Does every size need to have a hollow point?


Eric F
August 10, 2008, 08:06 AM
In a few recent threads here and there I have noticed people complaining that a particular type bulled does not come in hollow points, or which hollow point is best ect ect.

What was the intended purpose of the hollow point in defensive rounds?

To me the intent was to create a larger wound channel than what the origional caliber was in an effort for a small caliber rount to hit a vital system. ie 9mm expanding to 15mm. Another intent was to prevent over penitration.

So with that being said looking at 45 acp yes larger wound channel is a good thing for stoping(read as killing) the intended target. But you are already launching a near half inch bullet. Is it really 100% necessary to have a hollow point for this particular bullet? Same goes for 500 S&W mag too.

These thoughts came up mostly from a thread on 50 GI round and the lack of hollow point ammo. Do you really need to worry about hollow points with a half inch of metal flying at a target?

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August 10, 2008, 10:25 AM

Why? Force on target

If a .45 bullet enters and exits a body, then all the energy it has from the moment it leaves to the moment it stops is completely wasted.

A half-inch hole sounds like a lot, but if the bullet passes through then all you have is a small hole in the body that is easily tolerated (for a short time anyway)

In defensive situations the entire purpose of shooting is to stop the assailant (place enough force on target to neutralize the threat). If I have a .45 caliber bullet heading towards a criminal I want all of the available force to be transferred to the target.

The only thing that matters at that point is how fast the guy goes down, and hollow points ensure an expedited expiration.

August 10, 2008, 10:26 AM
...designing a bullet to deform on impact, usually by means of a hollowpoint, is like mounting a parachute on a dragster - the deformation limits penetration once the bullet strikes soft tissue. If the deformation can be engineered so that it increases the caliber of the bullet and the width of the wound channel, that's frosting on the cake.

August 10, 2008, 10:59 AM
You have to think of a bullet as a method of transferring energy to the object that the bullet strikes. It does this by slowing down and stopping within that object. In the case of hunting, self defense, and warfare, that transfer is ideally in the vital organs of the living target.

This can be the shoulders of a four legged beast, which removes the ability of the animal to charge, the pelvic girdle of a two legged one (removing the ability to stand), or an organ vital to life (such as the heart, lungs, or brain). The only reason we make hollow points, soft points, and other expanding bullets is to make sure that the bullet does not fly through those target areas and continue on its way, taking whatever energy it still has with it.

Ideally we want to cause that bullet to expend all of its energy within the target organ. If the bullet expends that energy too early (say, in muscle tissue) by under-penetrating, that energy is wasted. Overpenetration not only wastes energy, but that energy can potentially damage something we didn't mean to.

The amount of expansion required varies with the intended target and with the round being fired. A Cape Buffalo will require more penetration than a rabbit. A 32 ACP bullet for example, will tend to under-penetrate to start with, so an expanding bullet will not be desirable in this round.

Another factor to consider is cover. If the bullet must pass through a wall, a leather jacket, or a car door, expansion is not what you are looking for.

So to answer: It depends. In general, when speaking of defense and shooting humans, the 9mm, 45, 40, 357, and other defense calibers will want expanding rounds. The 380, 22, 32, 25, and other smaller calibers will want to avoid them.

August 10, 2008, 11:06 AM
That, and if your using it for self defense, a JHP go though less walls then a FMJ, be it your shooting a Jennings .22 or a .44 Mag

The Tourist
August 10, 2008, 11:10 AM
I'm even beginning to wonder about the defensive rounds.

A few things all came together for me about the time and shortly after the Miami FBI shooting. I was working on my own 10mm loads for the Bren Ten.

One of the things that caught me attention when the report was made public was when a hollowpoint was filled with denim, drywall and/or bits of glass. The report stated that the now-filled bullet acted like a solid point.

Since I didn't kill that many nude home invaders during those late 1980's times, I began to look at my own use.

Harlene at Dornaus and Dixon advised me to load that caliber down, which I did. (Probably to SW .40 standards). I thought the gun and cartridge combination was now a better balalnce. I hit more stuff, which I believe the most important aspect of any firearm use--legally, when hunting and when trying to stave off an attack.

Yes, I could have easily purchased the 38-40 hollowpoints of that era and loaded my own 10mm Auto hollowpoints.

I never felt the need. Shortly thereafter, Dick Metcalf started to successfully kill whitetail deer with 175 grain Silvertip Hollowpoints, and the debate was settled as far as I'm concerned.

I now have boxes of 10mm hollowpoints, and I cannot remember the last time I reloaded any of them.

The Lone Haranguer
August 10, 2008, 11:12 AM
If a .45-caliber bullet doesn't expand, it is still a bigger hole. If it does expand you have an even bigger hole. I want all the advantages I can get. ;)

The above is mostly for two-legged predators at close range. A JHP bullet is not always appropriate for other uses, e.g., hunting large game animals with the .500 S&W magnum. You select the bullet according to the task.

The Tourist
August 10, 2008, 11:43 AM
I want all the advantages

A parallel but cogent part of the debate. As I stated, I'm beginning to doubt the importance of hollowpoints--yet I still use them. The SW .40 Golden Sabers, to be specific.

But with one proviso. I have to hit something.

If that load was so erratic that every shot was a guess, I'd switch over to even a .22LR if I got the hits.

That brings up a second part of this debate. Is a hollowpoint (for the purposes of defense) also accurate enough to allow the advantages of fragable bullets to work? How accurate do you have to be at seven feet?

In truth, I'm not sure. But I'm hedging my bets. My defense guns are loaded with hollowpoints until something better is demonstrated to me.

August 10, 2008, 11:56 AM
"So with that being said looking at 45 acp yes larger wound channel is a good thing for stoping(read as killing) the intended target. " (1st post)
Actually, stopping and killing are not the same. Lots of people have died from being shot with a .22, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the shot stopped them before they managed to harm their victim. Smallpox, syphilis, and tuberculosis have killed millions, but don't depend on a sick attacker dying soon enough to save you. If an assailant dies 4 days after killing me, I have not successfully defended myself. True, it is better than having him laughing about it with his low life buddies at the bar, but I would rather drop him NOW, and whether he survives or not is irrelevant. Overpenetration increases risk of harm to innocent parties (man shoots robber, kills nun, baby, young mother, beloved grandfather, etc.). Also, ball ammo can be expected to require more shots to stop, with concomitant possible legal difficulties ("And why did you have to shoot him so many times?" says the D.A. or the perp's shyster). Using HP requires verifying that they work in the gun if you're using an auto, but they are the best choice for SD/HD.

August 10, 2008, 12:08 PM
I agree on the hollowpoint issue. The desire should be to take down the intended target while at the same time limiting the danger to anyone else. There is alot of risk in injuring innocent people with overpenetration. You might be surprised how far alot of various handgun rounds will really go through some objects, or ricochet. A hollowpoint expends its energy alot faster, and if it hits something solid, sometime breaks apart and stops rather quickly. I have seen this first hand in real life situations.

August 10, 2008, 12:23 PM
I am a big fan of hollowpoints, and for most of the reasons listed above. You have to know your target, and what lies beyond it, and with a hollow point, you are less likely to go through your target, and damage what is beyond it. Whether it be an animal, a person, or something else entirely.(Not that I am that concerned about an animal, or most of those something else's, but I don't want to shoot an innocent person because I shot the BG.) Also, it's going to take a bigger chunk out of the BG, thus, making him less able to harm me or someone else before he expires.

Now, to pose a question to those wiser than myself, and I may be opening a can of worms here, but what the heck. A buddy of mine once told me that Hollow Point rounds are accurate to longer distances than the same round that isn't HP. I have absolutely no idea if this is true, since I do my hunting with a shotgun, and my pistol use is within 30 meters or so, and it's really not an issue there. Is this true, or is he an idiot? (Remember, there are NO stupid questions, so you can't make fun of me for this. :) )

August 10, 2008, 12:29 PM
Many police organizations have gone to hollow points to reduce the likelyhood of over penetration. Remember, there may be innocent persons down range. The fact the HPs can inflect greater tissue damage is immaterial.

August 10, 2008, 01:02 PM
From the thread title, "Does every size need to have a hollow point?" my answer is no - I'm more concerned with sufficient penetration in the smaller calibers (eg. 32ACP) than I am expansion.

August 10, 2008, 01:15 PM
for self defense ammunition, a method of expansion is always a plus. (be it hollowpoint or some other method)


we think of 45 as big because that's what we all talk about and it is bigger than many others.

But compared to the size of a human, .45 or even .50 isn't very big at all.

Expansion is always always good. However, expansion does have a side-effect, lesser penetration. In some cases when penetration is already marginal, people will pass on expansion, not because they dislike expansion, but because they don't want to risk insufficent penetration.

So what AndyC is really saying about the 32ACP, is that yes, he'd LOVE to have an expaning one that penetrated deeply. However, that isn't reality, as the expanding ones don't penetrate far. Hence, when faced with A: Expansion but low penetration or B:No expansion but sufficent penetration, he is going to pick B.

Obviously if there was a C: Expansion AND sufficient penetration

He'd pick C

August 10, 2008, 01:27 PM
Are you afraid you'd stop your attacker too quickly? As long as your round has the power to penetrate sufficiently you might as well use the extra energy to make a bigger wound channel.

Despite the fan following of the .45, we're not talking about an enormous hole here.

And finally the diameter of the bullet isn't the only factor in wound creation. A round nosed bullet like a fmj isn't going to crush a path of tissue as wide as the bullet. An expanded JHP of the same diameter will crush significantly more tissue because of its profile.

August 10, 2008, 01:54 PM
Another thing to remember is that if enough energy is deposited in the body, you will have damage outside of the wound channel from the waves of energy passing though the body. That energy can cause tissue death even without direct contact with the bullet.

Hollow points deposit more energy into the person, and lessen the real risk of going on and killing someone downrange that not the intended target. a well aimed .380 will do the job on most people. Heck, if your Massad Ayoob I am sure a .22 LR will be more then effective if thats what you have.

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