Plated vs. FMJ question

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by maddog362, Apr 1, 2011.

  1. Is there an easy way to tell the difference between a FMJ and a plated bullet by looking at them? I'm trying to figure out whether some of the bullets I have are plated or FMJ.

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  2. PEC-Memphis

    PEC-Memphis Scottish Member

    Most of the time the FMJ will have an exposed lead base. See a picture here.

    Plated will have a (thin) coating of gilding metal encapsulating the bullet.

    A TMJ will have a (thicker) jacket on all sides.

    #2 PEC-Memphis, Apr 1, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
  3. It is easy to tell FMJ, they have an exposed lead base. There are some TMJ, which are jacketed w/ a plated base. Plated bullets are always completely enclosed. Confused yet? Knowing the manuf is the best way to tell. Berry's, Ranier & Extreme are plated.
    #3 fredj338, Apr 1, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
  4. Thanks. It's getting clearer....I think.:whistling: The bullets that I have came in a box with a sticker on it that says 115 gr 9mm FMC (full metal case) size .356. The box is from Extreme and says copper plated bullets 115 gr. RN but I think that the guy I got them from just reuses the box and puts a new sticker on it to mark it as to what he puts in the box. How does a FMC differ from a FMJ or Plated? Is there a difference and if so how can you tell?
  5. The lead on the bottom is not exposed.
  6. If you'll notice, FMJ bullets appear to have a matte finish compared to the bright shiny appearance of plated bullets. Place one of each side by side, and you'll see what I mean.
  7. That's a good way.

    You can also take a utility knife and cut the plating on a plated projectile (remember not to crimp too hard on plated as you can cut the plating). You'll see the lead underneath, if you continue, you'll be able to peel the plating off. You won't be able to do this with a utility knife on an FMJ.

    The base can be a clue, but they do have TMJ (Total Metal Jacket) projectiles where the base is covered (this to reduce lead vapors).

    Checking the jacket is the only reliable way I know of (short of keeping them in the box they came in).
  8. I'll have to try this. I thought plated bullets were electroplated, which meant rather than forcing lead into a jacket material cup, the "jacket" is electrochemically bonded to the lead. I would have thought that would make peeling the plating off very difficult.

    Also, my range doesn't allow jacketed bullets for shooting steel. If I could show them that with plated there's either no chance of jackets separating or that if they did, the material is light enough and flexible enough that it's not going to come back and cut shooters, maybe they'd proclaim plated ok for steel. To abide by the rules, I bought some moly coated bullets, but I don't like them as much as jacketed or Extreme plated.
    #8 njl, Apr 2, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
  9. I'll pull some platings out of the backstop, and get a photo. They peeled right off. You see the same when you put too much crimp (especially a roll crimp) on the plated projectiles.
  10. I just carved a bit at two 9mm 147gr plated bullets. One was an Extreme. The other was an unknown bullet pulled from a dropped cartridge at the Orlando GSSF match. On neither one was I able to make any headway peeling the jacket. The unknown one, I did cut through the jacket, but wouldn't peel. The Extreme, I carved away at the same spot and made some shavings of plating material, but gave up before making it down to lead.

    Maybe some day I'll try cutting them in half with the dremmel and a cutting disk...but not tonight.
  11. Sometimes, not always. Manuf that tumble after forming can get their FMJ pretty damn shiney. Look for the exposed base first. When in doubt, take a file to the side of one, Plating is very thin, jacketed are not. Liek Dudel said, you can cut plating w/ a util knife, no way on jacketed.
    #11 fredj338, Apr 2, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
  12. It's not that complicated.

    Plating is thin. You can cut it with a knife.

    FMJ has a exposed lead base.

    HP have a exposed lead tip.

    Complete Metal Jackets (they come with several names) are just like a FMJ except they have a copper disc forced into the bottom to cover the lead. You can see the disc. It's obvious. If the bullet you have looks like it's completely covered in a layer of copper it's not a CMJ it's plated. If you can see a disc then it's a CMJ. Companies will use a lot of different names for CMJ's. Ask the company and they will tell you what your buying.

    Hint, If they say to use lead data, or a reduced charge of FMJ data it's a Plated bullet.
  13. cole

    Millennium Member

    Plating thickness, evenness and overall quality can differ by maker. FMJ tends to be more dull in color. FMJ will almost always have an exposed lead base, plating will not. Most plating (if intact) can be pushed near FMJ velocities for non-magnum loads.

  14. Like I said, shiny (plated) on the left, and matte (FMJ) on the right! :supergrin: Ya' just put 'em side by side and it's pretty apparent! Now don't go putting 2 of 'em under 3 cups and switching the cups around on me. I'm not that good! :supergrin:
    #14 kshutt, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  15. If any of you shoot higher end jacketed, they are plenty shiney, but it does vary from maker to maker. Ranier, FWIW, are pretty dull finished. So finish is not really a good way to tell. I've had people try to tell me MontanaGold are plated because they aren't copper I guess?
    #15 fredj338, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011

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