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Steel Casings

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by gnarl, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. gnarl

    gnarl Sequim, WA Member

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    Any reason I shouldn't reload steel casings? A friend dropped me of a bagful of mixed brass and steel .45 casings. I've tumbled, decapped and sized the steel stuff, so it looks like I should be able to get and least one more firing out of them.
     
  2. OR4X4

    OR4X4 Hour south of portland Member

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    what i was told the reason most people avoid them, is that because the steel is so hard it scratches and greatly shortens the life of your dies.

    That said as an experiment I did reload some steel cased wolf .223 and there were no problems in firing them. I noticed that it was necessary to chamfer the inside of the case mouth real well, as the seating scratched the bullets really bad without doing it more than normal.
     
  3. gnarl

    gnarl Sequim, WA Member

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    Well, I'm using carbide dies and the cases have some kind of tough coating on them.
    I might dull-up my case trimmer though if the steel is that much harder than brass...hmmm...
     
  4. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    The steel will wear a little more on your dies but make sure to watch for cracks after resizing. I assume it is all boxer prime as you have already decapped it. I would also watch for build up in the die of the laquer from the steel casings. In general it is not a good idea in my opinion but there are some that reload it and have good sucess.
     
  5. gnarl

    gnarl Sequim, WA Member

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    No cracks, boxer primed and the finish stayed intact through both polishing and resizing.
    I'm going to whip up fifty and see how they do...I will keep an eye out for cracks after belling the mouths, however.

    I discarded a bunch of Al CCI stuff, even though it is now boxer primed I wouldn't trust the aluminum
    for a second cycle.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011
  6. gnarl

    gnarl Sequim, WA Member

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    Will try the reloads Friday and let the forum know how it goes...
    That coating is some tough stuff; I wish I could paint my truck with it!

    DSCF2381.jpg
     
  7. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Some load steel cases and others just toss them out (or leave them on the ground). Steel is less malleable than brass so it will work harden quicker, leading to cracks after just a very few reloads. They are also harder to resize/expand thus they are harder on your equipment.

    I choose to avoid steel cases for the above reasons and with the abundance of brass cases for my calibers I see no reason to load them. Let's not overlook another factor. Steel Rusts! Wolf treats their cases with a polymer coating to reduce this. Companies like Sellier & Bellot plate their steel cases with a gilding metal to resist rust/corrosion. The cleaning of the coated cases reduces these protections and in the case of the polymer coating, it can be damaged in the sizing die leading to premature rusting of the finished reload. Maybe not so much an issue in a dry climate but in the Great Northwest it could be for any reloads that are stored for some time.
     
  8. gnarl

    gnarl Sequim, WA Member

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    Normally I would not have picked these up.
    Since a friend dropped them by I have been taunted by their ferrous presence; since most all my brass
    is topped off it was a matter of "idle hands...etc"
    I have no plans to make this a regular habit.

    You are absolutely correct! Northwest, iron, moisture...what was I thinking!
    The lawn will have to wait; I will tell She Who Must Not Be Named it was recommended that I use up this
    dangerously unstable ammunition ASAP!:paranoid:
     
  9. Celtic Armory

    Celtic Armory Port Orchard, WA Member

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    From my experience (reloading Wolf .223 and 7.62x39 cases) it can be done, it's not detrimental to your dies (unless the case is really dinged up) and they last just about as many reloads as brass. Do be sure to reload Boxer primed cases as the Boxer primer is ever so slightly smaller than the corresponding Berdan primer and it may not seat properly in the Berdan primed cases (such as the 7.62x39). It can be done, but it's not reliable and you can only get about 1/50 to work well enough to be safe. But if the case is Boxer primed you're golden. To be aware that on rifle cases using the factory crimp dies can cause the case mouth to split with repeated reloads as the steel case is more brittle than brass. And while the steel is more brittle and harder than the brass, it's still way softer than the steel in any reloading dies and unless there is a heavy nick or gouge on the case it won't scratch or hurt your dies and will not significantly wear them more than brass cases would.

    As far as corrosion goes, I toss cases with heavy rust, but if it's just a light discoloration I'll clean it up, reload it and treat the outside of the case with a little CLP to help protect the case while it sits in my boxes. I've reloaded about 500-800 rounds of .223 about 3-5 times and noticed only issues with the cases I over crimped by loading A-Max rounds to AR lengths or by repeated uses of the factory crimper. I have never seen any corrosion on the cases after loading, CLP and sitting in plastic enclosed boxes in my closet for more than a year.
     
  10. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Why would anyone even think of reloading berdan primed steel cases with boxer primers? Not only the size difference of he pocket but the anvil in the the berdan primed case has to be dealt with. (for those not familiar with berdan primers, the case has two flash holes and the anvil is formed into the case. A boxer primer has the anvil as part of its assembly).

    The only reason one would even consider this kind of exposure to brain damage is when there is no brass available for an obscure caliber other than berdan primed, and the reloader is seriously interested in converting the brass to the more favorable boxer primed style. This is best done with BRASS cases rather than steel as the anvil should be "hammered down" rather than drilled out. The primer pocket hole can also be swaged smaller using tooling sold for the purpose of salvaging loose primer pocketed brass or with a ball bearing and a press.

    The only thing I like about steel cases is the fact that they are "magnetic". Makes it easy to sort them out of the Brass cases by just using a magnet. There are so many pieces of brass cases out there that I just toss anything steel. Way too much work. Double so if it's berdan primed.
     
  11. gnarl

    gnarl Sequim, WA Member

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    Just an FYI, the .45 reloads worked fine.
    Probably not going to make it a habit to reload iron, but it's good to know I can if I
    had to.