Don’t Do THAT! – Gun Safety First

Expanding Hunting Bullet
Don’t Do THAT! – Gun Safety First
Tom Gresham
Tom Gresham

MANDEVILLE, LA –-( Ahhhh . . . How do I say this without coming across as a jerk.

Simply put — don’t do stupid stuff! Don’t be a ballistic experimenter because you want to save a couple of dollars.

This morning I got an email asking about filing off the tips off full-metal jacket bullets to turn them into expanding hunting bullets.


First off, Yes, I’m aware that many people have done this. You also can run across a busy street with your eyes closed. It works, until it doesn’t.

As a way to save 20 to 30 dollars (approximate average cost of a box of 20 hunting rounds), this system does not result in a bullet that will reliably expand when it hits a game animal. Chances are it will not. So, you get no benefit.

You don’t know how this bullet will fly through the air. If the bullet has a steel core (and some do), it still may not be legal for hunting big game (state regulations apply). If you are talking personal protection, I would just shoot the FMJs.

We already have established, by test, that they don’t go boring through a dozen walls and then seek out the neighborhood kindergarten. When I tested .223 FMJs, we could not get them to penetrate a third wall of sheet rock.

FMJs are cheap and available (okay, okay, you can apply whatever sliding scale and cuss words you want to the current ammo situation), and are fine for practice. If you want to hunt deer or other game animals, you owe them the best performance you can deliver. That means you need to buy a box of good hunting ammo.

Over a 50-year span of reloading and tinkering with guns, I’ve done a few of the stupid things. I’ve been lucky. No serious mishaps. Having heard from a lot of people, though, I know how bad it can be when you wander off the reservation of established practices and data. This goes for cooking up your own load data as well as stuff like “ringing” a shotgun shell to make it fire like a slug. Everything is great, until it’s not.

Need proof, hold your hand in front of your face and pick two fingers you can do without. Get it?

About:In its 18th year of national syndication, Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk Radio airs live on Sundays from 2PM-5PM Eastern, and runs on more than 135 stations, plus on XM (Ch. 165) Satellite Radio. All Gun Talk shows can be downloaded as podcasts at and Apple iTunes, or through one of the available Apps: the Gun Talk iPhone App, the Blackberry Podcast App, and the Gun Talk App for Android on Amazon. The Gun Talk Minute on XM also airs on XM 165, 166, 168 and Fox Sports every day throughout the week. More information is available at

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J Donald

A friend of mine tried this with FMJs with an open base. The 3rd bullet traveled about half way down bore before core separated from jacket leaving it in barrel. 4th shot bulged barrel.


My grandfather fought in WW2 and he told me the GI’s used to clip the tips off their 30-06 rounds when time permitted to increase their killing effectiveness. He told me FMJ’s most often would simply pass through a target where a clipped tip FMJ would rip through one. It was the difference between slowing the attacker down and killing him.

If you are being pursued and shot at, I’d prefer the latter option.

Bob Shell

There is no upside to filing off the tips of fmj bullets. I can go into a lot of details as to why and maybe when time permits I will write about it. In the meantime don’t do it