A soft-point bullet (SP), also known as a soft-nosed bullet, is a jacketed expanding bullet with a soft metal core enclosed by a stronger metal jacket left open at the forward tip. A soft-point bullet is intended to expand upon striking flesh to cause a wound diameter greater than the bullet diameter. Jacketed soft point is usually abbreviated JSP in the ammunition and reloading industry.
1 Evolution 2 Expansion 3 Hollow-point bullets 4 Flat-point bullets 5 See also 6 References
Evolution Lead-alloy bullets used with gunpowder firearms were unsatisfactory at the bullet velocities available from rifles loaded with nitrocellulose propellants like cordite. By the late 19th century, lead-alloy bullets were being enclosed within a jacket of stronger mild steel or copper alloyed with nickel or zinc to reliably impart stabilizing rotation in rifled barrels. The lead-alloy core was swaged into a cup of the stronger metal covering the front and sides of the core, but leaving some of the core exposed on the base of the bullet. The bullet jacket may be described as a metal envelope, steel envelope, or hard envelope; and the jacketed bullet may be described as metal-covered, metal-patched, or metal-cased. These jacketed bullets fired by modern rifle cartridges were typically of smaller diameter than lead-alloy bullets of earlier gunpowder cartridges, and the stronger jacket made them less likely to be deformed during handling or loading. The tendency of jacketed bullets to pass through an animal with minimum deformation or expansion was perceived as a more humane way to incapacitate military soldiers, but was considered less effective for killing hunted animals. Reversing the direction of jacket placement leaves the exposed lead-alloy core on the forward tip of the bullet creating a soft-point bullet. Expansion
This image illustrates the jacket placement difference between full metal jacket bullets on the left and soft point bullets on the right. Both bullet types are 220-grain (14 g) .30-caliber. The silver-colored cupronickel jacketed bullets on the left have an enclosed rounded point with a jacket opening on the flat base, while the copper-colored gilding metal jacketed bullets on the right have an enclosed flat base with a jacket opening on the rounded point. If these bullets were loaded and fired in the opposite of their intended direction, the full metal jacket bullet might expand like a soft point, and the soft point bullet might perform like a full metal jacket.
Soft-point bullets expose the soft lead-alloy core on the forward part
of the bullet most likely to be deformed when striking a target. The
sides of the bullet remain covered by the jacket to reliably impart
stabilizing rotation from rifling. Expansion of a soft-point bullet
depends upon the hardness of the lead-alloy core, the strength of the
surrounding metal jacket, and the energy available from the decrease
in bullet velocity as the bullet encounters target resistance. A core
of pure lead is softer than a core of lead alloyed with metals like
antimony and tin. Some jacket alloys have greater tensile strength
than others; and, for any given alloy and annealing process, a thicker
jacket will be stronger than a thinner jacket.
Four .30 caliber (7.62 mm) hollow point bullets. Each of the three round-nose bullets on the left have a small cavity at the jacket opening on the leading tip of the bullet. Such bullets are sometimes called open-point bullets in comparison to soft-point bullets where the lead core extends forward of the jacket. The jacket of the very-low-drag bullet on the right provides an aerodynamic windscreen enclosing a hollow void so the center of mass of the lead core remains within the full diameter portion of the bullet to minimize misalignment with the bore axis.
Soft-point bullets are similar to jacketed hollow-point bullets, because both have a jacket open on the forward tip. The soft core is exposed forward of the jacket on soft-point bullets, while the jacket may extend forward of the core on hollow-point bullets emphasizing aerodynamic improvement rather than expansion. Bullets with a large amount of core exposed forward of the jacket might have a hollow point within that core; and some hollow-point bullets have no jackets. Flat-point bullets
Jacketed flat point (JFP) may describe either soft-point or full metal jacket bullets with a flat, rather than a rounded front. Until recently, flat-point bullets were required in centerfire rifles with tubular magazines, such as the Winchester rifle, where the rounds are stored front-to-back. Use of metal-pointed bullets in these rifles can be highly dangerous, as the point of the bullet will rest against the primer of the round in front of it and can cause a detonation under the force of recoil. Since late 2005, newer bullet designs with polymer tips offering improved ballistics have become available for safe use in tubular magazine rifles. See also
List of firearms List of rifle cartridges List of handgun cartridges
^ a b c d e Sharpe, Philip B. (1953). Complete Guide to Handloading (3rd ed.). New York: Funk & Wagnalls. pp. 112–126. ^ "Hornady LEVERevolution Ammunition". Chuckhawks.com. Retrieved 2015-09-05. ^ "Hornady Manufacturing Company :: Ammunition :: Rifle :: Choose by Product Line :: LEVERevolution®". Hornady.com. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
v t e
Cast Expanding Frangible Full metal jacket Hollow point Plastic-tipped Semiwadcutter Soft point Spitzer Total metal jacket Very-low-drag Wax Wadcutter