Poppycock! They were just hollow points.
My WWII veteran neighbor thinks they are horrible, and designed to cause extra suffering. He calls them Dum Dums. (Extra suffering... sheesh. This guy used to shoot 20mm at Japanese soldiers. I guess you don't suffer long when hit by 20mm.)
Also not so true.
Chuck Hawks goes into great lengths over the advantages and disadvantages of various brands on his website. MBtGE takes issue with Hawks' statements about a .357 hollowpoint being more powerful than similar .45 or .44. I don't know Mr. Hawks data so I can't judge if he is looking at graphs when he makes his statement, or if his preference for a venerable .357 revolver biases his thinkings. Either way, I wouldn't feel undergunned with any of those 3 calibers.
Chuck Hawks does clarify the terms "stopping power" or "knock down power" that you hear bandied about in media, like on Discovery Channel's "Future Weapons" program. If you keep your TV tuned to the same station you will watch a "Mythbusters" episode that shows that a little tiny bullet can't punch you out of your shoes and knock you pysically down. And if if could it would knock down the shooter as well. Knock Down Power doesn't really refer to this. I guess a better description would "Knock The Bad Guy Out of the Fight so He Can't Fight Back or Want to Thus Eliminating Him as a Threat." But that's unwieldy.
Hollow point bullets have this 'ability' more so than ball ammo, or an FMJ (full metal jacket). And we're talking for handguns. Rifles are a whole different beast, with their higher velocity and the role of the rifle being more for offense, than defense.
People aren't as tough as deer, or other animals you hunt. You hurt them enough and they can shut down fast, even with a comparable amount of adrenalin. Hollow point bullets expand when they enter a body and stay put. Full metal jacketed bullets often enter, then exit out the back and go who knows where. FMJ doesn't leave all the energy it has in the bad guy. And when faced with a bad guy you certainly want to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible.
Let me quote directly from Mr. Hawks as he said it better than my fumblings:
One should carry only hollowpoint ammunition in a defensive handgun. Hollowpoint ammunition has much better stopping power than full metal jacket or round-nose lead, and stopping power is what you need when being assaulted.
The point is not to wound or kill the adversary: the point is to stop him in his tracks and make him cease attacking you. "Stopping power" (sometimes called "knock-down power") refers to a particular bullet's ability to incapacitate an attacker - the greater that ability, the less chance that your attacker will be able to continue shooting, stabbing, or beating you after you have shot him.
Handguns are not death-rays; despite what you see in the movies, the vast majority of people shot with handguns survive (over 80%). Handguns are weak compared to rifles and shotguns, and thus you want every edge you can get. Great ammunition is no more expensive than mediocre ammunition, so carry the best. Rifles and shotguns have stopping power to spare; handguns do not. Thus you must select your handgun load very carefully, and the detail of the handgun ammunition section reflects this.
Hollowpoint ammunition is NOT more lethal than ball (full metal jacket) ammunition. You may have seen media hype about "killer dum-dum bullets" but this is nonsense. Hollowpoint bullets usually expand and stop in the human body, and thus the attacker absorbs much more of the bullet's kinetic energy than if the bullet had merely zipped through him and left two small holes. Hollowpoint ammunition is also safer for all parties concerned.
- You are safer because your attacker is more likely to be incapacitated after
one or two shots and thus unable to fire back, stab you, or whatever. The
decreased likelihood of your attacker dying from hollowpoint bullets saves you
the moral and legal complications and expense you will experience from killing a man.
- Innocent bystanders are safer because hollowpoint bullets are less likely to
exit the attacker's body and go on to injure anyone else. The ricochet danger is
also much lower than that of ball ammunition, and hollowpoint bullets are less
likely to penetrate walls or doors and strike uninvolved third parties.
Furthermore, if your foe is incapacitated quickly he won't be spraying wild
bullets around, endangering uninvolved third parties.
- Lastly, your attacker is safer because he is far less likely to die from one
or two hollowpoint bullets than the five or six round-nose slugs you would have
had to fire to put him down. Most gunshot deaths occur from shock and loss of
blood, and ball rounds tend to make entry and exit wounds, whereas hollowpoints go in and stay put. An attacker shot twice with ball ammo will probably have four holes in him rather than two, and is thus in far greater danger of death from blood loss. If you can avoid killing your attacker you should, for both moral and legal reasons.
Of course, no bullet is magic. Proper bullet placement will always be key. .44 Magnum hollowpoint with poor placement is not as good as .22 with good placement.
Now, why did hollowpoint ammunition get such a bad reputation? Part of it may be from Geneva Convention prohibitions on such ammunition. But that treaty system was an attempt to make something very horrible and laden with suffering less horrible. And is also applies mainly to rifle ammunition in the days of ubiquitous .30 caliber high velocity rifles, and that kind of rifle didn't need any help in applying bullet energy to targets. But with handguns in defense of self, you want to quickly remove a threat, and NOT have any bullets pass through to maybe hit unintended targets, or ricochet and do the same in a miss.
Hollowpoints don't "explode". They have no explosive inside. And ideally the manufacturer and shooter doesn't want them to fragment. Going from bullet shaped to mushroom shaped is best and the intention.
But for practical matters? When I buy ammo at my gun store I ask one of 2 choices: "What do you recommend for making holes in paper targets at the range" and he gives me FMJ rounds; or, "What do you recommend for self defense" and he offers up a premium jacketed hollow point rounds. And that's good enough for me.