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Inexpensive Ammo - Good, Bad, Justsayno?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by outlaw1776, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. outlaw1776

    outlaw1776 Portland, OR Member

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    Hello,

    I've just purchased my first AR15 and now I need to get some bulk ammunition. Here's what I've looked at that all comes in the same price range (cheap):

    - Bear Ammo(Gold, Silver etc) - About $4.80/20 @ Sportsmans Guide
    - Wolf - About $5.20/20 @ Sportsmans Guide

    These ammunitions are all steel casing non-reloadable. Are there drawbacks to going with these coated steel casings? I've read quite a bit and there really seems to be no consensus, so I figured I'd ask the local crowd.

    Please give your experiences with these types of ammo and the +/- rather that just a buy or don't buy.

    Thanks for the input! :)
     
  2. jdub75

    jdub75 PNW Well-Known Member

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    I have used +/- 600 rounds of Wolf in my AR w/ no major issues...1 failure to return to battery after 200 or so rounds & rifle hadn't been cleaned. I 'hear' that the steel casings let more of the dirty gasses back into the chamber since the case doesn't expand in the chamber like brass and that the steel casings can also prematurely wear the extractor & chamber itself.
    For these reasons & the fact decent brass reloads are almost as cheap at this moment in time, I have gone to brass stuff for now, and am stockpiling while its relatively cheap (28c per round for nice looking reloads). Your wolf you mention is 26c per round, so why not shoot brass for 2c more per round? Check out www.ammoandextras.com he's out of portland & is real decent guy to deal with IMO. You can pick up f2f from him & save shipping to boot. The reloads he carries are made in Oregon IIR, and use Lake City brass too.
    I NEVER had a wolf round stick in the chamber like you probably have read about. I assume thats the older lacquer coated stuff? BUT you will get the primer sealant starting to build up...I think that may what caused my 1 issue. The stuff was all over the bolt face, extractor & chamber opening.
    My 2c, ymmv
     
  3. outlaw1776

    outlaw1776 Portland, OR Member

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    I just checked out ammoandextras.com.....WOW. Way less expensive than I was looking at. Thank you for the info, just called him and I'll be buying some stock!
     
  4. Ben B.

    Ben B. Eugene Member

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    Good move.

    I ran thru a case of Wolf, but found the accuracy was pretty bad from both my Colt 20" HBAR, and from my RRA M4gery, while the Black Hills Remfg did fine and was what I expected.
     
  5. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    cheap factory new ammo is a martha stewart "good-thing."

    the only ammo you should stay away from is reloaded ammunition. handloaded reloads are one thing- if you're making them yourself, or they're coming from someone you have good reason to trust (notice how i worded that), that's one thing- but factory reloaded ammo is almost always junk and often potentially dangerous. almost every kB (detonated weapon) i've ever seen has been from using factory reloaded ammo.

    i have no 'sperience with brown bear, but know a number of guys who've shot tens of thousands of rounds of it. i've never liked the copper-plated-steel projectile part, feeling it might drastically wear out bores. i have no evidence to support this, it's just a theory i've had. now that wolf has switched over to the same, however, i think i'd probably be willing to give it a shot. i think i'd shoot some into water jugs first and check for exposed steel... if none, blast away.

    i've fired something like 10,000+ rounds of copper/lead FMJ wolf.. maybe more... i shot a LOT of it years ago, then fired a couple cases of it i'd found buried in my garage last year... no problems at all. the stuck casing problem is more an indicator of weak extraction/too tight chamber than anything else, i think. i have, on many occasions, fired hundreds of rounds of steel cased ammunition and immediately followed up with hot brass and never experienced anything close to chronic stuck-cases, through 5.56 and Wylde chambers. i haven't owned a .223 chamber since before i knew there was a difference, YMMV if you're chambered in .223.

    on the flip side, i rarely shoot steel cased ammo to begin with, these days- i've decided that the cost of shooting brass, with the offset of the price of brass, even though i don't reload yet, is enough to make up for the savings with steel. steel cased ammo is usually about 8-10 cents cheaper than brass... brass generally runs right around in that neighborhood, apparently, so the cost offsets. add to the fact that brass ammo is almost always hotter (and therefor "better"), and i just don't think you're necessarily "saving" any money, in the long run. plus, if you shoot a lot, as you should, and you don't use weak steel-cased ammo for duty/defense, you're practicing with ammo pressures/muzzle rise/felt recoil that's different from the ammo you'll use on a 2-way range.. that's a training defect.

    some thinks to stink about.
     
  6. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    Wolff ammo smells bad. Literally. That's enough for me to use other brands such as PMC through my AR...
     
  7. bearingman

    bearingman Tualatin Member

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  8. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    i know these guys.. good to see they've brought their prices WAY down.
     
  9. matt_w

    matt_w Hillsboro, OR Active Member

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    I've heard that brass ammo will cause jams after firing steel ammo unless you run a bore brush through. The reason for this is the steel case doesn't expand as much, so dirt gets into the bore, which the brass shell catches on when it expands.
     
  10. Arkarayne

    Arkarayne Medford, OR Member

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    Being a cheap ammo user, I find lacquered and poly-steel cased ammo (Barnaul and Wolf's bread and butter) is what I call "good for a rainy day" Not something i'd shoot regularly, if I can help it, but something I'll shoot if I "need" to. Since it's still cheap and that "need" may be a while off, I still pick it up, otherwise I'm starting to enjoy brass and copper-washed (Mosin surplus ammo) which my Mosins eat like candy.. then I have to clean its tooth before it rots, but that's a different issue. Soon as I get into reloading I'll enjoy brass more.

    "cheap" steel/lacquer = Okay..ish.
    "cheap" Copper-washed (if your flavor of caliber has that option) = Good. (ignoring the corrosive part)
    Brass = Better
    Self-reloaded to the gun's butter-zone brass = Best
     
  11. jdub75

    jdub75 PNW Well-Known Member

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    I believe this is what Bryce at ammoandextras.com is selling, at a price lower than their retail.


     
  12. Arkarayne

    Arkarayne Medford, OR Member

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    Because i'm Ammo Math Guy:

    Wolf 7.62x39 locally (cheapest): $7/20
    On that site: $5/20 + $15 shipping
    Minimum # boxes to save money: 7 (140 rds)($50 vs. $49 local)
    (so, you'll start saving on box #8)

    Wolf 9mm locally (never seen any, but cheapest Brass ammo..) is: $11.50/50
    On that site (for both Wolf and Re-manufactured): $10/50 + $15 shipping
    Minimum # boxes to save money: 10 (500 rds) ($115 vs. $115)
    (so, box #11)
     
  13. lkdr1989

    lkdr1989 Salem, OR Member

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    I just put about 200 rounds of Brown Bear 62gr HP through my new no-name upper. The only issue I had was a case was stuck in the chamber and I had to use a cleaning rod but I think that was because I had just ran 2 full mags of Remington FMJ through the gun. The stuck case was in the first mag of Brown Bear. After that not a single problem...I recommend Brown Bear; I have no experience with Wolf. On a side note, I tried out my CMMG .22 conversion kit out using 2 CMMG mags and a Black dog mag...Awesome! In roughly 220 rounds of the Walmart Federal HP, I only had 1 issue-a stovepipe, other than that smooth sailing!!http://www.northwestfirearms.com/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  14. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    A number of AR15 shooters have had problems with broken and worn extractors when shooting the steel cased stuff. AR15s were designed to shoot brass cased ammo

    I wouldn't use it in an AR. Learn to reload and save your brass, and scrounge brass
     
  15. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    i have to disagree with this.. i know it's a really common take, but just doesn't have any direct C&E to support it. the junky steel used to make steel ammo casings are actually softer than NATO brass... the steel has a different friction coefficient, so it can, in theory, wear an extractor bevel slightly faster than brass, but not in any noticeable way, especially when you factor in all the other variables for parts wear. as we all know, two guns of the same make and model, shooting identical ammunition on identical firing schedules, will wear differently... and thats with basically no external variables.

    the only reason this idea is perpetuated is because people realize that steel is generally "harder" than brass, and when someone gets a broken extractor thats been cycling steel, they just connect the dot via correlation. but correlation is never conclusive, and rarely even all that useable. i've broken extractors on brass ammo, but never on steel. why? because i shoot probably 9 brass cartridges for every 1 steel cartridge... not because brass breaks extractors and steel doesnt.
     
  16. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Fact: AR15s were designed to fire brass cased ammo

    Fact: Many AR15 shooters have reported worn or broken extractors after extensively shooting steel cased ammo. You yourself have broken them, and you use steel cased ammo. I have never broken an extractor but I use only brass cased ammo in my AR15s and mini 14s

    If folks insist on using the stuff, be sure to swap out the used extractor for a new one for any serious zombie war use
     
  17. Arkarayne

    Arkarayne Medford, OR Member

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    One theory I heard was the "hot gun" idea. Repeated firing heats the chamber, lacquered rounds come iin contact, start to goo-ify the cheap low-temp lacquer, boom, sticky shell. Newer wolf rounds have a "dry" poly coating over the cases to prevent rust. Some shops still have stock of the old stuff. They(Wolf) say its a high-temp poly, wont "melt" because of data supporting that issue... If youve used older Wolf, that could be it.
    Wasn't so much an issue with low-speed bolt actions or target-shooting semi's, wouldn't heat up as fast. high-speed tin can/water jug shooters, who heat thier guns up quick, I can see the issue.

    ...at least, thats my theory.
     
  18. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    i gotta disagree with this, as well... i've never actually seen any confirmed evidence that any of the coatings have actually "melted" off the casings.. the sticky, nasty epoxy-like crap that builds up in the chamber is a result of the sooty carbon that escapes around the un-expanded steel cartridge. somebody touched on this earlier- steel doesn't expand to seal the chamber as well as brass, which allows the already extra-dirty gas to bleed into the chamber.

    i confirmed this "extra sooty" factory for myself, simply by burning Wolf powder next to NATO (m193 or m855, dont remember which) on a piece of sheet metal. the wolf residue was very tacky, and required solvent to get off, while the NATO residue wiped off with a paper towel.
     
  19. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    This is well documented. After lots of rapid fire the goo stickies up the chamber and then jamming/stuck cases occurs. It's not as much an issue for bolt guns for the reasons you cited. Also bolt guns such as the Mosin Nagant were designed to shoot steel cased ammo, as are some other weapons such as the AK series. These guns run just fine with steel because they were designed to shoot it

    Lacquer is just plastic paint!
     
  20. pdx lefty

    pdx lefty portland Active Member

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    I don't like to shoot anything with a steel case in any of my guns except the AK or SKS. As stated earlier in this thread, the AK and others were designed with this type of ammo in mind. I have learned a lot about the different types of steel cased ammo on this thread (NWFA members are extremely intelligent and i learn something new every time i visit the site) however i will stick to brass in the rest of my firearms. My $0.02. Lefty.