FMJ ammo is cheap, compared to a high-performance self-defense round, like Federal HST.
FMJ is therefore great for high-volume target practice, and even for training. You can shoot through a lot of it and hardly feel the cost.
But you wouldn’t want to carry an FMJ round for defensive applications. It will over-penetrate and it will not deliver adequate stopping power when compared to hollow-point ammo.
Worst of all, it may not even behave in the same way. Here’s why, if you carry a premium defensive ammo, you should train with it at the range and not cut corners with FMJ alternatives.
Some defensive rounds, like Federal HST, are loaded with bullets that have sharply hollowed noses and deeply skived jackets.
These jacketed hollow point rounds incur maximum disruption, consistent expansion, and energy transfer on contact with a soft target, which is ideal for self-defense.
It is not ideal for feeding and chambering. In fact, hollow points are notorious for jamming on steep feed ramps and worse, hanging up on chamber edges.
Depending on the design of a bullet, a hollow point can even get hung up on the edge of a magazine or on the front corner of the feed lips.
FMJ bullets, with their smooth, round noses, rarely do. But then again, you won’t be dropping the hammer on an FMJ round when the moment matters, will you?
So you need to train with the ammo you intend to use, if for no other reason than that you need to know how it is going to feed and chamber in your gun.
And, if there are any sharp edges that need to be filed down so the gun feeds your defensive ammo smoothly, you’ll want to be learning about them at the range, not somewhere else.
Cycling is another potential issue but one that has to do with bullet weight and propellant charge rather than bullet design.
Many handguns are recoil-operated. Some are gas-operated blowback handguns. In either case, cycling comes down to how “hot” a round is.
Some ammo doesn’t cycle nicely in certain handguns, especially when the gun is new. Actions need to limber up before most guns will feed smoothly (mags do, too).
Either way, you need to know whether or not your defensive ammo is going to cycle smoothly in your handgun if you intend to use that ammo defensively.
You don’t want to be dealing with a stovepipe jam on the street. Maybe your gun just needs a lighter recoil spring; either way, you’ll want to troubleshoot that at the range.
Last, but of equal importance, are performance and accuracy. Some rounds just behave differently from others.
Your Federal HST might not group the same way as your Remington FMJ. Moreover, the same ammo can behave differently in different guns, given action operation, barrel length, rate of twist, and other factors.
Train with your defensive ammo at the range so you know how it groups and can adjust your sights accordingly. A small aberration can be a big one, figuratively speaking, in a true defensive situation.
Get Your Federal HST Online
Looking for good prices on defensive ammo, like Federal HST? If your local shop is out, worry not, you may be able to get it online at Bucking Horse Outpost.
They carry a wide range of defensive handgun ammo including but not limited to Federal Hi-Shok and HST, Speer Gold Dot, Ammo Inc. Signature, and several others.
Visit their website and make sure to check out their collections of bulk deals and weekly specials before you buy.