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Reloading Ammo-Bullet Basics Part 2


In part 1 of this 2-part series, we looked at the beginning forms of bullets as they were used in the first years of shooting. Today, we are going to look at some of the advancements today’s technology has allowed us to have in bullet types for reloading brass.

Jacketed Bullets

This type of bullet is the most common used in reloading brass intended for plinking around, or target practice. Lead bullets are extremely hard on the rifling of a barrel, as the lead actually scrapes off inside the rifling as the bullet is fired from the gun. To solve this, jacketed bullets were invented.

Encasing the lead core in a thin sheath of copper so that no lead touches the bore on the bullet's trip down the barrel was a great innovation. The copper jacket is usually formed in the shape of a tall cup into which the lead is forced. The base of the lead bullet can still be seen, but it does not touch the bore. The front and sides of the bullet are entirely copper clad.

Full Metal Jacket

Also, one of the most used bullet types in reloading brass, “full metal jacket” describes bullets with no lead exposed at the front. Interesting to note, the Geneva Convention declared it illegal to use any other type of bullets in military conflict besides full metal jackets.

Originally FMJ bullets were round nose in shape, but later it was realized that the jacket made possible truly streamlined bullets that allowed a flatter trajectory and carried more energy downrange. This dramatically increased the range and lethality of rifle bullets. FMJ bullets are less expensive to manufacture than most other jacketed bullets. They are available for use in reloading brass for many pistols and some rifle calibers and are often used solely for target practice. They are a reasonable substitute for plain lead bullets for practice, but should never be used to hunt with, due to the lack of lead expansion upon impact.

Soft Point Jacketed Bullets

Soft Point Bullets are bullets that have the base of the bullet covered and the tip exposed. This allows the lead to expand, making these rounds perfect for hunting and self-defense reloading brass. Today jacketed expanding bullets come in all manner of shapes, from flat point and round nose to aerodynamic spire point and spitzer (pointed) designs. Sometimes the jackets are of uniform thickness, but often the jacket tapers from thin at the nose (to facilitate expansion) to heavier toward the base of the bullet (to limit and control the later stages of expansion).

Jacketed Hollow Point

The hollow point, simply a cavity cast or otherwise formed in the lead tip, can also be used to initiate expansion. Hollow point bullets are particularly popular in handgun cartridges, which lack the energy of rifle bullets to initiate expansion at impact. Carefully designed jacketed hollow point (JHP) pistol bullets can be made to expand reliably at even moderate handgun velocities. Medium caliber JHP pistol bullets have proven far more lethal than non-expanding (either hard-cast or FMJ) big bore pistol bullets, a fact that big bore pistol advocates denied for decades (some still do!). However, there are also very effective big bore JHP bullets on the market.

For the purpose of reloading brass, these are the basic types of bullet categories. From these three types, any bullet design imaginable is possible. Choosing a bullet should be done so based off your shooting needs and what you wish to accomplish with your reloading brass.