Flat Nose FMJ vs Round Nose FMJ


December 4, 2009, 02:12 AM
I know that this is a somewhat silly question, but is there any difference between the ballistic performance of flat and round nose fmj?

The reason I ask is because I only carry fmj in my .380. On one hand I want the round nose because I know it's shape is more condusive to reliable feeding. However it seems like the flat nose bullet would depart more of it's energy to the target and be less prone to bounce off of bone due to its shape. Is this just a mute point?

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Deus Machina
December 4, 2009, 02:19 AM
That's about right.

In the flight and likely in POI, no difference that you will see in a defense ranges.

In the terminal ballistics, I've been lead to believe that a flat-nosed FMJ doesn't penetrate quite as deep, and imparts a slightly larger wound cavity. A combination from the shape of energy dissipating outward (temporary cavity) and the nose 'punching' or 'crushing' instead of 'cutting' through (permanent).

I still say Barnes DPX beats any other .380 hands-down, but to each their own.

David E
December 4, 2009, 02:23 AM
Back in the 80's when the military was looking for a 9mm to replace the 1911, the flat nose FMJ in 9mm was touted as being "just as lethal" as the round nose .45 FMJ.

Some folks bought into this.

The military, however, issues round nose FMJ for their 9mm's and, as far as I know, never issued the flat point version.

That said, there is probably little, if any, difference in performance between the two.

December 4, 2009, 02:39 AM
from what i understand, the hydrostatic shock is more intense (probably marginally) from more of the surface area of the flat nose impacting upon entrance. i have nothing to confirm this, sounds plausible, but i doubt someone getting shot with both will be able to tell the difference between the two.

Jed Carter
December 4, 2009, 05:07 AM
I have only seen the truncated cone FMJs common to .40 S&W in .357SIG .40 .45 and 9mm, not in .380. Round nose bullets feed better in most .357SIG has virtually no feed issues. I would use the conical FMJ bullets for more reliable feed and let the recipient deal with the terminal ballistics, if need be shoot em again.

December 4, 2009, 05:26 AM
^ agreed, if i want more damage i would just stick with jhp... which i do.

December 4, 2009, 12:40 PM
In my informal ballistic tests (wet phone books), flat nose bullets in every caliber caused a larger and more defined permanent wound cavity than their round nose counterparts. The round stuff seemed to just push the mass around it and close up behind it. The flat stuff punched nice clean holes, like a paper hole puncher. If I carry FMJ or hard cast lead, it is usually flat point for this very reason. It seems that the more tissue that is permanently destroyed, the faster they will bleed out.

December 4, 2009, 12:48 PM
carry a good HP like Corbon or Gold dot These will do the job better than ball and feed well also . Even if the fail to expand you still got better FPS and Ftlbs than ball

December 4, 2009, 02:15 PM
I just worry about underpenetration with jhp .380. Especially in winter with jackets.

It just seems like ball point would be more prone to bouncing off bone than flat point would. I have noticed that softpoint hunting rounds are usually flat point.

December 4, 2009, 04:24 PM
Here is an article explaining the difference between a flat point and round nose and how they penetrate differently. It is in reference to dangerous game hunting, but it should apply to handgun ammo. Don't hunt elephant or buffalo with your .380 though.


December 4, 2009, 09:04 PM
I like carrying Buffalo Bore flat nose FMJ in my slower pistols. I would think the flat nose would be less likely to ricochet off of bone, probably penetrate less than round nose and not feed quite as well as round nose.

I have never seen (in person) round nose FMJ for .40 S&W, only flat nose. But then I've only had my .40 for a few months.

December 4, 2009, 10:02 PM
I don't think they make em. Otherwise they couldn't fit 40 cartridges in guns framed for 9mm. Hence the flat nose.

December 4, 2009, 10:11 PM
I can't see how, in .380, there would be any significant difference between flat and round. Possibly a nominal increase in wound cavity area with flat, but how much, really?
If you have to carry a .380, go with JHP, as hot as you can get; that's my two cents.

December 4, 2009, 11:44 PM
"...a mute point?..." Absolutely silent.
If you're going to carry a .380, forget FMJ's altogether. An FPFMJ won't do anything differently than an RNFMJ, except maybe give you feeding issues. Neither will do anything but make a neat little round hole in anything. Phone books aren't flesh.

December 5, 2009, 02:04 PM
I was in a classroom several years ago where Col. Cooper told us of his experience with FMJ,RN compared to FMJ,TC in the .45 ACP.
He told of shooting many jack rabbits with round nose ball only to have them hop away without SEEMINGLY being affected, where jacks shot with the trucated cone bullets went down instantly. I load TC bullets in my .45 ACP handloads, and as long as proper OAL is strickly adhered to, feeding is flawless, even in "stock" pistols.
Note than hard cast bullets made for putting big game down quickly, is gonna have a wide,flat nose.
Having said all that, I generally chose a fast moving HP for defense with the "sub" calibers.


December 5, 2009, 02:07 PM
If you have to carry a .380, go with JHP, as hot as you can get; that's my two cents.+1
Any of the major manufactures make perfectly fine .380 JHP ammo.

Even the worst of them will perform as well or better then FMJ-FP.

The only FMJ-FP .380 I know of is Winchester Wallyworld bulk-pack.
But it is loaded so light it will not give near the velocityl compaired to other brands of FMJ-RN and any of the premimum brand JHP loaded to 900+ FPS..


December 5, 2009, 04:52 PM
Remington sells a rounded .40 fmj that I have shot in the past. Don't shot it much due to $18 per box.

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