Bullet Types: What They’re Useful For - Pediamate

Bullet Types: What They’re Useful For

Just bought your first gun? Good. Here’s something you need to know.

That gun can shoot multiple types of bullets.

No, not cartridges. If your handgun is chambered in 9mm Luger, that is the only cartridge you should ever try to fire from it.

Bullet and cartridge are not the same thing, although this is not immediately apparent to some shooters that are not very familiar with firearm mechanics.

The cartridge is the entire, self-contained “device” that the firearm’s action accepts, consisting of a case, propellant charge, primer, and the bullet, which is the actual projectile it fires.

One 9mm Luger cartridge can be loaded with all different sorts of bullets, including full metal jacket, total metal jacket, total synthetic jacket, hollow point, wadcutter, and a few others. Some 9mm Luger loads are even loaded with shot for pest control.

But the majority of you reading this don’t need to know about niche bullets and loads, just the basics, so here they are, and what they’re good for.

  • Full-Metal Jacket 9mm (FMJ)

Full metal jacket ammunition consists of a bullet core, usually lead, which is completely encased in a jacket of harder metal, usually copper.

This harder jacket surrounding the softer, denser lead core helps prevent bullet deformation on contact with a target, ensuring excellent penetration.

  • What is it good for?

Full-metal jacket 9mm rounds are your “everyman’s round” and are best for target shooting as they are relatively affordable. They’re also practical in other scenarios in which maximum penetration is required.

  • Hollow Point (HP)

Hollow point bullets have a hollow depression in the nose of the bullet. This ensures metered expansion of the bullet when it strikes a target, ensuring effective energy transfer. It also helps prevent overpenetration.

  • What is it good for?

Hollow-point bullets are best for personal-defense and hunting because they create a larger wound channel, are better at transferring energy, and present the smallest risk of overpenetration.

  • Wadcutter (AKA Flat Nose, or FN)


Wadcutter bullets, like full-metal jacket 9mm rounds, are usually jacketed with copper. However, wadcutters have a flat nose (hence the other name) that punches a round, clean hole in paper targets.

  • What is it good for?

Because they leave clean holes in targets, wadcutters are great for competition in which precise scoring is necessary.

Other Things to Consider

In addition to the bullet type, there are a few other things you’ll want to consider when shopping for 9mm Luger rounds.

  • Bullet Weight

Bullet weight is another thing to take into consideration as heavier bullets carry ballistic energy more efficiently over greater ranges. On the flipside, lighter bullets are generally better for high-volume target shooting because they are usually associated with controlled recoil.

  • Muzzle Energy

If you are recoil-sensitive, always compare muzzle energy. This is usually disclosed in the ammo product listing right next to muzzle velocity. More muzzle energy = greater recoil, so keep that in mind.

  • Casing Type

Most 9mm ammo is loaded in brass casings, but some are loaded into steel or aluminum, which cannot be reloaded, so be aware of that if you intend to get into reloading.

  • Primer Type

Many 9mm loads are made with non-corrosive primers, but always check for this, as cleaner primers will make it easier to maintain your gun.

Can You Buy Ammo Online?

If your local shop is short on your favorite 9mm rounds, look online instead. Check out Bucking Horse Outpost at BuckingHorseOutpost.com; they’re highly rated and sell a wide range of popular calibers, including 9mm in addition to 10mm Auto, .45 ACP, .22LR, .40 S&W, .380 Auto, and countless others – plus they offer great prices.

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