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Old 10-24-2020, 03:41 PM
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Default Brass or steel

New to shooting, what is the benefit of brass or steel over the other.
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Old 10-24-2020, 04:00 PM
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I won't shoot steel case ammo in any of my guns. Brass is softer.

Been shooting over 50 years, but there's lots of people on this forum who know a lot more than me. You might get better responses by providing more information. Like what type of gun, what caliber you're mostly interested in, etc.

And welcome!
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Old 10-24-2020, 04:02 PM
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Some shooting ranges don't allow steel.

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Old 10-24-2020, 04:04 PM
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That depends; are you talking about brass vs steel cased ammunition? If so, brass is softer of course, and forms better to the chamber. OTOH, brass vs steel projectiles (ie “armor piercing”) may have accuracy issues. In general, most of us avoid steel components in our ammo if for no other reason concern about wear and tear on chamber and bore. Why do you ask, specifically?

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Old 10-24-2020, 04:08 PM
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So far as I know, you can't resize steel cases, too hard and stiff to pass through a die; brass is more malleable and can be "pushed" back into a smaller size that meets unfired specifications, so it can be reloaded. The other side of steel cases is aluminum ones, used in some pistol ammo. It is too soft to re-size and is also one-time use.

The advantage of steel cases is less expensive than brass to manufacture. I know of no commercial non-military steel-case ammo.
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Old 10-24-2020, 09:42 PM
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Brass has natural lubricity that allows for easier extraction. Steel cased has a polymer or other type of coating to prevent the case from rusting that can be deposited in a chamber and cause chambering and extraction problems.
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Old 10-24-2020, 11:04 PM
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My preference:
Brass
Nickel plated brass
Steel
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Old 10-24-2020, 11:42 PM
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The range I shoot at in Az will not allow steel and runs a magnet over your ammo before allowing range entry.
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Old 10-25-2020, 05:10 AM
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Brass is preferred even though it is the pricier choice.

ARs have tighter tolerances than AKs and since steel isn't as ductile as brass you can get more fouling in the chamber due to escaping gases depositing gunk there, I was told just to put a brass case every 10th rd or so in your mag to keep buildup from occurring, most steel cases come from Russia and they run dirty.

The steel in steel cases are much softer than gun metal and won't themselves damage a gun. AKs love them Wolfs, never had any problems shooting them.

Handguns might be a different story with buildup, but if you clean like you're supposed to I don't see it being a problem either, With Glocks they say don't shoot brass after steel without cleaning in between, that's all I've heard mentioned of cautions.
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Old 10-25-2020, 06:35 AM
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I prefer brass over steel and aluminum cases. That said, I do shoot cheap 7.62x39 steel cased ammo in my Wasr-10 AK47.
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Old 10-31-2020, 08:30 AM
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There is a reason some ranges don't allow steel, none of my guns will ever see steel and I advise my students to not shoot steel, a penny or 2 a round is not worth shooting steel.
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Old 10-31-2020, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cracker57 View Post
There is a reason some ranges don't allow steel, none of my guns will ever see steel and I advise my students to not shoot steel, a penny or 2 a round is not worth shooting steel.
A range owner can sell brass cases but not steel. To sort them out would be more trouble than it's worth. With brass only, it's much easier to sweep everything into one pile.

Maybe there are other reasons some ranges don't allow steel. I wouldn't use it, but I have no personal experience as to whether or not it does harm to guns.

Last edited by rockquarry; 10-31-2020 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 10-31-2020, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
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There is a reason some ranges don't allow steel, none of my guns will ever see steel and I advise my students to not shoot steel, a penny or 2 a round is not worth shooting steel.
The reason they don't allow steel is because they sell the brass, and sorting the steel cases from the brass is a PITA.

Steel cases will in no way harm your gun.
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Old 10-31-2020, 03:52 PM
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A magnet will sort Steel cases real quick
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Old 10-31-2020, 04:18 PM
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Based on the amount of steel 5.56 cases left behind at our gun club ranges, a lot of people use it.
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Old 10-31-2020, 11:08 PM
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Chopped 41

Brass is the better material for cartridge cases. It is more ductile and forms a better gas seal in the chamber. Brass is also more corrosion resistant and has lower friction, important for semi-auto and fully automatic arms. Most brass cases can be reloaded several times. This gives once fired cases a value above their scrap value. Even as brass scrap the metal is priced by the pound where steel scrap is sold by the ton.

Steel cased ammunition was used by several of the belligerent powers in WW II. This was particularly true in Europe where copper, about 70% of cartridge brass, was in critically short supply. Even the US, with a string of huge copper mines in the west, resorted to steel cased ammo. However, only .45 auto steel cased ammo was released for use without restriction by the US Army. Carbine, .30-06 and .50 cal ammo were also manufactured but their use was limited. Much of US steel cased ammo was labeled FOR TRAINING ONLY or NOT TO BE SHIPPED OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL US. By late 1944 the US Army was convinced that the need for ammunition would not exceed the supply of cartridge brass and US military steel cased ammunition manufacture was discontinued.

After WW II the Soviet military continued to use steel cased ammunition. Many of the ammunition manufacturing plants that they set up in satellite states also manufactured steel cased ammunition. That is why much of the steel cased ammunition on the US market today was made in former communist block countries. When you could buy a SKS for $69.95 and get cheep, cold war surplus 7.62x39 ammo you could leave behind to rust away steel cased ammo got quite a few fans in the USA.

I heard one firearms instructor say "if you have a commie gun go ahead and shoot commie ammo in it."

Many perfer to shoot brass ammo and avoid concerns about lacquer or polymer coating build up or faster extractor wear.
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Old 10-31-2020, 11:50 PM
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Quote:
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There is a reason some ranges don't allow steel....
The only outdoor range I ever visited that didn't allow steel ammo didn't allow steel core bullets. They don't expand on impact and tear up an earthen backstop by deep penetration and loosening the dirt. This was a police range that opened to public shooting on weekends and that info came from the RSO. An indoor range I used to visit occasionally didn't allow steel core ammo because it had the potential to penetrate the angled steel backstop. neither one cared anything about steel case ammunition vs. brass.
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Old 10-31-2020, 11:53 PM
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Local indoor range doesn't allow steel because of a fire hazard. Unburned powder collected in expansion joints in the cement floor. A hot steel casing was either hot enough, or sparked to ignite causing a fire.
Before you call BS, I saw the fire truck response.
It closed the range for repairs.
BTW they still allow aluminum cased ammo.
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Old 11-01-2020, 01:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cracker57 View Post
There is a reason some ranges don't allow steel, none of my guns will ever see steel and I advise my students to not shoot steel, a penny or 2 a round is not worth shooting steel.
I would guess the real reason a lot of ranges do not allow steel is that whoever buys their fired brass does not want the hassle of sorting the steel cases out. Probably spelled out in the contractual agreement.
Has nothing to do with safety or accelerated wear on guns.
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Old 11-01-2020, 05:31 AM
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OK, as for the lubricity issue, Golden Bear ammo is brass plated steel case, and Silver Bear is zinc plated steel. Problem solved.
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Old 11-01-2020, 06:24 AM
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Quote:
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There is a reason some ranges don't allow steel, none of my guns will ever see steel and I advise my students to not shoot steel, a penny or 2 a round is not worth shooting steel.
What is that reason? Too much trouble to sort through the brass they won’t let you pick up? Is steel case ammo somehow dangerous?

Last public range I went to has a “no steel cased ammo and no picking up your own brass” policy. Purely to maximize their profit. If paying $25 an hour to shoot at their range isn’t enough profit, then to hell with them. Since I started reloading I always pick up my own brass. It bugs me to even lose some cases at the outdoor range I shoot at.
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Old 11-01-2020, 08:10 AM
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Lots of misinformation here concerning steel case Russian ammo.
I have enough brass case ammo in handgun calibers so have never shot it in my handguns.
Although I'd prefer brass, I shoot an equal number of brass and steel in my carbines.

Nothing against 5.56mm, but all of my carbines are 7.62 x 39mm.
Makes it easier to stock up on one caliber instead of several.

I was against using steel case when all I had tried was Tula. But after testing some other brands of steel case, I realized that not all brands suck, it's just Tula.

Yes, brass is much preferred if you plan on reloading.
The steel used in the case, and in the bimetal bullet, is much softer than the steel in your chamber and bore, and isn't going to wear your barrel out, unless you shoot 10's of thousands of rounds.

Steel cases don't contract as well as brass in that millisecond after firing, so theoretically are harder on your extractor. I have heard of extractors breaking or chipping in some pistols, it is rare in a long gun.
It's a good idea to keep a spare extractor (and firing pin) on hand for any gun, they aren't that expensive or hard to swap out.

Some guns have ignition problems with Berdan primed steel case ammo, but it's not because primers are all that hard, as many believe.

It is because the primers are seated deeper. It's easy to see where a light hit on a primer would led you to believe that the cause was the primer being overly hard, but the firing pin being a bit short to reach a deeper seated primer will also result in a light primer hit.

AKs and SKSs have a much longer firing pin protrusion, than say, an AR in 7.62 x 39 or a Ruger Mini-30.
If you want to reliably fire Com-Block ammo in a x39 AR or Mini-30 you need to install a longer pin.

The lacquer coated case was phased out years ago and replaced with polymer coatings. The lacquer did deposit in the chamber and build up, but only if you did mag dumps and got things really hot.
Lacquer was never an issue with AK's and SKS's because of looser chamber tolerances and chrome lining.

My favorite steel case ammo is Silver Bear. It is very consistent and accurate, clean burning and full velocity.
Red Army Standard and Golden Tiger are decent as well.
Many, myself included have been turned off by steel case because of ammo like Tula.

Tula is like the Budweiser of ammo, it is low priced and common, it seems every store in the country stocks it.
But I have found Tula to be lower velocity, dirtier, the least accurate, and hardest to ignite of any of the dozen brands I've tried.

I would not be adverse to shooting a few hundred rounds of steel out of my M&Ps for range use if I didn't have so much brass case ammo.
Just clean well after use and inspect the chamber, extractor and firing pin.
Just like you should do after firing a few hundred rounds of brass ammo.
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Old 11-01-2020, 08:16 AM
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steel case issue
M&P 40C Failure
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:15 PM
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LGS today only had Barnul, steel cased 9mm. Only two boxes left, but I passed. I just can't bring myself to shoot steel in a pistol. I do shoot it in an SKS, seems like it goes with the gun, does shoot well without any problems.
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heeter3 View Post
The range I shoot at in Az will not allow steel and runs a magnet over your ammo before allowing range entry.
Are they looking for steel core bullets, or steel cased cartridges? Steel core bullets will mess up a backstop in short order, steel cases shouldn't matter one way or the other. What range is this?
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Old 11-02-2020, 11:08 PM
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Just for the heck of it, I reloaded some steel case .45 acp and 223. I had no problems. shot it out of my SP1 and a 1913 era 1911. I've reloaded the .223 3 times, I'm going to see how many reloads I get. I reload the .45 on a Dillon Square Deal I bought way back when they cost $138.00. No problems yet. I checked the cases to make sure they were boxer primed. Some of the boxes steel comes in are marked as to what kind of primers are used. NOTE, steel cases do take more force to resize.
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Old 11-15-2020, 10:07 PM
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Brass case is generally preferred, but steel is not the devil it's made out to be.

Steel cased will usually be cheaper, and depending on the gun it will run as good or better.

Case in point- I have a C308, which is the latest iteration of the Cetme from Century Arms. I know, cheap terrible gun made by angry beavers... but that gun has been fine, only a couple issues. I had 2 failures to extract, both with Armscor brass. The Cetme, like the HK and PTR, has a fluted chamber, and softer brass can flow into the flutes and get stuck. Steel has been 100% reliable, as has surplus Korean (PMC?) brass. This gun beats the daylights out of the cases with ejection, a lot of people say they can't reload them anyway. I don't reload, so I run what works in it.

Similarly, with my SKS and pistols in 9 Makarov caliber, I've shot 90% or greater steel, with no issue. I have shot some brass in the Maks but it doesn't seem to make a difference, so why pay more? I bought some of this earlier this year, the Tula 7.62 was $210 a case, the Silver Bear 9 Mak JHP was $190. I keep my CZ 82 loaded with 12 rds of the Silver Bear, with 2 spare mags. I don't know if it expands, but for that price I won't complain. It's plenty accurate at the range.

I picked up some entry level AR's recently (earlier this year, while I could still find some at/below the $500 point), picked up a case of IMI brass, then picked up some steel (2 cases of Tula, 1 case of Silver Bear). The IMI was 369, the Tula was $250 apiece, the Silver Bear was under $300. my AR's shoot these. Initially had trouble with Silver Bear with one, but a good thorough cleaning fixed that.

For point of reference-
Silver Bear .223 62 gr JHP, $280 for 1k, end of July.
Silver Bear 9x18 Makarov, $190 for 1k, end of June.
Tula 7.62x39, $210 for 1k, middle of July
Tula .223, $250 for 1k, middle of July
Tula 9x19 fmj, $167 for 1k, end of May.

Prices have surged since then, but the initial covid panic was underway by then (we didn't have the riot panics yet). Brass at that point was scarce and starting to climb.

It's not the best stuff, but it goes bang.
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