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View Full Version : FMJ Ammo Self Defense last resort?


Mr.XD9mm
September 8, 2007, 03:30 PM
Question I know that its better to use hollowpoints for any self defense purpose especially safer and better than FMJs. Being this is the allowed Nato round used throughout the world, would this prove effective despite the abiltiy of the round to punch holes through walls and people in a emergency situation. Should one have it loaded with such rounds?

CraigKN
September 8, 2007, 04:33 PM
I would say that it's better than nothing, but I still would prefer a JHP for self-defense use.

If I understand the issue correctly, the Military uses FMJ due to Geneva Convention rules. I may be wrong, so hopefully someone will clarify the matter. I do not think they use FMJ due to performance in an antipersonnel capacity.

Officer's Match
September 8, 2007, 05:06 PM
If I were restricted to FMJ, I'd probably only carry 45acp or 10mm.

Silentarmy
September 8, 2007, 05:08 PM
Correct, the Geneva Convention Prohibits the use of any expanding type bullet in combat by the military. The Idea is to wound, not to kill in combat as it takes more men to carry a wounded soldier thann it does to leave a dead one on the battlefield. Blackwater operators in Iraq and even a few US soldiers have brought HP rounds to Battle but I would surely hate to be found with non-Issue ammo in my mag!!
I know guys who stagger HP and fmj rounds in their carry mags for whatever Paranoid conspiracy theorist reason! If you want to make holes in your attacker in self defense, Carry an ice pick. :eek:

jakeswensonmt
September 8, 2007, 05:09 PM
I think it partially depends on which caliber you mean. I think a .45acp FMJ is fine for SD, but I alternate JHP's/FMJ's in my SD 9mm's. I've also heard that .32 auto FMJ is better than .32 auto JHP for defense. Hard to come across any definitive data, and people who know a lot more about the topic than me don't agree. The caliber/bullet controversies will never be settled. YMMV.

Be certain that if the defense situation ever comes when I shoot my last JHP, I will be shooting the FMJ next.

Odd Job
September 8, 2007, 05:09 PM
I believe it is because of the Hague Conferences.
If I understand it correctly, the US didn't formally sign up to them but nevertheless use FMJ only, in military conflicts where the enemy units are part of a recognised army.

Night Watch
September 8, 2007, 05:27 PM
:) Some people will give you an argument on this! Myself? I often carry FMJ - especially in the wintertime. ;)

Here's a link on a local shooting we had around here last year:

Police Gun Battle With Felon George Deeb (http://citizensvoice.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17560955&BRD=2259&PAG=461&dept_id=455154&rfi=6)

Deeb Gun Battle Aftermath (http://www.wnep.com/Global/story.asp?S=5778964)

And, here's a copy of the county coroner's report connected to this incident: (Sorry, but, I couldn't find a direct link)

Actually the husband of the dep. coroner that assisted with the autopsy has posted about this at Tactical Forums.

"I just received a call from my wife telling me I need to reconsider my choice of Winchester Ranger ammunition for self-defense.
I was quite amused at such a call so I asked her why. She had just removed, at autopsy, six .40 S&W Winchester Ranger projectiles that were subcutaneous, failing to penetrate the abdominal muscle of a thinly built eighteen year old male. There were a further twenty-two bullet holes in the body, two being from a through shot fired from a 5.56mm carbine. One could conclude that the .40 S&W Ranger produced a possible ten further through shots. I ask about organ damage from the possible seventeen hits . She reported only a survivable laceration of the liver, and a hit to the diaphragm which collapsed the lungs, hypoxia being the cause of death. On the surface sounds like extremes of under and over expansion. Will be seeking further details. "

"I questioned the wife further tonight to see what I could gather and of course the story has change some from the brief phone description.. The ammunition type was told to her by the PD that did the shooting, I will probably never know the generation of ammo as I no longer known any officers in that department. She was unsure of the range but there were no contact shots. There were three officers involved , at least two fired. There were twenty-eight wounds, only one, to the foot, had a classics entrance exit wound. There were two 5.56 rounds, unknown if they were through shots, but two wounds showed bullet fragments and she recovered copper jacket material. The subjects cloths were removed before hand, but feathers from a down parka were on the body. Five of the six projectiles expanded. the unexpended projectile struck high on the chest and was found not far away in the soft tissue of the neck. Of the five expanded projectiles two were stopped by the abdominal fat pad. One penetrated the fat pad and was found just beneath in the mesothelial of the abdomen. One penetrated cutting the diaphragm and collapsing the lung. One stuck the abdomen from the side and was recovered just under the skin not far from the entrance wound. The subject was alert and talking to the EMT's when placed in transport. That's probably as much information as I'll get from her, will try to get a look at the photos myself. She was really struck by the lack of damage especially as a few weeks ago she had a double homicide. 9X19mm FMJ being used, having shots transacting the whole body and arms. "

My own conclusion? It is incorrect to speak in, 'glittering generalities' about the presumed, 'dangers' and arguable shortcomings of FMJ handgun cartridges.

ALL DISCHARGED BULLETS ARE DANGEROUS!

Out on the street, in the real world, there is no such thing as the, 'perfect' handgun cartridge. JHP ammunition has its failures, too; and ain't, always, all that it's cracked up to be! There will continue to be right times and right places for the use of FMJ handgun cartridges.

Cooper's Fourth Rule applies: 'Carefully mark your target, and what is behind it, too.' ;)

Originally posted by jakeswensonmt
I've also heard that .32 auto FMJ is better than .32 auto JHP for defense. Hard to come across any definitive data, and people who know a lot more about the topic than me don't agree.

:) I'll agree with you, Jake.

FMJ tends to feed better in some pistols; (and calibers) consequently, it is more reliable. When you reflect that a 32 acp is going to be fired multiple times at very close range then, yes, those little FMJ, 'pills' will get the job done for ya! My own BUG is 32 acp. If I ever really had to use it, I would certainly pull the trigger, at least, thrice.

Here's information on who banned what, and when:

The First Hague Peace Conference, 1899 (http://www.thegunzone.com/hague.html)

Magyar
September 8, 2007, 05:33 PM
the abiltiy of the round to punch holes through walls
I must admit a loathing in viewing this quote, aka, "ol wives tale" on forums & in some leading gun rags....
The myth of the FMJ, especially in the .45acp, was perpetuated & propagandized by the ammunition makers to the gullible in purchasing their exotic ammo. Some of the smart pros, like Clint Smith, know exactly what I'm talking about it. For a FMJ to go through one house wall and travel & enter the walls of another house to kill an innocent bystander is pure boloney; unless you are talking about tar-paper shacks...It's not going to happen especially if you add a torso from #1 house to the mix......The energy is dissipated to non-lethal proportions. Magnum loads changes the mix...
I do my homework, check the studies....:cool:

sholling
September 8, 2007, 07:46 PM
For a FMJ to go through one house wall and travel & enter the walls of another house to kill an innocent bystander is pure boloneyI think it depends on where you live and how your home is constructed. If you live in a brick or adobe home and your neighbor lives in a brick or adobe home or a log cabin then you have a valid point. Brick isn't used here. It turns to rubble during earthquakes. Out here (and in many places of the world) you are looking at going through two layers of thin stucco or siding and two layers of drywall to hit your neighbor. That's barely enough to slow a 230gr FMJ. I've put my fist through drywall. Maybe in newer homes you'll find 4" of fluffy fiberglass insulation but that won't help much. Of course this all assumes (and we all know how to spell assume) single family homes. A 230gr FMJ or even a 124gr FMJ is just going to shrug off the two layers of drywall between apartments or condos.

wyohusker
September 9, 2007, 12:31 AM
I'm a .45 guy. :D I have shot JHP through most of my guns for a long time. I have shot through dry wall wood and into sand. These are NOT good mediums for expansion. Most of the bullets we dig out the HP is full of dry wall wood or sand with very little if any expansion.

Now hit a fluid medium and that HP open right up no problem. Lined up some milk jugs the other day full of water. (I know this is not tissue or jello) took a shot and found the 230 JHP opened up VERY well. Found in 4th milk jug.

What I'm getting at is if you miss the BG doing BG things ,you shoot and miss, gos through a wall or two you should find your bullet looking like a FMJ with stuff in it. Little expansion. Basically shooting FMJ. But if you hit BG you should have good expansion seeing that most living things are 90+% water.

Just my observation. Take it for what it worth. Free.

BillCA
September 9, 2007, 01:10 AM
As with any self-defense shooting the biggest factor is shot placement.

If the cartridge has enough gee-whiz to push the bullet to about 12-15" in ballistic gel, indicating it can traverse the body or reach the rear of the chest cavity, hitting something vital plays a bigger role than FMJ or JHP.

Of course, JHPs expanding give you a larger probability of a hit too. With FMJ's, I'd concentrate shots in the subject's centerline, say roughly within the width of his neck down to his navel. I think this gives you the best odds of hitting either the spine (CNS) or the major arteries & veins that flank the spine.

RE: .32 ACP (and .380ACP while we're at it)
Some of the ballistic gel tests indicate the .32 & .380 JHPs open up "early" and only allow shallow-to-moderate penetration (only up to about 8" IIRC) while FMJ penetrated over 15". With a lower powered round, you're probably better off using FMJ so you can reach the CNS from a frontal shot or have enough energy to punch thru the sternum to reach the heart or aeorta of the heart.

I've known some cops who load a JHP into the chamber of their pistols, followed by 1 or 2 FMJ before the next JHP. Their logic is that they don't want a misfeed to occur in the critical first 3 shots of an encounter. I think it's better to ensure your JHPs work consistently and reliably... or you change brands.

sholling
September 9, 2007, 02:35 AM
I've known some cops who load a JHP into the chamber of their pistols, followed by 1 or 2 FMJ before the next JHP. Their logic is that they don't want a misfeed to occur in the critical first 3 shots of an encounter. Twenty years ago a very few also carried what some of the gun rags of the time referred to as a bodyguard load. The weapon loaded with a JHP up the pipe then a FMJ, then a JHP and another FMJ etc, etc etc stacked in the magazine. And then a spare mag or two loaded with JHP and still another with FMJ. The idea was the first magazine would be equally effective against flesh or car doors with a choice of spares giving the shooter flexibility. It's a little esoteric for me but then I'm not a bodyguard or a LEO.

Anyway I like the little old lady next door so my 12ga is loaded with #8 shot to minimize the chance of over penetration bringing any harm to her. My HD 45 is loaded with 230gr JHPs, and between regular practice, night sights and a laser they are pretty likely to go center mass. Again reducing the chance of severe over penetration.

RE: .32 ACP (and .380ACP while we're at it)
Some of the ballistic gel tests indicate the .32 & .380 JHPs open up "early" and only allow shallow-to-moderate penetration (only up to about 8" IIRC) while FMJ penetrated over 15". With a lower powered round, you're probably better off using FMJ so you can reach the CNS from a frontal shot or have enough energy to punch thru the sternum to reach the heart or aeorta of the heart. Good point.

chris in va
September 9, 2007, 11:13 AM
Who was it that posted recently an Xray of a BG that got shot with a few FMJ rounds and won the shootout with the homeowner? Did that post get pulled?

Christian 812
September 9, 2007, 11:51 AM
Happy you are to choose your ammo ... over here in Europe, civilians can only buy FMJ's for hand guns. Different for long guns hunting ammo :rolleyes:

rampage841512
September 9, 2007, 12:43 PM
FMJ are perfectly effective. A friend's now deceased father used them to kill an NVA soldier who was about to kill his commanding officer in Vietnam.

JHP are better in a self defense pistol because they put bigger holes in the target, which leads to faster incapaciation by blood loss and they are also less likely to penetrate the target completely and possibly strike bystanders.

IdahoG36
September 9, 2007, 01:58 PM
If I were restricted to FMJ, I'd probably only carry 45acp or 10mm
I totally agree. 9mm is a poor performer as a SD round in fmj. If using a good jhp round, it is very effective. Our military's hands are tied due to the Geneva Convention. .45acp 230 gr hardball is quite an effective manstopper.

Odd Job
September 9, 2007, 02:16 PM
Who was it that posted recently an Xray of a BG that got shot with a few FMJ rounds and won the shootout with the homeowner? Did that post get pulled?

It was Surg_Res and here is the thread:

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=258902

Silvanus
September 9, 2007, 02:22 PM
Happy you are to choose your ammo ... over here in Europe, civilians can only buy FMJ's for hand guns. Different for long guns hunting ammo

Buy your ammo in Germany or Luxembourg. I know they/we can have HPs.

I personally think that FMJ is good enough for self defence. Most people will disagree with me, though. HPs are very expensive and I rather have the same ammo in my HD gun that I shoot at the range. Shot placement is the most important factor anyway. I can't imagine that if you shoot somebody in the exact same place a HP will give you a different result than a FMJ round.

BillCA
September 9, 2007, 09:02 PM
I personally think that FMJ is good enough for self defence. Most people will disagree with me, though.

You are correct. Most will disagree, especially for the 9mm.

I can't imagine that if you shoot somebody in the exact same place a HP will give you a different result than a FMJ round.

If we are discussing hitting a major artery or CNS hit, probably not. In other locations, it might make a world of different. If our 9mm FMJ passes within, say, 1mm of the edge of a major artery, the same hit with an expanding bullet may allow the expanded 9mm bullet to cut that artery.

Likewise Army medics have seen FMJ bullets in heart shots through both sides of a heart chamber that exhibit very little blood loss. This is due to the resilent nature of the heart muscle itself. An expanding 9mm bullet may perform the same or its irregular shaped sharp edges may cause more damage, resulting in more blood loss or critical failure.

JHP ammo, specifically premium SD ammo, certainly is expensive. Hospital care is even more expensive. That said, I select JHP ammo that functions reliably and use it. In a large magazine I figure about 8 rounds of JHP followed by FMJ on the theory that if I'm still shootin' after the first 8 rounds my attackers have taken cover.

Jason_G
September 9, 2007, 09:26 PM
Correct, the Geneva Convention Prohibits the use of any expanding type bullet in combat by the military. The Idea is to wound, not to kill in combat as it takes more men to carry a wounded soldier thann it does to leave a dead one on the battlefield. Blackwater operators in Iraq and even a few US soldiers have brought HP rounds to Battle but I would surely hate to be found with non-Issue ammo in my mag!!

I think it's Hague, not Geneva. And that stuff about wounding rather than killing is an urban myth/old wives' tale/whatever else you want to call it. And the Hague treaty only limits militaries to using ball against other formal militaries. One could argue that insurgents don't even qualify...

Jason

Silentarmy
September 10, 2007, 01:07 AM
I was only in Security Forces for the last 6 yrs of 13 yrs in The Military so I could be mistaken but Little argument goes on in a Court Martial.

Silentarmy
September 10, 2007, 01:18 AM
This was a result of Hague convention and not Geneva but the result is the same. It still allows the use of expanding ammunition against any counterpart not bound by having signed this convention. The "rules of war are driven into Security Forces members to the point that one is left to wonder if you will be strung up for ANY action against the enemy! I don't believe the Marines have such restraint and that would be nice in most cases!
"Declaration on the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body" adopted at the First Hague Peace Conference of (29 July) 1899 which states:

The Undersigned, Plenipotentiaries of the Powers represented at the International Peace Conference at The Hague, duly authorized to that effect by their Governments,

Inspired by the sentiments which found expression in the Declaration of St. Petersburg of the 29th November (11th December), 1868,

Declare as follows:


"The Contracting Parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced with incisions."
The present Declaration is only binding for the Contracting Powers in the case of a war between two or more of them.

It shall cease to be binding from the time when, in a war between the Contracting Parties, one of the belligerents is joined by a non-Contracting Power.
Although not a party to this accord, as a matter of policy the United States has acknowledged and respected its applicability in conventional combat operations since its adoption more than one century ago.

Where the U.S. did sign on, however, was with the Hague Convention IV of 1907, Article 23(e) of which Annex states:

"...it is especially forbidden -

To employ arms, projectiles, or material{sic} calculated to cause unnecessary suffering;"
In observance of this, for many years U.S. Military snipers went afield with M-118 ammo, a 7.62 X 51mm 173-grain solid-tipped boat tail round manufactured to much closer tolerances than M-80 "ball."

This practice began to change subsequent to a 23 September 1985 opinion issued by the Judge Advocate General2, authored by W. Hays Parks3, Chief of the JAG's International Law Branch, for the signature of Major Hugh R. Overholt, which stated:

"...expanding point ammunition is legally permissible in counterterrorist operations not involving the engagement of the armed forces of another State."
On 12 October 1990, another Memorandum of Law from Parks at the request of the Commander of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and coordinated with the Department of State, Army General Counsel, as well as the Offices of the Judge Advocates General of the Navy and Air Force, concluded that:

"The purpose of the 7.62mm "open-tip" MatchKing bullet is to provide maximum accuracy at very long range. ... Bullet fragmentation is not a design characteristic, however, nor a purpose for use of the MatchKing by United States Army snipers. Wounds caused by MatchKing ammunition are similar to those caused by a fully jacketed military ball bullet, which is legal under the law of war, when compared at the same ranges and under the same conditions. (The Sierra #2200 BTHP) not only meets, but exceeds, the law of war obligations of the United States for use in combat."

Cremon
September 10, 2007, 07:39 AM
With FMJ's, I'd concentrate shots in the subject's centerline, say roughly within the width of his neck down to his navel.

That works well with any ammo, not just FMJ. Myself, I aim for the pelvis for 3 reasons. One - there are two major arteries in there and you have a higher probability of hitting one than if you aim for the organ bag.

Two - the centerline is a great target when your assailant is facing you. Otherwise, it's hard to determine where that centerline is. No matter which way the BG is facing, you can usually see his pelvis as long as he's not crouching. If he's highly mobile, the pelvis is going to be visible and its position is going to pretty well fixed relative to the rest of his body.

And three - with a 45, even if you miss the arteries, your target is very likely to stop moving which gives you a tremendous advantage. I've had police officers tell me their adversaries almost always surrendered after a hit like that.

OBIWAN
September 10, 2007, 07:26 PM
Keeping in mind that with ANY caliber several well placed shots will likely be required ( yes...even the .45 does not always stop people in their tracks)

In most cases what incapacitates the bad guy is big deep holes that bleed a lot

So...expansion and penetration are ideal

Enough penetration to make deep holes and all the expansion you can get to make them wide so they leak a LOT

Shallow deep holes are not so good and deep narrow holes are less than ideal

But in lighter calibers (below 9mm) you seldom have enough juice to get penetration if the bullet expands...hence the suggestion to stick to ball....so you at least have some hope of hitting something important

9mm ball has not performed that well in actual shootings....generally good penetration but too small a hole...unless you hit something important

( hint:do a search on pelvic shots....plenty of good info on a poor tactic)

If you are going to use FMJ you really should use the largest dia. projectile you can...it won't get any bigger...but it won't shrink:D

But unless there are feeding/reliability issues...why not use a bullet that expands....causing additional damage and hastening incapacitation:confused:

Mr.XD9mm
September 10, 2007, 09:16 PM
Has anyone heard of anything on these type of rounds?

CarbineCaleb
September 10, 2007, 09:25 PM
I am not really clear on what the question is... it sounds as though you agree that JHP is more effective, but ask if 9mm FMJ will 'work'?

FWIW, in my opinion, on a spine or heart shot, the person will be just as dead either way. I'd imagine the differences would be more apparent on shots to less vital organs, as well as in speed of incapacitation on lung shots.

Mr.XD9mm
September 10, 2007, 09:33 PM
I do agree that the JHP is a more effective round but wanted to see what others thought of the FMJ in the 9mm cal. Myself I plan on head shots with it or heart, lung shots like if I was shooting deer.

MyXD40
September 10, 2007, 09:33 PM
Unless I'm at the range, I only have HP in my mags. At the range it's FMJ. Every month or so I shoot a 50 pack of HP. Money isn't that big of an issue for me when it comes to ammo. But everyones lifestyle is different.

But at the end of the day, a bullet is a bullet. You should only be worried which one you use, if you don't know where to shoot at in order to take out your target.