Ball ammunition versus various hollow points for self defense with a pistol
I recently read the 6th Edition (IIRC) of "Combat Handgunnery" by Massad Ayoob.
He makes it sound as if hollow points are the only way to go to self defense, and as if ball ammo is not even worth taking seriously if there's a chance that you might have to shoot in a self defense scenario, because he barely even mentions it in his chapter, except to say in a historical sidenote that that 9mm parabellum ball ammo performs very poorly for stopping someone. At other points in the book Ayoob refers to "training ammo" and I think what he means is FMJs, which suggets he thinks FMJs should only be used for training.
On the other hand, I've also been told by a firearms instructor that hollow points are "overrated".
When you read historical analyses and statistics regarding "handgun stopping power", the overwhelming impression I get is of variability. Sometimes a person is shot once and drops, and sometimes a person is shot multiple times and is not. I'd always had the impression, from historical research, that shooting someone with a handgun was a bit of a crap shoot in terms of whether or not the person would go down, which is why people train in failure drills. This is in contrast to the impression Ayoob gives me in his book about certain specific hollow point cartridges which are supposedly very likely to produce a "one shot stop".
Help me sort this out. How important is the use of hollow points, versus the use of ball ammo, in a self defense handgun shooting scenario? Is ball ammo greatly deficient in relation to hollow points?
The Ball round is often an over penetrator. If it does not hit the brain, spine or long bones of the legs you might not drop someone with smaller caliber rounds. Most test show that when you over penetrate the target has less force absorption as does when the round embeds itself. Over-penetrating small rounds rip through the target with little energy transfer. Look at test comparing the faster smaller 9mm against the slower moving 45 and you can see the bigger slowing moving round has more stopping power.
Originally Posted by Wounded Ronin
The hollow point turns any caliber into a larger slower moving round once it hits resistance so you get the effect of a bigger round without over penetration. Also for home defense there is less chance of ricochet or over-penetration to not affect bystanders.
I attended Ranger Indoctrination Training RIP right after Somalia. What they told us in Ranger History was that the younger Deta guys chose M16 variants 5.56mm and often had to hit target up to 5 times while the older guys drop targets with as little as 1 round from M14 7.62mm. The younger guys preferred lighter higher capacity weapons while the experienced operators felt the extra weight and lesser capacity of the larger caliber weapon was worth it.
Using hollow points can give you the advantage of larger rounds without over penetration, bulk and sacrifice in capacity.
Sorry for no links I will add them if I am challenged.
A corrollary to the above point is that if you are using a small calliber handgun (.32ACP, .25ACP maybe even .380ACP?) you may need to use FMJ ammo to achieve adequate penetration.
Many loads are jacketed because it allows for higher muzzle velocity. Penetration is only partly a concern, here; faster rounds mean longer effective reach, but the trade-off is a loss in deadliness with respect to round placement.
Originally Posted by Joz
Most, if not all, self-defense scenarios place the attacker and the defender inside 10 yards (LEO's back me up here?), so the need for a long-distance round in a self-defense situation is basically zero. Coupled with the jitters of a relatively untrained shooter in a fight-or-flight scare, ball ammo is much less effective, jacketed or not.
The reasoning is that any type of hollow point ammo is likely to achieve a much more devastating wound than ball ammo because of its mushrooming effect; certain variations are designed to spiral out large pieces of shrapnel, causing an internal wound radius that is potentially tens of times larger than the entry wound. In smaller loads, ball ammo may do nothing more than to enrage your attacker (assuming a self-defense scenario) if not placed properly (head/heart).
You should not be using anything 9mm or larger in anything other than a hollow point for defensive purposes. Hollow Point ammunition disperses it's energy into the target by expanding when it enters body tissue. FMJ ammunition continues moving forward with it's momentum instead of dispersing it and can in many cases continue moving at lethal velocities after exiting it's target, making it more dangerous for anything or anyone behind the target (and not necessarily directly behind, a bullet can stray into another direction as it exits the body). If you have an instructor telling you that hollow point rounds are overrated, you should find a different instructor. That's as much a form of Bullshido as somebody like Ashida Kim calling grappling overrated.
As for handgun stopping power, it sort of is a crap shoot, but not entirely. There are 2 ways to disable an attacker in 1 shot:
1. Disrupt the Central Nervous System by shooting center mass or to the head.
2. Hit the attacker anywhere else and hope that their mental reaction is to go into a state of shock instead of to continue fighting.
In handguns, the specific type of ammunition doesn't matter much because every handgun is underpowered compared to long arms one way or another.
You can also check out some gathered statistics on 1 shot stops with different calibers and types of ammunition here:
EDIT: Just wanted to add that you should make sure when reviewing these statistics that you keep in mind that factors such as shot placement are not taken into account, nor are many other factors such as barrel lengths of weapons used, etc...
Last edited by IMightBeWrong; 7/11/2010 5:17pm at .
Responding to the last post, if pistol cartridges are ballistically deficient and hence need to be hollow point in order to drop someone, then what about FMJ rifle cartridges?
If someone defending his home shoots a home invader with, say, an SKS loaded with 7.62x39 FMJs, would you expect him to be unable to consistiently stop the invader?
Would he get better or worse results than if he used a 1911 loaded with .45 JHPs?
"The 5.56mm carbine has been used successfully for many years to eliminate threats throughout the world. There are some who have had a bad experience with the 5.56mm. The only answer I have for their displeasure is to work on their accuracy. Real people are not easy to incapacitate and paper targets are much easier. If you have ever witnessed first hand the damage that the 5.56mm projectile will cause to the human body, you will become a believer. Don't believe everything that you read in a gun magazine. Their obvious goal is to have something new to write about. They don't have the shooters best interests in mind. If you really want to hear the truth, talk to someone who has been there..."
Originally Posted by chainpunch
By Kyle Lamb, US SpecOp (probably Delta) who was in the battle of Mogadishu.
Trying to compare .45 ACP to 7.62x39 is an apples to oranges comparison. Even if most of the energy from the 7.62x39 goes trough the target, there is so much more energy there in the first place than with the .45 ACP to more than even things out.
Originally Posted by Wounded Ronin
Some people believe that clothing (especially in winter) can greatly reduce the effectiveness of hollow point ammunition. Also, I wouldn't worry too much about over penetration you're more likely to outright miss a few shots anyways.
Some ammunition is over rated (e.g. the bad press that Black Talon ammunition received as "cop killers" or the near mythic properties some believe Hydra-Shok ammo has).
Just about perfectly answered WR's question for me. Thank you.
Originally Posted by kanegs
I would like to add that I do not condone using rifles for home defense. Handguns are my personal preference, followed by shotguns (which are the more common preference for HD). The main reason I choose a handgun for home defense is training. I've got enough of a problem getting as much training as I'd like with a handgun as-is, so I'd like to stick to my comfort zone instead of switching to another weapon system for HD. That said, if I had more time I'd like to have a shotgun for home defense purposes for it's true knockdown power (as I said, long arms have far more knockdown capability than handguns which are inherently an underpowered compromise of size and firepower). I'm hoping to implement a Saiga 12 to my arsenal for my birthday coming up in September, a gift to myself, so that I won't have to learn another skillset since I'm at least decent with the AK platform already.
I like the 5.56 myself and dont have complaints about it there is just no comparing the stoping power of the 7.62
Originally Posted by tgace
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