How Many Types of Handgun Ammo Are There?

New to the wonderful world of handguns? If so, you’re probably trying to study the many aspects of handguns and handgun accessories. If you’ve arrived at this article, you’re probably trying to figure out how many types of handgun ammo there are. 

Fortunately, this article has that answer, in addition to a variety of other pertinent information. So, without further ado, let’s review the different types of handgun ammo. 

Handgun Bullet Types

There are, in general, 5 different handgun bullet types. We’ll review the specifics of each below. 

Lead Round Nose

First up is the lead round nose. This is the stereotypical image of a bullet that most people have in their minds. Made entirely of lead, it has a rounded nose and penetrates objects with ease. 

This bullet is extremely common and quite affordable as well. Therefore, it’s one of the most popular options in existence. 

The issue with lead round nose bullets is that they’re, well, made of lead. Unfortunately, some municipalities have banned them as a result.

See, every time you fire a lead round nose bullet, it releases lead particles into the air. Lead particles are dangerous, and therefore, lawmakers in some states have set regulations as a means of minimizing their existence. There are even specific gun ranges that forbid the use of lead round nose bullets. 

All of that said, they’re extremely accurate and great for range shooting. So, if they’re allowed in your range, they’re not a bad option to consider. 


Up next is the wadcutter. This bullet is cylindrical in shape and possesses a flat nose. As a result, when shot through targets, it leaves an almost perfectly round hole. 

Because they leave such clean holes, wadcutters are often used in competitive shooting. The precision of their resulting bullet hole allows for extremely accurate scoring. 

These bullets are highly accurate. They also penetrate objects with ease, making them great for self-defense purposes. 

Semi-wad Cutter

Semi-wad cutters possess flat noses but are also conically shaped as opposed to cylindrical. They work in all of the same guns as wadcutters but also work in some guns that wadcutters don’t work in. For instance, they’re commonly used in semi-automatic pistols. 

When compared with traditional wadcutters, these bullets are much more accurate from a distance. While they don’t leave quite as clean a shot, their resulting bullet holes are still quite clean and precise. 

Full Metal Jacket

Full metal jacket bullets possess lead cores and are encased in hard metal jackets consisting of nickel, brass, or steel. They generally possess round noses. 

These bullets are known to be extremely accurate from a distance. As such, they’re commonly used by target shooters. 

Note, though, that because they produce such clean shots, they’re not a good option for hunting. In fact, they’re commonly used in war as a means of minimizing the effects of bullet wounds. This is because, unlike hollowpoint bullets, they don’t expand upon impact. 


There are both jacketed and unjacketed hollowpoint bullets available. Regardless, these tend to possess rounded noses and are equipped with excellent accuracy. 

Hollowpoint bullets expand upon impact. This ensures that they don’t penetrate too far into the objects that they hit. On the other hand, it leaves a higher chance of fatality in humans and other living creatures. 

These are the best bullets for hunting purposes. They’re also good for self-defense, and can, of course, be used at the range as well. 

Handgun Bullet Calibers

When buying bullets, you can’t just look at their types. You have to assess their calibers as well. In this case, caliber refers to the bullet’s size. 

Let’s discuss the most popular calibers below. To see examples of different calibers, check out the selection of bullets at diamondkbrass.com.

.22 Long Rifle

The .22 long rifle is a lightweight, compact bullet that’s commonly used for target shooting. Highly affordable, it’s one of the most popular bullets in existence. There are all sorts of handguns that utilize .22 bullets, so you are likely going to use them at some point. 

.38 Special Ammo

.38 Special ammo is used in smaller handguns, the likes of which are easy to conceal. It’s not the most powerful bullet in existence but does work for self-defense purposes. 

.380 ACP

The .380 ACP is very similar to the .38 Special. Note, though, that whereas the .38 special is used in revolvers, the .380 ACP is used in semi-automatic weapons. In general, the .38 Special is more accurate as well. 

.357 Magnum

The .357 Magnum is similar to the .38 Special. However, it’s much more powerful. In fact, these are some of the most powerful bullets on the market and are great for hunting, range shooting, and self-defense. 

9mm Luger

One of the most popular bullets in existence, the 9mm luger, is known for its combination of power, affordability, and accuracy. The 9mm Luger can reliably be used for most applications, including self-defense and target shooting. 

.44 Magnum

The .44 Magnum is famous for its power. This special ammo is used for heavy-duty purposes, including in the hunting of big game and in defense from bears. 

.45 ACP

The .45 ACP is used primarily in semi-automatic weapons, though it’s used in standard handguns as well. It particularly excels in the realm of self-defense. 

There Are All Types of Handgun Ammo

The truth of the matter is that there are all different types of handgun ammo. With an assortment of different handguns on the market, you always need to do your due diligence to ensure that you’re using the correct ammunition. Use this article to guide you, and you should be just fine. 

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