy shooting at someone to get more JHPs. This is an old argument and has been settled as far as I am concerned.