Tag Archives: Lead ammunition

What Does FMJ Stand For?

I was recently at a store looking for some ammunition I needed when a young new enthusiast approached me and asked, “What does FMJ stand for?”  I politely told him that FMJ stands for Full Metal Jacket where they coat the outside of the lead bullet with a harder metal such as copper or brass.  That then prompted him to ask a follow up question, “Why do they do that anyway?”  I knew this was an opportunity to impart some knowledge and provide a little bit of education.

To be truthful, I did not go into as much detail there in the store as I could have, I just gave him the short answer, given that it really was not the proper forum.   But in so much as this might be a more appropriate forum; I am going to start at the beginning.

The birth of our country was won in a war we call the American Revolution.  We prevailed over soldiers of the English army using long rifles that used black powder to propel lead shot balls toward their target.  Black powder was the technology of the day and it served its purpose. In the mid 1800s we began developing cartridge based ammunition that encapsulated the gun powder in a metal casing that held the lead shot as well.  It revolutionized firearms making their use much easier and faster.

Then, near the end of the 19th century, smokeless powder was developed.  There were many advantages to the new smokeless gun powder, first and foremost is the extreme reduction in the amount of smoke it produced.  But along with that, smokeless powder generated much more perceived power through greater pressures.

Suddenly, the same lead projectiles that used to leave the barrel at 800-850 feet per second were traveling at 1100 to 1500 feet per second and more using the same amount of powder.  Muzzle energy and impact energy was nearly doubled.

One thing that was discovered as a result was that when muzzle speeds approached 1100-1150 fps and more, it actually was so fast that lead bullets would begin to melt from the friction as they traveled down the barrel.  That melting would cause small particles of lead to be deposited in the barrel.  As more and more lead residue was left behind, the accuracy of the rifle was greatly reduced.

Not all of these 9MM rounds have a “Full” metal jacket – only the round nose ones.

So in an effort to keep the lead bullets from melting, they came up with coating the bullets with another harder metal that would not melt so easily, such as copper or brass.  The bullets were then “jacketed” in another metal.   Fully covered it was a “Full Metal Jacket” or FMJ.

This allowed manufacturers to develop more powerful ammunition with muzzle velocities of 2000 -2500 fps.  Many rifles now are producing muzzle velocities approaching 4000 fps as with many .223 rounds.  This would never be possible without a metal jacket.

So after all that, FMJ simply stands for Full Metal Jacket, which means the lead bullet has been coated with a jacket of a harder metal, usually copper or brass.


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California May Soon Ban Lead Ammunition

The California Fish and Game Commission is considering a state-wide ban on the use of lead ammunition for hunting making it illegal for the Gun Enthusiast to hunt with lead ammunition.  Two years ago they were successful at banning lead ammunition in areas inhabited by the California Condor with AB 821 that was signed into law by the governor.   Now through their hunting regulations, they have extended the ban to include .22 rimfire ammunition in the condor habitat.   This incremental approach puts them in line to extend the ban to the State’s borders, which they are considering now.

Proponents of the current ban have wanted a state wide ban from the very beginning.   The California Condor simply provided an excuse to implement a smaller version of the law to get us used to the idea.  The anti-hunting and anti-gun extremists now are pushing to extend their little ban to prohibit all Gun Enthusiasts from using the less expensive lead ammunition for all purposes whether hunting or target practice statewide.

Lead is a natural element that comes from the earth.  It is an element that all humans and animals alike require in their bodies, to a small extent.  However, large enough quantities can cause lead poisoning.  But it is ridiculous to make us believe that condors are likely to eat spent lead ammunition in the first place, thereby causing them to get ‘lead poising’.   But this is the premise that made it possible for the anti-gun lobbies to garner favor with the Fish and Game Commission and convince them to enact this preposterous regulation.  But now they are going for the entire State.

There is no scientific evidence that lead ammunition is causing lead poisoning in condors or any other animals.  Similarly, there is no evidence that lead ammunition is a risk to human health or the California environment.  What is evident is that a small group of extremist activists, who have friends on the Commission, will not stop until they successfully remove some more of our freedom and make the most affordable and ballistically superior ammunition illegal to all Gun Enthusiasts.   They know the damage that this will do to hunting interests in the State.  Further, it is a loss of freedom that we will never get back if they are successful at extending the ban on lead ammunition to cover the entire state. 

Californians are encouraged to call and write Fish and Game Commission and request them to oppose all efforts to extend the ban on lead ammunition.  I personally feel we should also request that they rescind the current ban covering the condor habitat. 


Mailing Address:

California Fish and Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Phone Number:
(916) 653-4899

Fax Number:
(916) 653-5040

E-Mail:  (Please include “State-wide Lead Ammo Ban” in the e-mail subject line.)

Submit written comments, via electronic mail to:  

John Carlson, Jr.,  Executive Director fgc@fgc.ca.gov  
Jon K. Fischer,  Deputy Executive Director – Regulations and Policy jfischer@fgc.ca.gov
Adrianna Shea,  Deputy Executive Director – Special Advisor to the Commissioners ashea@fgc.ca.gov

Please compose your email with all civility beginning with:  Dear Fish & Game Commissioner (name)


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AB 962 Struck Down By Court

Gun Enthusiasts who live in the world of Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others, as I do, were about lose a little more of our freedom on February 1, 2011.  AB 962 which was passed by the California Legislature and signed by “The Governator” last year, would have taken away our ability to purchase ammunition through the internet and have it sent to us via the mail.  This bill would have required that we register whenever we would purchase handgun ammunition in a ‘face to face’ transaction, and even leave our thumb print.  The key word here is “handgun”.  The problem with the bill is that it was vague as to just what constituted handgun ammunition.  And it is on that basis that the Court struck down implementation of that portion of the bill. 

Purchasing ammunition through the mail is one of my preferred methods as I can usually find better deals online than in our local brick and mortar shops.  This law would have effectively made it illegal for anyone to sell ammunition to California residents through the mail or internet whether in state or out.  It would have also required sellers of ammunition to collect registration information on the purchasers and a thumb print.  Fortunately, Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker, the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) brought suit to block implementation of the law arguing that it is “constitutionally vague” and does not spell out just what is handgun ammunition.  As a result of this lawsuit, a Fresno Superior Court Judge ruled that the law is unconstitutional and enjoined the enforcement of the measure, thereby allowing internet sales of ammunition to continue – for now. 

It is laws such as this that require each of us to be ever vigilant and aware of the efforts of the radical liberal extremists that are chipping away at our civil liberties slowly and a little bit at a time with each legislative victory.  It is a slippery slope that will ultimately, one day see the repeal of the Second Amendment and ban us from owning guns in any way, shape or form.  Imagine, if you will, being told to gather your gun collection, take it to the local police station, and watch as it is effectively thrown into the trash.  It happened in Australia and Canada and it could happen here if we do not fight back.  It is important that we support the efforts of the NRA, and CRPA with our membership and support. 

For more information on this important victory for gun owners visit the CRPA website by clicking this link:  http://www.crpa.org/_e/page/1597/mr01_18_2011.htm .  You can also read more about from the NRA by clicking this link:  http://www.nraila.org/Legislation/Read.aspx?ID=6128

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