steel case vs brass case

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by falseharmonix, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. falseharmonix

    falseharmonix New Member

    1,728
    0
    0
    I'm sure there are many here that, like me, know absolutely nothing about reloading. I'm aware that only brass should be used to reload ammunition, and not steel cases.

    My question is why?

    While we're on the topic of steel cases, why do some gun manufacturers only recommend using brass factory loads, and not using brass reloads, or any steel case ammo? If I can recall correctly, I believe my Glock manual strongly discourages the use of steel case. Is there any truth to this? And again, why?
     
  2. Samples.32

    Samples.32 New Member

    1,111
    0
    0
    Steel does not expand as well as brass due to the fact that it is so hard. When something is harder it is more brittle which can lead to case failure.

    Using steel cases in a glock will void the warranty however, we have fired over a thousand steel cases through our 23 with no issues.

    We reload daily so if you need any advice feel free to pm me.
     

  3. falseharmonix

    falseharmonix New Member

    1,728
    0
    0
    That's what I'm wondering. What is so terrible about steel that would void the warranty?
     
  4. Samples.32

    Samples.32 New Member

    1,111
    0
    0

    The hardness of it could harm the chamber, or the hardness could cause case failure in the chamber resulting in that polymer being blown to pieces.
     
  5. rjgnwdc

    rjgnwdc New Member Supporter

    557
    1
    0
    It is the hardness it tears up ejector and feed ramps and other softer parts used it alloy and aluminum guns.
     
  6. falseharmonix

    falseharmonix New Member

    1,728
    0
    0
    So anything other than say, a full steel 1911, and you shouldn't use steel case ammo?

    Kind of hard to believe that Glocks, being the wonder pistol that never breaks, never fails, wouldn't be able to eat that ammo.

    For the record, despite owning a Glock I am by no means a fanboy. The price was right. However I would like to move into the realm of JMB :D
     
  7. stick_man

    stick_man New Member

    91
    0
    0
    The real question though is "If you reload, why would you WANT to shoot steel cased ammo?" There is nothing wrong with steel cased ammo except maybe it uses different powders that may not burn as well as others, but that is manufacturer specific. The steel cases cannot be reloaded and could rust, causing weakness in the case and therefore create a dangerous situation. As mentioned before, the steel cases are more brittle and harder than brass. They would be very tough on sizer dies.

    If you look closely at your owners manual, you will notice that shooting reloads of any kind will void the warranty. This is pretty much the case across the board with all gun manufacturers because they have no control over how you, an individual, load your ammo.

    Also, for reloading, the aluminum cases are no good. They are loaded with berdan primers so they cannot be reloaded by the average reloaders. They use these materials because they are cheap, not because they are good. CCI caught on with their Blazer line of ammo and now are finally offering the "Blazer Brass" ammo which can be reloaded. It has probably doubled their Blazer ammo sales.
     
  8. spittinfire

    spittinfire New Member Supporter

    9,663
    2
    0

    Your first question....no, steel should not be shot in ANYTHING, IMO. Steel ammo is cheap and hard on any weapon, regardless of the material the weapon is made out of. When cartridge rounds were designed they didn't just pick materials out of the sky and brass was selected for a number of reasons. It is soft(won't wear into the weapon), it expands under pressure faster then the metal around it(it seals the chamber), it has natural lubricating properties(won't stick in the chamber, won't stick in a magazine, again...won't wear the weapon). Steel has none of these properties.
    The steel used in ammo is the cheapest of the cheap steel and would be better off being made into a pepsi can.

    Your second question.....glocks have the ghey. BAD!
     
  9. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper New Member

    3,659
    0
    0
    Steel cases also usually have either a poly or lacquer coating to prevent corrosion and add a little lubricity to the cases. Sometimes this can build up in the chamber and cause for sticky feeding and extraction. Steel doesn't have the ductility to be reformed/resized through repeated loadings like brass and its often berdan primed, though I have read about a few people actually reloading steel cases...not something I would try.
    I tried steel cased ammo in my AR before and just didn't like the feel of it when chambering a round. My old DPMS would not even want to chamber the first round without using the forward assist most times, I didn't like the idea of steel on steel. YMMV
    My AK on the other hand never got fed anything but steel:D
     
  10. falseharmonix

    falseharmonix New Member

    1,728
    0
    0
    I don't reload, just wondering why it is that only brass should be reloaded and not steel.

    I've never bought any steel ammo (that I'm aware of anyway), although I have used brass reloads in my gun, thereby voiding the warranty I suppose. I guess this explains why at gun shows the steel stuff seems to be a few bucks cheaper than brass?

    Yea, yea.....I had the money, and I wanted a gun :rolleyes: Now I don't have the money, and I still want a real gun :cool:
     
  11. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    11,380
    1
    0
    Most steel cased ammo is Berdan primed. Berdan primers are 1) difficult to remove and 2) hard to find in the US.

    While you can reload steel cased, Boxer primed ammo, the problem partially lies with the coating. Some of it will be gone, degraded, rubbed off, etc from firing, extracting, cleaning so they will be much more likely to rust once reloaded. Someone gave me a bunch of steel cased 5.56 cases that were Boxer primed. I ran them in the polisher, which removed the protective coating. They promptly started rusting once removed from the polisher. I threw them away.

    During WW II the US used steel cased .45 ACP and (I believe .30 carbine) as brass was in short supply. I never heard of problems from them. I have reloaded some of the .45 cases several times with good results.

    IMHO there are certain calibers that are designed for or more suitable for steel cases. The two Russian rifle calibers from the last century (7.62 X 54r and 7.62 X 39) have significant body tapers that seems to work better in steel than a 7.62 X 51 (NATO) or 5.56 X 45 case. I think it is a result of the taper allowing the steel case to expand more reliably and seal the chamber off when fired.

    I personally use steel cased ammo in SKS or AK rifles as they were made for it. Is brass ammo better in these rifles? Maybe, I use brass cased reloads in both of these with good results.
     
  12. falseharmonix

    falseharmonix New Member

    1,728
    0
    0
    Lots of useful information, thanks Robo. :D
     
  13. Secondamendment

    Secondamendment New Member

    17
    0
    0
    Steel Bad?

    If steel is so bad and hard on your weapons how do the steel naysayers explain the latest move at HORNADY, Hornadys Steel Match. I wonder what the main stream armament companies are thinking. I feel pretty sure that Hornady has carefully thought thru the hype before unveiling this
    new product.

    nuff said.
     
  14. superc

    superc Member

    782
    7
    18
    I have here in front of me a book written by an obscure company tooting their own horn about how good they were during WWII.

    The book is called 'Bullets by the Billion.' In it this company, Chrysler, speaks of their work with developing steel cartridges for the Army. Chrysler determined that any steel used in the cartridges had to 'spheroidized, aluminum-cleaned, with a .13 to .18 carbon content.'

    The cases were 'double dipped in Kronak' (whatever the heck that is) as a method of corrosion resistant plating.

    In .45 acp the steel cartridges did not generate 'adverse reports from the field.'

    The book reports that although there was initial govt. orders to make the steel cases in .30 carbine as well, the project was shelved almost as soon as it began. It seems some of the new M-1 Carbines were jamming with brass ammo, and although design changes to the gun itself were underway to identify and fix the problems (they were) there was already resistance from the field to both the new gun and the concept of steel cases in a rifle. The new gun also required a different type of gunpowder and non-corrosive primers. Ordnance therefore decided to just go ahead and issue the gun with brass cartridge cases and not introduce four new concepts at the same time to the men in the field. Should problems develop with the new gun, then they would know it was the gun, or the new powder/primer combination, not the steel cartridge causing the issues, or reducing end user confidence by muddying the waters as to the source of a gun malfunction. Only a few thousand of the steel cased .30 Carbine ammo had been produced at the time of the decision (probably one of the rarest full boxes a collector could find). It was also agreed that after the new M-1 Carbine and it's new powder and primer had a chance to develop a proven track record, then, if, and only if, future brass shortages or a large spike in production demand required it, then the issue of steel cased M-1 Carbine ammo could be re-opened.

    Footnote (of possible interest to us .45 revolver freaks): at the time of the book's publishing (1946) it is mentioned that US Army Ordnance reported that they only had 80,000 US M1917 revolvers in service.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
  15. JonM

    JonM Moderator

    20,110
    15
    38
    kronak from my understandin was a trade name for a type of zinc plating proccess. i could be wrong. back in the 40's and 50's chromium was in huge demand for industrial and military use so other forms of rust resistant plating had to be used hence lots of zinc plating in that time frame.
     
  16. SSGN_Doc

    SSGN_Doc Well-Known Member

    6,925
    53
    48

    Don't take demeaning remarks about Glock to heart. They aren't for everyone. I used to hate them. But they have been around for so long now that it's hard to say that they are bad.

    Steel cased ammo is ok to run in a Glock. They don't want cast lead bullets from reloads run in their guns. The polygonal rifling of their barrels does not do well with these bullets, and the barrels will build up lead rather quickly and can sause pressure spikes that could be dangerous.

    I've run Wolf, Tula, other obscure steel cased ammo through Gloscks with no problems.

    The other folks here have pretty much covered the challenges of reloading steel cased ammo.
     
  17. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

    16,417
    312
    83
    Steel cases are just fine to use in any quality weapon.

    They can be reloaded into perfectly good ammo.

    But it's such a pain in the ass you'll only do it once!:p:p
     
  18. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    11,380
    1
    0
    Think of the cartridge case as a gasket. It expands to seal off the chamber when fired. It then springs back partially. 7.62 X 39 and 7.62 X 54r have pronounced tapers to the case body. Steel does not have the same characteristics. The tapered body of the Russian designs allow for the steel to expand properly to seal the bore. The relatively straight body of the 5.56 and 7.62 NATO designs do work as well in steel.
     
  19. Eturnsdale

    Eturnsdale New Member

    1,163
    0
    0
    Ive always had issue with what GLOCK says about lead projectiles. GLOCK is hardly the first to use that type of rifling, many a rifle was produced with it back in the day when all they used was lead ball. I honestly believe that the issue came from idiots that loaded lead bullets to very high velocities, in which case you would likely have a catastrophic failure in any type of rifling.
     
  20. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    11,380
    1
    0
    I have heard it hypothesized that the lead bullet/Glock problem lies in the throat, not the actual rifling. There is something about the configuration of the throat that leads to lead build up and catasrophic failure.