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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 bullet.

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.

Bullets Bullet Types

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.


Frangible

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.

Non-Expanding

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 tissue.

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 hide.

Expanding Bullets

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.