January 30, 2023

You can use the same firearm you use at a shooting range in real-life self-defense scenarios. But when it comes to ammunition, you need to load your gun with the appropriate type for the situation. Read about the differences between defensive and practice ammo to find out why.

Shape: Hollow Point vs. Round Nose

If you carefully look at defensive and practice ammunition, you’ll see that the bullets have different tips. Defensive ammo is generally jacketed hollow point (JHP), with a hole or indentation at the tip of the bullet. The second main defensive round design has a fluted tip, which features grooves and ridges.

Manufacturers typically make practice ammo with a rounded nose. Since this practice ammo has a smooth, rounded shape, it’s sometimes called ball ammunition. Practice ammo is also called full metal jacket (FMJ) ammunition because the bullet’s soft core is fully encased in an outer shell, or jacket, of harder metal.

Bullet Expansion and Penetration

The difference in the designs of defensive and practice ammo significantly affects how they perform, which is why they’re suited for different situations. The engineering of jacketed hollow point ammo makes it expand when it hits a target. The expanded bullet’s diameter creates a wider wound channel, making defensive bullets more effective at stopping a target than practice ammo.

In contrast, practice ammo’s round shape helps keep these bullets intact. Practice ammunition won’t create the same wide wound channel as defensive ammo of the same caliber. But since the bullet maintains its sleek shape, it will travel further.

When defending yourself or others, you want your bullet to stop the target, and you don’t want to hit unintended targets, such as bystanders. A practice bullet carries a lower chance of adequately damaging the intended target and a higher chance of hitting an unintended target.


Finally, the engineering and purpose of defensive versus practice ammunition put these two bullets at different price points. Defensive ammo requires more machining to create a precise bullet, and this cost gets passed down to you. Full metal jacket bullets cost significantly less, which is great since you’ll want to use these bullets for target practice.

When it’s time to pack up your firearm and ammo, put your carry items in a covert gun case from Elite Survival Systems. Our selection includes backpacks, rolling bags, messenger bags, and cases you can carry by hand or on your shoulder. Shop with us to find your ideal discreet carry case today.

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