Full Metal Jacket vs. Jacketed Hollow Point

Full Metal Jacket vs. Jacketed Hollow Point

After much consideration, you’ve decided to buy a gun for self-defense, hunting, or sport. Congratulations and welcome to the club, now you need to figure out what kind of ammo to buy. Its not as simple as just getting the right caliber as there are multiple types of ammunition that can fit into a single gun. These ammo types all have different constructions, uses, and results. Two of the most common styles are full metal jacket (FMJ) and jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammunition. Understanding these two kinds of bullets and knowing your gun are helpful in choosing the best ammo for your purposes.

How Bullets Are Made

Most bullets follow a similar construction process. At the center of a bullet is a lead core that adds weight to the bullet. However, lead by itself is too soft and easy to deform, which can limit the accuracy of the shot. Copper is stronger than lead, but it’s just malleable enough to grip the rifling in a gun’s barrel during firing. A copper or copper alloy jacket protects the lead from getting deformed during firing, increasing accuracy and distance (and keeping your barrel clean too).

Full Metal Jacket

FMJ ammo gets its name from the jacket that covers the entire bullet. This covering is usually a copper or copper and steel alloy designed to reduce the amount of lead residue in the barrel after firing. The most important thing to note is that FMJ ammo remains whole and jacketed even after hitting its target. This type of bullet is usually not the right choice for hunting or self-defense as it can go straight through the target and hit whatever is behind the target, or ricochet and hit an innocent bystander or fellow hunter. While an FMJ is harmful, the bullet leaves smaller entry and exit wounds than other bullets, causing less damage to the target in comparison. Primarily, FMJ ammo is used in military operations and target shooting.

Jacketed Hollow Point

JHP ammo follows a similar construction to FMJ. The difference is, a JHP has a hole in  the tip of the bullet, giving it a hollow center. When a JHP makes contact with the target, the bullet expands like an umbrella which creates a cavity in the soft-tissue. JHPs don’t usually go through their target, but they do cause more damage. On impact, the energy transfers from the bullet to whatever stopped it, slowing it down drastically and leading to devastating damage. Since these bullets cause more damage, you might be able to use fewer bullets to stop your target. However, JHP bullets will not be able to penetrate harder targets, such as body armor, steel, and concrete. JHP bullets are best used for police duties, hunting, and self-defense.

How to Choose

There is no one right bullet for every shooter. First, check your state’s laws to ensure there aren’t restrictions on bullet types. Once you have that cleared, practice with FMJ and JHP ammo to get a feel for both.

The full metal jacket might be cheaper and more resistant to damage, but it is likely go through a target and damage whatever is behind it. The jacketed hollow point ammo causes more damage to a target, but may not penetrate as effectively as you want. The important thing to remember when choosing ammo is to find the ammo that works best for your gun and your needs.

Disclaimer: Always check with your state and local laws for restrictions before ordering ammunition, and make sure you use the correct ammunition for your specific firearm.

6 years ago
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H. Lynn Norton
2 years ago at 7:18 PM
For most calibers JHP IS best. For .32 cal. and below, hollow points, with a few exceptions(7.62X28 for example), do not provide enough penetration to reliably take down a target in a self-defence situation. I carry my .32 loaded with FMJ. My .380 to my 1911 are loaded with JHP when I carry them.
William Hollis
2 years ago at 7:23 PM
Thanks for your information.
David Zimprich
2 years ago at 7:23 PM
Thanks for your information.
Gonzalez Mario J
2 years ago at 8:54 PM
Excelent info !!!
Ranger Rick
2 years ago at 9:11 PM
I carry both. Hard target comes up I go to FMJ mag. Otherwise, I go with H.P.
2 years ago at 9:14 PM
Different confrontations call for different solutions Fmj ,hollow points and cutting edge bullets all give the best results under different circumstances is opponent under light cover wearing bullet proof clothes moving in and out of cover ,a mixture is the best choice. Probably out of a Glock 17l ,or HK mk 23. With good barrels both give 1” or better at 25 yds.
2 years ago at 7:19 AM
Not much of an article. I guess it's intended for someone who knows nothing literally about bullets.
2 years ago at 8:18 AM
Great info for new shooters.
2 years ago at 4:12 PM
I use HP in my 380s. But I havent really understood my bullets. So for me this was really informative. Thank you!
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