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Stop wasting you steel cases

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Carbon_15, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. Carbon_15

    Carbon_15 Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  2. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Well-Known Member

    i've always been able to get more .223 brass than i can use. won't be reloading steel cases anytime soon.
  3. joustin

    joustin Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    I'm sure there's a typo there! Which Steel is harder than Steel? :p
  5. Carbon_15

    Carbon_15 Well-Known Member

    Thx archangel
    If only wolf 7.62x39 was boxer primed.
  6. IMtheNRA

    IMtheNRA Well-Known Member

    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?
  7. readyeddy

    readyeddy Well-Known Member

    Very interesting. Is trimming difficult?
  8. highbrow

    highbrow Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  9. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

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

    thanatopsis Member

    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.
  11. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    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
  12. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Well-Known Member

    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.


    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.
  13. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    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.
  14. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  15. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    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.
  16. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  17. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    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.
  18. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    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.
  19. blarby

    blarby Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  20. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    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.

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