Loading Coated Bullets

Posted by Joel O on

Have you ever loaded cast bullets?  If yes, then you're good to go.  But lets go step by step and cover what you need to do.

Before you get started here are things to consider: coating selection, bullet selection, load, bell/flare and crimp, and COL.  We are not talking about presses and dies right now because those are a separate can of worms for another post.

Coating Selection

You need to find quality coated projectiles.  The most important thing is to coating.  We use Hi Tek, a super awesome phenol-based resin that is safe and effective.  We use red to seperate our brand.  Notice how so many coated bullet manufacturers have red bullets or claim to be the original red bullet?  Well they're copycats.  If a company offers a bunch of colors they'll take forever to ship since they're making semicustom orders.  If they have blue or a ton of colors stay he heck away from them.  The only good coating is Hi Tek and blue and blue variants are colors they can't produce.  Shiny, glittery, or otherwise silly lip gloss looking colors are out too.  Yes they're a coating but they are not Hi Tek.  That's the good stuff; anything else is either Harbor Freight powder coat or some home brew one coat mess.

Bullet Selection

You can use whatever for revolvers.  I recommend SWC (semi wadcutter) but they'll eat pretty much anything.  For pistols and subguns RN (round nose) all the way.  That's what will run best on their feed ramps.  TC (Truncated cone) and FP (flat point) or RNFP (round nose flat point) won't always run reliably across platforms.  Heavier for subsonic/suppressed shooting, lighter for faster.


Don't try and figure powder out on your own.  Just don't.  Consult a loading manual and find a load for cast bullets that matches the weight you need and start at the minimum load -10% and work your way up from there.  NEVER SUBSTITUTE POWDERS!  Just don't.  If you don't have a chronograph then bookmark this page, go to Amazon or eBay, then come back when you're adequately prepared to load safely.

Bell/Swage and Crimp

Coated and cast bullets require that the case be belled/flared before the bullet is seated.  Just adjust the belling die down until bullets aren't shaved on seating.  No more, no less.  You want as little flare as possible while having as much flare as possible.  It sounds weird but you'll get the swing of it quick fast and in a hurry.  The bell needs to be removed after seating.  Crimping is the trick here.  There are different types of crimp dies but worry about those later.  All you need to worry about is revolver, pistol, and rifle.  Revolver rounds normally have a roll crimp where the brass is slightly pushed into an indent in the projectile.  Revolver rounds can do this since they index on the rim of the cartridge.  Pistol and rifle rounds (lets discount the few semiauto rimmed cartridges out there for the sake of the conversation) index on the case mouth.  So roll crimp is out.  A taper crimp is the trick here but for the love of all that is regulated by the Brady Bill don't crimp into the bullet.  You absolutely, positively need to have the crimp right so the cartridge won't slide into the chamber.  Again, use your cartridge gauge to figure this out.  If you look at the dummy round or loaded round you should see the cartridge looking parallel, not bit in or out.

| | = Good

\ / = Belled/under crimped

/ \ = Over crimped, trash this bullet and try again.


Cartridge Overall Length.  A cartridge gauge is your best friend.  Yes, reloaders are cheap, but don't be that cheap.  Go spend the dang $$$ on a cartridge gauge.  Ok, got one now?  Let's go.  Your COL will not always match what's in a manual as bullet sizes and nose profiles are not all the same.  With a cartridge gauge you can work or finding a good COL that varies from the SAAMI spec min/max COL.  Don't go over, don't go under -- it's a safety thing.  Keep in mind that with a given projectile longer COL results in lower pressures, shorter COL results in higher pressures.  And some powders don't like being compressed.  Again, consult your loading manual.

This is not an exhaustive guide or a substitute to Lee's Modern Reloading but it will help you be prepared to load coated bullets.  Follow common sense and your loading manuals' instructions.

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