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Ballistics: Types of Bullets and Damage Essay

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Updated: Mar 23rd, 2022


Ballistic is the science of hurling missiles and involves the study of dynamics and projectiles. But in here mostly we will dwell on the different types of bullets and the damage they cause and particular operations they might be used for. There are three major types of bullets used and these are: frangible bullets, non-expandable bullets, and expandable bullets. Firstly, the frangible bullets are the bullets which upon being fired disintegrate upon hitting the target. Depending on the type of the target they might even turn to powder.

They are mostly used in shooting sports and training operations by military or police. Secondly, we have the non-expandable bullets which upon hitting the target they do not split into pieces but penetrate the body and if they go through the target their structure is not changed. They are mostly used wild games where deep penetration is required in large and tough hunting. Some of our armed forces also use it in some extreme cases where the state defense is required.

Finally the expandable bullets are the type of bullets which upon hitting the target they expand since they are fired under high velocity. Some even expand, with such a high velocity that before reaching the target they are expanded. When the bullet hit the target they expand and enlarge the hole such that the organs are severely destroyed producing an instant kill to an animal, also they can be used in hunting and in a State situation where military operation on terrorist is required.


We need to understand the meaning of ballistic and what it entails. Ballistics is the science or art of hurling missile weapons from an engine. We can say that this is science which involves the study of dynamics and projectiles relating to internal action of fire arms. In particular we shall dwell on the use of different types of bullets the type of damage each inflicts, and particular operations they might be used for.

Different types of bullets

Basically bullets can be differentiated in different ways; since they differ in weight, shape, and manufacturer, either by shape, use or the construction. Here we shall dwell on categorizing by the bullet construction. In construction we have the following: frangible, non-expanding and expanding. Each of these has a specific reason and use of it.

Frangible Bullets

As the meaning of the name, the bullets upon hitting the target are reduced to small part. These bullets do not have a deep penetration. Frangible bullets are armed of non toxic metals and are free of lead metal. They are used in short ranges (Beers 2).

The interior of Frangible Bullets

(Fossey 1)

These bullets are used by police for training purpose since after hitting they turn to dust on a hard target. These bullets are also used in combat training (Fossey 1).

Non-expanding bullets (FMJ)

These are bullets which upon hitting a surface do not get damaged but remain as they were. The bullet has the capacity to penetrate the target and the penetration is usually greater than frangible bullets. It has been noted that, “the FMJ –full metal jacket is made with a lead core by full covering of brass, copper or mild steel which give the bullet a higher level of hardness” (Doyle 1).

Non-expandable bullets are used by “African hunters for use on the largest and toughest games where deep penetration is required especially in elephants or rhinos” (Beers 1). The penetration of the bullet will cause the complete damage on the tissue or organs (Beers 1).

Expandable Bullets

These are bullets which are designed expand upon hitting the target. They are designed to deform upon hitting the object targeted. These bullets are the most complex bullets designed and are most useful. For these bullets, the end tip is soft made lead exposed which help to initiate the bullet expansion on hitting the target.

Expandable Bullets

(Doyle 1)

Damage by this bullet is lethal since as it heats up it may expand at a high velocity which means that the hitting will produce violent sound. The expandable bullets are “normally used to kill animals humanely of approximately 30 pounds by creating significantly tissue damage as the bullet passes through the animal” (Doyle 1).

In addition the bullets always will have different shapes and sizes. There are several different shapes of bullets which give a difference of the above discussed types of bullets. These are hunting bullets with:

Round nose, flat point, semi spitzer (with a sharp nose), spitzer, and boat-tail spitzer which is pointed with a tapered heel. Having a flat point or a round nose will let the bullet expand more reliably. The spitzers bullet will have a pointed end so that they can take a less trajectory (Math 1).

Damage inflicted by the bullets

The damage inflicted by a bullet depends on the type of the bullet used on the target. For frangible bullets, the damage caused is slight. Non-expanding bullets produce soft tissue damage like the lungs, for a quick kill on the target. Expandable bullets produce catastrophic damage to the organs of an animal or human. Since they expand upon hitting the target, the hole created on the penetration becomes wider which produces a quick death to the target.

Particular operations where each of the bullets is used

Frangible bullets are mostly used by the police in indoor and outdoor shooting, since the bullets cannot harm the environment. They are mostly used in police training and combat training, by military or police training. They may be used in sporting activities such as shooting competition. In dense areas where police are controlling people they may also be used since they do not have severe harm on the target as compared to the expandable or the non-expandable.

Non-expandable bullets (in round nose form), are mostly used in game hunting like the African wildlife hunting where large animals are involved and deep penetration is required. They are also used by the military in defense mechanism for a country. Expandable bullets also called dumdum bullets upon being fired lead to instant death.

They are meant for advanced hunting of animals. These bullets are also used by the military upon invasion of wanted criminals. It is very possible in the recent attempt to capture Osama; expandable bullets were in use since the Navy seals were exposing themselves to an environment where they could easily be shot dead. They have also been used in war crimes around the world illegally.


From the above, different types of bullets have been identified as frangible, expandable and non expandable. These bullets are used on different operations where in spite of being used mostly in hunting today they are used more in war crimes. Different bullets should be used for the purpose they are meant for.

Works Cited

Beers, Bob. Bullets for beginners . , 2006. Web.

Doyle, Joseph. Bullet Basics 1-Materials. Firearm, n.d. Web.

Fossey, Deniss. . Precision, 2011. Web.

Maths. . Maths encounters blog, 2011. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Ballistics: Types of Bullets and Damage." March 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ballistics/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "Ballistics: Types of Bullets and Damage." March 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ballistics/.


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