Will the U.S. Army Make the Switch to Hollow Point Ammunition?

By Dave Dolbee published on in News

It is still early and unofficial as far as the Shooter’s Log has been able to confirm, but it looks like the U.S Army is set to make a huge change with some pretty serious implications when it adopts hollow point ammunition. This is not completely unexpected or unheard of. Certain military police units have previously been reported as carrying hollow point ammunition as well as some use by snipers. Special operations units in Afghanistan have also reportedly used hollow point ammunition in the past, but the military make it the new combat cartridge?

According to ATK, “the HST hollow point effectively passes through a variety of barriers and holds its jacket in the toughest conditions. HST is engineered for 100-percent weight retention, limits collateral damage, and avoids over-penetration.”

According to ATK, “the HST hollow point effectively passes through a variety of barriers and holds its jacket in the toughest conditions. HST is engineered for 100-percent weight retention, limits collateral damage, and avoids over-penetration.”

The announcement came without warning during the U.S. Army’s Industry Day. Industry Day was held at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey with the intention of advancing the Army’s search for a replacement of the M9 with a new Modular Handgun System (MHS). During an Industry Day presentation, a military lawyer pointed out that the United States was not a signatory to Hague Conventions that outlawed “dum-dum” ammunition.

Expanding bullets were given the name dum-dum, or dumdum, after an early British example produced in the Dum Dum Arsenal, near Calcutta, India by Captain Neville Bertie-Clay. There were several expanding bullets produced by this arsenal for the .303 British cartridge, including soft point and hollow point designs.

Hollow point ammunition offers multiple advantages to the military. Jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammunition offers more energy transference, increasing knockdown power. As the JHP opens and transfers its energy, it also slows and decreases penetration. There is little evidence to deny the fact that modern combat operations are increasingly conducted in urban environments populated with noncombatant civilians. Reducing the chance of causing an over-penetration injury to a noncombatant would be a significant plus for the Army.

As a cost saving measure, the Army would still use full metal jacket (FMJ) ball ammunition for training and reserve the JHP ammunition for deployed units. This would bring the Army (and potentially other branches of the military) closer to being inline with state and federal law enforcement agencies. However, it serves a greater purpose as well. The specifications for the new MHS do not have an upper or lower caliber limit. However, there is a requirement that the new cartridge must outperform the M882 NATO 9mm 124-grain FMJ ammunition by at least 10%.

The top three contenders would have to be 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. The MHS contract stipulates the 10% additional performance over the M882, which would lend an advantage to the .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Of course, after significant testing, the FBI recently abandoned the .40 S&W in favor of the 9mm. With the new option of using hollow point ammunition, it looks as though the 9mm may be the favorite, but the .45 ACP has a rich history. However, the Army just announced significant troop reductions and the separation of thousands of civilians to meet new budget constraints. I cannot see how the Army could justify the extra cost associated with the .45 ACP compared to the 9mm given the financial constraints caused by sequestration.

Which caliber do you think the new modular handgun system will be chamber for? Which caliber and self-defense round do you carry and why? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

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Comments (255)

  • Tom McMurray

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    Times have changed. With the type of gear that soldiers wear today and will wear in the future, I’m not sure hollow points will be the way to go. Bulletproof vests are easier penetrated by FMJ, specifically 9mm. If they are wearing ceramic plates, they won’t even penetrate. The purpose of FMJ is that firing into a group of soldiers not wearing vests is that it will penetrate and possibly exit and get the person standing behind. This creates 2 injuries, causing a tie up for people trying to remove and save them, and remove to a medevac. In law enforcement, the purpose is to incapacitate immediately with the round not overpenetrating to hit an innocent bystander. This is what each round is intended to do. The Coast Guard carries both. Their purpose is.both military and civilian, the only branch with such a purpose. They use FMJ when doing out side of US waters on foreign national shipping or overseas. When doing smallboat boardings or law enforcement duties inside US ports they use hollowpoints. It prevents rounds from overpenetrating and riccocheting in the And in the smaller spaces of a small boat. And they switched over to .40 cal. So each has a science and a purpose.

    Reply

  • Hide Behind

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    How many infantrymen in WWI and WWII packed a 45 1911, you would think by comments here they were issued to every grunt no matter the service, but truth was they were mainly issued to REMF’s, officers and senior NCO’s .TANK GUNNYS HAD THEM AND VERY FEW PILOTS IN WWI.
    I wasn’t at Bragg when some ealy test done but a lifer friends was,when 9mm versus 45, reason being Nato 9 was far hotter than US and the euros had armor piercing clear back in WWI. This was about 10 years before new SS ballistic nylon SS Panzer infantry Helmets issued to US.
    The 45 would not penetrate steel pots but 9mm would, Israelis were first to note and it was their kevlar and various steel pots used for targets.
    45 did not penetrate any except some WWI Frech pots.
    This was with standard 9mm nato that penetrated all but Israeli’s test
    kevlar or ballistic nylon..
    flunky watching and replacing pots on stakes but some of that 9 armo steel core and jacket almost destroyed an officers pristine 1915 Lugar and late war Walther and passed through both sides of helmets
    Netherlands always ahead as to armor piercin rounds, still are.
    There were other weapons of many nations but all Ihe said he did was”
    Good Shooting Sir” , even when he feard for people way beyond the berms, sweat and make sure they had ashtrays and cold water.
    I do not believe this was official military test but more Green Berets special weapons boys doing demos for brass..
    This goes go to show military was many years of looking before deciding
    on 9.

    Reply

  • Dennis Klinglesmith

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    1. Isn’t there an article in the Geneva Convention against the use of hollow point bullets?
    2. Why doesn’t the Gov’t switch back to the well known man stopping .45 ACP and put an end to the hoop-la?

    Reply

    • Gary H

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      1. No. There is nothing in the Geneva Convention about ammo or weapons. It is about the treatment of prisoners and civilians. Ammo was discussed in the Hague Accord in 1898. The US didn’t sign it. At least not then. Most pots here say the US never signed it, but honor it as long as the enemy does. Some have posted here that the US agreed to comply with the Hague Accord in 1907.

      2. The government went to the 9mm because of the availability of ammo. Availability of ammo in the gun, in their pack, and around the troops in case of logistics problems. No other country uses the .45acp so a serviceman’s only source of ammo would be his own supply line.

      3. This has all been posted here several times. You just have to read a few before you post.

      Reply

  • spydersniper

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    You are mostly correct. The U.S. did sign the Hague Convention IV of 1907 art. 23 (e). “It is especially forbidden to employ arms, Projectiles, or material calculated to cause unecessary suffering.” Declaration IV3 concerning expanding bullets ” The contracting parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which Expand or Flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core or is pierced with incisions.” Nobody signed. The status of this declaration has been so strictly adhered to that it has assumed “Status of Customary Law.” That means.the law is “Understood” by all. The closest to breaking it is the U.S. in 1985 when our snipers switched from 7.62 x 51 173 grained FMJ Boat tail to 7.62 Match King open tip Boat tail 168 grain and 175 grain after the Army and Navy JAG decided it was used for long distance flight, not for bodily damages. The same courts also allowed the Navy Seals to use 230SXT for use in the mk23 mod.0 only for taking out terrorists. (SXT is not legally sold in the U.S.)

    Reply

    • Phasmatis

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      No we did not sign the hague in 1907 nor was Part IV3 ever ratified by congress. We used full metal jackets basically out of pear pressure. They did not shoot at us with hollw point and we would not use them on them. But times have changed and the dynamics of warfare have changed. So basically for over a 100 years we have held the right to use hollow points if we want too.

      Reply

    • Phasmatis

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      And where did you get the SXT is not legal in the U.S. There is NO law prohibiting the ammo. I have a crap load of it. The original black talon.
      Not to mention The ranger SXT is the exact bullet without the lubalox coating,The stuff that made the bullet black..
      Please show me a LAW that makes ownership or sale of the Black talon,SXT, illegal.

      Reply

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