What are the legal limits regarding the types of ammunition that can be used for this purpose, in the field of personal and home defense? What are the market offerings?
If we look at the reference market, which as far as the arms and ammunition world is concerned is undoubtedly the one of the United States, it can be clearly seen that the range of ammunition for personal defense is particularly "substantial" and in the vast majority of cases these are cartridges with more or less "sophisticated" Hollow Point (hollow point / expansive) bullets, in the sense that starting from the HP bullet tradition we have moved on to HP bonded bullets, where the cover is firmly bound to the core, guaranteeing both weight retention and avoiding bullet scuffing after impact, reaching the most modern HP bullets with controlled expansion, where in the projectile design phase it is possible to modulate the penetration/expansion ratio according to any obstacles that arise they interpose between the projectile and the target itself (car windows, heavy clothing, etc.) ensuring their final effectiveness.
As far as the Italian and European markets are concerned, this market segment (civil ammunition for self-defence) suffered a setback and subsequent stagnation in the early 1990s, when the approval of law decree no. 306 of 8 June 1992, (converted into law no. 356 of 7 August 1992), which with article 12 prescribed to include in the fourth paragraph of article 2 of law 110/75 also the "expanding" bullets in the list of those which cannot be loaded into “bullet ammunition intended for common firearms”. This was a consequence of the approval of the European directive 91/477, which included among the "prohibited weapons" of category "A" of Annex I the "ammunition for pistols and revolvers equipped with expanding bullets and such bullets". The issue is that the directive expressly indicated: "excluding those intended for hunting or target shooting weapons for persons authorized to use such weapons", an aspect of which the national legislator must have forgotten, remedying it by means of circular 559 /C.11764.10171(1) dated 17 June 1992, which points out that "the provision (omissis) concerning the ban on the production and use of expansive charge ammunition must be considered, in the light of the Community directive dated 18.6.1991, not referring to ammunition intended for hunting or target shooting weapons”.
The question that arises is: what are the bullets that can be used for self-defense in a civilian environment, using handguns? Considering what above, ammunition with an expansive bullet certainly cannot be used, just as certainly FMJ or FMC type ammunition can be used, while soft point type bullets or lead bullets fall in a shadow area, to try to a little "light" let's analyze the meaning of the term "expansion", in the Treccani encyclopaedia the term expansion, in the physical and technical fields, is described as follows: Every transformation of a solid or fluid mass, but especially fluid, which generates a volume increase.
Bringing it back to bullets we can certainly classify as an expanding bullet, that type of bullet which is designed and manufactured with the aim of increasing its initial diameter at the moment of impact or at a moment immediately following the impact of the same with a given type of target.
The discriminant is clear. The projectile must be designed to increase its diameter.
This certainly applies to Hollow point bullets. However, this does not apply to lead bullets, which are not designed to increase their diameter on impact, but which, given their structure, can undergo deformations on impact, but which are random depending on the target they impact on and the residual velocity of the projectile upon impact. The same principle can be applied to cartridges for handguns of the soft point type where the exposed bare lead part of the projectile has the purpose of decreasing its penetrating capacity as the lead is softer than the "armor" of the projectile and furthermore reduces, within certain impact angles, rebound attitude.
In its wide range of ammunition for handguns, Fiocchi offers various loads dedicated to personal defense among which, excluding those with expansive bullets due to the aforementioned regulatory constraints, the BLACK MAMBA line of cartridges stands out. These are cartridges whose projectiles have a truncated cone geometry, are very light compared to the canonical weights of the caliber and have a particularly high initial velocity. These characteristics, combined with the construction materials, give rise to an armored ammunition with a good ability to transfer energy on impact and a limited piercing power.
In addition to traditional ammunition, Fiochi also offers a range of ammunition dedicated to personal and home defense of the "Less Lethal" type. These ammunition, intended for use in 12-gauge smooth-bore long guns, are offered with loading with rubber bullets, both buckshot and dry slug, and with loading with plastic pellets.