During my work as a firearms instructor I am blessed to come across all kinds of guns gadgets and ammo. Being a gun nerd, rarely am I surprised by a product or piece of equipment.
However, that’s precisely what happened when a man stepped up to the firing line with green bullets! They were unlike anything that I had seen before. I had seen poly-tipped bullets, even ammo with partially polymer cases, but nothing like these projectiles. Naturally, I struck up a conversation with the fella to discover just what these strange “alien” bullets were all about.
The shooter told me they were plastic covered bullets from a company called Lucky 13. Upon inspection, I discovered just what these bullets were, and what made them so unique. So what are they?
These bullets are, in fact, a lead bullet that is completely encased in a thick polymer jacket. That’s right plastic jacketed bullets, crazy! Naturally I had to get some. So I went to lucky 13 and ordered a few hundred in green, just because. Plus, if there is one thing recent marketing has taught us, it's that green kills zombies better.
I got 148 grain round nose for my .38 special and 9mm They arrived shortly after and I really got to play with them.The bullets start out there life as a traditional cast lead bullet. Then by some process unknown to me, they get coated in a polymer jacket. The jacket comes out quite thick, thicker than a copper plating or even some jacketed bullets I’ve seen. It’s also quite tough. You're not going to scratch it off with a fingernail; you would be hard pressed to get it off with a knife. So initial impressions were good. Still I couldn't care less how they look if they don’t load and shoot well.
I first loaded them in .38 Special. I was unsure if I was supposed to use cast lead data or jacketed bullet data, so I called the company and a real live person, in America, supplied me with the correct loading data. I suggest you obtain your data the same way. I tinkered with .38 loads with 700X and titegroup powders. I also later loaded 9mm loads with the above listed powders. The bullet loading process is more like a traditional cast lead than a FMJ. My cases had to be flared out more than I like and if it were my design on the bullet, I may have used a different angle on the bottom of the bullet to help them seat easier.
The bullets performed admirably with all my test loads in both revolver and semi-automatics. They gave me no more malfunctions than FMJs. In fact, I had zero malfunctions of any kind that I can think of; even at the lower and upper end of the loading range. They perform more like cast lead bullets than FMJs as far as live fire, with one big difference. If you have ever loaded and shot lead bullets you know about barrel leading. To my delight, when I went to clean my handguns, there was no lead fouling or residue, or even plastic residue. I did not see any bullet residue of any kind. There was still, of course, powder and primer residue. Even so, they are much cleaner than lead bullets.
So what’s the verdict? Well only time will tell, you might be thinking "Plastic bullets: who needs them?" Well, may I remind you that people thought the same about plastic guns in the 80’s and 90’s and now they are the biggest part of the handgun market. The price is right and with any new technology it will probably improve and the prices may even get better. They are target bullets and not intended for defense (not to be confused with the Polycase Inceptor). Who knows what, if any, effect the polymer jacket would have on terminal ballistics. While I don’t think that these will render full metal jackets obsolete, and "Full Plastic Jacket" is nowhere near as cool for a movie title as "Full Metal Jacket." I would definitely use them over traditional cast lead and lubed bullets. I would even pay a little more for the poly-case. I think there is room for improvement and a wider array of products and designs but like I said it’s all fairly new. Lucky 13 seems to be a good, American company, that makes a good, innovative product at a more than fair price.
Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame: Affordable FMJ substitute
Target Market: Handloaders
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):
- Coating reduces barrel fouling.
- Less lead exposure.
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: The green is unique.
What others are saying: http://www.ncgunowners.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=11358
MSRP = $42.00 per 500 9mm
I need it now! Availability: You can get the Lucky 13 Bullets directly from their website.
Our Rating: 7.0 Good
- Good price point.
- Uniformity and Quality.
- No bullet residue
- I would like to see more options.
- The bullets should have a better taper on the bottom to help seating.