Hollow Point Rounds – Ammunition

If you aren’t familiar with the different kinds of ammunition, you have still most likely heard the term “hollow point”. I will be going over a few aspects of this kind of ammunition, giving you a run down over the basics.

As the name implies, the hollow point bullet has a hollowed out tip. Refer to the picture below. The hollow point round is made to expand from the tip upon impact. This creates more damage as it disturbs more tissue on the way through. This also has the effect of slowing the bullet, and reducing over penetration. In some instance such on an aircraft, stopping the bullet short or slowing it down helps reduce collateral damage. All kinetic energy is transferred from the bullet, instead of in the case of a full metal jacketed bullet where the some energy is retained in the round as it passes through.

hollow point

Hollow Point

Plated or Jacketed hollow points are covered in a coating of harder metal to increase bullet strength and to prevent fouling the barrel with lead stripped from the bullet. The term hollow-cavity bullet is used to describe a hollow point where the hollow is unusually large, sometimes dominating the volume of the bullet, and causes extreme expansion or fragmentation on impact. This is especially good when the extra stopping power is desired, and you want to be sure there is no over penetration. There are even plastic tipped rounds, that imitate the aerodynamics of a Spitzer round, while still having the impact and stopping power of a hollow point.

Hollow point ammunition is unique in the way that it expands and was a very innovative invention. They were originally brought to production in small amounts at the end of the 19th century. Originally marketed as “express bullets”, the idea was that a hollow tip reduced mass and made for higher velocity. Of course the “mushrooming” effect was observed, and has been improved upon. Ammunition designed to be used in higher velocity rifles, is usually “jacketed” in a slightly harder metal such as copper or steel. This improves the strength of the round and reduces the amount of residue left in the bore.

hollow point image

mushroomed hollow point round before and after

Modern hollowpoint bullet designs use many different methods to give controlled expansion, including:

  • Jackets that are thinner near the front than the rear to allow easy expansion at the beginning, then a reduced expansion rate
  • Partitions in the middle of the bullet core to stop expansion at a given point
  • Bonding the lead core to the copper jacket to prevent separation and fragmentation
  • Fluted or otherwise weakened jackets to encourage expansion or fragmentation
  • Posts in the hollow cavity to cause hydraulic expansion of the bullet in tissue. While very effective in lightly clothed targets, these bullet types tend to plug up with heavy clothing materials that results in the bullet not expanding.
  • Solid copper hollow points, which are far stronger than jacketed lead, and offer controlled, uniform expansion even at high velocities
  • Plastic inserts in the hollow, which provide the same profile as a full metal jacketed round (such as the Hornady V-Max bullet). The plastic insert initiates the expansion of the bullet by being forced into the hollow cavity upon impact.
  • Plastic inserts in the hollow to provide the same profile for feeding in semiautomatic and automatic weapons as a full metal jacketed round but that separate on firing while in flight or in the barrel (such as the German Geco “Action Safety” 9 mm round)

Interestingly enough The Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III, prohibited the use in international warfare of bullets that easily expand or flatten in the body. Without mentioning the Geneva Convention, this convention was actually a continuation of the St. Petersburg Declaration. The St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868, which prohibited and banned exploding projectiles of less than 400 grams, as well as weapons designed to aggravate injured soldiers or make their death certain. NATO members do not use small arms ammunition that is prohibited by the Hague Convention. All of this and more is why I found it so interesting when our own DHS bought millions of rounds of hollow point ammo.

Federal Hollow PointMany of you may know however that despite the military prohibitions, hollow points are the most popular with civilians and law enforcement. They incapacitate faster, and there is less collateral damage or possibility of a bystander getting hit. Basically to sum up the explanation. Hollow points how amazing stopping power due to the expanding radial diameter upon impact. Practically all the kinetic energy is thrown into the target, in the case of a soft fleshy target a lot of muscle and tissue is disturbed. These rounds punch a bigger hole, and don’t always come out the other side (usually they do not). These would bring most any fleshy target down, and can cause nice damage to other types of material as well. I like to keep these loaded in the bedside rifle. These rounds are perfect for taking down an intruder quickly and efficiently without accidentally hitting other family with a fly through.

expansion of hollow tip

Expansion caught with a still shot

I hoped you enjoyed our little lesson today, and learned something from it. Hollow point ammunition can be quite lethal and is not legally in use by the military. It is however perfect for safer target shooting and stopping an intruder quickly.

Thank you for reading,

-Matthew Pizgatti

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About Matthew Pizgatti

"I Believe in Freedom. I believe in an educated populace. Above all I believe that most people have something to contribute to the world. My words and actions may mean little to some, but have great meaning to others. All I can do, day after day, is strive to do better than the day before. I want to share any knowledge I have of the world and skills I possess, so that others may benefit. I am always trying to learn about my hobbies/passions and always trying to improve my life as well as the lives of those around me."

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