Solid copper bullets are far superior to cup-and-core bullets (a lead core inside a jacket, called a cup) for terminal performance but copper is an interesting material requiring a bit more finesse in load development. Since Super Vel founder Lee Jurras invented the Jacketed Hollow Point and now in its rejuvenated life, Super Vel is specializing in solid copper bullets, it would be educational to fully understand the differences.
First, grain for grain, a copper bullet is longer than a lead core bullet because copper is less dense than lead. Shown here is a.40 caliber 160 gr. SCHP next to a 180 gr. FMJ. Even with a 20 grain weight advantage, the 180 is significantly shorter, which has two consequences for load development. First, the longer bullet takes up more space in the cartridge case, thus reducing the space for powder. Decrease volume, increase pressure. Second, the longer bearing surface of the shank of the bullet creates more friction in the bore. More friction, more pressure. These two pressure-increasing factors mean we have to work with powders to find the exact right formulation to give our desired velocity while staying safely within SAAMI recommended pressure standards, which we test in our Oehler 85 ballistic computer with piezo electric transducers in Wiseman pressure barrels, about an $80,000 ballistic lab setup. That’s how serious we are about safe load development! Now, once a load is developed for a solid copper bullet, the fun begins. Our SCHPs are roll sized for perfect uniformity after manufacture in a cold-heading method. This creates an exceptionally accurate bullet.
Additionally, solid copper handgun projectiles deploy six sharp cutting petals for enhanced wound channel destruction with deep penetration. Is solid copper always preferred to JHPs? No. You can’t get the same velocity (for the pressure reasons) from solid copper, and sometimes sheer speed is more important than bullet integrity through barriers— a good example is a Super Snub .38 Spl which uses a 90 gr. JHP in order to deliver 1,300 fps from a 1 7/8” barrel. Solid copper handgun bullets AND jacketed hollow points have their places.