It appears that the US Army has finally decided to start using hollow point ammunition for the general issues service pistol. When RF called me and told me that, I was highly doubtful. But by all accounts, (and you heard it on TTAG first folks) this is the real deal. As a combat veteran, and as a medic, I couldn’t be happier. The standard 9X19NATO round nosed FMJ is now, and has always been, a grossly inadequate handgun round for combat. In my experience, it pokes fairly small, smooth holes in soft targets, with neat wound channels. I’ve never seen one break up in tissue, and I’ve seen patients shot multiple times with the round, and still be conscious and capable of continuing to fight. That’s the last thing you want out of your enemy in combat . . .
This decision should, although I’m sure it won’t, end the caliber debate for military usage. The standard pressure 9X19 cartridge, when topped with a modern expanding bullet, is ideal for general combat use. With the expansion capabilities of modern bullets, the 9mm round can now equal wound characteristics similar to the .45ACP, but still carry more rounds with less recoil.
I still carry a .45ACP, but that’s because I’m so used to it, and I get to shoot hundreds of rounds a week with it (and it’s crazy cheap to reload). If I didn’t shoot so much, I would almost certainly switch to a 9mm. I’m sure that, as I get older and my arthritis gets worse, I will also switch to the 9mm round for EDC.
Now, as a medic, I have to inject a dose of reality here. An expanding 9mm round is twice as deadly as a solid round, and out of a 4” or 5” handgun, that’s still not particularly deadly. You are still going to need multiple accurate hits on the target to kill or incapacitate them quickly. That’s the reality of handgun terminal ballistics.
But now our troops won’t have to have as many (or as accurate) hits to do the same amount of damage. Considering that most troops get very little training with their sidearm, I argue that the handgun bullet choice is even more important than the rifle bullet choice. And it appears that the Army has made the right one this time.
And as a medic, I have to applaud this decision for purely selfish reasons. You see, medics have to treat all wounded patients, including the enemy. And that can lead to some extremely difficult triage decisions, as well as just a whole lot more work. I hate work. Expanding rounds will mean that more of the enemy will be dead rather than wounded. And the dead are a supply problem, not a medical problem. Not my job, less work for me.
This change will go down in history as one of the smarter decisions the Army has made, right up there with the development and fielding of the M2, the M79, the P38 can opener and, of course, the greatest invention ever made and used by the Army, the poncho liner.