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Stop wasting you steel cases

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

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  1. blarby

    blarby Member

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    The reverse of the OP's situation.

    Ahh, necessity........... Somebodys mother, for certain.
     
  2. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    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.
     
  3. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

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    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.
     
  4. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    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/

    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.
     
  5. hueyville

    hueyville Member

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    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.
     
  6. kelbro

    kelbro Member

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    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 :)
     
  7. blarby

    blarby Member

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    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.
     
  8. joustin

    joustin Member

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    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
     
  9. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    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.
     
  10. blarby

    blarby Member

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    No pins here- just CC and spirits, per usual.

    Turned out spiffy.
     
  11. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    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.

    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.

    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    There are other characteristics besides Rockwell hardness that are important.
     
  13. Legion489

    Legion489 member

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    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.
     
  14. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    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.
     
  15. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Right, and it only takes one time to lose it all, which is what I believe you were referring to.
     
  16. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    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.
     
  17. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    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!
     
  18. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    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.
     
  19. Carbon_15

    Carbon_15 Member

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  20. GT1

    GT1 Member

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    I am definitely going to be picking up steel .223 off the floor if I get a chance, for that rainy day situation.
     
  21. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    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?
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  22. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  23. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    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.

    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.
     
  24. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    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?
     
  25. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    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.

    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.
     
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