Why no brass cased ammo from Russia ?


May 27, 2010, 11:57 AM
It wouldn't seem like the cost would be much higher. Keep the same powder, projectile, and primer and the cost of brass vs steel would appear to me minimal. Is there any advantages to steel, save for cost ? I've never heard of a case rupture with steel.

Also as a 2nd question. What other metals could be used for rifle cases ? would aluminium work as they use that for pistols ? I seem to remember different materials being used by the Germans in WW2.

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May 27, 2010, 12:01 PM
Part of it has to do with Russia's political climate. They want to have control over the civilian ammunition supply. As a result, they don't like reloading, so they stick with Berdan primers and steel cases even though the technology exists for them to transition to Boxer primers and brass. Also, in case you haven't noticed, most Soviet-designed firearms ruin the brass on ejection, so reloading wouldn't be practical in the first place. I actually do have some surplus Russian brass-cased 7.62x54R ammunition from 1990, so at least at that point they were using brass for the military.


Sebastian the Ibis
May 27, 2010, 01:45 PM
Russian doctrine involves millions of conscripts, being issued functional but not spectacular weaponry including billions of rounds of ammo stored forever in a warehouse in Siberia, unlike American doctrine where smaller numbers of professional soldiers are issued the best weapons. Steel is cheaper and works fine in an AK, although steel won’t be as accurate as brass cased ammo in weapon designed for brass cased ammo. Russian’s don’t care, they want good enough not the best.

Lacquer coated steel may also last longer than brass ammo when stored for decades. I’m just guessing on this though. But long term storage is why all the 5.45 is corrosive, it stores better than non-corrosive.

May 27, 2010, 01:51 PM
There is a HUGE difference in cost between brass and steel when you're talking about producing billions of rounds of ammo. I have experienced a good number of split steel cases also. Russian factories have offered brass cases on commercial contracts and have produced samples to offer to prospective customers. To this date I've not seen any customers pony-up the extra cost for brass cases.

May 27, 2010, 05:58 PM
There is a HUGE difference in cost between brass and steel

This is the entire answer right there. We're talking about Russia here, it just comes down to cost.

May 27, 2010, 06:12 PM
I think Sebastian has it right, The Russians have been using steel casings for their military ammo for years, that mostly was/is manufactured in state controlled ammo factories. It functions fine in their weaponry, and is much cheapper than brass. Good observation on the AK series of rifles, they were designed around the Soviet doctrine of rushing shock troops into the battle space, by APC, having the the infantry charge the objective firing en-masse with the AK, subjecting it to a withering fire storm, thereby creating havoc in it, and then over running it. This was the Soviet doctrine for infantry assault. This is a big reason that I laugh when people continuously try to compare "the AK" with "the M16" totally different weapons with totally different purposes.

May 27, 2010, 06:25 PM
I read in some guy rag that the Russians are masters at making soft steel. Quite a bit of their ammo used steel jacketed bullets that are copper washed. These, according to the writer, do no more wear to a barrel that copper jacketed bullets since both are about equal in hardness. He felt the steel cases were basically on a par with brass ones.

May 28, 2010, 12:34 AM
if you need some eurobrass ammo, look for monarch brass line, or wolf brass line, or Sellier&Bellot... which I think are all S/B anyway. The monarch brass, may actually be Russian , and brass though.

May 28, 2010, 01:01 AM
The U.S. used steel cased ammo during WW 2 for some applications. I believe in that case and with the Russians that it is definitely a matter of cost. The steel ammo is very durable. The objective is to have durable and reliable ammo for warfare. There factorys are geared up for steel case production for military use. Its make most profit to utilize existing production lines. Face it their production of this ammo is for mother Russia and if they can sell some of it to us for a profit they will. The benefits of the free enterprise system are not lost on them. The American reloader is not the center of the universe
and most have a lot of trouble understanding this. We have the freedom to do this yet. Brass cases cost more but are available. We dont want to pay the price for domestic brass ammo. (I do buy American and reload for the AK and SKS.) I buy both domestic ammo and Russian steel . Brass is available through Midway. I dont understand why someone will pay $14 for a box of 30-30s, $18 for .243, $12 for .223 and then scream at $14 or $15 for the 762X39.

May 28, 2010, 01:53 AM
I just bought 900 rnds of steel cased 223 @.21 a round. the lowest cost brass cased ammo is .35 Per rnd. It's simply the cost of brass, once fired 223 brass is $0.10 per rnd!

wayne in boca
May 28, 2010, 04:48 AM
Do the research.There are absolutely no brass mines in Russia.None.

May 28, 2010, 06:12 AM
And where are there brass mines???

May 28, 2010, 07:09 AM
There are absolutely no brass mines in Russia.None.

Now that there is funny.....I don't care who you are.

....Brass Mines.....Really?!? :banghead:

May 28, 2010, 07:46 AM
Yep. Copper and Zinc = brass. Brass mines indeed...

May 28, 2010, 10:24 AM
Well Wayne if you're so smart how come you don't know there aren't any STEEL mines in Russia either? Huh???


May 28, 2010, 10:33 AM
If you ever ask yourself a question of “Why did they build it that way?” the answer almost always boils down to money. Even if you only saved a penny on every case you saved $10,000 after only producing a million rounds.

May 28, 2010, 06:46 PM
Do the research.There are absolutely no brass mines in Russia.None.

Of course... I had to give up flyfishing because I couldn't find any populations of Tinsels, Flosses or Maribous left in the world, and didn't want to contribute to their extinction! :D

May 28, 2010, 10:45 PM
As for wear and tear on the barrel, that's actually why the bullets are bi-metal. The copper jacket participates in the dynamic erosion-deposition process of copper as it goes down the barrel, while keeping the amount of copper needed per round to an absolute minimum.

An other thing to consider is that copper is a strategic resource. Any copper you use to make brass cased ammo is copper that you cannot use to manufacture electronics, or other high-tech equipment. Why would the Russians throw away valuable metal on expendable items such as shell casings?

As for the whole bearden primed vs boxer, again its a consideration of cost and reliability. Corrosive bearden primers are more chemically stable and flash hotter then non-corrosive boxer primers. That said non-corrosive boxer primer chemistry finally caught up with corrosive bearden primers in terms of heat and stability some time in the early 90's.

May 28, 2010, 11:05 PM
I recently read that Hornady, the manufacturer of fancy hunting and self-defense ammo is making a high performance 7.62X39mm round. Oddly enough, it has a steel case.

May 28, 2010, 11:22 PM
IF you don't reload steel cased ammo has lots of advantages -- cheap and corrodes quickly back to iron oxide dirt. The polymer/lacquer coating will hang around longer. Brass remains for hundreds of years, even under salt water.

May 28, 2010, 11:51 PM
I'd just be happy with a cheap source of imported plinking bullets, but that's not gonna happen either, not anytime soon anyway.


May 29, 2010, 12:19 AM
Steel case ammo works well enough. In the West we are rich and can afford brass case, in the east not so much.

From a functional perspective I find steel case and corrosive bearden primed to be just as reliable as the latest NATO stuff.

The Russian stuff tends to be cheaper, but it works pretty damn good. Like most Russian equipment.

Frankly any gun that chokes on steel ammo isn't much of a gun. If a military rifle is worth its salt it should be able to chew through a lot of different kinds of ammo.

May 29, 2010, 01:34 AM
I read in some guy rag that the Russians are masters at making soft steel.Masters in making soft steel...hehehe. That is like saying I am a master at throwing interceptions at football...oh i'm good, but that doesn't mean i'll be replacing Peyton Manning anytime soon. I think what they meant was they make horrible steel...and it just happens to work out good enough for cartridge casings. :D

Do the research.There are absolutely no brass mines in Russia.None.Hard to argue with that...but I am sure there is a brass mine somewhere...I am equally sure it keeps coming up short. ;)

Well Wayne if you're so smart how come you don't know there aren't any STEEL mines in Russia either? Huh???Those tend to fall short as well...and digging through all that iron ore in search of the elusive "steel ore" is hard work. :p

May 29, 2010, 04:22 AM
Brass mines... now that made me smile. Reminds me of all the tree huggers that were worried about the extinction of the once plentiful naugas. Industry depended on the little nauga to make vast quantities of naugahyde products.

May 29, 2010, 07:47 AM
I'm kind of surprised nobody responded to the picture of the round I posted. It's definitely brass. The color is way too light to be coper-washed steel. I bought a spam can of 1990 Russian ammo, and that's what was in it. In hindsight, I probably should have gone with Romanian ammo given that was so close to Russia's collapse, but oh well. The ammo shoots okay, but it stinks. Did I mention it stinks? It smells bad just to handle it.

Steel-cased ammo is cheaper, and it allows Russia to keep a single supply chain, steel providing both the bullets and casings rather than copper and zinc for the brass, and lead for the bullets. That's not counting the minimal amount of copper used in the jacketing, of course, but point being that it saves tons of copper and zinc while allowing factories to produce ammunition with much simpler processes. Russia does seem to have moved to non-corrosive Berdan primers, though, as evidenced by the commercial Tula spam cans coming in. They're obviously producing military-grade ammo en masse with non-corrosive primers.

But yeah, it's multiple factors:

1. Lower cost
2. Simplified supply chains
3. Firearms that ruin the casing on ejection
4. Political climate

Because of these factors, it doesn't make a lot of sense to use brass. Because of #3, casings generally wouldn't be reloadable anyway, so you could never have the industry we have here, with the military selling spent cases to commercial reloaders. My experience with my own AK-style rifles is that typically only 1 in 4 casings would be salvageable, if that. And, as stated, Russia likes to keep a hold on the civilian ammunition supply, so they want most of the available ammunition to only be usable once.

Art Eatman
May 29, 2010, 08:13 AM
The subject has pretty well been covered. Off we go to the brass mine...

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