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Full Metal Jacket vs Hollow-Point Bullets

There are many different types of ammunition and choosing the right kind is essential. In addition to ensuring they are the proper caliber, you will need to pick a type of bullet that fits your needs. This is usually either full metal jacket (also called FMJ) or hollow-point bullets. Both of these varieties of ammo are suited for different purposes. You should understand how they work and when to use them.

Bullet Basics

To understand the difference between full metal jacket and hollow-point bullets, you should first have a basic idea of how ammunition works. While you may hear people refer to the ammunition you load into a gun as “bullets,” the bullet is actually only one part of the ammo. The whole unit is called a cartridge.

The parts of a cartridge are:

  • Primer: This is a small piece of metal that a gun’s firing pin strikes. The impact creates a spark.
  • Gunpowder: After the firing pin strikes the primer, the resulting spark ignites the gunpowder. The gas produced by this explosion propels the bullet.
  • Bullet: The bullet is the portion that leaves the barrel of a gun and strikes the target.
  • Casing: The casing is the metal that encloses the whole cartridge. It is ejected from the firearm.

The size of the bullet determines the caliber and this is also the part that differs between FMJ and hollow-point ammunition.

FMJ Bullets

A full metal jacket bullet has a soft lead core with a shell around it that is made from a harder metal. This type of ammunition was invented in 1882 by Swiss Colonel Eduard Rubin to prevent the deformation of bullets during loading and shooting and reduce lead build-up in the barrel. FMJ ammunition is less expensive and you may not need to clean your gun as frequently when using it. However, since these bullets do not expand in soft tissue, they often pass right through their targets. This makes them a poor choice for self-defense because they have diminished stopping power. You also need to be aware of what is behind any target you shoot when using full metal jacket bullets.

Hollow-Point Bullets

Hollow-point ammunition has the tip of the bullet hollowed out. As a result, it will expand when it makes contact with a target. The metal mushrooms out and creates a larger wound cavity inside the target. This is more likely to stop an attacker in the case of self-defense or to take down an animal in the case of hunting. Unlike FMJ ammo, hollow-point bullets get stuck within soft tissue and are unlikely to cause damage by coming out the other side and striking an unintended target.

Which Type of Bullet Should You Use?

In general, we recommend using FMJ bullets for training only. The low cost of full metal jacket ammunition does make it a good choice for the shooting range. However, they are less effective for hunting or self-defense and introduce additional safety concerns if they move through your intended target. Hollow-point bullets are usually the best choice for these applications.

Firearm Training at The Hub

At The Hub, we offer private training and concealed carry weapon (CCW) classes where you can learn more about how to use your weapon. You can also purchase ammunition at either of our two Arizona gun stores or online. Our experts are happy to help if you have any questions about which type of bullet is best for your needs.

Visit us today to purchase FMJ or hollow-point bullets.



hollow point bullets next to a gun

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