Note: the material presented on this page cannot be regarded as
promotion of ammunition or firearms. The aim of this article is just providing awareness of existing types of handgun
ammunition with their basic characteristics for educational purposes. We warn our readers that handgun ammunition can
cause potential danger to the people and must be kept only in specially equipped storage places admitting no access to
unauthorized persons and children. All the actions connected with the purchase/sale and possession of ammunition must
be taken only in agreement with current firearms laws or penal legislation. Anyhow, we donít impel you to own
ammunition or guns to avoid possible troubles. If you however decide to purchase ammunition, check your local gun laws
before. This site has never been associated with any manufacturer of ammunition or weapons.
Pistol and revolver ammunition is made in a range of calibers of 5-12 mm. For police use
the .38 (.38 Special, 9.65 mm) is very common. Military pistols are often of .45 (11.43 mm) caliber. For each calibre there are bullets of different weights and velocities. In general, the higher the velocity, the higher the wounding power.
Pistol & Revolver Bullets
Pistol and revolver bullets are of several kinds. They may be of homogeneous heavy metal (usually lead or lead alloy); they may be coated with a thin layer of copper or other metal; and they may be wholly or partially jacketed.
Pistol bullets are often round-nosed but may also be flat (wadcutter or semi-wadcutter) or concave (hollow-point). Frangible bullets are made of small pieces of iron compressed together and designed to break apart on impact.
Duplex or tandem bullets consist of two bullets, fired from the same cartridge. A bullet known as the Super Vel. is designed so that the soft lead core separates from the jacket on impact, and the KTW bullet is Teflon-coated and has a tungsten core, designed to penetrate cars.
In general, lead hollow-point bullet, jacketed hollow-point and semi-wadcutter bullets have a substantially greater wounding effect (i.e., they create a larger temporary cavity) than lead round-nosed bullets.
Fully jacketed bullets, as used in military service, cause the smallest temporary cavities. The difference in wounding power arises from the fact that, apart from the fully jacketed bullets, all the bullets are capable of deforming on impact. Studies carried out by the Law Enforcement Standard Program of the
US National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (NILECJ) showed that a hollow-point bullet will begin deforming at an impact velocity of 215 m/s and a lead round-nosed bullet at a velocity above 340 m/s; but lead bullets are not fired at such high velocities, whereas jacketed
hollow-point bullets may be fired at 340-500 m/s and in some cases at even higher velocities.
The NILECJ study rated nearly 150 commercially available pistol bullets on a Relative Incapacitation Index (RII). The index is derived from the maximum size of the temporary cavity on the assumption that the larger the temporary cavity, the greater the probability
of affecting a vital organ. On a scale 100 the bullets ranged from 0.4 to 54.9. The study concluded that, for police purposes, a score of 20-25 represents "the upper limit required for reasonable reliability". Some 25 bullets - most of them hollow-point or semi-wadcutter Magnum bullets - exceeded this upper limit.
Hollow-point, semi-wadcutter Magnum bullets have been issued to an increased number of police forces in the United States and other countries. It is argued that they are required not only in order to provide the policemen with greater "stopping power" but also because
deforming bullets present less of a hazard to bystanders from ricochet. But the NILECJ study concluded that, with the exception of the Glaser Safety Slug (which also scored amongst the highest on the Incapacitation Index), "all handgun bullets studied pose a serious hazard to bystanders".
Ballistic Characteristics Of Typical Handgun Ammunition
||Weight of bullet,
|.25 (6.35 mm)
|.32 (8.13 mm)
||Smith & Wesson
||9x17 ACP (Browning Short)
||9x19 Luger (Parabellum)
|.357 (9.0) mm
|.38 (9.65) mm
|.40 (10.2) mm
||.40 Smith & Wesson
|.41 (10.4) mm
||.41 Remington Magnum
|.45 (11.43) mm
.22LR ammunition is very popular and widespread for sport target shooting. This ammunition was designed for shooting practice, but not for personal defense purposes.
Stopping power of .22LR bullet is poor, and .22LR ammunition is not suitable for self defense. But .22LR gun is better than empty hands.
9x17 ACP (Browning Short) ammo
9x17 ACP - ammunition with moderate firepower. This type of ammunition is not generally used in military service, but has an application in armed guard units. 9x17 ammunition is suitable for
self defense, but doesn't guarantee assailant's one-shot deactivation.
9x18 Makarov ammo
9x18 mm Makarov low-recoil ammunition is more powerful as compared with 9x17 ACP ammunition, but considerably less stronger than conventional 9x19 Luger (Parabellum) ammunition. Suitable for self defense.
9x19 Luger (Parabellum) ammo
9x19 Luger (Parabellum) - standard ammunition for modern military 9 mm semi-automatic pistols and sub-machine-guns. High bullet's kinetic energy, high versatility, high stopping power. Perfectly suitable for self defense.
.38 Special ammo
Classic police revolver ammunition, .38 Special cartridges provide shooter with relative high firepower, quite sufficient for personal defense.
.357 Magnum ammo
Very powerful ammunition, .357 Magnum ammo gives immensely high stoping power that's not typical for 9 mm ammunition. Excellent choice for self defense.
.45 ACP ammo
Some people don't trust 9 mm ammunition - they say that larger .45 (11.43 mm) caliber is more reliable in case of stopping power. Undoubtedly, .45 ACP ammunition provides very high stopping power, but owing to considerably lower velocity of
.45 ACP bullet in comparison with .357 Magnum bullet, the energy of .45 bullet is lower than of .357 Magnum bullet.
.41 Magnum ammo
The firepower of .41 Magnum ammunition is extremely high. It's somewhat you might not expect from handgun if you're not familiar with Magnum calibers. This kind of ammunition is suitable for hunting; the stopping power provided is much more higher than you usually need for self defense.
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