Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby GeneFrenkle » Thu, 10 Jan 2013 19:25:10

Fascinating series of articles at the Lucky Gunner Labs. These are comparing brass and steel cased ammunition. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-v ... ased-ammo/

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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby meak99 » Thu, 10 Jan 2013 23:04:15

Yep. Cheaper to buy the steel cased stuff and replace your barrel twice than it is to buy brass cased! Unless you reload, of course. I just wish they had tried other ammo in the problematic TulAmmo Bushy to prove it was the rifle and not the ammo. The TulAmmo seemed to work okay in the other guns used.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby jdonovan » Fri, 11 Jan 2013 03:22:40

cheaper to replace the barrel only if the barrel of said firearm is easily replaceable.

some guns you need more than a simple wrench and 15 minutes to replace.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby Doyle » Fri, 18 Jan 2013 10:16:06

Steel ammo sucks. Unless you are feeding and AK. :machinegun:


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby Purdune » Sat, 19 Jan 2013 01:49:25

So dumb question but no easy way to reload steel, correct? Don't know why I'm asking as 7.62x54r is so damn cheap to buy old Soviet surplus. I clean my weapons after every use so I'm not worried about corrosive primers. Still I'm building up a lot of steel cases that I would love to re-use.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby M1A4ME » Sat, 19 Jan 2013 08:38:45

Some steel cases ammo (wolf) can be reloaded. It uses boxer primers. I've reloaded several steel .45 acp cases several times each for the 1911's. No issues so far.

I've got some steel cases for the .223 but I've never tried to reload them. I've seen posts on other forums where folks said they've reloaded steel cased .223 reloads.

The surplus stuff probably has berdan primers and its not too easy to get the primers out of them. A standard reloading die won't do it.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby Purdune » Sat, 19 Jan 2013 13:57:35

Yep the surplus 7.62x54r has berdan primers. I've been watching a lot of Youtube about the reloading with berdan especially Iraqvetren8888. Some good ideas about using water pressure to remove them and I have the dies with the removable depriming rod. I know it will be a pain to deal with the berdan's.

My real concern though is the steel. I've heard that it will eat up your dies. Sounds like that might not be the case. No pun intended. Do you use a special oil or lube while you resize and what not? This is information gathering 101 as I've all the equipment to start reloading but haven't started yet. Trying to figure out a reliable supply of lead. Been collecting very small quantities and think I've got maybe 5 to 10 pounds of lead in wheel weights so far. Plan on making ingots today or tomorrow.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby M1A4ME » Sat, 19 Jan 2013 15:11:43

With standard rifle dies you use lube on the cases. If the lube is working properly, there shouldn't be much (if any) contact between the metal of the die and the surface of the case being resized. Otherwise, it sticks in the die.

For the pistol cases I've been using a carbide sizer die. Much, much harder than the steel in regular steel dies.

Maybe, after loading thousands of steel cases, there might be some wear.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby Purdune » Sat, 19 Jan 2013 22:52:30

Thanks!


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby RWBlue01 » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 01:43:52

Doyle wrote:Steel ammo sucks. Unless you are feeding and AK. :machinegun:


Read the test. There is more to it than that.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby RWBlue01 » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 01:50:57

jdonovan wrote:cheaper to replace the barrel only if the barrel of said firearm is easily replaceable.

some guns you need more than a simple wrench and 15 minutes to replace.


Very true, this is why I love the AR for us normal people. Just get me the parts.....

The shooter would be screwed if they were shooting an H&K.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby RWBlue01 » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 01:53:16

Purdune wrote:So dumb question but no easy way to reload steel, correct? Don't know why I'm asking as 7.62x54r is so damn cheap to buy old Soviet surplus. I clean my weapons after every use so I'm not worried about corrosive primers. Still I'm building up a lot of steel cases that I would love to re-use.


For Wolf 223, yes. Been there done that, but......

It is hard on the dies or so I have been told.

The biggest issue with steel cases is you can not read the pressure signs OR wear signs. So if you are reloading cases multiple times it is just a matter of time until you have an issue.

(I did the 45ACP also. 45ACP has less pressure so less of an issue.)

Your 7.62x54r, no there is no easy reloading it.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby jdonovan » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 08:05:00

RWBlue01 wrote:The shooter would be screwed if they were shooting an H&K.


Naw, if they had enough for a H&K, then they could have afforded brass ammo. :hysterical:


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby GeneFrenkle » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 08:28:17

What is so different in steel cases that one cannot see pressure or wear signs?

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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby Purdune » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 10:44:42

Well fortunately 7.62x54r surplus is so plentiful and cheap that it rivals the cost of reloading. I think I'll just save up some money and buy a case of it. I also really love that the case can be picked up with a magnet. My current range is my buddies hay field. Sometimes it's darn near impossible to find your cases and worse when you pop out a live round. With the steel case you can sweep an area with a garage magnet and get it all the easy way. Just hate to think that I've all these cases that will end up at the metal recycle and not in my ammo recycler!


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby gunderwood » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 11:15:45

GeneFrenkle wrote:What is so different in steel cases that one cannot see pressure or wear signs?

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It has to do with how the material responds to deformation. You can read all you want about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_hardening

Work hardening is a consequence of plastic deformation, a permanent change in shape. This is distinct from elastic deformation, which is reversible. Most materials do not exhibit only one or the other, but rather a combination of the two. The following discussion mostly applies to metals, especially steels, which are well studied. Work hardening occurs most notably for ductile materials such as metals. Ductility is the ability of a material to undergo plastic deformations before fracture (for example, bending a steel rod until it finally breaks).

The tensile test is widely used to study deformation mechanisms. This is because under compression, most materials will experience trivial (lattice mismatch) and non-trivial (buckling) events before plastic deformation or fracture occur. Hence the intermediate processes that occur to the material under uniaxial compression before the incidence of plastic deformation make the compressive test fraught with difficulties.

A material generally deforms elastically if it is under the influence of small forces, allowing the material to readily return to its original shape when the deforming force is removed. This phenomenon is called elastic deformation. This behavior in materials is described by Hooke's Law. Materials behave elastically until the deforming force increases beyond the elastic limit, also known as the yield stress. At this point, the material is rendered permanently deformed and fails to return to its original shape when the force is removed. This phenomenon is called plastic deformation. For example, if one stretches a coil spring up to a certain point, it will return to its original shape, but once it is stretched beyond the elastic limit, it will remain deformed and won't return to its original state.

Elastic deformation stretches atomic bonds in the material away from their equilibrium radius of separation of a bond, without applying enough energy to break the inter-atomic bonds. Plastic deformation, on the other hand, breaks inter-atomic bonds, and involves the rearrangement of atoms in a solid material.


Ductility is especially important in metalworking, as materials that crack or break under stress cannot be manipulated using metal forming processes, such as hammering, rolling, and drawing. Malleable materials can be formed using stamping or pressing, whereas brittle metals and plastics must be molded.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ductility


Brass is more ductile. This is why brass cartridges are easier to extra from the chamber than steel. Brass being more ductile is capable of expanding under "small forces" to seal the chamber and then when the pressure is remove it contracts back much closer to it's original shape than steel does. I.e. it experiences more elastic deformation rather than steels more plastic deformation. From here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_tensile_strength) you can see that "brass" has a yield strength of 200+ MPa, which is about 29,000PSI. Ultimate yield is 550MPa or about 80,000 PSI. Of course the "brass" we shoot is highly engineered for the task, but you'll notice that the range falls right in line with the pressures of most firearm cartridges based on brass cases. Since most of the cartridge experiences forces lower than the yield stress of brass and given the deductibility of brass, the case experiences mostly elastic deformation, any significant plastic deformation (which is often read as signs of excess pressure since it will lead to drastically reduced brass life) is noticeable.

You will notice that "mild steel," similar to what is used in steel cased ammo, has similar tensile strength properties as brass and thus is safe to use at least once. The problem arises from the fact of work-hardening because mild steel is less ductile than brass; i.e. it experiences more plastic deformation. When the entire cartridge experiences plastic deformation those "pressure signs" become virtually unreadable. Ductile coatings on the steel can also hide pressure signs. Eventually, both brass and steel reach a point that they've work hardened sufficiently they they fracture because the forces exceed their now lowered yield strength (from multiple reuses). Unless you're loading max loads, typically brass necks go first which is a relatively minor problem. However, with steel since it's hard to read the wear/tear signs and annealing doesn't work quite like it does for brass (a good way to extend those neck lifespans in brass cases), steel appears to fail suddenly. The case looked fine, but wasn't and you end up with a spectacular and dangerous failure.

So, yes steel can be reloaded (all die and primer issues aside), but it's risky.
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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby Purdune » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 11:26:51

I was going to ask about annealing but looks like you answered that! Thanks much. Scrap yard it is.

On a side note it sounds like steel cases is another reason some have a hard time with a stuck bolt on the Mosin Nagant.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby Doyle » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 12:12:20

by RWBlue01 » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 00:43:52

Doyle wrote:
Steel ammo sucks. Unless you are feeding and AK.


Read the test. There is more to it than that.


Read the test RWBlue and steel still sucks. :clap: For those of you reloading steel cases can I have your guns when you blow yourself up?


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby RWBlue01 » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 17:06:00

Doyle wrote:by RWBlue01 » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 00:43:52

Doyle wrote:
Steel ammo sucks. Unless you are feeding and AK.


Read the test. There is more to it than that.


Read the test RWBlue and steel still sucks. :clap: For those of you reloading steel cases can I have your guns when you blow yourself up?


As I said there is more to it than that.
The steel cased ammo wore out the barrels faster than the brass, but that was not really a function of the steel case as much as it was the powder used.

Even calculating in a new barrel, it would still be cheaper than New brass ammo.

So for a 10K test.
If you are only shooting new and not in life or death situations.....steel is the more cost effective round to shoot.

If you are are willing to reload, buy 2K of brasss and reload to get to your 10K. BUT you need to choose the right powder.

If you are willing to reload AND ..... you could buy 2K of steel cased ammo and reload to get to your 10K and choose the right powder.....but although I have reloaded steel, I don't have the balls to reload it multiple times, so maybe 5K of new steel would be better.


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Re: Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

Postby GeneFrenkle » Sun, 20 Jan 2013 19:09:08

Good info. Thanks, folks.

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