Is Frangible Ammo Good For Concealed Carry?

Team Never Quit Frangible 9mm HP is similar in appearance to jacketed hollow point ammo. Photo-courtesy of Lucky Gunner

Frangible: the most overlooked option for concealed carry ammo

Frangible ammunition, made of pressed powder that can include copper, tungsten, or other materials, has long been considered a niche product for shoot house training. It has the advantage, in training situations, of performing and feeling just like traditional ammo, with the key trait of disappearing into powder when it hits any object harder than itself, most often poured and hardened concrete.

Like many other subspecies of the ammunition family, frangible technology and choices have improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. Hollow point choices are now available, and buyers can choose from a wide range of calibers not previously available, including .380 ACP.

Though it was a law enforcement rather than a concealed carry event, the 2012 Empire State Building shooting should inspire concealed carriers, especially those living and working in concrete-rich environments, to consider packing frangible.

Nine injuries to bystanders occurred that day as a result of ricochets or flying debris. While frangible isn’t considered effective for penetrating automobile doors, a definite need for LE personnel, it’s extremely unlikely a civilian would have the same need.

There are many up-sides, and virtually no drawbacks, to carrying “frange” as a civilian.

I have personally used three different brands of frangible: Team Never Quit, Allegiance, and Remington. All three cycled perfectly in .380 ACP, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, in an assortment of semiauto pistol brands and types. Based on having seen two catastrophic failures of remanufactured frangible loads in previously well-functioning revolvers, however, I’m not keen on ever using it with my wheelgun.

Frangible delivers an unexpected dose of knockdown power. Witnessing gel block demos of Allegiance brand pistol ammunition, I was taken aback by their 9mm load impacting a gel block such that it went airborne and wiggled to the ground! The wound channel associated with traditional ammunition becomes a massive, capillary-like network of narrow wounds, spread out in a much larger pattern than even the best-fragmenting regular bullet, with frangible.

Gel block test showing the substantial fragmentation of a frangible bullet. Photo courtesy of Team Never Quit.

An encounter with a sizable Western Diamondback, cozied up to my back door and endangering my dogs, was a watershed moment in which I became a diehard fan of frangible. With both wrists recently injured, I wasn’t confident the usual shovel-swing attack would go in my favor.

With the snake cozied up on the concrete, close to a glass door, even birdshot was likely to incur expensive property damage. I opted for Team Never Quit frangible HP. A single shot ended the emergency with the only clean-up being snake blood. Now the intruder bore a remarkable likeness to the colonial “Join or Die” flag image.

Have no doubt, frangible can wreak severe damage upon solid objects that are not harder than the bullet. Lumber, concrete blocks, and the like bear destruction akin to being struck by conventional bullets. In a watermelon experiment, fired from five yards, the bullet left a one-inch diameter crater as an exit wound—and rendered the flesh inside into mush.

No discussion of frangible for concealed carry would be complete without a discussion of the potential advantages from a legal and ethical standpoint. Knowing that you’re carrying a round that will perform well against a threat, while being limited in its ability to cause unintended injury to bystanders, is not only comforting; it shows attention to responsibility for safety. Despite an almost constant watch on news stories regarding defensive gun use, I’ve not yet encountered one that mentions frangible.

A downside of this specialty ammunition is its relative scarcity at the local level. Frangible is primarily available through mail order distributors. Lucky Gunner, for example, is an online store that usually has a good selection of frange.

It often seems as if I’m the only person carrying frangible for EDC. If you are too, please chime in!

About Eve Flanigan

Eve Flanigan is a defensive shooting and lifestyle student, practitioner, and instructor based in the American Southwest. She is a lifelong recreational rifle shooter who began carrying concealed in 2004, which evolved into an interest in defensive handgun training and competing. Flanigan holds NRA Instructor certifications in pistol, rifle, and personal protection in the home. She is licensed to instruct New Mexico’s intensive Concealed Carry course, and regularly designs, conducts, and co-teaches classes on concealed carry, introduction to pistol, defensive pistol, basic rifle, last-ditch medical, and use of force for civilian students. Flanigan enjoys competing in run-and-gun biathlons that include carbine and pistol.


  1. David J on June 22, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    So, considering all that, drawing and firing your sidearm, your intention is always to kill. Is that correct? The damage inflicted by a frangible body shot, would, in general be impossible to remove and very difficult if not impossible to repair

  2. Eve Flanigan on June 22, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    Good question. The intention of civilian use of force, including use of a firearm, stop the attack. Use of a gun as is only legitimate when the threat of death or grievous bodily harm appears to exist. Under those conditions, whether the attacker dies as a result of someone defending themselves is a consequence of their choice to inflict harm on an innocent person(s).

    • MASTERMECH48 on April 2, 2022 at 6:41 pm

      The overall object of frangible ammo use is NOT to be ON THE RECEIVING END. It is my goal not to be on the social end of receiving a frangible projectile hence, BE the DEFENDER. Better knockdown power presents a lesser threat to innocent personell via fewer fired projectiles. I am more concerned with the safety of innocent people than I am of the criminal assailent. Take a look at the military ammunition. Via the Geneve BALL ammo is used as it is more humane. COMBAT is NOT a social field event. The use of frangible 223 and 7.62 ammo has the capability of lessing fire fight engagement times.

  3. christopher on June 24, 2018 at 9:29 am

    My EDC is Liberty civil defense in 9mm I found that it has a very consistent performance, lightens up the fire arm (not much but every gram counts) and although it has a penetration of only 11 inches I feel like I don’t need anymore than that especially if you look at the performance videos (they are very compelling). Here is a link to one of the tests. Let me know your thoughts on this ammunition if you find the time.

  4. Eve on June 24, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    @christopher, I’ve no experience with Liberty but that certainly is interesting. The speed is impressive, and the armor-piercing qualities have a place in self-protection. At the end of the day, good shot placement with any ammo beats a miss with the fanciest load!

  5. John B on February 8, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    I carry federal frangible in my 9mm Sig P365 and 365XL. I want to do what I can to reduce chances of killing someone while more than likely stopping am attack

  6. John on July 19, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    I have been using .40 S&W. ICC frangible hollow points for the last year or two. To me it seems like the best of both worlds. Higher velocity and larger wound channels. Less chance of a missed shot bouncing down the street into something ya don’t want to damage. My home testing has shown reliable feeding and great effects on target. That said I always have two extra mags with me, one with the frangible ammo and another with traditional hollow point just in case.

  7. tom pomeroy on April 19, 2022 at 6:37 am

    I am an ex law enforcement officer and gun enthusiast ! My interest in frangible ammo is of course self defense. Most civilians don’t practice much, tension and fear in an extreme situation creates the chance for a ”miss”!, and that is the same with LE officers also. When the soft target is missed what can I expect will happen to the frangible bullet travelling down range or impacting , say the street pavement? drywall in a home,window glass both in a vehicle and home? I’m not trying to pin anyone down on responsibility , only asking if anyone has recorded or noted the demise of a missed shot. Members of my family and I are cc licensed and I want to be sure they are using the right product for their safety and lessen the chance for a law suit or prosecution because they defended themselves , but in the situation had one of their rounds miss the intended target

Leave a Comment