Whether you’re a hunter looking to expand your skills or just interested in learning more about hunting, you’ve likely come across the distinction of “jacketed” vs. “cast” bullets. But what do these terms mean, and how does that impact hunting?
People often differentiate bullets into two camps. There are the jacketed bullets, and then there are the cast bullets.
First, let’s look at cast bullets: These are solid bullets without any jacket surrounding them. They tend to be slightly cheaper than jacketed types because they don’t require manufacturing costs for jackets. Cast bullets are generally made from soft metals pressed into shapes, such as lead and copper.
They can be loaded with powder, then rammed into the chamber of a firearm. Cast bullets are most often used for target shooting, and you’ll typically see them when shooting at either paper or clay targets. They’re also often used when hunting small game like squirrels and rabbits, either because people prefer them or because they’re using an older firearm that doesn’t have the technology to shoot jacketed bullets safely.
Now let’s look at the jacketed bullets: These are far more common than cast bullets. They tend to be made of harder metals, like copper, zinc, and lead. These metals are melted and then formed around a hollow core to create the jacket around the bullet and then formed around a hollow core. Different types of jackets can be used depending on the type of bullet being made.
Jacketed bullets are best for hunting elk; the jackets provide additional protection against animals not being wholly penetrated. They’re also used for target shooting because they typically have better accuracy than cast bullets.
At this point, you may be wondering about the differences between these types of bullets. What sets them apart? And when is one better to use than the other? After all, there’s no need to pay for jacketed bullets if you’re going to be shooting paper targets.
These have subtle differences, and those differences significantly impact the type of ammunition you should be using. Let’s go over some of those differences:
Jacketed Bullets vs. Cast Bullets
Cast bullets are more prominent than jacketed bullets. That is because jacketed bullets are hollow while cast ones aren’t, so there’s extra space that needs to be filled.
Bullets with jackets are more accurate than those with cast ones, but the advantage isn’t huge. Cast bullets tend to be softer and easier to deform, which can throw off your accuracy with a hunting or sniper rifle.
The softer texture of cast bullets can make them more likely to get stuck when striking larger animals like bears. They can also be affected by wind and deflect in different ways, so you won’t have the same consistency when it comes to shots hitting their marks.
Jacketed bullets are usually made from more rigid materials than cast bullets, and they will be more resistant to deflecting things like a brush. One study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that jacketed bullets resist deflection ten times more often than cast ones.
Cast bullets can vary significantly in mass, but jacketed ones are standardized. Cast bullets will also have a lot of variation between the weight of each bullet. Heavy bullets can be good for hunting, but they need to be matched to the speed of the firearm you’re using. Lighter bullets can be suitable for target shooting because you’ll have less recoil and higher accuracy.
Some jacketed bullets have plain bases, making them suitable for shooting in a bolt action rifle. Other types of jackets, such as the gas-check, aren’t made for shooting in bolt action rifles. Cast bullets can also be shaped to work in a bolt action rifle.
That is where cast bullets shine. They travel about 25% faster than jacketed bullets, which can increase their range and impact power.
It is where things get a bit complicated. Cast bullets travel in their most straight line, whereas jacketed bullets tend to travel in a more curved path due to their unique construction. That can affect how well it goes through the skin and also how quickly it reaches your target.
Cast bullets can be significantly cheaper than jacketed ones, but this can depend on your vendor, as well as the quality of the bullet that you’re buying.
That is the main difference between jacketed and cast bullets. Their performance is often different depending on how they’re used. For example, they are typically used differently for target shooting and hunting. Specific differences make them more suitable for a particular type of hunting like duck or turkey hunting, however.
Finally, there’s safety. Cast bullets are much more likely to do damage to your gun when being fired. Jacketed bullets protect the gun from melting or damage, which can be a considerable advantage for hunters who would rather not have their firearm deteriorate too quickly.
For target shooting, jackets do a great job of providing additional protection to the bullet. For hunting, they are typically used if the animal’s heart or liver is being shot. When the bullet hits meat and bone, it prevents the jacket from taking too much meat or bone. You can also find them during target shooting when people can’t afford to carry extra weight while hunting game.
Are Hardcast Bullets Good for Hunting?
Cast bullets are denser than jacketed bullets. People typically use them when they want to shoot targets because they’re more resistant to damage and don’t have the limitations of jacketed ones. They tend to be used when people are shooting at steel targets or other materials that can withstand the force of cast bullets. They’re also used by people who have guns that don’t support jackets, such as older guns or handguns.
So when is it appropriate to use a hardcast bullet vs. a jacketed bullet?
When it comes to hunting, hardcast bullets are great for:
- Small game: You’ll want to use more penetrating types of bullets when you’re hunting squirrels or rabbits. Soft cast bullets won’t be able to break through their bodies, so you’ll usually opt for softer ones. They’re also often used when hunting deer in states where hunting is permitted during the winter months.
- Target shooting: If you have a gun that doesn’t allow jacketed bullets, you can opt for harder cast ones. You’ll need to make sure that the gun you’re using can handle them. For example, you may have to use a different load or replace the wrong cartridge type if your firearm cannot handle cast bullets.
What can I do with hardcast bullets? What are their uses?
While we don’t recommend using hardcast bullets for hunting, they’re suitable for shooting steel targets and aren’t as likely to damage your gun as soft ones. It is crucial to make sure that they’re safe for your gun, but it can be wise to use them instead of soft cast bullets. They do have a few advantages, though:
- They offer maximum penetration into the body without as much damage. That allows the bullet to penetrate the heart or liver better. It’s also better for wounds because they don’t tend to produce as much blood loss or affect many surrounding tissues.
- They’re easy to clean and don’t need as much lubrication. Cleaning is easy because nothing is stuck in the barrel. You can also clean it in a hurry if there’s a problem with the bullet or the gun, and hardcast bullets are easier on the gun because they lack muzzles that are more likely to get broken.
- They are cheaper than jacketed bullets. When you buy them, you’re not going to have to shell out hundreds of dollars for these components. A lot of places sell cheap, damaged bullets that are made from high-quality materials. Therefore, you can find them for cheap.
What does the bullet do?
If you’re looking to get the most out of your ammunition, you have to be very careful about what type of bullets you use. While they may have a different shape and appearance than others on the market, they’re not going to work for you if they don’t do the job you’re looking for them to do. That’s why it’s important to know what the bullet is made of and what its purpose is.
Some bullets are more suitable for certain types of hunting. While soft cast bullets allow you to make shots that can penetrate well, they don’t offer much protection to the cartridge if you hit something hardened like bone. It’s, therefore, better to use a harder hunting bullet when it comes to targets that are going to take a lot of damage if they’re hit.
Do hardcast bullets cause leading?
Leading is another issue that can arise from using soft cast bullets. When you fire a bullet from a gun, the barrel of the weapon heats up and expands. That can cause the bullet to move forward too soon. It means that it will impact the wrong place, and lead can be deposited on your target. Some people believe that this is why soft cast bullets are considered to be unsuitable for hunting.
If you’re thinking about using soft cast bullets for hunting, then a soft lead jacket will be more common. That is because it’s easier to manufacture. It also increases the density of the bullet and makes it better at protecting the cartridge from damaging it.
For some types of hunting, the advantage of lead-free hardcast bullets can outweigh the disadvantages of this ammunition. The hardcast slugs have a more deep penetration than the soft lead ones. If you’re hunting big game, this can give you a better chance at a clean kill or wound without causing unnecessary damage to your target. That’s why it’s vital to use hardcast bullets for hunting instead of soft bullets.
You can use both cast and jacketed bullets for hunting. The most significant difference between them is the type of metal used to create the jacket. With that in mind, it’s a matter of preference and what you’re primarily interested in doing.
If you’re trying to make every shot count, then you should be using cast bullets. However, if you want to make every shot count in your favor, you should opt for jacketed bullets. They’re more accurate than their cast counterparts, and they tend to offer a complete penetration level when it comes to hunting. They’re better at protecting the bullet from damaging the gun.
As a result, there are clear benefits to using jacketed bullets, and there are clear benefits to using cast ones. It depends on the situation you’re in and the caliber of the bullet. So if you’re looking to purchase ammo for hunting with your rifle, it would probably be a good idea to stick with jacketed bullets, at least for now. But if you’re looking for targets to shoot off your rifle, then cast bullets would probably give you more accuracy.