At the event today, among changes discussed was policy that now opens up the competition to rounds other than ball (full metal jacket) ammunition. [emphasis mine]
A representative from the Army Judge Advocate General’s Office discussed the decision in detail during the event.
Richard Jackson, Special Assistant to the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General for Law of War, told attendees that federal, state, local and military law enforcement elements routinely use expanding and fragmenting ammunition in their handguns due to the increased capability it provides against threats.
“Expanding the XM-17 Modular Handgun competition to include special purpose ammunition will provide the Warfighter with a more accurate and lethal handgun,” he said.
“Other types of ammunition allow the XM-17 Modular Handgun System to be optimized by vendors, providing a more capable system to Warfighters across the spectrum of shooter experience and skill level.”
It may finally be time for the military to adopt the more effective handgun ammunition that has been in use with law enforcement for years. JHPs are a particularly useful technology when coupled with handgun ammunition, as handguns typically fire projectiles at velocities too low to exploit other mechanisms for improving terminal effectiveness, and even in FMJ form do not have meaningful armor penetration capability. Therefore, expansion not only does not meaningfully reduce the armor penetration ability of handgun ammunition (as it would rifle ammunition) – which is nil to begin with – but also is virtually the only way to seriously improve handgun terminal effectiveness against unarmored targets without dramatic increases in cartridge size, weight, and recoil.