Jacketed Hollow Points Or Full Metal Jacket — Which Should You Carry And Why? (Reader’s Q&A)


It’s almost the end of the year already! For Concealed Nation fans, it means looking forward to a whole new list of original articles and content to keep you on the cutting edge of tips, tricks, and techniques to improve your concealed carry lifestyle. For us editors and writers, however, it means cleaning out the inbox of unanswered questions submitted by you.

In this edition of Concealed Nation: Questions & Answers, we take a topic we have tangentially discussed and bring it into the limelight with one reader’s simple question.

Should I carry jacketed hollow points or full metal jacket? Why?

We wrote a really decent overview of different bullet types and their basic uses in this article here. If you’re interested on my view on defensive ammunition, I wrote up an article discussing the role of self-defense ammunition in concealed carry practices.

In general, I shy away from full metal jacket (FMJ) ammunition as my everyday carry rounds.

There ARE advantages of budget FMJ pistol ammo. Many of these advantages relate to practice, proficiency, and a reduction in mechanical loading in centerfire pistols.

As defensive ammunition – i.e. the ammunition I plan on defending my life with – I would prefer a bullet that does all of the following:

  • Penetrates the target
  • Expands inside the target
  • And/or fragments and disperses inside the target

To get all of these things, I first have to consider what can actually do that.

A jacketed hollow point, by its design, is made to expand the surface area of the bullet as it pushes through soft tissue. This is what’s commonly referred to as the “mushroom” effect.

It’s not because I’m overly cruel that I want this. It’s quite simply because my job, as someone who is attempting to preserve his own life, is to stop the bad guy as fast as possible.

A full metal jacketed round will not create a very large wound channel. If I hit a vital organ with the round, it may be sufficient to stop a bad guy in his tracks. Otherwise, he’ll have probably several minutes to either press on with his attack or maybe even days before he is forced to stop and seek medical attention.

Hollow points are a lot faster at stopping the fight.

There are other types of rounds out there. For instance, Critical Defense makes a Critical Duty round with a FlexLock expandable tip. There are also frangible copper hollow points that create the desired mushroom effect and have the added bonus of dispersing throughout the body.

These types of rounds force a bad guy to stop and, at the very least, seek serious medical attention. That’s the name of the game – neutralize.

To that effect, I think jacketed hollow points correctly address the question. Full metal jacketed rounds do not. Do I still think FMJs are great for practice at the range? Absolutely. However, when it’s my life on the line, I want jacketed hollow points to be the round exiting the barrel of my gun and landing on target in the bad guy.

It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. It takes the right type of round to stop that bad guy before he can continue to hurt anyone else. Carry concealed every single day, everywhere you legally can — and carry defensive rounds in the chamber and magazine when you do.

About the Author

GH is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 26 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his Sig Sauer SP2022 in a Dara Holsters Appendix IWB holster.

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