Steel Cased Ammunition

Opinions are in no short supply when the topic is using “steel cased” ammunition.  Steel cased ammunition is exactly what it sounds like: the case is made of steel rather than brass.  Many cartridges manufactured overseas use steel for their cartridges.  Some brand names you may recognize are Wolf, Brown Bear, and many of the imported surplus cartridges.

My personal experience has been that steel cased ammunition “runs dirtier” than brass. Not only is this due to the type of powder, but the fact that steel expands at a slower rate than brass. So, when the cartridge is fired, more gasses and carbon can “leak” around a steel case as the case expands and seals against the chamber wall. This would tend to foul the breech face and, perhaps, other parts of your gun, more than brass cases.

SteelcasedammoOf course, steel-cased ammunition is usually somewhat cheaper than brass-cased. So, a little more cleaning may be worth a lower price per round, right?

Well, maybe. Assuming you do a good field strip cleaning on a regular basis, maybe it’s a good deal. A detail strip may be needed more often if the ammo is running dirtier.

The real question is… will it hurt my gun? My thought is that it probably won’t hurt your barrel or chamber. Some wear may be associated with the extra fouling (at least the fouling I experienced).

The biggest concern I have with steel-cased ammunition is with semi-automatic firearms and the wear on the extractor. The head of the extractor slams around the case lip every time a round is chambered. I know brass is softer than steel so the wear on the extractor would likely be less than if the round was steel-cased. And, based upon my experience, the first part to fail in any semi-auto gun is usually the extractor.

So, for me, it is brass-cased ammunition in my non-Eastern European guns.

Opinions vary. Below is a link and a video giving two other opinions on the use steel-cased ammunition. Very interesting information.  Decide for yourself!

The Blog of Arizona Weaponcraft Solutions…

And a YouTube video doing some metal hardness testing…

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