The Fundamentals of Ammunition

Any hobbyist knows that the details can be the most rewarding part of a favorite activity. The fisherman that ties his own lures, for instance, can spend hundreds of hours perfecting just the right combination of elements to catch a particular fish. Firearms are no different. Things like the details of ammunition varieties can be captivating, and they can certainly be the object of many hours of study and consideration. But, just as not every fisherman has to tie their own lures, a topic like ammunition doesn’t have to be complicated. You can easily enjoy hours on the range and still protect yourself effectively if you just take a little time to learn the basics.


 Most ammunition falls into two categories: Target and Defense. You’ll need some of each to maintain your proficiency and your protection. Target ammunition is intended for use on the range while practicing. That means you’ll be using it regularly. It’s important to gain and maintain a familiarity with your firearm so that, in an active defense situation, you’re able to rely on muscle memory to guide your action. Target practice means firing a lot—so affordability is a factor.


The most common type of target ammunition is called FMJ, or Full Metal Jacket. It’s less expensive than defense ammunition, but it’s also best kept to the range. The reason is that it tends to over penetrate—to go right through your target and into whatever is beyond it. On a Shoot Point Blank range, that’s no problem; our climate-controlled ranges are designed for that purpose specifically. That means you can practice with confidence, and cheaper ammunition.


Live defense actions ought to be much rarer, so cost is no longer the highest priority. A common type of defense ammunition is JHP—Jacketed Hollow Point. As the name implies, JHP ammunition is hollow in the center. That causes the bullet to expand when it hits, causing more damage to the target and less damage to anything that isn’t the target. It costs more than typical target ammunition—but you’re using it much less by comparison. You should, however, fire a few rounds of your defense ammo on the range to make sure it cycles through your firearm properly. Some firearms work better with particular brands of ammo, so you need to test your defense ammunition to make sure you’re using the right combination. But use the less expensive ammo to practice your aim.


Now you know the fundamentals about the two kinds of ammunition every shooter needs to maintain both their skills and their safety. If you’d like to know more consider one of our advanced courses, or talk to a Shoot Point Blank Associate. One of our Range Safety Officers is always available while you’re shooting too. They can help make sure you’re using the right ammunition for your firearm and your goals.


See you on the range!

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