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Old May 21, 2011, 01:41 PM   #1
Amin Parker
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Lets talk about 9mm ball ammo.

Hi all,

As far as i know, all military units around the world that use the 9mm round, use ball ammo for their pistols and carbines.

My bit of research tells me that the US police departments, are the only law enforcement units that use hollow point ammo in their 9mm firearms. The rest of the world relies on ball ammo.

I understand the reasons for this, over penetration, expansion etc are all valid. Having been in a few unfortunate incidents, i have leant that ball ammo performed very well. It could be because there is nothing wrong with it, or because i have been trained to keep shooting until the threat stops being a threat.

I am NOT saying hollow points dont work. I am NOT saying hollow point technology is a myth. I am inviting everyone to a discussion. Lets keep the discussion to 9mm Para as far as possible.

Is ball ammo really that bad for self defence?
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Old May 21, 2011, 01:47 PM   #2
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It's not that ball ammo isn't deadly.

9mm ball ammo has killed thousands of people over the years.

Its how it works that matters.

Hollow point ammo was designed to "stop" a threat immediately.

It does so by causing massive shock damage. When compared to ball ammo that usually punches a hole right through someone, it is a more efficient bullet design.

Ball ammo is horribly inefficient at stopping an attack. It wastes a lot of energy by slicing right through an attacker.

There have been reported cases of a bullet passing through someone and injuring another person.

Hollow point ammo is designed to expel all of it's energy into your intended target while minimizing the chance of "over penetration"

I think the United States decision to use hollow point ammo has as much to do with the litigious nature of this country as it does with the "safety" of the bullet design.
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Old May 21, 2011, 01:56 PM   #3
Amin Parker
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King,

I have heard of many instances where the hollow points did not expand at all. With ball ammo one is dealing with a known quantity.

Im not saying one is better. Im just inviting opinions.
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Old May 21, 2011, 01:58 PM   #4
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Automatic pistols that reliably feed hollow point ammo are still pretty new in the grand scheme of things.
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Old May 21, 2011, 02:01 PM   #5
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International treaties/law forbid the use of hollowpoint ammunition in war; so that explains its military use.

It may be that export rules and shipping expense make the use of US-originated ammo impossible or unlikely by foreign LEOs.

I don't see the issue as "is 9mm ball that bad?" but "what is the best that's reasonably available to me?" I don't see a good reason to use other than the best, given that it's only approx 2-3x as expensive as inexpensive FMJ ammo.
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Old May 21, 2011, 02:04 PM   #6
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Amin, hollow points may not always expand... still, how often does ball expand?

Also, while military units may or not be concerned with the Hague Convention, they are all concerned about being able to maintain volume of fire. Any reliability edge for weapons that may be rode hard and put away wet is not a bad thing.

But how many hunters do you know who use jacketed ball ammo? Most would tell you it's unethical, resulting in too many wounded animals that escape the hunter, probably dying over a long period.

Not much physical difference between a human and a large deer....
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Old May 21, 2011, 02:16 PM   #7
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Aha, did not know about the Hague Convention. That explains a lot.
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Old May 21, 2011, 02:24 PM   #8
spanishjames
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Quote:
Is ball ammo really that bad for self defence?
I don't think ball ammo is a bad choice for self defense. Ball ammo has performed well for you, as well as the world's armies. I can imagine FMJ rounds tumbling in the body as well as doing internal damage.

I like watching "The First 48", it's a cop show that follows detectives as they try to solve a murder. Sometimes they show the murder weapon, and I have fun trying to identify it if it's a gun. What I have noticed is that the murder weapon can be of any caliber, from 22lr to AR15s, (lots of bad guys like .45s). When they show the ammo it is usually the cheapest available. Steel cased rifle and pistol rounds are common, and usually FMJ.

If anything, hollow points are the more efficient killer, but ball ammo is nothing to sneeze at either.
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Old May 21, 2011, 02:29 PM   #9
orionengnr
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Quote:
I have heard of many instances where the hollow points did not expand at all. With ball ammo one is dealing with a known quantity.
The way I look at it:
--If the JHP does not expand, then you have the eqivalent of an FMJ. No harm done.
--If the JHP expands, you have increased performance.
Since all handgun ammo is marginal to begin with, why not take any advantage available?
Assuming it functions in your pistol, and cost aside, I don't see a downside to JHP.
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Old May 21, 2011, 02:40 PM   #10
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^^^ My thoughts exactly

Why not go HP, If it dosn't expand? Than it's going to be just as effective as FMJ.
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Old May 21, 2011, 03:00 PM   #11
Big Bill
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If the military uses FMJ and are effective with it, why shouldn't I also use it? BTW, I don't worry much about overpenetration.
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Old May 21, 2011, 04:59 PM   #12
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Speer won a big contract recently to supply the various law enforcement divisions of France with 124gr. +P Gold Dots. GECO BAT rounds were (I don't know if they still are) used by many European versions of SWAT teams. I don't exactly remember but I believe they are 88gr. all copper rounds with a polymer tip for reliable feeding in pistols but especially subguns. The story was that no one had ever survived a hit by one of these rounds in the chest or head. Obviously the velocity was very high. For awhile you could get these rounds here.
LEO's are not bound by the Hague and Geneva conventions. They can carry virtually any round their governments will let them. Many do still use 9mm ball though. The things that make ball decent as a military round though make it less than ideal for LEO or civilian use. NATO ball will kill very well if placed in the proper area and repeat as necessary. Going through an enemy soldier and hitting his comrade behind him is a good thing. Also if you get a through and through wound you have two holes for them to leak blood out of. I don't buy into any of the service calibers are that much better than any others.
All pistol rounds are pretty wimpy compared to shotguns or centerfire rounds. Now put a 9mm or .45 in a subgun and the effectiveness of multiple hits on target in a very fast manner is proven effective. Hell even the little Czech Skorpion with a .32 cartridge fired full auto is much feared. A bunch of .32's hitting you in less than a second is very effective. In fact in the classic book "Shooting to Live" in the chapter on stopping power they say the only way any pistol is very effective is to fire rapid "bursts" like a subgun. They comment on the how deadly the Tommy Guns with multiple hits were on humans. But ball rounds are not good choices for most civilian or LEO applications.
Making multiple holes in more than one opponent in a military situation is great. Going through a bad guy into the pregnent woman behind him and killing her and her baby is not good. New York suffered such a tragedy when they issue Winchester White Box (yeah not even NATO ball, the cheap stuff). Besides the tragedy of the loss it cost the city 2 million dollars in a law suit. We all know about the Diallo case. I don't remember what it was exactly but 40+ rounds were fired. Here's where the overpenetration and richochet problems of ball ammo really came into play. The rounded profile of ball rounds make them very likely to bounce off sidewalks, cars, buildings and so on. Mr. Diallo from the reports I read ran from the N.Y.P.D. and ended up in front of a building that covered him on three sides. He turned around with his wallet in hand. The officers thought it was a gun and opened fire.
From the report I read the rounds went into the curved, 3 sided building entrance that Mr. Diallo was standing in. The rounds richochet back at the officers further reinforcing the perception Mr. Diallo had a gun and was firing on them. They expended allot of rounds but as anyone who shoots allot knows you can empty a hi cap auto very fast under pressure. Mr. Diallo may of stood for awhile but for all intents and purposes he was dead. A couple of years ago around here a bank robber came out of the bank with an AR and opened up on a bunch of police officers. He hit two of them. He was cut down very quickly and rightfully so by the officers present. Don't know how many hits he took but it was many.
So the things that make ball ammo good for military work make them lousy for civilians and in most cases LEO's. New York thought that JHP's were inhumane. After enough officers and citizens were wounded or killed by through and through rounds they finally went to JHP's. So because of overpenetration and richochet potential ball ammo is not a good choice for civilians or LEO's. It has been proven over and over again. Every bullet you let loose in a self defense situation you will give account for. God help you if you kill an innocent mother and her baby.
I've seen 9mm ball kill very well if through the heart or brain. Seen both. Talked to allot of the guys coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. To a man I've spoken with that has had to use 9mm ball the guys they hit didn't get up if hot right. Ball ammo works. It sells magazine to get people arguing over different calibers effectiveness. But except maybe in the minor caliber ball has proven to be a bad choice as a whole for civilians and police.
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Old May 21, 2011, 08:23 PM   #13
Eagle0711
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I watched one of those police/court shows on TV a while back. This took place in rual Tenn. There was a disturbance of some sort and a guy with a 22 Mag. RF pulled up to threaten and old man and his wife. Their mid-age son was there, and he had a S&W 9mm semi-auto loaded with ball ammo.
The son went out on the back porch and told the trouble maker to leave. The aggressor was on a ATV and grabbed his rifle. The son fearing for his elderly folks fired 5 times. The guy on the ATV didn't shoot, but headed home which was about 100 yards away. His girlfriend saw that he was bleeding and called an ambulance. They got him to the hospital, but he died a few hours later.
The trial was televised, and the son was found not guilty. It was a case of self-defense. All bullets passed thru the guy on the ATV. He died because there was too many holes to plug and he bled out.
In this case the 9mm ball worked, but if he had chose to return fire it could have been a different outcome. He was able to drive the ATV home. He could have fought back. So wether it worked or not depends on how you look at this situation.
What was strange was after the jury said not guilty, the first thing the accused said was " can I get my gun back ". They returned it immediately.
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Old May 21, 2011, 10:10 PM   #14
DAS9mm
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Hague Convention

The US -- and Britain I think -- is not a signatory of the Hague Convention. If any combatant in hostilities is a non-signer than the Hague Convention by its own rules does not apply. Therefore any war that the US has fought was not subject to the Hague Convention.
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Old May 21, 2011, 10:22 PM   #15
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The US is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, but generally abides by its terms anyway.
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Old May 21, 2011, 10:37 PM   #16
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With a face-on assailant and deep-penetrating handgun loads, you want to hit the centerline of the body as nearly as possible. You poke a hole through important stuff and wreck the spine, you have done about all you can hope to accomplish with conventional handgun rounds. http://www.firearmstactical.com/imag...Structures.jpg
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Old May 21, 2011, 11:07 PM   #17
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Most of my loaded HD mags are FMJ. Why? Because that is what I can afford to prove to my reliability standard of shooting at least 200 rounds without a failure. I have shot enough of the old Federal HydraShoks over the years in 9mm, .40 and .45ACP, and Rem Golden Sabre in .380 to be confident of their reliability so I load the gun mag and one spare with them in my primary gun in each caliber. But other guns and mags I have loaded with FMJ because I can't be buying a lot of premium ammo.

Besides that is the fact that often the HP will not expand after going through fabric or barriers. Newer HP designs are better at expanding but are not guaranteed. You may pay for premium ammo only to have it end up acting as FMJ.

I would rather spend money on more ammo and reloading components for more practice than on a few more premium bullets, and especially not in testing yet another HP rand and type for reliability.

The best thing FMJ has going for it is reliability and being inexpensive to practice with. Those are two high priority factors for me to use it for self defense.

If you can afford to test premium HP to your satisfaction then why not give yourself any edge possible? But if you can not afford the premium ammo for thorough testing then I would not get any heartburn about it either. FMJ will work if you hit CNS or heart. IF you miss those then I think even a HP is going to be marginal out of a handgun.

Now when you get to rifle velocities I think the SP has significant advantage over the FMJ. But at handgun velocities it seems the HP is marginally better: certainly better some portion of the time but not dramatically better all the time.
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Old May 21, 2011, 11:48 PM   #18
notamisfit6
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Quote:
The US is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, but generally abides by its terms anyway.
Post-Nuremburg, the Hague Conventions are "customary laws of war," and considered binding on ALL parties, signatories or not.
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Old May 22, 2011, 12:04 AM   #19
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Post-Nuremburg, the Hague Conventions are "customary laws of war," and considered binding on ALL parties, signatories or not.
Seems most of our enemies for the last 60 years didn't get that memo. Not about the ammo so much as the treatment of prisoners, etc.

I wonder just how much a factor that is for the military. FMJ is cheaper and more reliable in most semi-auto actions. And it penetrates body armor better.

I know the issue comes up regarding sniper ammo and the US military specifically specs the "open tip match" bullets instead of the more generic "hollow tip" bullets because of the Hague Convention. But for the line troops do they really use FMJ for Hague reasons or for the more prosaic practical reasons?

As I stated above, most of my SD ammo is FMJ for practical reasons and certainly not because of Hague Convention or other "more humane" considerations.
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Old May 22, 2011, 12:08 AM   #20
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Well, that line wouldn't have been in the Hague Convention if it wasn't what most armies had planned on doing anyway (Kinda funny how that defines like 99% of "international law"). FMJ feeds, whereas hollow points were pretty much just a revolver thing for most of the 20th century. Not to mention that the vast majority of small arms fire in war doesn't hit anything at all, and a ball round will keep a doughboy's head down (ie, not firing back) just the same as an expanding round.
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Old May 22, 2011, 01:09 AM   #21
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Full penetration with bullets is spelled v e r s a t i l i t y (to me), although o p t i o n s is an acceptable variant. If a man with 9mm ball put one right through the centerline exactly where a the HP would hit, the HP that opened would make a bigger hole but both would (have the same chance of) put the BG down.

There is an argument that a fmj can pass close to something important and miss it where a HP that expanded would be bigger and nick the artery and you win over ball...However, the argument could also be made that ball is cheaper so one could be even a better shot with it than the high priced HP.

Since you want to keep it on 9mm I'll say that if you use ball ammo you have a more versatile gun than with HP's. The odds of you actually having to shoot someone AND over penetrate them AND hit an innocent are astronomical. Ball ammo is a very viable choice for general use including SD.
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Old May 22, 2011, 09:22 AM   #22
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semantics

Quote:
Is ball ammo really that bad for self defence?
It's bad. Bad enough that hunters don't use it, nor virtually any American LE outfit. Not even every US military unit uses it.

Pro: -makes a hole
-offers a oft-reliable feed profile
-cheaper than non-ball
-readily available
-beats throwing rocks

Con: -makes a hole
-can make too long a hole



I know, just the internet......
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Old May 22, 2011, 10:02 AM   #23
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for example

I hit a groundhog in its body at less than 20 ft with a 225g LTC .452" bullet. The animal did not react.
I hit it again.
It began to move away.
I hit it again.
It continued its movement.
And again.
And again.

I am firmly convinced one hit from my 'normal' 115g JHP launched at 1270fps (or more, based on load) would have caused it to cease movement immediately.
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Old May 22, 2011, 10:12 AM   #24
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Quote:
I hit a groundhog in its body at less than 20 ft with a 225g LTC .452" bullet. The animal did not react.
Ive shot a couple of shaky looking raccoons and skunks with 230 grain Hydra Shoks at about the same distance with the same result. Had to shoot them one to two more times to kill them too.

Some critters arent impressed until they are dead, and thats why you just keep shooting until they are.
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Old May 22, 2011, 10:16 AM   #25
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yep

So maybe just maybe velocity matters.
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