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What exactly is "copper washed" ammo?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by IMtheNRA, Jul 30, 2007.

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  1. IMtheNRA

    IMtheNRA Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    I know what "copper plated" means, but what do they mean by "copper washed" ammo that I usually see in Russian rifle calibers?
  2. GigaBuist

    GigaBuist Member

    Sep 27, 2003
    Grand Rapids, MI
    The core of the bullet is lead with a mild steel jacket over that. A final "wash" of copper is then applied over that.

    My guess is that the steel jacket it what holds the bullet together and the copper wash is there to protect the barrel from the steel.
  3. sharkhunter2018

    sharkhunter2018 Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    m-burg, va
    I know that with cheap bulk .22 ammo, all it is is a thin coating of copper plating. But im not sure if it works the same way for the cases of ammo like surplus 7.62x54R
  4. ConfuseUs

    ConfuseUs Member

    Feb 13, 2007
    I live on a plain by a few mountains.
    I think it's mostly referring to casings which are steel with a copper coating to add resistance to corrosion. The same would apply to jackets as well.
  5. brentn

    brentn Member

    May 17, 2007
    Yup, i'm pretty positive its for corrosion resistance, I don't think it has much to do with protecting the barrel rifleing.. Think about it. You have this fraction of an inch coating, not plating, coating, I think that would protect the barrel up until the bullet has traveled more than a few inches down.

    Correct me if I'm wrong ;0

    Pretty sure that its done through electrolysis?
  6. Mr White

    Mr White Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Central PA
    ConfuseUs and Brentn are right.

    Copper wash is used to protect steel casings from corrosion. A copper wash is such a thin coating, it wouldn't do much at all to protect a barrel from a bullet. Usually the core of the bullet is made from mild steel and the jacket is copper. A steel jacket would wear out rifling far too quickly.

    And yes, it is applied via an electrolytic process.
  7. Swampy

    Swampy Member

    Apr 1, 2003
    SouthWest MO
    Ah.... but it does.

    The copper wash provides BOTH corrosion resistance for the steel jacket and lubrication for the bullet as it passes down the bore. Mild steel jacket against steel barrel would gall. The copper prevents that.

    The thin copper wash seems like it would all be abraded away in just a few inches of travel, but it's not. Copper washed bullets exit the muzzle with copper still covering the bearing surface. This can be easily verified by starting with a clean barrel and shooting several rounds of copper washed steel jacketed ammo. Look at the bore near the muzzle. You'll see the SAME streaks of copper on the lands and grooves as you would when you fire full copper gilding jacket bullets. Recovered bullets also show a full covering of copper still on the steel jacket material.

    By using a mild steel jacket over a lead core instead of pure gilding metal (copper) jackets both money and copper is saved. The copper wash is applied to the mild steel jacket material before the lead core is inserted. Section a steel jacketed bullet against a sander and you'll see that the steel has copper on both inside and outside surfaces.

    Copper wash over a mild steel bullet jacket is a very common method of saving $$$ by military establishments. During wartime shortages it also saves on strategic supplies of copper. The US experimented with, then almost fully converted to copper washed steel jackets for all it's .30 caliber ammo way back during WWII..... Remember the steel wartime pennies made to save copper???

    At first it was questioned whether or not copper washed steel jackets would damage rifle barrels. During WWII both Springfield Armory and Winchester (A contractor for the M1 rifle) fired some umpteen hundred thousand rounds of regular gilding jacket ammo and copper washed steel ammo through M1 rifles to find out. After wearing out a few dozen barrels the concensus was.... "There is no appreciable difference in barrel wear between the two types of bullets."

    Since that time till now most all US military .30 cal ball ammo (both 30-06 and 7.62 Nato) has been made with copper washed steel jackets. Only a couple of years during the 60's did Lake City make full gilding jackets on some lots of 30-06, but later reverted back to copper washed steel.

    Best regards,

    Garands forever
  8. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

    Jan 3, 2006
    The Dark Side of the Moon
    is copper washed that same thing as "bi-metal"?

    that term seems to pop up with lots of mil. surp. ammo.
  9. the naked prophet

    the naked prophet Member

    Feb 20, 2006
    I have recovered copper-washed bullets from 7.62x54R and they are indeed still coated with copper.
  10. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

    May 10, 2005
    Kingsport Tennessee
    I have usually seen "bi-metal" applied to jacketed bullets with exposed
    lead core. The boxes of foreign-made 7.63x54R and .303 British that
    I have boughted labeled "bi-metal" have jacketed softpont bullets.

    "Copper wash" as the name implies is thinner than copper plated
    definitely thinned than copper jacketed. It is a copper wash over
    a steel casing or steel jacket. The alternative is some kind of
    lacquer or polymer coat to prevent the steel from rusting.
    Since the lacquer or polymer coat can stick to the inside of
    the firing chamber, I am more confortable using copper wash
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