So you say you don't load steel cases.


November 2, 2009, 12:00 PM
I guess you learn something new every day. Loading up some ammo for next weekend I decided to use up an old bag of 9mm that had wolf steel cases mixed in. I figured a quick pass with a magnet would suck up the wolf and leave the brass behind.

I was a little surprised to see brass cases stuck to the magnet too. Upon further inspection I noticed that the only “brass” cases on the magnet were S&B. A quick pass on the disk sander and the sparks showed that they were just brass plated steel. FWIW I also tested 40 & 45 S&B and they are not plated steel like the 9mm.

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Steve C
November 2, 2009, 12:21 PM
Most S&B brass is brass but they have sold some steel cased 9mm ammo in the last couple years.

November 2, 2009, 12:22 PM

You can't just go by the color anymore.

Brown Bear uses what they call a Bi-Metal case.
Which is nothing more then a steel case with a thin brass wash on it.

I hadn't run into any S&B brass washed steel but it doesn't surprise me much in 9mm.


The Bushmaster
November 2, 2009, 12:25 PM
Load'em...They will be O K...Shoot'em. Load'em again. One of the guys on here was kind enough to send me a few of the S&B 9mmX19 brass plated steel cases (I had never seen them before). I ran a few tests with them and figure as long as the brass isn't worn off they work just fine and won't harm the dies.

November 2, 2009, 12:42 PM
Barnaul also uses brass washed steel cases in their 9mm Makarov ammo. I'm not sure of any of their other calibers.

November 2, 2009, 02:01 PM
bushmaster, are you saying the steel cases will harm the dies? even if lubed or carbide dies?

November 2, 2009, 02:27 PM
Back when the earth was flat, steel .45 ACP steel cases were considered by some as 'top shelf'.

They didn't stretch enough at pistol pressures in length or primer pocket dimensions to make much difference, and, if they could pass a 'drop in' test with the intended barrel, could be repeatedly reloaded easily using portable tools.

I'm thinking WCC 42, 43.


Steve C
November 2, 2009, 03:02 PM
Back when the earth was flat, steel .45 ACP steel cases were considered by some as 'top shelf'

People can convince themselves of about anything including a lot of foolishness like "you can get high off of banana peals".

WWII steel castes where a wartime response to shortages of better raw materials. You can load steel cases, I've tried it a few times just to see if it can be done, but brass is much better and last a lot longer.

November 2, 2009, 03:57 PM
WWII steel castes where a wartime response to shortages of better raw materialsYep. They used steel for pennies as well, due to a shortage of copper.

The Bushmaster
November 2, 2009, 04:26 PM
Darksidemxer...Hell no! I was just saying what I found when experimenting with a set of twenty brass washed steel S&B cases. I know several that load steel cases with no adverse problems...I was just saying....

November 2, 2009, 05:44 PM
I understand what they were and the reasons that they existed. If they were any better, or worse, than brass, I do not have any personal experience.

I ha ve known a couple of gents who were kinda long-in-the tooth who said that they were preferred. Supposedly, steel cases didn't work too well with the new Star Progressive rigs, but were great with the portable dies of that time


November 2, 2009, 07:17 PM
I have encountered the brass that is steel on shotgun hulls. I have enough brass so I don't try the steel. I have had a guy tell me he reloads aluminum cases but never tried or even looked at it to see if it is possible.
I do use a magnet to get the steel out when sorting.

evan price
November 3, 2009, 05:19 AM
Seller & Belloit "Range-Safe" ammo is loaded in brass washed steel cases- they look identical to brass cases, right down to the red primer sealer. A magnet is the only way to tell. I save them for emergencies, but I have so much 9mm brass I figure they won't ever be needed.

November 3, 2009, 07:53 AM
From an expert in ballistics and handloading.


Steel is not as malleable as brass.

It tends to permanently deform in its internal matrix sometimes creating microscopic fissures/cracks which can fail catastrophically when subjected to that’s same high pressure again.

Since the condition of the metallurgical structure cannot be predicted one can never be sure that the material/metal has not been undermined to a critical level under the extremely high pressure.

It’s will also be hard to or even not possible, depending on the specific quality of the steel, to “resize” steel back to form, and since steel tends to retain its deformed size it will merely “spring back” if such action is attempted.


Johan Loubser


Ramshot/Accurate Powders

Tel: (406) 234 04 22 email:

Western Powders Inc –– Miles City – Montana.

The Bushmaster
November 3, 2009, 09:22 AM
The 20 samples of S&B brass washed steel 9mmX19 cases that I recieved were reloaded 5 times and sent across a chronograph. There were no differences (to speak of) in preformance or velocity. Nor did they show any outward signs of fatigue...They were loaded at or near maximum powder charge using a 124 grain Rainier Plated HP...

November 3, 2009, 10:41 AM
Reloading steel cases can be done, it doesn't mean it should be done.

Folks that reload steel cases are reloading little potential Kabooms, one never knows
when a steel case will rupture. At least brass gives some warning of impending failure.

Old School here, I don't trust them.

November 3, 2009, 10:59 AM
thats strange, im not trying to argue and start problems, just getting things straight BUT i have been reading that its fine and even works better sometimes. heres a link i was told to go look at :)

November 3, 2009, 12:20 PM
You have to lube them, and they rust.

Rust kills.

Good article, and I'm sure if I had no brass cases and only steel I would attempt to reload
them. Still wouldn't trust them though. ;-)

November 3, 2009, 06:39 PM
Let us know how many loadings you get out of them and how they fail (just like brass eventually does). Probably show up as neck splits. Not really prophetic kabooms.

Guesses as to the steel properties is moot when we don't know what the ammo company is using in the first place.


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