Aja convenction & lead bullets

Does Aja convention or other laws allow the use of lead bullets during a war?


The various Conventions (St. Petersburg, 1868, Explosive Bullets of small calibre) The Hague (1899) Soft/Expanding Bullets; Geneva (1907 and Geneva 1949, all cover the use of " unnecessariy\ly damaging Bullets (projectiles) for use in "Small Arms ( under 12,7mm or so).

The Hague convention specifically banned the use of “Dum-Dum” type bullets…jacketed bullets with exposed lead cores, so that they would expand and cause greater wounding capacity…
Dum-Dum: Indian Arsenal (outside Calcutta, Bengal) which developed an improved performance .303 mark II cartridge, with an exposed soft lead nose (Mark II Special (“Dum-Dum”) for use in the Chitral(North West provinces of India) against Tribesmen who would not be downed by a simple Mark II Roundnose.
THis led to the development of mark III, IV ands V Loads ( different "Soft and Hollow Point) as a standard manufacture. Some mark V were distributed to South Africa at the beginning of the Boer War, and immediate uproar as to the use of “Soft” bullets against European Troops caused the passing of the 1899 convention on small arms expanding and soft projectiles.

Britain immediately withdrew all supplies of Mark V ammo (it was a deep Hollow Point, with a full jacket) and re-introduced the Mark II cartridge(Full metal jacket; Mark V ammo was used up in training or broken up to make Blanks. The Previous marks III and IV were small lots, and also used up in non-battlefiled use. Most examples of Mark V ammo have come as souvenirs from the Boer (South African) War.

It was considered a firing squad offence to be captured with any form of “Dum-Dum” ammunition on the person from the Boer War onwards.

One quirk of the Hague Convention (“Rules of War”) was that the prohibitions on soft or expanding ammunition was only valid where both parties to a battle were “European” and “Civilised”… uncivilised natives could be shot with impunity by soft lead or expanding (ie "Dum-Dum ") bullets, with no international law consequences.
This fitted in with the change to jacketed projectiles (from 1885 onwards, whilst there remained in service many Black Powder calibres, where the Bullets were Soft lead; Subsequently, many nations with such Older guns, adopted “Jacketed” versions of the BP ammo, also upgrading the Charge to a Light Smokelss Load…example, Italian Vetterli 10,4 M1890 cartridge, brass coated bullet, smokeless Powder; Martini henry (Maxim) Cartrige, jacket Bullet, cordite Load etc.

On the otherhand, there has never been any prohibition (international or otherwise, against “Police” use of soft or expanding bullet ammuntion, given the nature of Police work, and urban situations.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.

Just to add a point to DocAV’s comprehensive answer: plain lead bullets have not been specifically banned, just expanding ones.

In the interwar period, the first loading developed for the new British .38/200 military revolver round was an unjacketed lead bullet weighing 200 grains, with cylindrical sides and a very blunt round nose. It was assumed that this would be legal because it was not designed to expand. However, the British became worried that other countries would regard the bullets as illegal and treat British soldiers caught with the ammo accordingly, so the standard load was changed to a fully-jacketed, more tapered bullet of 178 grains.

More or less related - I understand that the US troops in Iraq and the 'stans are using 7.62x51 cartridges with the hollow-point boat-tailed Match bullets. Supposedly, it has been determined that the hollow point is NOT designed to expand but is simply the result of the manufacturing process and therefore does not violate any Conventions. Boxes of the early Match ammo were clearly marked “NOT FOR COMBAT USE” but I also understand that the warning has been removed.

Can anyone confirm this??


Doc - as far as I know there is a JAG opinion that the standard match bullets with hollow points are not manufactured as expanding bullets, but rather are HP only so that the base can be enclosed and made perfectly flat for best accuracy. Tests by the U.S. Army Wound Ballistics lab at the Letterman Army Institute of Research, Presidio of San Francisco, confirmed their poor expansion “qualities.”

Also, I heard that there is a JAG position that conventions against the use of HP bullets only apply to combat against regular, uniformed troops - that insurgents and terrorists are not included (basically, that in that instance, I suppose, it considers military action against them a police function, although I am not sure that is the case). I know that the Navy Seals have used HP 9mm loads with silencers in MP5s that do have expanding bullets.
I have samples in my own collection, including a few box samples.

I wouldn’t know how to go about it, but it would be interesting if someone could get copies of U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) positions on these issues. I can imagine that they are classified. Do we have any Forum members that are military and perhaps could acquire copies of these, if in truth, they are NOT classified? I, for one, would love to get copies of them.

I posted this question because there is a debate on a italian forum about the same subject.
Is it true that some american soldiers were killed because caught with a riot gun during the WWI?I didn’t know that shotguns were prohibited for military use


There was a fuss in Iraq a couple of years back when a junior JAG officer examined an open-point sniper bullet and declared it illegal. She was soon overruled by her superiors, so the rounds are still used.

A similar argument of “intention” can be used to justify the M855’s (unreliable) habit of fragmenting on impact. If it were designed to do that, it could be argued that it was in breach of the Hague Convention of 1907 which says:

[i]"In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden: