Loading Plated bullets–The basics you need to know

Using Starline Brass and Redding Dies make all the difference

article top

Techniques for loading plated bullets


Loading plated bullets entails a slightly different technique than jacketed bullets. Given that they are softer (without the copper jacket) they must be handled with more TLC.

For starters, the best loading manual I’ve encountered when loading for plated bullets is from Western Powders. In fact they are the only loading guide that specifically addresses plated bullets.

On a progressive loader, after you’ve primed and sized the bullet you’ll need to make sure that the bell is large enough to securely seat the bullet. Thus, you’ll need to over-flare the case mouth a teeny bit more than you would with jacketed bullet. You’ll need to apply the “Goldilocks” principle. Don’t over-bell or you’ll weaken the brass but don’t under-do it either or you risk damaging the bullet.

With enough flare the bullet can be set up vertically on the seating die so that the bullet doesn’t tilt.

Once you’ve seated the bullet you’ll need to add a slight crimp. Overcrimping plated bullets is the biggest mistake a beginner can make.

I recommend very little crimp on the bullet, just enough to put pressure against the bullet without denting or deforming the plating. If you were to pull the bullet out of a case with the proper crimp you would find no more than a scratch on the surface of the plating. Using thin blade on calipers, any crimp indentation over .003 is too much, especially in revolvers where you have a throat that allows more obturation and then ‘resizing’ in the forcing cone. This becomes more critical in the higher pressure/velocity cartridges.

In other words, take it easy when crimping because it’s easy to put a dent in a plated bullet vs. the jacketed variety.

For accuracy’s sake, stick with a good brand of brass like Starline

For accuracy standardize with one type of brass

Plated bullets, if loaded properly, are extremely accurate.

If you’re serious about accuracy and “standardizing” your loads, one tip when reloading plated bullets (or any bullets for that matter) is to use one brand of brass. When I started reloading, I used to collect range brass. Nothing wrong with that if you’re on a budget and you’re just banging away on a Glock where accuracy is not an issue. The problem with scrounged range brass that you is that you’re collecting items from different manufacturers with slightly different dimensions and varying quality.

Ergo, every round you crank out could be slightly different in size and it becomes a nightmare if you want to make uniformly, consistently made ammo. If you want good groups forget about the range brass. I’ve used Starline over the years with great success.

A chamfer/deburr tool from Brownells is crucial for loading new brass

If you’re using brand new brass, managing the belling/crimping process is critical. Loading new necessitates sizing and chamfer the case. A new case will have a jagged mouth which can create problems when you seat the bullet, so you’ll need to smooth out the sharp edges.

That can be done with a chamfer/deburr tool which you can pick up from Brownells or other reloading outlets. Once the brass is fired you won’t have to go through this process again.

Titanium Carbide Dies from Redding are tools you need

Another option is to use dies with a Titanium Carbide dies which in my experience, glide over the jagged edges of new brass and make loading plated bullets less problematic. I’ve had good success with the new Premium series die set for handgun cartridges from Redding, which makes high end reloading equipment. They make a three (3) die set which includes a Titanium Carbide Sizing Die, a Special Expander Die and a Seating Die with that includes a Bullet Seating Micrometer.

Redding’s Premium Die Sets work wonders when it comes to lubricity

Of interest is their expander die, which unlike the Dillon system, which creates a smooth entry radius for the bullet and a tiny shelf that allows for more stable placement of the projectile to keep it aligned properly before it’s seated.

The Dillon system, on the other hand, combines the expander function with a powder drop. Generally, this works quite well, except when you’re using new brass. In this case the powder drop funnel can “stick” to the mouth of the brass. This means instead of a smooth operation, you’ll have to add extra pressure on the up stroke of the handle to pry the funnel from the case mouth. This causes the whole platform to abruptly pop up, usually resulting in powder from the shell being expelled all over the shell plate.

In addition to this issue, as mentioned earlier, there’s also a chance that the jagged edge of new brass will cause the bullet to adhere to the side of the case in the seating process. That can mean uneven entry caused the bullet to get dinged a crushed shell casing.

To avoid this hassle, I’ve found that Redding’s Titanium Carbide dies work very well. They seem to have much more lubricity. The nice thing is that you don’t have to hassle with the chamfer/deburring process if you use them. Just use the new brass as is.

Yikes! Use titanium dies or suffer the consequences.


Using jacketed data in any loading manual is a good bet when loading for plated bullets at subsonic speeds. As mentioned previously, the Western reloading guide has a lot of data for plated bullets.

Proper case flare and avoiding over crimping are critical. Once you get your loads dialed in you’ll find the plated bullets, particularly the 9mm and 10mm HP projectiles, can be incredibly accurate.

One last note.

Plated hollow point bullets are ideal for those interested in practicing their self-defense shooting skills. However it’s better to purchase factory rounds for use in home defense weapons rather than reloaded ammo. Reloaded ammunition can be used against you in court.

Off the bench with a Rainier 115 HP over 5.4 gr of Silhouette from Western Powders at 25 yds

The author is not responsible for mishaps of any kind, which might occur from the use of this data in developing your handloads. It is the user’s responsibility to follow safe handloading guidelines to develop safe ammunition. You use this data at your own risk. No responsibility for the use or safety in use of this data is assumed or implied.




Leave a Reply