Type of Bullets

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Charles Cooper

USMC, Amphibious Assault-1990-1994 1 deployment to Somalia.

2nd Ranger BN, 75th Ranger Regiment
SOCM Medic-2005-2015,
8 deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Horn of Africa


When it comes to ammunition there a wide variety of bullet types and acronyms out there that can make things a bit confusing for consumers. While we are not going to cover every different bullet variation on the market, we will go through some of the most common types. Below is a list of some of the more common types of projectiles available:


Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)

First up are Full Metal Jacket bullets or FMJ. This is going to be the most common option for sale and purchased by firearms owners. This is your typical ball ammo for getting time in on the range. As the infamous name implies, this bullet has a soft metal center with a harder ‘jacketed” casing on the outside. Not the best option for self- defense or distance shooting, but you can expect it to be reliable, clean shooting and cheaper than most other bullet types out there.



Hollow points are designed to expand upon impact, which makes them the ideal choice for self-defense. These bullets are made to a very high quality, tend to be very accurate but come with a high price tag. We don’t recommend using hollow points as range ammo, but it is definitely recommended to zero your guns with your self-defense ammo of choice and know your holds at varying distances with that ammo.



Soft point bullets utilize a jacketed bullet with a soft metal core that is left open at the tip. Similar in concept to a hollow point, this allows the bullet to expand when it makes impact on a target. Popular for hunting and self-defense, they offer great accuracy but come at a high price tag just like hollow points.



WadCutters and Semi WadCutters are a popular bullet type for revolvers. Full WadCutters are simply a full lead bullet with a flat top.



Semi WadCutters are a hybrid mix between a lead round nose bullet and a WadCutter; thus giving it a more aerodynamic shape than a traditional WadCutter. These offer a great range ammo solution for revolver shooters due to the affordable price.



Bonded bullets take jacketed bullets to the next level. These bullets undergo an extra process to bond the lead core to the jacket into one piece. Popular for hunting large game, this ammo is designed to stay intact after impact. This allows the projectile to maintain velocity and energy at distance, even after making hitting the target. Due to the cost of manufacturing, you can expect a high price tag for bonded ammo.



Open Tip Match (OTM) bullets have a small hole at the tip of the bullet, hence the name. These bullets tend to be very consistent and accurate, making them a premier choice for long distance shooters. Unlike a hollow point bullet, these do not expand upon impact.



Ballistic Tip bullets are a popular option for hunting because of their design. They are essentially a hollow point bullet with a polymer tip that gives it the look and feel of a traditional Full Metal Jacket. This combination offers excellent expansion and accuracy, while resisting deformation in the magazine.



Armor Piercing (AP) bullets are based off the Full Metal Jacket design with a hardened steel or tungsten carbide core. These bullets will also utilize a spire point to aid in their penetrating ability upon impact. Another noteworthy variant is Armor Piercing Incendiary (API) bullets which have the same piercing capability but also burst into a flame upon impact.



Lastly we have, Frangible ammunition which is designed to break upon impact to reduce the chances of ricochet and over penetration during training. For shooting steel targets, frangible ammunition offers a lot of safety benefits over traditional FMJ bullets. Since this ammo is designed to under penetrate and fragment instead of expand upon impact, it is not recommended for self-defense outside of very specialized situations and environments.

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