We have talked at length about using quality jacketed hollow point ammo for self defense in the past, and we’re not going to revisit that topic today; rather I want to look at some options for people who for whatever reason may not be able to get their hands on JHP ammo. Let’s say for the sake of argument, that you can’t afford quality HP ammo, so what are your choices then?
The answer is lead, friend. Good old fashioned lead bullets. If we remember the wounding mechanism of handguns, it’s crushing tissue. Hydrostatic shock, temporary stretch cavity, and whatever else you want to call it are not part of the handgun bullet wounding mechanism. Those do apply to rifles, but we’re going to constrain this discussion purely to pistol bullets.
So the goal is to get a projectile that’s going to retain enough velocity to penetrate clothing, bone, and deep enough to reach major organs while still crushing the maximum volume of tissue on its way…and the answer keeps coming back to lead bullets. Big, heavy, lead bullets. Big, heavy, lead projectiles have been putting fools in the dirt since guns were around, and if you trace the history of cartridge evolution, it wasn’t until smokeless powder came around that we started moving away from the “big heavy lead bullet”.
So, if we assume that we want a big, heavy lead bullet, where does that leave us? Well, if you carry a .40 or a .45, you’re probably good to go. .45 ACP offers a great choice of lead bullets, from 200 all the way up to 250 grain if you’re interested in handloading. You want a fairly wide and flat frontal area of the bullet, so wadcutters, flat points, and semi-wadcutters are going to be a solid choice as well. Interestingly, some of the cool kids are loading their J-frames with old fashioned 148 grain full wadcutter bullets, because they’ll defeat denim and still penetrate a bunch of tissue.
Of course, this is mostly academic, because I’m a firm believer that if your gun won’t feed modern JHP ammo, the problem isn’t your ammo, the problem is your gun. But for the sake argument, what would you recommend if modern JHP ammo wasn’t available?