Shooter's Glossary: Hollow Point Bullets

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Shooter's Glossary: Hollow Point Bullets

Hollow Point bullets bullets are a specific type of projectile designed primarily for rapid expansion upon impact.

This design delivers several advantages and considerations, especially in self-defense and hunting scenarios. The result is more serious knockdown power.

Hollow Point Bullets

Here's a comprehensive look at hollow point bullets:

Basic Definition
Hollow point bullets are characterized by a hollowed-out center in the tip or nose of the bullet. This design facilitates the bullet's expansion when it strikes a target.

Purpose and Function

Rapid Expansion
The primary purpose of the hollow design is to promote rapid expansion of the bullet upon impact. As the bullet enters the target, the hollow tip causes the front of the bullet to "mushroom" or expand outward.

Energy Transfer
The rapid expansion causes the bullet to slow down quickly and transfer its kinetic energy to the target more efficiently. This can result in a more significant wound channel.

Reduced Over-Penetration
The expansion of the bullet also helps reduce the risk of over-penetration, meaning the bullet is less likely to pass entirely through the target and potentially strike an unintended object or person behind it.

Common Uses

Hollow point bullets are a popular choice for self-defense ammunition because they are designed to incapacitate threats effectively. Their rapid energy transfer can stop aggressors more quickly, and the reduced risk of over-penetration is a safety benefit in populated areas.

In hunting, hollow points can deliver quick, humane kills due to the significant wound channels they create.

Law Enforcement
Many law enforcement agencies use hollow point ammunition for duty weapons for similar reasons as civilian self-defense.


Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)
These bullets have a layer (jacket) of harder metal, usually copper, surrounding the lead core, with the hollow point exposed. The jacket helps the bullet maintain its shape during flight for better accuracy and aids controlled expansion upon impact.

Open Tip Match (OTM)
Though they have an open tip, OTM bullets are not designed for expansion like traditional hollow points. Instead, the open tip is a result of manufacturing processes intended for bullet accuracy.

Legislation and Controversy

In some jurisdictions, the use of hollow point bullets by civilians is restricted or banned due to concerns about their lethality.

It's worth noting that while the Hague Convention of 1899 prohibits the use of expanding bullets in international warfare, this doesn't apply to domestic law enforcement or civilian use.


Barrier Penetration
Hollow points can sometimes be less effective when shooting through barriers like clothing, glass, or wood, as the barrier might clog the hollow tip and prevent expansion.

The performance of hollow points can vary based on the design and the specific medium they encounter. Some might expand more reliably in certain targets than others.

Hollow Point Bullet Brands

In essence, hollow point bullets in the shooting sports world represent a design focused on maximizing the bullet's impact and energy transfer.

Their characteristic expanding action upon entering a target has made them a preferred choice in many self-defense, hunting, and law enforcement scenarios.

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