The cartridge term "meplat"


My wife has said that in speech and writing, I use too many words. As many of you know, she is correct. Recently on this Forum, and perhaps other times, I have used the term “flat meplat” or similar descriptions, such as “flat-nosed meplat.” “Flat meplat” is actually redundant, as “meplat” refers to a “flat” or “blunt” bullet tip.

AFTE Glossary, Third Edition, 1994, Page 69:

Meplat A term describing the blunt tip of a bullet, specifically the tip’s diameter.

While I suppose that a “blunt tip” could be slightly rounded, I think I have confused some people in my questionable use of the term, and for that I apologize. I think I will be better served in the future if I stick to the more common term such as “flat point.”


I have another problem with some obscure cartridge/firearm terms. I almost never have any chance to use these words in real life speech, or hear them spoken aloud. I only read them on the internet. Therefore I have no clue how to pronounce them when spoken. Throw in UK / US English variations and it makes it even worse.


Among the shooters that I associate with (Benchrest & Long Range) the word “meplat” is a noun that we use to refer to the point of the bullet. It (meplat) can be of any shape or size. The meplat of most HP Match bullets is uneven, causing many to question the accuracy of such a ragged point. Uniformity of the meplat is considered by some shooters to be a major factor in accuracy, or lack thereof. In recent years, tools have been designed to “uniform the meplat” but the benefits of doing so have yet to be proven. Trimming or uniforming the meplat does change the Ballistic Coefficient of a bullet to some degree which, many feel, offsets any advantage gained. Current match grade bullets in a good Benchrest rifle are capable of less than 1/10th minute of angle groups. So you can see how difficult it is to measure very slight improvements that may, or may not, be gained by meplat uniforming.



Like so many words relating to arms and ammunition, meplat is of French origin. We use ogive, why not meplat. John Moss, you could point out to your wife that meplat is just one word, while “flat nose” are two. Flat meplat of course is too much.

In addition to meplat for a flat nose it would be very handy to have a word for an ogive with a -rounded- bullet nose.


Peelen - You point that out to my wife. I want to enjoy whatever time left I have on earth - I don’t want to suffer during it, or have it shortened. :-)

Just kidding, of course.



A round nose bullet is said to have an Elliptical Ogive. The formula for determining its exact shape is more complicated than the common tangent or secant ogive.


If it would help, we’d all be happy to send an email to your wife explaining that you really didn’t mean what you said about her. ;-) ;-)



Look out she doesn’t give you a “meplat” (flat nose)! LOL.


Maybe it’s just a langage confuse, because “méplat” is the french word for “flat nose”.


Ray Meketa wrote: “A round nose bullet is said to have an Elliptical Ogive.”

Sorry for not describing clearly enough what I meant. The shape of the very tip of a pointed bullet was what I was referring to. If you geometrically cut off the circle of the ogive, you get a meplat.
But there are bullet designs where the ogive ends in a small spherical bullet tip. (At least on the drawing board.) For example, the German sS bullets and its derivatives nominally had a nose radius of 0.8 mm. For the 3 inch version of the British aerodynamic drag test projectile (mostly known as U.S. G7 and G8), the nose radius was 0.2 in. So these designs did not have a meplat, but a shperical nose tip. The drawing of a .30 M2 bullet on page 28 of Hatcher’s notebook also shows such a tip, albeit dimensioned like a meplat.

The -as far as I know- lack of a name for spherical bullet tips (like the name ‘meplat’ for flat tips) was what I complained about (quietly hoping that some forum member would come up writing “This is called a …”).


A spherical bullet nose would be a tangent ogive with the same radius as the bullet. I think the term spherical nose is an adequate description.


Few round nose bullets have a spherical ogive. They will usually have an elliptical shape of two or more radii. I think most bullet makers and guys who make bullet making dies call them Elliptical Ogives.

laurent & JPeelen - You’re correct. It’s all in how the word meplat is used. The true definition is “flat nose” but most U.S. shooters use the word to describe the physical point of a bullet rather than the shape. Like many things, over time, what was technically incorrect becomes correct through common usage.