View Full Version : "penatration" issue re FMJ vs JHP?

March 19, 2006, 07:12 PM
Your advice please -- and thanks in advance. I realize there's something I'm not fully understanding about the actual bullets themselves used in handguns for self-defense against, say, bears. Is a full metal jacket round better than JHP for game with with heavy coats of fur & hide and skulls of thick bone? In other words, is penatration a much more important issue with big mammals than with human beings? FYI, a good friend of mine is a large animal vet who tells me bear and lions and etc have far, far thicker skulls than the eggshell-thin packages on we humans. Just so you know, I do a lot of extremely long backpacking in North America and have been thinking of taking a pistol or revolver with me. I've had a couple "close encounters" recently (last summer, Wind River Range, Wyoming, and then the Cascades Range in Oregon) in which I would have gotten a lot more sleep with a little firepower by my side. I've done a little shooting and once did a bit of law enforcement. I'm familiar with S&W 357 and various Sigs & Glocks. And flamethrowers or RPGs are just too heavy. Thanks for any thoughts -- appreciate it much and take good care.

Death from Afar
March 19, 2006, 10:40 PM
I think a round that combines both is what you want- i.e a specialist handgun hunting round. Normal nandgun JHP's won't have enough penetration, FMJs won't expand enough and could just annoy the critter. Look at the Hornady website, they make some good speciality rounds.

Art Eatman
March 20, 2006, 10:55 AM
If you're not prepared for the ultra-handguns like the .454 Casull, a .44 Mag or a .45 Colt (not ACP) with heavy bullets in the 300-grain range is suggested. You pretty much get the best of both worlds; penetration with some expansion.


March 20, 2006, 11:06 AM
I agree with DFA. When back packing where there are large potienally dangerouse animals with thick hides and thicker skulls you may want to have something in a magnum loaded with a heavy jacketed soft nose. I used to camp and back pack a lot too. When I went I would carry my Colt King Cobra SS 4" .357mag Loaded with 158gr semi jacketed soft points. I've also hunted with this weapon and round and have killed a couple deer with it. At less than 50 yrds. these rounds quite litterally knocked the deer on thier a$$es. One I shot tried to get back up but was unsuccessful. Also I was told that the US military states that the most lethal rounds are those that stay in the body. I personally feel big holes bleed the animal fast resulting in a fairly quick death, and a magnum round will send a shock wave through the body disrupting organs ability to function properly.

March 20, 2006, 11:31 AM
Is a full metal jacket round better than JHP for game with with heavy coats of fur & hide and skulls of thick bone?

Yes, in a defensive handgun bullet. You've got to have penetration FIRST, or expansion is meaningless. But a bonded or partition bullet - overall construction - with a JHP or without - is even better than FMJ/Ball. Then you get as good or better penetration than FMJ, AND at least some expansion.

In other words, is penetration a much more important issue with big mammals than with human beings?


P.S. Black bears will run away from you, usually before you ever see them. A brown bear may or may not, but a standard defensive round handgun (9mm, .40, .45, etc.) is going to be next to useless against such a mighty creature - much better off relying on pepper spray if you don't have a .44 magnum or bigger, and even then you're probably better off relying on pepper spray.

March 20, 2006, 11:50 AM
Pepper spray (as FF mentioned) is probably your best first option, but if you feel the need to carry as well (I would too) you might want to consider hard cast Buffalo Bore loads. For .357 I'd get the 180gr load. For all maggies I'd carry the heaviest available.

Wild Bill Bucks
March 20, 2006, 03:18 PM
I try to stay out of forgeign countries, like anyplace out of Oklahoma.
This makes me impervious to things like Shark attacks, alligator bites, or grizzly bear attacks.:D

But if I HAD to, I wouldn't be to afraid of carrying my 44 mag with a 240 grain bulletHP.
I sure wouldn't want to be there with anything less.

March 20, 2006, 03:40 PM
Before you go running around with a handgun loaded with FMJ rounds, better check the laws. Most states (in fact all states where I have ever hunted) require expanding bullets. That usually means you want to shoot JFPs rather than FMJ bullets. JHP bullets are designed for rapid expansion, so they are out unless you just want to shoot deer or something similar.
Realize that a 44 will really tick off a grizzly unless you poke him in the right place. I remember reading about the guy who invented Magnaporting who shot a grizzly at point blank with a 44 with really hot loads and good bullets and later (after the guide had offed it with a 375 H&H) found only about 4-6" of penetration. and nothing life-threatening unless you count the possibility of infection.
Black bears die pretty easily. A 357 or 45 Colt will usually put them down. Grizzlies are a different story. In Wyoming there are grizzlies and black bears. In the Cascades, you were up against black bears, so anything with some OOMPH will do them in. If you scare them, they will usually run off, but might stand up to smell the air to see what you are. If you feel threatened, like if they are not leaving after recognizing you as human, you have to make a choice.