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Steel cases vs brass

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Kachok, Jan 28, 2012.

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  1. Kachok

    Kachok Member

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    This is not a question reguarding mil-surp cases that were not intended to be reloaded, more of a theory question. I know brass tends to have a better combonation of workability/strength then run of the mill mil-surp steel cases, but steel is a very broad term, mild steels can be very soft and workable, while high grades of steel are so hard they are brittle and have higher tensile strength then titanium. Since steel has a great capasity to absorb heavy loads many thousands of times in theory could it make for a better case then brass for repeated reloads given the right grade of steel? Other case materials intrest me too, but most of the others I have seen have fatal flaws, aluminum has very poor elastic properties, and many of the exotic materials would simply be too pricy to be useable.
     
  2. gennro

    gennro Member

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    Well 99% of steel cases are berdan primed and brass is much easier to work with.
     
  3. Kachok

    Kachok Member

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    As I said this is more of a theory question, I know the bulk of mil surp steel cases were never designed to be reloaded, but if someone designed a steel case to be reused what if any downsides would it have vs quality brass.
     
  4. splithoof

    splithoof Member

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    I would guess that the profit margin for brass is bigger, and that ammunition companies would suffer. I have always wondered why a suitable, high-pressure plastic/steel combo case has not made it. The possibilities for cheaper, good quality ammo might be greatly improved.
     
  5. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    Brass is much more ductile/malleable/conductive than steel. Brass is much more expensive than steel. There is crossover where one can work in the other's place, but as in anything, a compromise in the economic calculus exists.
     
  6. Kachok

    Kachok Member

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    I am thinking that with copper prices going sky high steel might start to catch on if the downsides can be overcome.
     
  7. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    Not true.

    I reload steel cases. They work very well.
     
  8. Kachok

    Kachok Member

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    Since you have some hands on with steel cases could you give us the breakdown as far as key differences between the two on the bench.
     
  9. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Who could possibly know, no manufacturer has brought out a steel cased ammo that is ment to be reloaded.

    But they were/are not designed nor ment to be reloaded.
     
  10. Kachok

    Kachok Member

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    Mabey someone with a strong knowlage of metallurgy and a working knowlage of handloading. Is that too much to ask LOL
     
  11. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    But we would never know till it was actually tried.

    I seriously doubt we should take assumptions even educated ones for fact until actually tried.

    How'd you like it if the medical drug industry did as you suggest?

    You're really reaching out there IMO. LOL
     
  12. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    I still have about 10 cases with a steel .308 screw on case head and brass for the rest of the case.

    They brass came straight and could be formed to just about anything with a .308 case head.

    'O'Conner rifle products' made them back in the 1980s, and had scary high load data for them.

    Primer blanking was the pressure limit.
     
  13. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    I have no idea how many I have loaded. I loaded enough to ware down the mandrel in my neck sizer .001" which Lee sent me a new on but I haven't changed it because it still works great. I know the cases I use now have over 20 loads through them.

    The only ones that I lost was loading 62gr tracers with WC844 & the pressure spiked fast & stuck the case in my chamber & split the necks. Other then that no problems.

    If you do range pick ups make sure you tumble them with some polish. Dirt or rust in the case can cause you to stick a case in your FL die. The polish keeps it from rusting after they have been cleaned. I olny polish once tho because I have never had rust come back once polished the first time.

    Spring back is better then brass if you don't run max loads you may be able to load without sizing but since you you have to deprime anyway you might as well NS them. Even max loads don't move the shoulder forward.

    Primer pockets need to be swaged in most of the ones I use.

    The only down fall is if you need to pull a bullet they don't come out easy. It is easier to pull a bullet from a case that has been over crimped to a roll crimp then it is to pull the from a steel case. It my be easier to pull heavy bullets but those 55gr pills suck to pull.
     
  14. Kachok

    Kachok Member

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    Interesting, so even the cheap steel cases that were not designed to reload are functional. Has anyone tried with a larger case (7.62x51/54) Would the steel in theory have a higher pressure threshold?
     
  15. helotaxi

    helotaxi Member

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    The problem with steel cases is that they do not readily expand to seal the chamber so blow-by is an issue. That's the reason that the chamber of an AR gets so filthy when you shoot steel cased ammo. Steel is cheap. Brass is still used because it is the right material for the job.
     
  16. Seedtick

    Seedtick Member

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    Were brass cases even designed to be reloaded? :scrutiny:

    Seedtick

    :)
     
  17. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    I believe the emptys from Star Brass and other companies that sell new unprimed, empty brass are ment to be loaded. For what other reason are they for sale?
     
  18. highbrow

    highbrow Member

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    I reload Wolf steel case 223 and 45acp all the time. My franken AR has over 3200 rds of this without cleaning. All my 1911's and XD 45's run Wolf steel without problems. Steel cases tend to fail at the neck before any where else. I get anywhere from 1 to 8 reloads with these until the neck splits then toss them. They tend to stretch slowly so trimming is not an issue just make sure to chamfer the inside of the neck to avoid shaving brass off the bullet.
     
  19. 1SOW

    1SOW Member

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    Just my UNscientific opinion.
    In "pistols", case-mouth expansion is important for consistent performance.
    Another issue is "cartridge feeding". Brass has more lubricity, and also doesn't risk damaging the feed ramp as much as steel could. The same reason "brass" bore cleaning rods are safer than steel.

    As for reloading steel cases, many believe carbide dies are indestructible; but they are incorrect. As a long-time woodworker, I know various grades of carbide are far from indestructible. It's main attribute in woodworking is it's ability to withstand heat.

    I have been wrong before, but my being wrong this time presents no threat to my pistols.
     
  20. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    My opinion, which means little, two of the most common cartridges except for possibility 9mm are being reloaded with steel cases. I'm sure I'm missing something here, just not sure what.
     
  21. 1SOW

    1SOW Member

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    jcwit, Yes there are some 9mm brass plated and "other" plated steel case..
    With S&B the only way to know it's steel is with a magnet. They make both brass plated steel and brass-cased ammo.
     
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