Types of Ammo and When to Use Them

By Alex
October 5, 2022

Are you thinking about stepping up your accuracy?

Guns need ammunition. Ammunition comes in different calibers and shapes, depending on your weapon.

Choosing the right ammo can help. The variety of ammo types available today can be overwhelming, however. The more you know about the types of ammo on the market today, the easier it is to find the variety you need to practice in your craft.


What kind of ammo should you use? Read on to learn about the most common types of ammo and when to use them.

Also, Read: The Complete Guide to Picking a Hunting Rifle: Everything to Know

Armor Piercing (AP)

Armor-piercing ammunition is designed to penetrate through thick armor plating to damage the underlying target. This ammo is typically used in military applications against vehicles or fortified positions.

However, this ammo is also useful for hunting big game animals with thick hides or bones that regular bullets would struggle to penetrate.

Ballistic Tip (BT)

Ballistic tip ammunition is designed for hunting purposes. It is a type of rifle ammunition designed to expand upon impact, creating a more significant wound channel and increasing the chances of a quick kill.

This ammunition is most effective in rifles with a long barrel, as the extra length provides more stability and accuracy.

Boat Tail (BT)

There are many types of ammunition, and each has its purpose. Boat tail ammunition is designed for long-range shooting. The boat tail helps to stabilize the bullet in flight, and the BT is less likely to tumble when it hits the target.

This makes it ideal for long-range precision shooting.

Boat Tail Hollow Point (BTHP)

Boat Tail Hollow Point (BTHP) ammunition is designed for long-range accuracy and penetration. It is often used for hunting or target shooting.

The boat tail helps to stabilize the bullet in flight, while the hollow point allows for expansion once the bullet hits the target. BTHP ammunition is ideal for taking down large games or targets long distances.

Bonded Bullet (BB)

Bonded bullet BBs are designed for hunting purposes. They are made with a lead core that is bonded to the jacket.

This construction makes them less likely to fragment and cause collateral damage. They are also effective at penetrating thick hide and bone.

Flat Nose (FN)

Flat Nose ammo is most commonly used for target practice and plinking. It is also used for small game hunting. The flat nose helps the bullet to expand upon impact, making it a good choice for taking down the game.

It is not recommended for self-defense due to its lack of stopping power. If you’re looking for high-quality ammo for your next practice, hunt, or duty, see page here and check out their wide selection.

Frangible Ammo

This ammo is designed to break apart on impact, making it ideal for close-range training and self-defense situations. It is also less likely to ricochet and cause collateral damage.

When choosing frangible ammo, be sure to consider the intended use and choose the right type for the job.

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)

FMJ ammo is perfect for range training and plinking (shooting at targets). The copper jacket surrounding the lead core prevents lead fouling in the barrel, which can lead to decreased accuracy over time.

FMJ ammo is also generally more affordable than other types of ammo.

Full Metal Jacket FMJ ammo is typically used for target practice because it is less expensive than other ammo and is not as likely to damage the target.

It is also used for self-defense because it is more likely to penetrate through clothing and flesh and cause more damage than other ammo.

Hollow Point (HP)

Hollow-point bullets are typically used for self-defense, as they are designed to expand upon impact and cause maximum damage. This type of bullet is not typically used for hunting, as the expanding effect can cause the animal to suffer unnecessarily.

Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)

Jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullets are a good choice for self-defense situations. JHP bullets are designed to expand on impact, creating a larger wound channel and increasing the chances of stopping an attacker.

If you choose to carry a JHP round, practice with it to ensure that you are comfortable with the recoil and accuracy.

Lead Round Nose (LRN)

Lead round nose (LRN) bullets are some of the most versatile and commonly used ammo types. Their simple design makes them ideal for various uses, from plinking at the range to self-defense.

LRN bullets are also relatively inexpensive, making them an excellent choice for shooters on a budget. While they are not the best choice for long-range precision shooting, they are more than adequate for most other applications.

Open Tip Match (OTM)

Open Tip Match (OTM) ammunition is designed specifically for target shooting. It is exceptionally accurate and consistent, making it ideal for competition shooting.

The drawback of OTM ammunition is that it is costly, so it is not typically used for hunting or self-defense.

Semi Wad Cutter (SWC)

Semi-wadcutter ammo is designed for serious target and competition shooters. It features a wider, flatter trajectory than other ammo types, making it ideal for long-range precision shooting.

The SWC is also unusual in that it can be fired from revolvers and pistols, making it a versatile choice for many types of firearms. When selecting SWC ammo, choosing the right bullet weight and powder load for your specific gun and shooting needs is essential.

Semi-Jacketed (SJ)

Semi-jacketed ammo is a type of bullet mainly made of lead, with a metal jacket covering the front part of the bullet. The back part of the bullet is left unjacketed so that the lead can expand when it hits the target.

This ammo is suitable for hunting medium to large game because the lead will expand and cause more damage to the animal.

Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point (SJHP)

One of the most popular types of ammunition for both law enforcement and self-defense is the SemiJacketed Hollow Point (SJHP). As the name implies, this type of bullet has a partial jacket that covers the lead core of the bullet.

The exposed lead core at the bullet’s base aids in expansion upon impact, while the jacket helps to prevent over-expansion and ricochet. SJHP bullets are typically used in pistols and are an excellent choice for self-defense.

Soft Point (SP)

Soft point ammunition is a type of bullet designed to expand upon impact. This expansion helps to increase the damage done to the target, making it a good choice for hunting or self-defense.

Unlike hollow point ammunition, soft point bullets do not fragment upon impact, making them a safer choice for use in populated areas.

Special (RCBD)

Special RCBD is explicitly designed for use with RCBD guns. This type of ammo is designed to produce a much more powerful blast than regular blank ammo, making it perfect for use in situations where you need to break through thick metal or concrete walls.

However, it is also much louder and produces a lot of smoke, so it’s not ideal for use in close quarters.

Steel Core (SC)

Steel core SC ammo is designed for piercing through hard targets. It is often used by law enforcement and military personnel for this purpose.

The steel core helps the bullet penetrate through thick and tough materials, making it ideal for situations where you need to penetrate a target quickly and efficiently.

Tracer Bullets

Tracer bullets are often used for target practice or during combat situations.

This type of bullet contains a small amount of pyrotechnic composition in its base, which is ignited by the burning powder and emits a bright trace of light that is visible to the shooter.

This allows the shooter to see the path of the bullet and make corrections if necessary. Tracer bullets can also be used to create a “firing line” that can be used to mark the location of enemy soldiers during combat.

Truncated Cone Bullet (TC)

Truncated Cone Bullet (TC) ammo is designed for short-range target practice and plinking. It is often used in submachine guns and pistol-caliber carbines.

The advantage of TC ammo is that it is relatively inexpensive and offers good accuracy for close-range shooting.

However, the downside is that TC ammo can be less stable in flight than other types of ammunition, making it less effective for long-range shooting.

Wad Cutter (WC)

A wadcutter is a type of bullet designed for target shooting. It is usually a full metal jacket bullet with a flat nose, and the purpose of the design is to cut through paper targets cleanly, allowing for easy scoring.

Because of the flat nose, wadcutters are less aerodynamic than other bullet designs and therefore have a shorter range. They are also designed to expand less on impact, making them less likely to cause serious damage to a target.

Wad cutters are also used for plinking or informal target shooting.

Know the Types of Ammo for Your Gun

There are a variety of ammo types available for different firearms. It’s essential to choose the right ammo for your gun and to know when to use different types of ammo.

With some knowledge and care, you can ensure you’re using the best ammo for your needs.

If you find this post helpful, check out the rest of our blogs for more!





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