View Full Version : What bullet type is safest for steel plates?

November 30, 2004, 08:47 PM
I would like input on the best bullet material to avoid richochet off steel plates. Options I am aware of are

1) Jacketed bullets (want to avoid because of jacket splatter, our range has had people pierced even at 25 yards)

2) Soft lead (would prefer avoiding due to leading)

3) Hard-cast lead (Oregon trail laser cast, etc.)

4) Coated lead (Precision when they come back up or others)

5) Plated

6) Frangible (Can I get this as a reloading component?)

I am currently shooting and reloading 9mm to match my defensive load (Corbon) so velocity runs 1300+. I plan on shooting this load in IDPA &/or IPSC. Will probably begin doing other calibers in time.

Jim Watson
November 30, 2004, 09:12 PM
Of course frangible would be ideal. The main maker is Sinterfire, sold retail by Frangible Bullets, Inc.

What bullet are you loading for defensive practice?
I would expect a JHP at that velocity to flatten and fragment pretty well, better than a FMJ.
Cross your fingers for Precision. I haven't tried the Masterblaster or Bear Creek coated bullets.

December 1, 2004, 12:08 AM
You can get frangible heads from www.sinterfire.com. They powder when hitting steel. I've loaded thousands. The trick is not top crimp them beyond the diameter of the bullet + the casing wall width (both sides). Over crimp them and they will break in half when chambering. Get is right and they run perfectly. They also can attain some hot velocities and have been very accurate for me in .40 SW.

Coated bullets will bounce when hitting steel. I've found haed lead to be the worst.

December 1, 2004, 10:38 AM
I think flat points will give me best energy transfer and so am leaning that way. Which bullet shape and type do most IPSC/IDPA shooters use?

The Sinterfire bullets look promising although pretty pricey! Understandable with it being new but still pricey.


December 1, 2004, 10:50 AM
used to shoot sillouette with a 6mm t/c and he used to reload with fmj

December 1, 2004, 11:28 AM
Lomshek. With steel, the Sinterfire's transfer a lot of energy. I've never had steel fail to fall, even with a low strike.

As for what bullet type IPSC/USPSA/IDPA shooters prefer, it tends to be personal preference. Some like the semi waddcutter (you see this a lot with the .45 ACP shooters in IDPA) because of the large clear holes they make. Most Open shooters in USPSA around here are shooting round nose bullets because they feed well.

Reliability first, accuracy second, size of the hole third.

Recipes for steel must include force. Get this with a heavy bullet or a lot of speed or both. With your 9mm, the poppers will be calibrated to fall with a strike to the upper round portion if you are making the power factor of 125. Add in a bit more so they drop if you strike lower.

Navy joe
December 2, 2004, 05:50 PM
It has been my experience that plated is the way to go. I don't mess with lead, hate all the lube smoke. I watch my plated 9mm bullets pretty much hit the plate and fall to the ground, whereas I have seen some spectacular 100+ft in the air ricochets with FMJ. The plated are soft, very soft and pretty much smush flat when they hit. I think cast are a lot harder to avoid leading and may splinter. I have been hit most often by cast fragments closely followed by fragments from JHP.

A bigger question is the steel, is it flat to the shooter, do all supports direct fragments down and away? The number one cause of bullet bits stuck in my hide has been from crappy shot out pitted and pocked steel. Flat hard steel will not kick crap back in your face.

Plated won't work with high speed stuff like .38 Super due to plating being stripped. For me, plated 9mm at 130Pf drops poppers much better than slightly hotter factory FMJ, probably because the bullet does not retain energy used to fly off to parts unknown. I would think sintered would be a little spendy.

December 25, 2004, 01:47 AM
"The number one cause of bullet bits stuck in my hide has been from crappy shot out pitted and pocked steel."

Navy Joe hit the nail on the head with that one.

You can argue which material fragments best, but FMJ, JHP, and lead will all splatter on steel if they're loaded fast enough. Splatter stays down range and to the sides when it comes off flat steel, but hit a big pit and that stuff will come right back at you.

As far as ricochets off steel go, the only time I've seen that or heard of it has been with poppers that were shot while they were falling or steel that when down could be hit on a shoot-through.