? on bras vs steel vs aluminum

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by soundguy, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    9,413
    Location:
    florida
    ok.. been reading up..

    I know aluminum basically can't be relaoded due to thin / cracking issues at the mouth.. etc.

    what about steel. what's the deal. not easy enough to work on dies? totally unreloadable?

    and reading up on the metalurgy of brass.. and well.. exercising some common sense. i see it is less abrasive to the chanber wall.

    with that.. how about them steel cases. damaging the chamber?

    thanks
  2. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Messages:
    11,401
    Location:
    NW Florida
    Steel can be hardened or softened as much or as little as you want, depending on alloy and heat treatment, so I don't really see a problem with it "wearing out" the chamber.

    Mostly (actually, far as I know, ALL) it is berdan primed, so is, for all practical purposes, non-reloadable. I don't like "non-reloadable". If offends my cheap Scots soul.

    When CCI came out with aluminum cases, they decided it was not safe to reload, so they primed it with a berdan primer that was a funky size. You could not get primers to fit the pocket, so it could not be reloaded.

    Aluminum does not slide against steel the same way brass does. It is slightly "stickier". I do not trust aluminum cases in an autoloader. Too good a chance of a failure to feed. They are probably fine in a revolver, but again, cannot be reloaded.

    I've got two boxes of Blazer 45 Colt that was given to me, about 15 years ago. If push come to shove, I'd shoot 'em, but as long as I've got brass, they sit on the shelf.
  3. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    9,413
    Location:
    florida
    hmm.. I've never looked in steel cases.. didn't realize they were berdan primed.

    but that alone can't be the only reason people don't relaod them. I've seen berdan primers for sale, and I've seen at least 2 ways to deprime berdan.. a water press, and the lil plier thingys that rip em out.. etc...

    so are they simply to hard (difficult) to rework?
  4. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Messages:
    11,401
    Location:
    NW Florida
    Steel is harder to work with than brass. It is not as springy. Berden primers are hard to find. Yes, while it's a pain in the ass to deprime 'em, it can be done, but once done, whatcha gonna prime 'em with?
  5. joncutt87

    joncutt87 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2011
    Messages:
    1,422
    Location:
    Kannapolis, NC
    Tulammo .45 rounds are boxer primed
  6. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Messages:
    6,584
    Location:
    Hesperia, CA
    One of the "features" of the metal brass is that it is very malleable. It can be worked and worked and not fail. Steel is not so malleable by comparison. You can get it to work once as a cartridges case but it may work hardened and not work so great the second time.

    The cartridge case is really a gasket to hold by handgun pressure up to maybe 40,000 psi. The case walls have to stretch to seal the chamber and return to allow easy extraction. Brass does that easily, multiple times, and allows cartridge cases to be reloaded. Steel does not. Aluminum has the same problem as steel. Neither should be reloaded. A lot of brass (purchases of 100 or more cases) for handguns is not all that expensive and it will last for many reloads. I have brass bought in the 1980's that I still reload today. It eventually gets neck splits and get recycled (brass has good value for re-cycling...Don't just throw it away!)

    LDBennett
  7. Clipper

    Clipper Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2010
    Messages:
    683
    Location:
    Amarillo, TX
    One of my chums reloads aluminum on a regular basis, usually only once, and I did load a couple of steel cases just to see how it would work. Not a good idea mainly because I have so much brass!
  8. carver

    carver Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2008
    Messages:
    16,740
    Location:
    DAV, Deep in the Pineywoods of East Texas, just we
    Steel, and aluminum, cases can be reloaded, but only a time, or two. As mentioned in the above posts, they do not do as good a job of expanding to fill the chamber, and then shrinking back to be easily extracted. The main reason I don't try to reload them is that they are very hard on your reloading dies. They scratch, and cut, the dies badly. Almost all of the cheap ammo for the military type rounds are steel cased, so those of us that shoot military type guns do shoot them, but don't reload them. I sometimes buy the Blazer ammo because it's cheap, but even in a revolver extraction becomes a problem. Same gun with brass ammo, and there is no sticking problem. Brass is king for ammo.
  9. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    11,329
    Location:
    Northeast Georgia
    You know, I was reloading some .45 ACP yesterday afternoon and a few of them were some old steel cases that I have used for years. This "brass" came from some surplus ammo that I bought several years ago that were all steel cased. I threw 99% of it away when fired but did keep some of it to see if it could be loaded. The head stamp is T W 5 which is Twin Cities Ordnance Plant in Minnesota made in 1945. I agree that brass is still king but in a pinch, steel can be reloaded. Here is a little picture I just took of two steel cased .45 being balanced on a brass cases one with a little magnet toy that I filched from one of my grandkids:

    Attached Files:

  10. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    9,413
    Location:
    florida
    interesting.

    I figured it COULD be done.. though perhaps not specifically the best idea.. etc.
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ammo & Reloading Forum tula brassmax ammo / tula steel ammo Feb 5, 2013
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Field Test Brass vs Steel Case ammo Jan 17, 2013
The Ammo & Reloading Forum unsupported chambers and steel cased ammo vs brass Jun 19, 2012
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Range Brass Wednesday at 11:04 AM
The Ammo & Reloading Forum MY Wife...The BRASS guru... Aug 10, 2014

Share This Page