What is frangible ammunition?
Frangible ammunition is a class of ammunition that is mainly for training purposes. While usually brass cased, the name identifies the composition and construction of the projectile. The projectile is constructed of super compressed powdered metals. Most of the frangible loadings on the market are lead free. Frangible ammunition is available in most NATO calibers. This would be 9mm, 5.56, .308, ETC.
Why use frangible ammunition?
Frangible ammunition’s main purpose is for short range training. Shooters quickly identified that shooting full metal jacket projectiles at close proximity steel targets can pose a safety risk for the shooter and people standing nearby. When the copper and lead hit steel at high velocity, dangerous high velocity fragments ricochet off the target. These fragments have enough energy behind them to puncture skin. In some cases, the full intact slug may ricochet off the steel target. Additionally, shooting copper and lead projectiles at steel targets will leave lead deposits. These deposits pose a very toxic risk to people that handle the targets.
The Frangible ammunition’s purpose is to eliminate the ricocheting of the dangerous copper and lead fragments and lead deposits. When a frangible projectile hits steel, remember it is made of super compressed powdered metals, it disintegrates into a powder that loses power and speed very quickly. This allows shooters to engage steel targets at much closer ranges.
Where is frangible ammunition used?
Police departments, swat teams, and military units use “shoot houses”. Shoot houses are an indoor shooting range that has a layout of a basic house or building. They use the shoot houses to practice team-based room clearing and close quarter engagements. Since the participants will be near where the bullet will be landing, whether that be in the wall, floor, or target, the use of frangible ammunition became a requirement.
Can I shoot frangible ammunition through my suppressor?
Since the manufacturing process behind frangible ammunition depends on the compression of the powdered metal to form the bullet, it is possible, and common, for a projectile to be under-compressed or not have enough material for adequate compression. This possible manufacturing defect will cause the projectile to immediately disintegrate after it leaves the barrel. This poses a significant risk if the shooter is using a suppressor.
Some shooters report that using frangible ammunition is okay with a suppressor, citing how many rounds they fire through it, but it is the inevitability of shooting a defective projectile that precludes the recommendation of using this type of ammunition. If a frangible bullet disintegrates in the suppressor, it will have the same if not worse effect of a baffle strike. If a baffle strike happens with a standard lead or copper projectile, it usually takes the path of least resistance and still exits the suppressor through the endcap. This damage is repairable a good amount of the time. If a frangible bullet disintegrates or baffle strikes the suppressor, it will most likely dump all the kinetic energy into the suppressor, adding to the damage. This addition could harm the tube body of the suppressor which is very difficult to repair.
What muzzle devices can I use with frangible ammunition?
You can use any available flash hider, muzzle brake, and compensator. If you want to mimic the feel and handling of a suppressed firearm, we recommend using a blast shield or a training suppressor (Blue Can). Blast shields and training suppressors are items not covered under the National Firearms Act (NFA). They are essentially baffle-less tubes that direct the noise and concussion forward of the shooter.
About the Author
The article was written by Jack Rapala. Jack is a USPSA carry optics shooter, night vision enthusiast, firearm salesman, suppressor connoisseur, and a customer service representative for Griffin Armament.