Plastic-tipped bullets are a type of hollow-point bullet tipped with a polymer nose cone designed to emulate the aerodynamics of the spitzer bullets. Most tips are made of polyoxymethylene, although some manufacturers have used polyester urethane-methylenebis(phenylisocyanate) copolymer.
The bullets consist of a fairly normal hollow-point bullet with the frontal cavity filled in by hard plastic, which is molded into a streamlined shape mimicking the shape of a spitzer bullet. Upon impact, the plastic drives into the hollow point, or fragments into small pieces and the bullet performs like a regular hollow-point, expanding ("mushrooming") to a larger diameter or fragmenting. The end result is a bullet with the streamlined characteristics of the spitzer bullet and the increased terminal mushrooming of jacketed hollow-points (JHPs). These bullets possess the aerodynamics for longer, more accurate flights, and the in-target performance to ensure high lethality.
Traditionally, these bullets are intended for use in rifles and single-shot handguns, as pistols are not normally used at the great distances where the streamlined ballistic tip is advantageous. However, a few companies produce pistol ammunition with plastic-tipped hollow points where the plastic is molded into a more rounded tip. These designs are not created to increase the streamlining of the bullet but rather to improve ammunition feeding in semi-automatic pistols that are prone to jams with regular hollow point ammunition. Examples of such pistol ammunition include Cor-Bon/Glaser's "Glaser Pow'RBall" line and Extreme Shock's "NyTrilium Air Freedom" ammunition (the "NyTrilium Air Freedom" cartridge also mimics the performance of Glaser Safety Slug cartridges, as it uses hollow bullets full of powdered metal designed to fragment rapidly on hitting a target).
- Ballistic cap the same principle as applied to anti-armor shells
- Thompson, Melisa C.; Lancaster, Cady A.; Banta, Michele G.; Hart, Crystal N.; Scanlan, Michael D.; Espinoza, Edgard O. "Chemical Properties of Selected Plastic-Tipped Bullets" (PDF). Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners Journal. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
- Zwoll, Wayne Van (2001). The hunter's guide to ballistics: practical advice on how to choose guns and loads, and use them effectively. Globe Pequot. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-58574-375-9.