Ammunition for Concealed Carry

Concealed carry is a vital aspect of personal safety, and selecting the right ammunition is as crucial as choosing the firearm itself. With various types of ammo available, not all are suitable for concealed carry. This article provides an overview of different ammunition types commonly used for concealed carry and key factors to consider when selecting ammo.

Types of Ammunition for Concealed Carry

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)

FMJ bullets are composed of a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal, often copper. These rounds are known for their high penetration ability and are typically used for training and target practice. However, due to their tendency to over-penetrate, they are less effective and potentially dangerous in self-defense scenarios.



  • Risk of over-penetration
  • Less effective for self-defense

Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)

JHP ammunition features a hollow cavity at the bullet's tip that expands upon impact, creating a larger wound channel and transferring more energy to the target. This expansion reduces the risk of over-penetration, making JHP the preferred choice for self-defense.


  • High stopping power
  • Reduced risk of over-penetration
  • Effective in urban and home defense scenarios


  • Typically more expensive
  • May not feed well in all firearms

Frangible Ammunition

Frangible bullets are designed to disintegrate upon impact with hard surfaces, minimizing the risk of ricochet and collateral damage. This makes them ideal for training in close quarters and certain self-defense situations where over-penetration is a significant concern.


  • Minimizes over-penetration
  • Safer for use in populated areas
  • Reduces ricochet risk


  • Less effective against barriers
  • Typically higher cost

+P Ammunition

+P (overpressure) ammunition is loaded to a higher internal pressure than standard rounds, resulting in increased velocity and energy. This can enhance stopping power but also leads to greater recoil and increased wear on the firearm.


  • Increased stopping power
  • Greater velocity and energy


  • Higher recoil
  • Increased firearm wear
  • Not all firearms are rated for +P ammo

Factors to Consider When Choosing Ammunition


The bullet should penetrate enough to reach vital organs and stop the target effectively but not so much that it poses a risk of collateral damage. JHP bullets are typically the best choice for concealed carry due to their balanced penetration and expansion characteristics.

Stopping Power

Stopping power refers to the bullet's ability to incapacitate the target quickly. JHP ammunition is generally preferred for its superior stopping power, as it expands upon impact, creating a larger wound channel and transferring more energy to the target.


Recoil affects shooting accuracy and speed, especially in high-stress situations. It is important to choose ammunition with manageable recoil to maintain accuracy and control. For many, 9mm rounds offer a good balance of stopping power and manageable recoil.


The cost of ammunition can vary significantly based on type, brand, and caliber. While high-quality self-defense rounds are more expensive, they are essential for effective self-defense. Balancing cost with performance and reliability is crucial when selecting ammo.

Common Calibers for Concealed Carry


The 9mm caliber is popular for its manageable recoil, high magazine capacity, and availability. It offers a good balance of control and effectiveness, making it a versatile option for self-defense.

.45 ACP

Known for its stopping power, the .45 ACP caliber is favored by many for self-defense. However, it typically has higher recoil and lower magazine capacity compared to the 9mm.

.40 S&W

The .40 S&W caliber provides a middle ground between 9mm and .45 ACP, offering good stopping power while maintaining reasonable magazine capacity. It has snappier recoil compared to 9mm, which may require more practice for accurate shooting.

.380 ACP

The .380 ACP is suitable for compact and subcompact firearms, offering reduced recoil and easier concealment. While it sacrifices some stopping power, it is still a viable option for self-defense with proper shot placement.

.38 Special

The .38 Special is a popular revolver caliber known for its reliability and moderate recoil. It is a good option for shooters who prefer revolvers and require a dependable self-defense round.


Choosing the right ammunition for concealed carry is essential for personal safety. Jacketed hollow point bullets are generally the best choice for self-defense due to their superior stopping power and reduced risk of over-penetration. When selecting ammunition, consider factors such as penetration, stopping power, recoil, and cost. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure that the chosen ammunition functions reliably in your firearm and to practice regularly to maintain proficiency. By making an informed decision, you can enhance your preparedness and confidence in defending yourself and your loved ones responsibly.

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