Newbieish bullet clarification


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Nov 24, 2008
Mito, Japan/Georgetown, Texas
Need some help understanding the uses of these bullets

FMJ - paper punching

Softpoint - for expanding after impact

HP - or opening after impact

Frangible - disintegrating on hard surfaces

V-max - no idea

Just trying to get an idea of the uses for each of these. Meaning energy retention, target best suited for etc. Have a chance to get each kind at the same price, and wanted to know what to look for.

Bullseye Shooter

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Apr 28, 2008
Texas Panhandle
Found this on the V-Max bullet:
V-Max bullets have a polymer tip that causes rapid fragmentation at all velocities and a profile that provides the greatest possible bearing surface for added stability out of the barrel. The violent disruption is further aided by the swaged lead core - it's precisely formed with a cavity beneath the tip that causes the polymer insert to act as a wedge. Some weights and calibers are available with a molybdenum disulfide coating that improves velocity and accuracy and reduces barrel wear. Even in long-range, low-velocity situations, the V-Max initiates dramatic fragmentation, making it deadly on varmints.

Full Metal Jackets (FMJ) are not necessarily for paper punching. FMJs in some semi-autos are necessary for the proper functioning of the pistol since not some are not tricked out to feed SWCs (semi-wadcutters) or HPs. FMJs harken back to the Geneva Convention which outlawed soft point bullets for military use. The most common FMJ is probably the .45 ACP 230 grain RN bullet.

HPs (Hollow Points) do not always mean they will expand after impact. There are some rifle match rifle bullets that are HP but they do not expand since the HP is very tiny. And some mfgs like Star (when they were in business) swaged a .45 HP SWC bullet for target use. They felt the HP aided accuracy since it allowed them to have a bigger bearing surface at the back of the bullet. Most defensive handgun loads use a HP bullet rather than the military's requirement to use FMJs.

I should add, for Bullseye matches, I shoot lead SWCs in my .45 ACP pistols, either 185 or 200 grain. In my 1911 .38 Special I use 148 grain lead HBWCs (hollow base wadcutters) since that's the only bullet that will work in the magazine other than double-ended cast WCs. The only time I shoot FMJ 230 grain bullets in the .45 is for the CMP's EIC (Excellence-in-Competition) matches since that's the only bullet allowed.

For hunting I use Remington Core-Lokt flat base soft points in both my .243 Winchester and .280 Remington rifles. They seem to work fine for the deer in Texas. For rifle matches, I use Sierra 168 grain HPBTs (hollow point boattails) in my .308 M1 Garand and a variety of HPBTs in my .223 AR depending on the range. For the short line (200 and 300 yards) I use 62 grain HPBTs and for the long line (600 yards) I use 80 grain Nosler HPBTs.

Hope this helps.


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Feb 22, 2008
Austin, TX
I load polymer tipped rounds for my hunting adventures. I have had good luck with Noslers, particularly the 168 grain .308 diameter bullets in .308 Winchester. Polymer-tipped rounds are great because compared to soft-points, the front of the bullet is more consistent, so the accuracy is potentially better.

Old Man of the Mountain

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Jan 5, 2009
That is a GREAT bullet break down!

I have found the V-Max 55 grain Moly bullets to be very accurate in my 5.56 mm AR-15. Less than 1 MOA with a few different headstamps.

On the FMJ rounds, there is some cheating, but I guess that is to be expected when militaries are involved. The Russians leave a hollow cavity at the point, so while it does have a Full Metal Jacket, it will behave about like a soft point. The Germans use a very thin Full Metal Jacket with a cannelure cut deeply which will allow a bullet to fragment on impact very easily.

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