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Thread: Does it make sense to carry FMJ?

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    Regular Member stealthyeliminator's Avatar
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    Does it make sense to carry FMJ?

    I'm one of those people that sit around and think through different situations dozens of times... And I just can't help but worry about running into a Bad Guy who decided to go buy a ballistic vest or something even heavier. I'm not well educated on ballistic properties of different rounds or the effectiveness of different levels of ballistic vests or body armor, but I was just wondering if FMJs would have more punch against something like a ballistic vest, and if it ever made sense to carry a few FMJs in the bottom of your mag "just in case" you run into a situation where you need a little extra penetration in order to defend your life. Make sense? Or does it not really pan out that way?

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    The road to Hell is paved with what-ifs.

    What fraction of legally armed citizens have fired in self-defense, hit their target in self-defense, and what fraction of these self-defense hits have been defeated by body armor?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    The road to Hell is paved with what-ifs.

    What fraction of legally armed citizens have fired in self-defense, hit their target in self-defense, and what fraction of these self-defense hits have been defeated by body armor?
    Also, there is the Mozambique Drill. Body armor or no body armor, if torso hits are not ending the threat, shoot at the head or whatever else presents itself.

    Which reminds me, I read an improvement on the Mozambique Drill (MD) a couple years ago. I think its worth a bit. The original MD has the defender making two shots to the chest, and then evaluating the threat to determine whether a headshot is needed. The improved version has two shots to the chest, and then just point at the head. If the head is still there, shoot it.

    None of this is meant to overlook or minimize the difficulty of hitting the head of a moving bad guy, so keep it in perspective.

    And, regarding body armor and ball ammunition, there's a reason anti-armor ammunition has steel or tungsten or whatever in it. I wouldn't place much faith in ball ammunition. If I was worried about body armor, I'd buy armor-piercing ammo.
    Last edited by Citizen; 06-16-2013 at 02:07 PM.
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    Regular Member FreeInAZ's Avatar
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    Re: Does it make sense to carry FMJ?

    Depends on the particular semi-auto & its caliber. 9mm has lots of "poking hole powers" so most use JHP to cause more trauma. The flip to that are small caliber pistols like the 32acp which when using FMJ has more penetrating power than it's big brother the 380acp...(upto 15 inches) but with JHP that falls to (5 inches) so it all depends... your question is valid but too general to give a accurate answer IMHO. Side note ammo selection is also a consideration in semi-auto pistols with steep feed ramps regardless of caliber. Those pistols often have feeding issues with JHP. So to recap: depends on all varibles when taken into consideration.
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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post
    Also, there is the Mozambique Drill. Body armor or no body armor, if torso hits are not ending the threat, shoot at the head or whatever else presents itself.

    Which reminds me, I read an improvement on the Mozambique Drill (MD) a couple years ago. I think its worth a bit. The original MD has the defender making two shots to the chest, and then evaluating the threat to determine whether a headshot is needed. The improved version has two shots to the chest, and then just point at the head. If the head is still there, shoot it.

    None of this is meant to overlook or minimize the difficulty of hitting the head of a moving bad guy, so keep it in perspective.

    And, regarding body armor and ball ammunition, there's a reason anti-armor ammunition has steel or tungsten or whatever in it. I wouldn't place much faith in ball ammunition. If I was worried about body armor, I'd buy armor-piercing ammo.
    I have not heard of too many instances of bad guys wearing armor, except that one case involving bank robbers. And then they stood there boldly not taking cover begging for a head shot. If one carries, if legal, armor piercing bullets then they risk over penetration. And keep in mind that being shot with a vest hurts. If penetration of low level armor is needed the Tok is a good gun for it, surplus ammo is known to penetrate low level body armor.

    I had a friend shot in the back wearing a second chance vest 30 years ago. He survived but the pain caused him to collapse to his knees. Bullet hit directly on the spine. Bullet was from a 22 magnum, it is fortunate the shooter did not finish him off.

    I only carry FMJ in lower velocity rounds, such as 380 or 9X18. 38 special I use pure lead, or a very soft lead alloy mostly round nose flat points. Soft lead deforms and gives good penetration. Unless it hits a bone, then it flattens out just like a hollow point. I use 230 gr round nose soft alloy in 45 acp. Recovered bullets always deform, and in lower velocities there is no leading.

    I suggest if facing BGs with body armor to use a larger caliber as to inflict more pain, often times pain will stop a person quicker than blood loss.
    Last edited by WalkingWolf; 06-16-2013 at 03:17 PM.
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    Look up the ratings on soft body armor. Level I armor is rated for .22LR and .380 ball, but not much more than that. Past that the next level up, level IIA, is rated for protection against most FMJ 9mm, .40, and .45 at typical bullet weights and velocities. Level IIIA protects against everything up to a 44 magnum. Some higher grades of body armor protect all the way up into the range of rifle rounds(level IV will protect against M2 Ball 30-06).

    In the unlikely event that you're dealing with someone wearing body armor, chances are you won't be able to punch through it with anything you're carrying, FMJ or not. I personally wouldn't worry too much about it.

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    Campaign Veteran MAC702's Avatar
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    The typical body armor today will stop a bullet within its parameters regardless of FMJ or JHP. And in actuality, you'd get better penetration from hard-cast lead bullets in a semi-wadcutter configuration. An FMJ is just copper-jacketed soft lead. Hard-cast lead, even without a jacket, will deform less.

    That said, even without penetration, energy transfer still occurs to an armored target. It would be an exceptional target that was an active threat while its armor was absorbing bullets.
    Last edited by MAC702; 06-16-2013 at 05:12 PM. Reason: spelling
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    Where are you finding FMJ? How much per box? Would you go get a couple of boxes and hold them for me?

    As everybody else has mentioned, for your everyday SD situation ballistic armor should be way down on your list of things to be worried about.

    stay safe.
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    We have literally tons of FMJ. But you can't buy it. THHHBBBTTT!!!

    Anyway, whatever benefit one gets from penetration is offset by the dangers of penetration. Typically, you would never shoot at BGs in body armor. You are far more likely to shoot at BGs who are extremely permeable to FMJ, as would be the baby in the carriage behind him.

    No. Never use FMJ for personal protection. JMO, but one I share with every customer buying ammo for personal protection.

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    Regular Member stealthyeliminator's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the feedback - I'm a little surprised at how much I learned just now.

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    Does it make sense to carry FMJ?

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    Campaign Veteran MAC702's Avatar
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    Also remember that the benefit to JHP v. FMJ varies by caliber and velocity. JHP is far more beneficial in smaller, higher-velocity calibers than larger, slower ones. While JHP's are nice in a .45 ACP, they aren't nearly as much of a benefit over FMJ as they are in a .357 Magnum.

    There is no magic line where one is better than the other, but I personally carry hard-cast lead or FMJ in my .45's. I shoot thousands of rounds in practice and matches, and never need to change my ammo between those activities and daily carry.

    At the opposite end, I prefer FMJ in the small calibers like .25 and .32. I personally consider the .380 to be on the fence between the benefits of the hollow point and getting back the penetration we lose in the weaker cartridges.

    EDIT: I just looked back through the thread, and saw that FreeInAZ made some of these same points, so I didn't mean to overlook them.
    Last edited by MAC702; 06-16-2013 at 08:49 PM.
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    Activist Member golddigger14s's Avatar
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    Basically if a vest is rated to stop say 9mm, it will stop it weather it is HP or FMJ.
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    Re: Does it make sense to carry FMJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by MAC702 View Post
    Also remember that the benefit to JHP v. FMJ varies by caliber and velocity. JHP is far more beneficial in smaller, higher-velocity calibers than larger, slower ones. While JHP's are nice in a .45 ACP, they aren't nearly as much of a benefit over FMJ as they are in a .357 Magnum.

    There is no magic line where one is better than the other, but I personally carry hard-cast lead or FMJ in my .45's. I shoot thousands of rounds in practice and matches, and never need to change my ammo between those activities and daily carry.

    At the opposite end, I prefer FMJ in the small calibers like .25 and .32. I personally consider the .380 to be on the fence between the benefits of the hollow point and getting back the penetration we lose in the weaker cartridges.

    EDIT: I just looked back through the thread, and saw that FreeInAZ made some of these same points, so I didn't mean to overlook them.
    No problem - wisdom can never be repeated enough, good points Mac.
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    Regular Member decklin's Avatar
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    I just wanted to post this because it seems that people put a lot of faith in armor. Sometimes armor fails.
    We had one guy that got shot in the upper chest from a .22
    We all wore the same armor. A Cordura shell lined with padding rated for 9mm topped with front, back and side plates made of ceramic rated for 7.62 AP.
    The thing almost almost killed him. It went past an artery.
    This is a list of what that round penetrated.
    1. Admin pouch and contents. (Don't know what was inside)
    2. Layer of cordura.
    3. 9mm padding.
    4. Layer of cordura.
    5. 1/4 inch of comfort padding/mesh.
    6. Uniform blouse & t-shirt.
    7. chest muscles and finally his chest wall.

    When we found out it was a .22 we thought it was wrong but it wasn't. I have wondered whether the circumstances helped the round. He was standing out of a hatch and moving down the road so I guess it might be possible that that helped.
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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by golddigger14s View Post
    Basically if a vest is rated to stop say 9mm, it will stop it weather it is HP or FMJ.
    Wellllllll maybe currently, I used to shoot a 38 super 1911. About thirty years ago I had a spire 9mm mold, that when cast with hard alloy, loaded to 38 super/9mm +P, would penetrate a vest with little problem. We tested a panel at a county police range. While they were unable to penetrate I shot through with the first shot, and each subsequent shots.

    Not sure but spire point handgun rounds may be illegal now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    Not sure but spire point handgun rounds may be illegal now.
    LOL They will be legislating the value of Pi if they have legislated the difference between a tangent ogive and a secant ogive spire.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    LOL They will be legislating the value of Pi if they have legislated the difference between a tangent ogive and a secant ogive spire.
    Indiana Pi Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    Wellllllll maybe currently, I used to shoot a 38 super 1911. About thirty years ago I had a spire 9mm mold, that when cast with hard alloy, loaded to 38 super/9mm +P, would penetrate a vest with little problem. We tested a panel at a county police range. While they were unable to penetrate I shot through with the first shot, and each subsequent shots.

    Not sure but spire point handgun rounds may be illegal now.
    Good thing BG's don't do their own loading, too lazy.
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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Not sure, but I believe NJ outlaws HP for LAC, nobody has apparently explained that FMJ ricochet more than HP. I don't miss, but if I did, I would not want it bouncing across the county. Most of my loads for self defense are soft lead alloy or HP though, only use FMJ in 9X18 and 380.
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