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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. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    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.
     
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    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. :)
     
  3. blarby

    blarby Member

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    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 !
     
  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    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?
     
  5. blarby

    blarby Member

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    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.
     
  6. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    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.
     
  7. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    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.
     
  8. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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

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

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    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.

    :):)
     
  10. Legion489

    Legion489 member

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    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.
     
  11. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    So far they haven't said anything.
     
  12. Twmaster

    Twmaster Member

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    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.
     
  13. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  14. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    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.
     
  15. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    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.
     
  16. Twmaster

    Twmaster Member

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    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.
     
  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    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.

    Does someone need to hurt themselves to satisfy some people?

    That is not how to judge something for safety.
     
  18. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    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.

    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!
     
  19. rdhood

    rdhood Member

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    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.
     
  20. Marlin 45 carbine

    Marlin 45 carbine Member

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    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
     
  21. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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

    77eed80f.jpg

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

    raindog Member

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    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 :)
     
  23. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    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
     
  24. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    :)Taken as ment kingmt.:)
     
  25. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
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