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FMJ Vs JHP (Full Metal Jacket Vs. Jacketed Hollow Point)

Full Metal Jacket versus Jacketed Hollow Point. Which is better? The answer depends on the context or mission of the round.

In addition to being a law enforcement officer, I was also a Medical Examiner Investigator. I can tell you from experience, that there is a definite difference.

Let's just get straight to the down and dirty of it, folks. Unless you are target shooting, if you fire your gun at someone or something, you are shooting to kill. I know that the politically correct term nowadays is "shoot to stop the threat", but if someone is within my 21-foot space and has a weapon, and doesn't drop it on my command (if I have time to give a command), I am shooting for one reason and one reason only. 


For self and home defense it’s a no brainer; hollow-point ammo wins. Most manufactures of small arms ammo produce their own variety of the hollow-point round.

Educated gun owners who purchase their firearm for self-defense or concealment prefer hollow-points to full metal jackets because of the widespread theory that hollow points won't over-penetrate the target and hit an innocent bystander. Hollow-points "flower" out upon penetration, causing a larger wound throughout the wound tract until the projectile stops. If the hollow point hits the target and does penetrate, it’s a devastating round.

Did you catch that last sentence? Why did I say "if and does"? Well, hollow-points are great rounds, and they are in my personal and home defense arsenals as well, however, you've got to be careful and consider a few things. 

The results of testing done on smaller caliber hollow-points yielded less than desirable effects on the target (ballistic gel dummies). The problem is not having enough expansion for devastating penetration. .22 caliber hollow-points showed little to no expansion, and the .32Auto and .380 rounds revealed some but not full expansion on the targets. Surprisingly, the smallest caliber tested that resulted in the desired expansion was a 9mm Makarov.

PMC Bronze 9mm 115gr Jacketed Hollow Point Ammunition

Jacketed hollow-points in a larger caliber are a stop and drop round, meaning a lethal penetration.


Oh Lordy! One of my least favorite topics is hunting ammunition. Hunters are affectionately attached to their rifle or shotgun, and are especially attached to their choice of ammunition. So I am just gonna give a couple of examples of what and why.

Some hunters prefer hollow-points when hunting big game at long ranges due to the expansion on impact. The reason for this school of thought is that the expanded projectile will travel deep into the game and kill or mortally wound immediately, rather than having the game running and tracking until fatality.

Barnaul .308 Win 150gr Hollow Point Ammunition


So with all of the glory of the jacketed hollow-point, and its obvious overshadowing of the full metal jacket for both home defense and hunting, does the full metal jacket have a chance in the argument for "which is better"? You betcha!

Full Metal Jacketed ammunition is very accurate. This is due to it retaining speed in flight. They are also a much cleaner round. Compared caliber to caliber, it is also a stronger round than hollow-point ammunition. Full metal jackets are efficient and run great for quick feeding. These are excellent range rounds.

Red Army Standard .223 Remington 55gr FMJ Ammunition


So the bad rap that full metal jackets get for over penetrating is not necessarily deserved. An innocent bystander is more likely to be struck by a bullet because the shooter missed than they are to be struck by a bullet that over penetrated its target when in the context of personal and home defense calibers. 

Unimpeded .22 caliber projectiles can travel up to a mile, but at that point, it doesn’t have the velocity to strike a human, go through said human target, and travel into another human, much less through a wall. 

I have seen smaller caliber full metal jacketed projectiles that cause more damage than a hollow-point in a few incidents. The full metal jacketed projectile will sometimes enter a target, which slows velocity just enough to bounce and ricochet inside of the target, causing a devastating and extended wound tract. Small-caliber FMJ projectiles easily travel through soft tissue and organs, but not so much for bone or even thick clothing.

Wolf Performance Gold .223 55gr Premium Grade FMJ Ammunition


Don't send hate mail! I know that you all have your favorite ammo already picked out. I also know that shooters have strong opinions about their selected ammo. As for me, actually I am neither here nor there. I think that both JHP's and FMJ's have reasonable uses depending on your mission. Honestly, I have several boxes of both in multiple calibers stashed in my nightstand right under my Bible. Your choice of the right ammo is the best choice for you!

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