Does the type of ammo matter?

I have a question about ammo, if you happen to be in an unfortunate situation where you have to shoot someone in defense does the type of ammo matter? Most people say not to carry full metal jacket, but I’m wondering if it may be favorable in the eyes of the law, a less lethal ammo (FMJ) vs a mega expanding ‘death bullet’ that may get you in trouble? I carry primarily full metal jacket, in fact I’m thinking of carrying ‘Buffalo Bore +P 9mm Outdoorsman 147 grain hard cast FN’, mainly because I carry primarily on my property up here in the mountains and there’s always the threat of dangerous game, I’ve heard this is a super penetrating round good for bears. But if I shot a person with that ammo would it be worse than a typical defensive round or full metal jacket? I know the law frowns on reloads for self defense…


Hello and welcome @HELLCAT
As far as SD ammunition I would be concerned about over penetration and not what the name/type of round.
With the possibility of large predators then I would use a round that is proven itself in just that case. For bears 10mm BB/ Underwood or a magnum round .357/44.
In defense of your life use what will stop the threat, choosing a round/type with great expansion without the aftermath of going through a house or car.


Self-defense ammo does count!

What caliber is your EDC?

BUT, since mine is 9mm Hornady is my go to. Its not cheap but its dependable.


@HELLCAT , welcome to the Community.

If you are not resident of New Jersey I wouldn’t think about FMJ as less lethal ammo. I would even encourage you to use Hollow Point Defensive Ammo.
If you want to be within secure ammo bracket, check what your local PD is using. You can also count on FBI Ballistic Test to find the best ammo for you.


Welcome to the forum!

Paul Harrel has a you tube video on exactly this topic. For reasons you stated, he says to avoid the R.I.P. ammunition and I believe he made a point against using what law enforcement uses. It’s been over a year since I watched the video. His suggestion is Winchester white box hollow points or an ammunition marked as self defense or personal protection.

In your situation, I would carry the buffalo bore where animal encounters are likely and then use what Paul says where two legged predators are more likely. Both loads would be 147 grain or close, along with the practice ammunition being 147 grain as well.


Sounds like Chris247 already read this article :wink:

Wonder what sort of statistics NATO ammo generates…124 grain fmj loaded to just about +p. :thinking:


There are two separate topics under continual discussion about what type of ammunition to carry for self defense, The first, addressed in several earlier replies here, is the choice between jacketed (FMJ) or expanding (HP) bullets. The second, mentioned briefly above, is about the public perception of the branding name of the specific commercial product.

The FMJ vs. HP decision is about physics and physiology. You want a SD shot to stop the threat of the person who is attacking you, and at the same time not harm anyone else. Thus, the advice to select expanding bullets to minimize over penetration, that is a shot passing through your target and hitting someone else, a non-threat person, in the background. This includes not wanting the errant bullet to pass through a wall and still be potentially lethal. Looking at the physiology, an expanding bullet is likely to do more damage to the tissue, organs, and bones it impacts than a jacketed bullet will, and thus more likely to stop the threat. These differences are why every advanced self defense instructor I have had clearly advises using expanding bullets for SD carry, unless you are in New Jersey where they are illegal (and where law enforcement officer can and do carry jacketed HP bullets). Oh, and the use of FMJ for training and practice is all about cost. If you can afford to pay a 300% premium to only use HP SD rounds for all practice, go for it. I can find decent 9mm FMJ at $0.40 to $0.60 per round, where quality SD HP is $1.20 to $2.00 per round.

Shifting gears to the branding topic, this is all about the perception of the public, and in particular jurors, should you end up being brought to trial for a SD shoot. A zealous prosecutor (or plaintiff lawyer in a civil lawsuit) will try to use the brand name of your ammunition to convince the jurors you are an evil person who has been out just looking for an opportunity to kill someone. Thus, using R.I.P. or Zombie Killer bullets for EDC will have a very different impact on the non-logical emotional level of jurors than using something like Personal Defense or, as a fallback, the same brand carried by police in that jurisdiction.

I am not aware of any law anywhere that even mentions the issue of reloads for self defense. Rather, knowledgable lawyers and expert witnesses advise against using reloads because there can be no post incident ballistics evidence developed using ammunition accepted as identical to that used in the incident.



So I decided to go look the loads up and even found photos at the bottom. Most impressive!

Thanks for sharing!!

From the detailed description of the Buffalo Bore +P 9mm Outdoorsman:

While this bullet will over-penetrate humans, even 300+ lb humans, wearing heavy winter coats, there is nothing wrong with using it for defense against humans in situations where over-penetration is not a liability………sometimes over-penetration is desirable if we need to shoot through car doors, windshields, stick frame walls, or any other softcover, in stopping a threat.

You might want to re-think using this ammunition for EDC in most urban, suburban, and possibly even rural settings.



Animal attacks are incredibly rare. Aside from packs of domestic dogs which can be a significant problem in some areas. The most dangerous thing you are likely to run into in the forest walks on too legs.

Unless you live in brown bear country (in which case some bear spray backed by a 10mm is the better way to go) or maybe a place like NJ or Tahoe where the black bears get really big and stupid humans feed them so they get more aggressive, I would stick with your 9 with quality self defense bonded HP ammo with either 147 or 124gr bullets. They will be more effective against the two legged predators you are 100X more likely to be attacked by and do pretty well against most of the aggressive 4 legged critters you are likely to run into. I prefer none +p ammo for faster and more accurate followup shots. Hitting a charging attacker (2 or 4 legs) can be a challenge. If you don’t put a bullet in the right place it doesn’t matter what you are using.


On the legal front. An anti self defense prosecutor or civil lawyer will use whatever half truth or made up BS they think they can convince the jury of. If you ever need to defend yourself you will need a good lawyer who can use facts to show why your well reasoned self defense choices made sense for the situation you were in.

I can guarantee that if you use fmj and it passes through your intended target and hits an innocent stranger, or even worse a family member or friend, that the lawyers will use that choice against you.


The short answer is that, so long as it’s legal where you are/go, for typical carry cartridges/calibers (such as 9x19), a name brand major manufacturer’s JHP (jacketed hollow point) marketed for concealed carry/self defense/protection/law enforcement is the standard recommendation

A prosecutor, or the media, can and will use anything against you, no matter what you pick. But, objectively, it seems the JHP is the best choice and adequate representation in court should get that across to the jury .It also gives you the best chance of surviving the first encounter, the one with the imminent deadly threat.

Personally I would not carry a niche company’s hardcast, due to penetration concerns as well as the cost of shooting enough of it to truly verify function for me in my firearm. If you are carrying it on your property where there are bears, me personally, I’d change out to a JHP when not on my own property in bear country (actually, I’d carry something with more oompth than 9mm for bears, or carry bear spray and reach for it first…and I have backpacked in the Rockies where I had to make that bear spray decision personally)

For 9mm concealed carry self protection/defense, or home defense, I would recommend Federal HST or Speer Gold Dot.


Therefore I would use the right tool for the job. The buffalo bore is proven to be adequate for your wildlife threat. The ammunition manufacturer says it’s fine for smaller animals but will over penetrate. But fmj over penetrates too. The outdoorsman ammunition has a wide flat nose profile and is way more effective on living targets than ordinary round nose.



Here is a whitetail buck I harvested with a 147 grain Hornady XTP bullet. The larger hole is the ENTRY side. Bullet impact was behind the shoulder. I believe if I had hit more bone the bullet might not have reached the vital organs. The bullet is probably designed for self defense and is probably correct for that purpose. I think it was marginal for hunting. For what it’s worth, The jacket stopped underneath the skin on the far side and the core made a small exit hole.

Ive read that accuracy and shot placement is number one. Adequate penetration is the second need and expansion is third.

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I actually have a bunch of handguns and rifles. Next to my bed I keep a 45-70 for bears but obviously it’s not ideal for carrying around to feed my cows and chickens. I also have a 44 magnum, that thing is way too heavy. Up until recently I carried a 45 ACP, even that handgun is a beast compared to my new Hellcat 9mm. I decided I wanted a smaller gun with more capacity, something easily concealed from my family and the UPS guy, very rarely would I ever encounter dangerous game but I don’t want to be caught off guard. Up here in the Colorado mountains we have massive black bears and huge mountain lions coming right up to the house. I had a mountain lion jump on one of my cows and claw the heck out of that poor cow, also had bears decimate my chickens and ducks several times where I had to start my flock over with new chicks. The bears come right up to the house and dig in the dumpster. We also have a few wolves strolling through, and packs of wild feral dogs. If the wolf population starts increasing that’s probably the biggest threat.

So I pretty much decided on the 9mm for a light weight high capacity concealable sidearm, I’m using the Hellcat with the 13 round magazine, just ordered the 15 round magazine, and the gun and ammo together is about half the weight of my 1911 with 6 rounds, and about a third of the weight of my 44 mag LOL. My back hurts from carrying around a big gun all day.

I guess my biggest concern is from a legal perspective. Say someone came on my property and I had to defend myself. Not in the city, not in crowds, but on my property. And I’m sitting in court in front of the judge and jury, will they have a problem with Buffalo Bore ammo? I’ve heard that expanding bullets from a 9mm is pretty much useless in a bear attack, they just don’t penetrate enough. It’s not something I would carry up here. I work from home and I’m outside most of the day and I always carry something. Right now I’m using 165 grain subsonic full metal jacket ammo, it’s actually designed for suppressors. I wish I could find it in +P. Price isn’t bad, $28 for 50 rounds. I’m thinking it will give me the most penetration out of a 9 mm. Here’s a link: Ammo Inc Stelth 9mm Luger 165gr TMC Handgun Ammo - 50 Rounds | Sportsman's Warehouse

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This would be another option. One of the reviewers harvested a feral hog with it.


Everyone said it best. I stick with, the right tool for the right job! That being said, I will not carry or use FMJ for self defense unless we start to look like Ukraine, then all bets are off and anything in my arsenal is self defense!


Reading this thread brings to mind ballistic tests at Lucky Gunner; ratings reviews and ballistic tests for a variety of SD rounds.


It does.

For smaller 9mm carry guns in particular, I really like:

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Great post. Appreciate it.

Your’e in the woods with five complete strangers. A bear starts running after you all.

None of you are armed, at all.

What is one important thing you wish you can realistically be able to do?

In this analogy, who’s the bear?

How does this story relate?

if you know these answers, you are far ahead in terms of safety, but then the riddle then beckons again, safety from what?

Finally, why on earth would “I” just beat around the bush here?

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