What Makes Frangible Ammo Unique? Austin Davis Explains

Frangible Ammo Cover

Hi, I’m Austin Davis, Director of Training for Concealed Coalition. Coalition members have been sending me questions, and this question is, “Hey Austin, what is frangible ammo?”

Frangible Ammo vs. Traditional Bullets

A traditional bullet is a solid lead core jacketed in copper. This is meant to help control the energy of that bullet when penetrating a target.

Frangible bullets, on the other hand, are designed to dissipate the terminal energy of the projectile a a pre-segmented or powdered copper round formed with a plastic bag or metal binding. The goal with the frangible projectile is to fire and function as much as possible as a regular projectile until it impacts a hard enough target and reduces ricochet risk by either breaking apart or pulverizing.

This quality can greatly reduce the risk of training in confined spaces like a live-fire shoot house type range. Basically frangible ammo has a design feature that makes shooting at steel or super close training targets safer. 

Factors to Consider with Frangible Bullets


There are a few things to consider when using frangible bullets versus traditional ones, the first being weight. The weight of frangible bullets may be significantly different from your training ammo and especially your self-defense rounds. This can impact your point of aim and point of impact. As a result, make sure you adjust as you shift from frangible ammo to traditional ammo. 

Barrel Impact

Frangible ammo may also cause increased fouling of your barrel (not damage!). This is just because the softer nature of these bullets can cause increased buildup. No need to worry about damage to your barrel, but it’s an issue that means you need to increase your cleaning accordingly.

Frangible Ammo for Self-Defense

Frangible Ammo - Frangible bullets flying
A frangible bullet travels through the air similarly to a normal bullet, but it shatters and disperses upon impact with a target.

I get asked often if a frangible round would be an ideal self-defense round. More specifically, I’m asked about the use of these bullets in home defense, where over-penetration of walls might be an issue.

Trust me, I get that line of logic and concern about a bullet passing through the wall of your home.

My thought is, since  frangible ammo is designed not to penetrate, that might be a problem when trying to stop a human intent on violence. The reason we shoot someone with a bullet is to penetrate deeply enough to hit a vital organ or structure in the human body to stop them immediately.

Frangible ammo in a self-defense setting could be an issue, especially if you have a heavily muscled attacker on your hands because they have a lot of body fat the bullet would need to pass through. 

For self-defense, I recommend a modern bonded bullet by a major manufacturer with significant real-world performance over time. You also want to make sure the cartridge you choose for self-defense works with your firearm because when you’re shooting in self-defense, you’re betting your life confidence that it will function properly in your firearm.

Basically – does frangible ammo have a place? Yes it does, but it’s a highly specific and specialized place.

For even more videos discussing the ins and outs of firearm care and training, join the Coalition today! You’ll gain access to our extensive online training library so you can become a guardian always and a warrior when needed – all from the comfort of your own home.

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