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Old September 16, 2010, 08:47 AM   #1
jells
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Plated vs FMJ

I want to switch from lead to something else in my 9MM reloads. I'm seeing FMJ and plated wonderering what is the significant difference between plated and FMJ.

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Old September 16, 2010, 08:53 AM   #2
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Copper plating is not as tough as FMJ so you have to be a bit careful not to damage the plating while seating the bullet, or using such a hot load that the plating is ripped from the bullet. But you don't have to contend with shaving lead, smearing lube, etc. I use plated bullets for anything over 900 fps, i.e. all 9mm loads, some low-level .357s and some hotter .380s. For hot .357s I go with FMJ. I load/shoot lead in .38 special and .45.

For plated bullets, Berry's recommends you use low to mid-level FMJ loads, and those have worked well for me. Another benefit is that plated bullets are usually a bit less expensive than FMJ.
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Old September 16, 2010, 09:04 AM   #3
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For 9mm, there's no big difference. I load them for both 9mm and 45 and I use the exact same recipe as FMJ.

The plating on berrys bullets is by no means delicate. I shoot the 9mm in my glock and load them towards max since the glock doesn't like mild ammo.

9mm velocities don't approach the plating separation threshhold at all. No worries.
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Old September 16, 2010, 09:19 AM   #4
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I think spacecoast and demigod have stated things pretty well. I agree with their observations. I use nothing but plated for the everyday shooting. Most are Berry's Bullets. Why spend the money for jacketed on a target?
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Old September 16, 2010, 09:40 AM   #5
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Plated copper is not as hard as the 5% zinc gilding metal (technically a mild brass) used for bullet jackets. Depending on the manufacturer, the information you see recommends using lead bullet load data or low to mid-range jacketed bullet data (same thing, really). The reason for this is bullet upset, particularly in revolvers. Lead bullets, be they soft, hard cast, or plated, can experience enough pressure to upset and widen appreciably in the forcing cone of a revolver. The bullet then requires more pressure to force it into the bore. This is why you'll find, reading some of the old writing on magnum revolver load development from Elmer Keith or even Skeeter Skelton, among others, that they found lead bullets giving them higher pressures than jacketed bullets with the same powder charge.

I don't think this is normally much of an issue in other action types. You can still get more distortion of a softer bullet if it doesn't start in straight, and greater pressure exaggerates that. But if you aren't getting excessive metal fouling or pressure signs in your particular gun, and if the accuracy is satisfactory to you, then your loads are fine, regardless of how close to jacketed maximums they come. Just be sure to work up toward that slowly so you can spot any signs of trouble before you get there.
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Old September 16, 2010, 10:06 AM   #6
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I use them, both Berry's and Ranier Ballistics, for .45 ACP and .38 spec plinking and target loads.

I found there is a whole lot less cleaning to be done after using the plated as opposed to lead.

I use jacketed bullets for 9mm .... 1200 f/sec and 33,000 psi just seems a little much for a lead bullet, even if it has a thin copper veneer.....
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Old September 16, 2010, 10:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
I use jacketed bullets for 9mm .... 1200 f/sec and 33,000 psi just seems a little much for a lead bullet, even if it has a thin copper veneer.....
124 gr can make that a non-issue, running subsonic, using less powder in the process.
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Old September 16, 2010, 11:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
124 gr can make that a non-issue, running subsonic, using less powder in the process.
A quick look at my load books list most all of the 124-125 grain 9mm loadings as around 30,000 psi or above.... I'll stick with the jacketed bullets, thankee.
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Old September 16, 2010, 04:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
A quick look at my load books list most all of the 124-125 grain 9mm loadings as around 30,000 psi or above.... I'll stick with the jacketed bullets, thankee.
What is the right number, in your opinion? I infer that the electroplating is not thick enough and that plated bullets come apart? I am skeptical, because a whole bunch of people are obviously providing demand for these bullets, and there is a history of proven loads for them.

I am not really an advocate of plated bullets, being real happy with most everything about FMJ except the exposed lead base and the cost versus alternatives. I would enjoy being able to consider plated bullets and wouldn't want some internet factoid to discourage me unjustly.
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Old September 16, 2010, 04:38 PM   #10
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Elmer Keith developed the .44 Magnum with 16:1 lead:tin mix, so if that could withstand 40,000 psi or so, I'm expect the plated bullets will, too. I just wouldn't expect stellar accuracy with it and you do need to work the load up to avoid excess pressure.
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Old September 16, 2010, 05:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
I would enjoy being able to consider plated bullets and wouldn't want some internet factoid to discourage me unjustly.
We aren't talking about a huge investment here... buy some, try 'em, skip all the internet factoids!

I use Berry's plated in .32, .380, 9mm, .38 Special, light .357 Mag, light 10mm, .45 Auto and .30 Carbine. These bullets make for easier handgun cleanup than cast lead but more than anything, they allow me to shoot at indoor ranges during the lousy weather months where I live. They let me shoot indoors at less than the cost of jacketed bullets.

Berry's makes great bullets that are accurate, they ship for $FREE and they are quick and easy to deal with. In .30 Carbine, they are terrific out of my Ruger Blackhawk and are rated to 1,900 FPS.

Berry's suggests you keep the rest of their handgun plated bullets under 1,200 FPS. Another good tip is to be wary of too much roll crimp when using them in a revolver round. A heavy roll crimp will cut through the plating. There is no cannelure.
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Old September 16, 2010, 07:08 PM   #12
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In the interest of accurate and complete information:

Quote:
The plating on berrys bullets is by no means delicate
Agreed, but it can be damaged in the reloading process, much more easily so than a jacketed bullet. Not enough bell on the case can easily strip the copper, I've done it a number of times. From the Berry's FAQ - http://www.berrysmfg.com/faq-q13-c1-...d_Bullets.aspx

"Separation is very rare. Two things can cause a jacket to separate from the lead core: excessive speeds (magnum velocities) and a real tight roll crimp (cuts through the plating)."

Quote:
9mm velocities don't approach the plating separation threshhold at all. No worries.
Many 115 gr. loads are in the 1100-1200 fps velocity range, some are over 1200fps. Again from the Berry's site -

"Velocities depend on the caliber, but as a rule of thumb, we recommend you don't shoot our plated bullets over 1200 feet-per-second. Our 44's actually shoot best around 1150 fps. 45's are generally good at 850-900 fps. "

"Plated bullets occupy a position between cast bullets and jacketed bullets. They are soft lead, but have a hard outer shell on them. When loading plated bullets we have found best results using low- to mid-range jacketed data in the load manual. You must use data for a bullet that has the same weight and profile as the one you are loading. Do not exceed mid-range loads. Do not use magnum loads.. "
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