By Joseph Tranum
Reloaders these days have many options to choose from when it comes to projectiles, but one common misconception I hear often is that Total Metal Jacket plated bullet is the same as a Full Metal Jacket Bullet. Plated bullets have become very popular in the past few years because of their fairly low price and many reloaders’ do not realize the difference between a plated bullet and a true jacketed bullet.
Jacketed bullets and plated bullets start out being made in the same way. The lead cores are formed out of extruded lead rope that is cut to length depending on the final bullet weight. Where the difference in the bullet construction is is in the outer covering or plating of copper. With a jacketed bullet, the outer copper shell is formed from a process of drawing a solid strip of copper into the shape of a cup, the cup is then drawn a second time into its final shape of the jacket. Once the jacket is formed it is mated with the lead core on assembler machines to have the copper jacketed permanently attached to the lead core. The copper jacket forms a one piece protective layer to shield the softer lead core. A plated bullet’s copper coating is applied in a copper wash that bonds millions of individual particles of copper onto the lead core. After the plating process some companies “restrike” the bullet to make sure the plating process did not oversize the diameter of the bullet.
A true jacketed bullet is much harder after receiving its copper jacket while a plated bullet is still a soft lead bullet and should be loaded to lead bullet data. A plated bullet also has velocity restrictions due to copper erosion that occurs at higher velocities. A jacketed bullet does not suffer these issues due to its outer protective jacket. We, at Precision Delta, have pushed our jacketed bullet at over 1600 feet per second with no adverse affects, where most plated bullets cannot exceed 1200 feet per second. In the loading process, you must also be very careful not to over crimp when using plated bullets or else you will crack the plating and then the bullet will be tearing itself apart when fired. A jacketed bullet can be crimped very hard to prevent any bullet set back, which is one reason why all U.S. government ammunition contracts are spec’t to use strictly jacketed bullets.