Are Hollow Points Illegal?

The short answer to this question is, no. Hollow points are not illegal to purchase across the United States. If you are eager to shoot, you may wonder why I am writing this article.

However, many people are still uncertain whether hollow points are legal in the United States.

Are Hollow Points Illegal?

This is mainly due to an article that was recently published in the Boston Tribune that stipulated how 23 states are planning to ban hollow point billets.

However, this has not been confirmed and thus, hollow points are still legal across the United States. 

Hollow points are available for civilian use in every state except for New Jersey, which prohibits any civilians from possessing this form of ammunition unless they are held within the household or used for hunting.

Therefore, if you are not situated within this state, you can use these within your weapon. 

The reason that hollow points cause such controversy is that these bullets are specifically designed to inflict maximum impact upon the recipient.

Therefore, many people believe that they are inhumane weapons. 

How Do Hollow Points Work?

The most popular types of bullet are hollow points or full metal jackets (FMJ). The tip of the latter may be pointed, rounded or flat.

Therefore, when an FMJ hits a softer target, it doesn’t expand to create a larger wound than the diameter of the bullet itself. To contrast, a hollow point bullet contains a cavity as opposed to a tip.

Thus, whenever a hollow point bullet hits a softer target, the pressure forces it to open significantly which drastically increases its diameter, similarly to how an umbrella opens.

The hollow point bullet’s ability to do this means that it is considered to have a maximized performance. This is for the following reasons:

  1. The bullet channels energy in a far more efficient way due to its rate of expansion. This is because far more energy is exerted outwards as opposed to just in front of the bullet. 
  2. These bullets overcompensate far less often than other bullets. This helps to prevent any injury occurring amongst those who are not the intended target. 

Hollow Points Are Typically Used For Self-Defense

Hollow Points Are Typically Used For Self-Defense

The aim of most self-defense situations is to come out of them unscathed. Therefore, shortening the amount of time that you are exposed to a threat is essential.

Whilst hollow point bullets are known for causing more damage than other bullets, this is not the main reason why they are useful for self-defensive purposes.

They are actually far better able to incapacitate a threat quickly. This is because a bullet that doesn’t expand transfers far less energy to the intended target, which means that incapacitation requires far more shots.

Therefore, using multiple shots is far more likely to kill the target than if you incapacitated them using a single hollow point bullet.

In this sense, using hollow point bullets may lower the chances of defensive shooting resulting in any form of fatality.

If you are firing in self-defense, then your intention should be to incapacitate your target as opposed to killing them.

If your attacker absorbs more energy from a hollow point, they are more likely to fall faster and are far more likely to understand that they have been shot and cease attacking you. 

So, Why Are Hollow Tips So Controversial?

Any conversation regarding firearms is likely to be a controversial topic. The Hague Convention of 1899 is sometimes cited as a reason why civilians and officers should not have access to hollow tip bullets.

This renowned treaty prohibited hollow bullets from being used during any form of international war.

Whilst the United States was not part of the ratification of this declaration, it is normally honored during military practice.

The intention of this convention was to ensure that suffering is lessened during international warfare and to make it as humane as possible. 

If you are a civilian in the United States who is using these bullets, you should be aware that public perception of them is very low.

Therefore, you may wish to avoid using these bullets if you do not intend to cause suffering.

Many self-defense cases involving these bullets have resulted in the shooter being penalized because it is deemed questionable as to why you have used maximum impact ammunition.

This is why it is far more preferable to carry a lower profile firearm if you intend to do so.

This is because these bullets are often associated as being designed to cause maximum suffering, and this is far less likely to convince a jury that you were merely acting in self-defense. 


To conclude, hollow point tips are not illegal throughout the United States. However, if you  live in New Jersey, they can only be kept within the home.

It is also important to note that these bullets are viewed highly unfavorably throughout the country and thus, you may not wish to use them.

Hollow tips are also known to cause maximum suffering due to their expanding nature and as such, you may be reluctant to use them in certain scenarios.

Whilst these bullets can incapacitate an attacker quickly, they can also inflict serious damage and thus, you should carefully consider which form of ammunition is the best for your own self-defensive purposes. 

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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