Full Metal Case Bullets Explained

The amount of bullet types and terminology can be a bit difficult to understand if you’re a new shooter and one of these confusing terms is full metal case. Typically you’ll see this labeled on foreign manufacturer sites in their bulk ammo section and it’s basically the same thing as the full metal jacket or FMJ.  Many gun authorities note that Remington was the first to use the description Full Metal Case.

Why the different term? Well, in some regions they use FMC simply as a way to say the lead is partially encapsulated with a lead base or completely encapsulated by another material and there is no exposed lead base. Why is this important? It limits the amount of airborne lead particles you or others are exposed to at the shooting range or during matches.

Full Metal Case CompositionFMC Bullet

The full metal case style bullet is typically going to be lead fully covered in a super thin layer of copper. Some companies use alternate covering metals or hybrids. You can find bullets that are specifically made for different uses also. Some bullets will be made of lead and aluminum or other metals giving the bullet very different ballistic properties. This can change what happens when the bullet strikes a target pretty drastically depending on if more weight is at the front or the rear. This can alter fragmentation properties as well.

Advantages

There are two advantages to full metal case style bullets; one is that they are economical, the second is that they are cleaner shooting than other bullet types.  The average JHP cartridge is 20 to 50 percent more expensive than the average FMC.  The second advantage is, for some shooters, even more important.  The FMC bullets are cleaner shooting and do not cause "leading" in the barrel of the gun, like some lead bullets can. 

Disadvantages

When you jacket a bullet, the properties of that bullet change. They change in flight and also while inside the barrel of a gun. These bullets don’t expand very much like soft points and the typical rounds you might be used to. Since there’s very little expansion, there’s a lot of penetration issues as well as questions about taking down game animals. Some FMC bullets will just pierce a target and keep on going leaving a wound similar to being stuck with a very sharp spear. This can lead to a lot of wounding instead of the kill shots hunters and others might be looking for.

When one considers home and personal defense needs, the FMC can penetrate multiple walls and even appliances.  Most self defense authorities discourage using FMC ammunition for anything other than practice because of this over-penetration.

Overall, this is a very common type of bullet and is excellent for range use and training. This isn’t typically going to be marketed as a hunting ammunition. Just remember that FMC and FMJ is almost always the same bullet unless it denotes something special clearly on the website or box of ammo itself.