How are nickel cases better than brass?


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KodeFore
November 13, 2007, 02:44 AM
Are nickel cases better than brass?
Do they last longer?
Are they safer for max loads?

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Grumulkin
November 13, 2007, 03:23 AM
They don't last longer and aren't safer for maximum loads.

The only respects in which they're better than brass is that some consider them prettier, since most people don't use them, it's easier to keep track of them at a range and they clean up easier than brass.

At least when first loaded, nickel from the case mouth can become embedded in the bullet and potentially cause increase barrel wear; that's why I don't use nickel plated brass any more.

RON in PA
November 13, 2007, 04:31 AM
What Grumulkin said.

The main reason for so-called nickeled cases is to protect the brass from the elements. Goes back to the days when reloads were carried in belt loops. No reason for it now.

JDGray
November 13, 2007, 05:09 AM
I like em:) A few minutes in the tumbler, and there spotless inside and out.

EddieCoyle
November 13, 2007, 05:20 AM
Pros:

They clean up quicker
They won't corrode as quickly (especially when stored in leather)
They extract easier


Cons:

They split sooner (with 10mm, often on the 1st reloading)
Nickel is abrasive (bad for dies and barrels)



I'll pick them up if I'm absolutely sure they're once-fired. I'll then load these for use at events where I can't pick up my brass.

birdbustr
November 13, 2007, 05:24 AM
I like them too. They don't tarnish and the harder makeup of the cases don't lengthen like brass ones do. The necks are also stiffer making the bullets seat more firmly into the case neck; so not as much work to get consistent over all lengths.

bakert
November 13, 2007, 10:30 AM
I prefer brass cases but I have a lot of .357 nickel brass and it works just fine. Does develop neck splits quicker than regular brass but lasts much longer than many would have you believe.

strat81
November 13, 2007, 10:33 AM
I use mostly nickel in 9mm. They look nice, but they feed and extract much easier than brass. They tarnish less too.

GRIZ22
November 13, 2007, 10:45 AM
Most "premium" handgun ammo is made using nickel cases. The nickel being slicker than plain brass is supposed to enhance reliable feeding and extraction. I don't think nickel or brass makes a lick of difference.

The Bushmaster
November 13, 2007, 10:46 AM
"No reason for it now." Quoted by Ron in PA...Excuse me, but I still carry 25 rounds in a leather belt loops for my hunting handgun and 12 rounds in leather loops for my carry handgun. Nickel plated cases still have a use any time you insert them into leather belt loops for any time at all...

And Grumulkin...I have never heard of the nickel plating sticking to a bullet and damaging barrels. That's a new one on me...If you have trimmed and debured them properly there will be no problem because that will mean that you have inspected them more then once...

Hey...Let me know...If you don't want your nickel plated cases, send them to me. Just PM me and I'll send you my address. That includes rifle and handgun cases...

Walkalong
November 13, 2007, 11:52 AM
I'm with The Bushmaster on this one, although for general shooting I prefer brass for its longer life expectancy.

ReloaderFred
November 13, 2007, 11:59 AM
I've carried rounds in duty leather, and the only way to prevent verdigris is to use nickel plated brass. Even at that, the rounds will have to be changed out regularly, since the chemicals used to tan the leather causes all kinds of problems with brass, even when plated. I've seen plain brass cartridges that have been left in leather loops for a number of years that have been eaten all the way through.

Now that my wife and I have taken up Cowboy Action Shooting, the only rounds we can use in our Cowboy rigs are nickel plated. I also use the nickel plated cases for the carbine rounds, for "lost brass" matches, where we have to leave the brass on the ground because of the size of the match, in numbers of shooters. When you have three or four hundred shooters at a match, there isn't time to pick up brass.

Hope this helps.

Fred

rc109a
November 13, 2007, 12:01 PM
I like them to help tell the difference between my 41 mag loads. I use nickel for my hunting loads with H110. I use brass with my Trail boss loads. This way I can tell the difference really quick. Since I shoot more of the T/B loads I cannot tell you which ones last longer. I also think that the nickel loads are a lot smoother running through the dies.

GCW5
November 13, 2007, 12:11 PM
I use nickel to sort for my 30/06, nickel for the bolt action rifles & brass for the Garand.

snuffy
November 13, 2007, 12:28 PM
1. Nickel plating is very thin.

2. While it is harder than plain brass, it is NOT hard enough to scratch even mild steel, let alone barrel steel or dies.

3. It is nearly impossible to corrode the plating. A nickel plated winchester .280 round was dropped in the snow one November during deer season. It was found the next summer after 6 months in Wisconsin elements. It was still bright and clean, it functioned and shot like new,(the BT bullet was a dark brown).

4. It is NOT chrome! If it was, the claims of scratched dies and barrels would be true.

5. Flaking or peeling can happen to any plated product if it's not done right. Some old 38 special plated brass did that many years ago, I simply tossed it.

If any caliber I'm buying new brass for is offered in nickel plated, I buy it instead of plain brass. The potential of not having to worry about corrosion if stored in a belt loop or leather ammo pouch.

The Bushmaster
November 13, 2007, 01:10 PM
Vertigris, vertigris, vertigris...Gotta remember that word. I always forget it when I need it for strings just like this one...Thanks ReloaderFred..

fletcher
November 13, 2007, 01:21 PM
They extract easier
That's why I like them for my revolvers. Otherwise, don't really care one way or the other.

EddieCoyle
November 13, 2007, 01:37 PM
While it is harder than plain brass, it is NOT hard enough to scratch even mild steel, let alone barrel steel or dies.

Actually, it is. Electroless nickel plating has a Rockwell C hardness of up to RC-55. This is much harder than mild steel and harder than many tool steels.

While the outside of most nickel plated cases is very smooth, the inside of many of these cases is quite rough. Deburring and chamfering takes care of the case mouth, but the inside of the neck can still be rough. Try pulling the bullet on a nickel plated rifle case and comparing it to one from a brass case. At the very least, roughening up the bullet will increase fouling, at worst some nickel gets embedded in the bullet jacket and scraped through the barrel. Handgun cases don't seem to be as bad WRT to inside roughness, but they're still not as smooth as they are on the outside.

With all that said, the overall effects of all of this are probably minimal, and (if you need it) the corrosion resistance gained by using nickel cases is worth it.

DWARREN123
November 13, 2007, 02:08 PM
Nickle is slicker than brass.

Guy B. Meredith
November 13, 2007, 04:29 PM
One more vote against nickel for it's short life span. I have had no success in getting any where near the use out of nickel cases as brass.

trickyasafox
November 13, 2007, 04:56 PM
the sell for more if your trying to buy other reloading components . . . .

I like them- it helps me segregate loads. hunting or match loads go in nickel cases. that way i can tell at a glance what box to grab :)

Walkalong
November 13, 2007, 06:20 PM
hunting or match loads go in nickel cases
Hunting or SD loads for me. That way I know for sure when I pick up a box. In case I get in a hurry or get too lazy to read the label.

achildofthesky
November 13, 2007, 07:00 PM
I must have been a crow in a previous life cuz I like em...

Patty

Master Blaster
November 13, 2007, 08:06 PM
Nickle prevents corrosion in damp environments and when the cases may be in contact with leather. And its shiney and makes the SD rounds I load look cool.

The Bushmaster
November 13, 2007, 10:45 PM
So you don't get as many reloads from plated cases...Is that what you're saying Guy B. Meredith...Big deal...They still have a place for us people that wear animal skins. I usually get 8 to 10 loadings from plain brass .357 magnum and maybe 6 to 8 loadings from nickel plated .357 magnum cases. Whoopty-doo...

Guy B. Meredith
November 14, 2007, 12:07 AM
I reload only for target shooting and competition. Economy and good accuracy are my main goals.

If other people have use for nickel cases I am not preventing their indulgence and I expect other people will respect that I have no need for them.

SilentArmy
November 14, 2007, 03:20 AM
As a dealer in used brass, I get customers that ask for all brass (no nickle) and I get some that ask specifically for nickle! I send more nickle .40 cases to Europe than you could imagine! One guy in Italy told me it's easier to find them. The Only real experiance I have had is in .50 AE, the nickle does not crimp on the bullet worth a damn and with the extreme recoil, the bullets "walk" in the Mag. I have yet to have an auto loader case split so maybe I just don't load them enough times before scrapping them.

stubbicatt
November 14, 2007, 11:46 AM
I don't know, but they seem harder to FL size in 223 than standard brass is.

strat81
November 14, 2007, 12:37 PM
I don't know, but they seem harder to FL size in 223 than standard brass is.
I've noticed that in 9mm too. I wouldn't say they're difficult, but it is more noticeable.

The Bushmaster
November 14, 2007, 01:05 PM
I don't find nickel cases any harder to full length resize then the plain brass. It all depends on just how hot I load them as to whether they are hard to resize or not...

snuffy
November 14, 2007, 01:18 PM
This is from another forum, don't remember who or where. I copied it, saved it in my docs.

Nickel plating of cases is done for ONE reason and ONE reason only . . . CORROSION RESISTANCE! Leave a brass case in a rifle chamber for a couple days in a hot humid climate and you get a nasty little galvanic corrosion cell which may get you a STUCK cartridge/case.

Nickel plating is all of a few MICRONS thick. 2.54 MICRONS = 0.0001"!

Nickel is harder than WROUGHT IRON. OH yeah, wrought iron is some REALLY soft stuff (softer than many brass alloys).

Nickel plating can be heat treated to make it moderately hard, RC63 to 65, but you won't find that on a cartridge case (brass wouldn't like it). It would melt first.

The CHEAP nickel plating which is done to firearms munitions is NOT very hard, although it is possible it could be harder than a cheap SOFT barrel. This cheap nickel plating WILL DEFINITELY NOT BE HARDER THAN A PROPERLY HEAT TREATED STEEL SIZING DIE!"

EddieCoyle
November 14, 2007, 07:21 PM
Oh. It's from another forum? Wow. It must be right then.

Sorry. Depending on composition (mainly phosphorus content), electroless nickel plating (the kind used on cartridge cases) has a hardness of RC 48 up to RC 60. Note that both are harder than wrought iron, and one is harder than die steel.

Also, once you fire the case, the rougher nickel on the inside of the case is heat treated. I don't know if anyone's ever done a test on the hardness of the microscopic particles after firing, but I'd bet they're harder than the barrel.

Grandpa Shooter
November 14, 2007, 11:57 PM
One thing I can tell you from personal experience. If you are taking a young person shooting, they will frequently shoot all the nickel plated stuff and leave the brass in the box. I discovered my teen age son would help me reload and go shooting more often if I let him pick out the nickel cases and load them for himself.

Hey if it works, who am I to argue!

snuffy
November 15, 2007, 11:36 AM
Oh. It's from another forum? Wow. It must be right then.

Your sarcasm is noted. I did mean it to say that it was somehow more correct than your repeating of reloading myths and urban legends.

My memory is like a leaky pail, but I now remember it was on the AR forum. There was a metallurgist on there that stated with authority that the nickel used for plating brass cases was in the 20 to 25 Rockwell C scale of hardness. It was electroless nickel, that CAN be hardened , but the heat needed to do that would melt the brass!

This discussion comes up often on forums like this one and others on the internet. So many of the answers are from people that are just repeating what they heard or not thinking,(using common sense). Think about it for a second. An industry,(ammo manufactures), wants to put a coating on their brass shells to prevent corrosion. They look at different metals, lacquer, wax and find that nickel works best. Then they test it to see if it could possibly harm the metal that common guns are made of. They find it would do no harm. They would NOT use it if it could wear a barrel or chamber of any guns. They have no intention of that brass to ever be reloaded. But that carries over to tools used to reload.

Some like it, use it, and recommend it to others. Others, diss on it and say it'll be the end of you rifle and loading dies. Decide which side you're on and go on with your life.

Harley Quinn
November 15, 2007, 12:22 PM
I notice Double Tap has their 10mm pistol ammo in nickel and I see it laying around the various ranges a lot (10mm). It must be good for something or else Double Tap would not use it:confused:

Someone mentioned one time it was similar to the aluminum of blazer, one time shoot.:uhoh:

Brass without the nickel on it will work many many times because it is very ductile, when you add nickel to surround it the nickel does not have that ability it seems. I have only run into it with pistol ammo. I know it is out in the mainstream of other ammo I just don't use it.

If you are reforming a brass cartridge like 45 to 400 Corbon, I'd not use a nickel one I am thinking. If you did it a few times, and noticed what happens, it would put you off nickel for reloading.
:D

strat81
November 15, 2007, 02:32 PM
Someone mentioned one time it was similar to the aluminum of blazer, one time shoot.
Completely false. I am on the third and fourth loadings of some 9mm nickel cases and life is good.

FM12
November 17, 2007, 03:10 PM
One word of caution: When resizing nickeled cases, the nickle can come off the case and imbed itself in the sizing die. This can cause scratches on the next cases sized. Clean your sizer frequently if you have this problem.

I prefer nickle for loads that are "stored up", much better storage life with little, if any tarnishing or corrosion. Immediate use loads are in brass cases.

The Bushmaster
November 17, 2007, 04:12 PM
@#$%^&*!! Double post...

The Bushmaster
November 17, 2007, 04:14 PM
Hummm...I must have gotten the wrong nickel plated brass. I haven't had any flaking of the nickel. I have noticed that the more I resize some cases the more of the plating seems to wear off exposing the brass, but no flaking...I'm not sure that nickel chips will imbed into carbide handgun sizing dies or not. Maybe rifle dies...Still...You're supposed to clean your dies frequently anyway...

Walkalong
November 17, 2007, 04:22 PM
Quote:
Someone mentioned one time it was similar to the aluminum of blazer, one time shoot.

Completely false. I am on the third and fourth loadings of some 9mm nickel cases and life is good.
Ditto on 9MM, as well as .40 & 45

I have never seen it flake off. I have trimmed it off. :evil:

It will, as The Bushmaster said, wear to the point you see brass after awhile on some cases. The nickle is very thin.

ReloaderFred
November 17, 2007, 05:04 PM
In years past, flaking nickel was a problem. Way back when, it wasn't uncommon to have one shed some flakes of nickel. They've improved the process from the 60's, so it's not the problem now that it used to be.

I've worn nickel off pistol brass by leaving it in the tumbler too long, but it still loads. Like Walkalong pointed out, the plating is very thin.

Hope this helps.

Fred

mejeepnut
November 18, 2007, 12:07 AM
Well the nickle brass I have collected and the nickle brass from the 2 boxes of winchester suprime I bought can wait untill this is figured out.If its not figured out soon then the brite shinny cases will be 22lr targets,more of a challange then empty shot gun shells!

The Bushmaster
November 18, 2007, 10:49 AM
mejeepnut...There is nothing wrong with nickel plated cases...In fact you might find them to be an asset in the winter climate in Maine.

Horsemany
November 24, 2007, 09:57 PM
I gave up on nickel cases a couple of years ago when I got sick of replacing cutter heads. I could trim hundreds of brass cases and be fine. But after trimming 20 nickel cases my cutter heads looked like a beaver chewed on them. These were the standard Lyman heads (not carbide). I'm sure the carbide head would have done much better.
You could also make the argument for the potential of increased bolt thrust. From my experience with nickel cases it seemed to have less stretch. In my mind I figured a brass case would stretch out and grab the chamber walls better than a stiffer nickel plated case. If this is the case it would cause more stress on the bolt lugs than necessary.

Bboomer
November 24, 2007, 10:01 PM
Are nickel cases better than brass?
Do they last longer?
Are they safer for max loads?


No , No and No ;)


eta: They are hard on your dies too

The Bushmaster
November 25, 2007, 12:12 AM
Horsemany. You must have cheap cutting heads. I have a RCBS Case Trimmer 2 that I bought over 20 years ago and I have trimmed hundreds of nickel plated cases and am still on the first cutting head. Never been off the trimmer or sharpeded.

Bboomer. Nickel plated cases are better then plain brass if use with leather loops. Better or worse then brass?...No and no.
Do they last longer? Depends how hot you load them. My CCW carry loads are hot .357 mag loads and in Nickel WW Super cases.
Safer? Why not? They're brass aren't they?

jeepmor
November 25, 2007, 12:33 AM
Wow, this didn't take long to degrade to something like a caliber war thread. I see a little REAL data with a whole lot of opinion. As you were.

In the PNW, I like nickel. I don't carry it exclusively, but I like it for it's corrosion resistance comer rainy PNW hunting season in the Coast or Cascade ranges. Multi decade old coins can't be wrong.

However, I do see it split faster than brass, unless of course it's Starline, that stuff seems to split on me in the first reloading for some reason. This in in 10mm reloads, and no, they are not at max, not even close, usually midrange. Their first loading in very likely pretty hot though considering it's either Reeder's or Double Tap ammo.

The Bushmaster
November 25, 2007, 09:54 AM
mejeepnut...What did you expect from a reloading site?:D And good morning to ya.:)

strat81
November 25, 2007, 08:39 PM
Wow, this didn't take long to degrade to something like a caliber war thread.
So, which is better: 9mm brass or .45 ACP nickel? :neener:

snuffy
December 4, 2007, 02:19 AM
The December rifleman magazine has an article by Bryce M. Towsley about the new trophy bonded bearclaw tipped bullet. It seems Federal has re-designed the old TBBC to include a polymer tip,(like the ballistic tip), as well as a boat tail design, grooves on the shank and get this, IT'S COATED WITH NICKEL PLATING! WHAT? :what: But-but-but nickel is so darn hard that it'll wreck the rifling! You haters of nickel plating had better call Federal, tell them they're nuts for putting nickel plating on their bullets!

Grumulkin
Senior Member


They don't last longer and aren't safer for maximum loads.

The only respects in which they're better than brass is that some consider them prettier, since most people don't use them, it's easier to keep track of them at a range and they clean up easier than brass.

At least when first loaded, nickel from the case mouth can become embedded in the bullet and potentially cause increased barrel wear; that's why I don't use nickel plated brass any more.

* Nickel is abrasive (bad for dies and barrels)


If nickel was so hard, why would an ammunition company put it on the outside of a bullet? My guess is; it isn't all that hard?! If it is as hard as some here have said, it would wipe the rifling out of every barrel it was fired in.:neener:

marlin1888
December 4, 2007, 03:08 AM
"If nickel was so hard, why would an ammunition company put it on the outside of a bullet?"

Don't forget, many of the early (and very high quality) smokeless military round nosed bullets were "Cooper Nickle" in design. I have pulled a number of these bullets, swaged them to ensure they are all the same diameter, and loaded them in new brass. Accuracy has been very good. Some of the pre-WWI Mauser bullets (.318 bore) even had beautiful hedstamps on the basses of the bullets, where the lead was exposed. That's craftsmanship!

GarandOwner
December 10, 2007, 04:33 AM
Interesting comments, I think the main question has already been addressed as to the pros and cons of Nickel plated brass. However reading through I did see a few errors I would like to address. I should start by saying that I am an Aeronautical engineer, not a materials engineer, but I do have a generalized understanding of materials and their properties.

Electroless nickel plating has a Rockwell C hardness of up to RC-55. This is much harder than mild steel and harder than many tool steels.

This may be untrue when applying to the nickel plating of cartridges, Most cartridges are normalized, this means they are heat treated by heating then steadily cooling to release internal stress. This process would put its hardness at the lower end of the range. Also many reloading dies are made of Tungsten carbide (which has a Rockwell hardness of Rc 75 – Rc 80 ) Regardless a smart reloader should debur the inside of the case mouth with a brush prior to loading. According to the Mil-HDBK-5 (Mil handbook, which we use to define metal properties in engineering) has the hardness of each. There is a vast range of harness depending upon how the steel was heat treated. I
don't know what type of heat treatment they use so I will not try and “guess”. But based on the application, both would be at the lower end of the hardness spectrum. Most rifle barrels are made from either AISI 4140 (carbon steel) or AISI 416 (stainless steel) The hardness according to Mil-HDBK-5 is as follows:

AISI 4140 : Rb 93 - Rc 50
AISI 416 : Rb 85 - Rc 39

Electroless nickel is added mainly for corrosion resistance, but also because of its lower friction coefficient to increase reliability from cycling. it does not need to be hardened so it would be at the lower end of the spectrum. Most cartridges are "normalized" meaning that they are heat treated with low heat and long term cooling, also reducing hardness, but increasing ductility.

From Mil-HDBK-5:

Normalized Electroless Nickel : Rc 49


You could also make the argument for the potential of increased bolt thrust. From my experience with nickel cases it seemed to have less stretch. In my mind I figured a brass case would stretch out and grab the chamber walls better than a stiffer nickel plated case. If this is the case it would cause more stress on the bolt lugs than necessary.

This is not necessary true because the pressure inside the cartridge is still enough to “fire form” the cartridge. The difference would be that it would occur at a higher pressure than the brass case. Internal pressure should peak at the same for both cartridges (brass and nickel plated brass)



Also, once you fire the case, the rougher nickel on the inside of the case is heat treated. I don't know if anyone's ever done a test on the hardness of the microscopic particles after firing, but I'd bet they're harder than the barrel.

This is incorrect. Heat treatment increases hardness of a metal by changing the crystalline structure of the metal. It is changed depending on how hot, how long, and how fast you cool the metal. The heat transfer from firing a bullet is not enough to heat the metal up to a temperature where it would change the crystalline structure. So no it does not heat treat the case.

I doubt a piece of the nickel would do any damage to the barrel for a few reasons: 1. A piece of any significant size would just scratch the copper jacket of the bullet, anything small enough to break off would most likely be so small that it would not do any significant damage. 2. The plating is so thin that it would most likely sheer of upon entering the barrel. Depending on the nickel used, it may be harder, but steel is stronger. But these are just guesses, as there are too many unknowns for me to form a solid answer.


For the original poster:

I like nickel cases for the following reasons:
- They don't corrode easily
- They allow me to distinguish between 2 loads of the same caliber (1 in brass and 1 in nickel-brass)
- They are easier to find at the range when picking up
- They look "cooler" :D

JCT
December 10, 2007, 11:14 AM
I use nickel when I load BP cartridges. This way I can tell them apart from the smokeless ones.
Also, brass and BP don't mix....The brass becomes black and next to impossible to clean. Nickel is clean in a few hours.
They split much quicker, 3 to 4 reloads, but that's no big deal really.

fletcher
December 10, 2007, 03:46 PM
This is incorrect. Heat treatment increases hardness of a metal by changing the crystalline structure of the metal. It is changed depending on how hot, how long, and how fast you cool the metal. The heat transfer from firing a bullet is not enough to heat the metal up to a temperature where it would change the crystalline structure. So no it does not heat treat the case.
You are correct in that the heat generated from shooting will not raise the temperature enough to affect the steel. If it did, there would be some serious problems.

I do want to point out that heat treating is not confined to a hardening process. There are a number of processes that fall under "heat treatment" that perform various functions to increase hardness, decrease hardness, increase ductility/toughness, place phases/elements in solution, etc. While the quench process that is used to harden metals is a heat treatment, it's not totally accurate to say the reverse without specifying the purpose (sort of like a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square).


A piece of any significant size would just scratch the copper jacket of the bullet
+1. Because of the high difference in hardness between the copper jacket and the hardened barrel, any particle between the two would cause most, if not all, of the damage to be done to the softer copper.

GarandOwner
December 11, 2007, 06:18 AM
I do want to point out that heat treating is not confined to a hardening process. There are a number of processes that fall under "heat treatment" that perform various functions to increase hardness, decrease hardness, increase ductility/toughness, place phases/elements in solution, etc.

I did not say that it was confined to just changing hardness, also that it changes ductility. I used hardness as an example because that is what we were concerned about in the previous discussion.

Heat treating will always change hardness, ductility, resilience, tensile strength, elastic modulus among other things. Generally you are looking for one specific attribute to be increased. (i.e. if you want to increase hardness, generally ductility and tensile strength is reduced, but hardness and resilience is increased. There is no way to just change one.......which is why composites were invented :D )

While the quench process that is used to harden metals is a heat treatment, it's not totally accurate to say the reverse without specifying the purpose (sort of like a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square).


not quite sure what you meant by this.

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