Thursday, January 10, 2013

Praxis: Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test

Epic indeed.


LFMayor said...

my 2 cents. my group has experienced multiple of stuck case problems with the laquered steel case .223 in mini-14's and ar15's. the straight wall case provided a full lenght of "traction" once you get the barrel hot and makes them gummy to the point where the extractor simply tears the case head.

With 7.62x39, 5.45x39 and 7.62x54 rounds, the case is tapered, being narrower at the shoulder than the head. Once any motion rearward during extraction occurs the taper allows for a contact break.

If you buy the cheap import .223, go for the zinc case, like Silver bear. We've experienced no troubles with extraction on that.

Good Hunting

Anonymous said...

LFMayor....the test directly contradicts your comments of lacquer getting "gummy".

The real problem is that steel doesn't expand or contract the same way brass does.

A tight chamber will cause stuck cases while using steel case ammo.

This can be fixed with a .223 flex hone from Brush Research....if some of you are interested in having a rifle that runs on pretty much any steel cased ammo. It does not affect the accuracy of the bbl....and Brush Research recommends the 400 grit for honing a tight chamber, while the 800 grit is for polishing/cleaning.

What this article shows me is that bimetal bullets will wear out bbls the cost savings may not be that great if you have a hard or expensive to replace bbl.

Hornady steel case ammo supposedly has a full copper jacket in .223 that is also pretty accurate. B/c it is steel case, it's cheaper than brass if you're looking to get better bbl life and lower cost.


Trinity said...

There are too many things that can screw up a decent weapon to justify using this "cheap" bargain brand imported ammo. Not only does it FUBAR barrels and shorten the life of receivers and extractors negating, in the long run, any savings realized by firing the stuff, you can't anticipate the time of failure. What if you are in a critical life and death situation and your extractor bites the dust -- you're left with a light weight, short club in place of a precision weapon of defense.

Some of our guys bought crates of this crap to practice and train with. Virtually everyone who thought they were saving money ended up spending more to repair or replace rifle failures sooner or later. Fortunately, those failures all occurred in non-critical situations.

There are a lot of small commercial reloaders and manufacturers out there using brass, good known powder and primers, along with the type of bullets your gun was built for. I highly recommend that you find one you like -- as soon as the panic buying subsides some -- and start patronizing these small American manufacturers.

LFMayor said...

HTH, the "zinc" cases are also steel, they're simply zinc washed.

This leadms me to believe that the problem is in fact the varnish, combined with the straight walled case.

CETME did not show the same problems with laquered, straight wall case 7.62x51 ammo, but I attribute this to the fluted chamber.

Anonymous said...

LF and Anonymous,

I was reading something a year or two ago regarding people switching between steel and brass ammo, and they discovered that the brass would stick after steel ammo had been used. They identified the problem as carbon buildup that traveled back around the non-expanding steel case and then glued in the brass cases when they expanded and filled the chamber.

This same carbon build up may have caused the "gummy" effect rather than the laquer in your .223 tests.

Whatever you do, never go from steel case ammo to brass without cleaning the chamber at least.

Anonymous said...

I realize Silver Bear is just Zinc coated steel......the lubricity of the Zinc is what causes the easier extraction. Golden Bear is Brass coated steel....same premise.

What I'm saying is the lacquer coating doesn't heat up and get gummy....try it with a case and run a lighter against'll find it doesn't get gummy. The problem is a tight or rough chamber coupled with differing expansion rates.

The stoppages you were experiencing were likely due to a tight chamber.

Also, we all probably have quite a stockpile of good brass cased ammo....but what if that stockpile is compromised/confiscated, deplenished, or you have to move out of your AO without being able to transport it all? You may be FORCED to use crap steel case ammo.

At that point, it will NOT be the time to find out your gun won't reliably feed it......that time is now.

What I'm saying is: scrounge some Wolf or Tula (both are horrible in terms of reliability) and shoot a few hundred rounds through your go to guns. If it feeds those without issue, at least you know you can use crappy steel ammo if you have to. If it doesn't buy a hone (they're like $50 and some good oil) and take care of them now. It won't degrade the rifle's accuracy.

None of this is meant to offend.

All the best,