View Full Version : Ammo, Steel vs Brass,, Copper vs Coated..

02-17-2013, 08:22
One of the QP's on the list found this very interesting article.

It's great info for the casual plinker.

It may also be of interest to the guys that venture outside the wire, where alternate source may be used for ammo..

Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test
By Andrew
January 8th, 2013
There are two major types of center fire rifle cartridges available on the market today:

Those which are loaded with steel, and
Those which are loaded with brass

This seemingly simple variation has caused a never ending stream of argument, discussion, speculation, and questioning from new and seasoned shooters alike. Complicating the conversation are other variables that typically get lumped into the argument without proper segmentation, such as:

The different coating options available on the steel-cased ammo (lacquer or polymer)
The different projectile loadings available (copper jacketed lead, the bi-metal coating that most Russian manufacturers use, etc)
The different propellant (gunpowder) burn rates

Our team decided to try something ambitious and daunting: to provide the best resource and data available to answer these questions once and for all through objective experimentation and observation.

We realize this is a lofty and borderline arrogant goal. We’ve done our best. Please keep reading to see if you agree.

Here’s what we did:

We acquired four identical Bushmaster AR-15 rifles. We chose the Bushmaster MOE Series AR-15 because it’s a widely available, affordable, and mass-market. We didn’t want something too cheap and of lower quality or something too expensive and of high quality since our goal is to help the most number of people.

We acquired 10,000 rounds each of the following ammunition (new production):

Federal 55gr – Brass-Cased – Copper Jacket
Wolf 55gr FMJ – Steel-Cased with Polymer Coating – Bi-Metal Jacket (steel and copper)
Tula 55gr FMJ – Steel-Cased with Polymer Coating – Bi-Metal Jacket (steel and copper)
Brown Bear 55gr FMJ – Steel-Cased with Lacquer Coating – Bi-Metal Jacket (steel and copper)

We paired each ammunition type with a specific Bushmaster AR-15 and then fired all 10,000 rounds of it through that particular carbine (except for Tula; more on that below)

We systematically observed and tested various things, including (more details below):

At the start: accuracy, velocity, chamber and gas port pressures, chamber cast

After 2,000 rounds: accuracy, velocity
After 4,000 rounds: accuracy, velocity
After 5,000 rounds: throat erosion, chamber cast
After 6,000 rounds: accuracy, velocity
After 8,000 rounds: accuracy, velocity
After 10,000 rounds: accuracy, velocity, chamber and gas
port pressures, throat erosion, extractor wear, chamber cast, barrel wear

We logged every malfunction of every rifle-ammo combination

The rifles were cleaned according to a preset schedule and temperatures were monitored and kept within acceptable limits (more below)

We sectioned the barrels and otherwise made unique observations after the test was complete

If you’re interested in any of the following, you’ll find observations, data, and further details below: continue (http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo)

The results are what most of us would expect.. But the cost basis might suggest that for the casual plinker, using cheap ammo and buying replacement parts would end up saving considerable..

The warning being that you are a plinker and not someone in the business...

02-19-2013, 11:43
Even without the study, I have always been an advicate of using name
brand USA ammo. Such as Winchester, Federal, Remington with preference to Lake City made ammo for 223/5.56.