To many shooters, the most important aspect of shooting is
the gun itself, and rightfully so. With today’s enhanced technology, guns have
ever increasing features that make them more reliable, safer to shoot, and
extremely accurate. However, it begs the question; which is more important, the
gun or the cartridge.
If you think about it, without a round in the chamber, all
you are left with is an expensive paper weight. At best, you would be able to
smash it against an assailant’s head, but that would be the extent of it’s use.
With the cartridge, on the other hand, the gun is able to fulfil it’s intended
purpose. Yet, another question arises; what would the cartridge be without the
When it gets down to the brass tax, the most integral part
of any shooting set up, whether it be rifle or pistol, is the bullet. Today, we
are going to take a beginner’s look at bullets and get an understanding of why
they are so important.
Just as there are as many different types of guns, bullets
come in various shapes, sizes, and construction. However, there are essentially
three different types of bullets, along with any number of variations of these
three; frangible, non-expanding, and expanding.
This is the type of bullet that breaks apart upon impact
with the target. This type of bullet is rare in self-defense rounds as it
provides very little penetration, yet is safe in semi-populated areas due to
its small risk of ricochet. This is a popular bullet type used in
small-hunting. Because of its short penetration, it doesn’t pass straight
through the smaller animals, offering a more human kill.
Often referred to as full metal jacket, the non-expanding
bullets retain their shape as they penetrate their target. These, too, are
unpopular in self-defense scenarios, but for a different reason than the
frangible bullets. While frangible offer little penetration, non-expanding
bullets offer too much. This type of bullet, because of it keeping its conical
shape the entire time through the target, provided little damage to the soft
In fact, this type of bullet is illegal to use while hunting
in North America, since it will pass through most North American Wildlife.
African hunters, however, prefer this bullet type when hunting some of the
largest animals in the world due to it’s ability to pass through the tough
Expanding bullets are the most popular used in most any
shooting situations because of their ability to execute extreme damage in a
rather short distance, increasing the chances of one-shot, one-kill, a hunter’s
goal. The design of expanding bullets is in such a way that allows it to
mushroom after it first penetrates the target, doubling the surface area of the
bullet, in turn doubling the amount of damage.
Also, some expanding bullets are designed in such a way that
causes them to break apart upon impact, causing bullet shards to fly into the
target, causing multiple areas of damage. Because of this, they are the most
popular round used in hunting and self-defense scenarios.
As mentioned before, these three bullet types are only a
general description, as the variations within these types are only limited by
the designer’s imagination. When you add together the different shapes, sizes,
and materials used to create these bullets, the variations are limitless.
Remember, though, the bullet choice is the most important one you will make in
your shooting career.