Bullets are available in an enormous variety of shapes and compositions, each one designed to meet one specific purpose.
We created this guide to assist you in selecting the best possible bullets for your requirements.
Accelerator Discarding Sabot
An Accelerator Discarding Sabot round is a small diameter bullet held in place by a “sabot”. For example, Remington sells a .30-06 Accelerator Discaring Sabot round where the final projectile is a .224 caliber bullet.
The sabot is .30-06 caliber. The sabot stabilizes the bullet and holds it in place while it is in the gun barrel. Once the bullet leaves the gun barrel, the sabot falls off.
Accelerator Discarding Sabot bullets are able to travel much faster than full-size bullets.
A Boattail bullet has an inward taper towards the rear of the bullet. This means that the rear of the bullet is of a smaller caliber than the point where the bullet is crimped to the cartridge.
Boattail bullets are able to provide flatter trajectories and higher retained velocities due to an improved ballistic coefficient and reduced aerodynamic drag.
A bonded bullet is made by taking a monolithic bullet with a hollow point and filling that hollow point with lead. The lead and the copper are then bonded together.
This bonding helps the lead core to stay with the copper jacket as the bullet expands upon target entry. This ensures weight retention, which is a critical component of penetration depth.
Frangible Projectile bullets are bullets which are designed to fragment into pieces when they strike the target.
These small pieces impart their energy quickly into the target instead of penetrating deeply into the target.
Frangible Projectiles are designed to reduce long-term damage to a target while at the same time causing maximum short-term shock.
In addition, Frangible Projectiles also provide safety for home-defense applications because they do not penetrate barriers such as drywall.
The most famous brand of Frangible Projectile is the Glaser Safety Slug.
Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
The soft lead cores of many bullets are covered with a more sturdy jacket.
This jacket can be made up of many metals. Copper is a usual ingredient, either alone or mixed with a small amount (10%) of zinc. Steel is also used, but the steel is then covered with a thin layer of copper to prevent damage to the gun barrel.
These jackets help to improve bullet penetration by limiting expansion and keeping the mass of the bullet in one piece.
Jacketed bullets also reduce barrel fouling by reducing contact between the barrel and the soft lead inside the bullet.
A jacketed bullet with no lead exposed at the tip of the bullet is said to have a “Full Metal Jacket”.
Full Metal Jacket bullets are sometimes also referred to as “Solid Nosed” bullets.
A Hollow Point bullet has a small amount of metal removed from the front top of the bullet. This creates a small hollow point in the bullets tip. This hollow point allows the bullet to expand more effectively when it strikes a target.
Hollow Point bullets are the most popular bullets for self-defense and hunting purposes.
Hollow Point bullets are usually jacketed, in which case they are sometimes referred to using the label “Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)”.
Hollow Points are prohibited for use in wars between contracting powers of the Hague Convention of 1899.
Declaration (IV, 3) concerning Expanding Bullets, 26 Martens Nouveau Recueil (ser. 2) 998, 187 Consol. T.S. 459, entered into force Sept. 4, 1900.
The undersigned, Plenipotentiaries of the Powers represented at the International Peace Conference at The Hague, duly authorized to that effect by their Governments, inspired by the sentiments which found expression in the Declaration of St. Petersburg of 29 November (11 December) 1868,
Declare as follows:
The Contracting Parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core or is pierced with incisions. The present Declaration is only binding for the Contracting Powers in the case of a war between two or more of them.
It shall cease to be binding from the time when, in a war between the Contracting Powers, one of the belligerents is joined by a non-Contracting Power. The present Declaration shall be ratified as soon as possible.
The ratification shall be deposited at The Hague. A ‘proces-verbal’ shall be drawn up on the receipt of each ratification, a copy of which, duly certified, shall be sent through the diplomatic channel to all the Contracting Powers.
The non-Signatory Powers may adhere to the present Declaration. For this purpose they must make their adhesion known to the Contracting Powers by means of a written notification addressed to the Netherlands Government, and by it communicated to all the other Contracting Powers.
In the event of one of the High Contracting Parties denouncing the present Declaration, such denunciation shall not take effect until a year after the notification made in writing to the Netherlands Government, and forthwith communicated by it to all the other Contracting Powers.
This denunciation shall only affect the notifying Power.
In faith of which the Plenipotentiaries have signed the present Declaration, and have affixed their seals thereto.
Done at The Hague, 29 July 1899, in a single copy, which shall be kept in the archives of the Netherlands Government, and copies of which, duly certified, shall be sent through the diplomatic channel to the Contracting Powers.
Lead bullets are the most simple projectiles. Lead is a popular material for bullet construction because it is:
- Easy to work with, due to a low melting temperature
- Heavy – lead possesses an excellent mass for its size
Lead bullets are usually only 97% to 99% pure lead. A small portion of antimony is often added to increase bullet hardness.
Lead is completely safe unless it is ingested or inhaled, but concerns regarding lead poisoning have led to the development of lead-free ammunition.
Concerns regarding lead poisoning have led to the development of lead-free ammunition.
Civilian lead-free ammunition is normally manufactured from copper or copper alloys; Military lead-free ammunition is sometimes made of more exotic materials such as tungsten and nylon.
A Match bullet is any bullet which is designed for extreme accuracy. This usually means that the bullet is manufactured using lower-tolerances and better materials.
Match bullets are used by competitors in rifle and pistol matches, as well as by military and police snipers.
A Metal Point bullet contains a small amount of a hard metal at the tip which helps the bullet to expand rapidly when it strikes the target. The comparatively harder metal pushes the softer lead outward.
The metal tip also help to improve the bullet’s ballistic coefficient (BC).
The most common form of a Metal Point bullet is the “Bronze Point” bullet.
A Monolithic bullet is formed from one single piece of metal.
Monolithic bullets are normally made of copper or a copper alloy. One such alloy, for example, is 61.5% copper, 35% zine, 3% lead, and .5% tin.
Monolithic bullets are popular among big game hunters who are shooting calibers so large that bullet expansion is not a concern. These hunters also prefer monolithic bullets because of the better penetration they offer against thick animal hides.
A Round Nose bullet is a bullet that has a rounded tip.
Round Nose bullets have better aerodynamics than flat point bullets, but are not as aerodynamically efficient as spitzers.
Round Nose bullets expand better than spitzers, but not as well as flat point bullets.
Round Nose bullets are a reasonable trade-off for medium velocity and medium-weight cartridges.
Round Nose bullets made of lead are referred to as “Lead Round Nose” bullets.
A Soft Point bullet is a jacketed bullet with a portion of the lead core exposed at the tip.
Soft Point bullets expand better than bullets with a Full Metal Jacket, but not as well as bullets with a Hollow Point.
Soft Point bullets are also called Jacketed Soft Point (JSP) and Soft Nose bullets.
A spitzer is a bullet that has a pointed tip. “Spitzer” is the German word for “pointed.”
Spitzer bullets have better aerodynamics than flat point bullets or round nose bullets.
Spitzer bullets do not expand as well as round nose bullets or flat point bullets, but they are normally used in rifles where the velocity is high enough that this is not a concern.
A Wadcutter is a bullet with a flat point nose.
Wadcutters are designed for shooting at paper targets. The flat nose makes a clean and noticeable hold through the paper, which makes it easier score matches.
Semi-wadcutters are similar, but have a taper leading up the the flat point nose. Semi-wadcutters feed better than Wadcutters in the magazines of semi-automatic firearms.
Bullet design is a science; bullet sales is an art form.
Bullet manufacturers are constantly coming up with new and confusing names for their bullets.
These new names represent new designs intended to differentiate these bullets from their competitors.
Sometimes these bullets are better, occassionally they are worse, usually the performance is so close that the advantages are infinitely arguable.
Some of the better known custom bullet types are:
- A-Frame (Swift)
- Accutip (Remington)
- Ballistic Silver Tip (Winchester)
- Ballistic Tip (Nosler)
- Core Lokt Ultra Bond (Remington)
- Expanding Full Metal Jacket (EFMJ) (Federal)
- Fail Safe (Winchester)
- Glaser (Cor-Bon)
- Grand Slam (CCI)
- High Energy (Federal)
- Heavy Magnum (Hornady)
- Light Magnum (Hornady)
- Metal Case (Remington)
- Partition Gold (Winchester)
- Platinum Tip (Winchester)
- Power Ball (Cor-Bon)
- Power Point (Winchester)
- Safety (Cor-Bon)
- Super Hard Cast Hammerhead (Garrett)
- Super Shock Tipped (Hornady)
- TC (Norma)
- Tubular Hollow Point (PMC)
- XTP (Hornady)
Books on Bullets
Stopping Power: A Practical Analysis of the Latest Handgun Ammunition
Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow rocked the firearms world with the release of Handgun Stopping Power and Street Stoppers. Both books predicted the effectiveness of all types of ammunition by studying the results of real-life shootings rather than relying on laboratory tests that ignored the dynamics of an actual gunfight. This third book in the series provides the very latest street results of all the major handgun calibers, from .22 LR to .45 ACP, as well as popular rifle and shotgun loads. It also contains chapters on short-barrel ballistics, the emergence of the hot new .357 SIG caliber, the continued success of the .40 S&W, the development of the latest exotic ammo, the effectiveness of black powder firearms and a brand-new ammo test protocol based on the results of the many gunfights of U.S. Border Patrol officers.
Handgun Stopping Power : The Definitive Study
Dramatic first-hand accounts of the results of handgun rounds fired into criminals by cops, storeowners, cabbies and others are the heart and soul of this long-awaited book. This is the definitive methodology for predicting the stopping power of handgun loads, the first to take into account what really happens when a bullet meets a man.
Gunshot Wounds: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques, Second Edition
Written by the nation’s foremost authority on gunshot wounds and forensic techniques as they relate to firearm injuries, Gunshot Wounds: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques, Second Edition provides critical information on gunshot wounds and the weapons and ammunition used to inflict them. The book describes practical aspects of ballistics, wound ballistics, and the classification of various wounds caused by handguns, bang guns, rifles, and shotguns. The final chapters explain autopsy technique and procedure and laboratory analysis relating to weapons and gunshot evidence.
Frangible Ammunition: The New Wave in Firearms Ammunition
Frangible Ammunition represents the first viable revolutionary change to firearms science in the past 100 years! A polymer-compound round that produces no splashback and vastly decreased ricochets, frangible ammo is ideal for marksmanship training for both indoor and outdoor ranges, tactical team training, close-in engagement of metal targets and specialized service use. As such, it is the safest full-power training ammo for police and military shooters, civilian range owners and casual shooters. Despite its widespread acceptance, however, there has been no in-depth study of this cutting-edge round . . . until now. This book remedies that by teaching the potential user what a frangible round is, what they can and cannot be used for, how to construct safe training devices and facilities and the proper street and service uses for the round.
Cartridges of the World (Cartridges of the World)
This benchmark volume is the foremost source for cartridge information. Hunters, target shooters, military history buffs, ammunition reloaders and cartridge collectors alike will find all the answers to their cartridge and shotshell questions in this comprehensive book that includes 1,500+ cartridges.
This reference book includes detailed photos, dimensional drawings and loading data. Descriptions of obsolete American cartridges tell the tale of ammunition used by settlers, cowboys and outlaws during the nation’s westward expansion, and offer insights into unusual rounds that never caught on. Hunters and shooters can improve their success with the useful ballistics tables.
Handloader’s Digest: The World’s Greatest Handloading Book (Handloader’s Digest, 18th ed)
Handloaders are meticulous hobbyists who constantly search for better loads, components, and the tools to assemble cartridges. They expect the best from their components and tools, and this updated digest is an assemblage of authoritative articles discussing various facets of the reloading hobby. New indepth articles from expert writers cover casting bullets, working handloads, choosing the right components for the job, new techniques, ballistics, reloading safety, and much more. Enthusiasts will gain insight into new reloading trends, as well as available equipment and accessories from major manufacturers. Extensive and valuable reference information includes listings of all handloading periodicals and books, plus directories of products and manufacturers.
ABC’s of Reloading (ABC’s of Reloading)
Starting with the basics, this guide leads the reader through the process of reloading with ease. Perfect for beginners and a great refresher for experienced reloaders, the book first discusses all the necessary tools and accessories needed to get started, then goes through step-by-step instructions and safety tips for loading your own metallic cartridges and shotshells. Helpful illustrations guide readers through each step and make the process easy to understand. The ABC’s of Reloading covers all aspects of the hobby, from benchrest loading techniques, to ballistic software, to competition and hunting loads and more. It also includes a comprehensive directory of reloading manufacturers. The guide carefully pieces together steps and techniques for reloading into an understandable process, outlining the basic procedures and providing information on cartridge cases, primers, powders, bullets, equipment and much more, putting beginners on the road to becoming experts!
Metallic Cartridge Reloading
Gun Digest Book of Handgun Reloading
Reloading for Shotgunners (Reloading for Shotgunners)
The Ultimate in Rifle Accuracy: A Handbook for Those Who Seek the Ultimate in Rifle Accuracy; Whether It Be for Competition, Testing, or Hunting
Ammo and Ballistics
All you ever needed to know about ammunition has finally been collected in one volume!
Understanding Firearm Ballistics
The original text of Understanding Ballistics has been edited, improved, & expanded with up-to-date information. Throughout are more formulas, detailed explainations & examples, more draawings, charts, and technical details explaining basic to advanced firearm ballistics, in a simplified and easy to follow style. This is the newest edition of the bible of the shooting sports. A must for all police officers, hunters, target shooters, handloaders, whether begineer or expert. This book is a “gotta have.”
The Hunter’s Guide to Ballistics: Practical Advice on How to Choose Guns and Loads, and Use them Effectively
Now for the first time, here is a book written specifically for hunters about the guns and loads that they use. In this complete and fully illustrated digest, you’ll read about such diverse topics as: how to improve your long-range shooting; how to shoot accurately in winds of any speed or direction; how to solve the problems associated with shooting up and down hills; what causes mirage and how to read it; why some bullets shoot tighter groups farther away; how gunpowder is made; why bullets that move left also rise; which cartridges are suitable for everything plus comprehensive ballistics tables.
Modern Sporting Rifle Cartridges
Ammo and Ballistics II
Shotshells and Ballistics
There is a bewildering array of commercially loaded shotgun shells for sale, from the .410 to the 10-gauge. In fact, there are more types of shells and shot sizes on the market now than ever before. With the overwhelming selection of shells available, here, finally, is a practical, reasonably priced book that makes sense of it all. It lists commercially available shotshell loads from the .410-bore to the 10-gauge, in all shot sizes available, different shot types (lead, steel, bismuth, tungsten, and others) so that the shooter or hunter can quickly find what will be best for the gun he has and the game or targets he wants to shoot. Each shotgun shell with each loading has its own table–over 1,600 tables!!–showing shot size; weight of shot; recoil; average number of pellets in the shell; manufacturer’s order number; shell length and type of hull; type of wad; and whether the shot is buffered or not. In addition, each table contains data that details velocity (in 10-yard intervals from 0 to 70 yards); average pellet energy; and time of flight in seconds. This book includes complete ballistic tables for every hull length and every shot-size load made from the following manufacturers: Aguila Ammunition, Armscor, ARMUSA, Baschieri & Pellagri, Bismuth Cartridge Company, Brenneke, Clever s.r.l., Dionisi, Eley Hawk, Estate Cartridge Company, Federal, Fiocchi, Gamebore, Hevi-Shot (now loaded exclusively by Remington), Kent, Lightfield, PMC, Polywad, Remington, RIO, RST, Sellier & Bellot, and Winchester. In addition, this informative reference contains authoritative articles on the history and development of shotshells and the components and technical data that govern the production of shotshells. Never before has so much information on shotshells and ballistics been placed in a single book. Accentuated with photos from the field and the range, this is a reference book unlike any other.