Hollow point bullets, also known as JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) bullets, are a type of ammunition designed to expand upon impact, creating a larger wound channel and inflicting more damage. These bullets are commonly used in self-defense and law enforcement situations. However, their use has been a topic of controversy and debate, with some states even banning them entirely. This article will discuss the legality of hollow point bullets in California and provide information on alternative types of ammunition.

So, are hollow point bullets legal in California? The short answer is yes, but with some restrictions. California has specific laws regulating the use and possession of hollow point bullets. According to California Penal Code section 12320, it is unlawful to possess, sell, or manufacture any armor-piercing ammunition, including hollow point bullets, except as specifically exempted by law.

But what exactly are hollow point bullets? These bullets have a hollow cavity in the tip that is filled with a soft material, such as lead. Upon impact, the bullet expands, creating a larger wound and increasing the chances of stopping a threat. The expansion also decreases the chances of over-penetration, which can cause harm to innocent bystanders.

The use of hollow point bullets has been controversial due to their ability to cause severe injuries or death. Some argue that these bullets are excessively lethal and should not be used for civilian purposes. However, others argue that hollow point bullets are safer since they are less likely to penetrate through walls and cause collateral damage. The debate continues, and various states have different laws regarding their use.

In California, the law specifically prohibits the use of hollow point bullets that can penetrate body armor. According to the California Penal Code section 12320, “armor-piercing ammunition” is defined as any bullet that is designed primarily to penetrate a body vest or body shield. This includes not only hollow point bullets but also full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets and other types of ammunition.

The penalties for possessing or using hollow point bullets in California can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the circumstances. If caught in possession of armor-piercing ammunition, the offender may face a fine of up to $10,000 and up to three years in prison. If the ammunition is used to commit a crime, the penalties may be even more severe.

However, there are exceptions to the law. One of the exceptions is for law enforcement officers who are authorized to carry and use hollow point ammunition in the performance of their duties. Additionally, individuals who own antique firearms or have a valid hunting license may possess hollow point bullets for hunting purposes.

For those who want to avoid using hollow point bullets, there are other types of ammunition available. The most common types of ammunition used in California are FMJ and frangible bullets. FMJ bullets are the standard type of ammunition used in the military and are designed to remain intact and penetrate through targets. Frangible bullets, on the other hand, are designed to break apart upon impact, reducing the risk of over-penetration.

In conclusion, while hollow point bullets are legal in California, there are restrictions and penalties for their use and possession. It is essential to understand the laws and regulations regarding these bullets to ensure compliance. Consider alternatives such as FMJ or frangible bullets if you are uncomfortable with using hollow points. And remember, always use caution and proper training when handling firearms and ammunition.

Key Takeaways:


  • Hollow point bullets are legal in California, but with certain restrictions.
  • Hollow point bullets are designed to expand upon impact, causing more damage to the target.
  • The use of hollow point bullets is controversial due to their lethal nature and potential for causing excessive harm.


Are Hollow Points Legal in California?

In California, hollow point ammunition is legal for most gun owners to purchase and possess. However, there are restrictions on using these bullets in certain situations. They are prohibited for hunting and cannot be used by law enforcement agencies. It’s important to be aware of the specific regulations regarding the legality of hollow point ammunition in California to avoid any potential legal issues. If you are planning to use hollow point ammunition, make sure you are well-informed about the applicable laws and regulations.

What Are Hollow Point Bullets?

Hollow point bullets are a specific type of ammunition characterized by their pit or hollowed out shape at the tip. This design is intended to cause the bullet to expand upon impact, making them effective for self-defense, hunting, and law enforcement purposes. In California, hollow point bullets are generally allowed for most uses, including self-defense and law enforcement. In fact, a police officer in California recently used hollow point bullets to effectively neutralize a threat, minimizing the risk of collateral damage.

Why Are Hollow Point Bullets Considered Controversial?

There is much controversy surrounding hollow point bullets, as they are known for their potential to cause greater tissue damage, making them more lethal. This has sparked debates about their use in both civilian contexts and law enforcement. Those against them argue that the enhanced damage violates the rules of war and causes unnecessary harm, while supporters advocate for their effectiveness in self-defense and law enforcement scenarios.

What Is the Law Regarding Hollow Point Bullets in California?

In California, the use of hollow point bullets is legal for personal use under certain restrictions and regulations. These bullets can be utilized for self-defense and by law enforcement agencies. It is crucial to understand and follow the specific laws and limitations when buying and utilizing hollow point ammunition in California.

What Is the Definition of “Armor-Piercing Ammunition” in California?

The state of California defines ‘armor-piercing ammunition’ as projectiles or projectile cores constructed entirely from specific metals or metal alloys. These types of ammunition are designed to be used in a handgun and are manufactured or altered to penetrate metal or armor. The law strictly prohibits the manufacture, sale, or possession of such ammunition, except for specific limited purposes.

What Are the Penalties for Possessing or Using Hollow Point Bullets in California?

In California, the penalties for possessing or using hollow point bullets can vary. Depending on the specific circumstances and prior offenses, a violation can result in fines and imprisonment. Possessing or using these bullets without a lawful excuse can have serious legal consequences, affecting both firearm rights and one’s overall criminal record. It is essential to be aware of and follow California’s regulations to avoid any potential legal repercussions.

What Are the Exceptions to the Law?

In California, most gun owners are legally allowed to possess hollow-point bullets, but there are some exceptions to this law. These exceptions include law enforcement officers, military personnel, and individuals who have obtained special permits for using hollow-point ammunition. It is important to be knowledgeable about these exceptions in order to comply with the law. A helpful tip is to regularly stay informed about current firearm laws and regulations to avoid any potential legal complications.

Can Law Enforcement Officers Use Hollow Point Bullets in California?

Is it Legal for Law Enforcement Officers to Use Hollow Point Bullets in California?

It is legal for law enforcement officers to use hollow point bullets in California. This allowance is based on the rationale that these bullets are designed to expand upon impact, reducing the risk of over-penetration and collateral damage. This aligns with the objective of law enforcement to minimize harm to bystanders. In fact, the use of hollow point bullets by law enforcement is intended to enhance public safety and minimize the risk of unintended casualties.

Are There Any Other Exceptions to the Hollow Point Bullet Law in California?

Yes, there are additional exceptions to the hollow point bullet law in California. These exceptions include use by individuals participating in activities such as:

  • target shooting at authorized ranges
  • hunting
  • home defense

provided the ammunition is utilized in a lawful manner and in compliance with relevant regulations.

What Are the Alternatives to Hollow Point Bullets in California?

California law prohibits the use of hollow point bullets in most circumstances. In California, alternatives to hollow point bullets include frangible bullets, soft-point bullets, and polymer-tipped bullets. Frangible bullets are specifically designed to break apart upon impact, reducing the risk of overpenetration. Soft-point bullets have a lead core with a softer metal jacket, while polymer-tipped bullets feature a polymer tip that aids in expansion upon impact. Remember to consult with legal experts or law enforcement when unsure to ensure compliance with California’s ammunition laws.

What Are the Most Common Types of Ammunition Used in California?

The most frequently used types of ammunition in California are:

  1. Full Metal Jacket (FMJ): Designed for target practice and competitions as it can penetrate targets without breaking apart.
  2. Soft Point (SP): Utilized for hunting as it expands upon impact, causing more tissue damage.
  3. Shotgun Shells: Perfect for hunting birds and small game, with options such as birdshot, buckshot, and slugs.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Non-Hollow Point Bullets in California?

When examining the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing non-hollow point bullets in California, it is crucial to acknowledge that these bullets are lawful and commonly employed for various purposes.

Pros: Non-hollow point bullets provide deeper penetration and have a lower chance of fragmenting, making them suitable for self-defense and law enforcement.

Cons: Nevertheless, non-hollow point bullets may carry a higher risk of over-penetration, potentially resulting in collateral damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hollow points legal in California?

Yes, hollow point bullets are legal in California for licensed firearm owners. However, there are certain restrictions and types of ammunition that are illegal to possess.

Can a licensed gun owner purchase any type of ammunition in California?

No, there are certain types of ammunition, such as armor piercing and hollow point bullets, that are restricted and cannot be legally purchased by licensed firearm owners.

What are the consequences of possessing restricted types of ammunition in California?

Possession of restricted ammunition can result in severe penalties, including incarceration. It is important to consult with a skilled gun attorney if facing charges for illegal possession of ammunition.

Can I transport firearms and ammunition together in California?

Yes, licensed gun owners can transport firearms and ammunition together in California, but there are strict regulations that must be followed, such as keeping them in a locked container and keeping the ammunition separate from the firearm.

Is it legal to carry hollow point bullets for self-defense in California?

Yes, hollow point bullets are legal for self-defense purposes in California, but they are not allowed for use in hunting.

What are the consequences of possessing hollow point bullets in a restricted state like New Jersey?

Possession of hollow point bullets in a restricted state like New Jersey can result in serious firearm charges and potential criminal issues. It is important to consult with a skilled gun attorney for a strong defense if facing charges.

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