Everything You Need to Know About Bullets

Maybe you’re new to all this ammo stuff and you’re just trying to learn the ropes, or you’re just in need of a refresher course. Whatever the case may be, we’re going to be learning about different ammunition rounds. Rather than talk about different calibers, we’re just going to be discussing bullet heads, so don’t expect us to go in depth about bulk 9mm ammo. We’ll be covering the most popular rounds available on the market, what makes them different from other rounds, and when to use them.

If you have any questions regarding different types of ammunition, be sure to visit your local ammunition dealer for more information.

Ammunition Anatomy

Let’s start off by talking about the main structure of a bullet itself. A singular round of ammunition is often referred to as a bullet. This is actually a mistake; in reality, the bullet itself only makes up the topmost part of an ammunition cartridge. The cartridge also consists of the casing, which holds all the parts together, and the gunpowder, which fills the chamber of the casing underneath the bullet. The primer is located at the base of the cartridge, which when hit with the gun’s hammer, will ignite the gunpowder, firing the bullet. Below is a graphic which shows the structure of the entire cartridge in more detail.

Although it’s important to familiarize yourself with the entire structure of a round of ammunition, we’re going to be focusing on different types of bullets and when you should use them.

Bullet Anatomy

Cast Bullets

Quick history lesson, before bullets, guns fired little round stones and eventually iron pellets. It wasn’t until about the 14th century that hand cannons started firing lead pellets. Lead was more expensive than iron, but it had some unique advantages that iron didn’t. Lead could be melted down over a simple cooking fire whereas iron required extremely high temperatures to mold and forge. Because of this, during the civil war, it was actually pretty common for soldiers to take the fired lead bullets of enemies, melt them down, and create crude lead knuckles for close quarters combat. 

Lead bullets were also heavier than iron which gave it greater momentum than it’s iron counterparts. To this day, most bullets are still made from lead. 

Full Metal Jacket Rounds

Full metal jackets are probably the most infamous of the bullets as it’s the one most commonly seen and used. Full metal jackets or FMJ’s for short, get their name because of the copper jacket surrounding their lead body. Now you guys may be asking yourselves, why not just fire the cast bullets themselves? Why add an extra step? Well, as we mentioned before, lead has a relatively low melting point which makes it easy to cast, but prone to melting under intense pressure or heat; both of which a gun produces when it’s fired. Copper is another metal that’s easy to mold and form, but has a higher melting temperature than lead, so it won’t melt under the pressure of gunfire. With this lethal combination, the bullet retains its shape while also maintaining its weight and momentum.

At Gun Clips & Mags, we may not carry the ammunition, but we carry the carriers! We stock multiple different types of magazines in multiple varieties. You can find options for full metal jackets in any round variety including the popular 9mm round or 45 cal round. You can check them out by shopping on our site.

Soft Point Bullets

This next category is actually not one singular type of bullet, but actually a whole family of bullet types. We’re going to be discussing the basics of what a soft point bullet is and then go into more detail as we discuss the different types of bullets that make up this category.

Soft Point vs Full Metal Bullets

In short, a soft point bullet is any round of ammunition that exposes a bit of the interior lead at its tip. Why expose some of the lead you may ask? Well, when you compare a full metal jacket round that has been fired to a soft point bullet the difference is made very clear. Remember that lead melts. This means that when soft point rounds are fired, the lead tips expand to reveal more surface area.

Notice how in the photo, the soft tipped bullets expanded when they were fired, while the full metal rounds remained mostly intact. Because most bullets are made in a conical shape, this means full metal jacket rounds will pierce deeper into the target, while soft point bullets will expand, preventing the round from penetrating deeper into the target. For this reason, soft point rounds are a popular choice for hunting, self-defense, or target practice. Most of the time these bullets are loaded either into a handgun or a rifle magazine. Now let’s talk about the most popular soft point options.

Jacketed Soft Point Rounds

As the name implies, jacketed soft point rounds, or JSPs, are rounds with partial jacket coverings. Think of them as the bullets who bought sweaters instead of hoodies. The tips of these rounds expose the lead, like any soft point, and will expand on impact with its target. Popular uses for jacketed soft points are for self defense and target practice, but they also offer a unique advantage to small game hunters.

The goal for any hunter is to be able to pierce thick animal hide and muscle while also creating enough damage to vital organs for the animal to fall dead. For big game, jacketed soft points probably aren’t the way to go; the expansion caused by the melted lead would only go so deep into a moose or bison’s hide. Even boar have strong layers of muscle that might be difficult for a JSP to penetrate. However, jacketed soft points are a great choice of ammunition for large rodents, wolves, and coyotes. Jacketed soft points are strong enough to penetrate the thin layer of skin found on these animals, while also expanding enough to do plenty of damage to vital organs. For this reason, many small game hunters choose JSPs for their choice of ammunition.

Wadcutter Rounds

Wadcutters are a special kind of soft point round as they don’t actually come to a point. Most ammunition rounds have rounded or pointed tips, meanwhile the wadcutter round breaks the beauty standards of what a bullet should look like by having a blunt end. Sometimes wadcutters might have a groove or guttered end while other times it’s just a completely flat tip. This means that upon being fired, the wadcutter round will expand significantly wider than a typical soft point. This creates an impact on more surface area and prevents extreme penetration of its target.

These rounds are most popular with homeowners using their guns for self-defense or people who frequent gun ranges. Considering these rounds are flat-faced, they’re surprisingly accurate at close range. They also leave circular cuts in paper targets instead of torn holes like FMJs. And because of their front expansion, this type of round is sure to incapacitate any home invader without being extremely lethal.

Hollow Point Bullets

Hollow points are, you guessed it, rounds that have hollow points or concave tips. They can have a tip shaped like a bowl or they can have grooved edges that come to a point, almost like a negative of a pyramid. Because of the shapes of these rounds, the air pressure pushing against the concave shape of the tip makes them expand more than any other soft point round. This also makes the bullets highly inaccurate, so next time you wanna have a target competition with a friend be sure to load these rounds into their pistol.

These bullets are extremely popular in self defense for the same reason that wadcutters are popular, they expand upon impact. This means that the target is hit but the round won’t penetrate as deeply. There aren’t many other uses for hollow points outside of self defense because of their shape; after just a few yards the bullets are extremely inaccurate. So definitely use them to win a bet.

No matter what kind of ammunition you plan on using for hunting, target practice, self-defense, or anything else, be sure to put your rounds in a Gun Clips and Mags magazine. We have everything from pistol magazines for self defense, all the way to AK-47 drums and other heavy duty rifle magazines. Whatever kind of weapon you’re carrying, let us provide you with top quality magazines at some unbeatable prices.