Plated bullets represent a decent cost savings relative to jacketed bullets when
you're buying jacketed bullets 100 or 500 at a time. But when you're buying jacketed in bulk, 2000 or more, that savings comes down to somewhere between 0 and 4 cents per bullet, depending on manufacturer and source. You can get 180gr RN made by Zero or Precision Delta in the neighborhood of 11.5-12 cents per bullet, plus shipping. Or plated 180 RN for the afore-mentioned 10 cents plus shipping. So 1.5-2 cents per bullet. Jacketed bullets are considerably less sensitive to crimp than plated are, have more even mass distribution due to the jacket and lead core being swaged instead of cast, are generally easier to extract accuracy out of than plated bullets, and accuracy potential is greater, in general -- no serious 50 yard bullseye competitor is competing with plated bullets. If you must have a metal exterior, the advantages of jacketed are likely worth the extra 1.5-2 cents over the cost of plated.
But you don't need a metal exterior. Plated bullets USED TO represent an advantage over non-jacketed lead bullets in terms of not having to handle bare lead, not having to clean lead from your barrel, reduced lead exposure in indoor ranges, etc.. And with polygonal barrels, you're discouraged from using bare lead in general, so plated was the only alternative to jacketed there. But that's no longer the case. The coated lead bullets now provide a "lead safe" alternative to plated and jacketed, and most of them work in the polygonal barrels, as well. It takes a little adjustment from plated or jacketed to load them -- an extra consideration or two, but once that's done, they are (like jacketed bullets) -- easier to extract accuracy from than plated, and they have greater accuracy potential overall, maybe just a hair behind jacketed, or maybe equal, depending on the particular gun, powder, bullet, etc.. And while they should definitely not be over-crimped, they seem less crimp-sensitive than plated. They're equally clean to plated, and they take less powder than plated to achieve the same velocities. They are also a penny or two cheaper than comparable plated in .40, with virtually all of the better manufacturers coming in between 9 and 10 cents per bullet for 180 grain bullets, and that includes
shipping, so 1.5-2 cents cheaper than the previous best deal on Berry's once shipping is factored in.
So this was what I was getting at. You can get the superior accuracy and ease of loading of jacketed bullets for two pennies more than plated, or you can get the superior accuracy and leadsafe qualities of coated for a couple pennies less.
I do know quite a few guys who have been loading for a significant amount of time and still load a lot of plated. Almost all of them learned to reload with plated -- and that's the one place where it's still a decent option because when you're starting, you don't want to buy bullets in bulk, and when buying 100-500 at a time, plated offers a significant cost savings over jacketed, and they're a little less daunting than lead or coated lead, so they make sense there. You can buy some plated RN and go right at it. But that's just it. Most of the guys I know who load a lot of plated started with plated, and they've just never moved off of it. Or they don't want to deal with cleaning lead from barrels, and they can't stomach forking over $250 at a time for bulk jacketed bullets, so $55/500 for plated is more palatable. But the only advantages that plated have over jacketed are a penny or two in price and the fact that the lead is completely sealed off. But coated lead now offers equally lead safe bullets for a couple cents less, even, than plated, and they perform better than plated. They're essentially equal or better in every way.
If you are inclined to give them a try, here are some differences between the major players:
Bayou Bullets, ACME, BBI, and SNS Casting use Hi-Tek brand coating for the bullets, imported from Australia. Very durable coating. All are excellent.
Precision Bullets uses their own proprietary coating. It's not quite as tough as the Hi-tek, but that doesn't mean it's a problem. It's fine. Precision Bullets are also the only coated bullet available that is swaged instead of cast. Out to 25 yards, you're unlikely to see a difference, but swaged lead does offer some advantage in accuracy over cast when you are shooting out to 50 yards. I'm not saying it's a lot better, but if you're shooting for score at 50, it might make a difference to you. Also, Precision Bullets notes on their website that their bullets may or may not work well with polygonal rifling, so if you have a Glock or an HK...
Blue Bullets uses their own proprietary coating. It appears to be powder coat. Blue Bullets are very popular at the moment, but they're not perfect. I have had problems with accuracy in my 9mm CZ pistols. I know of others who have had similar problems in their CZ pistols, though not every CZ user has experienced this problem. Basically, they'll shoot great, but throw a flier here and there. For me it averages about one flier out of ten, which is unacceptable -- some people more, some less. I believe it to be a sizing issue. Jacketed bullets are typically .355 in 9mm, whereas lead is typically sized .356 (or sometimes .357/.358). Lead bullets sized .355 are typically considered undersized for 9mm. And if sized .355, they may have accuracy issues, depending on pistol. Blue Bullets sizes their 9mm .355. I suspect this is the issue -- for my CZ barrels, they're right at the edge of under-sized, and 10% of the time it shows up in the form of a flier. For the record, in my two other 9mm pistols, both of which have polygonal rifling, Blue Bullets are excellent.
So unless you already have tried them and hate them, give one or two of the companies a try. You'll need to adjust your bell and your crimp, but other than that, it's easy going, and they perform.
So to address the question directly:
Why should I go to the hassle of changing bullet supply?
Because coated lead performs better than plated for less money.
Also, I'm recommending a number of different companies, so obviously I have no financial interest in any of this. I just think that coated bullets have made plated bullets obsolete. Cheers.