Bullet Types: A Reference Guide

Bullets acronyms are everywhere in the gun and ammunition industry, and when reading through descriptions, it is enormously helpful to know just what those acronyms stand for. We frequently get questions from customers regarding various bullet types in both handgun and rifle cartridges. It’s easy to see why: there are numerous terms and acronyms used to describe the bullets.

Let’s briefly go over the basic types of bullets that can be found on the market today.

Modern tactical riffle; common bullets types

Common Bullets Types

  • FMJ (Full Metal Jacket): Metal cased and full metal jacket both refer to bullets with a metal coating that covers all of, or all but the base of, a bullet.
  • MC (Metal Cased): This is a term used by Remington to refer to their full metal jacketed bullets.
  • HP (Hollow Point): Hollow point bullets have a concave shaped tip that facilitates rapid expansion of the round upon impact.
  • BT (Boat Tail): Boat tail bullets have a streamlined base to facilitate better aerodynamics.

Sometimes, these terms are mixed to make a new acronym.

  • FMJBT (Full Metal Jacketed Boat Tail): Full metal jacket boat tail ammunition commonly refers to rife ammunition with the boat tail design that incorporates a copper jacket.
  • JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point): Jacketed hollow point bullets are similar in design to regular hollow point bullets, but have a copper jacket that normally covers everything but the hollowed portion of the round.

  • JFP (Jacketed Flat Point): Jacketed flat point rounds have a flat area of exposed lead at the tip.
  • JSP (Jacketed Soft Point): Jacketed soft point bullets usually have a spire pointed tip of exposed lead. JSP can also refer to a Jacketed spitzer point; spitzer meaning a sharply pointed bullet.
  • JRN (Jacketed Round Nose): Jacketed round nose bullets split the difference between JFP and JSP bullets and have a rounded tip of exposed lead.
  • BTHP (Boat Tail Hollow Point): BTHP ammunition commonly refers to rife ammunition with the boat tail design that utilizes an expanding hollow point design.
  • BTSP (Boat Tail Soft Point): Sometimes the letters in the acronyms are switched, so boat tail soft point may also be abbreviated as soft point boat tail or SPBT.
  • EFMJ (Expanding Full Metal Jacket): Expanding full metal jacketed rounds appear as and feed like a regular full metal jacket bullet, but have a construction that allows the case to collapse and the bullet to flatten upon impact.
  • WC (Wad Cutter): Wad cutter designs often appear to be nothing more than a cylinder, usually with a hollow base.
  • SWC (Semi Wad Cutter): Semi wad cutter bullets have a rounded nose that comes down to a cylinder that is slightly larger than the rounded section, giving the bullet a more aerodynamic shape while allowing it to punch clean holes in paper targets.
  • RFP (Rounded Flat Point): Rounded flat point bullets have a flat tip that is smaller than the bullet diameter and rounded shoulders.
  • API (Armor Piercing Incendiary): Armor piercing incendiary ammunition has the same penetrating abilities of armor piercing bullets, but with the added function of bursting into an intense flame upon impact.
  • Frangible: Frangible ammunition is available under a number of trademarks; notably MagSafe, Glaser, and SinterFire.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are other variations in bullet designs, many of which are proprietary and made only by certain manufacturers.

If there are other bullet types you think should be listed, be sure to let us know in the comment section.

WEAPON Cleaning and Maintenance Basics

Proper preventative maintenance is essential to keep your firearms in top shape. Cleaning and inspecting your guns after every trip to the range is a good habit to get into, as is lightly cleaning all of your guns every six months or so. Ideally, you should clean your firearms within 24 hours of firing them.

Basic Safety Measures

Basic Safety Measures

As always, make absolutely certain your firearm is unloaded before handling it. Choose a well-lit, well-ventilated area for cleaning and remove all ammunition from your workspace. Turn off the TV and limit other distractions, at least while your firearms are assembled and capable of firing. Once it’s completely safe to do so, go ahead and disassemble your weapon for cleaning according to the instructions in the owner’s manual. It’s rarely necessary to completely disassemble your firearm. For rifles, shotguns, and handguns, a field stripping will do, and revolvers usually don’t need to be disassembled at all for routine cleaning.

Types and Uses of Cleaning Agents

Types and Uses of Cleaning Agents

Broadly speaking, there are three types of chemicals you’ll use to clean your firearm: cleaning agents, lubricants, and protectants. Each has its own purpose and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for another unless the product in question is specifically labeled for multipurpose use.

  • Cleaning agents (solvents or degreasers) dissolve or loosen the gunk stuck to your firearm and make it easier to wipe away.
  • Lubricants are applied to clean weapons and help the moving parts glide past one another more smoothly, which increases the weapon’s reliability.
  • Protectants coat the exposed metal surfaces of your firearm and help prevent rust and corrosion.

You’ll need at least a cleaning agent and a lubricant. Protectants aren’t always necessary, especially if your gun is mostly plastic or stainless steel, or if it has a permanent protective finish such as Cerakote. You may want to apply a protectant anyway if, for instance, you live near the ocean; the high salt content in the air can hasten the formation of rust.

Cleaning Tools

Cleaning Tools

There are four main tools you’ll use to clean your firearm: bore brushes or Boresnakes, standard brushes, cleaning patches or cloths, and extension rods. You can buy gun cleaning kits that contain all of these items or purchase them individually.

  • Bore brushes are stiff, wire brushes the exact diameter of your gun’s barrel. They are sold by caliber, so be sure to choose the right sizes. A Boresnake is a cleaning cloth wrapped around a cord, sometimes paired with a regular bore brush. The cord is threaded through the barrel, then used to pull the cloth and brush all the way through.
  • Standard brushes or utility brushes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most designs resemble a toothbrush and have stiff metal bristles, softer nylon bristles, or both. They’re great for cleaning large particles from most parts of your firearm.
  • Cleaning patches are small squares of fabric, usually cotton. After you loosen or remove the largest bits of residue with a brush, patches can be used to wipe away gunpowder and smaller particles. Alternatively, you can use a regular washcloth or shop rag for this purpose.
  • Extension rods hold cleaning patches and make it easier to clean hard-to-reach crevices.

Cleaning Methods and Best Practices

Cleaning Methods and Best Practices

Once you’ve disassembled your firearm, you’re ready to begin. First, use your bore brush or Boresnake (with an extension rod, if necessary) to firmly brush the inside of the barrel. Do this as many times as needed until you can no longer see dirt, carbon or gunpowder. Do the same to each other part with a utility brush, paying special attention to the trigger housing, breech, hammer, slide, bolt and cylinder, as applicable. Spray some solvent to make the scrubbing go easier if there is old carbon to get rid of.

Clean Weapon

Next, moisten a patch or rag with solvent and wipe down all the exposed surfaces of each part. Continue until the cloth or patches no longer become obviously soiled. When you’re satisfied that you’ve gotten everything clean, apply a light coat of lubricant to each surface that moves or rubs against something else. Too much lubricant can make the moving parts of your firearm sticky and thus more prone to attracting dirt and lint; your firearm will also cycle less smoothly.

Clean Weapon

On semi-automatic pistols, lubricate the entire bottom of the slide, the recoil spring and the topmost surfaces of the frame (those that contact the slide). Revolvers only need a very light coat of lubricant around the ejector rod and hammer. For rifles, lubricate the bolt, bolt carrier, and firing pin assembly. Most shotguns only need lubricant around the bolt. Refer to your owner’s manual to see if your particular firearm needs lubricant anywhere else.

Clean Weapon

After applying lubricant, reassemble the firearm and work the action about ten times to spread the lubricant evenly. Perform a function test, which your owner’s manual should describe. Finally, apply a thin coat of protectant to any exposed metal surfaces if needed.

Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands when you’re done cleaning; gunpowder and carbon contain lead and other substances that can be harmful if absorbed through your skin. If you’ll be storing your firearms for more than a month or so, consider putting a desiccant packet in the case to help ward off excess moisture.

Cleaning your guns thoroughly may not be as fun as shooting them, but it’s the only way to keep them functioning safely and reliably. Regular cleaning will also extend any firearm’s lifespan and increase its resale value. Your firearms are arguably some of the most important tools you’ll ever own. They can put food on the table or defend your life, family, and property, so they deserve meticulous care.

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