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Old Trooper Gunsmiths LLC


My Blog


The frangable myth

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 5:25 AM
            I have been told by a few clients who are trickling in for gunsmithing services or transfers that they were told the had to carry frangible ammunition for their daily carry. 
      Now I am not one to debate/decry  another instructor. But this is not only bad advice, it is downright dangerous! 
      See, as a member of the Obommer era military, I apologize to the American tax payer. We, as a matter of being "environmentally friendly" have to qualify with frangible rounds. The theory behind this farce is that they will not contaminate the ground water due to them being made from compressed powder and a flimsy jacket. Unfortunately as we can tell you: they leave much to be desired. 
         Let me elaborate. Frangible ammunition was first made in .50bmg for use in ww2 for training purposes. Most of the time it was for Air gunnery practice. The thought was that the jacket would do much less damage to the "tow" aircraft if accidentally sprayed by a careless or inexperienced gunner trainee. Most of the time it was a heavily armored p-39 or p64 "areocolbra" aircraft. An aircraft that was intended for a ground attack role, even if more went to the USSR than our own air forces. So, it could take a hit or two. And in this role the frangible ammunition did quite well. Well enough until something better came along. 
      Now when they started scaling down to rifle and pistol sized bullets they had some issues. They began to find out that these became quite expensive. And they did not..... well let's just say they do not handle well. 
     So they had a choice. Make the jacket thicker and risk the chance of unwanted levels of penetration. Or issue them out only before use and restrict the frequent carry of said ammo. 
     Honestly they really have not worked any bugs out. I have personally thrown hundreds of rounds of this crap downrange. And let me tell you: it has some issues! 
       First: they damage rather easily. Drop it, have issues loading it, it will deform the bullet. Got a "flyer" during qual? Yep, may actually be able to blame the ammo! 
      Second: the compressed powder filling. It goes everywhere. We noticed right away, particularly with handgun ammunition. That there were what looked like brass flakes decorating the internals of the firearm. Almost to the level where it looked like a small handful of brass powder was released in the chamber. It was even worse downrange. With 4 shooters qualifying on both rifle and pistol on an indoor range, we swept up what had to have been, I shat thine not: at least six lbs of brass powder from the shooting points to the 25m target. That is a lot of debris! 
     Operational use: ok, the theory behind the use of Frangables as carry ammo is simple. The fear of collateral damage. The thought is that it will not overpenitrate. Just hit your target and not do much damage if missed. I can understand the thought. The Air Marshals are issued frangible ammo for just this reason. The bullet will not penetrate the pressurized aircraft fuselage. Which would really sort of ruin your day there. 
      The problem: the air marshals are issued new rounds every month. I want you to think about this:why? Because the rounds, being bounced around in a holstered firearm and ammo pouch, start to disintegrate. Thus leaving all that lovely brass powder looking material inside the magazine and firearm. Not exactly good for optimal performance of Defensive firearm!  They are also quite pricey! The prices of frangible munitions on the civilian market is about that of most high quality premium defensive ammunition. 

    And you would have to buy new rounds every month.........

     Than there is their ballistic effectiveness. How much damage do you think they can do? It is a compressed powder in a jacket after All! Rather shallow wounds. Sort of like firing a sandblaster an inch away from skin for 1/2 a second. Throw in some of the jacket, now you have an idea. Me? Well I want whomever has made his grievously horridly, poor lifestyle decision to only take a few of my bullets with him into the afterlife. If your aggressor (read:bullet sponge) is a larger person, wearing a thick coat or frankly not in their own mind it will take more frangible bullets to cause them to reconsider their course of action. 

       Ok, I am not a complete jerk here. Frangible ammo dose have its place. But not as a daily carry ammo. If the firearm remains stationary for most of its usage, it is ideal. Ideal if you are worried about collateral damage in ones home. In an apartment? Thin interior walls, kids room in the cone of fire. So, if this is your situation and you have a dedicated "house gun" that seldom leaves the drawer. This may be a good choice. 

    But would I carry it with me on my daily duties? Not if I have a choice. I will stick with my 210gr "Z-max" ammo for my carry pistol.

     Would I keep some in my home? Yes. 

   Some food for thought on carry ammo.

Old troopers actual, 


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8:49 AM on December 23, 2021 
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