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Jacked Vs. Plated Bullets

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I couldn't find anything on this topic so I'm posting it here.

What are the pros and cons in the difference between jacketed bullets and plated bullets and what exactly is the definition of a jacketed bullet and plated bullet.

Is one more accurate than the other?

What are the price differences?

Does one wear the barrel down faster than the other?

Any other info that could help in the decision to chose one more than the other.

For comparisons, I was mostly thinking about Montana Golds for Jacketed and Berrys for Plated.


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Plated bullets are usually cast lead bullets with a thin coat of copper applied by plating. They are typically softer than jacketed. Some weasels like to call their plated bullets "CMJ" and hope you'll think they're jacketed bullets. Some other people (MG) call their FMJ bullets with a piece of jacket over the lead base "CMJ" as well.

Traditional jacketed bullets are made with a thicker copper jacket into which a chunk of lead is squeezed. Some people (MG) make jackets out of non-copper materials. Typically they are more expensive than plated.

Plateds sometimes have problems with the plating coming off after- lots of crimping or lots of velocity. They're less popular in Open guns for that reason.

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My experience with the 2 was pretty cut and dry.

I had some 115 RN plated that would not group better than 2" @ 25yds. This was from a 9mm STI w/ a Barsto barrell.

Same gun, 115 JHP from Montana Gold, 3 shots, 1 ragged hole ( more or less)

Now I just buy in bulk to save a few $.

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I had tumbling issues with Berry's and west coast in 9mm and swore off plated for good. BOTH companes stood behind the product and replaced them and then some, but I don't need the stress of worrying about a bad batch.

I practice too hard for a bullet to tumble.

It's Zero for me, in open and production. Buy enough and the price difference is negligible.


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Not all plated bullets are created equal. My dad ended up with some "plated" bullets one time that looked like cast lead rolled in copper powder. The plating was so thin that a good portion of it was worn off by the time you got them loaded. Not sure who made them but they were absolutely worthless.

Berry and others use a significantly thicker plating than this but they aren't jacket thickness plate either. I had a lot of tumbling problems with Berry in my .40 until I switched to the double-struck version. This costs $1 more but it is worth it IMHO. Double-struck bullets are swaged, plated then re-swaged so they are very consistent.

You can't push plated bullets very fast. I can blow them right out of their plating in a 357 without even trying too hard. Berry claims they are good to 1200 fps but I have seen separation below this even without a heavy crimp.

The Berry's are not as accurate as true jacketted bullets or even straight lead (ie: LaserCast), at least for me, but they aren't as expensive as jacketted bullets and don't have the other problems lead has (smoke, barrel leading, airborne lead, etc). On the other hand, for the majority of the shooting we do at matches does supreme accuracy really matter all that much? Up to you.

FWIW...I have read that Speer TMJ bullets are plated, not jacketted in the manner which we would normally expect for bullets the familiar yellow box. Ya wouldn't know it from the price though so maybe their plating is thicker or somehow different than what Berry and others do. I haven't had any to play with so can't comment further on these.

My biggest complaint with plated bullets is the absolute derth of load data out there for them. Berry says to use cast lead data as a starting point and this seems to work okay. However, it seems to take me twice as long to work up the "right" load for a plated bullet as it does for jacketted or cast.

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  • 16 years later...

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