There is a lot of information and misinformation out there regarding the use of frangible ammunition in different contexts. Can frangible be used for concealed carry and self defense? Can frangible be used for hunting?
This article sets out to discuss these questions, as we met up with a representative of Sinter Fire, maker of frangible bullets in a demo while out at SHOT Show 2020. They helped clear up some of the fog regarding the capabilities of frangible ammunition.
But before we get to the answers of those questions, let’s tackle a different but totally relevant question …
What is frangible ammo?
Frangible ammunition is nothing more than a bullet that is designed to rapidly break apart when it hits something as hard as itself (or harder).
The ammunition is generally lead free and is usually a mixture of different metal powders that are compressed and heated into the shape of a bullet. The Sinter Fire bullets are 90% copper, 10% tin.
Can frangible ammo be used for self-defense?
The short answer is yes, frangible ammo can be used for self-defense. As seen in the below video from Sinter Fire, their ammunition meets the FBI requirements for penetration, which can also be seen in the above picture.
It should be said that the only ammunition that should be used for self-defense are hollow points, as round or flat nose ammo can pass through and hit another, unintended target a lot easier.
Frangible hollow points, on the other hand, do break apart when they hit a human body (called fragmenting), and are designed to do so. Because the bullet fragments, it actually creates several different wound channels in the body proving to be at least somewhat effective for self-defense applications.
So, yes, frangible ammunition can be used for concealed carry and other self-defense applications with confidence.
Frangible Ammo Ballistics Gel
Here is a screenshot from the above video showing the ballistics gelatin results from a hollow point frangible bullet fired at close range:
It was actually shot two different times, one from each end, but if you look closely you can see multiple wound channels as the bullet breaks apart. Then, it continues traveling for a bit longer, continuing to do some internal damage.
Can frangible ammo be used for hunting?
The answer to this question is not as easy to answer as some of the others given in this post. Yes, frangible ammo can and should be used for certain kinds of hunting, but not likely for all types of game animals.
Varmint hunting, and those animals that you’re not going to eat are fine to hunt with frangible ammo. And, I have a friend who has shot multiple venomous snakes with frangible ammo with great success at keeping her and her animals safe.
But animals you intend to eat are a different scenario, altogether.
The problem I have with this, is the bullet turning into powder when it hits something hard. If it hits bone and it breaks apart into the metal powder, I can’t imagine that being healthy to eat and is a lot harder to remove than a regular bullet that’ll usually stay together.
Another potential issue when used on a bigger game animal is that there might not be an exit wound. If your shot placement was less than ideal and the animal didn’t go down immediately you’ll have less of a blood trail to follow.
Can frangible ammo be used on steel targets?
The short answer is that shooting frangible ammunition at steel targets within close range is very doable, as you can see in the below video. Because these bullets are designed in such a way that they break apart when they hit something hard, they’re reduced to dust when they impact steel.
I was standing inches away from the steel target as the presenter fired rounds from his AR-15, and I was only pelted by dust fragments that I barely felt. Of course, I’d not want to breathe it in for long periods of time, but neither would I want to breathe in lead.
Are there any disadvantages of frangible ammo?
As stated above, the main drawback is when hunting there is no exit wound, which doesn’t allow the animal to spill blood.
I actually use frangible ammo in my home defense guns because I don’t want to penetrate through a wall hitting a child, my wife, dog, or even my lousy cat.
Frangible ammunition has a lot of misinformation floating around the interwebs about it. The truth is, it is a capable ammo that excels at what it was designed to do.
Frangible ammo can be used for both self-defense and hunting certain types of game animals, and is in all of my dedicated home defense guns for decreased over penetration purposes. You can find Frangible Ammo For Sale at that link (Lucky Gunner).