Reloding Nickle Covered Brass

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Black Cat, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. Black Cat

    Black Cat New Member

    Jul 2, 2012
    Central Indiana
    :)I would like views on reloading nickle covered brass. I have a lot of it from purchasing expensive amo. I am told by others to never use it. I have never found any thing one way or the other in reloading manuals. What is the purpose of coating it. I am not sure Nickle is cheaper than Brass
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
  2. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

    Jul 30, 2009
    NP brass was originally developed to be more corrosion resistant for ammo carried in leather belt loops and in hot high heat/humidity climates. It costs more to make than plain brass cases as there are several extra steps to the electroplating process.

    There is no reason not to load it with only one caveat that should be kept in mind.

    That caveat is that occasionally a lot of brass cases will come out just under minimum material thickness specifications. In such situations the lot of cases is scrap metal, unless something can be done to dimensionally bring them up to minimum material dimensional specifications. Electroplating with nickle can make up for a few ten-thousandths of an inch of being short. However you will still have a case that barley meets minimum specs.

    The above is not the case with most nickle plated cases but it should be kept in mind if you reload them. This is especially important when reloading autoloading pistol cartridges that headspace on the case mouth. Make sure that you bullets are held securely by the case and cannot easily be pushed deeper into the case after loading. Minimum safe "no move" load forces are 50# for .45 &40; 35# for 9mm & 38.

  3. aa1911

    aa1911 Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    ^^ good post!

    been reloading nickel with no issues, they work perfect. Nickel cases are almost always more expensive compared to their brass counterparts (but they look pretty, hahaa)
  4. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    Nickel, being a stronger metal than brass, is also a more brittle (or less ductile, of you prefer) metal. That means it cracks sooner. Factory ammo - it don't matter. One shot is not going to hurt it, but for the reloader, nickel brass will fail sooner. It work-hardens quicker and cracks sooner. Where I might get 15 or 20 (or more) loads from a brass 38, I'll get less than 10 from nickel.

    It's just the nature of the beast.
  5. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Harriman, Tn
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! You should never reload nickel plated brass. You should box it up and send it to me for proper disposal. Just kidding, reload it but watch for flaking.
  6. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    Actually, the reason that nickel plated brass tends to crack or split after fewer loadings than plain brass is a phenomenon called hydrogen imbrittlement. Its a long explain but if you google it, there is quite a bit of good info available on the metalworking sites. Its the same problem that causes chrome plated car parts to fail...and why I'll never use a plated axle on a street rod.

    That said, there is no reasn not to reload plated brass. They will have a shorter lifespan but not enough to really worry about. I still get 6+ loadings with plated 25-06 brass. That's not much less than I get with unplated.
  7. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

    Jul 30, 2009
  8. Black Cat

    Black Cat New Member

    Jul 2, 2012
    Central Indiana
    Thanks for all the great help
  9. oldfartrr

    oldfartrr Active Member

    Jun 30, 2012
    northern calif
    if u anneal the case mouth just as with regular brass cases, it will give u more loads without splitting
  10. mikld

    mikld Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2009
    I guess my experiences with nickel plated brass are different/odd. I have been reloading .38 Special since 1969 (not continuously, but at leasy 500 per year and mostly more, and in 2009 I was teaching a newby to shoot so mebbe 5k that year). I have a lot of the brass I've been using (mostly since '86) and a good bunch is nickel plated. None have split mouths, and none have flaked nickel. I have some that have worn beyond the plating in spots, down to brass, but no failures I can blame on nickel plating. I did not use different loading techniques nor load data for nickel plated. Mebbe all the brass I've purchased (a few K of once fired), and all the cases I've saved were oddballs? Or is 38 Special brass "special". Never had probs. with .44 Specials or .357 Mags either...
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  11. sting75ray

    sting75ray Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2011
    I load all of the 25-06 ammo with nickle plated. At one time when I was hunting with my 270 or 30-06 my daughters were shooting 25-06 so if something happened and any of it spilled in the truck or the bag we carry our hunting gear in it was always easy for them to pick out their brass.
  12. ozo

    ozo Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    Nashville TN
    I 'usually' buy new brass and don't pay extra for
    the shiny plating.......
    The carbide dies do a great job on the plated brass
    and the only difference I see for load longevity is
    the hotter loads in the nickle plated brass don't last
    as long, maybe 50%, but in the lighter charged loads
    I don't see much.
    I don't use much nickle brass , so maybe my input is of
    no pertinent value.
    Would I load once fired nickle plated brass that you gave me ?????
    Sure, I have no qualms......
  13. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    Nickel brass loaded with cast lead make great werewolf ammo.
  14. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA

    That exact same scenario is exactly why I exclusively use nickeled brass for my 25-06 too.
    Dad tried to do his pre-season zero check of his .270 with a box of my .25-06 one year. Needless to say the groups weren't worth a toot and I've been running nickeled brass in that rifle ever since.
    (Not sure what I'm gonna do if I ever build my 6.5-06. :))
  15. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    red sharpie marker..
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