Rainier Plated Bullets: Do the hollow points expand?

Copyright 2010 Brasstard.com

If you are involved in reloading, you may have heard about companies like Rainier and Berry’s who produce value-priced, copper-plated bullets. In this article, we will take a look at the .40 caliber Rainier plated hollow point to see how it performs in wet mass…

The test gun is a Glock 20 (Gen III) with a 4.6″ Lone Wolf .40 conversion barrel.

The load is .40 S&W – 165 grain 0.401″ Rainier Plated Hollow Point over 4.9 grain of TiteGroup and a CCI #500 primer. The OAL is 1.126″.

The chronograph velocity is averaging right around 1000 FPS at 10 ft.

The media is a pair of soaked phone books with additional backing of one dry book to arrest the bullet.

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The entry wound of the Rainier was pretty aggressive. (above)

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Tissue disruption at the back of the first book is significant. (above)

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Here it is coming into the second book. (above)

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Here is the exit wound coming out of the second book. It was a good 4″ wide from end-to-end. The bullet expanded to 0.511″ and retained 164.9 grain of it’s original mass.




UPDATE: Recently Added 10mm Test

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The load is 10mm Auto – 165 grain 0.401″ Rainier Plated Hollow Point over 13.5 grain of Accurate #9 and a Winchester Large Pistol (WLP) primer. The OAL is 1.250″.

Chronograph velocity is averaging around 1225 fps.

Copyright 2010 Brasstard.com

The bullet expanded to 0.695″, but only retained 139 grain of it’s original weight. The higher velocity of the 10mm load caused rapid expansion as well as some fragmentation and shedding of the “petals”. Nonetheless, it created a hefty wound channel that would likely ruin a bad guy’s day. The bullet penetrated to the second half of the second phone book, or at least 12″-15″ of ordinance gelatin. Despite the higher velocity, the plating did not fail and remained firmly bonded to the base and sidewalls after impact.

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Rainier plated bullets are a healthy compromise between the dirtier cast lead bullets, and the more expensive jacket hollow points. They keep your barrel free of lead fouling, they reduce toxic lead vapors in your shooting area, and they are very affordable. Now, these would probably not be my first choice for defensive loads mainly due to the fact that you can get better performance from jacketed designs (your life is worth the extra $$$). However, they did expand well, they retained most of their mass, the plating remained intact at reasonable velocities, and they are reliable and accurate. So, from a theoretical standpoint, I suppose they would work just fine for self defense if that is all you have available.


Plated bullets are not designed to withstand excessive pressures/velocities. Therefore, if you plan on using them for faster cartridges such as .357 Sig, 10mm Auto, .357/.44 Magnum, etc… make sure you use reduced loads. There is little consensus on what the exact threshold of plating failure is, but I have had good results by reducing jacketed bullet max-load data by 7-10%.

For more info, go to http://www.rainierballistics.com/

Happy Shootin’

The Brasstard

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One Comment

  1. Thanks – very informative research with strong empirical basis. I am using extensively plated bullets in 9×19 and with reasonable velovities I enjoy inexpensive, reliable and very accurate ammo.

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