By Vic Laboy

A firearm without ammo is like a car without gas. You have it; however, it is not as useful as you intended. As you shop for ammo, take note of your application and what the intended use of the firearm is. If you are visiting the range for the day, ideally you would select the cheaper ball point ammunition rather than more expensive hollow points. No matter the situation, be sure you are properly equipped with the right setup to prevent issues down the line. Today we’ll look at how to select both FMJ and hollow point rounds.

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When to Use FMJ

Full metal jacket, FMJ, or ball point, these are all names commonly used when referring to range ammunition. No matter which firearms or outdoor shop you visit, you are guaranteed to find a variety of calibers produced by numerous manufacturers. For instance, some of the most common names in the ammunition department include Federal Premium, American Eagle, and Winchester to name a few. These rounds are inexpensive to manufacture and, depending on the caliber, are listed at affordable prices so you don’t have to break the bank for each range visit. As with anything, the more you select, the greater the price. However, economically speaking, purchasing bulk ammunition may lead to greater savings down the line. For example, purchasing single 50-round boxes of Sellier and Bellot 9mm 115gr may cost a bit more per round compared to a 350-round box case of CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 115gr.

Since the purpose of these rounds is to improve your accuracy at the range, your goal is to send the least amount of money down range. One of the larger reasons these particular rounds are more suited towards target practice is due to the fact that they are made to penetrate targets, which is not ideal in a defense situation. In this instance, your goal is to hit the target with minimal worry about overpenetration or collateral damage. When selecting your rounds, remember your application and equip yourself with the proper setup. You are more than welcome to place 10,000 rounds downrange; however, be sure to load your magazines with the proper ammo before holstering for EDC afterward.

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The Purpose of a Hollow Point

Hollow points were engineered to expand on impact. They minimize the risk of overpenetration and successfully eliminate the threat while remaining in your target. Like FMJ’s, these are available in virtually any caliber in existence from .22LR all the way to .50BMG. As these are primarily used for defense, whether at the house, in your vehicle, or in the field, superior performance is expected to meet the demands of the situation. It is critical that these rounds remain in the target and do not over-penetrate and strike an unintended target. One of the four rules of firearm safety is to know your target, what lies beyond, as well as what is to their left and right flanks. Because of this, you do not want a round that will only pass through and strike the person behind them or find itself embedded in the vehicle across the street. Should this happen, it is important to note that you become legally responsible for any collateral damage as you are responsible for the projectile once it leaves the barrel.

Some of the top-rated hollow point brands include Hornady Critical Defense, CCI Speer Gold Dot, and Federal Hydra-Shok to name a few. Although some have different opinions in this category, note that these brands were run through and passed the FBI standards with exemplary results. Hornady rounds have a rubberized polymer insert that fills the cavity of the hollow point. This allows for rapid controlled expansion of the projectile upon entry to inflict maximum damage as well as create drag to prevent over-penetration. Think of this like a drag car racing down the strip. Once the car reaches top speed and nears the end of the track, parachutes deploy from the rear to create resistance to stop the vehicle in the shortest possible distance. This is the same ideology behind the expansion of these rounds. Once expansion occurs, it will typically stop within 7-9 inches depending on certain factors such as clothing, distance, etc.

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How to Prevent Issues Down the Line

To avoid experiencing issues when firing your weapon in defensive or target shooting situations, be sure your loadout is setup with the proper ammunition. Also take into consideration the reviews of each user to find which ammo is best to purchase. Some lesser brands should be avoided as they are known to lead to ammo-based malfunctions. It is also important that you remember to swap your range ammunition back to your carry if you do not separate your magazines. You may find this to be beneficial as well, especially if you recently purchased the firearm new from the factory. The most common issue with this is the fact that all springs have yet to be worked in. You may have trouble loading your mags to capacity or even advancing past six rounds for those who are just beginning.

Also bear in mind how different types of rounds affect your firearm. For example, a common complaint is that Kimber 1911’s will not cycle Blazer Brass, whereas your CZ P-10C will cycle any round you place through the barrel. It is also important to note that most modern-day firearms are picky, and they may not cycle one round as well as the other. In other circumstances, they may leave your firearm a bit dirtier than their competitors.

Final Thoughts

As always, take time to conduct your own research and analysis and never take someone’s opinion as fact. When searching for the right ammunition, take into consideration the factual reviews of those who carry different brands daily to make your decision. Take time to research the ballistics, overall performance, and credibility of each option to ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck. Once you have made your decision, visit 1800GunsAndAmmo.com, or come into our retail store where any one of our associates will be happy to assist you. As always, shoot straight and stay safe.