From: email@example.com (Norman F. Johnson)
Subject: Re: JHP's won't open
Date: 25 Sep 1995 18:29:08 -0400
# I had a local reloader make up some 45 Long colt loads for me
# that approach 1100 fps. The bullet is manufactured by Speer and
# is a JHP. The last three wild boar that I shot with a S&W 25-5 I
# was able to recover the bullet and in every case (15-20 yard
# shot) the bullet did not open up at all. All had a slight dent on
# the nose and acted almost like a FMJ. What's wrong??
Most gun writers have passed on the (erroneous) old wives tale
that a bullet must have about 1000 fps to reliably expand. The
truth is not in them.
Every now and then I am driven to play around in my garage with
very low velocity loads that will expand. I have been successful
in getting VERY good expansion at 400-500 fps if the shape of the
hollow point and expansion medium are right.
A machinist friend made up a nose swaging punch for .45 caliber
bullets that makes the front of the bullet look something like
a small beer mug with a heavy bottom - a cup point, so to speak.
I also have a stack of old redwood fence boards, that after
serving as a fence for 32 years are about the hardness of balsa
wood. When the cup point bullet is filled with silicon grease, I
can drive these bullets into the redwood at such low velocities
that they do not quite penetrate their full length yet they
expand all the way back to the solid shank of the bullet to just
a little over the diameter of a quarter. Alloy for these bullets
ranges from pure lead to about 12-13 BHN. Harder bullets tend to
Given a set of circumstances that are controllable like this, it
is fairly easy to make a bullet that will expand a little or
dramatically. Trouble is that real life is not so controllable.
For self defense (or hunting) with a pistol, I do not ever count
on expansion but rather choose a "pre-expanded" bullet like
the .44 or .45 that has a flat or blunt front. If there were .60
or .70 caliber cartridges available for handguns, I would be first
Do NOT trust the beautifully done photographs that you see in the
ammo ads. It is easy to find a medium/velocity that will provide
such idealistic appearing expansion characteristics for any
reasonably designed bullet. That is often far from the condi-
tions of the real world.
I recently saw some Federal Hydra-Shok ammo tests and bullet
expansion was nil. Federals ad shows it to be dramatic. Don't
count on expansion - use a bullet shape that will do the job.