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  1. #1
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    What's so bad about steel cased ammo?

    Anyone personally experience bad stuff with steel cased ammo in a handgun? Or is it just BS spewed out on the web and repeated over and over again?

    I recently found out that S&B 9mm is actually steel cased coated with brass, or something like that. But S&B is the only ammo that runs consistently in my gf's Kimber 9mm 1911. Brass cased Federal & WWB fails to extract about every 5th round to every 15th round.

  2. #2
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is online now Senior Member
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    I'm still using steel .45 ACP cases from WW2. I reload 'em 'till they crack, and then I throw 'em away.
    (You really need a carbide sizing die to reload steel cases, though.)

    I think that the problem is not the steel cases, but rather that some bullets are jacketed in "mild" steel.
    Steel-jacketed bullets may be bad for your gun's barrel, even though they are plated with a softer metal surface.

  3. #3
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    I think it's a personal preference thing. Me, I'm not paying $1000 for a nice firearm, and then feeding steel cases into a steel chamber. If you rub steel on steel long enough, it's gonna gall. I know... "soft steel", and "I've run 200,000 round through my AR with ever cleaning it, and not one jam". That's fine. I'm truly pleased for ya. If steel cases work for you, that's great, but I'm just not a fan.

  4. #4
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    They also can create a lot more wear on your extractor over time, causing it to break.

  5. #5
    Packard is offline Senior Member
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    The word I read was that the steel cases don't expand upon firing like the brass ones do. And this means that they don't seal the firing chamber. At best this means more frequent cleaning is required; at worst, some heat damage from burning gasses.

    Note: I am repeating what I've read; I have no personal experience with steel cases.

  6. #6
    zhurdan's Avatar
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    To no one in particular,

    If steel cases don't expand, why do they need to be resized?

    Steel case ammo is fine, and here's why. It's cheaper, you can shoot more instead of leaving the gun in the safe to gather dust and rust. If you break an extractor, realize that it is a consumable part and is intended to be replaced. That's why you can remove them from the gun.

    As far as steel on steel, if you're concerned that it's going to scratch the chamber, you may have other things to worry about. It's not going to have any appreciable effect before other wear and tear make the gun unusable. I can't count how many times I've had the conversation with people about consumable parts... aka springs/extractors/magazines/firing pins/etc. and when asked if they've ever done a full maintenance on their gun... the answer is almost always no. For the most part though, people really don't shoot enough to have to worry about it. They usually shoot dirt clods on the weekend a few times a year, whereas some people shoot the holy living crap out of their guns.

    I shoot steel cased ammo when I find a good deal on it. If I break an extractor, I go to my range bag and install the spare I have waiting for it. If I shoot out a barrel, I buy another one.

    If you want your gun to be just as new as the day you bought it, leave it in the safe. They are tools, tools should get used.

  7. #7
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    If steel cases don't expand, why do they need to be resized?
    To remove the dings suffered by the case mouth during ejection in many instances... but as I said, suit yourself.

    Tools should be used, but the differences between "use" and "abuse" are best defined by the owner of the tool in question. Not my place, or anyone else's to tell another how to use their tools.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by usmcj View Post
    To remove the dings suffered by the case mouth during ejection in many instances... but as I said, suit yourself.

    Tools should be used, but the differences between "use" and "abuse" are best defined by the owner of the tool in question. Not my place, or anyone else's to tell another how to use their tools.
    I guess there's a difference that was implied, at least in my mind, about why someone would shoot steel cased ammo. The first thing that comes to mind, is because it's cheaper. Being cheaper, people can shoot more. Being that they can shoot more, they'll become more proficient.

    The flip side to that coin is that some people don't have any concern in becoming more proficient. They're more of a collector than a shooter. If they buy premium ammo and shoot it a couple of times a year and don't have any scratches on their guns, fine... but don't push people away because of internet rumors regarding steel cased ammo. It's likely that someone will get bored with a gun before steel cased ammo will actually hurt it.

    Over time, I've saved more by shooting the cheaper ammo. So much so, that I replaced the barrel and had it fitted, replaced all springs multiple times and had the trigger worked on and still haven't exceeded the cost differential. I'm talking about tens of thousands of rounds here, mind you.

    Again, if people are collectors, fine but if you're a shooter, get the most bang for your practicing buck! Shoot more/smarter/better. Become more proficient by having the ability to practice more.

    *disclaimer* I don't just shoot steel cased ammo. I shoot what's on sale.

    There will be 1100 less .45ACP's in my gun room after this weekend. Taking Todd Greens Aim Fast, Hit Fast two day class on Saturday and Sunday. This all happens to be brass cased ammo, but I've got an order out for 2k more steel cased rounds that should be here next week. Gun will still be ticking right along either way. If it doesn't, I'll get it fixed. My only concern at this point is the sear spring, as it hasn't been replaced in a while and my spare hasn't/probably won't arrive on time for the class.

  9. #9
    Packard is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by zhurdan View Post
    I guess there's a difference that was implied, at least in my mind, about why someone would shoot steel cased ammo. The first thing that comes to mind, is because it's cheaper. Being cheaper, people can shoot more. Being that they can shoot more, they'll become more proficient.

    The flip side to that coin is that some people don't have any concern in becoming more proficient. They're more of a collector than a shooter. If they buy premium ammo and shoot it a couple of times a year and don't have any scratches on their guns, fine... but don't push people away because of internet rumors regarding steel cased ammo. It's likely that someone will get bored with a gun before steel cased ammo will actually hurt it.

    Over time, I've saved more by shooting the cheaper ammo. So much so, that I replaced the barrel and had it fitted, replaced all springs multiple times and had the trigger worked on and still haven't exceeded the cost differential. I'm talking about tens of thousands of rounds here, mind you.

    Again, if people are collectors, fine but if you're a shooter, get the most bang for your practicing buck! Shoot more/smarter/better. Become more proficient by having the ability to practice more.

    *disclaimer* I don't just shoot steel cased ammo. I shoot what's on sale.

    There will be 1100 less .45ACP's in my gun room after this weekend. Taking Todd Greens Aim Fast, Hit Fast two day class on Saturday and Sunday. This all happens to be brass cased ammo, but I've got an order out for 2k more steel cased rounds that should be here next week. Gun will still be ticking right along either way. If it doesn't, I'll get it fixed. My only concern at this point is the sear spring, as it hasn't been replaced in a while and my spare hasn't/probably won't arrive on time for the class.
    And some people have sufficient funds to shoot all they want using quality ammo. And some people burn ammo and improve not at all. Some people go to the range and spray 600 to 1,000 rounds and I never see any improvement in their shooting.

    It does not take that much ammo to learn to shoot well. It takes an abundance of concentration and self-discipline to improve. And that apparently is more costly than ammo.

    I also practice 10 meter pellet shooting. Only a penny a round. But 50 rounds is all the concentration I can muster. And a lot of people take more time and expend more effort per shot than I do.

  10. #10
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    There are two separate questions here: steel-cased ammo and steel jacketed ammo.

    1) Steel-cased ammo: As others here have said there are some situations it is fine and others it is not recommended. I have experienced more FTF's with steel...mostly on the Wolf ammo. I think the reason is the rougher surface of the casings. I also get more FTF's and duds with steel-cased ammo (with the exception of Ruag Ammotec). My big beef with steel is that they don't expand enough in the chamber to seal and I see more sparks and smoke coming out of the breech. Also, the chamber does get more carbon buildup with steel. I don't reload so have no comment on that. Here's the thing: I can get great brass-cased 9mm for $10.50 a box, shipped. So, the price diff just isn't enough to justify buying a lot of steel-cased ammo. Even Walmart is charging $9.47 a box for TulAmmo. Add some tax and you are only about 50 cents per box difference in price. Even at $1 per box more, buying steel cases just doesn't seem to be the best value unless you are shooting a whole bunch, like in a machine gun. One other thing I wanted to mention is that there is a difference between a 9mm and a .45 pressure, so a .45 casing will likely expand more when it discharges. And, it may even be enough to seal the chamber. I don't shoot .45 so I will defer to others here. Right now Palmetto State and USAammo both have great brass pricing, so I am going to continue to purchase that and slowly deplete my steel-cased ammo until its all gone.

    2) Bi-metal or steel-jacketed bullets are only an issue because many indoor ranges don't allow them. In my area, only 1 out of 5 local ranges will allow it. there are no functional issues that I have heard with these bullets. Outdoor ranges don't have an issue that I have heard, but I usually only go outdoor for competition, and in those cases I don't want to risk FTF's, so I avoid steel. Also, note that RWS uses bi-metal bullets with brass casings, and that explains why it is cheaper.

    If you are going to buy steel-cased, I recommend the Ruag Ammotec.
    Check with your range about steel-jacketed bullets.

    Of course some guns may do just fine with steel and anything I say here are generalizations. There is always an exception to every rule.

    Thanks,

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Packard View Post
    And some people have sufficient funds to shoot all they want using quality ammo. And some people burn ammo and improve not at all. Some people go to the range and spray 600 to 1,000 rounds and I never see any improvement in their shooting.

    It does not take that much ammo to learn to shoot well. It takes an abundance of concentration and self-discipline to improve. And that apparently is more costly than ammo.

    I also practice 10 meter pellet shooting. Only a penny a round. But 50 rounds is all the concentration I can muster. And a lot of people take more time and expend more effort per shot than I do.
    Certainly. That's why I said "Shoot more/smarter/better". I'm the last person to go "spray" rounds down range. Every shot has a purpose. Shooting is a perishable skill. If you don't use it, you lose it. That's what I was getting at with cheaper=more shooting.

  12. #12
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    I am going to agree with Packard on this .....more shooting in no way directly corilates to a degree of proficiency. I also agree with if you're a shooter, ..... Shoot more/smarter/better. Become more proficient by having the ability to practice more. Although that doesn't mean settle for cheap, to me it means get the best you can afford. Cheap is great until it dictates decisions away from quality. I have reloaded and shot steel cases, I prefer and try to exclusively use brass. Over the course of my scavenging I have accumulated 15,000 brass for my caliber. Thats inexpensive and there is no need to buy cheap. I am a believer in perfect practice will make you perfect. Zhurdan I have seen some of your skill and it is impressive. Have a great week end plinking off 1100 rounds. 6 weeks ago I went to a Robert Houzenga speed and accuracy weekend and burned through 1550 rounds. I am not antwhere as good as I should be but I got much better at this in those 2 days then in the previous 2 years.

    RCG

  13. #13
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    I reload to cut shooting costs. I much prefer that to buying cheap ammunition, but that's just me, and I reload/shoot about 10K a year. If you can, and choose to use steel cases, I'm truly thrilled for ya.

  14. #14
    zhurdan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by recoilguy View Post
    I am going to agree with Packard on this .....more shooting in no way directly corilates to a degree of proficiency. I also agree with if you're a shooter, ..... Shoot more/smarter/better. Become more proficient by having the ability to practice more. Although that doesn't mean settle for cheap, to me it means get the best you can afford. Cheap is great until it dictates decisions away from quality. I have reloaded and shot steel cases, I prefer and try to exclusively use brass. Over the course of my scavenging I have accumulated 15,000 brass for my caliber. Thats inexpensive and there is no need to buy cheap. I am a believer in perfect practice will make you perfect. Zhurdan I have seen some of your skill and it is impressive. Have a great week end plinking off 1100 rounds. 6 weeks ago I went to a Robert Houzenga speed and accuracy weekend and burned through 1550 rounds. I am not antwhere as good as I should be but I got much better at this in those 2 days then in the previous 2 years.

    RCG
    As a side note.. try this drill out. It's the drill from Todd Greens class. When I first started shooting it, I shot it in around 8 seconds. Personal best, 6.12 (not the video below, it was filmed about 3 months ago.) There's a 3"x5" box over an 8" circle. 7 yards. On the buzzer, draw and fire TWO shots to slide lock at the 3"x5" box. Reload a fresh magazine and fire four rounds into the 8" circle.

    Fun drill, teaches you where you need work, real fast, quick and in a hurry!

    Glock 32c .357Sig


    Not spraying bullets, but I do tend to go thru about 15k-17k rounds a year. I would not be able to afford to do so if it weren't for some great deals on bullets, regardless of their make up. Steel just makes the hunt for a good deal more rewarding when you can't find a good deal on WWB.

  15. #15
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    I like that drill that is a good one. I am going to try it soon. Our club has a steelshoot on Saturday. At our club it is our second one soit is SAFE yet informaland we are trying ot get more folks interested sowe are keeping it simple. Not to complex. I too keep my cost down by reloading, I bet I shoot 10K - year now. I love shooting and am finding the groove of speed and still accurate. Ido keepgetting better but I am not a top guy, although I amnot embarrassed to shot any run with anybody. I may be the only one learning but I do learn.

    Thansk for the drill.

    RCG

  16. #16
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    Thanks for the inputs. I'm not seeing any strong solid arguments against using the S&B ammo. We'll continue to use it.

  17. #17
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    cool thing about steel is that it's ferrous.

    doesn't seem to matter for anything unless your someone who has to pick up the casing's all the time (or more often in my case steel links from belt fed ammo). It is at this point you develop a great love of magnets.

  18. #18
    Packard is offline Senior Member
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    The best thing you can say about steel cases is that you can use a magnetic sweeper to pick up the casings on the floor. It beats sweeping and it certainly beats bending over to pick up the casings.

  19. #19
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    I just shot the drill Zhurdan suggested last night....it sure looks easy. It is fun and to get all six in the circles is a challenge. I will practice that drill more, I can see it benefiting in many other instances.

    RCG

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by recoilguy View Post
    I just shot the drill Zhurdan suggested last night....it sure looks easy. It is fun and to get all six in the circles is a challenge. I will practice that drill more, I can see it benefiting in many other instances.

    RCG
    How'd you do time wise?

    That drill will make it very evident what an individual needs to work on. Even in the video I posted, I was pissed about how long it took me to drop the slide. Probably lost about .3 seconds.

    Just remember, smooooooth is faaaaaast. Speed will come with more time.

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