Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) Bullets Explained

The full metal jacket bullet is probably something you have in your house right now. This is an extremely common bullet type that is mostly used for target shooting at ranges or in your backyard. The term full metal jacket means the lead bullet is encased in another, harder metal. This is typically copper but can sometimes be other materials and even hybrid composites instead. The manufacturer of the FMJ bullet can have a huge variety of ammo lines using their proprietary creation methods so you can usually pick and choose from different materials, styles and uses.

Full metal jacket bullets can also be called a few other things like full metal case or have additional suffixes like “boat tail” to let you know right away what the intended use of the bullet it or how it will perform. Some common types are the full metal jacket boat tail, full metal jacket flat nose and full metal jacket truncated cone. Each of these is tailored for a specific use but retains the basic properties of all FMJ type bullets in regards to the lead.

FMJ Advantages

The number one perk to using a FMJ bullet is that the lead bullet is mostly or even fully surrounded by copper or another metal.. This means no lead is going to be spreading around tainting the area or becoming tiny airborne particles. Everyone knows the danger associated with lead but sometimes we overlook the fact that bullets are mostly lead and have been for over a hundred years. If you shoot tons of rounds of full metal jacket bullets at a range or in your yard you won’t have to worry about lead issues as much as normal bullets at all so this makes FMJ’s a great choice for shooting and plinking in most capacities.

FMJ Disadvantages

If you’re used to shooting normal bullets and suddenly switch to full metal jacket, you’ll no doubt have some noticeable changes in performance. Not accuracy so much but what happens when you hit a target can and will change drastically unless you use a specific FMJ dedicated to what you’re going to use it for. These bullets can penetrate more than expected and usually aren’t used for hunting due to the wound that’s created by them. FMJ’s don’t expand much unless they are designed to so what you’ll see is a straight shot through a target whether living, paper or metal without much true damage. Naturally, there’s a use for that but it’s not typically going to be for home defense.

FMJ bullets perform very well ballistically and you won’t be losing accuracy or speed if you decide to put some through your weapons. The full metal jacket bullet type is extremely popular and every major manufacturer sells an assortment of it. Just keep in mind what you’re going to be using it for when choosing the line of ammunition you’re going to get.

Some regions don’t allow FMJ bullets at all on public lands unless they are total metal jacketed so double check before you load up and head out.

Written by Sam Jacobs