Golden Bear ammo reloadable?


January 15, 2007, 09:08 AM
Is this reloadable brass? Has anyone used Golden Bear .223 ammo? I believe it is manufactured in Russia and the literature reads it is brass plated steel cased ammo berdan primed. I am assuming this would be non reloadable. The guy at the gun shop thinks it is brass not brass plated.

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January 15, 2007, 09:20 AM
I don't think you can reload steel cases, I don't know if berdan primers are more difficult to de-prime but I imagine someone here could tell you.

January 15, 2007, 09:22 AM
:) I've never heard of this type of ammo but if you want to see if it is brass plated steel then see if it sticks to a magnet.

January 15, 2007, 09:23 AM
Lol....brass plating to make it look pretty and keep it from rusting. You can't reload steel cases...go with some cheap brass next time and you can make your own :D

January 15, 2007, 09:35 AM
Berdan primed cases can indeed be reloaded. It requires a special tool to remove the primer. Berdan primers are available for sale in this country.

The issue of reusing steel cases is less clear cut. Most people would say not to bother, but I know personally of one person who as an experiment resized and reloaded some steel cased Wolf handgun ammo (I think these had boxer primers), and successfully fired the reloaded stell cased ammo. I would not suggest doing so because, quite frankly, I do not know whether it is safe to do so, and the small number of rounds reloaded is not an adequate sample to go by.

January 15, 2007, 10:53 AM
Yeah...RCBS sells the Berdan primer remover tool...but not any Berdan PRIMING tools!

How half-assed is that?

WTH are those RCBS people smoking out there in CA??

-- John D.

January 15, 2007, 12:05 PM
Reloading steel cased berdan primers isn't worth the headache. If you want to reload 7.62 X 39, start by buying brass cased, boxer primed ammo and save yourself the headache.

January 15, 2007, 12:14 PM
Yeah...RCBS sells the Berdan primer remover tool...but not any Berdan PRIMING tools!

Why would one need a special berdan priming tool?

January 16, 2007, 02:17 AM
The "Bear" ammo is mfg. by Barnual and is all the same ammo except for the coating applied to the outside of the steel cases.
Silver Bear = Zinc plated
Golden Bear = Brass plated
Brown Bear = lacquer coated

While I don't know which type primer is used in the 223 Bear ammo. I have reloaded boxer primed Wolf 45acp and S&B 223 steel cased ammo. Also berdan primed Chinese and Russian steel cased 7.62x39mm. Russian berdan primed steel cased 410 shotgun shells. All have resulted in ammo that functioned 100%. But due to the availability of berdan primers I have not loaded many berdan primers lately as my supply is getting low.
RWS mfgs. many sizes of pistol and rifle berdan primers but they have not been imported to the US in the last 10 years. Berdan shotgun primers were imported from Brazil untill 2 years ago. Russian large rifle berdan primers were imported by PMC 2 years ago but PMC went out of business last year.

As you can see from the above pic the boxer primed case has a central flash hole and the primer can be removed from the case with a pin in the center of a resizing die. The anvil that the priming compound is crushed aganist when the firing pin hits the primer is a piece of thin brass tha looks like a X in the primer.
The berdan primed case has two flash holes that are on either side of the anvil which is a raised bump made by a punch during case mfg. Note the berdan primer has no anvil like the boxer primer. So making a die that has two pins to fit into the offset flash holes of a berdan primed case to knock out the primer would be no problem but.......there would be no way to line the pins up to go into the flash holes so you would break them every time you tried to deprime a berdan primed case.
So RCBS makes a berdan depriming tool that works by hooking over the rim of the case and having a hardened steel pin that goes into the dent in the primer from the firing pin. The pin catches on the side of the primer dent and pries the primer out of the case.
If you look below the berdan depriming tool you will notice HDS priming tools that replace parts of your press mounted priming arm so you can seat verdan primers which are larger in diameter than boxer primers. To do this you also have to enlarge the hole in the shellholder for the larger berdan primers. But this is nothing hard to do if you have a Dremel tool and one of their grinding stone bits.

January 18, 2007, 04:35 PM
Yes, Golden Bear has steel cases. SOme of this stuff is new production, and some of it (namely, 7.62x39, 9mm Makarov, etc) is military surplus that has been repackaged. Wolf does this too. You will definitely find a cost savings with steel-cased ammo.

And yes, it can be reloaded, BUT there are some things you need to consider. Unless you have the time and money to burn, it generally isn't worth it to try and reload Berdan-primed ammo (brass or steel case). That's just IMHO.
Second, I'm not a metallurgist so I can't get into the exact physics, but you need to consider that as cartridges are fired, they change dimensions slightly. So, as you resize them, crimp them, fire them again, etc., the metal undergoes what is called 'work-hardening'. Same thing happens if you take a solid wire or piece of metal and bend it several times in the same spot. It gets brittle and cracks or breaks. Different metals (brass, steel, aluminum) have different tolerances and characteristics. I wouldn't reload aluminum cases for this reason. Steel can be done, but since it's generally harder than brass it takes more effort. You can overcome the 'work-hardening' issue somewhat by annealing the cases, which involves heating and quenching them; but you have to consider that it most be done correctly, and it takes time, which goes against why most people reload their ammunition.
So, let's deal with Boxer-primed steel cases. Thanks to Wolf and Bear, they're common and cheap. The primary factor you need to keep in mind is that steel is harder than brass. It is more prone to work-hardening, requires more effort to size, trim and prime, and a steel case probably won't last as long as a brass case under the same conditions. Also, unless you're using a revolver, consider that you also have those steel cases causing slightly increased wear on the action and chamber of your guns. I reload steel cases with no problem, but I use light loads and keep a closer eye on the condition of the cases.
Also, with .223 ammunition, consider that brass for that is VERY common. You can probably score a great deal on some once-fired brass (note, that if it's military brass, the primers may be crimped in which requires a little more work before re-priming the cases), and the once-fired brass will still outlast steel cases. Like I said, I reload steel cases without a problem, but for the greatest savings in cost, time and effort, I'd either go with once-fired brass or buy some surplus .223 ammo (of which there's a lot to be had) and reload the brass from that. Have fun, BE SAFE and good luck!

January 20, 2007, 04:21 PM
Seems to me I recently ran across a source for Berdan primers. Maybe I am hallucinating. If I run across it again I will try to remember to post it.

January 24, 2007, 03:14 PM
I suppose you could reload straight necked steel pistol cases. However I have had a few brass coated steel cases mixed in with brass that I picked up on the range. When you try to size it in a regular reloader it hits the case mouth expander and just stops. All bear ammo (golden, brown, silver) is steel. Where are you finding bear ammo? All my soruces on the net have dried up. Two months ago I was finding itin 223 for $80 to $85 for 500 fed-x'd to my door.

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