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What You need to Know About Tipped Bullets



New gun owners might find tipped bullets confusing. How do these differ from regular ones?

Keep reading to learn more about tipped ammunition, legally using them, and maximizing their features.

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Everything Shooters Need To Know About Tipped Bullets

1. Red and Orange Tips

Sixteen bullets, eight 40 caliber hollow points | mercury tipped bullets

Tracer rounds have either red or orange tips. Red-tipped bullets consist of strontium, chlorine, and magnesium; this chemical makeup causes the bullet to eject a bright light.

Modern tracer ammunition has several military applications. In fact, soldiers rely on tracers to fire accurate shots in the dark.

One downside to using tracers is they reveal your location. Tracers ignite at the base after every shot.

However, you can resolve this issue by switching to subdued tracer ammo. Unlike the standard variants, they do not ignite at the base; but rather, after a hundred yards.

Tracers are not inaccessible in the U.S. However, expect multiple legal requirements if you wish to take some out for a few rounds.

2. Black Tips

bloc clip with eight 30-06 black tip cartridges | blue tipped bullets

If you bring black-tipped rounds to your next big-game hunt, expect to leave deep wounds in coyotes, wild hogs, and bears. Beware, however, because black-tipped ammo will obliterate small game.

Unfortunately, the government has banned most black-tipped bullets in the U.S; their robust armor-piercing firepower is too dangerous for emergency and self-defense applications. The only black-tipped ammo available to the public is the WWII surplus .30-06.

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3. Green Tips

Green tipped ammunition | plastic tipped bullets

Green tips have drawn several controversies over the years. Manufacturers claim that green-tipped ammo has armor-piercing properties comparable to black tips, but not everyone acknowledges it.

Much of the debate stems from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) attempt to ban green tips in 2015. They claimed that these went against the 1985 Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act.

However, no U.S. military branch classified green tips as armor-piercing ammunition; hence, the bullets remained accessible to the general public.

4. Blue Tips

One Large Caliber Rifle Round Ballistic Tip Blue | silver tipped bullets

Incendiary ammunition has bright blue tips. As their name suggests, manufacturers designed blue-tipped bullets to combust once fired. During the two World Wars, military personnel shot blue tips at air crafts and vehicles to cause massive explosions.

Fun Fact: The first incendiary bullets had fast-burning phosphorus properties. In fact, soldiers could only shoot them at 350 yards; otherwise, the phosphorus would burn and cause the shell to combust.

5. Plastic Tips

a close-up photo comparing four 30-06 | rubber tipped bullets

Polymer-tipped bullets classify under controlled-penetration hollow-tipped bullets. These expanding bullets offer the same robust firepower, but adding a plastic tip boosts the shell’s aerodynamic functions.

Having trouble acquiring tipped bullets? Check out this video by Destroy Everything where they demonstrate how green-tipped ammunition fires:

Understanding tipped bullets will help you gauge which ammo best suits your shooting preferences. Green and black bullets pierce armor, blue ones cause fire, while red and orange tips produce tracing lights.

If you decide to fire special-grade bullets, learn the proper way to use them first. Mishandling tipped bullets can lead to severe, life-threatening injuries. Also, familiarize yourself with local ammunition laws beforehand; several tipped bullets are banned in most states.

Have you had the chance to use tipped ammunition before? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. James Parris

    November 7, 2021 at 5:05 AM

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