Frangible ammo & bullets: What is it, benefits, Lead-Free

Suppose frangible ammo & bullets are something that you have been considering. In that case, you should know that you might benefit from reading this article on the topic before proceeding with it. 

Our focus is much on some of the dangers associated with lead. You can see it from our articles on replacing plaster with drywall, exposure to lead paint while pregnant, and illegal landlord actions. Lead could unnecessarily put tenants in harm’s way due to lead paint exposure. It will probably come as no surprise the ammunition you are using could be dangerous.

When you practice your shooting, you could be exposing yourself to a major source of lead. Make sure you are considering it if you’re using traditional ammo. 

Frangible ammo is starting to pick up steam. It is increasingly being used by the people keeping our neighborhoods safe – you know, the people in blue. It’s also important to note that there are certain downsides to it. It’s why we will cover everything you will need to know about the topic, whether you’re using a 9mm, a .223, or a 5.56.

Table of Contents

What are frangible bullets, and what is it used for? 

Frangible bullets are designed to turn into dust when they come in contact with a hard target. They are generally considered appropriate mainly for training purposes. Upon contact, the bullet is crushed into many smaller pieces.

While various materials are used to make this bullet, the most common component is copper because of the metal’s properties. With the creation of this type of ammo, you have certain benefits as it will turn into harmless fragments upon contact with hard surfaces. It means the potential structural damage they could be causing is significantly lowered. 

Besides copper, tin is also an important component of these bullets. So are the other materials used as binding agents to give the ammo its properties. 

ImpactShatters on impact
Good forTraining

Benefits of frangible ammo

Frangible ammo benefits from being used in places where it would be very inconvenient and dangerous to use traditional bullets. Whether using traditional bullets like the full metal jackets or the jacketed hollow points, these come with significant risks to the user. When training in narrow spaces, you’re at unbelievable risk with traditional ammo. 

It has:

  • narrow hallways
  • doorways
  • and small rooms

It provides a great risk of ricochet injuries.

Frangible ammo does not have this downside. It’s great for police and military personnel, who can not avoid training under such circumstances. This type of ammunition provides benefits that traditional ammo doesn’t. 

When shooting traditional bullets in such a tight space, there is an inherent and very big risk of unintentionally getting injured. It’s why these bullets can save the life of someone who is engaged in necessary training.

However, that does not mean that these bullets are only used for training purposes by law enforcement. While these types of bullets may be valuable in training situations, they are also used in real life.

These bullets may disintegrate as they hit hard surfaces. It does not mean that they are exempt from being able to do some significant damage to someone standing in their way. They may still be in situations that resemble the training conditions originally designed for – hallways and other tight spaces.

Frangible ammo has the benefit that it greatly reduces the chances of over-penetration. They still provide the necessary protection that normal bullets would be providing. These bullets are still very valuable for their ability to deal with a soft target that poses a threat.

Without the risk of backfiring, they do provide a safer alternative to usual bullets. If you are up against a person standing in front of a steel wall, there’s no question as to which type of ammunition we would rather have. 

There are various situations where you could easily imagine that the various equipment around would get severely damaged if real bullets were used. In contrast, these frangible alternatives provide an option to have still a security guard who has the means to deal with an intruder should the need arise. 

There are other places where it wouldn’t just be a safety concern if a bullet ricochets. It could also be a situation where you could easily have someone do millions of dollars worth of damage. If bullets started flying around, there’s no knowing what they’ll hit. Imagine the chaos it would cause if an oil tank started leaking. Maybe hazardous material was leaked from the leaks that normal ammunition would create. It could be devastating! 

Is frangible ammo good for self-defense?

If you haven’t guessed it, frangible ammo is great for self-defense purposes at home. It won’t rebound as a usual bullet will while still being able to keep you and your family safe at home. There are also other advantages to this type of ammo that we will be talking about a little bit later.

Amusement parks – the place where the story began

You would probably never have guessed it, but it was an innovation that stems from a common problem seen at amusement parks. It may not be the biggest firepower these places possess. The way the amusement situations are set up, there would be a lot of situations that caused bullets to ricochet. People would end up getting hurt in the process. As you may have guessed, the first type of this ammunition was a .22 short round made solely for the intention of avoiding ricochet injuries. The initial round was made from compressed powder. The invention may have come a long way from its initial stages. There’s no denying that this invention has changed the outcome both for people attending amusement parks and law enforcement officers. 

Advantages: A Lead-Free Ammunition Alternative

Here is the summary:

  • Good for practice
  • Increased safety
  • No ricocheting bullets
  • Lead-free
  • Great if you’re teaching your children to shoot

Fun fact.

The most popular company that produces these bullets available to civilians is called Sinterfire. It has vastly been responsible for the increased risk of unintended injury to civilians. 

It is hard to quantify the number of lives these bullets may have saved. There is no denying that they provide a range of advantages, with increased safety being the most notable advantage. It doesn’t matter if it comes to law enforcement or civilians. While ricocheting bullets is a major concern, so is over-penetration. You may also want to get this type of bullet if you think about what you want to use for home defense. 

The next advantage that this type of bullet has over other options is the one that originally brought us actually to write this article. That is the fact that this ammunition isn’t made with lead. We’re in the business of selling lead paint test kits from companies like 3M. It should come to you as no surprise that we find it quite a substantial advantage that these bullets are made from a significantly safer material. It’s even when they aren’t being used for active shooting purposes. 

We are very active in things like recommending the best paint strippers and giving pros recommendations on XRF analyzers. There is a great source of lead exposure that many people may not be thinking about quite as much as they really should be. It is when they go shooting. 

Great measures were taken back in 1977 when it came to banning the use of lead paint in residential paint. It was never mandated that something had to be done about the exposure from the lead dust released into the air when a bullet is fired. It may seem like a little thing. It has the potential to add up over time for someone who is either in law enforcement or simply someone who loves shooting guns. 

You may not be all too concerned about your safety and the exposure to lead that stems from using traditional bullets. Next time you go to the shooting range, there may be others in your family whose health may benefit from using lead-free ammunition.

Even if they disintegrate as they hit the intended object, you aren’t exposing yourself to the health implications of exposure. Implications stem from long-term exposure to the hazardous metal lead when inhaled and enters your system where it is stored. Additionally, the dust that stems from shooting a gun won’t settle in your clothes.

You may be bringing it into your home and exposing your kids to it. Kids are significantly more at risk when it comes to this harmful metal than adults are. It can lead to very severe long-term health consequences. Significant lead exposure can lead to a range of things, and it includes developmental delays in kids. It is why you may want to replace those traditional bullets you have lying around at home. 

It is good when it comes to safety and when it comes to avoiding unnecessary lead exposure at the gun range. It also provides you the ability to use steel targets instead, which some people may prefer. 

ParameterFrangible AmmunitionNormal Ammunition
Projectile typeCompressed powder or metalSolid lead or copper
TargetSoft targets or steel platesAny target
FragmentationHigh fragmentation on impactLittle to no fragmentation
CostHigher costLower cost
Safety in useSafer for close-quarters and indoor shootingThis may increase the risk of collateral damage
AccuracySimilar to normal ammunitionSimilar to frangible ammunition
AvailabilityIt may be less common or have limited availabilityMore widely available


Here’s a summary:

  • Some protection
  • Messier
  • Made to disintegrate
  • Cleanup is more cumbersome.

There are several advantages to frangible ammo. There are also a couple of disadvantages that would be unfair, not to mention. Frangible bullets are lethal and can provide protection against any intruder you may want. Some people believe that the deep penetration of usual bullets is preferred. Many people may think that these bullets are great for training purposes. When it comes to being placed in front of a potential threat, they want something they know to provide deep penetration. You know you’ll get that with conventional ammo.

Our purpose is to mainly inform people of the various dangers associated with lead exposure. There is no doubt that we are big fans of the frangible options if they fits the purpose you are trying to achieve. There is no denying all the same necessary safety precautions need to be taken when these bullets are used rather than conventional ones. They still have undeniable power. 

These bullets will also have a couple of other disadvantages that we need to cover. These bullets are messier than conventional ones. It is made to disintegrate when it hits hard surfaces. It should be no surprise that they also create a significant amount of metal dust when fired. This metal dust cannot simply be left. It will need to be cleaned up after each session. If you choose this type of ammo, it is a feature that you will have to learn to live with. It is a commonly reported issue with ammo. 

They are definite winners when it comes to training purposes for law enforcement. Some owners may not appreciate the softer material that they are made of. It can create other issues like potentially fouling in the barrel at a higher rate than usual from conventional bullets made of harder materials. 

Is frangible ammo bad for the barrel?

If you are doing high-volume training, there is a concern that the barrel will be affected by this softer material. People are afraid the metal dust that arises from shooting off this ammo increases the need for more cleaning. However, it is also possible that the barrel is ruined faster than with the standard ammo. Some people may simply not like this option because of the additional hassle it provides.

However, whether or not frangible ammo is bad for the barrel is very scattered and inconclusive. Various users online will be telling you different things. In addition to that, various websites online point out that frangible ammo is rather expensive. The overall cost of shooting will depend more on the number of bullets you are going through.

In terms of protecting the barrel, you will likely be better off being sure that you are using minimally abrasive methods to do the cleaning.

Maybe you are using steel bristle bore brushes to do the cleaning against the barrel. What may be damaging the barrel is not the frangible ammo. Instead, it’s using a steel brush to scrub and clean the barrel instead of something slightly less abrasive. The more enthusiastic you are when cleaning out the barrel, the more worn out it will become.

Another important factor that you may want to consider and compare the two different ways of shooting. With traditional ammo versus this lighter stuff- is the overall cost associated with your hobby. 

One of the examples that we found online was in a community where many people compared the various costs associated with different shooting options. The initial poster was concerned as to whether 2,000 rounds of frangible ammo would wear out the barrel or not. 

The gas flame is essentially what will wear out the barrel. There is a concern that this type of ammo is lighter than the usual kind. The power produced has to be higher to create the necessary velocity to ensure the disintegration of the bullets. In other words, the gas flames needed to make the entire mechanism happen are more.

Over time, this additional gas and heat associated with this lighter ammo will impact the barrel’s accuracy. The high flame cutting that arises from this is substantially more than usual bullets. Where it starts becoming more relevant is the associated cost of this hobby. 

Frangible ammo costs quite a bit, as many rounds will cost $2-3 per round. It means when you are shooting 2,000 rounds, that equates to $4,000-6,000 simply in ammunition. These bullets may have higher wear on the barrel than traditional ones do.

Amount of bulletsCost, $

It’s more important to make sure that you compare apples to apples. The question does not become whether you are saving money by using a type of ammunition that is more or less abrasive on the barrel. Instead, it’s how the price of ammo compares to the cost you will incur when you change the barrel.

A barrel will cost you somewhere between $60 and $210 for most handgun barrels. It becomes obvious that the question is not whether or not there’s more wear on the barrel. 

This type of ammunition will not be chosen based on its effect on the barrel. Rather, it’s chosen because of the other advantages over the alternatives. Would you rather be safe when you practice where ricocheting is a valid concern?

It’ll protect you from excessive lead exposure that could cause chronic side effects over the long term. Are you more concerned about the cost associated with this type of hobby? The choice is yours to make. 

Is it best for training?

Suppose you are a person who likes to know that the ammo you have will have the level of penetration that you are expecting with traditional bullets. In that case, frangible ones may be ones you want to use for training purposes. It may be if you are forced to undergo training in places where you are likely to be hitting hard surfaces. The risk of ricocheting bullets is a serious concern there.

You at least have a valid option to ensure that you stay safe in the process. It can provide you with the necessary training to increase your proficiency. It will allow you to practice at those close ranges that would otherwise be problematic with normal ammo.

Target damage provided by these bullets

These bullets intend that they disintegrate when they hit their target. This isn’t necessarily the case with all of them. It will depend on the surface they are hitting and how they were manufactured. Bullets may be vaporized upon contact. There are many situations where the mechanism of bullet disintegration may mean that it is. Only part of the bullet is disintegrated.

Know that these bullets are at risk of disintegrating if not handled properly during the loading and firing mechanisms. This is why high-velocity loads often have a feature that non-high velocity loads don’t – non-frangible jackets. You will want the bullet to disintegrate when it hits what it should be hitting. A frangible jacket is used in certain situations.

There is a chance that the jacket ricochets. The chances of this jacket doing any damage are significantly lower than if the frangible core was preserved and was to rebound as well. 

Will frangible ammo kill a human being?

If you are hit by frangible ammo, it will kill you the way traditional ammo would. This type of bullet will still do a great amount of damage to soft tissue, whereas it will shatter when it hits a hard surface. Unless you are wearing armor, this type of ammunition can cause some severe damage to you as a human being. 

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply

      Login/Register access is temporary disabled