In a significant doctrinal shift, the U.S. military is relegating full metal jacketed (FMJ) pistol bullets to a training role, and will be adopting modern hollowpoint designs similar to those used by most domestic law enforcement agencies and citizens who carry handguns for self-defense.
The stunning announcement was made at the U.S Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey yesterday during the military’s two-day “industry day” for the Modular Handgun System (MHS), which will conclude today.
A military lawyer who made a presentation during the Industry Day noted that the United States is not a signatory to the Hague Conventions which outlawed the use of “dum-dum” and expanding bullets more than a century ago. It is the military’s position that the shift to jacketed hollowpoint (JHP) ammunition, which more efficiently transfers energy to the target and which presents much less of a risk of over-penetration, is more humane and less of a risk to innocent civilians downrange in modern combat where there are often no clear front lines.
For all the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over the choice between the .45 and the 9mm pistol, the real issue has always been that both were constrained to a full metal jacket bullet that would in either case always have less than stellar performance.
Modern hollow point 9mm ammunition is more effective than the 100 year old FMJ .45 230 grain ball ammo.
Should the US Army look at switching to hollow point for its rifle ammunition? It depends. The terminal effects of a 5.56mm in hollow point would be pretty impressive, as a lot of coyote hunters can tell you. But the round in current use is also designed to be able to penetrate most soft body armor, which our adversaries are increasingly equipped with. And a hollow point round would not be very effective against such armor.