FMJ vs Hollow Points

In 2018, I’m not sure why this is even a matter of debate. Especially with the highway of knowledge called the internet. FMJs shouldn’t be carried; even in states (I’m only aware of New Jersey but there could be others) where hollow point use isn’t allowed. Finding that better option will take time on your part, but in the end you will have yourself a round that is more efficient at stopping an attacker than your bulk-bought ball ammo.


The biggest argument I see people make for carrying FMJs or even party packing (HPs and FMJs) is barrier penetration… This argument spawns purely from ignorance on defensive ammunition. Hollow point ammunition that passes FBI standards (HST, GoldDot, Critical Duty, etc) are designed to be able to beat typical barriers such as car doors, windshield glass, plywood, and heavy clothing… All with little to no deviation in the impact of the bullet. Not only that, but they have to reliably expand at depths between 12-18″ in calibrated gel . 14″-16″ is the ideal penetration depth and any failure to expand in 5 shots would get round thrown out. minimi heat shootingThese standards came around due to the 1986 Miami-Dade shooting and the assailants not falling to multiple shots of various kinds of ammunition from semiautos and revolvers alike. If you would like to read more into what the standards are for FBI testing, I highly recommend checking out BrassFetcher’s website since it has all of the details laid out.

Barrier penetration aside, FMJ ammunition will increase your likelyhood of a pass through,  have poor wounding capabilities, and typically produce wound channels that are two or more times smaller than what hollow points produce. The most important factor, bar a CNS shot on an attacker, is blood loss. Smaller wound cavities = less blood loss = your attacker being able to take more hits without going down.

The second biggest argument I see people making is “Its a personal choice.” This argument is right in that it is a personal choice, but it isn’t a very strong argument… Smoking meth is a personal choice as well but we don’t try justifying it. Hollow points are more efficient at stopping an attacker, decreases the chances of having a pass through almost entirely, and are designed to be more reliable; from primer ignition, to retained weight.

FMJ vs HP1lfHollow points being produced for self-defense have higher standards for what will be rejected and what won’t which is a huge reason they are better for your carry gun. For example  lets use the primers. FMJs acceptable primer thickness deviation could be between .010″-.016″. Primers within this range will be accepted for use with FMJ ammunition. Hollow points/other defensive ammunition’s acceptable thickness deviation would probably be between .011″-.012″.  I have also noticed that hollow points tend to be more consistent in cartridge weight  than ball ammunition, which leads me to believe that the powder charges are more consistent as well. Due to the higher quality control on hollow points, you will be seeing more consistency in velocities, muzzle energy, and primer ignition.

There isn’t a valid argument for carrying ball ammunition aside from not trying to do some form of research. There are .32ACP and .380ACP loadings that will meet or exceed the FBI’s standards. There are defensive ammunitions that aren’t hollow points, but still meet FBI standards. At the end of the day, your box of full metal jackets will still say “For plinking/range and training use” and hollow points will state “For range/plinking, self-defense, and hunting (caliber dependent)”. There is a science behind this, but its up to you to carry in an educated manor… I also challenge you, as the reader, to find me one LE certified FMJ ammunition meant for duty use in their handguns.


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