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“It is also worth noting that certain types of ammunition—particularly unusual or unconventional ammunition, or ammunition having an inflammatory or provocative brand name—have been mis-characterized by some prosecutors in an attempt to show that the person shooting in self-defense was actually eager to engage in combat and, thus, inferentially, likely to shoot another person without sufficient cause.” – NRA Guide to the Basics of Personal Protection in the Home

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  1. So buying this ammo would cause a jury to convict me of shooting a zombie?
    I guess this falls to the ACLU, do zombies have rights?

    • Well, we know that the Democrats are willing to go to the mat to preserve the voting rights of the dead, but how about the undead?

      And how does this fit in with the current zombie economy?

  2. Whenever people ask to look at my gun, I drop the magazine and clear the chamber. 100% of the time (unless it’s another owner) when they see my plain Jane run of the mill store bought Gold Dots, I get “Oh my God! Those are hollow points! Those are man killers!” (well, yeah, that’s the idea). Then I have to explain FMJ vs HP and Hollywood myths and so on.

  3. I have recently blogged about this topic and give several examples of appellate decisions addressing this issue, i.e. whether the type of ammunition in a defendant’s gun is relevant, and even if relevant, whether it is too prejudicial for consideration by the jury. The case law suggests that prejudice tends to fail as an argument for excluding the fact that hollow points were carried.

    • “You see ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Mr. Defendant was so eager to kill someone, that he made sure his gun was loaded with special bullets designed to rip and tear flesh…”

      So can a prosecutor actually say that, or would he need a expert witness? Ralph?

      • United States v. Lewter, 402 F.3d 319, 322 (2d Cir. 2005)
        …was loaded with hollow-point bullets-facts that militate against an inference of innocent use, such as target practice or hunting.

        United States v. Fort, 25 F.3d 1041 (4th Cir. 1994)
        Hollow-point ammunition is not used for target shooting or hunting.

        I’m pretty sure hollow-points are used for hunting.

        • The specific requirement in CA:

          “Softnose or expanding projectiles”, for both rifles and pistols used on big game.

        • In Pennsylvania, hunting regulations actually require that some type of expanding ammo is used for deer hunting. FMJ is not permitted. I would assume hollow points would fall into the permitted category.

        • Same in Virginia. Also I have some 308 Federal Match that are hollow point so they are used for shooting paper as well.

      • So can a prosecutor actually say that, or would he need a expert witness? Ralph?

        A prosecutor can say that, and will use an expert to prove that.

        • a expert witness I dont have as much of a problem with since you can cross examine him, rather than some asshole just running his mouth who the jury might think is a authority on the subject because they are an authority figure.

        • some asshole just running his mouth who the jury might think is a authority

          Sounds like every prosecutor known to man.

    • I purposely carry hollow points to reduce the risk of over-penetration and hence injuring bystanders beyond the criminal attacker. Are attorneys not smart enough to point this out to juries? That tells a jury that the armed citizen was very concerned with public safety.

      Other bullets (full metal jacket and hard cast lead) over penetrate and pose an unnecessary risk to other citizens.

      • I wouldnt be surprised if they were not smart enough. My two experiences with criminal defense attorneys have been nothing but disappointments. The first was a public defender as a juvenile, he did nothing but told me to take the plea bargain. Later on when he would run in to me in public, he apologized on two separate occasions. The second time as a adult I hired my own, talked to him in the office about how I wouldnt take a plea bargain and wanted to take the case to a jury trial if the state wouldnt drop the charges. As soon as I showed up to court, he started pressuring me in to taking a plea bargain, and I had to argue with him for 5 minutes before he went to the ASA requesting a jury trial. The state dropped the charges.

      • Uncommon_sense, defense attorneys are smart enough to point that out to a jury, and can use experts to show the HP ammo is actually safer than FMJ ammo for bystanders etc. The defense can also enter evidence that the cops use HP ammo and why. Then it’s up to the jury to draw whatever inference they choose.

        The problame with this defense line is that it’s entirely reactive and takes the focus away from the real issue, which is self defense. When the jury is focusing on the issue of lethality, it’s not focusing on justification.

    • Based on the examples cited, it’s best not to load hollow point while involved in illegal drug sales. Might be best not to be involved in illegal drug sales or take drugs too but that’s a topic for another time.

  4. If you are ever unfortunate enought to be in a lethal DGU you will be better off using the same type and caliber of ammunition used by the local police force. The prosecution will not be able to argue that you took special measures to ensure the death of your assailant. (I violate my own rule because by EDC is a 1911 loaded with 230g hollow points). In the post Zimmeman world you need to have covered all the bases and have airtight arguments or else you will go to jail.

    • Couldnt they try to argue that you went out of your way to find the most deadly round available, the very same round that the local police use?!? Or do your police shoot to intimidate rather than incapacitate?

      • I use a 45 because of its ability to “knock down” your assailant without necessarily killing him. (wink wink) and I use JHPs to prevent over penetration. No sarcasm there. I have shot cinderblocks with a 45 at 25 yards with FMJ and they put a 3” hole in both faces of the brick.

    • That’s not the point. It’s just a matter of how much poison the prosecution can drip into the well. In other words, it’s cumulative evidence which, the prosecution will contend, shows an evil mind on the part of the shooter.

  5. Back in the day (before the stupid zombie craze) Massad Ayoob promoted a similar concept: Don’t carry weapons with aggressive names such as a knife named “Annihilator.” His point was that the jury is easily swayed and all the little things can add up against you.

  6. I never really figured hornady really sold much of this, its outrageously expensive for for a little glow in the dark piece of poly in or tipped. Who knows?

  7. My carry setup is as simple and as factory as possible. Factory rounds, no mods to the weapon. If it doesn’t function to my satisfaction out of the box, it gets sold. No “Punisher” grips or anything else that might bring my motives into question in the even that I have to use my weapon in self-defense. I’m giving myself every legal advantage that I can before the fact.

  8. I wouldn’t carry ammo with a scary name, either. No “Black Talon”, no “Devastator”, no “Extreme Shock”. I carry Silvertips. Some smart ammo maker should develop a pink hollowpoint and name it the “Blossom” or “Powderpuff”. Let’s see a prosecutor paint someone as a psycho when carrying “Powderpuff” ammo. I’ve even thought about carrying a pink gun, too.

  9. My ammo of choice for HD is Hornady Critical Defense. In Oregon, the rule is to use HP (and not solid nose) for defense as I understand it.

    • I had a counter clerk at the Kansas City Cabela’s store tell me a couple of weeks ago that the Hornady Zombie Max was the same ammo as their Critical Duty/Critical Defense rounds, but cheaper and with only minor cosmetic differences. “All you have to do is tell the prosecutor that, if you have to use it for defense.” he told me.

      He also told me that if I was really worried about it, I should just throw away the box because “who’s gonna know?”

      Yeah, OK then. Whatever. Personally, I think I’d rather have the Critical Defense ammo in my house gun…or else just stick with the plain-jane Remington ammo and Gold Dots I’m already using.

      I do wonder, though, how many people are actually loading their carry pieces and sock-drawer guns with Z-Max, based on “advice” like that guy at Cabela’s gave me. Might help explain why Z-Max is so popular, anyway… 😉

  10. I don’t always use hollow points, but when I do, I prefer Hornady Critical Defense. It would be hard for a prosecutor to put a spin on “Defense,” wouldn’t it? It’s more supportive of the defense than the prosecution.

    Stay thirsty for knowledge, my friends.

  11. Speaking of PC… Federal has recently released some of its basic “Target” 12 gauge shotgun shells with pink cases, in support of Breast Cancer research. I’d like to see the prosecutor who attempts to make hay out of that.

  12. It’s good advice to use high quality JHP ammo similar to your local PD. if nothing else, it demonstrates maturity and reason. Plus, Golden Saber, Winchester PDX, Hornady XTP, Hornady Critical defense,etc. are well known and well – tested. You could certainly blast away with your banned Black Talon ammo or zombie max, but it creates additional risk without additional benefit. If a prosecutor wants to paint you as a psycho gun nut, at least make that job as difficult for him or her as possible.

  13. I have heard annectotal stories that reloaded ammo can also be a point used against you in a DGU. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant couldn’t buy ammo savage or devastating enough to suit his needs, so he made his own, to be sure to inflict the maximum amount of damage on the victim.” I also remember the huge media frenzy about “Black Talon” ammo, and how it mushroomed into a jagged saw blade shape and ripped thru flesh at over 30,000 rpm (or some such huge number). But bullets don’t fly for minutes at a time, and they are not like a drill bit that keeps rotating once it’s stopped traveling forward inside the body like this particular TV talking head was trying to insinuate. My defense load in my 9mm are Glaser safety slugs. Not quite as cuddly as “fuzzy bunny”, but it DOES have the word “safety” in it. My .45 has JHP ammo in it, and right now, I couldn’t tell you what brand or name is attached to them. (Which probably means I’m way past due rotating ammo and mag in that gun).

    • anecdotal stories, but not a single citation.

      yeah, those stories are worth the toilet paper they’re written on.

      until we get an actual citation of an actual case, i call BS.


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