Interesting RBCD 9mm Bullet

In response to a recent question about an unusual 60gr blt in a Starline case. It looked like the early RBCD (from San Antonio TX) cartridge and had the same loaded weight (130gr). The bullet was described as having a blended metal core. When I cut it apart this is what I found!!!

The blended metal portion ended just inside the bullet tip and the remainder of the bullet had a (nylon???) plastic ball. Most of these loads have the RBCD headstamp.

There is another cartridge, also using a Starline case, by Le Mas Ltd of Washington state. It looks identical and also weighs 130gr oaw. I suspect it may have an identical bullet, but have not pulled one apart yet.

Any ideas why the bullet would be built this way, except for light weight and high velocity.

Cheers, Lew

Lew - this bullet was designed by Jim Cirillo, a former NYPD Detective, working in conjunction with Roscoe Stoker of RBCD. It was designed to completely fragment - basically disintegrate - in soft tissue targets.

I cannot speak to the why of each element of the design. I can tell you that according to published literature, the bullet for each individual caliber, while all of similar design, are formulated specifically for those calibers. The jacket is made of a “copper-rich” material made of five different metals. The jacket was designed to be ductile enough to fill the rifling of the gun barrel, and still to have controlled expansion to a point. It is claimed that the bullet jacket, because of its makeup, has 30 percent less friction than the gilding metal normally used for “copper” jackets.

The TFSP bullet, the only one available to the public, uses a soft-lead alloy pellet made of lead, aluminum, and zinc on top of a mixture of polymer and powdered metal. Its funny that published material talks about controlled expansion and then goes on to say that both of the two bullet types made disintegrate upon impact.

I cannot personally speak for the effectiveness of these bullets. Cirillo was an experienced gunman - in many gunfights in NY coming out on top, although wounded more than once, I believe. However, it seems to be another “wonder bullet.” I do not know, nor is it well explained, if at all, the function of the nylon filler at the bottom. That would seem to move the center of gravity of the bullet forward, wrong for accuracy in 9mm and many other pistol calibers, but to what self-defense end, I don’t know. Pinpoint accuracy is not always a necessary feature of self-defense handgun loads. They are not sniper rifles.

Cirillo developed other bullets as well, including a modification of the pin-grabber types, as well as a slotted tip wadcutter.

I wish I could speak more as to why the bullet is designed like it is, but I can’t. Cirillo passed away some years ago.

These bullets date from the 1990s and early 2000.

Reference: “RBCD’s New Sizzling Hot Platinum Plus Ammunition,” by Ed Sanow, “Handguns” magazine, April 2001, pp 36-41

Reference: “Performance Plus Super Stopping Bullets,” by Jim Cirillo, “Gun World” magazine, June 2002 issue, pp 57-61. Just my own opinion.

John Moss

While I cannot speak for these two articles, neither of the above publications rates high with me for scholarly content.

My guess would be a frangible bullet for use in urban areas to prevent deep penetration of interior walls in houses but like I say thats just a guess. However the title of the article suggests stopping power was the motive, interesting.

Not long after these first came out there were lots of questions about their legitimacy. The claims made by LeMas were nothing short of astonishing, exceeding even Extreme Shock’s claims - which we know are somewhat exaggerated… There was a bit of a scandal a while back when a member at tacticalforums did some research and posted the results. The old thread has been reposted here in another forum:

Apparently there was plenty of lead in these bullets, and there is no blended metal whatsoever, just the gimmicky nylon ball thing. And the rifle bullets were just repacked, and re-coated commercial bullets.

Perhaps these reports explain my comment about the popular gun press and “scholarly articles.”

John Moss

Thanks guys! You answered my questions and also made the connection to Le Mas!

Much appreicated

Speaking as a writer for the popular gun press, I deeply resemble your comments!


P.S. My latest “scholarly” work: … us-68-spc/

John, I don’t know the weight of this bullet but it should be very light and therefore capable of being driven at possibly 1600+fps. That would make it a “silver bullet” from the stopping power point of view for a 9mm while still retaining sufficient length to prevent feeding problems associated with light ( and hence short) 9mm bullets.

I don’t know, I’m just trying to second guess what was in Jim Cirillo’s mind when he sat down to design it. It would still be below the performance of even a slightly downloaded .357 (to reduce recoil) with a 110grn bullet and thats where my choice would lie.

Although more and more popular today, 9mm pistols for defence or duty would never be my choice. I’ve seen too many jams.

Vince - you have probably seen a lot of jams from people who insist on using light-weight bullets, which by their nature are shorter and generally end up in a cartridge with a shorter than normal overall cartridge length. This was always a problem for us in the business regarding warranty claims of jamming, with these radical bullet weights (90 grains, etc.) in short bullets.

Most of the better 9mm pistols when used with bullets from 115 grain (preferably 124 grain in my view) to about 150 grain are supremely reliable. My own Browning HP Mark III, with proper Italian magazines (the Belgian ones that came with it were trash), had never had a malfunction - zip, zero, nada. No qualification of the statement needed. It has fired well over 5,000 rounds from seven or eight different magazines, including three of 10-round capacity (all of Mecgar manufacture, of course). SIG-Sauer is great and Glocks are usually “factory” dependable, although I don’t like them at all (purely subjective on my part in that case). Generally speaking, I don’t care much for double-action autos like the SIGs either, but they are accurate and dependable, and they can be mastered with practice. The Beretta is another good one, but only if you have large hands or unusually long fingers. I have to thumb cock the first shot to hit anything with their gun, due to the very long length of pull.

As for stopping power, best not to get into the argument I suppose, but in my own humble opinion, I don’t care how fast a light 9mm bullet is moving - sometimes that velocity actually interferes with the incapacitation of a target. Ask most hunters what the key to downing medium to large size animals is (I am not talking ground squirrels, etc.) and I think you will hear the word “penetration” used pretty often. A 9mm with any velocity attainable in a pistol is not a .22-250 or .223 when it comes to tissue damage.

There was a time when I wouldn’t even consider carrying a 9mm for defense, but advances in bullet design, realization that the 9mm is fine with bullets heavier than 124 grain, and general improvements in the reliability of auto pistols over the years has made it a decent choice, in my view. Still, my favorite is .45.

the trouble with 9mm is, is that my ammo is always in baggies and one eight or nine rounds short of a full fifty. I wonder why? : ) : )

John Moss

John, a great answer and so right. On the subject of 9mm pistols and purely from personal observation over many years and many pistols. IMO the best of the bunch was the CZ75. We had many and never a bad one, beautifully reliable and accurate too. We had a young police officer called Chris Cox who could play tunes on his. But it still doesn’t change my view about defense pistols, a wheel gun every time.
Although I have to say when I lived in Africa I kept a .32 Browning 1910 on me at all times so that shoots my theory down in flames. Beautiful gun, functioned perfectly although it was an old $50 klunker when I bought it. It went with me everywhere. Hardest thing I ever did was to hand that Browning in. I hope you all never reach that point.

Vince - Those that think a cool head and steady hand holding a revolver adds up to an under-armed person are wrong! I like autos and trust them, but I own far more revolvers than I do autos! For the armed civilian whose lethal contacts are usually over within seconds with a few shots fired, they are the equal of any auto pistol. Also, a wonderful selection of calibers with good bullet weights and still-manageable recoil - .38 +P 158 grains, .44 special, .44-40, .45 colt, .45 auto and auto rim, etc. Even the good old .455 Webley! I could not agree with you more. As a CCW lincensed individual, to tell the truth the gun I have carried most over the last 30 years is my good old Colt Cobra lightweight, six-shot .38. The caliber is on the bottom edge, but better than a .380, and the best part is that I don’t have to check the headstamps, because I don’t collect .38 Specials! I actually get to leave my extra ammo in their boxes, rather than put the box in my collection!

John Moss

Oh yes, the TFSP - Total Fragmenting Soft Point
I remember those, and the other “blended metal technology” bullets they were trying to sell.
Isn’t there still an episode of Modern Marvels on the History Channel where they talk about the ‘super high-tech blended metal bullets’?

The guys from San Antonio used to always have a booth here at the Austin, TX gunshows. If they had sold the rounds individually, I would have bought a few just out of curiosity, but I wasn’t about to pay the $45 per box, …or whatever it was they were charging.

Oh yeah, I concur with Vince and John, revolvers are very good civilian self-defense firearms.


The whole notion of the “blended metal” bullet and its contrived mythical properties became so pervasive over the last several years that the show CSI-Miami actually had an episode which revolved entirely around some outlaw biker gang and various other criminals acquiring an illegal shipment of military “fused alloy” 9mm ammo which they used in their Uzi’s and other guns to assault armored cars, bank vaults, and anything else in their way. I saw the episode and one criminal actually shot the glass completely out of a Brinks truck with his M11/9 as if it were sugar glass. Of course if you shot a person with these bullets it would fragment, explode, and eviscerate their body into 12 pieces… roll eyes… When they showed one of the cops holding a cartridge during a close up, it was just a clad steel jacket bullet.

The military applications of true blended-metal projectiles, and other emerging bullet technologies, has shown to be promising.

The reality for the commercial market however has been dismal…companies as aforementioned using nebulous terms to overinflate the performance of an otherwise unremarkable projectile. The ‘Rhino’ pistol cartridge with its “self-ablating polymer from the Stealth bomber” and the current ‘DRT’ ammo is another good example.

I always answer the question with a question…if something is SO good, or so much better than the industry standard JHP made of lead and/or copper, then why is there no public record of large-organization end-use? Shady, Walter-Mitty claims of unnamed covert operatives using a certain product do not convince me of something’s worth.