This weeks topic stems from a question presented to me late last week. “Can I be looked at more harshly if I am forced to use my hand gun in a justified shooting but I had hollow points loaded: being they are designed to do more damage and kill”?

Let me start by explaining there are numerous types, and brands of target, and self defense type ammunition on the market. This is not an endorsement of any kind of ammo. Lets start by covering the legal end of what you are allowed to carry. With too many types, and brands to cover completely lets just simplify the matter by breaking ammo down into the following 3 types.

1. Target ammo, commonly referred to as Full metal Jacket, Ball Ammo.

2. Self Defense ammo, commonly referred to as “Hollow Point”.

3. Armored Piercing and Tracer, used by military and illegal to carry here in Texas and most other states.

Armored piercing and Tracer type incendiary should not be a candidate for your Carry rounds. Tracer rounds are used in combat situations and although they are legal to possess in Texas I do not recommend them for a self defense carry round. The armored piercing ammunition is mostly found in rifle calibers however there are some pistol calibers available as well. This type is most commonly used by the military for obvious reasons and is actually illegal to have in Texas.

Target ammunition is usually cheaper to purchase do to its design and material. FMJ (full metal jacket) is basically a bullet made of lead that is encased in a metal jacket. Copper is commonly used in this type of round. The jacket will help stabilize the projectile as it travels through the air at its high rate of speed.

Self Defense rounds or “hollow point” rounds as some call them are just what they say. The leading point of the bullet is hollow. The design serves several purposes. Being hollow allows the front of the bullet to be lighter than the rear causing it to usually be more accurate, and allowing it to mushroom upon impact. In simple terms this develops what we can refer to as stopping power, and knockdown power. I group these two because they are the same but different. Knockdown power is the force and trauma created when the bullet impacts and knocks the target down or stops it. This can be referred to as stopping power however, as that bullet mushrooms out its energy is slowed drastically due to its mass and the bullet itself slows down until it eventually comes to a stop.

So to clear any confusion I personally consider knockdown power what the bullet does to the target, and stopping power is how the bullet itself will come to rest at the end of its flight. These two features should be a must for any carry round you opt to carry.

Now back to the question, Can you be looked at more harshly or in a negative way for carrying a “hollow point or Self defense” type round designed to create sever damage and trauma to a target. There is no law or regulation on this however we could what if this to death. What if you used your handgun in a justified shooting stopping a threat and you used an aggressive but still legal self defense round. A civil lawyer can try to pull out all stops and attempt to paint you as a monster for that type of ammo, however your legal defense will argue the opposite. Chances are it will be a battle of words and the best legal team will win. I know that doesn’t help much but lets try a different scenario now.

Lets say you used your handgun in a justified shooting however, this was in a public place and you had just regular FMJ or Ball/target ammo loaded in your handgun. You were found justified in using deadly force to stop the threat but your FMJ bullet passed through the target and hit and innocent bystander just out of sight. Now you can imagine that the same lawyer that was painting you as a monster for using a self defense round will now undoubtedly be calling every expert witness he can, specializing in ballistics, to explain FMJ rounds are known to pass through a target and should not have been used. Not to mention you will probably be back in the hot seat with Criminal Charges as well.

In short my opinion, is use a good self defense round. Do your research and try some. Practice, practice, and practice using as much cheaper FMJ as you can afford both in time and money. Remember the “Carry Rounds” are going to shoot different than your target rounds so, even though they are going to be more expensive practice with those as well. Test a few and find the on you are confident with.

The proper bullet could be the difference between justifiably stopping a threat, or 1 shot 2 kills, caused by your poor choice of ammo passing through a bad guy and hit a bystander.