Why Hollow Point Ammunition is the Safer Choice

by Drew Beatty

Hollow point ammunition is often vilified by politicians and the media. Many of you are likely old enough to remember the attacks on Winchester Black Talon hollow point ammunition in the 1990s, which was designed with law enforcement needs in mind. News reports suggested that we should all be very afraid of this ammunition, as if the manufacturers were horrible mad scientists obsessed with killing and causing bodily damage.

Medical personnel were concerned that the jagged edges of the expanded bullets would puncture gloves during removal, though no incidents were ever reported. Eventually there was a lawsuit against the ammunition manufacturer after the ammunition was used in a murder spree in a 1993 Long Island railroad shooting. Winchester finally pulled the ammunition off the market.

The truth is, hollow point ammunition is a safer choice for ammunition used in civilian self-defense firearms. This is why law enforcement organizations throughout the nation use it, and this is why it is a good choice for concealed carriers to consider. Hollow point ammunition is actually safer than ball ammunition in a defensive situation.

Critics claim that hollow point ammunition expands upon impact, becoming in some cases twice the diameter of the unfired bullet. This is often characterized as a sinister result, but it is actually an important safety feature for someone defending them self against a threat in a public environment.

This characteristic greatly reduces the risk of over-penetration, where a bullet may go completely through an intended target and maim or kill innocent bystanders. Ball ammunition can over-penetrate targets in defensive situations because the bullet is less likely to deform into a "mushroom" shape, and will naturally encounter less resistance as it passes through a target.

Ball ammunition works to a soldier's advantage on a battlefield, as one shot carries the potential of injuring or killing more than one opposing soldier. In civilian use, this is a tragedy waiting to happen.

The expanding design of hollow point ammunition also creates a larger wound channel in a human or animal attacker, which increases the severity of an injury, potentially making a violent attack end more quickly. This is clearly an advantage in a defensive situation, where stopping the threat is the goal. A larger, more catastrophic wound per round fired can also lead to fewer rounds being used overall to stop attack — a clear safety advantage. Fewer rounds fired means fewer potential misses and less potential for innocents to be injured.

Hollow point bullets, because of their design, are also less likely than ball ammunition to ricochet off of hard objects and strike innocent bystanders. Ball ammunition has a greater potential to retain much of its shape and weight after striking hard objects. The expanding design of the hollow point bullet is more likely flatten out and decrease in velocity more quickly if it strikes a hard object.

Hollow point bullets are a responsible choice for use in a civilian defensive firearm. Modern ammunition manufacturers offer a tremendous variety of defensive ammunition to suit the needs of any customer. Whatever defensive ammunition you choose, it is important that you adequately function check it for reliability in your defensive weapon to ensure it functions flawlessly.

Drew Beatty is a 50 year old husband and father, and a lifetime resident of the great state of Colorado. He is an NRA Life-Member, and a long-time firearms enthusiast, as well as a strong advocate for The Second Amendment.