Why Clothing Matters

By Jace Bauserman

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Speer Bullet penetration trail measured in gel

If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch demonstrations showing common and seemingly insignificant barriers affect how a bullet penetrates and expands, it’s hard to believe the truth. But fact is, something as subtle as the type of clothing an attacker wears can affect how a self-defense bullet behaves on—and after—impact. And that can change the outcome of a life-and-death encounter.

For example, heavy cotton clothing, merino wool, cotton denim and the like can cover or fill the bullet's hollow-point cavity and prevent bullet expansion. Self-defense and law enforcement experts conduct extensive tests on this, and they have found a huge spectrum in performance between common hollow point bullet designs. Some work well, some do not.

How Hollow Points Function

What makes hollow points great for self-defense is their nose cavity, which allows the bullet to expand, provides increased terminal effect, and slows the bullet to prevent dangerous over-penetration.

Speer bullet upset

If a hollow point bullet fails to expand, it becomes more like a full metal jacket round, which doesn't expand at all at the point of impact. In a self-defense situation, full metal jacket ammo is less effective because of its through-and-through nature. There is no expansion to cause additional trauma and hemorrhaging, and the bullet can continue traveling past the intended target, risking the safety of bystanders.

If clothing should plug the hollow point cavity on impact, tissue isn’t allowed to push into the cavity and cause this critical expansion. Instantly, your hollow point turns into an FMJ.

The Solution

Speer addressed this common problem with both Gold Dot and G2 bullet designs. Trusted by more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies around the globe, this dynamic duo reduces the worry of heavy clothing.

Gold Dot uses a pressure-formed lead core bonded to a precisely uniformed jacket, eliminating separation on impact and ensuring more retained weight. Retained weight allows the bullet to penetrate deep. The Gold Dot hollow-point design expands consistently through the full range of barriers—including heavy clothing—to provide uniform expansion. 

Gold Dot G2 cartridges in a magazine with the packaging in the background

Sweetening the pot is Speer's Gold Dot G2. Once offered only to law enforcement, this ultimate self-defense round sports an exclusive nose design that totally resists the effects of heavy clothing. Rather than a sizeable hollow-point cavity, G2 has a shallow dish that’s already filled with a high-performance elastomer. Because the dish is filled, there is no way for clothing to clog the bullet, and because the elastomer does its job by starting the expansion process, the results are excellent. Shooters still get the devastating effect of expansion without the worry of clothing clog.

Bullet choice is a lot like insurance. You pay for what you need so you have the right coverage when you need it. Should you find yourself in the fight of your life, you want a bullet design that gives you confidence and provides devastating results.