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Confessions of a Brass Rat. Steel case 5.56 in the AR?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by BSA1, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. illinoisburt

    illinoisburt Member

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    For the vast majority of AR owners the wear difference between the two of them really will not matter. Most people just do not shoot enough rounds to get into the area where this would come into play. If you happen to be in that group of people who measures your round count in thousands, then yes it can be important. BUT we are discussing the literally cheapest blasting ammo available. I suspect we aren't dealing with high end precision target rifles. Those guys would be sorely disappointed with the accuracy of this grade of ammo and they toss barrels long before these wear issues would ever appear. The cost savings are more than enough to replace a barrel, upper, or entire gun after 10k+ rounds.
     
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  2. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    Again I state my case that at $200/1,000 rounds reloaded, the cost savings are minimal for crap ammo that accelerates wear. Now that is with Varget, not cheap stuff like SMP-842 which is half the cost ($109/8 lbs.). Any reasonable AR with a $100 barrel and good bolt can demonstrate fair accuracy and so supporting the COMrades and saving a penny a round to fire dirty ammo with poor accuracy is less of a gain than loss IMO.

    If the OP buys pre-cut patches and labeled “gun” oil he could easily be looking at a wash after additional scrubbing. Not that anyone would amortize cleaning supplies but it points out that penny wise thinking could easily be dollar foolish. Running 3,000 rounds lifetime through the rifle at a savings of $10/1,000 is still only $30; not enough for a new barrel or much else. The option of saving half the cost of powder means reloading is $20 cheaper per 1,000 and you’ll still have control over what you shoot.
     
  3. GE-Mini-Gun

    GE-Mini-Gun Member

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    When I had my M16 I shot a metric ton of Wolf steel case through it, both 9mm and 5.56 and never had an issue...as you mentioned...never had to pick up the casings.
     
  4. cougar1717

    cougar1717 Member

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    This is one of those loaded questions (pun intended). I do like Lucky Gunner's test, especially being able to see the wear on the rifles.
    The first thing that is being left out is the intended use. If this is just blasting ammo or storage for a topic banned on THR, then whatever. Blast away. Stockpile away.

    The second thing that is being left out is the quality aspect. You cannot assume equal quality. If you expect the steel case to be the same quality as bulk packaged brass, then you will usually be disappointed. **Most** brass cased 55gr FMJBT will hold 3moa or less. If bi-metal steel cased ammo holds 3moa consistently, you figuratively hit the ammo lottery.

    The last thing is arguing the extremes. It's not like firing 100 rounds of steel cased ammo is going to break extractors or damage rifling. A lot of people shoot different brands of ammo in one trip to the range anyway. Most responsible people let the barrel cool. Heat plus those bi-metal jackets are not good for rifling, but it's going to take 5,000 of consistent fire to wear a Bushmaster carbine out, like LG's test showed. The money you save could be put toward a new upper/barrel.
     
  5. ParallelCode

    ParallelCode Member

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    I have the Caldwell model featuring two velcro straps and a hinged mesh bag that can be flipped over the ejection port or opened (90 degrees). It works great; out of 100 rounds I might have 3 that fail don't make it in the bag, though they end up falling straight under the rifle on the table and thus are easy to retrieve. I've heard the picatinny mount version is good as well.
     
  6. entropy

    entropy Member

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    It's great for shooting in the winter when you're not going to find the cases anyway.
     
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  7. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    This is a blast from the past:

    A TREATISE COVERING THE MANUFACTURE Of RIFLE CARTRIDGE CASES, BULLETS- 1916

    http://archive.org/stream/cartridgemanufac00hamirich/cartridgemanufac00hamirich_djvu.txt

    Cupro-nickel jacketed bullets are generally employed for military rifles and are used by the Belgian, British, Canadian, Danish, Italian, Roumanian, Russian, Spanish, and American governments. The German, Greek, Dutch, and Turkish governments use steel envelopes coated with cupro- nickel ; Austria uses greased steel, and Japan, copper. Bullets coated with cupro-nickel are likely to set up metallic fouling in the bore of the gun, consisting of streaks of metal which adhere to the lands and grooves in the bore.


    Bullets with greased steel envelopes do not appear to cause metallic fouling, but they wear away the rifling in the gun much quicker.


    The bullet used in the Swiss rifle cartridge is of a peculiar construction. The body is made of a hard lead alloy, provided with a nickel-plated steel envelope covering the point only, the remainder of the bullet being covered with paper lubricated with vaseline. The lower portion of the bullet which enters the cartridge case is smaller in diameter than the jacketed portion. The wounding power of this bullet is great, but its velocity is not as great as those provided with the full envelope.

    I found a WW1 publication that Russian, Italy, maybe some others I can't recall, used greased bullets to prevent steel jacket contact with the barrel. I have seen a picture of Austrian WW1 steel jacketed ammunition with grease on the bullet. So, if someone is concerned about excessive rifling wear, grease the bullets.

    This is Swiss 7.5 X 55. They continued to grease bullets until the late 1970's. Even though they had developed excellent jacket materials by then, I believe they continued to grease bullets to extend barrel life and improve accuracy.

    nvm0dMv.jpg


    I would also recommend, oiling steel case ammunition before loading it in the magazine. Just a light coating of oil will break the friction between case and chamber and maybe save you from breaking an extractor.
     
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  8. HB

    HB Member

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    For what its worth S&B “NATO 5,56” is a bimetal bullet, as is all (?) m80 ball.

    For my uses steel case ammo is ideal for plinking. If I am shooting further at smaller targets I like my 55gr SP or vmax handloads.
     
  9. boom boom
    • Contributing Member

    boom boom Contributing Member

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    That is fascinating, you have really methodically restored forgotten history of grease and oil used with ammunition and made it available to the modern world. I tip my hat to you.

    What you are posting here would make sense in greasing steel jacketed bullets as a lot of steel is "sticky" compared with copper/brass/bronze in surface lubricity. The grease would then lessen that issue as it went down the barrel (probably reduce pressures as well ceterus paribus). I especially recollect some nickel steel alloys were quite sticky compared with ordinary case hardening on Springfield actions.
     
  10. kenboyles72

    kenboyles72 Member

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    I have only fired steel cased Monarch .223 out of my AR since I bought it, except for a box of Atomic .223 subsonics and but load of .22lr. I probably have around 1500 rnds of steel cased .223 or more through it without issues. I also clean my rifle after every outing and do a good inspection, no excessive wear due to the ammo. Of course I'm not running several hundred rnds of it each session. The only times I fire that much, is when I'm shooting 22lr and I can go through 500 rnds in no time. As far as accuracy goes, sure it's not 1MOA, but is accurate enough to put down several hogs with a one shot kill, even out to 125 yrds.
     
  11. Mosin Bubba

    Mosin Bubba Member

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    I shoot steel case in a lot of guns, but only shoot brass in my ARs for a couple reasons.

    1. I know the economics of brass vs steel case means that you can pay to replace a worn out barrel with the savings from the cheaper ammo, but I'm not an AR guy and don't have any tools on hand to switch barrels. So replacing a barrel for me also adds the time and cost of going to a gunsmith (or buying some food and beer to bribe an AR friend). Would like to avoid that problem if I can.

    2. my ARs shoot well enough to justify using brass versus steel case. I can see the difference in accuracy between Federal and Wolf when I shoot them. Can I see that difference with an AK... not really. Can I see that difference with handguns... not really.

    3. The price differential isn't that much compared to other calibers. Wolf is about $5 a box and brass ammo is usually $1-$1.50 more. Compare to 45 ACP, where brass ammo is $20-$25 a box and Wolf is $15, or 7.62x39 where Wolf is half as much as any brass ammo you're going to find. It's not really enough savings to worry about. It's kind of like 9mm - I shoot steel case out of my other centerfire pistols so I have no problem with it, but when brass 9mm ammo is only $1/box more, I just don't bother.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  12. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    I dabbled all weekend working at the bench between other projects as I prepped brass and sorted my long-standing mess. Working with single-stage presses I generally batch 100 rounds at a time and managed 400 rounds from Friday evening to Sunday. I could have knocked it all out in a few hours given a solid block of time, but I digress. At .20/round, and I can do it cheaper still, I don’t see the point in steel case. And, should you choose to purchase new loaded ammo, you’ll have $40-$50/1000 (unprocessed) in brass cases to sell which skinnies the difference down considerably.


    Friday evening.
    73DEABC7-554B-4F32-9344-F9B045C1736F.jpeg

    Sunday afternoon. I added another 150 rounds after work yesterday to this ammo box which should last 2-3 range trips depending on who goes.
    691A8DE1-8AAA-4EF2-AC20-1D357B1631F2.jpeg
     
  13. jdc1244

    jdc1244 Member

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    The truth is that SAAMI regulatory policy with regard to safety, reliability, and interchangeability of ammunition is comprehensive; meaning that in addition ensuring applications comply with velocity, pressure, and measurement standards, cartridge materials must also be in compliance, including the use of steel casings.

    It’s therefore perfectly appropriate to use steel cased ammo in an AR; the steel in the case is far less dense than the gun’s components’ material, such as the BCG – there will be no ‘excessive’ wear.

    Steel cased ammo of course will be less accurate, dirtier, and not as powerful as more ‘high end’ ammo, but it won’t cause damage to your AR.

    And if one is concerned about the ‘bi-metal’ bullet often used in steel cased ammo, Wolf offers steel cased ammo with a proper lead core, copper jacketed bullet.
     
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