by Kat Ainsworth – NRA Shooting Illustrated January 30, 2017
Bullets predated firearms by centuries. Two millennia ago, sling bullets cast from clay, stone and lead were used in battle, and in the second century A.D. the Romans took it further with whistling bullets. Those were made by casting 1-ounce lead balls and drilling 5-millimeter holes into their centers. The resultant bullets whistled to intimidate and traveled at speeds of 100 meters per second. Words such as dexai—“take this” or “catch”—were etched into the projectiles. Today, bullets have evolved significantly with one particular type taking the lead for innovation and versatility: frangibles. Frangible bullets aren’t new; in fact, they were originally created for mid-20th century shooting galleries. The 1967 edition of the “Shooter’s Bible” lists Remington’s SpatterLess and Winchester’s SpatterProof, both labeled as gallery cartridges. But just as the science behind hollow-points has advanced, so has the manufacturing process behind frangibles.
The purpose of frangible bullets is simple: to reduce or eliminate ricochets, backsplash and over-penetration. Sixty years ago, the focus was injury-free fun at shooting galleries; today it’s about CQB (Close Quarter Battle) training and selfdefense. Six decades ago, gallery rounds were made with iron powder. Those projectiles penetrated more deeply than expected and were also magnetic. There’s no comparison between early gallery rounds and the frangibles available today.
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