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Old October 30, 2012, 07:39 AM   #1
vito
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Hollow Point versus Ball: does it really matter for self defense?

In the real world where a self defense shooting is likely to involve more than one round at close distance, does it really make a difference whether hollow point or ball ammo is involved? How much of the ammo business is really just a means of selling us more, and expensive ammo and how much is substance? My guess is that most readers on this forum are using premium hollow point ammo in their carry gun, as well as in their home defense gun, but is the choice of ammo really a factor in ending a life threatening encounter?
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Old October 30, 2012, 08:44 AM   #2
481
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If both rounds (FMJ and JHP) hit something really important like the CNS (brain, spinal cord) or a high volume circulatory structure such as the heart, aorta, femoral artery, or some other major vessel, probably not.

The advantage offered by JHPs, that they expand and damage a bit more soft tissue per unit of distance traveled, means that it might incapacitate an assailant just a little faster and that is a good thing. That behavior, expansion, also means that the bullet will be subject to more drag (friction) which means that the expanded JHP will be less likely to exit the body of an attacker and strike/injure/kill another, if it expands. There are no guarantees.

So, IMO, yeah, it matters. YMMV.
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Old October 30, 2012, 09:14 AM   #3
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You bet it does .If you were a hunter you would know from experience.I only hunt with premium bullets now because I've seen the difference. Most states prohibit the use of full metal jackets because of that.
As far a carrying , is your life worth the extra cost of premium ammo ?
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Old October 30, 2012, 09:20 AM   #4
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A * "friend of a fiend" took three rounds of .38spl fired from less than 5 feet.
He not only survived, he recovered in less than a week.
Two rounds went through his neck and the third went through his torso.

158 gr round nose lead bullets were used.
All three rounds exited his body.

He was laying on a bed with his back to the shooter.
The shooter was in an aggrevated state and high on drugs and booze - but - still,,,,the distance was only 5 feet.

The actual shooting occured around 11:00pm and he didn't get any medical attention until around 7:30am.

* sorry - I'd rather not be more specific as this is an open forum.

Would hollow points and/or a "hotter load" or even a different style bullet, like a SWC have made a difference?
I like to believe that they would have.
Every piece of data I've seen over the years leads me to believe that.

This was a real world instance where an acceptable for SD caliber was used, shot placement, while not optimal, was still w/in what is generally though of as "good enough" and the shooter scored multiple hits - & the outcome was a failure (from the shooters perspective that is).
And here - failure is a very subjective term.
Since the person lived, the shooter escape a murder charge & "only" spent 12 years in prison...
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Old October 30, 2012, 09:28 AM   #5
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Clear cases of overpenetration of FMJ and resultant liability are out there. I think NYPD had several.
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Old October 30, 2012, 10:03 AM   #6
Gary L. Griffiths
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Yes, it matters. As has been pointed out, expanding hunting bullets are required in many states because they result in quicker incapacitation of the game animal. The same thing applies to defense against two-legged predators.

Also, it's more than just a somewhat larger wound channel -- modern premium JHP ammo peels open exposing sharp edges. Where a FMJ bullet nicking an artery will simply plow the artery out of the way, the sharp edges of an expanded JHP will slice open the artery, causing additional bleeding, resulting in faster incapacitation.

A JHP between the eyes probably won't incapacitate any faster than a FMJ hitting the same location, but in most cases, premium JHP defensive ammo will incapacitate an armed assailant significantly faster than similar hits with FMJ bullets. The difference may only be a matter of seconds, but in this business, a half-second is a lifetime.
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Old October 30, 2012, 10:14 AM   #7
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Ask yourself this:

"If I were being beaten to death, would I rather poke .3" holes in my attacker, or .5" holes in my attacker? Would I want more of the kinetic energy expended in the wall behind the attcker or more of it in the attacker?"

Bigger holes would be better, I would think.

More ft/lbs in the assailant would be better than more ft/lbs behind the assailant...... with the added possibility of someone who I did not want to get shot getting shot.......
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Old October 30, 2012, 10:32 AM   #8
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"Bigger holes would be better, I would think."
I agree. That is why I like the 11.5 mm .45 Colt.
Many will choose a SWC or even a WC or an LBT design that has a decent meplat, aka flat nose, over anything else, including a hollow point. Most/many hollow points will not even expand if there is a barrier between the bullet and the target. That is why Hornady puts a polymer in the hollow point, i.e. critical defense, so that it will not fill up on its way into a target and will expand reliably. Ball ammo tends to slide on through,whereas a meplat will cut and crush its way through a target. Expanding ammunition will have far less penetration, as opposed to a flat point, and if it does not expand, as often happens, it will act more like ball ammunition. There is an issue of collateral damage, but that will occur with a miss which is even worse. LEOs or anyone for that matter, miss all the time, sometimes much more than they hit. An expanding bullet that fails to expand can cause collateral damage as well. If you live in a rural area, and have many/unlimited safe lines of fire, a decent meplat will work for sure. None of this is simple. I like wad cutters for self-defense. As far as hunting goes, expanding bullets at high velocity cause more tissue damage. But when encountering dangerous game a non-expanding bullet with a serious meplat is always the best option. One six foot wound channel is better than six one foot would channels. For most people, the best expanding ammunition is the best choice. But most of the "logic" used here assumes a 100% hit rate and that 100% of the bullets will expand, which is unrealistic.

Last edited by jmortimer; October 30, 2012 at 11:07 AM.
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Old October 30, 2012, 10:52 AM   #9
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As stated in In Defense of Self and Others... (Patrick, Urey W. and Hall, John C., Carolina Academic Press, 2010, pp. 95-96, italicized emphasis in original, bold emphasis added):
Quote:
...The bullet must pass through the large blood-bearing organs and be of sufficient diameter to promote rapid bleeding....Given durable and reliable penetration, the only way to increase bullet effectiveness is to increase the severity of the wound by increasing the size of the hole made by the bullet....
And for any given caliber, a bullet that expands makes a bigger hole than one that doesn't.
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Old October 30, 2012, 11:12 AM   #10
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"...a bullet that expands makes a bigger hole than one that doesn't"
Assuming the bullet expands which is not always the case.
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Old October 30, 2012, 11:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Assuming the bullet expands which is not always the case.
Well it's certainly not going to make a SMALLER hole. It will be equal or better.

If you can get adequate penetration with an expanding bullet (and you can, in any of the many popular defensive cartridges) then an expanding bullet is better than a not expanding bullet.

Even if it only expands 30% of the time. The other 70% of the time, it's still as good as a non-expanding bullet and 30% of the time it's better.
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Old October 30, 2012, 11:21 AM   #12
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmortimer
Assuming the bullet expands which is not always the case.
Well, since I actually wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin
...a bullet that expands...
yes, my statement does assume the bullet expands.

Of course, as Brian points out:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Pfleuger
...it's certainly not going to make a SMALLER hole. It will be equal or better....
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Old October 30, 2012, 11:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Clear cases of overpenetration of FMJ and resultant liability are out there.
In addition, the energy and momentum carried by a bullet after it passes through the intended target is wasted.

An expanding bullet is more likely to put that energy and momentum to use where it's needed- creating a larger wound channel in the intended target.
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Old October 30, 2012, 12:09 PM   #14
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"Even if it only expands 30% of the time. The other 70% of the time, it's still as good as a non-expanding bullet and 30% of the time it's better."
This theory is wrong if you start out with a bigger/better meplat like an LBT design, or a wad cutter, or, a .45 caliber bullet over a smaller caliber. As they say, the .45 is "pre-expanded." Then the bigger/better meplat will be better "70% of the time." I suppose the best of all worlds would be a cast bullet with a soft nose and/or meplat/hollow point, as it will expand every time and is not necessarily velocity dependent. The hard part of the cast bullet will defeat most barriers and the soft part will expand reliably. As for liability and over-penetration, again, I will point out, there is more potential liability for a miss which is possible or probable in shoot-outs regardless of the bullet chosen. As for the "energy dump," that is important especially for two legged opponents, but not so much if you have a .45 caliber plus bullet and a large meplat. A decent meplat will cause more damage and create a more destructive wound channel than a round nose or a non-expanding hollowpoint, so no, the "hole" aka wound channel, will not be the same size.

Last edited by jmortimer; October 30, 2012 at 12:23 PM.
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Old October 30, 2012, 12:27 PM   #15
Brian Pfleuger
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Apples to Oranges. The question is HP versus Ball.

A 45 that expands is better than one that doesn't.

A 9mm that expands is better than one that doesn't.

No one is saying that a 25acp HP is better than 45 hardball.

---------------------

In regards to over-penetration, I consider it a Straw-Man. Given that hit rates in defensive encounters are often measured in single digits, the one round that blew through the BG is irrelevant compared to the 1 or 2... or 7 or 8 or 10... that missed completely.
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Old October 30, 2012, 12:45 PM   #16
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Excellent note there Brian.
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Old October 30, 2012, 12:57 PM   #17
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"In regards to over-penetration, I consider it a Straw-Man. Given that hit rates in defensive encounters are often measured in single digits, the one round that blew through the BG is irrelevant compared to the 1 or 2... or 7 or 8 or 10... that missed completely."
Exactly - could not have put it better.
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Old October 30, 2012, 01:40 PM   #18
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I would agree that for any given caliber a wadcutter or semi-wadcutter would produce a marginally larger hole than a round-nose or a JHP that didn't expand. And I would also agree that among non-expanding bullets a WC/SWC of a flat-point with a broad meplat would be a better choice. BUT --

[1] Current JHP bullets expand pretty reliably. Maybe and occasional one won't, but that's relatively rare.

[2] Hopefully, you won't be getting only one hit. So with multiple hits, at least some JHPs would have expanded.

[3] A JHP that doesn't expand acts more like a flat-point with a broad meplat than a round-nose.

All things considered, I'll still take quality JHP ammunition for self defense applications.
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Old October 30, 2012, 02:28 PM   #19
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A FMJ round could have penetrated deeper and reached the heart of the BG in the miami shootout. Penetration is more important than the size of the bullet. PS just think of the time and money they could have saved coming up with the .40. Doesn't really matter here FMJ rounds only are allowed for self defence.

I don't think you can compare animals with humans as some are. Some animals will run on with the heart destroyed by a rifle bullet. I doubt if any humans would do the same. Except superman possibly then again he is bulletproof.

Last edited by manta49; October 30, 2012 at 04:02 PM.
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Old October 30, 2012, 03:26 PM   #20
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For SD purposes you want the round to stop in the target, dump all of it's energy and NOT continue to an innocent on the other side.

FMJ tends to pass through, risking the lives of others.
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Old October 30, 2012, 04:06 PM   #21
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Quote. FMJ tends to pass through, risking the lives of others.

Most people will be hit by rounds that miss the target than shoot trough. Example the police shooting in new york recently. So how can is be safer for others hit by expanding ammo that has missed the intended target. The shoot trough argument doesn't stand up.

Last edited by manta49; October 30, 2012 at 05:16 PM.
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Old October 30, 2012, 04:32 PM   #22
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Quote:
I don't think you can compare animals with humans as some are. Some animals will run on with the heart destroyed by a rifle bullet. I doubt if any humans would do the same.
Of course they will. A person might not run as far as a deer, but that's because a deer runs faster than a person and can cover more distance before its muscles run out of oxygen.

I'd say a person is more likely to stop- because he knows he's been shot. But that doesn't mean he has to.
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Old October 30, 2012, 04:46 PM   #23
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Quote. I'd say a person is more likely to stop- because he knows he's been shot. But that doesn't mean he has to.

There are plenty of examples of animals running on after their heart being destroyed i am sure plenty on this forum have witnessed it. Give me a example of a person continuing on fighting after having their heart destroyed by a rifle bullet.
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Old October 30, 2012, 05:00 PM   #24
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yes it does matter, and it isn't only about the hollow points. There is cheap ammo out there that is really good for practice but some people think it is just as good as better ammo which it isn't. I could be wrong but in my opinion this is sometimes why you hear about someone living after being shot 5 or 6 times(this last sentence is a guess).
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Old October 30, 2012, 05:01 PM   #25
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Quote:
The advantage offered by JHPs, that they expand and damage a bit more soft tissue per unit of distance traveled
Couldn't of said it better. You have to think of other people around you before you ever fire a firearm
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