There are many different kinds of ammunition available to the public, a lot of which are also used by law enforcement. Knowing what the various kinds of ammunition are, what they can do and what kind of damage they can inflict on both humans and property, is the first step towards preventing accidents and protecting oneself.
There are three general types of ammunition that civilians can buy: conventional rounds, specialty rounds, and exotic rounds.
Conventional rounds include: bird shot, buck shot and rifled slugs. These are all used in hunting as well as for sport. Bird shot consists of small pellets packed together; buck shot has larger pellets. Rifled slugs have a groove pattern for accuracy and stability. Tactical rifled slugs are a special kind of rifled slug that provides less recoil but the same performance.
When tested on car doors, ballistic gel, mannequins wearing soft body armor, steel plates, bullet resistant glass, tempered glass and laminated glass, all rounds showed varying results. Rifled slugs proved the most effective in piercing, while buck shot had a wider area of impact.
Specialty rounds include: flares, CS gas, smoke rounds and dustbusters. Flares are meant to signal from distances, and have different colors based on use. CS gas or tear gas is used for crowd control and room clearing, sometimes for home protection. Smoke rounds deliver long-range smoke deployment by shooting smoke-filled canisters at long distances. Dustbuster rounds are made of 575 grain projectiles of compressed lead dust that disintegrate on impact. Eye protection is needed for dustbusters, which have no recoil but provide a devastating effect.
Exotic rounds are ammunition not seen every day, such as Dragon’s Breath, Dragon Slug, armor piercing, Flechette, buck and ball and strung buck. Dragon’s Breath is meant to torch all organic matter. They are magnesium pellets that ignite when shot, setting flammable material on fire. Dragon Slugs are a variation of Dragon’s Breath, but with a projectile that ignites on impact. A Flechette, perhaps one of the most dangerous rounds of all, contains 20 hardened steel darts that pierce and embed onto a target. Buck and ball rounds are made of fragmenting 7/8 ounce slugs and buckshot, designed to break into 3 pieces on impact to increase area of coverage. Strung buck are made of two 54-caliber hardened lead balls attached to 6 inch wire that when shot, are uniquely damaging.