Teach me about Frangibles


January 21, 2008, 08:05 PM
Howdy folks.
I've been thinking about the firearms I own and the ones I intend on purchasing in the near future. I've seen a few threads about how buckshot might not be the best for people who live in apartments or townhouses. As a person who lives in a town house, this has sparked my interest.

Teach me about frangible rounds...hopefully I'm using the right word here. The ones that will penetrate squishy targets well but not penetrate non-squishy targets very well.

The only one that I know of is Glaser and (oh my goodness) EXTREME SHOCK! (que the obligatory duct tape/trauma plate/tactical wheelbarrow comments). From what I've gathered from box-o-truth and brassfetcher, they're not really worth the money you spend on them. Anyone know of other rounds that would work and/or independant testing that haven't seen that proves otherwise?

More than likely, if I used frangible rounds, it would be in 9x19mm, 9x18mm, or if it is at all feasable, 7.62x39 (?).

Thank you in advance.

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January 21, 2008, 08:49 PM
MagSafe ammo is equal to, if not, superior to Glaser.

For years I carried MagSafe after watching the convincing video Joe (the inventor of MagSafe) offered, but later a simple statement of logic permanently changed my mind:

What if the self defense shot I'm presented is obstructed by anything like, say, an arm or hand or a firearm itself.

The frangible round will have nothing left after having expended all its energy on an obstruction.

Frangible ammo is relatively useless if interrupted by an obstruction.

Will all the possible variables of a self defense situation, that's a risk I'm no longer willing to take.

Wanna buy some? I'll make you a deal on mine. ;)

January 21, 2008, 08:54 PM
on Guntalk, I heard the people at Barnes say that the Varmint grenade was developed for the military; they didn't say in what capacity...

January 21, 2008, 08:59 PM
I'll never carry frangible ammo

January 21, 2008, 09:11 PM
The idea is that they will make firing in a ricochet invironment safer.

Kind of Blued
January 21, 2008, 09:26 PM
on Guntalk, I heard the people at Barnes say that the Varmint grenade was developed for the military; they didn't say in what capacity...

Tell me more of this "varmint grenade"...

January 21, 2008, 09:33 PM
"The idea is that they will make firing in a ricochet invironment safer."

Well, that's part of the equation.

But I understood Joe to design them for superior stopping and "disabling" power, and everything else was way back in second place.

He claimed his plain jane .38 loads performed as effectively as a .357 in those departments.

His video is extremely convincing.

But, again, any significant obstruction simply disables the round itself.

Read about the amazing Joe Zambone here:

January 21, 2008, 09:50 PM
"Varmit Grenade" are lightweight, thin skinned, 5.56 rounds, typically about 40-45gr.

Basically they are opushed to the limit of mechanically and physical stabillity.

Once they hit the relevant critter they mechanically fail and act almost as if they had a speck of explosive in them.

Very little penetration, so not much use on 2 legged beasties or anything over about 30lbs I estimate.

Oh, do not try and fire out of 1:8 or less twisted barrel, they have a habit of falling apart within about 50 feet of the barrel......Interesting to watch but not very useful.....8-)

To return to frangibles, they come in two basic types,

1. Prefragmented rounds
Here is where the projectile is prescored or built in a suspension, a la Glaser rounds where on impact the projectile acts like a mini shotgun on impact. These are typically designed and sold as being capable of dumping more/most of the kinetic energy in the target without over penetration. They have to walk a fine balance between being stable and strong enough to stay in one piece going down range and during initial surface penetration and unstable enough fail once in the body.

2. Sintered rounds
Here the round is made of a combination of finely powdered metal dusts that is subjected to heat and pressure to create the round. It is NOT melted or cast and usually has little to no lead in it's construction. This round will mechanically fail and return (mostly) to the dust from which it was formed on impact with a hard and solid surface. These rounds are typically used for training purposes as well where a range want to either limit damage to the range backstop or they want to limit lead exposure. For personal defence they tend to act similarly to a typical FMJ unless they hit bone where mechanical failure may occur.

January 21, 2008, 09:52 PM
Tell me more of this "varmint grenade"...

ask and thou shall receive! you're gonna love the videos.


January 21, 2008, 10:02 PM

There are (at least) two reasons for frangible ammo.

First, is for training. Frangible training ammo is often made of metals other than lead. It is used to reduce lead contamination at a range, and because it is safer to fire at steel plates. The frangible ammo will break up on impact with the steel, which all but eliminates the dangers of back splatter. It also enables a shooter to get closer to the steel while shooting without endangering the shooter by ricochets and splatter. Some ranges require the use of "green" ammo, a.k.a. lead-free, or frangible ammo to reduce the wear and tear on the range's backstops. Indoor ranges are the ones most likely to require the special ammo.

Second, is to prevent over penetration of human or animal targets. The bullet is designed to disintegrate quickly after entering so that there is almost zero chance of the bullet continuing through and hitting someone else. That could mean the bullet will give less penetration, but it is not a given. Frangible bullets probably will not penetrate hard materials as well as FMJ bullets.

In any case, since frangible ammo is often made from metal less dense than lead, the bullet will be longer than a lead bullet for a given weight which could cause the bullet to tumble in flight due to poor stabilization. For instance, my AR15 has a 1 twist in 9 inch (1:9) barrel. It can stabilize lead bullets that weigh 62 grains. But it can not stabilize a 62 grain frangible bullet because the frangible bullet is longer than the lead bullet of the same weight. Longer bullets need a higher twist rate, say 1:8 or 1:7 to stabilize. That is something to consider for rifles. It probably isn't much of a concern in your handguns.

Good shooting.

January 21, 2008, 10:04 PM
After all of the testing I have seen over the last 2 years regarding frangibles I will recommend you not go with them. They are overly expensive to produce and buy and the effects are sub-par with that of your most common defense hollowpoints available.


January 21, 2008, 10:12 PM
I have a 9mm Cobra derringer that I bought when I first started collecting firearms. I carry a Glock 36 or a Khar PM9 depending upon how I feel on any particular day.

Sometimes I will slip the derringer into my front pocket as an additional carry weapon.

I keep it loaded with Magsafe rounds. I know it's a last resort, up close and personal "belly gun", so I feel that if I have to use it real close up, as a last resort the Magsafe rounds should have acceptable results.

January 21, 2008, 10:15 PM
good lord, the barnes triple x 308 really did a number on that block of gelatin.

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