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Is 40 S&W FMJ better than JHP?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by WoodchuckAssassin, Nov 8, 2020.

  1. WoodchuckAssassin

    WoodchuckAssassin Member

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    At the risk of starting a 9mm vs. 40cal debate (which I'm really hoping to avoid), is there enough data to suggest that 40cal FMJ is a better defensive round than JHP?

    This can also be spun as an expansion vs. penetration question. FMJ has the penetration of 18+ inches, but lacks the expansion and subsequent wound-channel of a JHP. The JHP obviously has the expansion, but from the majority of ballistic tests I've seen, penetration is around the 10-12" mark...well short of the accepted 18". With cold weather and thick clothing being the norm this time of year...
    is FMJ better than JHP?

    As always, my thanks to for THR! And please...don't turn tell me to sell my 40 and buy a 9 :)
     
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  2. Ohen Cepel
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    Ohen Cepel Contributing Member

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    I would expect the JHP to be better so long as it performs as designed. Only in some odd cases like a 32acp would I go with FMJ for defense use.
     
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  3. dodo bird

    dodo bird Member

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    I would go with any jhp over a fmj in .40s&w. That being said you are still very well armed with fmj in a .40s&w.
     
  4. Alex Clayton

    Alex Clayton Member

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    This is going to be a too each his own. The argument will never end and you can never get a decisive answer that others will not say is wrong. I have long used good HP's in larger calibers, hoping to get the most out of a hand gun. Since almost all hand guns are far from ideal if you really need to stop someone. Now that camera's are everywhere look how many shootings are caught on tape where some dobad soaks up rounds from a service pistol and just will not stop. So use what makes you comfortable. I did LONG ago stop bothering with HP's for most mouse guns, like .32 and .380. For those I just use ball, hoping for more penetration from a marginal round.
    Then of course there is always the old argument that if you use something larger, .40 or above, even if the slug does not expand you are starting out with a hole that is larger to begin with ;)
     
  5. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    If you are worried about hollow points then load your magazine with half hollow point and half FMJ alternating them in the magazine.

    I would stick with a good hollow point bullet in 40S&W over using FMJ for self defense.
     
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  6. rabid wombat

    rabid wombat Member

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    worry more about over penetration or ricochet than under penetration. You are responsible for every round out of your firearm. As other said, all pistol rounds are marginal in stopping a threat. If you have to shoot, fully expect to have to shoot more than you think....
     
  7. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    I'll agree with the guys, a premium .40 S&W JHP is specifically designed to be a defensive round. Win SXT, Federal HST, Speer God Dot, and similar rounds will be very effective should you place your shots where they count in order to save your skin. :thumbup:

    Lets all hope we are preparing for something that we are never forced to do.

    Stay safe.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
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  8. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Look, we used to have pistols with nothing but FMJ, RNL, or other non-expanding bullets. We had bullets with so much penetration they would go through most people unless they hit heavy bone. We had wadcutters, semi-wadcutters, Keith-style bullets, flat-nosed RNL, extra-heavy bullets - none of them got any particular reputation for usefulness except with the people who invented them or were selling them.

    Then we got hollow point pistol bullets. Pistol effectiveness went up, significantly. And it continued to go up as hollow point designs improved. And yet we keep having this discussion.

    I can understand why people want FMJ to be just as good or better - it feeds better and it's cheaper - but it isn't. If it was, hollow points would have died out 30+ years ago. Things that are useful get used, things that aren't fade away; marketing and hype can't keep them going indefinitely. Hollow points would not be here if the cops didn't think they were worth the money; they are on a budget.

    I don't mean to offend anyone, and I would be the first to admit that I can always be wrong, but I am calling it like I see it. I think that's supposed to be a virtue. :)
     
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  9. Mike J

    Mike J Member

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    I would suggest you go to luckygunner.com & take a look at their penetration tests. I have been carrying 165 grain Remington Golden Sabers & they are well within the FBI's suggested range of penetration.


    Edited for spelling & grammar.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  10. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    The FBI penetration requirements are 12" to 18". Anything inside that range is considered acceptable.

    What testing do you see that suggests .40S&W has a significant problem with penetrating sufficiently (in the 12" to 18" range) with expanding ammunition and when heavy clothing is worn?
     
  11. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    The important metric is a minimum of 12" penetration to reliably reach and damage vitals critical to immediate survival.
     
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  12. Antihero

    Antihero Member

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    There are a few situations where you want lots of penetration, bear being one.

    But for people......stick with jhp
     
  13. scaatylobo

    scaatylobo Member

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    I was a HUGE fan of the .40 S&W when it was my duty round.

    Carried it long after retirement until I found it to recoil a bit more than I needed [ yea,I went to 9MM ].

    I was and still am of the opinion that the ball will likely over penetrate on soft targets.

    IF that does not matter [ good backstop,or backstop is the woods ] then its all a matter of shot placement as damage will not equal a FUNCTIONING H.P..

    I kept all my .40 ammo & barrels in case I run out of 9MM.

    And I feel the same about 9MM ball as I do .40 ball.
     
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  14. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    I frequently pop into these full metal jacket (FMJ) vs hollow point (HP) threads, since the debate usually points to FMJ being totally ineffective and every round will be a shoot-through and kill multiple bystanders. Both claims are farfetched. Lots of folks have been killed by FMJ rounds and will continue to be killed by FMJ rounds, and shoot-throughs with pistol rounds, while probably not non-existant, they are most likely statistically insignificant especially when misses are taken into account. Additionally, when limited to civilian defensive use of a firearm, and not LE/MIL use, the number of bystanders shrinks significantly.

    On the other hand, I generally don't come to these threads to argue FMJ (at least in common defensive calibers) is better at people stopping than the equal HP round, and I won't now. For stopping humans, the .40 S&W HP should be superior to the .40 S&W in FMJ form.
     
  15. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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    Unless in a location where feral hogs, or even larger mammals, are the greater concern, I do not want defensive ammo that penetrates 18”+.
     
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  16. SDGlock23

    SDGlock23 Member

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    I would say "hell no". Now if this were about the 380 ACP then I could see the point in arguing FMJ may be better than JHP, but even that's a stretch, no way is FMJ 40 better than JHP 40 for "social" use. Solid bullets have their purpose but overall that's only when penetration is your number one goal.
     
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  17. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  18. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Could someone explain to me why this is the case? I am not muscular, but I am heavy (about 225 lbs) and using a ruler, I can't seem to find any place on me where I am 12 inches thick back to front. I am wider than that side to side. Is that the concern here? Or is it penetrating barriers first?
     
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  19. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    I believe the 12" is a minimum penetration to ensure it reaches your heart. I would think the maximum would be something like 18" - 20" but that is mainly to ensure the hypothetical shoot-through does not injure a bystander. Realistically, after 20" of flesh I do not think an additional person would be injured severely after a shoot-throughby the normal SD calibers (magnums excluded).
     
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  20. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    That, of course, is not the objective.

    Whereas, that is the objective.

    Nor do I.
     
  21. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Back in 1980, a Turk named Agca tried to murder Pope John Paul II. Agca fired four shots from a 9mm High Power. He hit the Pope with all four, although one just hit a finger. Two rounds went through the Pope and hit two bystanders. The Pope survived (!) and apparently the bystanders did too. Agca was caught and served 29 years in Italian and Turkish prisons. Fun fact: He is said to have converted to Roman Catholicism in 2007!

    Of course, anecdotes are not science or statistics, and can be used to support anything. But overpenetration with high velocity FMJ was a real thing. 9mm Luger and 7.63mm Mauser were both well known for it. 40 S&W has even more kinetic energy.
     
  22. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    The thinking is that an attacker will likely have his arm extended toward his victim.

    The defender's bullets will have to enter the arm, go through the ulna and the radius, exit the arm (which slows bullets significantly), enter the torso, and penetrate to vital organs.

    The 12-18 inch requirement is on top of barrier penetration.
     
  23. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Thanks! I have to remember how many people are substantially bigger than I am.

    I remember reading that the us of HPs also reduced the odds that the bullet would ricochet after hitting a hard flat surface, but that is even less likely to cause injury than overpenetration.
     
  24. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Wow. I have read about how shooters in gunfights often wind up hitting the enemy in his gun hand, or getting hit in theirs, but I would not have guessed handgun ammo requirements would take that into account. Thanks, Kleanbore, I learned something new today! :)
     
  25. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    Let's assume the victim sees your gun and they try to limit your target area by not standing so their torso faces you, but rather turned almost at a 90 degree angle. This places their arm (assume right handed, weapon in right hand, so left forward), bent almost 90 degrees between them and you. It is conceivable you've got to push that bullet through forearm and bicep before it enters COM. Probably a max penetration scenario, but not every shot is as planned, and sometimes the target can himself be a barrier.

    That said, everyone talks about how limited the energy of a handgun round is, they are all pretty much the same .38 special through 10mm/.357 mag, until over-penetration comes up, then that round that has already penetrated the target is WAY powerful, because it goes 21" in gel.
     
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