Stop wasting you steel cases


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Carbon_15
January 19, 2013, 11:37 PM
Steel can be reloaded. I have been doing it for years.
There are a few caveats however.
- .223 is the only steel case I have found that uses standard boxer primers
- you can't use lacquered cases
- you can only reuse them once
- the steel is a little harder to size and may accelerate wear on your dies

Use a little extra case lube, ream the case necks and load away.
In these present scarce times, it's nice to find useable components that most consider trash.
http://imageshack.us/a/img839/6040/imageizb.jpg

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NeuseRvrRat
January 19, 2013, 11:39 PM
i've always been able to get more .223 brass than i can use. won't be reloading steel cases anytime soon.

joustin
January 19, 2013, 11:45 PM
I have reloaded a few steel cases. 223 brass isn't easy to find here.

I am a master typist, my Kindle fire goes out of its way to make me look bad.

ArchAngelCD
January 19, 2013, 11:50 PM
- the steel is a little harder to size than steel and may accelerate wear on your dies.
I'm sure there's a typo there! Which Steel is harder than Steel? :p

Carbon_15
January 19, 2013, 11:53 PM
Thx archangel
If only wolf 7.62x39 was boxer primed.

IMtheNRA
January 20, 2013, 01:44 AM
Carbon 15 - I don't reload steel, but I was wondering why you said it can be reloaded only once. Does it get work-hardened faster?

readyeddy
January 20, 2013, 02:06 AM
Very interesting. Is trimming difficult?

highbrow
January 20, 2013, 04:28 AM
I have reloaded more than 5000 Wolf/Tula 223 cases without issue. Some will get neck splits on the first reload and others will go 10 reloads without problem. Steel does not seem to stretch like brass. Wipe the grit off the cases and there will be no wear on your dies, at least none that I have been able to detect.
Wolf 45 acp cases are also boxer primed and work as well.
I am a cheap bastard.

jcwit
January 20, 2013, 06:20 AM
There are many many things in life that are possible to do. That doesn't make then the thing to do however.

thanatopsis
January 20, 2013, 06:39 AM
Being a user of ultrasonic cleaners for case cleaning steel is something I tested but did not feel safe using after seeing rust develop on the case during drying. So I will leave the reloading of steel cases to someone else.

FROGO207
January 20, 2013, 07:18 AM
Steel cases can be reloaded just as Berdan primed cases can be reloaded. I have done it as an experiment successfully in the past. BUT for now the Boxer primed brass is readily available for most everything that I reload so I will not bother with those just yet.:scrutiny:

Well my exception is that Berdan brass cases in 7.62X39 are abandoned everywhere around here and I have 20K Berdan primers that fit them purchased ahead so I do reload with these.:D

Hacker15E
January 20, 2013, 08:11 AM
Nobody has any scientific data on how long it takes to "wear out" a resizing die using brass, so it is impossible to yardstick if reloading steel cases accelerates wear. My personal anecdotal evidence says it doesn't, but I'm also using 35-year-old dies that have all ready seen lord knows how many thousands of rounds resized through them before, and I am NOT running a side-by-side, round-for-round control set of dies to compare wear rates. Until someone actually does this, anyone claiming such is just guessing.

I have also had good luck reloading steel .223 and .45 ACP. As was posted, sometimes the cases last through many loadings, and sometimes not. Never have I had any problems with reloading steel (or shooting reloaded steel) that I have not also had with like brass.

At my range the cases are free and plentiful (while brass is not -- there are virtually no brass pick-ups available at my range).

I tumble in stainless media, and that removes the coating (either the polymer/paint or lacquer). I dry with compressed air, and after resizing I don't re-tumble (leaving just a hint of the sizing lube to protect against oxidation/corrosion.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v450/Hacker15E/DF8D0DBF-92F3-47B6-8963-42EBC06DF4A9-135-000000033698EE2E.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v450/Hacker15E/4A1283CC-D624-4AD9-8742-A10414708BA8-10957-00000D1F03CF5428.jpg


There are many many things in life that are possible to do. That doesn't make then the thing to do however.

I know you have tried this before, and I know you share this very same words in every thread which discusses reloading steel.

Never have you presented any evidence for feeling this way. What is it that you saw which leads you to this conclusion?

Until I see some evidence that there is some negative effect, negative impact, to reloading steel cases, then I'll continue to do it as my personal experiences and observations reloading steel have been very positive (and quite frankly I have yet to see a single negative).

I am always, however, open to new evidence and open to re-evaluating my opinion upon evaluation of that evidence.

jmorris
January 20, 2013, 10:31 AM
I'm with Jcwit. Not worth it, might do it if I had no other choice but that is not the case.

Knew a guy that "showed" everyone how he could in fact reload aluminum cases and get one more firing out of them before they split. He did this for a year maybe two before he had to replace the Kart barrel because of chamber erosion.

jcwit
January 20, 2013, 11:32 AM
I know you have tried this before, and I know you share this very same words in every thread which discusses reloading steel.

Never have you presented any evidence for feeling this way. What is it that you saw which leads you to this conclusion?

If you remember my posts from years ago when I did this it was done as an experiment to see if it could in fact be don with any success. This was back in the day when boxer primed steel and aluminum cases came on the scene. Also if you remember I only used a pistol caliber in my experiment and tried it with 5 reloadings and very mild charges.

I also did not reccomend it, just stated my findings as to the experiment.

No rifle calibers were tried, nor do I reccomend it.

jcwit
January 20, 2013, 11:34 AM
Furthermore its my understanding neck tension is lost when reloading steel cases. I cannot prove nor disprove this as I have no way to measure neck tension.

jcwit
January 20, 2013, 11:42 AM
Why do I feel this way? Just my opinion. I feel the same way about using the collets versus a shell holder when using a hammer type bullet puller. Also my opinion. I also do not shoot steel cased ammo, new or otherwise, have no use for it. Why should I support foreign surplus sales when I do not need to?

Further I see no need to as I have brass in quantity, thats large quaint, as in very large quaint.

There must be a reason the manufactures state thats its not recommended, ya think? But then what do they know.

GLOOB
January 20, 2013, 03:03 PM
I cannot prove nor disprove this as I have no way to measure neck tension.
If you can't tell bad neck tension by feel or by the "bench test," then you shouldn't be reloading brass cases, either! Brass or steel, doesn't matter. When the tension is lost, toss the case.

Walkalong
January 20, 2013, 03:16 PM
I'm with Jcwit. Not worth it, might do it if I had no other choice but that is not the case.
Same here.

Maybe we should save steel boxer primed .223 cases for that theoretical time when we have no choice or brass cases are rare and pricey. I suppose it could happen.

blarby
January 20, 2013, 03:39 PM
I support this thread on an experimental basis.

I have a new set of .223 I can use that are only about 500 rounds in.

This looks like an excercise in reloading we all should get in on from a practical standpoint: Using what you have to make what ya don't.

Obviously the OP and a few others have an enormous supply of steel, but no brass.

I say use it- heck. If it works, great.

I don't find a lot of .223 steel- but I'm gonna keep a better eye out for it now. My eyes are tuned to the color of honeygold, not scrap steel...so it will take some adjusting.

I have a substantial supply of .223 and 45 in brass.

As handloaders- we're all cheap bastards- waste not, want not. I refuse to throw anything away that has useful life left in this arena. No, I don't have stacks of newspapers and tin cans around my house- just in my reloading room.

But, if its being done, and safely, I say why not.

Not long ago anyone who used an ultrasonic cleaner was a wonk, who was gonna put his eye out. Then it was pin tumbling. They both work.

I'm going to try 20 and see.


As for neck tension- we have a universal guide for that- I don't see much being required outside of the test we use for brass.

Carbon, Hacker- please send me any pertinent notes. You got my attention.


HAcker : Tumble with nufinish on your finished loads, and you will have a great oxidization preventative coating.

Walkalong
January 20, 2013, 03:42 PM
Just remember, steel lacks the elasticity that makes brass so suitable for repeated reloading. We know how to test for brass .223 cases to see when they are shot, but I am not so sure about steel, other than just pitching it after "X" number of reloads. The case is all that seals the chamber from hot, high pressure, gases escaping from the chamber, with possible injury (potentially serious) as a result.

blarby
January 20, 2013, 03:52 PM
On the flipside of that coin- elasticity and chamber forming/reforming are what wear brass cases out.

If the steel isn't forming to the chamber..... Its not flowing, is it ?

I'd like to know how the FL sizing works repeatedly on steel. If steel doesn't flow- and thats why the necks are breaking, I wonder how much they move from firing to firing.....

If it isn't stretching, its not getting thinner.

jcwit
January 20, 2013, 03:53 PM
If you can't tell bad neck tension by feel or by the "bench test," then you shouldn't be reloading brass cases, either! Brass or steel, doesn't matter. When the tension is lost, toss the case.

Key word in my post was measure. Of course I can feel if the bullet itself is loose or not, can I measure the lbs it takes to pull the bullet? Nope! Can I measure the torque it takes to turn the bullet? Nope

Actually I probably could do both of the above, but am I going to build up the jigs etc., and take the time, to accomplish it? Nope again.

Then again there is a very good use for steel cases, they make dam good hole punches.

jcwit
January 20, 2013, 04:09 PM
Some links for your reading pleasure regarding neck tension.

http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2009/10/reloading-neck-tension.html

http://www.longrangehunting.com/forums/f28/how-do-you-control-neck-tension-56993/

http://www.longrangehunting.com/forums/f28/how-much-neck-tension-too-much-92191/

And from the barrel manufacturer.

http://www.kriegerbarrels.com/Proper_Reloading_Practices-c1246-wp7875.htm

blarby
January 20, 2013, 04:46 PM
Just out of curiostiy, do you measure the neck tension in your brass cases, or just use the standard tricks we all do ?

This to me seems like a go/no go issue just like I do with brass. If I'm missing something- please clue me in !


I personally could think of nothng better than being able to acceptably load another shell type, to stash for the rainy day fund... while using my brass for regular day to day..... If the results were comparable.

jcwit
January 20, 2013, 05:34 PM
blarby, if reloading steel cases floats your boat, go for it, your gun, your reloading equipment, your state of the art in accuracy.

Being as I have literally kitty litter buckets of .223 brass, all of it tumbled and available for reloading I see no reason to subject my equipment or rifles to steel cases. Nor do I wish to lower my accuracy standards by using steel cases.

Frankly as with washing out media I could care less.

Its very doubtful I'll ever able to use up all of my reloading components in the lifetime that I have left. Same holds true for my stockpile of .22 rim fire, and no I have not purchased any in the current crazy climate.

As said earlier, steel cases make darn good hole punches. Everything has its uses.

Again for your reading pleasure

http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/showthread.php/95454-Steel-Cases-Reloadable

http://forum.pafoa.org/general-2/78409-reloading-steel-cases.html

http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=6&f=42&t=251547

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/archive/index.php/t-153652.html

http://www.shootingtimes.com/2011/01/04/ammunition_st_steelcasedrelaods_200805/

Now with the above, make up your own minds, I couldn't care one way or the other.

Reefinmike
January 20, 2013, 06:19 PM
at my range, 223 brass is littered everywhere. just today I picked up 900 pieces in the 20 minutes I had to scrounge before close. here soon Im going to have picked up and sold enough brass to buy me one of em fancy dillon presses.

thump_rrr
January 20, 2013, 07:07 PM
If you can't tell bad neck tension by feel or by the "bench test," then you shouldn't be reloading brass cases, either! Brass or steel, doesn't matter. When the tension is lost, toss the case.
No with brass cases you can anneal the necks and repeat.
I anneal the necks on my .308 Lapua brass every 3 firings since I seem to get very tight groups for 3 firings before the groups start to open up.
I have no quantitative measurement on neck tension but I do see that the end result is not as good after 3 reloads unless I anneal.

I pick up more .223, 9mm, .40, .45ACP, 7.62x39 and many other calibers than I can ever shoot so trying to reload steel cases seems like a waste of time to me.
If it works for you who am I to tell you not to do it.

627PCFan
January 20, 2013, 07:33 PM
You all can't be that hard up to reload ammo lol

beatledog7
January 20, 2013, 07:49 PM
The Berdan primer is another issue. As long as I can get Boxer-primed brass by the bucketful, I won't reload steel cases.

ljnowell
January 20, 2013, 08:53 PM
Knew a guy that "showed" everyone how he could in fact reload aluminum cases and get one more firing out of them before they split. He did this for a year maybe two before he had to replace the Kart barrel because of chamber erosion.


I dont buy that. I'd love to see the proof. I load all my brass till they split too. I will even load them one more time after they split, if I can get enough tension to hold the bullets. These go to matches where you cant pick up your brass.

Hacker15E
January 20, 2013, 09:34 PM
There must be a reason the manufactures state thats its not recommended, ya think?

It is usually printed in the sentence immediately prior to or after the one which they also not recommend shooting reloaded ammunition.

jcwit
January 20, 2013, 09:37 PM
It is usually printed in the sentence immediately prior to or after the one which they also not recommend shooting reloaded ammunition.

Have never ever seen that statement on a box of ammo. Show me.

Further if you wish to reload steel cases, go for it. I will not, discussion over as far as I'm concerned. As I said before, I really do not care, heck you may reload with small pebbles for all I care, if that makes you happy.

I reload .223 and require accuracy under 1/8 inch center to center at 100 yds. Overall group size for 5 rounds at .228 to .300. That BTW is consistantly not just once in a while.

Hacker15E
January 20, 2013, 09:55 PM
Have never ever seen that statement on a box of ammo. Show me.

I haven't seen it on a box of ammo, either. I was speaking of firearms:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v450/Hacker15E/0CA1161E-5A8C-4CB0-A44C-DB9E105A307F-948-0000009EB1C4D310-1.jpg

jcwit
January 20, 2013, 09:59 PM
I haven't seen it on a box of ammo, either. I was speaking of firearms:

And I was speaking of boxes of loaded ammo, which is what we are discussing.

I know of no firearms manufacturer that recommends reloads. Brass, steel or whatever.

Hacker15E
January 20, 2013, 10:08 PM
I reload .223 and require accuracy under 1/8 inch center to center at 100 yds. Overall group size for 5 rounds at .228 to .300. That BTW is consistantly not just once in a while.

My offhand or prone isn't nearly that good!

Hacker15E
January 20, 2013, 10:13 PM
And I was speaking of boxes of loaded ammo, which is what we are discussing.

Well, then I misunderstood what you meant when you said 'manufacturers don't recommend it'.

I haven't seen on any boxes of ammo a recommendation not to reload it.

Here's a box of Tula and I don't see any such warning:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v450/Hacker15E/8245F326-29EC-48B8-8CAC-26F03C4755B9-948-0000009F9F90DA9C-1.jpg

jcwit
January 20, 2013, 10:17 PM
Wish I knew how to post pics like you do.

I remember seeing over the years but do not remember where.

Memory is shot from old age and chemo.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=281829

http://www.ar15armory.com/forums/wolf-steel-case-s-reload-t118038.html

As implied earlier, if you feel the need to reload steel cases, go for it. In a nutshell I don't. Not likely to in my future either.

hueyville
January 20, 2013, 10:33 PM
I fall in do what makes you happy category on this subject but don't try to "sell" me. I have zero desire or need to even try it. I don't own any ammo in steel cases except for Combloc. I also have 55 gallon drums of once fired Lake City brass in .45, 5.56 and 7.62 so why even think about it. I don't want to hammer the chambers of my good rifles with steel cases. Just does not make metallurgical sense to me. As long as I have brass it is what I will use. But I will archive others data who are doing steel in the event the planet flips on its axis and my brass cases all fly off into space.

wally
January 20, 2013, 10:40 PM
I've reloaded lots of steel case .45ACP with zero issues. I pick up my Wolf/Tula empties at the range and reload them for when I shoot at my friends ranch were I'm going to lose all my brass in the weeds.

Never had the need or confidence to reload higher pressure steel cased rounds.

Hacker15E
January 21, 2013, 06:05 AM
I don't want to hammer the chambers of my good rifles with steel cases. Just does not make metallurgical sense to me.

Can you explain this statement a little further?

evan price
January 21, 2013, 06:43 AM
I don't waste steel cases.

All that junk goes to the shredder as scrap sheet steel. It's worth ten cents a pound right now. I take buckets full mixed in with old appliances, car parts, etc. It all melts.

Carbon_15
January 21, 2013, 07:15 AM
Further I see no need to as I have brass in quantity, thats large quaint, as in very large quaint.



well I dont! where I shoot EVERYONE reloads and we also have a few brass scrounges who come by almost every day and sell what they find.
I find .223 brass by small handfulls at best. its just nice to know that on the days I dont find a small handfull of brass, that I do have a viable option.

Carbon_15
January 21, 2013, 07:44 AM
There must be a reason the manufactures state thats its not recommended, ya think? But then what do they know.
I highly doubt any manufacturer of automotive wheel balancing weights would recommend
My preferred use of their product as bullet casting material...

Wylie1
January 21, 2013, 08:41 AM
As implied earlier, if you feel the need to reload steel cases, go for it. In a nutshell I don't. Not likely to in my future either.Yeah what he said.

jmorris
January 21, 2013, 09:20 AM
Same here.

Maybe we should save steel boxer primed .223 cases for that theoretical time when we have no choice or brass cases are rare and pricey. I suppose it could happen.

Given how long properly annealed brass lasts and how much is out there, that will likely be when laser guns will be a better choice.

kingmt
January 21, 2013, 09:26 AM
I used to load steel cases. I'm still shooting them. They are nice to have for shoot & scoot so I don't lose my brass.

Steel has more press then brass. Neck tension isn't going to be a problem.

Accuracy is just as good. I shoot nice little holes when it is load With Hornady bullets. I normally just load it with pull down stuff tho.

It does ware your dies tho. After maybe 5K I noticed my besides getting tighter. I measured the manderal to find it .002" smaller. I called Lee to order a new one. They asked how it wore. After telling them it was from loading sell cases they said that was a common practice & couldn't understand how such a soft steel could ware out the tool. They refused to let me pay for a replacement & actually sent two to replace it.

I now have a bunch of brass for 223 so I won't be loading as much of it. Unless I get into wet tumbling. Now that I've seen how good those cases look in the pick above I want some.

hueyville
January 21, 2013, 09:34 AM
Hacker15e, Steel is harder than brass. Chambers are steel and if your cases are steel there has to be some increased wear over the course of thousands of rounds between brass and steel. I do machine work for a living, I can cut or machine steel with steel, but if I try to use brass for tooling it will do nothing to steel. Just seems like the steel case going into the chamber, expanding during firing then more friction based wear as it is extracted my "guess" is that steel will wear a chamber, extractors/ejectors much quicker than brass. How many rounds for it to be of any significance, I don't know, but I choose to use brass for my brass. I would be interested to see if there is any scientific research on this subject. If I am wrong would like to see the data proving it.

DeMilled
January 21, 2013, 09:35 AM
It would be nice to know the properties of the steel in question.
Anyone have the specs on this stuff?

jcwit
January 21, 2013, 09:36 AM
well I dont! where I shoot EVERYONE reloads and we also have a few brass scrounges who come by almost every day and sell what they find.
I find .223 brass by small handfulls at best. its just nice to know that on the days I dont find a small handfull of brass, that I do have a viable option.

That is a concern to the younger folks, myself, I've been collecting brass for well over 50 years, so I have bunches, even in calibers I don't reload.

I highly doubt any manufacturer of automotive wheel balancing weights would recommend
My preferred use of their product as bullet casting material...

True, but they don't say not to either. They also don't recommend to use their weights for boat anchors or to make fishing weights either. I doubt they care one way or the other.

I don't waste steel cases.

All that junk goes to the shredder as scrap sheet steel. It's worth ten cents a pound right now. I take buckets full mixed in with old appliances, car parts, etc. It all melts.

Excellant point! One club I belong to we collect the spent .22 rimfire cases and turn them in for recycling. Boosted our clubs treasury by almost $1000.00 bucks a while back.

hueyville
January 21, 2013, 09:57 AM
Jcwitt, your club may want to invest in a bullet swager and use all the .22 rimfire cases to make jacketed..223 bullets and sell to reloaders. Just an idea. I turn all my .22 cases into bullets for my AR's thus another reason no panic about run on .223 bullets. Everytime I bust a cap with a rimfire, I create a bullet jacket. Now that is recycling...

blarby
January 21, 2013, 10:02 AM
I also have 55 gallon drums of once fired Lake City brass in.45, 5.56 and 7.62 so why even think about it

The reverse of the OP's situation.

Ahh, necessity........... Somebodys mother, for certain.

Hacker15E
January 21, 2013, 10:26 AM
Hacker15e, Steel is harder than brass.

Metals can actually have all kinds of different levels of hardness -- to include steel that is softer than brass.

What actually matters is the Rockwell Hardness of the particular steel used in the steel ammunition cases.

Here's a video that actually tests the hardness of brass, nickel, and steel cases on the Rockwell B scale.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBAh_8usXBI

Bottom line, we can't say something like, "because the cases are steel, and the chamber is steel, that it will logically follow that your chamber will wear faster than with brass cases." There are other metallurgical factors involved than simple construction element or alloy.

SSN Vet
January 21, 2013, 10:35 AM
I see so little steel cased .223 at the range... it's a non-issue. And I'm not really interested in re-loading it, for the same reason I'm not interested in buying it new.... that being that it's widely known to cause extraction issues in AR pattern rifles.

And all the x39 steel cased stuff is Berdan primed.... so that's a non-issue.

I'm mildly intrigued with the prospect of reloading steel cased .45 acp, so I'll have to start paying closer attention to the brass buckets at the range.

As it is.... so many people are getting into re-loading, it's getting to be slim pickings all around.

Hacker15E
January 21, 2013, 10:42 AM
I see so little steel cased .223 at the range... it's a non-issue. And I'm not really interested in re-loading it, for the same reason I'm not interested in buying it new.... that being that it's widely known to cause extraction issues in AR pattern rifles.

Many different reasons for that, and not all of them inherent to the steel cases:

http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/

Part of the answer to this question is the nature of the case material itself. When heated, steel does not expand and contract the same way that brass does – in fact, brass expands 1.5 times as much as steel. The shape of the .223/5.56 case was designed with brass as the case material; this plus the fact that steel doesn’t expand – and more importantly, contract – like brass means that extraction will be naturally more difficult.

Beyond these differences, though, is it possible that extraction of Tula – and possibly other ammo – could be made easier by adjusting the pressure curve? A clever test conducted by the US Army’s TACOM and presented at NDIA in 2003 may have the answer. Titled “Understanding Extractor Lift in the M16 Family of Weapons,” the test concluded that the extractor lifts off the rim of the case during initial rearward travel, but that residual chamber pressure holds the case against the bolt face until the extractor returns to the case rim.

In other words, if there are pressure curve issues, case extraction – made slightly more difficult by the steel case – becomes questionable, as the extractor may not return to place in time to pull the case out of the chamber. While a drop in Tula’s chamber pressure at the appropriate time is not observed, it is possible that the location of the gauge is not ideal for reading pressures against the bolt face.

We know from the rise time and gas port data that the powder does burn too fast for the system, so it is quite likely that this is a contributing factor to the rate of extraction failures.

Lots of other evidence in the test reported at that LuckyGunner link that imported cheap Russian ammunition has inconsistent powder charges, powder formulation that has different burn/pressure generation characteristics than most 'typical' 5.56/.223 powders, and bimetal jacketed bullets which (under the high-heat/rapid-fire/short-duration circumstances of the test) resulted in accelerated wear of the barrel.

All good reasons to not choose to shoot high volumes of cheap Russian factory-loaded ammunition if a firearms owner so desires.

None of which, however, applies to spent cases picked up as trash and loaded with known powder and (non-bimetal) projectiles.

hueyville
January 21, 2013, 12:13 PM
Just read the luckygunner article. Glad I never bought, shot or stockpiled any of the imported steel case ammo. Barrels ruined before 6,000 rounds but the gun shooting U.S. made brass case ammo barrel still fine at 10,000 rounds. Add in the malfunctions from imports it boils down to you get what you pay for.

Hacker15e, I understand Brinell hardness sale and implications. I actually have hardness testers for soft metals to verify my bullet casting alloys and at work to determine alloys of hard metals at work. I have to be able to identify if I have 5051, T-6 or softer. On steel have to be able to be able identify mild, T-1, AR400, etc. Guess I have to find a steel case next time I am at a public range and see how hard it really is. Until then I can't help but "feel" from experience that steel cases are harder than brass. The OP did say it was harder to size. That could be considered a supportive clue. Bottom line is at present time I personally have no need or desire to reload steel cases. Who knows what the future may hold so will pay attention to the data of "how to" if nothing else just for educational purposes. Not going to risk one of my rifle barrels to test it myself. I have one particular Colt AR I bought in 1983 that am sure has over 25,000 rounds and still in spec and still shoots well.

kelbro
January 21, 2013, 01:10 PM
The only advantage that I can see to the steel cases is that (with a magnet) you don't have to bend over to pick it up off the range floor :)

blarby
January 21, 2013, 02:58 PM
Went scrounging today, and found about 40-50 pieces of brass .223, and about the same in steel.

It's all cookin in the tumbler right now- and do it begins.

My only question thus far is : after FL sizing, do you trim to length ? Thats about the only place I can see steel having a much harder effect on your tooling : cutting edges.

I'm just going to sweep out the primer pockets on these, not cut them. That flat spinning cutter would surely dull much quicker rotating against the grain on steel :/

After a round of testing on these, I think what they are probably going to be used for is stash ammo. I have enough brass to work with regularly, but hate to stick good stuff in a dark corner never to be used "until that time".

I'm gonna do 10, and see how it goes.

joustin
January 21, 2013, 08:23 PM
If I could find ANY 223 brass or steel around here I would reload it. Probably need to trade stuff I don't need for brass.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

Hacker15E
January 21, 2013, 09:45 PM
Went scrounging today, and found about 40-50 pieces of brass .223, and about the same in steel.

It's all cookin in the tumbler right now- and do it begins.

If you are wet tumbling, recommend you run the steel and brass in separate operations. The steel ends up a dull gray crappy color if tumbled with brass. If you do it with just steel they end up bright and shiny.

Most Tula I pick up is consistently 1.77 after the initial firing and resizing, and thus needs trimming. Haven't run into any problems with the trimmer dulling yet.

blarby
January 21, 2013, 10:41 PM
No pins here- just CC and spirits, per usual.

Turned out spiffy.

Hacker15E
January 22, 2013, 07:35 AM
Guess I have to find a steel case next time I am at a public range and see how hard it really is. Until then I can't help but "feel" from experience that steel cases are harder than brass.

Did you look at the YouTube video where the guy did Rockwell B tests of brass, nickel, and steel? The steel in that one test was the same as brass, about Rb 85.

Which would make sense, right? If you were formulating steel to use in cartridge cases, you would intentionally make it as close to the characteristics of brass as you could.

If you do a similar test, I would love to hear of the results.

Glad I never bought, shot or stockpiled any of the imported steel case ammo. Barrels ruined before 6,000 rounds but the gun shooting U.S. made brass case ammo barrel still fine at 10,000 rounds.

Undoubtedly there is something going on there, but there is a good bit of speculation that the high rate of fire, generating abnormal amounts of heat (in a 'non-machine-gun-steel' barrel) was responsible for accelerating the wear caused by the bimetal jacketed bullets.

A significant point of data, however, to be certain.

Not going to risk one of my rifle barrels to test it myself. I have one particular Colt AR I bought in 1983 that am sure has over 25,000 rounds and still in spec and still shoots well.

There's no data that says steel cases contribute to any additional wear to the firearm. The LuckyGunner test shows the three 10,000-round steel-case extractors right next to the 10,000-round Federal brass extractor, and there is no noticeable difference in wear pattern. It is the projectile in this test that appeared to cause accelerated wear, not the case.

Walkalong
January 22, 2013, 07:36 AM
There are other characteristics besides Rockwell hardness that are important.

Legion489
January 22, 2013, 02:13 PM
Having tried most things once, yes, you can reload steel cases. The only part I am having problems with is the "use a little extra case lube". In my (admittedly limited steel relaoding) it is more like use WAY, WAY too much lube! You will NOT dent a case shoulder! Seems to work much easier too.

The steel .45 ACP cases seem to get lost before giving out in my experience, but then so does brass.

ljnowell
January 22, 2013, 02:24 PM
There are other characteristics besides Rockwell hardness that are important.

The rockwell test gives a hardness but not an elasticity or spring rate of the steel.

I have reloaded, for the heck of it, aluminum and steel 45acp. I reloaded each five times before I gave up on it. Nothing exciting. No cracks or failures. That being said, I do like breathing and I like my eyesight, so no steel rifle case reloading for me. It may be safe as anything, but I will never know.

jcwit
January 22, 2013, 06:57 PM
It may be safe as anything, but I will never know.

Right, and it only takes one time to lose it all, which is what I believe you were referring to.

Hacker15E
January 22, 2013, 08:35 PM
I do like breathing and I like my eyesight, so no steel rifle case reloading for me. It may be safe as anything, but I will never know.

Right, and it only takes one time to lose it all, which is what I believe you were referring to.

Of course, "it only takes one time" with brass, too...and it does happen.

So far as I'm aware, there is no comparative evidence that says there is an increased risk of this with steel -- do you guys know of any?

As I've stated before, I'm always willing to evaluate new evidence when it is presented and change my opinion.

jcwit
January 22, 2013, 08:54 PM
As I've stated before, I'm always willing to evaluate new evidence when it is presented and change my opinion.

The general consensus is its not the thing to do. This is with the general group of reloaders. Experience seems to be on our side, at least none of the major manufactures have moved into steel cases, but what do they know?

You and a very few others have a differing consensus, fine, may you get along with it just fine and have nothing disastrous happen to you or those close to you.

We both are right tho in that it only takes one time, ask Dale E., he knows for sure.


Your turn!

Elkins45
January 22, 2013, 09:09 PM
I find this thread interesting in the academic sense, and I think those photos of shiny steel ammo are pretty...but I don't plan to ever find out how well steel cases reload unless the Red Army is marching down the driveway.

Carbon_15
January 22, 2013, 10:26 PM
none of the major manufactures have moved into steel cases, but what do they know?

http://m.hornady.com/store/Steel-Match-handgun/
http://www.americanrifleman.org/Webcontent/images/2010-11/201011415631-steel_match_m.jpg

GT1
January 22, 2013, 10:30 PM
I am definitely going to be picking up steel .223 off the floor if I get a chance, for that rainy day situation.

jcwit
January 22, 2013, 10:49 PM
I do not consider Hornady a major manufacturer of ammunition. Components yes, but not ammo. JMO

Further, does Hornady recommend reloading their steel cased ammo?

RetiredUSNChief
January 22, 2013, 10:59 PM
On the flipside of that coin- elasticity and chamber forming/reforming are what wear brass cases out.

If the steel isn't forming to the chamber..... Its not flowing, is it ?

I'd like to know how the FL sizing works repeatedly on steel. If steel doesn't flow- and thats why the necks are breaking, I wonder how much they move from firing to firing.....

If it isn't stretching, its not getting thinner.

There is more to this than you're implying here.

Steel is a metal (an alloy, actually) and as such it has several characteristics which are dependent upon the particular metal (alloy) in question and how it was formed and heat treated. Physical characteristics may vary wildly based on these factors.

Steel cases DO expand and contract under fire. How they handle this is a function of the particular alloy and it's Fracture Toughness.

Fracture Toughness is the ability of a metal to resist crack propagation under a tensile stress by plastic deformation. A "hard" material is a material with LOW Fracture Toughness. They tend to be exceptionally strong...however, their failure method tends to be by "Brittle Fracture". In otherwords, they "snap" in stead of bend.

Brass, being a "softer" metal alloy, has a higher Fracture Toughness than many other metals/alloys. This regardless of the particular alloy of brass. (Though some can be pretty hard.)


"elasticity and chamber forming/reforming are what wear brass cases out"

Well, yes...as far as that statement goes. However, a metal/alloy which is NOT "elastic" cannot resist crack formation/propagation as well under repeated (cyclic) applications of tensile stress. (i.e. multiple firings)

And make no mistake...ANY cartridge undergoes applications of tensile stress each and every time it's fired. The metal/alloy WILL undergo some expansion and contraction, within the limits of the dimensional tolerances of the cartridge itself and the firing chamber.

The less the metal/alloy is able to plastically deform under these stresses, the more likely it is to crack, and crack sooner.

ljnowell
January 22, 2013, 11:29 PM
Right, and it only takes one time to lose it all, which is what I believe you were referring to.

Exactly. I tried it with pistol because as a mechanic I'm used to risking fingers(lol) and I have extras. Only two eyeballs. Not gonna do it.

Of course, "it only takes one time" with brass, too...and it does happen.
Sure it does. Its also a risk that you have to decide to take or not. Hell, it might not be a risk at all, but I'm not going to try and find out.

Hacker15E
January 23, 2013, 06:31 AM
The general consensus is its not the thing to do. This is with the general group of reloaders. Experience seems to be on our side, at least none of the major manufactures have moved into steel cases, but what do they know?

You and a very few others have a differing consensus, fine, may you get along with it just fine and have nothing disastrous happen to you or those close to you.

We both are right tho in that it only takes one time, ask Dale E., he knows for sure.

Your turn!

My problem is that "the consensus" all seems to be based on thoughts and feelings and beliefs about there being risks, but zero actual evidence of it.

I can find dozens of posts on a multitude of firearms forums that state something to the effect of, "I tried it once, it worked, but I wouldn't do it." This is exactly what you, yourself, have stated too. Far more posters say that they wouldn't do it, and have never done it themselves at all. The "experience" that is "on our side", as you say, consists of a large group of folks who simply say, "I would not do that" based on a feeling and not based on specific evidence or experiences. Not doing something is not "experience".

So, this is why I say that I am completely open to evaluating new evidence when it is presented. I am not interested in tearing up my firearms, reloading dies, or body either, but I accept a certain level of risk when I choose to shoot firearms and reload ammunition. The question is if the risk being assumed is different when using one type of case versus another, and thusfar I have not seen any evidence that it is.

I'd be compelled to change my mind if we saw photos of destroyed firearms due to ruptured steel cases, or if we saw firearms or dies that had been worn out "prematurely" due to using steel, or if we saw some actual scientific testing showing steel-case-on-steel chamber wear rates, or anything that could be actually considered evidence. I have yet to see any of this. I'm eager to see it if someone has something -- seriously.

What do we have, though, are a small number of reloaders who, with actual experience reloading steel (some folks having reloaded quite a large quantity of it; far more than I have), are showing evidence that they, at a minimum, are not having problems loading the cases...that the are not having problems with dies wearing out...that they are not having cases rupture and cause damage. They are stating that they are able to achieve acceptable performance out of it for whatever their specific needs are.

So, I'm not trying to convert anyone, but I am presenting evidence that it has worked for me over quite a large number of rounds reloaded. I'm presenting one piece of evidence that others can use to make their own decisions. If I experience some negatives, then I'm most certainly going to present that information as well. If I see some evidence that there is additional risk, then I'm completely open to changing my opinion and behavior. I'll be the first one posting "I was wrong, and here's why...".

I'm eager to see that evidence. Anyone?

jcwit
January 23, 2013, 07:17 AM
The general consensus for reloading 30/06 for a Garand is not to use any powder faster than Hodgen 380 and the general consensus is that one of the best powders to use if not the best is either one of the 4895's powders. While I have fired a few commercial hunting rounds from my Garand with no ill effects I will stick to the "general consensus" and either use military ammo or my own reloads loaded to Garand pressure specs.

The same theory above holds true for steel cased ammo, it my consensus that it is not the thing to do, however if you wish to go outside of the box, as I've stated before, have at it.

I can find dozens of posts on a multitude of firearms forums that state something to the effect of, "I tried it once, it worked, but I wouldn't do it." This is exactly what you, yourself, have stated too. Far more posters say that they wouldn't do it, and have never done it themselves at all. The "experience" that is "on our side", as you say, consists of a large group of folks who simply say, "I would not do that" based on a feeling and not based on specific evidence or experiences. Not doing something is not "experience".

Kindly quit throwing this up in my face! Years ago I did an experiment with 5 steel and 5 alu cases. Hey, it happened to work for 5 reloads, with mild charges. No one got hurt. In both cases the cases or packaging was marked as "non reloadable". I found it was possible to do so. At that time I recommended against it, obviously the ammunition manufacturer knew something I was not aware of. What that was I have no idea, but I quite sure their testing facilities are a whole lot greater than most anybody here on The High Road, myself included.

Now at this time do I recommend reloading steel cases? NOPE, not worth it to me, plus I have PLENTY of brass cases to reload. If perchance I come up short in the future, I easily can afford the brass cases which are in general what is in use and is the accepted component.

In conclusion, I am awaiting an E-Mail from the Hornady folks as to their stance on reloading their steel cased or anyones else's steel cased ammo. We shall see what their "consensus" is.

Walkalong
January 23, 2013, 07:28 AM
I think we have hashed this one out enough for readers to make a choice. I imagine Hornady will say no, but would be glad to put their answer in the thread regardless of how they reply.

Walkalong
January 23, 2013, 07:44 AM
Reopened by request.

There are numerous threads here at THR about steel, and they are all pretty much the same, but keep it civil, and we will keep this one going a bit longer.

Off to work. :)

blarby
January 23, 2013, 07:56 AM
Much obliged.

Well, in my own little test, it seems the steel does take a little more force to resize, but nothing too severe.

Shooting day is thursday, we shall see !

I'd rather keep this one open long enough to at least post the results- so can we follow the advice given and not rip this one apart so quickly ?

Opinion is opinion. I for one would like the revolving help from someone who has done it, through completion.

Thanks !

Walkalong
January 23, 2013, 01:05 PM
There is only one question I would have about steel, and the only thing I care about as far as the possible loading of steel.

Since it does not have the elasticity and "flowability" of brass, my concern is safety in so much as the worry of the case failing without warning and letting loose those hot, high pressure gases from the chamber.

Looking forward to Hornady's response. Anyone care to email any other ammo makers?

blarby
January 23, 2013, 01:38 PM
I would email remington- but I bought a box of 30 carbine for my wifes M1 carbine two weeks ago- and of those 50 pieces of new factory brass which was factory loaded, two of them split completely at the sides of the case. I thought I would have noticed such an event. I didn't, and she didnt either- and she fired them.

I'm not sure any manufacturer knows how well their brass is going to hold up- or their steel either, for that matter. All of them disclaim any liability for all reloading- even on reloading components.

I look forward to hearing what hornady has to say, but I will take it with a grain of salt- much like all else, due to the fact that steel case ammunition manufactured here is directly targeted at those who want a less expensive shooting experience... and that teeters well into novice reloaders. They all make money either way- but they make a higher percentage on loaded ammo- of that I'm fairly certain.

jcwit
January 23, 2013, 01:53 PM
As of this time 1:47 PM here in Indiana I haven't heard a word, Yet. Will post as soon as I hear anything.

Carbine brass is notorious for splitting, but I am surprised they split that soon. I usually get 4/5 or firings from my carbine cases and they were "once fired" ya right, when I bought them.

Hacker15E
January 23, 2013, 03:48 PM
Just to be clear, does it really matter what Hornady's response is so far as this discussion goes?

Hornady's response is going to be one that protects Hornady's interests, both from litigation and their bottom line sales of ammunition, components, and accessories. There could be any number of ways for them to answer based on any number of corporate strategies (say 'yes' in order to sell more reloading components...say 'no' so we don't have to deal with any lawsuits from bad reloads).

More importantly, Hornady is not the only maker of steel cased ammunition, and most people who are reloading steel are loading cases from the Russian manufacturers.

Is there any manufacturer of ammunition who explicitly does recommend reloading their spent cases? Would it really matter if they did or didn't? Afterall, we've all ready established that most firearms manufacturers very explicitly say not to shoot reloaded ammunition through their firearms, even to the point of saying it voids the warranty; I don't see any reloaders recommending that we all put away the press and powder because of those recommendations by the firearm makers.

jcwit
January 23, 2013, 04:52 PM
Just to be clear, does it really matter what Hornady's response is so far as this discussion goes?

Well yes I suppose it does matter, as this statement is from an earlier post of yours.

If I see some evidence that there is additional risk, then I'm completely open to changing my opinion and behavior.

And again, at this time 4:51 I have yet to hear from Hornady.

RetiredUSNChief
January 23, 2013, 05:07 PM
I'll be interested in Hornady's response as well; but like Hacker15E, I don't think we'll see much helpful information.

Steel, as I mentioned earlier (post 72) has physical characteristics that differ significantly from brass.

I think that the best we can get out of this would be something along the lines of "steel cartridges require a little more work to reload and you cannot get as many reloads as with brass cartridges".


Are they more dangerous to reload? I don't think they would be. I'm just getting into reloading myself, but one of the things you look for while prepping for reloading are signs of excessive wear/fatigue/cracks. This process would not change, regardless of the type of metal used, except perhaps the specifics in signs you are looking for.

Do they require more work? I'm sure they do. It's steel, not brass, so it's necessarily harder to trim, crimp, etc. Perhaps not always noticable, but harder nontheless.

Can you get as many reloads as with brass? I strongly suspect not. This isn't because I think that steel is "inferior"; it's because I have a decent grounding in Fracture Mechanics because of my background. Steel alloys not only have different physical characteristics than brass, aspects of these physial characteristics are even more subject to change due to the stresses they are exposed to than for brass.

The tensile and compressive stresses, not to mention the thermal stresses, which the cartridges are subject to when fired change the physical characteristics of the steel. The stresses felt when reloading the cartridges will also change the characteristics of the steel. These changes affect the ductility of the metal, as well as the size of the internal flaws within the metal.

If you want a good demonstration of what I'm talking about, get yourself a steel coat hanger. Bend the metal back and forth at one specific place, as if you are trying to break it. You'll notice that the metal heats up in that spot. As this happens, you'll notice that it gets more and more difficult to bend the coat hanger at exactly that spot...it starts bending easier at a spot adjacent to it.

This is because the tensile and compressive stresses at the bend, coupled with the heat being generated, are "hardening" the metal at that spot. It gets less flexible as a result. In addition to other factors occuring during this process, the metal at that spot is now more subject to cracking than the rest of the hanger.

Firing and reloading steel cartridges multiple times produces similar results.


How many times one can reload a steel cartridge will depend on a lot of factors. Steel composition (which I'm sure isn't tightly regulated, and therefore cannot be dismissed), the pressure and temperature extremes exposed to while firing (which will vary depending on a lot of reloading factors), and the reloading process itself.


But the answer to the question is NOT going to be an absolute...it's going to be RELATIVE. In this case, relative to brass, the "standard" cartridge metal most used in the ammunition we shoot.

CAN steel be reloaded? I have no doubt that it can, if for no other reason than people testifying here.

Can steel be reloaded multiple times? Again, I have no doubt that it can, if for no other reason than people testifying here.

Can steel be reloaded as many times as brass, in general? Probably not. This is based on my understanding of Fracture Mechanics. I've no doubt there are some who have reloaded some steel as many times as they have brass...but I seriously doubt that this is the general rule. Considered as a whole, this is probably the exception.


Perhaps, some day in the future after I'm more well grounded in reloading, I'll take it upon myself to conduct some experimental reloading to compare steel and brass cartridges side-by-side with some established controls and standards in place. If I ever do, I'll be sure to post the results here...but don't hold your breath! I've got a lot of other stuff higher up on the priority list than this.

:):)

Legion489
January 23, 2013, 05:53 PM
One thing I find interesting here is so many of the posts seem to be "I have never done it, I will never do it and I don't recommend it!" OK....and? I'm sorry but if you haven't done it, don't ever intend to do it, and don't recommend it, why are you posting here? Often repeatedly? OK, so you haven't done it, why post? You never intend to reload steel, so why post? You don't recommend it, OK, so why post? In what way is having no experience doing something and speaking against it, as long as it is legal, moral and ethical, and between consenting adults, helping the spread of knowledge? Others have done it and they ARE spreading knowledge.

Admittedly I have little experience with steel cased rifle rounds (.223 and some 7.62x39 are commonly found in boxer primed steel, others may be also), but there is a lot of steel cased boxer primed 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP out there (and a lot of berdan primed too, so be careful) that is (fairly) easily reloaded and seems to last as long as brass. OK, I have 45 ACP brass cases that have easily done 40 or more full power loadings, and have loaded some 45 steel cases five or six times before I lose them in areas where I know I can't find my brass, which is why I use them there, so I know they will last at least that long and are as accurate as brass.

Do I recommend anyone else reload steel cases? No, but I also don't recommend they don't either. Like anything else, as long as it is legal and doesn't hurt anyone else, go for it and let us know what happens. I'd be surprised if Hornady (a major ammo maker now using imported steel cases) recommends reloading steel, but I wonder if they recommend reloading their brass either. They probably do, but with lots of warning about using brass cases as well, so they won't come right out and say "yes" or "no" for either.

jcwit
January 23, 2013, 06:19 PM
So far they haven't said anything.

Twmaster
January 23, 2013, 07:43 PM
Just read the luckygunner article. Glad I never bought, shot or stockpiled any of the imported steel case ammo. Barrels ruined before 6,000 rounds but the gun shooting U.S. made brass case ammo barrel still fine at 10,000 rounds. Add in the malfunctions from imports it boils down to you get what you pay for.

I think you need to look at the article again. The barrel that shot the brass cased ammo was not 'still fine'.

Did you see bore? It was close to worn out. The article even said it might be good for 3000 more rounds.

Further, did you see the fissure in the barrel at the gas tap hole?

This comment is just to put a check on distorted statements.

I have reloaded steel case with very good results.

With the current lack of ammo and components for reloading .223 it think it's prudent to stock in anything you might need if the shortage goes on for months and months.

For now I have enough loaded ammo as well as brass and bullets to load a few thousand rounds. I'll not be loading steel unless things get bad.

I'm not afraid of shooting or loading steel cases. If you folks who for whatever reason poo-poo the idea of loading steel that's fine. Your perogitive.

GLOOB
January 23, 2013, 07:51 PM
With all the "shoot yer eye out" comments abounding, can anyone show me where this has happened, short of a kB?

AFAIK, kB's don't happen in RIFLES due to brass failure. They are from overloads or bore obstructions. I don't see how reloading steel rifle cases is any more dangerous than brass. When a case cracks or breaks, you toss it and move on, no?

In a pistol, you can have significant unsupported areas of the case. So the reasoning of "I have loaded steel pistol cases, but I wouldn't load steel rifle cases" seems totally backwards to me.

As for barrels, I can see how steel or bimetal jackets will reduce barrel life. But what does a steel case have to do with that? What am I missing?

FTR, I'm with the majority here, in regards to 223 brass cases being plentiful in my area. My pile of 223 cases grows by itself, over time. I picked up ~200 OF cases off the ground just this weekend. In addition to finding some now and then, centerfire rifle cases, in general, are much harder to lose than pistol cases.

Walkalong
January 23, 2013, 08:38 PM
AFAIK, kB's don't happen in RIFLES due to brass failure
There are kabooms from over pressure, and then there are incipient case head separations or other severe case failures, which release hot high pressure gases from the chamber in a direction we do not want to deal with them.

That is my concern and question. Can we reliably tell when a steel case is not safe for loading anymore like we can with brass.

I have no doubt one can be reloaded and shot safely once, or maybe twice, or maybe, well, I don't know and can't tell how many. That would be my first concern. I can buy new dies, barrels, etc, but eyeballs are not replaceable.

GLOOB
January 23, 2013, 08:45 PM
here are incipient case head separations or other severe case failures
As to case head separations, I've had quite a few. I have never noticed anything about them. I've heard of them being called "disastrous," and I guess maybe they could be in a rifle where the casehead is a lot smaller than the chamber. So ok. Thanks for the reminder. Case head separations CAN be dangerous. But I wouldn't worry over them in MY 223.

Twmaster
January 24, 2013, 03:42 AM
I have yet to see anybody post an actual steel case failure or Kaboom! And no," I hear somebody said their brother's cousin had a failure" does not count.

Walkalong
January 24, 2013, 07:27 AM
As to case head separations, I've had quite a few. I have never noticed anything about them.I should have said rupture. Yes, case head separations often are uneventful, but we should still try to avoid them, and there is no reason we cannot, as the case will let us know before hand.

I have yet to see anybody post an actual steel case failure or Kaboom! And no," I hear somebody said their brother's cousin had a failure" does not count.

Does someone need to hurt themselves to satisfy some people?

That is not how to judge something for safety.

jcwit
January 24, 2013, 09:58 AM
Well folks, got up this morn and bingo there was an reply E-Mail from Hornady. Here it is in its entirety short addresses and personal info of course. This was my question to Hornady.

Do you recommend reloading your or anyone else's steel case ammo?

This is the reply I got.

Jon, Unfortunately not. We recommend only loading boxer primed brass cases. Thanks

Now we can draw our own conclusions as to whether we wish to follow manufactures recommendations or not. Lets hope the constant bickering will cease on this subject. As to my opinion and thoughts I'll follow the manufacturers advice, for anyone else you have my blessing to follow whichever path you wish to take. As with all things in life we all make our own decisions, some good, some not so good, and some just downright bad.

It is what it is whatever is is!

rdhood
January 24, 2013, 10:31 AM
interesting discussion. I am going to start saving my steel cases, but don't anticipate ever using them. I use steel cased ammo in the "shoot and scoot" scenario someone else mentioned. At the range where I frequent, there are MANY AR-15 owners who shoot brass and leave it. When I get to the range, I see who is shooting an AR and set up on the bench nearest to the right side of them. As brass cases are piling up under my feet, I ask if they reload or if they are saving their brass. Invevitably the answer is "no", and I ask if I can have it. I usually bring home about 100 brass .223 cases per range visit.

Marlin 45 carbine
January 24, 2013, 12:12 PM
some may know that hornady loads x39 ammo with the red-tip VMax slug of 123gr weight in steel cases. I own a Mini30 and have tryed a box of this load. it was dirty and smelled like wolf ammo when fired and some FTFires. I'm wondering if hornady sends the bullets to russia for them to load and then shipped back to USA? anyways it's pricey and in my Mini does'nt group near as tight as Lapua, IMI, Sako, PP, Fiochhi or the Yugo mil-surp fmj that was available (wish I had bought couple sardine cans of it, corro primed but easy to clean up after shooting) never mind my carefully handloaded rounds useing the same .310 dia slug. YMMV.
no I don't scavenge steel cases, the x39 there's lots (or was) of berdan primed brass case around, namely sako and the yugo. I do have the rcbs tool to load this if neccesary
I fear the obama admin may institute ammo bans on the european import ammo as billary did the chinese - which btw shot great in my M30

Hacker15E
January 24, 2013, 12:25 PM
Jon, Unfortunately not. We recommend only loading boxer primed brass cases. Thanks

So, they're in favor of reloading these, then (which is exactly what I've been doing):

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v450/Hacker15E/77eed80f.jpg

Guess that means I'll be following their advice. Thanks for looking into that.

raindog
January 24, 2013, 03:34 PM
And all the x39 steel cased stuff is Berdan primed.... so that's a non-issue.

You can buy Berdan primers. Knocking the old primers out requires a special tool (be it homegrown or something like the RCBS Berdan deprimer).

I save all my centerfire brass, whether it's actually brass or steel. The brass stuff goes into "to be reloaded" cans, sorted by caliber. The steel stuff gets dumped in a big box, unsorted...just in case, someday I want it.

Maybe when I'm 90 I'll sell it to a scrap metal dealer for beer money :-)

kingmt
January 24, 2013, 03:45 PM
I always thought you we're a reloader JC but since you follow the manufacturers suggestion I don't see you putting reloads into a firearm that they say not to. Most don't even make ammo so they can't be just telling you that to sell more ammo.

I have to go call a electrician to hook this white & black write up because the manufacturers says to.

Only joking. :-P

jcwit
January 24, 2013, 04:55 PM
:)Taken as ment kingmt.:)

GLOOB
January 24, 2013, 05:53 PM
I should have said rupture. Yes, case head separations often are uneventful, but we should still try to avoid them, and there is no reason we cannot, as the case will let us know before hand.
So casehead rupture is the thing that'll blow your eye out? But here's the rub. Modern centerfire rifles invariably have full casehead support. Separations happen because there's some excess headspace, and the cases stretch/elongate. There's no mechanism for a casehead to rupture. The casehead is pressed against the breechface. There's no tensile stress, just compression. So if the casehead ruptures, it's because the chamber blew up. That's a loading error, not a case failure. Right? Or what am I missing?

I suppose the casehead could become so brittle it could crack. I just can't believe the casemouth wouldn't crack and/or the case separate long before that came close to happening.

Walkalong
January 24, 2013, 06:16 PM
Or what am I missing? Perhaps you might Google the subject. I hope it never happens to you.

jcwit
January 24, 2013, 06:46 PM
For your reading pleasure.

http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2010/05/reloading-case-head-separations.html

jwrowland77
January 24, 2013, 10:43 PM
Good read jc, thanks for posting that.

hueyville
January 30, 2013, 02:40 PM
In following this thread I have been fairly adamant that for me reloading steel cases is of zero interest and have no intentions to do so unless it became only option at some point. A friend works at an indoor range and pulls me specific cases I need occasionally out of the buckets. Keeps me in a lot of once fired for pistols I have run short or never been well stocked in brass. I asked him end last week if they allowed 7.62x39 at his range which was a big rodge-o on the rodgometer. Asked what they do with it and he said reloadable brass is sold but berdan prime brass and all steel goes to the scrap yard. I asked.if could have some at scrap price for experimentation. Friday night he gave me a 5 gallon bucket of brass berdan prime and 5 gallon bucket of steel.

I deprived it all and.built a jig for my milling/drilling machine that holds 30 cases at a time. Sat and Sun the milling machine went through them all converting cases to boxer primer holes. Took home.and using info from this thread loaded 250 of each using hard cast lead bullets with aluminum gas checks. Pennies per round in each. Today went to indoor range with SKS & AK-47's. Every round performed.flawlessly. Now ii will be.getting all their non reloadable 7.62x39 cases for free. I agreed to kick back 25% of them to range guy after done the primer locker/flash hole conversion. Going to build a jig to hold 60 cases at a time and program machine to dill the flash holes unattended. Think these will make great plinking, storage and trade bait. So now eating my own words. Thanx for the idea guys!!!

jcwit
January 30, 2013, 04:56 PM
Glad I have more brass 7.62 x 39 cases then I'll ever use/need.

blarby
January 30, 2013, 06:08 PM
#104

And this is why threads that challenge conventionally held wisdom, when done with respect, are incredibly useful.

As to my own experiments, I've loaded and shot .223 TulAmmo cases 3 times now.

They don't grow much, but my brass cases don't grow much either- so that might me a "my chamber" thing.

Out of my test lot of 30, I have 27 left- 3 had neck splits on reload #1.

After this next firing- which will be #4 on my watch- they will all be retired- but I will section a few of them to look for what we look for.

Personally, I have a lot of .223 brass. And that pile is growing, not shrinking.

If they can be fired 4 or 5 times, these steel cases- that makes them great for the "stash".

After loading the 4th or 5th case the first time around, I started lubing the case necks by pushing them into my RCBS lube pad. This took a lot of the grunt work right out.

After the first FL size, they aren't nearly as hard to resize- but that neck truly is a bugger without extra lube.

aka108
January 30, 2013, 06:45 PM
Up until recently brass 223 littered the range close to the benches as did brass 7.62x39. Don't know who was shooting the brass 7.62 stuff as it is pretty expensive and the steel cased cartridges do just as well. Always had a few scrappers come out a salvage brass now and then but now they are more frequent, even sifting out 22 rf cases and shooters are now picking up more of what they used to leave behind. I do have enough in the way of empty brass cases that considering reloading steel cases is not viable.

Trent
January 31, 2013, 08:28 AM
I've reloaded tons of steel case 45. A lot of it was brass washed and I never even KNEW it was steel. I didn't know what was causing some of my 45 brass to occasionally "squeek" at me when I'd resize it in the carbide die. Imagine my surprise when I ran a powerful magnet through my 45 brass bin and it picked out dozens and dozens of steel casings... :)

Pretty sure most of it was WWII era. I had a couple sealed tins of 1942-1943 era ammo that I shot through a decade ago that I'm still reloading. Some of the steel cases are marked "42" on the headstamp.

Aside from some loose primer pockets after who-knows-how-many-reloads (don't track pistol brass by generation), and some split necks from time to time on bullet seating, never had any issues.

I've never tried reloading steel case rifle ammo, everything I've shot that's surplus or steel cased on rifle has been berdan primed.

blarby
June 25, 2013, 04:43 PM
Ok, I lied.

I went 5 times.

This is whats left.

If my own testing means anything to me, I'm going to go with the OP and Hacker and call this myth "busted".

I'll add a few more caveats :

1. You can use them more than once.

2. They can dull a case trimmer. Thankfully I had a spare to use for this project. It will still trim brass, but it lost that factory sharpness mighty quick.

3. Never accept urban reloading myths until you try them yourself. If you don't have the gumption to do so, find someone who has actually done it, and listen to them.

4. I will be picking up ALL boxer primed .223, 7.62x39, and .308 steel I find. It's all going to go right in the box next to my lifetime supply of MRE's.

Beentown
June 25, 2013, 11:03 PM
Thanks for the update Blarby!

Trent
June 25, 2013, 11:33 PM
How many did you start with Blarby?

And what was the predominant mode of failure?

Split necks?

Necks that wouldn't hold tension?

Split casings?

Loose pockets?

blarby
June 26, 2013, 12:13 AM
How many did you start with Blarby?

easy.

Out of my test lot of 30



next.


And what was the predominant mode of failure?

You called this one- split necks. Every last one of them. Most of them split at the shoulder/neck union, not the neck itself. This confirms to me the metallurgical truth that steel is less ductile than brass. Once you create that fail point, its going to fail there- not "flex back".

The pockets are FIRM. I have no doubt they are stronger than brass fired this many times.

gamestalker
June 26, 2013, 08:42 AM
Considering the experiment has produced favorable results at this point in time, I think you are onto to something. But in terms of ever suggesting that anyone having steel cases reload and use them on a regular basis, I'm not so sure that would send the right message, especially to newer less experienced reloaders.

However, if the left side continues to impede on our shooting sports, including reloading, tests such as this can provide alternative methods of using alternative components if things should ever reach a critical point. And considering that assault weapons, as they like to label AR's and other weapons of similar function and design, are receiving some serious attention that may eventually lead to the restriction or elimination of ammunition, and limited component availability. In other words, you just never know what's to come down the road, or how bad it will effect us as reloaders and sportsmen.

Good post, and definitely good food for thought!

GS

Trent
June 26, 2013, 11:25 AM
You called this one- split necks. Every last one of them. Most of them split at the shoulder/neck union, not the neck itself. This confirms to me the metallurgical truth that steel is less ductile than brass. Once you create that fail point, its going to fail there- not "flex back".

The pockets are FIRM. I have no doubt they are stronger than brass fired this many times.

I see your post above from back in Jan now, I missed it earlier.

Did they split on firing or sizing?

That's not an especially bad area to fail during firing. Much better than the side or web. Worst case if they fully fail at the neck/shoulder junction is the neck is left in the chamber .. which would be a bit tricky to extract.

Walkalong
June 26, 2013, 12:07 PM
Yes, if they never fail at the web, and only crack at the neck, the safety concern would be much, much, less. They might be an alternative if brass becomes unavailable etc, but I rarely see steel boxer primed brass where I shoot.

Still sticking with brass until things change and it cannot be had. :)

TheCracker
June 26, 2013, 12:28 PM
I'd have to be pretty desperate to shoot steel through my 223's. Much less reload them!

Hacker15E
June 26, 2013, 05:40 PM
Every steel .223 case that I have junked from reloading had a split at the neck. I never observed one at any other part of the case, including the web.

blarby
June 26, 2013, 06:58 PM
However, if the left side continues to impede on our shooting sports, including reloading, tests such as this can provide alternative methods of using alternative components if things should ever reach a critical point.

That was 100% the point of the excercise from my position. I prefer brass, too. Its easier. However, history of disarmament by 1000 cuts is not on our side.

Every steel .223 case that I have junked from reloading had a split at the neck. I never observed one at any other part of the case, including the web.

I havent done as many as you, but that mirrors my experience. It should be noted that after the 3rd firing after reviewing my notes that the cases no longer "grew". That is, trimming on all but 4 of the cases did nothing. Given that these were all fired from the same chamber, I wonder if the steel pretty much fire-formed itself. My FL die isn't set for dramatic resizing, so this is possible. These were ran during the first 1000 rounds of this rifle, so the chamber and related mechanisms are all very tight.

Another technical point, if it matters : regular base , not small base, dies were used in this and all of my AR cartridges.

Trent
June 26, 2013, 07:04 PM
Interesting. It makes sense, it probably does require steel to be fired multiple times to truly fireform, it's nowhere near as malleable as brass.

Steel can be annealed, wonder if you could prolong the life of the casings that way? Anneal up to the shoulder?

No idea what setup you'd require for that, steel starts to change it's properties at what, about 650F?

Hacker15E
June 26, 2013, 07:30 PM
I use a small base RCBS .223 sizing die and shoot in an AR-15.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v450/Hacker15E/8e52d607.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v450/Hacker15E/4c835415.jpg

blarby
June 26, 2013, 07:36 PM
I wonder if we annealed after FF if it would make a considerable difference ?

Sounds like another round of testing to me !

Next step will be purchasing a box of hornady steel match, once funds permit.

Trent
June 26, 2013, 09:08 PM
Well it'll either help .. or you'll be picking case necks out of your chamber with a dental pick. :)

If you heat steel and let it cool slowly it gets softer, right? Trick is keeping the heat from transferring below the shoulder. Tub of water..? Heat sink?

shinz
June 26, 2013, 11:50 PM
When we're talking neck splits here, are we talking longitudinal splits ot annular cracks around the neck shoulder junction?
Thanks.
Steve.

blarby
June 27, 2013, 02:39 AM
Longitudinal.

Hacker15E
June 27, 2013, 07:17 AM
When we're talking neck splits here, are we talking longitudinal splits ot annular cracks around the neck shoulder junction?
Thanks.
Steve.

Longitudinal.

Completely agree -- that is exactly how all mine split, too.

I used to have one that I kept on hand just in case this discussion came up and someone wanted to see, but I just went through my scrap bin and can't find it anymore.

Either way, none of the splits produced anything nonstandard or unusual when shot. It was only after getting home from the range and sorting the cases to be deprimed that I noticed the split.

Instead, I'll just post a shot of some fired cases.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v450/Hacker15E/ffcc360f.jpg

Trent
June 27, 2013, 12:58 PM
If it's longitudinal, only the neck would have to be annealed. But annealing steel is going to be very, very tricky.

I would suspect that the heating around the neck area is most severe, and the barrel acts as a quick "quench" - meaning, each time it's fired, the neck exceeds 675F and then drops down very rapidly as the heat transfers. Then the casing flies through the air, which further cools it rapidly.

So each time the casing is fired, those necks are getting harder.. and harder.. and harder.

The problem with heat treating steel is it takes much longer to get the metal to reorganize itself, than it does brass. Normally to anneal steel you'd need to raise the temp to 700F for an hour, then cool slowly to ambient. That'll be difficult to do without messing with the rest of the case. Putting the cases in water is not going to work, the water will boil and evaporate WAY before the metal is annealed properly.

I don't think annealing is really an option, given the physical properties of the metal.

Reefinmike
June 27, 2013, 10:37 PM
For what its worth, i've been loading up 5 tula 45 cases and taking them to the range with me each week just for giggles. 4.4gr HP38 under a 230gr LTC. Today I shot them at their 5th reload, 6th firing and I don't see any unusual wear and tear on the casings. I've started collecting tula 45 to build up a small stash of ammo for when I go out camping in the hollers of Kentucky and don't wanna have to chase down brass in knee high grass.

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