Hollow Points And Defensive Ammo Is Necessary For Concealed Carry

Hollow Points And Defensive Ammo Is Necessary For Concealed Carry

Hollow Points And Defensive Ammo Is Necessary For Concealed Carry

We’re going to have a very naked discussion about the importance of defensive ammunition for your everyday concealed carry handgun. It’s a discussion that needs to be had and applied if you do not already carry hollow points or defensive rounds.

Why Full Metal Jacket Is No Good For Defensive Shooting

Ball ammo or full metal jacketed ammunition is designed to push through a soft target. For rounds traveling at lower velocities, such as .380 ACP and .45 ACP, there’s a chance the bullet can get lodged in soft tissue if it ricochets off bone or cartilage. For lighter rifle rounds like the 5.56 or 5.45mm rounds fired from AR-15s and AK-74 variants, these rounds tumble when they hit soft tissue but penetrate when they hit a cloth layer. However, most concealed carriers don’t carry semi-automatic rifles or chamber their guns in semi-automatic rifle rounds.

This conversation is specifically geared towards 9x19mm Parabellum, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP users. The 9x19mm Parabellum round is used by NATO and NATO allies because it’s light, you can fit a lot in a pistol magazine, and it has decent ballistic characteristics when you’re considering conventional infantry forces. Whereby your standard infantry soldier is usually wearing a ballistic vest designed to protect against fragmentation, 9mm FMJ has a decent profile against that type of target. When we talk about situations a concealed carrier runs into, though, it’s not a war zone. We’re not fighting conventional infantry targets. We’re fighting, usually, criminals who aren’t equipped with any degree of body armor and usually in a situation where over-penetration of target is not ideal.

A hollow point round is designed to expand when it penetrates past the cloth layer and enters soft tissue. This creates an expanded wound channel. The faster your target has a drop in blood pressure, the faster he loses consciousness or the ability to continue to fight. Additionally, because a well designed hollow point round won’t over-penetrate, it requires your enemy to seek medical treatment because he may not have an exit wound. With ball ammunition, so long as you do not hit a vital organ or artery, your target can stabilize himself. If he does escape, there’s a greater chance he can evade detection by not needing advanced medical treatment.

There’s a second class of defensive rounds called frangibles. Copper frangibles are bullets that come apart — or fragment — once they enter into soft tissue. This creates a bunch of debris inside the soft tissue of your opponent. He now MUST seek medical help. By forcing your opponent to seek medical help, you are both forcing him to stop engaging you and increasingly the likelihood that law enforcement will identify him at the hospital.

Now, that’s not all there is for defensive round choices. There are wadcutters, semi-wadcutters, center-posts, and a number of others which all have their own unique ballistic characteristics designed to STOP THE FIGHT. Stopping the fight is always the priority — not killing your enemy. In order to do this, you need defensive rounds that are geared towards creating the types of wounds that will force him to stop and re-evaluate his situation.

Full Metal Jacketed Rounds Are Perfect For The Range — You Should Fire Defensive Rounds, Too

Full metal jacketed rounds are the usual “load out” of any gun owner when he hits the range. They’re cheap, effective, and great for improving marksmanship. Defensive rounds, on the whole, are more expensive per case. This causes a natural hesitation in the mind of a budget-conscious gun owner or concealed carrier. For the price of a case of FMJ ammo, a lot of concealed carriers may only be able to pick up a few boxes of their favorite defensive ammunition.

Before you carry your defensive ammo in your daily carry, though, you should fire at least a few to ensure they work properly with your gun. Some defensive ammo can have a funny configuration that makes your gun more prone to jamming or failing to fire. You want to find out this information at the range, in a safe environment, before finding out in the real world. Whatever defensive round you decide on: make sure it’s not FMJ and make sure it works with your gun.

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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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Andrew Marcell

I disagree. There are jurisdictions where possession of hollow points are illegal. They can add additional penalties to possessing such ammunition. A good shoot can be turned into a felony simply because of the ammunition . There is nothing wrong with old lead semi wadcutters. As for FMJ it just may be the only thing you can legally use.


Then vote with your feet and get yourself to a place that does not criminalize self-protection!


Damn straight!

Jim97365 .


Andrew Marcell

Jim did it ever occur to you that people have good jobs, family and friends in the States that you are too smart to reside in ? The hollow point ban has been law in NJ since the 1980s. NJ has had a history of good paying career type jobs. So you live where you do and carry hollow points. Enjoy yourself. I will continue to run my family’s business and enjoy myself. It’s not dumb, it’s just the way that it is. By the way, all caps does nothing for your presentation.

Jim97365 .

Did not notice the caps until too late. My objection is to the degree the ones in office feel the need to endanger the lives of the citizens. When the rights of the criminal exceed the rights of the citizen, there is something very wrong.

Andrew Marcell

I agree with your point but it’s raging against the storm. Whatever you use for self defense you must practice with. Most people around the world can not use hollow points, mostly for misguided politics not common sense. Once these restrictions are put into effect, there is never a reversal.

Jim Lagnese

I lived in NY 40 years before moving. There are trade offs. The guns laws are better in most places and now I live in AZ, so it’s about as good as it gets, but there are things I miss. The ocean, the availability of everything and anything at any hour, real ethnic food and where Dominos or Papa Johns isn’t the best pizza for instance. There are times I miss the NY attitude too as there are times I felt like I needed a passport in some places I’ve been in the US. Culturally, there are big differences, especially with social constructs and religion. Would I go back? Can’t afford to if I wanted to, which I don’t, not other than visit, but being a single issue person in terms of where I live? No. For instance, the schools suck in AZ. Near the bottom. Have kids? We lived in Iowa before this and my kids were probably a grade ahead of the kids here when we moved. It all depends on what’s important to you. FWIW, we moved here for my wife’s job. It’s ok, but I could see myself moving again to live someplace more temperate.

Mike Osmond

Another good argument against FMJ is that they more easily pass through the bad guy and hit an innocent. That is something I would not ever want to deal with.


The author barely touched on the most important reason to use hollow-point ammo. JHP ammo prevents over-penetration, which means that it is the SAFEST to use in places where other people could be hit if your bullet passed through the target person.

Any place where other people could be within 100 yards of you. Places like almost any neighborhood in any town. Places like the other rooms of your family house. Or any street, shopping mall, public place, etc. Anywhere you could face a dangerous criminal is probably full of other innocent people also.

Hollow point rounds are the only bullet type to use in your defensive firearm, because you ONLY want to stop the bad guy, not other innocents who could be nearby.

Dr Silicon

I’m not a salesmen…. But after I tested the ARX ammo against about every other one out there. It’s my choice. Not only better followup with a 9mm but in little 380’s it’s much easier to hang on too 😉

David C Anderson

I’ve seen the flesh exit wound that a round makes, and its larger than the entry wound. Punching a hole all the way thru gives it two bleed out holes. It does raise the collateral damage issue of where the bullet finally stops. Hollow point does have perhaps more shock value since all of the energy is contained in the body struck.

Maudlean Spires

I saw the results of shooting a deer with fmj ammo a few years back. My older brother had a .30 carbine and was using some hardball ammo to deer hunt. I told him not to use it that he was going to lose more deer than he would find when he shot one. I was sitting inside one evening and heard him shoot. About thirty minutes later I had a visitor knocking at the door. He wanted me to help him find a deer. I went to the spot where he had shot the deer. Not a drop of blood or any hair either. I asked him was he sure he had hit it? He said it humped up when he shot and didn’t have the flag up. I started trailing and after a few yards I was down on hands and knees looking for tracks and disturbed leaves or grass. I trailed it for over two hundred yards before finally finding it in a fallen treetop. It had finally laid down and bled out internally. Not a drop of blood any where until it fell. When he skinned it there were two holes about the size of a pencil. I asked him what did he learn about the hardball ammo? He went the next day and bought some soft points.

Winston Smith 1984

I myself like Federal Guarddog

kenneth kaplan

I carry 300 grain & 350 grain in my magazine. They are hollow points. Good all around ammo.

Jim Lagnese

There’s only one pistol I know of that fits that bill…


What caliber are you shooting these in . . . .500 S&W Magnum? Great rounds, but not something that’s all that practical for EDC.

Jim Lagnese

We have so many choices today that it’s makes it difficult to choose a load for defensive carry. Back in Elmer Keith’s day or even Jim Cirillo’s day, there weren’t a lot of choices. FMJ, cast lead SWC, WC or round nose. At one time big and slow ruled the day. A 45LC with a 250g @900fps ruined a lot of people’s days. That said, often the good old days weren’t. Whatever the case, I agree with shooting defensive ammo at the range to get accustomed to it. Often ball ammo is standard pressure and slower/less powerful than the +P hollow points, so it will shoot differently and have more recoil too. The other thing is that ammo doesn’t perform the same depending on barrel length. If you search youtube, you’ll find some interesting chronograph data in regards to shorter barreled autos, like the XDs etc. I like the buffalo bore stuff as they will test their ammo with different length barreled guns to show real world results, not test barrels and often the manufacturers will use much longer barrels to test their ammo, so the results are highly optimistic.


Frangibles are not always easy to find, but they shoot the same as FMJ and have devastating results in soft tissue – similar to #9 lead shot after they break up. A big plus is they cannot ricochet or over-penetrate. The disadvantage is they may not all fully penetrate really heavy, multi-layer clothing, but who cares if it stops the threat while he examines his damage.


I like the Liberty Civil Defense round in 9mm. Only a 50-grain slug, but 2,000 fps and significantly lighter to carry in a 17-round mag in my M&P. I also like the Hornady Critical Defense ammo, but it’s heavier to carry. I don’t like the idea of carrying FMJ because of the possibility of injuring a bystander with a shoot-through and it’s also more likely to just punch a hole rather than transfer the energy into stopping power.


For 9mm – Federal +P+ 115 Gr JHP -or- Cor Bon +P 90 Gr JHP (1500 fps)

For .45 APC – Federal 230Gr Hydra Shok JHP -or- Cor Bon +P 165Gr JHP (1250 fps)

Whatever you decide to carry, be sure to put a box through your EDC gun at the range to ensure it will feed and function reliably BEFORE you have to depend on it to save your life.

Maudlean Spires

Have you tried any of the magtech +p+ in 9mm? They have rounds that are very hot for carry purpose. I recently purchased one that was in the 450 range for muzzle velocity. They are supposed to have very good mushrooming capabilities also.


Thanks for the tip. I like MagTech, but haven’t tried any of their +P+. I’ll have to check them out.

Maudlean Spires

Look for the blue and white box. I ordered mine from Sportsmans Guide. They have some days with free delivery. I think today until midnight they have that going. I also got some outstanding deals on 12 gauge 00 buckshot. You can get boxes of ten for less than $6. They have some with the 12 pellet loads instead of 9. I also got a box of 25 for under $15. They had metal ammo cans on sale when I made my last order for $8. Everybody has really been ordering the 00 lately. They put it on sale a couple of days after I ordered mine and they have sold out of a lot of it.


Yeah, I’ve got both Wiki Arms and Slick Guns bookmarked, and I’m a major SG customer. I practically never buy anything in a store . . . always on-line.

Maudlean Spires

What I like about SG so much is that they have the ballistics for almost all of the ammo that they sell. I look at a lot of stuff on Academy because they have a retail store that I can go to locally for my gun purchases. I haven’t been able to get anybody around my area to work with me that has a FFL on internet purchases of firearms. I can order from Academy and it will be shipped to my door in two days most of the time on other things. They have very knowledgeable workers in their sporting goods depts.

Maudlean Spires

I am a night owl. I stay awake every night and I watch tv and surf the internet looking at all of the guns and ammo deals. I was a correctional officer for 14 years all of it working nights. Two of the best sites that I have found are “Wiki arms” and “Slick guns”. These two sites are kind of like a collection of the best deals on the internet of all of these types of deals. You can go from their sites to the individual sites that they have the info on by just clicking onto their names. I am like a child looking at a Christmas catalog. They will have news of deals on guns and ammo as soon as the other companies post them. You can track some of Wal-Mart’s ammo online at times and see what your local Wal-Mart’s have in stock. They have the capabilities to do that but Wal-Mart is not cooperative most of the time.

Jim Lagnese

Remington’s 185g @1150 is pretty hot too and more readily available. With Federal, the HSTs work better too. There’s lots of research out there. Check out lucky gunner and Brass Fetcher on You Tube. There are some surprises there. With the high velocity stuff there can be over penetration. Look at the 185g Critical Defense. Lower energy load, but it transfers energy quicker than the stuff you use and has a better wound channel. Seem counter intuitive, but the results are interesting.

John Hamblin

The Board of Stupidvisors in SF outlawed hollowpoints. I guess they prefer a slug going through someone and a few walls before it stops.


And stopping at them? Use the rounds anyway. These clowns don’t have the authority (no one has) to tell you how to defend yourself. Nullify government stupidity at the personal level.

Fred Miller

Glaser Pow’rBalls legally count as ball ammo, and behave as so…until they hit their target.

Jim Lagnese

Federal has guard dog too, in response to these laws.

Maudlean Spires

I recently purchased some magtech +p+ with ballistics for 9mm 124gr. hollow points 1380fps. and 450ft.lbs. muzzle velocity for $24.99 in 50 round boxes. They are priced cheap enough to allow for practice at the range and then use for carry purpose. They also make several other specialty rounds. These ballistics are about as good as I have found in any of the brand’s. Corbon makes very hot rounds but are hard to find in stock any where. I like being able to carry something with these type of capabilities. I have a back up clip loaded with fmj just in case I might need them in certain situations.

Paul Crouch

I have no guns that will take +P+…. I got some once, but decided to call Ruger first… they said NO. So check it out.

Richard Stefen Rennells-Bilyeu

I’ve gone with Horandy’s Critical Defense in 9mm. They seem to have an excellent record for mushrooming and not perforating a solid hit to the upper torso. They’re also an excellent home defense round as at 1000 fps from my S&W Shield they won’t break the sound barrier. You see, you don’t want to create a sonic boom in close quarters as that may actually stun you. I’ve read reports of people firing a 357 Magnum in a hallway. The result? Bleeding from the ears. My end analysis. Reliable expansion good. High velocity not so good.


“Hollow Points And Defensive Ammo Is Necessary For Concealed Carry”

Well . . . unless you live in New Jersey!

Hollow point ammunition there has the famous sign – “LAW ENFORCEMENT ONLY!”

I think the “loophole” is that it is legal to use polymer tip bullets such as Hornady Critical Defense or
Critical Duty.

It doesn’t matter, in the next legislative session I hear they are going to limit citizens to those cork bullets with the string attached so that you can reload quick – at least until the day they achieve TOTAL CITIZEN DISARMAMENT!


Boycott NJ.

Fred Miller

I use Glasier Pow’rBalls and Hornady Critical Defense in all my guns, that’s it.


R.I.P. made by G2 Research for the first two then Critical Defense. RIP because you always double tap first and they are like shooting a frag grenade into someone then CD then RIP then CD. That’s how I carry.

Mark Webb

I used to carry Hornady Critical Defense in my 9mm. But since Polycase / Ruger brought out the ARX 84gr it is now my EDC self-defense ammo of choice. Don’t have to worry about the HP tip clogging, overpenetration and much less recoil!!