Kevin Michalowski, executive editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and director of content for the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, opens up the old debate of which ammunition is best for concealed carry. When carrying your concealed firearm, is the magazine loaded with hollow-point or full metal jacket rounds?

About Hollow-Point Ammo

A hollow-point bullet has a cavity carved out of its nose. The cavity allows the round to open up when it impacts a target, causing a larger wound cavity. This also expends all of the round’s energy in the target instead of going through it.

Hollow-point ammunition was designed for self-defense. The obvious pro to hollow-point bullets is that the risk of overpenetration is greatly reduced. However, depending on barrel length, powder type and other factors, the penetration of your bullet may go too slow to open up.

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Be sure to test your hollow-point rounds in a medium, like ballistic gel, clay or even a bucket of water, so that you know how your hollow-points do from your firearm.

About Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) Ammo

These bullets have no exposed lead on the nose or sides. They do not deform as dramatically as hollow-point bullets. FMJ rounds are the standard load for training with semi-automatics but are not preferred for self-defense.

FMJ ammunition doesn’t have a lot of pros. But some states — New Jersey — outlaw hollow-point ammunition. FMJ bullets tend to over-penetrate. Michalowski compares it to a pencil punching a hole in the target … but then it just keeps going.

If you’re going to load FMJ ammunition in your carry firearm, you need to have perfect target isolation and know what’s going on beyond your target. Unless you’re required to use FMJ by law, Michalowski does not recommend it for self-defense.

As a final tip, find out what your local officers carry and use the same ammo in your firearm. This (nearly) eliminates the prosecution’s ability to question your choice of rounds for self-defense.

Learn all of this and more in a USCCA Concealed Carry Class