Legal and Illegal Bullet Types

All of us carry handguns to protect ourselves and our families from a bad guy doing the unthinkable. Part of a proactive mindset is choosing the ammunition you are comfortable with to stop a perpetrator before he hurts you or your loved ones. This leads us to a question we often hear. What kind of ammunition is legal in Texas? This video will not cover ammunition for long guns, antique or black powder firearms.

Instead, we’ll focus on what Texas and federal law both deem as legal ammunition for modern day handguns. To begin, federal law defines ammunition as ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm.

Different types of ammo

Texas law does not generally define ammunition, but it does define one type, armor piercing ammunition. Coincidentally,armor piercing handgun ammunition is the only specifically defined ammo that is illegal under both federal and state law. Also, a person must be 21 years or older to purchase handgun ammunition under federal law. Texas does not regulate the age to purchase ammo.

This means that all other ammunition is legal, including hand loads, law enforcement ammo, and the nastiest hollow points you can find. You can rest easy purchasing these bullets from your local gun store.

If you find yourself firing at an attacker, you cannot be prosecuted under either federal or Texas law solely for using these types of rounds. For most people, using a more effective bullet to stop someone from killing them or their family is a no-brainer. However, with the rise in arrests in all incidents involving firearms, even in clear self-defense cases, it’s natural to wonder if using those critical hollow points to stop the masked gunman in your home was a bad idea.

Texas law typically does not require a person to retreat if faced with deadly force by a perpetrator. If a bad guy forces you to use your weapon in self-defense or defense of your family, you are 100% legally justified in using hollow points to take him down.

Are hollow points illegal?

Unfortunately, even if the ammo is legal, a prosecutor may argue that by using rounds marketed with a catchy name, sayRIP hollow points, Zombie Max or Shredder bullets, that you are out to kill someone as opposed to using your gun as a defensive tool. This type of argument is a plea to jurors’ emotions rather than the law. That is why it’s extremely important to have an attorney who understands the nuances of ammunition and the law of justified deadly force.


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The information provided in this presentation is intended to provide general information to individuals and is not legal advice. The information included in this publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication without the prior written consent of U.S. LawShield, to be given or withheld at our discretion. The information is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. We strive to ensure the information included in this publication is accurate and current, however, no claim is made to the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of information in this publication. The use of this publication does not create an attorney-client relationship between U.S. LawShield, any independent program attorney, and any individual.