I'm on a small private firearms forum and started a thread a few weeks back on this topic to see what sort of discussion would result. So far it's run to four pages and we have fewer than 50 members. The discussion has been fantastic. With their permission I may have to steal snatches of their comments to plug in here later.
The center of this original post was cut-'n-pasted from a post I made earlier so if a portion of this looks like a retread then that's why.
Y'all are welcome to shoot all the holes in this original post that you like and substitute your own views. We've been having a discussion of a Hornady YouTube clip over the past few days and this is intended to supplement that thread, being a more general discussion of the topic rather than brand specific. Bullet expansion...how do you feel about it?
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Both self-defense and hunting applications.
Perhaps the learned members of this august board would be willing to share their honest thoughts about all things pertaining to bullet performance and expansion along with any other aspects of terminal ballistics that come to mind.
The handgun caliber wars represent an endless debate in self-defense Forumland. Expansion is frequently touted as the great equalizer, especially as it relates to 9mm versus anything else. Much agonizing concern is spent over snub .38 Special revolvers, worrying over inadequate expansion and what's best to feed the little devils. And, can the 230 grain FMJ round nose .45 ACP bullet really be effective without a hint of expansion?
Hairs are split, first over caliber, then over the relative performance of various brands, weights and styles of expanding bullets currently marketed. Then the split ends of these hairs are further split over insignificant differences perceived, undeniably causing confusion to reign supreme.
Much importance is placed on the various tests favored, which are linked to forum posts without end, as validation of positions taken over the "best" choice or perhaps the best compromise in bullet selection for self-defense. Various experts' names are bandied about along with the holy FBI studies. Blue jean wrapped "jello" is giving its all and to what end? There's yet to be a single instance reported by any news agency of an assault perpetrated by jello wrapped in the required four layers of denim material.
Super Vel's jacketed hollow point ammunition and Speer's 200 grain .45 ACP jacketed hollow point, nicknamed "the Flying Ashtray," were the first "specialty" bullets marketed to have enhanced stopping effectiveness that I can recall. The evil Winchester "Black Talon" along with everything else that followed has since descended on us and we can't get enough of it.
Expansion? Great! What if it is too slow or too soon?
Expansion is a means not an end in itself.
Too much is made of expansion. It looms larger in our minds than it does in the wound channel.
The Cut-'N-Paste Section
"The market is saturated with a dizzying array of boutique ammunition, all loaded with "trick" bullets designed to capture the imaginations of buyers more than anything else. We have "Gold Dots." Are those like credit card banks' gold cards? When will they be trumped by "platinum dots?" Will bad guys no longer fall to gold dots when the platinum dots hit the streets? It's certain that lowly Silvertips are so "yesterday's news" that they'll just bounce off. Except for vampires, perhaps. And ancient Winchester "Black Talon" got it's nails clipped 20 years ago.
What about Zombie Max. Will they fail on werewolves, mummies, goblins? Maybe generic Monster Max would be better. Skinny 19-year-old punks? Meth heads? Perhaps some punk max or meth-head max bullets are in order. Hornady's reduced to placing warnings on their ammo boxes: "Warning: This is Live Ammunition. This is not a toy." How embarrassing is that to have to address the immature nitwits who make up Hornady's market in such a way?
Critical defense? Is that opposed to "non-critical defense?" Critical Duty, as opposed to non-critical duty?
Remington Golden Saber Bonded? As opposed to " Stainless Vegetable Peeler Bonded"?
Federal goes for the alphabet soup method of naming their ammo, "HST." Winchester has their "PDX." Hornady has "TAP FPD."
Pow'Rball? Is that Corbon ammunition or trout bait?
Extreme Shock? A reference to the ammo's performance or the price tag?
It's completely ridiculous , that's what it is!
Just sayin'... "
How Important is bullet expansion to you?
Does expansion define the relative effectiveness of a handgun's projectile in your mind?
Could reliance on bullet expansion promote a false sense of security for the person concerned with handgun self-defense?
Could scant regard for bullet expansion ill-serve someone compelled to use a handgun for self-defense?
Are our concerns being played to a great extent by the marketing hype surrounding the ammunition promoted for self-defense?
Have large strides been made over the past 25-30 years in bullet performance technology to the benefit of the savvy consumer?
Many modern hunters buy into the notion that modern premium bullets sold for high-powered hunting rifles are worth the sometimes greatly increased cost in order that a performance edge may be gained. It's not certain that riflemen embrace the premium bullets to the extent that the pistoleros do. It's apparent that a number of hunters purchase so called "premium" ammunition or handload expensive bullets that are said to add measurable effectiveness for taking of big game. After all, only the best will do for that "hunt of a lifetime." Which "best" is best? Best bullet or best shot placement?
The Nosler Partition was the first "specialty" hunting bullet I can remember and my hunting/handloading uncle played with them some. I think Barnes was producing bullets back then. By the late 1970s Speer jumped on the bandwagon with its Grand Slam line and then specialty bullet makers began springing up like weeds. Since then we've seen bullet manufacturers large and small introduce a number of premium bullet products and boutique loadings.
Is the big game falling any faster to good hits with these new bullet offerings than it was falling to the old tried and true?
Perhaps a greater philosophical question should be asked. Do we have too many choices for the amount of real substance provided? Do we really need such a comprehensive selection? Has bullet placement been relegated to secondary importance in our minds if we're grasping for ever more high-tech projectile products? Is this a generational thing?
What about a compilation of documented effective stops that disregards or avoids completely any notation of caliber or bullet style but only critically studies the relative effectiveness of accurate shot placement versus any combination of hits in the periphery? Which is more important, fancy bullets and/or sizable bullets or placing the bullet? Which receives the most emphasis in discussion?
Or, is this really a rant and I'm I just getting too old and crotchety?
Just like the myriad channels available for our TVs or the huge array of selections that greet us on the cereal aisles of our super markets, perhaps the sheer numbers of bullet/ammunition choices really is of little true value to us.
By we Americans like to have our choices. Must ... have ... choices...