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 By Mike Coviello (Tanner)
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Hollow Point Bullet Hole Verses FMJ Bullet Hole

You hear stories of how hollow point (HP) ammunition is great defensive ammunition because the bullet expands and makes a bigger hole in the target than normal bullet full metal jacket (FMJ) would. Ever wonder how much larger the hollow point bullet hole is and when the bullet expands? Does it expand as it flies through the air (doubtful) or when it impacts the target? How much does it expand? The following is short test I devised to answer these questions.

Speer 380 Auto Hollowpoint Ammunition

 

Hollow Point Hole Size Test - Setup

The test was performed at a indoor shooting range. The range has motorized movable target backstops with a shooting range of up to 50 feet. The backstop is a 2" thick dense rubber matt, approximately 30" wide and 30" tall. I covered both sides of the backstop with cardboard to show the entry and exit bullet holes.

 

Range Backstop Range Backstop Range Backstop

 

Ammunition Used

 

380, 9MM Luger, 38 Special 380, 9MM Luger, 38 Special 380, 9MM Luger, 38 Special 380, 9MM Luger, 38 Special
       
380, 9MM Luger, 38 Special
Ammo Used In Test
Speer 380 Auto Hollow Point
 WIN 380 Auto
Speer 380 Auto
 WIN 9MM Auto
Hornaday Luger 9mm HP
Cor-Bon 9MM Luger +P
WIN 9MM Auto
Hornaday Luger 9mm HP
Cor-Bon 9MM Luger +P
       
 
RP 38 Special
PWC 38 SP +P
RP 38 Special +P
RP 38 Special
PWC 38 SP +P
RP 38 Special +P
RP 38 Special
PWC 38 SP +P
RP 38 Special +P
 
   
FC 45 Long Colt
CCI NR 45 Long Colt
FC 45 Long Colt
CCI NR 45 Long Colt

 

Hollow Point Bullet Hole Size Test

All of the ammunition was shot at the front cardboard target from a distance of 7 feet. 7 feet was chosen to represent the typical self defense shooting distance. A "regular" FMJ bullet of each caliber was fired along with the hollow point bullets for comparison purposes. If the hollow point bullet expanded as it enters and passes through the target the exit hole should be larger than the entry hole.

 

Test Results

The following pictures show each side of both cardboard targets and the bullet holes associated with each type of ammunition. We found no appreciable difference in bullet hole size between the FMJ bullets and the hollow point bullets. We also saw no appreciable difference between the hollow point bullet entry and exit holes indicating that the hollow point bullets did not expand.

 

BULLET HOLE LEGEND
Bullets (Ammunition) shot from a target distance of 7 feet.

1 -  Magtec Guardian Gold 9MM +P 115gr JHP HP
(Bullet Hole #1)

2 -  9MM Luger Reload (Hole #2)

3 -  9MM Luger Reload (Hole #3)

4 -  Magtec Guardian Gold 9MM +P 115gr JHP HP
(Bullet Hole #4)

5 -  Speer 380 Auto HP (Hole #5)

6 -  Hornaday Luger 9MM HP (Hole #6)

7 -  Cor-Bon 9MM Luger +P (Hole #7)

8 -  WIN 380 Auto (flat nose) (Hole #8)

9 -  WIN 380 Auto (flat nose) (Hole #9)

10 - Speer 380 Auto HP (Hole #10)

11 - RP 38 Special (Hole #11)

12 - PMC 38 Special +P HP (Hole #12)

13 - RP 38 Special +P HP (Hole #13)

14 - Cor-Bon 9MM Luger +P (Hole #14)

15 - FC 45 Long Colt (Hole #15)

16 - CCI NR 45 Long Colt HP (Hole #16)

17 - 22LR Federal HP (Hole #17)


ENTRY Bullet Holes


EXIT Bullet Holes
 

 

Conclusion & Observations

  1. The density and makeup of the rubber matting used in the test was insufficient to cause the hollow point bullets to expand. Entry and exit holes of the hollow point bullets were approximately the same size.

  2. The exit holes of the back target did not show evidence of an expanded hollow point bullet.

  3. Of the 9MM caliber ammunition tested, Cor-Bon 9mm Luger +P hollow point bullet showed signs of being the best 9mm defensive ammunition (louder bang and greater deformation of the cardboard.

 

Authored By Mike Coviello (Tanner)

 

Ask A Question/Tell Your Experience

 

Does A Hollow Point Bullet Expand As It Flies Through The Air Or Does It Expand Upon Impact With The Target?

I will shoot the above target using only HP ammunition at distances of 3 feet, 25 feet and 50 feet and compare the bullet hole sizes. If the HPt bullet hole increases in size as the distance increases the hollow point bullet expands as it flies through the air. This may be limited because of the short distances being tested but since most defensive shootings are close up shootings, it may have some validity and show realistic results.

TEST NOT PERFORMED - All research prior to my test indicated that hollow point bullets do not expand as the fly through the air, the expand upon impact with the target (depending on the density and makeup of the target). The HP bullets expand upon impact not while traveling to the target. The amount of expansion is determined by the hollow point bullet design and the material it impacts.

 

CORRESPONDENCE

What Is The Bullet Hole Size Difference Between Hollow Point And Regular Ammo?

I plan to cover both sides of the 2" thick dense rubber backstop with cardboard. This will show the bullet hole size as it enters and leaves the target. If the hollow point expands as it enters the target the entry hole should be smaller than the exit hole. The FMJ ball ammo should have the same hole size. I will shoot the target at a distance of 15 feet.

 

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From: Tanner
Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012 2:23 PM
To: Friend

Friend,
1) I sold my first Laserlyte Cartridge Laser Trainer 9mm from my website.
2) Yesterday I was cleaning my Glock 19 and noticed how it still looked brand new, except for a few minor wear points in the slide. After shooting approximately 20,000 round through it I am impressed.
3) Next week I am planning to do a test of HP verses FMJ Ball Ammo to answer the following questions.

HP Bullet Hole Size Verses Regular Bullet Hole Size
1) What Is The Bullet Hole Size Difference Between HP And Regular Ammo?
2) Does A HP Bullet Expand As It Flies Through The Air From Friction Or Does It Expand Upon Impact With The Target?

Also, I made a couple of pages for the reloading recipes for 380 and 45 ACP. Could you tell me what your recipes are so I can add them? Thanks

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Tanner,
This test could be interesting. Are you going to use different hollow point designs?
The hollow points expand upon impact not while travelling to the target. The amount of expansion is determined by the hollow point bullet design and the material it impacts.

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Friend,
It’s not going to be that much of a test. I am not going to spend any money buying hollow point ammo. I will just use what I have on hand and will just shoot one or two rounds of the following. Too bad I can’t capture the bullets. The hollow points that I have are:

9MM
Hornady Critical Defense
115 gr FTX Bullet
----------
9MM
CorBon
9MM Luger +P
115 gr JHP
----------
380
Speer 380 Auto
----------
Remington
38 Special +P
125 gr Semi-JKTD Hollow Point

Tanner
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Tanner,
I will check what I have and if different, I will bring a couple to add to the test.
Friend 

 

 

 

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