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Jacketed vs cast vs plated... Which is more accurate ?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Nick93, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. Nick93

    Nick93 Well-Known Member

    Well ... A question to discuss here... we know that centrifire rifle bulles are "only" accurate with jacketed ammo but what about handgun cartridges ? In you reloading experience what did you find get the most accurate load ? ... I know that cast and plated ammo is way more cheaper than jacketed but the accuracy is the same ?

    Accuracy: means itches not "accurate enough" :)

    For example... a 9mm pistol ... given a good load for cast, plated and jacketed bullets ... Which do you find to be the most accurate ? at 25 yards or more not the common action pistol distances ... and .45 acp ? and .40 S&W ? other examples can be done too... :)
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    We do? The serious lead shooters would disagree. :)

    I have shot some seriously good groups with all three in handguns. Loads that are more accurate than I can shoot, and I can shoot pretty well on a good day.
  3. armoredman

    armoredman Well-Known Member

    You have to experiment. I can get good groups with all three.
  4. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    Which is more accurate? Neither and all three. lol

    They are all capable of producing good "accuracy" however you choose to define that term. IF you are capable and do your part. I would suggest that of the three factors, gun-ammo-shooter, the shooter is the dominant factor in achieving what most consider to be "accuracy". Most all guns are more accurate than they are called upon to be.

    I agree that from a bench/Ransom rest it is possible to find various loads that can perform better than others, but only a Bullseye or 1000 yard professional competition shooter would likely notice the difference in actual use. Tiger Woods at his peak was using the same golf balls and clubs that anyone else could have used.
  5. capreppy

    capreppy Well-Known Member

    Since each load is tailored for the weapon (rifle or pistol), I'm going to get the most accuracy with the proper charge for my weapon. In pistol I get the same accuracy with lead versus jacketed. I'm probably MORE accurate with my current lead loads because I've had so much more practice with them.

    I shoot outdoors (mostly) and lead because it is cheapest for me. I do use some plated bullets for indoor use, but normally only have a few hundred loaded where I may have thousands loaded of lead.

    I don't currently shot jacketed at all due to cost.
  6. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Well-Known Member

    They are all the same. All can produce accurate loads weather it's pistol or rifle. You just need to know the limits on how hard or soft you can push one. And sizing is critical when it comes to Lead or even plated. Gun barrels vary, the reason it's good to know what size yours is/are. I have a Sig 229 9mm that is actually a 357. So if you try to shoot std size lead you have problems. Just like Jacketed the plated bullets are sized different too.

    You just need to do your home work when you start rolling your own to get the best results.
  7. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    For pistol loads - well, it depends ... as accuracy is the result of so many reloading/shooting variables. :D

    In the simplest/fundamental sense, I consider accuracy directly related to consistent chamber pressures. If you are able to produce more consistent chamber pressures, it will translate to more consistent muzzle velocities and more consistent shot groups.

    So, what factors contribute to consistent chamber pressures? A lot. Here are some factors I consider when trying to produce "accurate" loads:
    - Barrel chamber/leade/rifling construction/dimensions - looser chambers with longer leade will tolerate greater bullet dimension variations, but will allow more high pressure gas to leak around the bullet as it jumps from the case neck/chamber to the start of rifling.
    - Bullet construction - more on this below
    - Consistent bullet weight - for me, this means less than 1 grain variance bullet-to-bullet.
    - Consistent powder charge - for me, this means less than 1/10 of a grain variance charge-to-charge)
    - Consistent primer ignition/flash size/duration (for me, Winchester)
    - Longest OAL that will feed/chamber reliably so the bearing surface of the bullet will engage the start of rifling sooner to build chamber pressure faster
    - Widest taper crimp that will pass the barrel drop test and feed/chamber reliably.
    - etc.

    I consider FMJ bullets with exposed lead base more accurate than JHP bullets with solid copper/brass base. Why? During powder ignition, the exposed lead base will expand to seal with the barrel better, trapping more of the high pressure gas for more consistent chamber pressures. In my experience, I need to push JHP at near max/max load data for "very good" level of accuracy whereas I can achieve similar level of accuracy with mid-high range load data using FMJ bullets. For this reason, I have preferred to use FMJ for my "match grade" loads over the years.

    What about plated bullets? I have done comparison tests between jacketed and plated bullets (Montana Gold/Winchester FMJ vs Rainier/Berry's/PowerBond/X-Treme) and found jacketed loads more accurate than plated. I attributed this to plated bullets leaking more high pressure gas around the bullet base than the FMJ bullets with exposed lead base. While most plated bullets are sized same as jacketed bullets, some plated bullets like Berry's are sized slightly larger (i.e. .355" vs .3555"/.356") to provide better bullet-to-barrel fit. Better bullet-to-barrel fit will decrease the high pressure gas leakage around the bullet base and provide more consistent chamber pressures.

    Another factor to consider is oversized factory barrels that will leak more high pressure gas around the bullet, which will decrease the consistency of chamber pressures. You can replace oversized barrels with tighter aftermarket/match grade barrel to address this issue.

    Berry's now offers hollow base bullets that will allow greater expansion of the base to increase the consistency of chamber pressures. I did some comparison tests of 9mm HBRN with my reference Winchester FMJ loads and I got increased accuracy with HBRN loads. So, this adds to my accuracy mantra of consistent chamber pressures = accuracy.

    What about lead bullets? For those thinking jacketed and plated bullets may be more accurate than lead bullets, have I got a surprise for you. Unlike jacketed/plated bullets that may leak more high pressure gas around the bullet base (hence higher powder charges are needed to achieve the same average SAAMI max pressures), softer lead bullet base can expand/bump (obturate) to seal with the barrel and trap more high pressure gas. For 45ACP, I have yet to find a more accurate jacketed/plated load than 200 gr lead SWC load.

    For me, accuracy is everything. Adjusting the reloading variables I have mentioned above, I have found very accurate pistol loads regardless whether the bullet was jacketed, plate or lead. For certain caliber, pistol, barrel, bullet type, bullet weight, powder and charge, one bullet type (jacketed vs plated vs lead) may be more accurate than another, but not for all.

    I hope this helped.
  8. 1SOW

    1SOW Well-Known Member

    bds, I agree with you.
    I normally shoot jacketed, but also experimented a little with the Berry's 124gr HBRN. (actually a 130 grRN bullet with the base hollowed out.)
    I don't shoot for precision accuracy any more, so the Berry's shot the same as my 125 gr JHPs but used LESS powder for the same velocity.

    Both bullets shoot better than I do.

    Made me want to have a Ransom (?) rest to actually test the pistol and ammo instead of the shooter.
  9. ranger335v

    ranger335v Well-Known Member

    "..given a good load for cast, plated and jacketed bullets ... Which do you find to be the most accurate ?"

    It's not that simple, if it were everyone would know it and mostly stick to the "best"..???
  10. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    Venturno has been publishing data with his cast bullet blackpowder rifles that is just sort of amazing. Like three inch groups as three hundred yards.

    But in my experience, my jacketed rifle match bullets shoot well inside my crappy cast rifle bullets.

    For pistol, who can hold hard enough to determine a difference? To shoot a perfect score on the NRA 25 yard target you only ("only") have to put all your bullets in two inches. That is nothing to a rifle shooter at 100 yards.

    Maybe someone has ransom rest data, but the commercial cast pistol bullets I buy, they shoot pretty darn well.

    But I only shoot offhand, and I don't put all my bullets inside 2 inches at 25 yards.

    It is a goal. ;)
  11. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Not many. Not when it comes down to two very accurate bullets. :)

    Same with powders. I have two light target loads in .357 brass using the same bullet and different powders that I have been playing with lately. I have been trying to see which shoots better, and darned if I can prove one over the other.
  12. Nick93

    Nick93 Well-Known Member

    Thats why wrote "only" cause not all centrifire rifles need to shoot jacketed bullets ... but most of centrifire botlenecked rifles do... (to Walkalong)
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  13. Nick93

    Nick93 Well-Known Member

    thanks to all of you for the replies :)

    Please excuse my poor english ...

    Walkalong : thats why I wrote "only" ;) ... most botlenecked rifles do... at least all "match Bullets" are jacketed ... (thats why i thought that)

    ranger335v : In the example ... I tried to explain a good load for a single gun not in general and the question was about your particular gun (excuesme If it wasnt clear :) )

    BDS: great info, thanks a lot :D

    So if i got it right ... the conclution is that it depends , and all of them can give the best accuracy out a particuar gun

    Another question :p ... What about Polygonal barrels and these type of bullets? Many say that the only type of bullets that work well are the jacketed ... is this true ?
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  14. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    If you are thinking about Glock barrels as polygonal, I consider them not to be true polygonal barrels but hybrid with round bore and "hexagonal" rounded hills/valley rifling instead of squared off lands/grooves - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygonal_rifling
    There have been many threads that talked about this and my opinion is that the very smooth and rounded hexagonal rifling coupled with much longer leade of Glock barrels tend to be more problematic with lead bullets. As the lead bullet travels through the longer leade (space the bullet jumps from the case neck/chamber to the start of rifling), more high pressure gas leaks around the bullet and blows liquefied lube off the bullet surface that normally helps bullet seal to the barrel. The smooth and rounded rifling don't help with quick build up of chamber pressures. All these factors result in conditions where the lead bullet is without lube and the bullet suffers from gas cutting/bullet base erosion. For these reasons, I tend to inspect Glock barrels more frequently (about 200-300 rounds) and clean as necessary if I am shooting lead reloads out of Glock barrels.

    I have happily shot jacketed and plated reloads with very good accuracy out of Glock barrels, but Glock doesn't endorse shooting of reloads so take shooting of any bullet type reloads under advisement. :rolleyes:
  15. Nick93

    Nick93 Well-Known Member

    Another question ... LOL

    Why major ammo manufacturers sell range/target/plinking ammo with jacketed bullets in centrifire pistol rounds ?
  16. Nick93

    Nick93 Well-Known Member

    Thanks BDS :) you are a great source of info :D
  17. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I fully understand your question?

    Are you asking WHY they make target ammo that is plated or jacketed? I suspect because MANY indoor ranges prohibit bare lead ammo.
  18. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    That used to be the case, but not anymore.

    As I posted earlier, FMJ with exposed lead base will allow better expansion of bullet base for more consistent chamber pressures and more accurate shot groups. But lately, I am seeing more and more manufacturers going the way of plated bullets sold as FMJ/CMJ/TMJ and for me, their accuracy has been less than the "true" FMJ with exposed lead base. It may be due to what RandyP posted for ranges not allowing shooting of exposed lead bullets or financial reasons as plated bullets are less costly than jacketed bullets to increase the profit margins.

    Pulling the round apart will tell you whether the bullet is FMJ with exposed lead base or plated.
  19. Nick93

    Nick93 Well-Known Member

    RandyP: that was the quetion :) ...remember I dont have the same regualtions that in your country in terms of guns, ranges, hunting and target shooting ...

    BDS: My father respond a post before about this things a few weeks ago http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=612663 ... and we have been discussing this topic for a while... BTW he makes bullets ... and as you said the recent imported ammo from USA came with Plated bullets but in the box said FMJ and TMJ (Were Speer and CCI) ... i think that winchester, Remington and Magtech (brasilian ****)(most common here cause its teh cheapest) are really FMJ rounds ...
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  20. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    Hi Nick, my bad, I didn't notice you were from the FAR south side - lol

    For the record FMJ/TMJ 'should' not be 'plated' Plated is just a very thin coating of copper over lead, Jacketed should be a heavier copper jacket. TMJ (total Metal Jacket) as a generic description could also describe many of the plated rounds which are plated on all surfaces.

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