Ammunition… selecting the right ammo for the job

Posted by sps on March 12, 2014

It’s surprising to see in many gun forums, people speak about having superior guns or how one caliber is better than another. When in all actuality, it is not only a combination, but the actual type of ammunition that figures into it as well.

We will discuss the different types of ammunition. You don’t have to carry a “hand cannon” to protect yourself. I am quite confident in carrying a firearm that is no bigger than the size of my hand, with no more than six rounds of ammunition, in 9 mm format. You should place more emphasis on your training and tactical know-how in a self-defense situation than how ‘big a bullet’ you are carrying. First off, let’s get into types of ammo. We will start out with penetration of armor, and work backwards to less effective ammo.


AP– which stands for armor piercing. This is a particularly hard bullet designed for maximum penetration through armor plating. Its core is a steel/tungsten-based alloy, covered in lead with a copper jacket and shaped to a point. The reason these projectiles are coated in copper or lead is to reduce the amount of barrel wear of the core compound. This ammo is not generally available to the public…


F MJ– which stands for full metal jacket. This projectile is made with a full lead core, jacketed with copper, brass or light steel. This is a good “all-around” projectile, for target shooting or military use. It is not a good ‘self defense’ round due to its lack of expansion and over penetration. These bullets deform or expand very little, with great penetration..

JSP–  which is a jacketed soft point. This is a variant of the full metal jacket, but the jacket does not cover the tip. This was a great invention, as it still allowed for expansion into the wound cavity, but didn’t foul the barrel of a firearm. This design is a great cross between the FMJ and the latter discussed JHP. It has better penetration then the JHP, but sustains more stopping power than the FMJ.

JHP-this stands for jacketed hollow point. This is the source design for most personal protection ammunition. Forming an open cavity inside the core of the projectile allows the bullet to “mushroom” as it makes contact with flesh causing a larger wound cavity. This is an absolutely great design for personal protection as even a 9 mm round when opened mushrooms to the size of a nickel, causing the body to absorb all the energy of the bullet.

Frangible Ammo- This  ammo such as Glaser Safety Slug, Magsafe, Extreme Shock, the infamous Black Rhino and Razor rounds, BeeSafe, etc., are ‘frangible’ rounds. Such rounds were designed to have bullets that are light weight and to fragment in soft tissue and often fragile enough to break apart and deform when striking a hard surface in order to reduce the potential down-range hazard of a missed shot.

“Frangible” ammo is made strictly for reduced hazard training purposes. Such ammo is made by using a non-toxic powdered metal (primarily tin, copper or zinc) and adding a binding matrix (nylon or a plastic/polymer substance) and then sintering the powders together under heat and pressure to form the bullet. When these bullets strike an object harder than itself, the bullet will (suppose to) fragment into very small particles (powder) and eliminate all risks of splash-back (having chunks of lead and copper jacket from standard bullets bouncing back towards the shooter.

So, your shooting purpose will decide which type of ammo you’ll use. If you have any questions, or would even like to get into the hobby of reloading your own ammunition, I suggest you call the professionals at Old Glory Guns & Ammo. We are very knowledgeable and are more than willing to help you on your decision-making, and can be reached at 603-878-2854.