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Old January 9, 2021, 02:23 AM   #1
rc
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When Were Nickel Plated Copper Bullets Introduced?

I was flipping through a Winchester ammo catalog I've had a few years and noticed something interesting. Bullets that were nickel coated for the 1911. I have seen some very old 1920s to early 40s auto pistol ammo that had a grey coating over the copper bullet jacket that I assume is "cupronickel". I've also seen old 22 Longs that had nickel coated cases. Were the first jacketed pistol bullets grey cupronickel or plain copper? Anyone have more information on various jacket and case materials and coatings? The old ammo I saw was Remington UMC and the cases were regular brass. I have some Yellow box Winchester 38 special ammo that has nickel plated brass probably from the 60s and Lubaloy bullets like plated 22 Long Rifle ammo. School me old timers...


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I know for cases there were copper cases before brass and then steel.
How about nickel plated brass and steel cases?


I know for bullets, there were lead bullets first and then various jacket materials. What was the first jacket material and when were various materials used? I know for jackets there is copper coated, pure drawn copper jacket, brass jacket, nickel plated cupro nickel, aluminum jackets and bimental.

Hoping someone can school us on these.

Last edited by rc; January 9, 2021 at 02:58 AM.
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Old January 9, 2021, 09:28 PM   #2
Jim Watson
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I don't know what was The Very First, but cupronickel and cupronickel plated steel were very early jacket materials.

The coppery looking jackets are not pure copper but are low brasses and bronzes, 90%+ copper. Lubaloy is the WW trade name. There are Lubaloy bullets with a microscopically thin coppery "wash" over the lead, once popular in WW .38 Special, etc.
Also as plating on steel.
Also clear up to cartridge brass jackets, same color as the case.

"Bimetal" is just an advertising term for plated steel so you won't fear excess wear.

Winchester is the only source I know of nickel plated copper alloy jackets in the high velocity Silvertips like .357 Magnum. Likewise aluminum jackets in the low velocity Silvertips such as .38 Special.
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Old January 9, 2021, 10:18 PM   #3
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I thought all silver tips all had aluminum jackets. I didn't realize the 357 has been nickel plated jackets!
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Old January 10, 2021, 12:23 PM   #4
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The original Silvertips, from the '70s(?), were aluminum, but I think modern versions are just plated to make them silver in color.
I have a handful of WWI-vintage .45 rounds, but I think they are a tin wash over a gilding metal ("copper") jacket.
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Old January 10, 2021, 01:10 PM   #5
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I remember 30-30 was always aluminum for the Silvertips, but the handgun rounds were always nickel.(IIRC)
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Old January 10, 2021, 01:28 PM   #6
Jim Watson
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In rifles, the .30-40 Krag was satisfactory with cupronickel or cupronickel plated steel jackets. When the .30-03 and .30-06 took the velocity over 2000 fps they started getting "hard metal fouling." The "ammonia dope" used to remove it fortuitously dissolved the chloride residue of "corrosive" primers.

So they went to gilding metal jackets. Antimonial lead cores made the M1 boattail feasible. WWII M2 had gilding metal plated steel jackets to conserve copper.
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Old January 11, 2021, 03:36 AM   #7
rc
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So did early bullets sometimes have tin over copper rather than nickel? A lot of the early jacketed bullets seen today are rather dull grey.
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Old January 11, 2021, 09:16 AM   #8
Jim Watson
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Early M2 150 gr had a "stannic wash" to look like 1906 cupronickel so as to distinguish it from M1 173 gr.
Never heard of a tin plated .45.
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Old January 12, 2021, 03:53 PM   #9
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I have some old Peters .38 ACP with silver/gray colored bullets. I don't know, but suspect these may have that cupronickel jacket material mentioned. The jackets on this ammo are not attracted by a magnet. I don't know when this ammo was made, but I suspect not later than the 1920s era, possibly prior...
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Old January 12, 2021, 05:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
What was the first jacket material and when were various materials used?
Well, first was probably cloth (1400s-1700s), paper (1700s-late 1800s), once smokeless powders were invented they began using copper, brass, cupronickel, bronze, steel, various varnished metals, and plastics. Don't know if any other materials were used, but you find all sorts of materials used to protect the bullets and seal the bore.
Quote:
I remember 30-30 was always aluminum for the Silvertips, but the handgun rounds were always nickel.(IIRC)
Silvertip rifle bullets had gilding metal jackets with an aluminum tip to enhance expansion, the Silvertip handgun bullets had aluminum jackets with a proprietary lube.
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