Frangible for Defense?


June 23, 2006, 07:20 AM
I live in a fairly populated neighborhood w/the houses close together. I am thinking of getting some 9mm frangible rounds for self defense. I have read a lot of good and bad things about stopping/killing power, including a "test" video that made them look pretty effective. Any one know for sure? Any help would be great!

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June 23, 2006, 09:15 AM
I would NEVER EVER consider a frangible in an autoloader. Likely not going to cycle the slide. The bullets are light and the recoil force is inadequate many times. To properly test an auto for function with the loads, you need to fire at LEAST 200 trouble free rounds in it. I don't know about you, but at 13 bucks for SIX rounds, I simply can't afford it.

If you wanna shoot frangibles, and they are a great choice in apartments and crowded neighborhoods, get a revolver and test six or 12 rounds for accuracy, then load it and be pleased. Don't worry about "stopping power". A hit center mass can be devastating with such rounds. Whack the BG a couple times center mass and you have as good a chance as with anything else in the caliber. I don't use 'em, don't live in a crowded neighborhood. I'm out on the edge of town and have a couple of neighbors that ain't that close. I keep my carry gun for the day next to the bed, usually either a .38 special loaded with 158 grain +Ps or a 9mm loaded with 115 grain +Ps.

BTW, the frangibles will likely hit VERY low compared to other revolver loads, so if you get a revolver for such use, be sure the sights are adjustable. Even at hand shake ranges, I like my guns to shoot to POA.

June 23, 2006, 09:24 AM
Personally, I'd stick with high-quality jacketed hollow points. I use gold dots myself, but most any of the big name ammo makers should be fine.

Pre-fragmented ammo like glasers and magsafe tend to dump all their energy early, leaving a bunch of small, shallow wound channels that don't penetrate deep enough to hit the vitals you need to hit to cause incapacitation. They can also be unreliable in autos, and are too expensive to buy enough to test reliability.

Other frangible ammo I've seen is really made for shooting in indoor ranges and shooting steel targets really close without having to worry about splatter, riccochet, and lead dust. In the gel tests I've seen for those, some disintegrate too early, like a glaser. Others can penetrate deep enough, but instead of expanding as they penetrate, like a hollow point, they are disintegrating, getting smaller and smaller the further they go. Again, this sort of specialty ammo tends to be a lot more expensive.

I'd get some hollow points, and spend the extra money on more practice ammo.

June 23, 2006, 06:22 PM
I'm of the other school that feels frangibles are fine for defense use, especialy if your talking about in a home. However I don't know if I would use them in and autoloader, cause as MCg pointed out, they may not reliably cycle the weapon and it would be expensive as all get out to test.
That said, in a revolver they'd be just fine, as at the range (distance) you'd be using them at (again in a home/building) 5, 6 or 7 to COM (or near COM) will be effective.

June 24, 2006, 08:12 PM
I rarther have a 25 auto. Least the rounds will go deep enough to do some damage.:rolleyes: Get some good HP and practice.

June 25, 2006, 12:26 AM
I use frangible ammo in .38 or .357 revolvers.
Never even considered the semi-auto issue since my house gun is a revolver.

Personally, if one lives in an apartment, frangible ammo may be the best way to go...

June 26, 2006, 12:10 PM
They all vary in terms of reliability.

I have used the International Cartridge frangible in a P239 .40 and had no problems with cycling.

I have also used the PMC Green in the P239 and a P226 .40 and had one issue with a low-powered round ("pop" instead of "boom") out of close to 300 rounds.

PMC Green in the AR had maybe one hard primer out of 200 rounds, but I had maybe 3-4 out of 200 rounds with some "house brand" of .223 frangible ammo sold at my indoor range.

The PMC company apparently went bust this month, so I guess they are no longer an option. I found the .223 PMC Green to be the best overall frangible value in terms of cost/accuracy/availability.


As far as handgun frangibles, the International Cartridge "special duty hollow point" seems to be the way to go for HD use. I was told that the Pentagon security force uses it in their duty handguns.

June 26, 2006, 02:50 PM
In 9mm I'd check out the Magsafe SWAT loads or look into the Glaser Safety Slugs, .

I would also check the PowRball loads. These offer great power and ball type use in semi auto 9mm pistols.

The new ExtremeShock handgun rounds get a lot of press. They look impressive but I'm not sure of any documented use in real shootings/police reports.

Rusty S


June 27, 2006, 01:47 PM
Least the rounds will go deep enough to do some damage
Agreed. When Glasers were all the rage, I attended an autopsy in Cape Town where a vagrant was shot COM with one; it fragmented beautifully on his sternum but did nothing other than surface-tissue damage. Put me off frangible bullets for life.

So how did he die? He fell off a railway-bridge trying to run away - so, if you're carrying Glasers and the like, have a bridge handy :neener:

June 27, 2006, 03:42 PM
I was bored at work, so here's some data to consider:

For defensive handgun cartridges, the IWBA testing protocol recommends a penetration depth of 12.5" - 14". The FBI protocol recommends 12" - 18".

If you're starting to visualize this in relation to a human body, keep in mind that the skin on the entry side is equivalent to ~2" of gelatin, and the skin on the exit side is equivalent to ~4". If you have an attacker holding a weapon up, and you shoot through their arm like so (, it takes 10" of penetration to even reach the torso (2" for the enrty skin + 4" through the arm at an angle ( + 4" for the exit skin = 10".)

That being said, let's look at some test results for frangible rounds:

Glasers: ( Pre-fragmented round.
Says right on their websight that Glaser Blue penetrates five to seven inches in International Ballistic Wound Association protocol testing, while silver penetrates eight to ten inches in the IWBA testing protocol.
This link ( lists glasers as having 8" (blue) and 9" (silver) out of a 357SIG.
That fails to meet the 12" minimum for either FBI or IWBA protocols, and what is penetrating is tiny, tiny bird shot.
Rounds are over $3 each.

MagSafe: ( Pre-fragmented round.
Their website makes an unsupported claim of 10" - 13". The picture ( on the front page does not look like nearly that much penetration.
This link ( and this link ( both list magsafe penetration as 11.3", again from a 357SIG.
Not bad for a prefragmented round, but still less than 12".
Magsafe makes mention of both the Strabourg tests and Marshall / Sanow data in promoting their product, which I personally find a little questionable.
They also mention "hundreds" of gelatin shots, but offer up no actual test data from those.
And again, what is penetrating is tiny birdshot.
Rounds are about $2 each.

Corbon Pow'R Ball: ( JHP
Not really a frangible round at all. The Pow'R Ball is a jacketed hollow point with a polymer ball in the point to a) give it a round nose profile for reliable feeding, and b) keep the hollow point from getting clogged.
Test results seem ok from what I've seen, though not great. This one ( actually shows some pretty poor results.
I had heard of some possible QC problems with Corbon, but that was over 2 years ago, may not be an issue now.
Rounds cost about $0.80 each.

Extreme Shock: ( Frangible round.
I have trouble even looking at these guys seriously because of the picture on their home page. I mean, if that doesn't scream "Mall Ninja!" I don't know what does.
Anyway, their description of the "Air Freedom Round" says
An AFR round has completely dumped its entire energy in the first 7", completely disintigrating the ballistic gelatin
7" is inadequate penetration for getting to anything vital. Thier ammo also seems to be designed around the unproven "energy tranfer" theory, and the misconception that gelatin torn by temporary cavity translates to tissue damage (it doesn't).
Rounds cost $2 to 3$ each.

International: ( Frangible round.
Lists the primary benefits of frangible as it being non-toxic (no lead) and reduced riccochet risk for close quarters training. They do make a duty round, but I find their test results interesting:

cal...............wt.........................................pen...........retained wt.
9mm Luger....100gr...Bare Gelatin...................15.00 in.....51.0 grains
9mm Luger....100gr...Denim, T-Shirt, Flannel....15.25 in.....52.5 grains
9mm Luger....100gr...Drywall, Light Clothing.....12.25 in.....48.5 grains

The terminal performance after penetrating drywall is almost as good as in bare gelatin. And it still meets the FBI minimum for penetration. So that essentially means that your neighbors are no safer than the guy you are shooting. Although only 50% weight retention is pretty poor compared to hunting or standard jhp rounds.
No info on price.

Compare these with, say, Speer Gold Dots ( which can be had for about $0.65 per round or less.

Any of the frangible or gimmick-type rounds could work. If that's what you want to use for defense in your apartment, then feel free. But realize that you are giving up terminal performance in exchange for over-penetration concerns. There is no magic bullet.

June 29, 2006, 12:25 AM
The post about home protection/FBI testing/frangible ammo had a lot of details. I'd say based on years of reading research/magazine articles/discussions/etc I'd say Magsafe or Glaser Silver would be a smart choice. Speer bonded JHP loads or Remington Golden Saber JHPs(BONDED) would work too but for an urban area with many people around I'd buy the Magsafe or Glaser Silver Safety Slugs. You are not a SWAT cop or a US Navy SEAL so I'd keep those issues in mind. The well made frangible rounds may not go super deep but they offer low recoil, accuracy and a reduced threat to anyone around your property.

Rusty, :cool:

June 29, 2006, 12:48 AM is always worth reading I think and it has some mention of frangibles in it.

Personally I wouldn't use a frangible round for defense in anything.

Rusty: Why would you bring up bonded rounds? Bonding is just going to ensure weight retention by keeping the jacket and core together for greater penetration. Which I actually think is a good thing, but isn't what you're recommending.

June 29, 2006, 06:02 AM
The first two rounds in my 6" S&W 629 that I use for a bedside gun are Glaser Silver Safety Slugs. The others are JHP.
I also load Glasers as the first three rounds in my Colt .45. The other 6 are JHP.
They feed and eject 100% in my Government and our Commanders.
I always keep between 50 and 100 rounds of each caliber I need on hand.

They are a specialty round. And for what they were designed for they work very well.
Sure they're expensive. But of you look around you'll find a dealer somewhere that has some that has been sitting around too long. I bought 96 rounds of .44 special and .44 mag a few years ago for $40.
That's 2.50 for 6. :evil:

Every time I hear someone say they cost too much I just ask them what their life is worth. Look at the price for other factory ammo. Personally I find the price for most of the so called premium self-defense ammo to be obscene.
Many people gladly pay $1 per round for the various Golden Shocks.
And look at the price of premium rifled slugs!:eek:
So is $3 a round for Glaser so outlandish? Buy just enough to fire for effect and then a few more for actual use.
Remember that the Glaser is designed to be used up close and personal where accuracy isn't a problem. Not as everyday all purpose ammo.

It seems everyone has an opinion about Glaser Safey Slugs but just how many have ever fired one? Or a dozen?

June 29, 2006, 01:01 PM
Buy just enough to fire for effect and then a few more for actual use.
The real problem there for me is how many is enough to be sure they feed and cycle reliably in your gun?

June 29, 2006, 01:16 PM
Given the real concerns about real world penetration, the few people I know who carry frangibles make them the top round or two in their mag, followed by jhp or hardball.

IMO, frangibles make more sense in a defensive rifle, than in a handgun.

June 29, 2006, 10:22 PM
I would choose frangible ammo ONLY if my other options were "blanks" and "rocks".

June 29, 2006, 11:55 PM
Many well known gun writers(Sanow/Ayoob/etc) say the Speer Gold Dot and Remington Golden Saber bonded type handgun rounds have improved designs and are better for protection, CC/duty use. The bonded rounds hit harder, expand better and offer deeper penetration.



Wes Janson
June 30, 2006, 12:05 AM
Hey now, don't knock the terminal ballistics of a Mk I MBP (Mineral-Based Projectile)! ;)

Black Snowman
June 30, 2006, 01:17 AM
If you're in a home the odds of a stray or overpenetrating round are far less likely than the odds of a determined bad guy not being stopped by an inadiquate round and causing you and yours more grief than anyone deserves in a lifetime. I'm in a fairly dense neighborhood and my preferred home defense is a Mossberg 500A loaded with 1 oz slugs.

I know the house, I know where I'm likely to engage, and I know what fields of fire minimize my risk of the round causing collatteral damage. Most importantly I know if I hit COM with my chosen round the bad guy will be severely reduced in capacity to do me harm or stopped immidiately. I don't want to wound an angry assailant who might also have a 12 gu with slugs. I want to stop them cold.

What's worse? A round severely reduced in velocity after passing through a target or walls MAYBE striking another person you didn't intend or an armed rampaging wacko bent on making you suffer for injuring them?

June 30, 2006, 06:25 AM
I am surprised by the number of people who accept the Glaser Pow'r Ball ammunition as a good choice but disparage the Glaser Safety Slug.

Here's a news flash folks. It's the same concept.

With the Pow'r Ball;
You have a large polymer ball in the nose of the projectile that initiates expansion of a lead core inside of a copper jacket driven at a higher than normal velocities.

With the Safety Slug;
You have a large polymer ball in the nose of the projectile that initiates expansion/dispertion of a charge of tightly packed lead shot (#12 or #6) inside of a copper jacket driven at a higher than normal velocities.

Consider this;
Look at yourself, pay attention to your body and the location of what's what.
At bad breath distance, a small projectile traveling in excess of 800 miles per hour enters your body.
After penetrating a minimum 3" or 4" inches (look at your body...just how thick is it?) it suddenly sends dozens of tiny lead balls in all directions penetrating even further.
Imagine that it's happened to you twice within one second.
Think there would be some pain and anguish occurring?
That's what a double tap with a safety slug would be like.

Now buckaroos and buckarettes, tell me that this wouldn't put a damper on your social life.

I agree that it may not be quite as effective, in the long run, as a bullet that enters at 500 or 600 miles per hour, travels a few inches, gets 50% larger in diameter and then exits still looking for a backstop.
But I think, in the short run, for indoor up-close and personal use, it'll do just fine.

By the by. On a very recent range trip there was a gentlman with his two sons shooting two lanes down from me.
He son mistakenly loaded their .38 snub with Glaser Safety Slugs. From about 15 feet one of his shots hit the target carrier and blew a hole right through the V-shaped clip protector. He wasn't a very good shot with the snub. He was jerking the trigger double action and was missing the target half of the time.
The +P JHP he hit it with a few minutes later just left a dent in the steel.
Did I mention the kid was a lousy shot with a snub?

June 30, 2006, 11:31 AM
I'd say for home protection in a large urban area it would be better to use a handgun(like a .45acp/.45 LongColt/.44spl/9mm/etc) loaded with a well made frangible(magsafe/Glaser/ExtremeShock/etc).

Shotguns are good but I would want a weapon that can be fired one handed or could be easy to retain in a struggle(like a J-frame revolver or a small pistol). Newer pistol designs with tactical rails for lasers/white lights free up your hands when you are in a critical incident too.

Some LEOs and firearms tactics instructors suggest a well made semi auto pistol with a large mag(15 rounds+) and an extended barrel. A weapon that looks like that could also be a strong visual deterent if a criminal breaks into your home or business.

Think about it; if you were a crook wouldn't you think twice if you saw a SIGarms P-226 with a laser/light or a HK USP or a Glock 21 or a Beretta 92/96-F with the same set up?


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