Types of Ammo: Choosing the Right Kinds

With literally thousands (and that’s being modest) of different ammunition types available, it can get complicated to figure out what kind you need. Hollowpoint? Corrosive? Lead? Hunting? Learn which kinds you need and for what purposes from the experts at JSD Supply.

Corrosive vs. Non-Corrosive

At first glance, “corrosive” ammo sounds bad. Doesn’t it corrode your guns? Short answer, yes.

So why would you use corrosive ammo nowadays? The simple answer is it’s cheap. This can be a huge check in the pro column of your pros and cons list if you shoot often or simply don’t have the budget to purchase more expensive types of ammo.

The best thing to do if you are using corrosive ammunition is to clean your gun immediately after you fire it. The corrosion comes from the salt contained in this ammo, and if you don’t get it out of your barrel quickly, it will, well, corrode it.

However, the good news is the vast majority of ammunition types available to you are not corrosive anymore. Use non-corrosive ammo if you want to be less religious about gun maintenance and enjoy your firearm with less worry.

Hollow Point vs. Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)

bullets and gun laying on firing range targets

Hollowpoint bullets are a type of ammo that have—you guessed it—a hollow point. When the bullet hits its target, it mushrooms out to expand its diameter, expelling more of its energy into the target. This creates a more effective shot and reduces the chances of over-penetration.

The other side of this phenomenon is full metal jacket ammo, also known as FMJs. These bullets have copper casings that go completely around the bullet. They’re, again, cheaper than hollow points, so they’re good for practicing at the range.

Lead-Free Hunting vs. Lead Hunting

This one is a pretty straightforward comparison, as one contains lead and one does not. Some states have restrictions on the types of ammo you can use in terms of lead-free vs. lead, so check your local laws first.

Lead-free ammo has near-100% mass retention, meaning the bullet is less likely to break apart on impact, so you get more penetration. Also, due to lead-free bullets being typically longer than their lead counterparts, but remaining in the same weight category (in grains), means lead-free typically results in a better trajectory.

The benefit of lead ammo is significantly cheaper. That’s about it. Some diehard fans love lead, but honestly, lead-free has surpassed it in terms of ammunition types for hunting.

Brass Casing vs. Steel Casing

close-up of hands reloading gun magazine

Brass cases are good because they save you money—you can reload them. So the next time you go to the range, collect your shells. Then reload them when you get home and shoot ‘em again the next time.

Brass is also a type of ammo that doesn’t rust. Steel will rust eventually, especially if you keep your ammo somewhere that moisture can get to it. On the other hand, steel is, again, cheaper, and can be picked up with a magnet. Some ranges won’t allow steel bullets, so check before you go.

Home Defense vs. Wilderness Defense

This gets into the weeds a little bit, but if you have firearms for your home and for hunting, pay attention. Home defense ammo is a broad category, but you generally want expanding rounds to reduce the penetration through either your assailant or the surrounding walls. The last thing you need is to accidentally shoot your neighbor’s cat.

Wilderness defense refers to types of ammo that are heavier and non-expanding because most dangerous animals have a greater body density that home defense rounds just can’t penetrate. If you’re spending time in the woods with a heavy population of predators, choose wilderness defense ammunition types so you can make sure to drop whatever’s charging you.

Quality Firearm Parts and Kits from JSD

No matter what kind of ammunition you use, trust your firearm needs to JSD Supply. Since 2013, we’ve supplied DIY gunsmiths with parts, kits, lower receivers, and more. We know our parts work because we test them ourselves—we wouldn’t send you anything less.

Check out our FAQ page for questions or contact us if you can’t find what you’re looking for. We’re committed to ensuring anyone who wants to learn the art of DIY gunsmithing gets to do so.