Why Selecting Ammunition Fearing Overpenetration is Overblown – Personal Opinion

    Quite a few times across the highly opinionated and learned internet sphere, there exists opinions that are often stated as facts. One of the foremost is that bullet selection for self-defense be primarily based on two things: the ability to penetrate enough, and the avoidance of over-penetration. I, for one, wholly disagree with the latter as a motivating factor.

    1. The primary reason one is likely to hit an unintended target is not due to a bullet passing through a target, but far more likely due to a miss. Police, even with a modicum of training, have hit ratios well below 20%. The NYPD is a great example of hitting the wrong targets.
    2. When looking to hard barriers for overpenetration, the difference between ball ammunition and hollow-points through mediums like drywall is negligible. While some may tout that the ball may pass through 2 drywall sections less, its still common for the bullet to pass through the equivalent of a whole house and then some. To me, this is like argying if its worse to be hit by an F-150 or an F-250.
    3. The likelihood of a round actually hitting the intended target and then passing through and then hitting an unintended target with sufficient force to cause major damage is very, very low. I don’t care what the movies show with multiple in-line head-shots. The chances of it are so far remote, when combined with the chances of getting into a gunfight to begin with, even an actuarial will ignore it.
    4. I for one, want two holes in my target. The primary fight-stopping mechanism with a handgun is exsanguination. More holes = more bleeding.


    I should note that this is not an argument against hollow-point ammunition, as it’s in my carry firearms. The expanding round has the potential to cause more wounding damage by hitting more issue, but I am not worried about the results from a gel block test.

    The Yankee Marshall and I seem to agree on this. If my explanation above is not enough, perhaps he may sway your opinion. If it does not sway you, he is at least entertaining:


    What say you?

    Nathan S

    One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

    The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.