nickel VS brass ,why??


walking arsenal
September 26, 2004, 04:26 PM
i was out the other day and bought some carry rounds for my .45.

when i got home i dumped the speer gold dots i had in my gun out and put in the winchester silver tips.

speers are nickel casings
winchester is brass cased


then i got to thinking, i see a lot of cases that are nickel but a lot more that are brass. so what makes nickel so great?

is it that the nickel expands less when fired?

a winchester silver tip with a nickel casing would look pretty snazy if you ask me, not that i give a dang about the asthetic qualities of my carry rounds.

also can anyone tell me what the win silver tips are made out of? they arent actually silver are they?

werwolf rounds? LOL/jk

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Vern Humphrey
September 26, 2004, 04:41 PM
A long time ago, cops carried their ammo in belt loops (you still sometimes see an old timer with a .38 Special or a .357 and a slide-on ammo carrier with loops.)

Brass ammo, carried month after month, would corrode, and form green verdigris on the surface. The answer was to offer nickle-plated brass. People got the idea that somehow nickle-plated was "better" and ammo companies began to take advantage of this.

If you don't carry your ammo exposed, there is no reason for nickle-plating (and nickle plated ammo, in my experience is more prone to crack in reloading after a few firings.)

One exception might be a long hunting trip in the tropics, where you were concerned about corrosion from high humidity and heat, and might choose nickle-plated rifle ammo.

September 26, 2004, 05:24 PM
The positive I see with nickle plated brass is that it is less likely to stick. To some it may not be a big deal to others it is a consideration.

September 26, 2004, 05:40 PM
the lubricity of the nickel plating lets them feed better in a semi-auto

September 26, 2004, 07:00 PM
The original reason for the nickle plated cartridge case was to avoid corrosion when carried in leather.

If you reload, nickle plated cases will not last as long. With midrange loads in 357 mag I find the nickle cases will develope cracked necks while the brass cases are still going strong for several more reloads.

Nickle is harder and a bit slicker than brass so there may be a VERY tiny advantage in feeding through a self loader.

Some where along the line nickle plated cases have to cost more due to the extra steps of nickle plating.

Beyond that, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The Winchester Silvertip originally was an aluminum alloy jacket over the tip of a rifle bullet to slow down expansion as compared to a soft point.

In a handgun bullet there is usually no problem with overly fast expansion, rather the trick is to encourage expansion. As seen nowdays on handgun bullets the Silvertip is still aluminum but probably there more for cosmetic and advertising reasons more than anything else. The aluminum must be quite thin to allow fast expansion.

walking arsenal
September 26, 2004, 08:22 PM
i read some place that that special forces use the win silver tip. and truth to that?

September 26, 2004, 09:36 PM
As I recall the only Silvertip that is actually aluminum is the .380 auto.
The .380 jacket is a very pure aluminum.

The pure aluminum was used on the .380 because it gave better expansion than anything else.

All the other Silvertip ammo is actually standard bullet jacket brass with a silver plated coating.

To verify, take a file and file a section of a Silvertip and you'll see a brass jacket under the silver plating.

Special Forces use a variety of ammo, but only anti-terrorist units like SEAL Six and Delta use hollow point expanding ammo.

All the other SF forces are limited to standard military full metal jacket ammo due to the Hague Conventions.

September 28, 2004, 10:11 AM
Winchester Silvertip handgun ammunition is loaded with bullets featuring an aluminum alloy jacket.

They called them "Silvertips" because for years (since the 1930s as I recall)Winchester-Wester had produced a line of rifle bullets with large portions of exposed lead, sometimes with and without a guilded metal covering, called "Silvertips".
The Winchester Silvertip was one of the very first premium hunting bullets produced.

It was only natural to capitalize on the well known trade-name when Olin jumped onto the hollow-point handgun bullet bandwagon.

As for nickel cartridge casings, I am sure that we are all aware that they are nothing more than nickel-plated brass. It would be impossible to make a cartridge case out of anything even close to pure nickel.

walking arsenal
September 28, 2004, 10:42 AM
right, shoulda specified NICKEL PLATED, my bad

Jim K
October 1, 2004, 12:06 AM
Nickel plated brass cases are resistant to corrosion and darkening in general, not just that caused by leather belt loops. In fact, the real reason for nickel plating cartridge cases was probably part of the general trend in the 19th century that anything nickel-plated was better and looked more expensive. (When William H. Vanderbilt bought the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad in 1883 after bidding against Jay Gould, he remarked that for the price he paid, the road should have been nickel plated. The name stuck, and from then on, it became the Nickel Plate Line.)

In fact, nickel plated cases seem (in my experience) to be thinner and usable for fewer reloads than brass cases. I think the makers have to maintain cases at a certain thickness, so the brass to be nickel plated has to be thinner and does not last as long.

In at least one case, .38 ACP vs .38 Super, the nickel plated case of the latter indicates a much hotter load than the former and its use in older pistols can damage the gun.

As a side note, back in the 1960's there was a company in Texas that chrome plated live ammunition. The shop I worked at did a good business supplying the state and local police with those rounds for their belts. The drawback was that at the cost of the stuff, I suspect some troopers would rather have been shot than actually fire the ammo in their belts.


October 2, 2004, 12:33 AM
i read some place that that special forces use the win silver tip. and truth to that?

dont believe any US military force uses hollowpoint ammo. a law or accord against it. M16 5.56Nato FMJ, Beretta 9mm ammo uses 9mm nato FMJ. not sure bout other stuff.

nickel plated sucks imo. the cases seem softer atleast in federal hydrashock the casings crush easier than nickel though speer seems slightly better. like brass better. dont reload yet but everything I hear is they split,dont last as long.

October 2, 2004, 05:40 AM
Yes, as commercial reloaders such as Mr Fitz & myself can attest, nickel plated cases will work harden and become brittle long before comparable brass cases.

I proved this is due to the nickel plating and not due to a thinner case underneath. In 1981 I put 150 once fired nickel plated Remington and 150 once fired Winchester .38 special cases in my Thumblers Model B Tumbler and tumbled them in Walnut media for an entire week.

I then took them and an equal amount of once fired Remington and Winchester cases in both standard brass and nickle plated versions and loaded them with identical, various loadings.

In other words equal amounts of all three brass lots were loaded with identical powders and bullets for a total of 900 loads each cycle

I loaded flush seated 148gr wadcuters, heavy crimped 158gr Lead SWC game loads, 146gr Speer SJHP and various brands of 125gr JHP bullets.

Using 4 revolvers, three of my friends assisted me in firing 900 rounds every other day. Brass was kept segregated into 3 lots. Natural Brass, Stripped Nickel and Nickel Plated.

All reloads were full langth resized using a RCBS Carbide sizing die, mouth belling was done with a RCBS decap/expander die and crimped using a RCBS roll crimp/seat die Crimping was done with seating. Cases were neck chambfered on the inside only, before the first loading only. No other trimming or neck care was given thereafter.

The nickel plated cases started failing in greater numbers first. If I recall correctly about 10% of the nickel cases has split before 1% of the brass/stripped cases.
I stopped using the nickel when failure rate reached 75%. At that time the brass/stripped lots had not yet reached 25%. I concluded the test when the /stripped/brass lots reached 50% with was about 10 more loadings than the nickel cases had reached.

There was no almost no difference in failure rate between the stripped and natural brass lots.

Having proved that brass will outlast nickel I use brass cases for my practice ammo.
ALL of my personally loaded defense ammo is loaded exclusively in either hand inspected once fired, or virgin nickel-plated casings.

October 2, 2004, 07:54 AM
I have used nickel cases to quickly distinguish between two different calibers, used in the same gun. For example, I used to load .357s in nickel cases and .38 Special in brass. I also used to load .44 Magnums in nickel cases and .44 Special in brass.
My logic was that I was firing more of the lighter .38s and .44 Specials and thus loading the cases more, so I chose to use the longer lasting brass cases for the loads I shot more of.
I evenutally gave this practice up and just use brass. Why not get longer case life, even if it takes me longer to reach that maximum case life ?

Bwana John
October 2, 2004, 11:10 AM
Nickel plated rifle brass started spliting necks after only 3 reloadings, where regular brass held up for >8 reloadings.

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