Steel vs. brass case - an interesting study

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great test. i’ll stick with brass because i reload. also, 0 malfunctions in 10,000 rounds is hard to argue. especially if someone is shooting back at you.

steel case is good for range...the problem i have with steel case is every time ive been out to the woods shooting, im always picking up someones steel cases. its usually 7.62x39, 7.62x54r and 5.56, unfortunately.
 

I watched the 2-min summary video...

What I got from it was the main issue is the differences in the powder used. Tula and Brown bear shot out the barrels whereas the barrel using brass cases Federal ammo was still producing “acceptable” groups afterwards.

The video didn’t address wether or not the steel casing wore out the chamber faster than brass casings.
 
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The Heretic

The Heretic

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great test. i’ll stick with brass because i reload. also, 0 malfunctions in 10,000 rounds is hard to argue. especially if someone is shooting back at you.

steel case is good for range...the problem i have with steel case is every time ive been out to the woods shooting, im always picking up someones steel cases. its usually 7.62x39, 7.62x54r and 5.56, unfortunately.
Steel cases would be easier to pickup with a magnet.

I had heard (forgot if I read it or heard it in a vid - maybe both) about the fact that the steel cases don't seal the chamber as well, so they run dirtier. Also, possible extraction problems. The test seems to bear that out.

I am buying some steel cased Russian 556 ammo tomorrow.

I will try it out in two rifles meant to handle steel cased ammo, and a couple that are not (the latter are not semi-auto though). I had no problems with steel cased ammo in my CZ 527, but it is a bolt action and I have not run thousands of rounds thru it.

I do have one rifle that has a problem with extraction - it rips up the rims and about every 50 rounds it does it bad enough that it leaves the case in the chamber and then there is a jam that needs to be cleared. I think it is over gassed. Going to try it with the Russian steel ammo and see what happens then try it with both M855 and M193 again.
 
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The Heretic

The Heretic

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I watched the 2-min summary video...

What I got from it was the main issue is the differences in the powder used. Tula and Brown bear shot out the barrels whereas the barrel using brass cases Federal ammo was still producing “acceptable” groups afterwards.

The video didn’t address wether or not the steel casing wore out the chamber faster than brass casings.
The article does go into more detail on barrel wear/etc. - they measure the barrel wear by accuracy and velocity drop.

I have not finished the article yet, but it has a lot of good info about their thoughts on the results, including about why the AR15 model they chose might have extraction problems with the steel cased ammo, especially one brand with a certain gunpowder. I think they tested with another rifle brand that had a different gas port and it didn't have problems.

All very interesting - especially for those who think ammo is ammo regardless. It isn't. Ditto with the gun.
 
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The test seems to bear that out.
The test does not support the fact that steel is dirtier. On the contrary, the Federal, by their cleaning test, is by far the dirtiest.

Excellent test -- thank you @Heretic for posting the link.
I thought the chamber and gas port ΔP pressure graphs were very informative.
The throat and rifling erosion on the steel cased ammo was remarkable, as well as the gas port erosion on the Federal.

They could also have used the same tests to check the durability of different AR500 plates.
 
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I watched the 2-min summary video...

What I got from it was the main issue is the differences in the powder used. Tula and Brown bear shot out the barrels whereas the barrel using brass cases Federal ammo was still producing “acceptable” groups afterwards.

The video didn’t address wether or not the steel casing wore out the chamber faster than brass casings.
From the article.

The steel cases themselves don’t have any effect on the condition of the bore. The difference lies with the projectile. The soft copper jacket of the Federal ammunition simply doesn’t cause the same amount of wear as the bimetal (copper and steel) jacket of the Russian ammunition.
 
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The Heretic

The Heretic

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There were comments about the quality of the debris that Federal had vs. the steel cased ammo. But yes, they said the Federal was dirtier - I think that is somewhat of a subjective opinion though - not sure how to measure that.

Also, they were looking at the debris in the action (IIRC) and not the debris/condition of the cases themselves - the latter would affect the extraction IMO.

Also, it is obvious from the data that the brass cased ammo had no extraction problems where the steel did. While they went into detail on some of the factors of why, I think they also mention the nature of the steel cases as being one factor.

Overall, an excellent article.
 
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The Heretic

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I think the main issue was the extreme nature of the test - i.e., the fact that they fired until the barrel got hot and then continued firing. This pushes the barrel to the edge. You could probably shoot tens of thousands of rounds of Russian ammo thru an AR without severe erosion, if you kept the rate of fire down to about 10 shots per minute instead of shooting as fast as you can and not taking a break.

Any metal will erode faster if you heat it up past a certain temp.

Just the same, I will be shooting brass cased ammo in most of my rifles, and steel only in those rifles designed for steel cased ammo. In none of them will I be shooting fast and long enough that the rifle itself is too hot to hold, and then keep shooting.
 
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I think the main issue was the extreme nature of the test - i.e., the fact that they fired until the barrel got hot and then continued firing. This pushes the barrel to the edge. You could probably shoot tens of thousands of rounds of Russian ammo thru an AR without severe erosion, if you kept the rate of fire down to about 10 shots per minute instead of shooting as fast as you can and not taking a break.

Any metal will erode faster if you heat it up past a certain temp.

Just the same, I will be shooting brass cased ammo in most of my rifles, and steel only in those rifles designed for steel cased ammo. In none of them will I be shooting fast and long enough that the rifle itself is too hot to hold, and then keep shooting.
For me it's the soft copper jacket vs bi-metal jacket. The jacket with steel wears a barrel much faster.
 
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The Heretic

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Maybe. Even if it is the jacket instead of, or in addition to, the powder - it is still the heat that allowed the wear at that rate. It is probably both. As I said, they went into some detail, and it is very interesting.

If I ever get into a situation where I am shooting that much ammo that quickly, I will probably:

1) Get shot before I run out of ammo

2) If I don't get shot, I will run out of ammo. I don't have more than 2K of ammo for each person for each rifle.
 
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I've seen a guy that did his own torture test with Russian ammo just testing his equipment. I was thinking about trying it but glad I didn't .

I agree with the heat. And that's the number one reason chrome helps. Throat erosion from mag dumps. But ya most will never run anywhere near that hard. The range rental ARs usually dont skrimp on barrels.
 
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Per the article, the bullet composition is what wore out the barrels faster with the steel cased ammo. Yes they all wore out faster than normal because of the heat, but the difference of wear between the rifles in the test was due to the jacket composition of the bullet.

Long read, but a good one. I believe they did a test like this a few years ago using Spikes ARs.

What had MY jaw dropping was the fact that two of the factory carbines had barrel nuts with less than 5ft lbs of torque! Completely unacceptable for them to come out of the factory like this.
 
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I've seen a guy that did his own torture test with Russian ammo just testing his equipment. I was thinking about trying it but glad I didn't .

I agree with the heat. And that's the number one reason chrome helps. Throat erosion from mag dumps. But ya most will never run anywhere near that hard. The range rental ARs usually dont skrimp on barrels.
The Smith is still accurate. It has a melonite finish though and from what I've read, is more wear resistant than chrome.
 

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From the article.

The steel cases themselves don’t have any effect on the condition of the bore. The difference lies with the projectile. The soft copper jacket of the Federal ammunition simply doesn’t cause the same amount of wear as the bimetal (copper and steel) jacket of the Russian ammunition.
I think that is why they came out with this.

TA223624__07128_1588347382.jpg
EDIT: just in case you were wondering......
 
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The Smith is still accurate. It has a melonite finish though and from what I've read, is more wear resistant than chrome.
I've read good things about the Nitride, Melonite ect. Only it didn't hold up to heat as well. My latest one has a Nitride coated barrel. And was actually thinking of sending in the WOA barrel for treatment.

Good to know your Smith is still accurate. How many rounds of Russian ammo did you run through it so far ? Were you using Tula when you did your testing ? Sounds like it has a lower chamber pressure.

I found a picture of the casings that stuck in the Delton. Bushmasters and Colts didnt like them either according to the article. Smaller gas port.

IMG_1769.JPG
 

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