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? 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.