Soft-Point vs Hollow-Point for self-defense?


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cleetus03
July 5, 2009, 08:56 PM
Here's my understanding of the differences; and please correct any mistakes

Soft Point; Entrance wound small/Exit wound multiple times larger. Used for hunting medium to large animals because the bullet can penetrate deeply while expanding simultaneously.

Hollow Point; Unlike a soft point offers much lower penetration as the bullet absorbs the target immediately while simultaneously expanding. Considered best for self-defense because over-penetration is significantly reduced.

1. Can anyone explain to me why soft point is considered a poor choice for self-defense?
2. Is it solely based on the "over penetration" factor?

I appreciate any help and info yall can give me!

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highorder
July 5, 2009, 09:18 PM
Caliber is an important factor with a question like this...

cleetus03
July 5, 2009, 09:34 PM
Lets use .357 Mag & 30-30 Winchester for examples, More specifically;

125 gr .357 Mag (SP vs HP) Fired from a 6" revolver
150 gr 30-30 Win (SP VS HP) Fired from a 20" rifle

How could Soft-Point underachieve what Hollow-Point could do when used against a person? (Other than over-penetration)

Starter52
July 5, 2009, 10:02 PM
Handgun or long gun?

Hollowpoints are the only way to go with a handgun, IMO. Softpoints just won't expand reliably at handgun velocities.

Matrix187
July 5, 2009, 10:27 PM
It's so iffy it's hard to make a generalized statement. It depends on the diameter of the hollow point (and bullet design) for the caliber, whether it be rifle or handgun etc etc.

jmr40
July 6, 2009, 06:22 AM
It really comes down to velocity. A FMJ bullet is not designed to expand. Both SP and HP are designed to expand. Most bullets from a rifle are leaving the barrel at from 2200-3200fps and most SP bullets will expand when they hit an animal. A HP at those velocities will expand too much and will usually not penetrate enough to be effective.

Most handguns are much slower, 800-1200 fps. That is not enough velocity to get a SP to expand reliably so they end up acting like FMJ. The HP helps them expand at lower velocities.

Deanimator
July 6, 2009, 08:56 AM
Soft points are good hunting bullets. When I hunt, there aren't typically people milling about on the far side of the game. That means not only don't I care if I get a through and through (if I ever get a CHANCE to shoot something), it's a good thing because it'll bleed out more quickly.

On the other hand, if I'm ever attacked by a person, it's probably not going to happen in a farm field in rural Missouri. It's going to happen on a city street or in my home. Under those circumstances, I want JUST enough penetration to cause massive blood loss that incapacitates, but NOT complete penetration which would endanger bystanders. Nothing's going to achieve that better than a hollow point, either the JHPs that I use in my semi-autos or the LSWC-HPs I use in my revolvers.

Medusa
July 6, 2009, 10:16 AM
Not to hi-jack the thread, but I have similar questions. JHPs are illegal here (were OK at first but were banned years ago) and only choices for handgun (9x19) are FMJ (standard, subsonic or Swedish m/39B) and soft-points. From these I prefer SP and m/39B. Is the SP better than FMJ enough to justify the higher prize?

Vern Humphrey
July 6, 2009, 11:07 AM
Soft points and hollow points are expanding bullets. The idea is the bullet expands while penetrating and makes a bigger hole -- which tends to have more effect in stopping your attacker. There is a trade-off, of course. The expanded bullet slows down rapidly and doesn't penetrate so deeply. Assuming it penetrates enough, this can be an advantage, since "over-penetration" is a bugaboo -- someone might be hit by the bullet that passed through your assailant.

In general, soft points are suitable for rifle bullets, which have plenty of velocity. Soft points fired in low velocity pistol cartridges often will not expand. The answer to that is well-engineered hollow points, which expand more reliably at pistol velocities.

cleetus03
July 6, 2009, 12:31 PM
What about a Remington UMC 125gr .357 Mag Jacketed Soft Point?

Its leaves a 4" barrel gun at 1450 ft/sec with 583 ft-lbs of energy.

Will this particular soft-point effectively expand when used in self-defense against a human?

highorder
July 6, 2009, 12:32 PM
I'll tell you what, I like my chances of putting a BG down with a 150gr soft point from a .30-30... especially a good jacketed flat point.

Remington UMC 125gr .357 Mag Jacketed Soft Point

That too.

Deanimator
July 6, 2009, 12:40 PM
Is the SP better than FMJ enough to justify the higher prize?
I'm sure that between my lawyer and me, we could justify any good shoot.

There's no such thing as a "good" accidental shooting. At least here, if you shoot somebody with FMJ, get a through and through and hit a bystander, you're toast. I doubt you'll be prosecuted criminally, but you'll lose your behind in civil court.

I ALWAYS carry hollow points for self-defense. If I couldn't, I'd carry soft points, or lead semi-wadcutters.

Vern Humphrey
July 6, 2009, 12:47 PM
I'll tell you what, I like my chances of putting a BG down with a 150gr soft point from a .30-30... especially a good jacketed flat point.
We had an example of that here, not so long ago. A couple living under the name of Dewberry moved around -- renting, mooching, and so on. They were the neighbors from Hell. They stole, fought with neighbors, and he (Dewberry) was in the habit of shooting at people -- he never hit anyone, but he sure intimidated them. The Sheriff's Office was in the usual "don't bother me" mode -- "There's nothing we can do if we didn't see him do it."

The Dewberries also kept vicious dogs, which they allowed to roam free. They had taken a place bordering a farm owned by a retired doctor, Dr. Graves. Dr. Graves' daughter raised sheep, and Dewberry's dogs killed sheep -- a total of about 60 in multiple attacks. Of course, complaints to the Sheriff brought the brush-off, "That's a civil matter." But how can you sue someone who has no money to pay if you get judgement against him?

Finally, Dewberry's dogs were killing Graves' sheep one day near the property line. Graves drove down the county road, got out of his pickup with a .30-30 and proceeded to thin out the dogs -- perfectly legal under Arkansas law.

Dewberry came out of the house, egged on by his harridan of a "wife" and fired at Graves with a .44 Mag. Graves returned the favor with his .30-30. The bullet killed Dewberry, passed through his body, and crippled his "wife." Initially, charges were lodged against Graves for shooting Dewberry's "wife."

Then came the denoument -- their name wasn't Dewberry, they weren't married, and they were both federal fugitives (him for kidnapping, her for drug charges.) Had the Sheriff's Office done it's job, both of them would have been arrested on the earlier complaints, fingerprinted and identified, and they'd have been in federal prison.

The charges against Graves were dropped.

mljdeckard
July 6, 2009, 04:03 PM
From MY humble experience;

I don't know at all that soft points expand significantly more than hollow points, nor that hollow points penetrate significantly less then soft points. That sounds like data made up by someone trying to sell one or the other.

I do believe that the best premium SD ammo is in JHP form.

Browns Fan
July 6, 2009, 08:56 PM
I shoot IDPA and I am always impressed by the rather large and unusual shapes of the holes left by the .45 ACP LRN. I might start reloading, just to have that for my defensive ammo!

IdahoLT1
July 6, 2009, 10:16 PM
One downside to hollow points is the hollow point can fill with debris like denim or other clothing. Hornady ran some tests and found the HP bullents expand very little when shot into ballistics gel with heavy clothing.

So they developed their Critical Defense ammo that uses a plastic core and acts similar to a ballistic tipped bullet.

That said, during the summer/warmer months, hp's will probably work fine. During winter/colder months, i carry Hornadys critical defense. If they dont have it in a caliber that you carry, i would use jacketed soft points

http://www.hornady.com/story.php?s=786

Steve C
July 7, 2009, 12:39 AM
At rifle velocities of 2,000 fps or greater a conventional soft point bullet can have significant upset and be quite effective but they will have a lot of penetration.

Handguns at under 1,500 fps do not drive a soft point bullet fast enough to get any significant upset and for the most part are no better than any solid bullet. A soft point can certainly kill some one as can full metal jacket so don't think "less effective" means not dangerous of will not work.

On the other hand, hollow points can expand at handgun velocities and when they do they are much more effective in ending the attack of another person.

Vern Humphrey
July 7, 2009, 09:38 AM
I don't know at all that soft points expand significantly more than hollow points, nor that hollow points penetrate significantly less then soft points. That sounds like data made up by someone trying to sell one or the other.

I do believe that the best premium SD ammo is in JHP form.
That's because softpoints need more velocity than most pistols can generate in order to expand. And expanding bullets do not penetrate as far as non-expanding bullets.

rangerruck
July 7, 2009, 11:01 AM
....plus hollow points, even if they don't penetrate, give maximum tissue damage.

cleetus03
July 7, 2009, 12:50 PM
So if a hollow point is designed to expand at handgun velocities is it correct to assume that it will more or less explode at rifle velocities?

Vern Humphrey
July 7, 2009, 01:08 PM
So if a hollow point is designed to expand at handgun velocities is it correct to assume that it will more or less explode at rifle velocities?
That's basically correct.

A good example is the .444 Marlin, a rifle cartridge indended to use pistol bullets (those designed for the .44 Magnum.) The .444 got a bad reputation when bullets designed for lower velocities broke up on large game and didn't penetrate. The results were shallow, but gory, wounds and many animals escaped to die later of infection.

batmann
July 7, 2009, 02:16 PM
At typical handgun velocities, a SP will penetrate more than a HP. A HP is designed to expand and cause maximum tissue damage and a SP is designed to penetrate with very little expansion and is more of a hunting round.

cleetus03
July 7, 2009, 03:37 PM
I just always figured a 125gr .357 Mag JSP, (1450 ft/sec with 583 ft-lbs of energy) being so light & fast of a bullet would surely expand reliably into a person.


I appreciate all the help yall have given me!!

mljdeckard
July 7, 2009, 08:04 PM
And as far as the clothing clogging the point and preventing expansion, I will be VERY surprised if the new Hornady stuff expands any more consistently than Federal HSTs. Of all the things that can go wrong in a defensive shooting, clothing clogging the hollow-point is way down on my list of concerns.

-v-
July 7, 2009, 09:05 PM
Also don't forget the SJHPs for revolvers too, where it is a bare lead hollow point that will expand pritty much no matter what.

As for the Hornady Critical defense, I don't buy it. The issue with expanding through clothing has been known for a while, and the simple fix for ensuring optimal expansion when passing through heavy clothing was simply to make the cavity bigger. Gold Dots, Golden Sabers, HSTs, and others have all been designed and tested to expand reliably after passing the FBI classic 4-layer denim test.

Vern Humphrey
July 8, 2009, 09:55 AM
And as far as the clothing clogging the point and preventing expansion, I will be VERY surprised if the new Hornady stuff expands any more consistently than Federal HSTs. Of all the things that can go wrong in a defensive shooting, clothing clogging the hollow-point is way down on my list of concerns.
If clothing is clogging the hollowpoint, at least that means you got a hit.

golden
July 10, 2009, 07:17 AM
The Los Angeles Police experimented with .38 Special soft point ammo as they were gun shy (excuse the pun) of hollow point ammo and the "DUM DUM" protests. They found the soft point ammo at pistol velocities was just as ineffective as the lead round nose ammo.

At pistol velocities, expansion is unlikely without a hollow point or some exotic bullet. The FEDERAL Expanding Full Metal jacket was reported to work well in tests, but has not been used by any major law enforcement agency. It reportedly was selected by the U.S. military for use against "insurgents".

I would not consider any soft point round unless it was fired from a rifle.

Jim

RapidFireBeak
July 11, 2009, 01:38 PM
Not to stir the pot too much, but Vincent DiMaio (retired forensic pathologist) literally wrote the book on gunshot wounds and claims that he can't tell the difference between wounds caused by HP bullets vs others when examining a body (at least, for pistol cartridges.) I think the main benefit is that HPs are less likely to penetrate and hit something behind the target.

Aim for the mediastinum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediastinum), not the abdomen. It makes a vital organ hit much more likely (the only really good targets in the mid-lower abdomen are the aorta and the vertebral column, and even a vertebral hit is no guarantee of spinal damage). Think of how fat some people are; abdominal shots may not even penetrate to the money targets, which are in the rear of the cavity. There's a lot of intervening tissue.

Slightly off topic: has anyone tested the expansion of Rainier/Berry's plated hollowpoints? I would think expansion would be at least as good as conventional jacketed designs, since their softness should lead to ready deformation. However, I don't know if this is true or not.

Vern Humphrey
July 11, 2009, 02:33 PM
Not to stir the pot too much, but Vincent DiMaio (retired forensic pathologist) literally wrote the book on gunshot wounds and claims that he can't tell the difference between wounds caused by HP bullets vs others when examining a body (at least, for pistol cartridges.) I think the main benefit is that HPs are less likely to penetrate and hit something behind the target.
Marvin Fackler, a retired Army pathologist, also claims to have written the book on gunshot wounds.

While data from pathlogy is valuable, pathologists cannot provide information on tactical results. Fackler is a case in point -- he claims most men killed by gunshot wounds in Viet Nam were killed by full-auto fire, because they had multiple gunshot wounds.

Some disrespectful person asked him what tests he performed to determine if all the bullets that hit a man came from the same weapon -- and what tests he performed to determine the position of the selector switch. Since I have personally seen men hit multiple times by different weapons, I sort of side with the disrespectful person.

JSmith
July 11, 2009, 03:25 PM
"I shoot IDPA and I am always impressed by the rather large and unusual shapes of the holes left by the .45 ACP LRN. I might start reloading, just to have that for my defensive ammo!"

I shot LRNs in my 1911 once - it took quite a while to scrub the lead fouling out of the barrel. Now I go with jacketed ammunition, always.

"Marvin Fackler, a retired Army pathologist, also claims to have written the book on gunshot wounds."

There are lots of books on gunshot wounds.

Vern Humphrey
July 11, 2009, 03:29 PM
There are lots of books on gunshot wounds
And by and large, everyone who's ever written one claims his book is the book on gunshot wounds.

RapidFireBeak
July 11, 2009, 10:17 PM
Vern,
I guess a more accurate statement would be that DiMaio wrote the book on the forensic examination of gunshot wounds (I'm not aware of another book that deals with this topic exclusively.)

Are you sure Fackler is a pathologist? I was under the impression that he was a trauma surgeon in Viet Nam.

I'm not advocating that PDs start using FMJ, but when a guy who's done pretty extensive examinations (including cutting up the body and all the organs) on a lot of GSW victims says that pistol HPs don't produce wounds appreciably different from pistol FMJs, it makes you think.

RapidFireBeak
July 11, 2009, 10:49 PM
The forensic pathologist perspective is valuable because you have the luxury of doing a pretty thorough examination and documenting the objective anatomic findings of the wounds.

Of course, you can't state what actually happened without good situational information from people who were there. But actual "tactical" data from witnesses can be unreliable, as well (ie "I won't carry 9x19 because it lacks stopping power, which I know because I saw a guy unload a full magazine at an assailant and he kept coming! Miss, of course he didn't miss!")

The best data comes from having a good postmortem plus good scene info, ie "officer fired 7 times with service pistol, decedent ran for approx. 50 feet and collapsed, DOA when paramedics arrived. He has 4 gunshot wounds of entrance and X internal findings". Marrying the two up can paint a pretty accurate picture of the situation.

Vern Humphrey
July 12, 2009, 09:40 AM
Vern,
I guess a more accurate statement would be that DiMaio wrote the book on the forensic examination of gunshot wounds (I'm not aware of another book that deals with this topic exclusively.)

Are you sure Fackler is a pathologist? I was under the impression that he was a trauma surgeon in Viet Nam.
Also a pathologist -- he's performed hundreds of autopsies.
I'm not advocating that PDs start using FMJ, but when a guy who's done pretty extensive examinations (including cutting up the body and all the organs) on a lot of GSW victims says that pistol HPs don't produce wounds appreciably different from pistol FMJs, it makes you think.
The point is, an autopsy tells nothing about the tactical effect, only about the appearance of the body afterwards. An autopsy can't tell you if the subject dropped like he was poleaxed, or kept shooting. It can't tell you if the shooter used the sights or shot by instinct. It can't tell you very much at all that's valuable in selecting weapons, ammunition, or tactics.

grendelbane
July 14, 2009, 05:21 PM
Slightly off topic: has anyone tested the expansion of Rainier/Berry's plated hollowpoints? I would think expansion would be at least as good as conventional jacketed designs, since their softness should lead to ready deformation. However, I don't know if this is true or not.

In my unscientific testing, they did not perform as well as most conventional hollow points. I tried some 230 grain .45 hollowpoints, over a relatively stout load of Unique, (approximately 850 fps, from a 5" barrel). Firing into water filled OJ cartons and heavily soaked newspaper showed little sign of expansion, while several conventional JHPs showed classic mushrooms.

The same was also true with some 158 grain JHPs I tested.

Its also hard to get their velocity up higher, as their thin plate of copper doesn't always mesh well with higher velocity.

Now, out of a .50 Beowulf, the Rainier hollow point does indeed expand!:evil:

The lead in the plated bullets contains a high percentage of antimony. Plated bullets can be made which will expand, (Gold Dot), but the Rainier offerings, with a few exceptions, do not seem to perform as well as their conventional competition.

This has been my experience. I would love to find out that things have changed.

6.5x39
July 14, 2009, 05:26 PM
I load with FMJ and JHP alternating. If I ever have to use my defense clip for actual home defense I don't have to stop and think about whether the intruder has a heavy leather jacket on or not: I simply shoot in two rounds at a time instead of one (and practice that way as well). If the threat isn't neutralized after two rounds, hit it with two more. Repeat as necessary.

wyk
July 25, 2010, 03:17 PM
Yes, I do the same too. However, I alternate FMJ and JSP. Just wondering if using JSP is just as good as using JHP.

Clifford
July 25, 2010, 11:10 PM
My Own hillbilly testing with .357 as follows...

6 rounds each all numbers averaged

158 hornaday XTP @1353 / expanded to .481 and penetrated 14.75" of wet pack.
158 Remington SP @ 1290 / expanded to .380 and penetrated 18"
158 LSWC @ 1324 / expanded to .360?!?! and penetrated to 24" plus (3 rounds went all the way thru my wetpack, whitch was 24" deep.

918v
July 26, 2010, 12:16 AM
What about a Remington UMC 125gr .357 Mag Jacketed Soft Point?

Its leaves a 4" barrel gun at 1450 ft/sec with 583 ft-lbs of energy.

Will this particular soft-point effectively expand when used in self-defense against a human?
No.

357 SP's are not designed to expand in flesh. If you look at the jacket, you'll notice a complete lack of creases, hence no stress points for the jacket to rip open as the lead tries to mushroom. Also, the alloy is harder than the alloy used in hollow points. They may expand to .36", but not much more than that. They will penetrate as deep as a SWC.

A 357 hollow point, on the other hand, will expand to .60" and penetrate 15" which is just about perfect provided the hollow point does not clog.

If you want a nice soft point, 9mm 124gr Speer Unicor Soft Points have pre-stressed jackets, pure lead cores, and the ability to mushroom at 9mm velocities. If you load them to 1500 FPS, they will turn inside out. Just seat them deep enough to crimp over the shoulder, kinda like a traditional 45 Long Colt.

Ben86
July 26, 2010, 01:17 PM
Soft point sucks for pistols because it requires a higher velocity to work effectively than most pistols can achieve, especially compact ones. With jhps they work with a wide range of velocities.

Soft points are great for rifles though, (high velocity).

Old Ranger
July 26, 2010, 09:35 PM
The whole idea when in a personal defense situation is to have the round stay INSIDE the target. A self defense bullet should be safe to use on an airplane by an Air Marshall. In a McDonald's or in your house - - - and not slam through the children's bedroom.

The best one I've found is the Golden Sabre. Hollow points - - - always hollow points. A good choice for the .38 snubbie (other than the Golden Sabre) is Remington's semi jacketed +P hollow point.

SPs are for hunting.

CHEVELLE427
July 27, 2010, 02:22 AM
might sound crazy

but in my auto's and revolvers (cylinder) ill start with HP in half the mag and
JSP AND or JRN IN last half of the mag.

have not had any trouble with any mix at the range, figured if the HP didn't do the job the SP & RN will.

if you need 6 or 7 More rounds to stop an attack, the bad guy or what ever might have something stopping the HP from doing there job,
last ones in the gun will be for the penetration factor.

Old Ranger
July 27, 2010, 05:34 PM
The only way a good hollow point isn't going to do what it was intended to do; is if you miss, or the perp is wearing a vest - - - in that case, switch your point of aim. If you missed; well, you shouldn't be doing that at personal defense range anyway:rolleyes: - - - get a Crimson Trace.

Vern Humphrey
July 27, 2010, 06:02 PM
Handgun bullets aren't quite that reliable. Hollowpoints, for example, can be plugged by clothing which can prevent expansion. Hence the old adage, "A 9mm might expand, but a .45 will never shrink."

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