View Full Version : Legalities of Hunting with FMJ

February 24, 2008, 12:27 PM
<<<This thread is composed of posts from a thread in the Handgun forum. I copied them here under this title to eliminate the thread hijack. JohnKSa>>>

Don't know where you're from Boris but around these parts you get caught hunting with FMJ you go to jail. Highly illegal. On the other hand, that is a MASSIVE wound channel for ball ammo. Bone fragments must have had a lot to do with it.

Boris Bush
February 24, 2008, 01:04 PM

The law in MI specificaly names ball ammo as being legal.

February 24, 2008, 06:37 PM
In Tennessee FMJ or "Ball ammo" is a big NO NO.
" Rifles or handguns loaded with military or other full metal jacketed type of ammunition are prohibited." and you can get into big trouble using it on big game. I'd like a link to the laws in MI about FMJ ammo. I can't believe that any State would allow it since it doesn't open up and transfer energy like a soft point or hollow point bullet would do.


February 24, 2008, 06:40 PM
MI allows FMJ ammunition for all hunting of land game. There is no prohibition against it.

February 24, 2008, 06:46 PM
No prohibition of ball ammo.

February 24, 2008, 09:06 PM
I did a google and found that site a bit ago. While it doesn't say anything against using FMJ I don't see anything saying that it's ok either so I guess it'd just "use whatever you want". Seems like common sense would dictate the use of soft point or hollow point ammo for hunting though. If you'd not hit bone with an FMJ round you'd just get a neat little hole in your game and it'd run off and die someplace a at a later date. I personally don't think FMJ is worth a hoot for hunting(i.e. killing) but it's great for wounding which is why it's used in the military.

Boris Bush
February 24, 2008, 10:38 PM

Go to the 5th paragraph and read it on the link given above.

It reads....

[QUOTE] It is illegal for a person taking or attempting to take game to carry or possess afield a centerfire or muzzleloading rifle, a bow and arrow, a centerfire or black powder handgun, or a shotgun with buckshot, slug or ball loads or cut shells, unless you have in your possession a 2007 firearm deer, combination deer or antlerless deer license for the appropriate DMU, with an unused kill tag issued in your name, or a 2007 firearm deer, combination deer or antlerless deer license for the appropriate DMU issued in your name with an unused deer management assistance permit (DMA) kill tag or an unused managed deer hunt permit.

If you did not see it then read slower because it does state ball loads can be used if you have the proper kill tag.

Different state, different law. You might think it aint no good for hunting. I think alot of stuff and keep most of it to myself. I have seen deer shot with way too short super dooper whizzer banger mags, only to run a quarter of a mile. I hereby proclaim them not worth a hoot for hunting, and is only good for wounding. In other words I don't think my mind or ways will be changed by any opinion.

As for it being a great caliber for military use, you got that right, but of the people I have seen shot with 9x19mm NATO ball, not a one lived and only a few were wounded for a short time. Yep some had to be shot more than once, but my reality of what I have seen and done far outweigh "feelings" or "opinions".

Just my observations of what I have seen and experienced, nothing more......

February 24, 2008, 11:26 PM
"It is illegal for a person taking or attempting to take game to carry or possess afield a centerfire or muzzleloading rifle, a bow and arrow, a centerfire or black powder handgun, or a shotgun with buckshot, slug or ball loads or cut shells, unless you have in your possession a 2007 firearm deer, combination deer or antlerless deer license for the appropriate DMU, with an unused kill tag issued in your name, or a 2007 firearm deer, combination deer or antlerless deer license for the appropriate DMU issued in your name with an unused deer management assistance permit (DMA) kill tag or an unused managed deer hunt permit."

You're allowed to use cut-loads in a shotgun when hunting in MI??? Damn! I grew up in MI and we used to go out in the woods and shoot watermelons or dead tree stumps with cut (or "ringed") shells and it was insane how they blew up. I can't imagine shooting a deer with one of those, I always just thought it was a good idea in a last ditch defensive situation (more hollywood-esque, but still). For instance, you're stuck with some bird shot and the enemy is 60 or 70 yards away and you need to score a hit. I was also surprised with how accurate cut-loads were out of my 870. But, man, I can't imagine shooting a deer with one. Seems like you'd be picking pellets out of your teeth anytime you ate a steak.

Has anyone here ever shot a game animal with a cut-load before?

February 24, 2008, 11:31 PM
What exactly makes a cut load a cut load? I've heard the term but don't know what it is.

February 24, 2008, 11:36 PM
"or a shotgun with buckshot, slug or ball loads or cut shells,"
That's not talking about FMJ or Ball ammo for a rifle or pistol. That's talking about a single round ball being used in a shotgun shell, which is different from the "slug" that is more common today. I think ya'll have read the regs wrong and need to take another closer look at it. The "ball loads" that is being talked about is specific to shotguns, not rifles and pistols.

February 24, 2008, 11:53 PM
A cut-load, at least the definition of it I am used to, is a shotshell that has been cut almost completely through where the plastic shot cup is inside the shell. When we made them we cut all the way through just leaving a little tiny bit of the hull to hold the brass and the rest of the shell together. Since you cut through the inner cup or wad it leaves the shot sealed inside and it doesn't spill out. When you fire the round the entire end of the shell leaves the muzzle intact like a plastic blob full of lead shot. When it hits something you get a circular entrance hole and then the whole thing kind of detonates like a little grenade.

The last time I fired one the cut shell traveled about halfway down my barrel and then opened up firing a spread like it normally would. I took my barrel off and looked through it and could see the open shell hull jammed up inside the barrel. I had to use a cleaning rod to knock it back out, it was jammed in there pretty tight. Luckily I realized something had gone wrong and checked it, another shot probably would have blown my barrel apart I imagine. Since then I haven't shot cut loads again, but I did shoot many of them in the past without that happening.

February 24, 2008, 11:58 PM
Here's some words from our own Massad Ayoob.
"The Geneva Conventions and Hague Accords require that the bullets used not be designed to expand. Essentially, they call for full metal jacket projectiles that just punch neat, clean holes through the bodies of enemy soldiers. Ironically, in the name of human decency, virtually every state in the union forbids the use of such ammunition against deer, bear, or other big game. The reason is that it tends to result in slow death and is not humane. "

February 25, 2008, 12:00 AM
Thanks for that.

TNFrank, also notice there is no prohibition against using FMJ in MI.

February 25, 2008, 12:04 AM
I think the way MI law reads it's kind of vague. It doesn't really tell you that you can't but it doesn't say that you can either. They really need to spell it out better, if nothing else for the sake of the big game animals that'll be wounded and die a slow death from FMJ ammo. I know I'd not use it unless it was a life and death situation where I had to aquire meat and had no other rounds to hunt with. Either way, it's illegal in Tennessee and that's the way is should be.

February 25, 2008, 12:33 AM
I like that MI allows the hunter to make the decision rather than the government passing another law restricting our freedoms. I am a young man but have met and known thousands of hunters in my day. Not one of them would even consider using FMJ for anything other than fur bearers.

Just because something is allowed, doesn't mean it is rampantly used and we are all pounding away at deer and bear and elk with FMJ. More big game animals are wounded and/or die a slow death from hunters making poor shots or with guns they can't handle than with hunters using FMJ.

It is a falsehood that the Geneva Convention and Hague Accord forbids using expanding projectiles for small arms in the Rules of Land Warfare because they die "a slow death". It is quite the opposite in that the GC and HA, respectively, believed that expanding bullets caused undue suffering, thus FMJ is more humane.

FWIW, the US never agreed to or signed the GC nor HA. We just play nice.

February 25, 2008, 12:36 AM
FMJ is more humane because the wounds that they make are easier for a corpman or medic to treat. HP or soft point rounds make a bloody mess of of meat, FMJ makes a nice, neat little hole that is less apt to kill then an HP round.

February 25, 2008, 12:38 AM
So the soldier has to suffer while he waits for a medic that might never come versus being killed in less than 30 seconds while his BP drops? Doesn't seem more humane to me. Whatever.

February 25, 2008, 12:51 AM
"The difference is that the copper jacketing on the soft point does not completely envelope the tip of the bullet. The reason for this is to increase the damage done when the bullet impacts the target. As the bullet strikes the target the lead begins to deform and spread out (much like a hollow point). As it continues to do so the bullet "mushrooms". This results in a larger hole through the target.

Hunters tend not to use a Full Metal Jacket rounds because they do not expand. An FMJ round simply passes through the target (a notable exception is the rather dangerous occupation of shooting elephants in the forehead where penetration is paramount). FMJ ammo just does not cause a clean kill and is even outlawed in many states for hunting for that very reason. Occasionally a hunter will use an FMJ for varmints, but even then it's discouraged because FMJ rounds tend to be.... wait for it.... less lethal.

So why are FMJ rounds considered "military"? Well, because that's pretty much all the military is allowed to use. Take a look at the Hague convention from 1899 and you'll find a whole section titled, "Concerning the Prohibition of the Use of Expanding Bullets". The reason for this prohibition is that expanding bullets were considered too deadly. Apparently when we fight a war we're supposed to be nice about it."

FMJ bullets do less damage so a solider has a better chance of recovering from a wound made by one. On the other hand a soft point or hollow point does so much damage that most of the time a surgeon can't put the person back together and they die.

February 25, 2008, 12:51 AM

FWIW, the US never agreed to or signed the GC nor HA.
The Red Cross movement (later renamed the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement) spearheaded the first Geneva Convention in 1864. The purpose of this first treaty was to protect wounded soldiers and those caring for them during times of war. Twelve nations signed the initial document. Over the following decades, more countries agreed to the convention.

In 1882, U.S. President Chester Arthur signed the treaty, making the U.S. the 32nd nation to do so. The U.S. Senate ratified it shortly thereafter. At the same time, the American Association of the Red Cross was formed (many nations had begun to create their own Red Cross organizations in concert with the first Geneva Convention).

The second Geneva Convention in 1907 extended protection to wounded armed forces at sea and to shipwreck victims. The third convention in 1929 detailed the humane treatment of prisoners of war. The fourth convention in 1949 revised the previous conventions and addressed the rights of civilians in times of war. This convention is said to be the cornerstone of modern humanitarian law. It was amended in 1977 with two protocols that further protect civilians during wartime and address armed conflicts within a nation.

According to the Red Cross/Red Crescent, the U.S. has signed each of these international agreements. However, a signature does not bind a nation to the treaty unless the document has also been ratified by that nation (in the U.S., Congress ratifies such treaties). Generally, these treaties are open for signature for a limited time period after they're written. The U.S. ratified all the Geneva Conventions with the exception of the two protocols of 1977.

Boris Bush
February 25, 2008, 01:02 AM

M855 ball does NOT make a clean little hole. It might be fmj, but the dual core is designed to and does break at the steel and lead core meeting points. these rounds do a nasty number on people and make a big mess sometimes.

Trust me, The M4 does fine in the dust, and the 5.56mm kills just fine. I can say this because I have seen my co-workers terminate alot of badguys with the two, as well as doing a little myself. Yep, sometimes it took upto three shots, but I never fired no less than two anyway. I doubt I would use 5.56 ball on a deer, but if I HAD to I know it would probably do a good job at doing it from what I have seen it do to humans.

Sometimes you use what ya got, thats what I did and I got a fine picture of a deer hangin'. 100% legaly at that.

February 25, 2008, 01:06 AM
All bullets kill.

Some kill faster than others.

Expanding bullets tear up soft tissue pretty bad. FMJ's at least have the possibility of making a "neat" hole.

But "dumdums" from rifles and piano wired shot from shotguns will literally rip a limb off. Not pretty at all. Effective though.

Clarification though, the US is a signatory member of the Geneva Convention. But the Geneva Convention is not the limiting document on expanding bullets. The Hague Convention states, "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 "pierced with incisions" refers to dumdum's. When I last got a legal brief on the Law of Land Warfare the presenter showed pictures of dumdum wounds coming from some of the conflicts in Africa. It was rather brutal.


February 25, 2008, 01:11 AM
The Soviet 5.45x39.5mm in FMJ was also designed to tumble upon impact making very nasty wounds just like the 55gr 5.56x45mm did. The 5.56 was much more effictive with it's original 1:14" twist but when it failed the cold weather test for accuracy they bumped it up to 1:12" and took away some of it's effectiveness. Now that the 5.56 is using a heavier bullet and the 1:7" twist it's working better at long range but I'd still not use FMJ on big game.

February 25, 2008, 01:16 AM
I shot a box of 20 grain FMJ through my .17HMR. Not sure what they'd be good for though. I think I'd prefer the XTP/Gamepoints for hunting anything bigger than a Woodchuck or PD.

February 25, 2008, 02:07 AM
I've read in several posts here that "the 5.56mm/ 5.45mm was designed to tumble into flesh, and cause immense wound damage." (Yeah I saw the Top Ten show too on the Military channel) Not true. It wasnt "designed" to do this... Thats just the byproduct of a small calibre/ high velocity round. And it doesnt always do it either. The small round was merely developed to save weight and make the rifle easier to control under full auto. Nothing more.

The militarys use of FMJ is simply a matter of reliability in automatic rifles. Even military bolt actions jam with soft points. Just ask anyone whos tried to cycle Remington Cor-lokts in their Mauser K98s. Join the Military and they will expalin all of this to you. Believe me...I know.