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

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by cleetus03, Jul 5, 2009.

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  1. cleetus03

    cleetus03 Member

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    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!
     
  2. highorder

    highorder Member

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    Caliber is an important factor with a question like this...
     
  3. cleetus03

    cleetus03 Member

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    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)
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009
  4. Starter52

    Starter52 Member

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    Handgun or long gun?

    Hollowpoints are the only way to go with a handgun, IMO. Softpoints just won't expand reliably at handgun velocities.
     
  5. Matrix187

    Matrix187 Member

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    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.
     
  6. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    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.
     
  7. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    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.
     
  8. Medusa

    Medusa Member

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    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?
     
  9. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    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.
     
  10. cleetus03

    cleetus03 Member

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    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?
     
  11. highorder

    highorder Member

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    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.

    That too.
     
  12. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    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.
     
  13. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    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.
     
  14. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    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.
     
  15. Browns Fan

    Browns Fan Member

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    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!
     
  16. IdahoLT1

    IdahoLT1 Member

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    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
     
  17. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    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.
     
  18. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    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.
     
  19. rangerruck

    rangerruck Member

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    ....plus hollow points, even if they don't penetrate, give maximum tissue damage.
     
  20. cleetus03

    cleetus03 Member

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    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?
     
  21. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    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.
     
  22. batmann

    batmann Member

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    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.
     
  23. cleetus03

    cleetus03 Member

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    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!!
     
  24. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    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.
     
  25. -v-

    -v- Member

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    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.
     
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