How many times have you heard about “the last round you’ll ever need?” Or how about “guaranteed stopping power?” It’s a given that ammunition manufacturers want to make the best, most efficient product possible—and that basically means that the more lethal the round, the better it is. However, sometimes the public or national media sees it as too lethal, and that’s where the controversy starts.
Below is our list of the top most controversial brands or types of handgun rounds. Most of the rounds below can be found in multiple calibers, including the ever-popular 9x19mm and .45 ACP. To keep it fair, we haven’t included anything too out of the ordinary, and everything listed below can be found for commercial sale. Or it had been at one time.
1. Winchester Black Talon
Some of you may remember the now discontinued Winchester’s Black Talon rifle and pistol line. Introduced officially in 1991, this hollow point round is especially famous for its unique-looking projectile. While its black color and petal-like construction gave it a very distinctive look, the round’s performance was roughly on par with other hollow points. Winchester designed the ammunition with stopping power in mind, but the gun maker soon found itself embroiled in controversy after the round was involved in a Long Island shooting in 1993.
The cartridge provided additional ammunition (so to speak) for gun control advocates to rally against civilian gun ownership while other critics focused on the “Black Talon” name. In the end, Winchester decided to discontinue the pistol caliber line in 1993, and the entire line completely in 2000. At no point was the round ever prohibited by United States law. In fact, some sources say that as many as 400 police departments at some point or another carried Black Talon ammunition.
While the Black Talon may have been a PR nightmare for Winchester, it was not a complete loss for the company. Most of the design for the Black Talon was rolled over into the Ranger SXT ammunition, which operates on much the same principle.
2. G2 R.I.P
The most recently released round on this list, G2’s Radically Invasive Projectile (R.I.P.) made waves when it was released. Similar to the Black Talon, G2 courted controversy by designing a hollow point round that sent out eight sharp trocars upon expansion, allegedly inflicting much more damage than a conventional hollow point.
The company’s excellent marketing campaign should be credited for putting the round out front and center, garnering more than 1.5 million views on YouTube over just a span of a few days. Unlike the Black Talon, for which negative media attention caused the discontinuation of the line, G2’s R.I.P. thrived on controversy. In the days after the round was released, reviewers and interested gun owners scrambled to get their hands on some of this expensive ammo, only to find that not only did it cost about $40 for a box of 20 rounds, it was also hard to find.
3. Jihawg Ammo
This ammo was not only controversial, some called it downright offensive. Billing its rounds as “peace through pork,” Jihawg gained media scrutiny for a very novel—and some would say absurd—addition to what seem to be perfectly standard 9mm rounds. Can you guess what it is?
“Not only does Jihawg guarantee that all of their ammunition meets or exceeds S.A.A.M.I. standards for velocity, penetration, and accuracy, they also coat each projectile with a special ballistic paint infused with pork to make it ‘Haraam‘ or unclean to a radical Jihadist,” the company stated in a press release in 2013.
That’s right, these bullets are infused with pork for an extra “deterrent factor of eternal damnation for fundamentalist Islamic Jihadist.”
Needless to say, Jihawg Ammo quickly found itself the target of criticism and even derision from much of the gun owning community. Religious experts also commented that many of the claims that Jihawg made were false and that it is not a transgression if a Muslim is forced to eat or touch pork. Despite this, the ammo maker did have avid supporters until it recently closed its doors.
4. “Armor-piercing” ammo and Teflon-coated bullets
Armor-piercing handgun ammunition has been banned in the United States since 1986, and unless you had some beforehand, you likely won’t be shooting any AP 9x19mm rounds anytime soon. That said, there are other rounds with armor-piercing attributes that are not covered by the law, such as teflon-coated bullets, or so-called “cop-killers.” These rounds are covered in a layer of polytetrafluoroethylene, which was initially added to reduce barrel wear. However, it was soon discovered that the bullets also had improved penetration against certain surfaces (like car doors and windows) because it decreased deflection. That soon led to a popular assumption that the rounds were armor-piercing and presented a threat to police.
Of course, with a normal round, a Teflon-coated bullet has no advantages over a conventional bullet when striking a protective vest. Some experts even suggest that Teflon-coated bullets were significantly worse when it came to penetrating Kevlar but nonetheless, several states have restrictions in place for the ownership of coated rounds.
5. All hollow point ammo
We’ve already featured a few hollow point rounds on this list, but in a general sense, all hollow point ammo is controversial. There are still places, like New Jersey, where the ownership of hollow points is restricted. This is despite their ubiquitous nature and the fact that many police departments and gun owners trust and rely on hollow points for self-defense. Hollow points are designed to rapidly expand after hitting a target, causing as much damage as possible and reducing the chance of overpenetration. Anyone who might need to use their firearm in an urban or otherwise built-up environment would be remiss to not consider using hollow point rounds.
If you don’t think hollow points are controversial, just talk to someone who doesn’t know what they are. Misconceptions abound regarding these bullets, and you might even hear phrases like “it’s overpowered,” “it’s specifically designed to kill people,” or strangely enough, “it’s armor-piercing.”
More recently, the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal that would strike down San Francisco’s hollow point ban.