There are two major types of centerfire 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):
  • 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:

What follows is a mind-numbing heap of charts, tables, graphs, images, and data to catalog the entire test, plus a careful analysis of everything we found.  We hope you’ll find it as fascinating as we did.  If you’re in a hurry and just want a brief overview, check out the summary video below.

Test Video Summary

View and share our 2 minute video summary.


Past Tests

A number of tests have been made public but none offer the depth of information shooters demand.

When considering an undertaking such as this, it’s a good idea to look at what had been done before. There have been a variety of tests conducted using the AR-15/M4/M16 platform over the last 55 years, and we studied as many as possible in order to determine the best course to take.

One of the more notable tests – certainly one of the most discussed – was the Army’s “M4 dust test” of 2007. Much of the public domain information about the test was lacking – were all rifles of new manufacture? Did all firearms use the same magazines? What qualified as a malfunction, and how was each type of malfunction defined? What were some of the details relating to how each rifle functioned, such as cyclic rate of fire? We sought to address each of these concerns in our test.

test of the MK18 10.5″ CQBR was conducted by Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane and presented at the 2003 NDIA conference. Although the public domain report is rather concise and also focuses on why the weapon itself was created, it contains a lot of useful data such as throat erosion and cyclic rate. The total number of malfunctions is given, but details on when and how each one occurred are not provided, perhaps due to time/length constraints. We borrowed a number of ideas and methodologies from this test, including limits on rate of fire and temperature.

A 2012 collaboration between Tulammo USA and Anderson Manufacturing compared the performance of Federal and Tula ammunition in Anderson Manufacturing carbines. Although malfunctions occurred during the testing, the number of malfunctions was not given.

The Ammunition

For the test, 10,000 rounds each of FederalBrown BearWolf, and Tula ammunition in caliber .223 Remington were used. Each brand of ammunition used a 55 grain full metal jacketed bullet with a lead core. The Federal 55gr .223 ammunition featured a solid copper jacket and a brass case, while the other three brands used a bimetal (steel and copper) jacket and a steel case. The Brown Bear ammo’s steel case was coated in a green “lacquer,” while the Tula and Wolf cases were coated with a gray polymer.

brass vs. steel cartridges piled up.
Brown Bear (left) and Wolf (right) were two of the ammunition brands used for the test.
It is a commonly held belief that the coatings exist to provide additional lubricity, or “slickness,” to the steel cases. In fact, their primary purpose is to inhibit rust. As the United States Army discovered with a test of steel cased ammunition in the 1960s, uncoated steel cased ammunition was prone to rusting. Due in no small part to the coatings, we had no problems with rust during the test.

The Rifles

Four brand new and identical Bushmaster MOE carbines, Bushmaster model BCWA3F MOE, were used. Each was produced in Ilion, New York at the same facility where Remington rifles are made.

A close shot of an AR-15 rifle's trigger.
Formerly located in Maine, Bushmaster rifles are now produced in New York.

Upper and lower receivers were of standard design and manufactured with 7075-T6 aluminum via the forging process. Receiver extension tubes were commercial pattern and had six adjustment points; receiver endplates were not staked. Buffers weighed 3.0 ounces and conformed to carbine dimensions. Fire control groups were semi-automatic and trigger pull weight varied between 8 and 10 lbs. Bolt carrier groups were machined for semi-automatic use only; gas keys were properly staked.

A stack of AR-15 carbines used in the brass vs. steel testing.
The reciprocating components were fairly standard AR-15 parts which proved to be up to the task.

Barrels were 16” in length, with all other exterior dimensions matching those of the military M4. Front sight bases were attached to the barrels with two taper pins driven from right to left. Barrel exteriors were parkerized after the attachment of the front sight bases.

Gas ports, located at the carbine position, were .058” in diameter. Chambers conformed to 5.56mm dimensions. The rate of twist was 1 turn in 9 inches, and both chambers and bores were chrome lined. Barrel nuts were torqued to inconsistent values: two had been torqued to approximately 5 ft/lbs, while the other two had been torqued within the appropriate range of 30-80 ft/lbs.

The use of Magpul MOE furniture enabled the attachment of sling mounting points and flashlight mounts from Impact Weapons Components designed for the MOE stocks and handguards. The sling mounting points and flashlight mounts remained attached to the firearms without issue throughout the entire test; however, flashlights of the correct diameter installed in the mounts in accordance with provided instructions did not stay in the mounts. Excessive tightening of the mounts’ tension screw did not fix the problem, and the flashlights were set aside for the duration of the testing.

Shooters line up to fire during the brass vs. steel test.
Numerous optics and accessories were used during the test.

Optics used during the high volume shooting portion of the test include the Aimpoint CompM3 in GDI mount as well as the EOTech 552 and XPS 2-0. Backup sights were Magpul MBUS. One MBUS sight cracked and fell off of the carbine to which it was attached due to heating and cooling cycles that negatively affected the polymer material.

Excessive upper receiver heat did cause thermal discoloration of and cosmetic damage to the EOTech sights. Also, one CR123 battery in the XPS 2-0 ruptured – possibly due to heat – but both EOTechs, as well as the Aimpoint, remained functional at the end of the test. The manufacture date of the 552 was April of 2005; prior to the test, its battery spring “grommets” were replaced with a newer design, which markedly improved battery life.

Charging handles used during the test include the standard AR-15 type, the BCM/Vltor Gunfighter, and the Rainier Arms/AXTS Raptor. The majority of rounds (over 20,000) were fired with the Raptor charging handles installed in various weapons. No functional issues were encountered with any charging handle used during the test, and no practical differences were noted between the aluminum and steel latches of the various charging handle types. Most shooters who used the Raptors commented that they appreciated the ambidextrous design during manipulations of the firearms, especially during clearing.

The use of these accessories had no functional impact on the weapons and their use should not be construed as true modifications. With one exception, the results of this test reflect the performance of the carbines in the condition in which they were removed from the box. That exception was the correction of improper torque values found in two of the four test carbines. It should be noted that the carbines were disassembled and reassembled numerous times over the course of the test to allow for the use of Cerrosafe casts of the chambers.

A man prepares to shoot a Bushmaster rifle as part of the test.
The Bushmaster carbines were patterned after the military’s M4 Carbine, with a few changes such as a semi-automatic fire control group, a slower rifling twist rate, a 1.5″ longer barrel, and a lighter bolt carrier.

Only one type of ammunition was fired through each carbine, and the different colors of Magpul MOE furniture made it easier to identify which was which. Throughout the testing, we successfully avoided any “cross-contamination” – in other words, each carbine fired only the ammunition it was supposed to.

The carbine firing the Federal brass cased ammunition, serial number ARA041079, had standard black handguards and stock, the Brown Bear-firing carbine (LBM23712) had olive drab (green) furniture, and the Wolf (LBM21236)and Tula (LBM23157) carbines had flat dark earth (tan) furniture. For simplicity’s sake, the weapons will be hereafter referred to as “the Wolf carbine” or “the Federal carbine,” etc.

AR-15 receivers used to determine if brass or steel is better.
The carbines were put to good use.

Initial Preparations

Visual Inspection

Each firearm was broken down and inspected to ensure that it was within acceptable standards; this initial visual inspection did not  reveal any deficiencies serious enough to be addressed prior to the beginning of the test. During the first range trip, however, serious accuracy issues were noted with two carbines – the Federal and Brown Bear weapons.

Both shot groups of over 5MOA, or over 5 inches at 100 yards, out of the box. It should be noted that ten shot groups were fired for all accuracy testing in this article, and the results are not directly comparable with three or five shot groups. Because these groups were much larger than they should have been with any factory new ammunition, the rifles were examined.

A target showing the size of a grouping.
All accuracy testing consisted of ten shot groups at 50 yards from a supported position with a US Optics scope at 17x magnification.

The upper receiver assemblies of the two problem carbines were completely disassembled in order to determine the cause of this issue. It was immediately apparent that the problem related to improper barrel nut torque values – the barrel nuts, which slide over a collar on the barrel and thread onto the front of the upper receiver, required less than 5 ft-lbs to break loose.

Proper torque values for this part are 30-80 ft-lbs. Once the components were properly reassembled, ten shot group sizes shrank to approximately 3.5 MOA, which is a realistic result to expect from standard carbines firing bulk ammunition.

Other Tests

Before high volume testing commenced, other tests and observations were conducted in order to gather as much data as possible about the performance of the firearms. These tests include but are not limited to chronograph (velocity) testing, Cerrosafe measurements of internal chamber and bore dimensions, chamber and gas port pressure testing, and high speed video of bolt velocities and cycle times.

These tests were also conducted periodically throughout the testing – accuracy and velocity every 2,000 rounds, Cerrosafe at 5,000 and 10,000 rounds. Most of the firing was conducted at a very fast pace, with up to ten magazines (300 rounds) being fired in a row. Rates of fire did slow at times, especially when accuracy testing was being conducted. However, the rates of fire were identical for the test rifles – if one was fired quickly, so were the others.

Although the shooting was fast and hectic, we did not exceed certain temperature and rate of fire limits – the barrels did not exceed 750 degrees Fahrenheit. Firing was periodically halted to identify the cause of a malfunction, conduct diagnostic tests, or replace parts.

A large dust storm in the Arizona desert that rolled in during the test.
Large dust storms were a regular occurrence during testing. This was the end of the second day of shooting.

Cleaning and Lubrication

A cleaning and lubrication schedule was followed – at 2,500 and 7,500 rounds, the bolt carrier group was wiped down with a paper towel, and at 5,000 rounds, a detailed cleaning was undertaken. A single drop of FireClean lubricant was applied to the cam pin hole of the bolt carrier group every 1,000 rounds, and six drops were used after each of the aforementioned cleaning intervals. Certain small parts were replaced as needed, and they will be discussed later in the article. After all initial tests were complete, the bulk of the shooting commenced.

Brass vs. Steel Results

Which Ammo Was Most Reliable?

The data which will probably be most interesting to everyone who reads this article is how often each rifle malfunctioned. To satisfy that particular thirst, here are the basic results:

  • Federal: 10,000 rounds, 0 malfunctions.
  • Brown Bear: 10,000 rounds, 9 malfunctions (5 stuck cases, 1 magazine-related failure to feed, 3 failures to fully cycle)
  • Wolf: 10,000 rounds, 15 malfunctions (stuck cases)
  • Tula: DNF (6,000 rounds in alternate carbine, 3 malfunctions)
A man firing a Bushmaster carbine using Federal ammunition successfully shot all 10,000 steel rounds without any malfunctions.
The Bushmaster carbine firing Federal ammunition fired all 10,000 rounds without any malfunctions.

The carbine firing Tula had a case stuck in the chamber after 189 rounds which proved exceptionally difficult to clear, even with the use of a steel cleaning rod after the rifle had cooled. Over the next three hundred rounds, 24 malfunctions – stuck cases and failures to fully cycle, or “short stroking” – were encountered. At this time, the Tula carbine was removed from the testing, as the problems were causing significant delays.

A decision was made to fire the remainder of the Tula ammunition through other carbines. Approximately 300 rounds were fired through an HK416 (no malfunctions), 1,000 through a Spike’s Tactical carbine (3 malfunctions), and 6,000 through a Spike’s Tactical midlength without any cleaning (3 malfunctions). All malfunctions with the other carbines were stuck cases or failures to eject.

After thousands of rounds without cleaning, the internal AR-15 components were... unclean.
After thousands of rounds without cleaning, the internal components were… unclean.

Of the remaining three ammunition brands, the first malfunction encountered was a magazine-related failure to feed at 2250 rounds with the Brown Bear carbine. For the Wolf carbine, the first malfunction occurred at 4850 rounds – a stuck case.

It should be noted that this testing was conducted in the Arizona desert during monsoon season and was frequently interrupted by dust storms which covered the carbines in fine sand as well as rainstorms which drenched them in water. These storms did not affect the previously set cleaning schedule. In addition, the rates of fire were quite high, and the carbines were sometimes fired until they were too hot to touch. These rates of fire were identical for all weapons and they continued to function very well despite the adverse conditions.

A man fires an AR-15 during with heavy raindrops falling.
In addition to dust storms, fairly heavy rain was also encountered during the monsoon season. No malfunctions were encountered during inclement conditions.

At the 5,000 round mark, the bolt carriers, upper receivers, and barrels were cleaned. After observation of high speed video showed inconsistent cycling, action springs ($3) were replaced, as were extractor springs ($6.99) and gas rings ($2.19).

The second half of the test started off with several malfunctions with the Brown Bear carbine – at 5,200 and 5,250 rounds, short stroking malfunctions were encountered. High speed video showed that the bolt was barely coming back far enough to pick up the next round, and occasionally not even far enough to eject the spent case. Additional lubrication did not prevent the second malfunction.

An AR-15 being used to fire Brown Bear ammunition.
Several malfunctions were encountered with the Brown Bear carbine shortly after the 5,000 round mark.

A detailed physical examination revealed previously unnoticed carbon buildup in the gas key and gas tube which had almost completely occluded those components. The other firearms were inspected, and none exhibited carbon buildup which was even remotely close to that of the Brown Bear carbine. Cleaning of these components in the field proved difficult to impossible, and it was decided to set them aside in order to examine the phenomenon.

The gas tube and bolt carrier of the Brown Bear rifle were replaced with identical components, after which firing resumed without incident. No malfunctions occurred until 7,500 rounds, when five stuck cases were encountered between 7,500 and 8,200 rounds. From 7,500 rounds on, a number of cases with distended and/or split necks were observed.

The last malfunction with Brown Bear was a cycling issue similar to the first two, which was the 9,551st round to be fired. A change in report and recoil indicated that the round was possibly undercharged, although the projectile did exit the bore.

Log books and ammo magazines showing how the brass versus steel test was conducted.
Nine malfunctions might sound like a lot, but out of 10,000 rounds fired, that’s only a .09% failure rate. Or, if you’re the optimistic type, a 99.91% success rate.

Two more stuck cases were encountered with the Wolf carbine at 5,800 and 5,850 rounds. No actions were taken, and the next stuck case was not encountered until the round count was over 9,000. From 9,200 to 10,000 rounds, twelve stuck cases were encountered. During this time, a Boresnake was used to superficially clean the bore and chamber; it did not appear to have any effect on the occurrence of malfunctions.

As stated previously, the carbine firing Federal ammo functioned flawlessly from the first round to the last. There is not much else to report in terms of reliability. It just worked.

The table below summarizes the reliability of each manufacturer’s ammunition as well as mean rounds between stoppages (MRBS).

A table indicating the reliability of each manufacturer's rounds.

Which Ammo was Dirtiest?

Of particular concern to some shooters is whether or not one type of ammo is dirtier than another. Imported ammunition is often maligned for being dirty and difficult to clean, and so the lower receivers of each firearm were not cleaned at all from the first shot to the last, in order to see which became the most filthy.

Special attention was also paid to how much effort was required to clean each rifle at the 5,000 round detailed cleaning portion of the test. Here, high-resolution photos of the lowers are available for your perusal.

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This photo allows you to zoom in and see the filthy lower receivers.

Interestingly, the dirtiest lower receiver was that of the Federal carbine. The upper receiver and bolt carrier group assembly of the Federal carbine also took significantly longer to clean than the Brown Bear and Wolf carbines – although it should be kept in mind that the Brown Bear carbine’s gas tube and gas key were so fouled with carbon after 5,000 rounds that it would no longer function reliably. Nearly the same level of buildup was found on the replacement key and tube after they had seen just short of 5000 rounds.

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Another close up view of the the AR-15 lower receivers used in the test.

How was Accuracy Affected?

Although end users of off-the-shelf carbines firing bulk ammo should never expect tack-driving accuracy, group sizes were checked every 2,000 rounds in order to monitor how each type of ammunition was faring. Again, these groups consisted of 10 shots at 50 yards from a supported position, using a US Optics scope at 17x magnification.

A Marine infantryman and marksmanship instructor prepares to test accuracy.
A Marine infantryman and marksmanship instructor prepares to test accuracy.

While the carbine firing Federal ammunition maintained acceptable accuracy up to and including the 10,000 round mark, the Brown Bear and Wolf carbines exhibited significant accuracy loss by the 6,000 round mark. It is quite possible that this first started occurring earlier than 6,000 rounds, because groups at 4,000 were well within standards of 5MOA or less, while some shots at 6,000 “keyholed,” or impacted the target sideways.

A target showing keyholing of ammunition.
Keyholing is not conducive to good accuracy or precision.

Even if we use accuracy as the only factor to determine serviceability, the Federal carbine was by far the best performer in this category. Its barrel was showing wear, but was serviceable right up to the end of the test. The Brown Bear and Wolf barrels would have required replacement at approximately 5,000 rounds, or halfway through the test.
To see accuracy results for each manufacturer at specific intervals of the testing, click through the slideshow below:

A chart indicating the accuracy of each manufacturer's ammunition.

Were There Velocity Changes?

In addition to accuracy data, we have chronograph data at 2,000 round intervals. Velocity loss is another sign of a barrel becoming worn out, or “shot out.” However, in this case, it was not an exceptionally reliable indicator of barrel failure, for the Wolf and Federal velocities were fairly close to one another all the way to 10k, while the Brown Bear velocity did decrease in a more significant manner towards the end of the test. A military standard for a barrel being unserviceable is a drop in velocity of 200fps or more.

A chart indicating decreased muzzle velocities as testing went on.

Data Analysis

While the above section is essentially a factual summary of the events which occurred during testing, the following is a logical explanation for the results of the test, based on our experiments/measurements/observations as well as the work of other individuals and organizations in the field.

Why Didn’t Tula Function Well in the Test Carbine?

One of the first questions one might have after reading the above treatise is, “What happened with Tula?”

After all,  it consists of a 55 grain bimetal jacketed lead core projectile loaded in a polymer coated steel case, and this description is by no means an outlier compared to the other ammunition in the test. In terms of velocity, Tula was also in line with the other products. Tula functioned very well in a Spike’s Tactical midlength, which saw 6,000 rounds of Tula without any cleaning and only had three malfunctions.

But in the Bushmaster carbine, Tula was a no-go. In terms of functional problems, there were two major issues with Tula: “short stroking” – a failure of the bolt to fully cycle to the rear – and extraction problems. Further research and experimentation indicated that there was likely one factor which contributed to both failure types.

A chart indicating Tula chamber pressures.

Chamber pressure measurements indicated that Tula had the second highest chamber pressure of any ammunition in the test when all barrels were new, and these results were verified in a separate test barrel which was used for all ammunition types. Federal was highest with a maximum average pressure of 52kpsi and Tula followed with 51kpsi. Wolf registered 47.5kpsi with Brown Bear close behind at 47kpsi.

A chart indicating chamber pressure in the firearm shooting Brown Bear ammo.
Brown Bear’s maximum average chamber pressure was lower than that of Tula, but it functioned better overall.

 

A chart showing the chamber pressures for the firearm shooting Federal.
Federal’s maximum average chamber pressure was the highest, and it also had a peak which occurred later than the other ammunition types.

 

A chart indicating Wolf's pressure curve was very similar to Brown Bear.
At the beginning of the test, Wolf’s pressure curve looked very much like Brown Bear’s.

What’s really important in this case, however, is not the maximum chamber pressure number, but powder burn rate and thus gas port pressure. Whether measured in clean, fouled, new, or worn out barrels, Tula exhibited gas port pressures that were 10-20% lower than all other ammunition types.

Basically, the powder burns too fast, and by the time the bullet has reached the barrel, the pressure drops.  The rise time of Tula, defined as the time in microseconds for pressure to rise from 25% to 75% of maximum chamber pressure, is 175ms. In comparison, Federal AE223, depending on temperature, has a rise time of 260-300ms.

A chart showing gas port pressure and rise for each of the manufacturers.

Couple this with the .058″ gas port used on the Bushmaster rifles – about the same as a Colt 6920 with a 16″ barrel, and just about the smallest gas port you’ll see on any 16″ carbine AR-15, and you’re bound to encounter problems. The Spike’s Tactical midlength did not have a small gas port relative to its longer gas system, and so it functioned without any short stroking issues.

A pressure graph for Tula.
The peak pressure and overall curve of Tula ammunition at the gas port were low and flat…
Wolf ammunition's pressure curve.
…while ammunition such as Wolf had higher peak gas port pressures as well as more distinct peaks.

This explains the short stroking issues, for an insufficient gas port pressure for a given gas system length and port diameter would logically cause insufficient bolt velocity – but what about the failures to extract?

Part of the answer to this question is the nature of the case material itself. When heated, steel does not expand and contract the same way that brass does – in fact, brass expands 1.5 times as much as steel. The shape of the .223/5.56 case was designed with brass as the case material; this plus the fact that steel doesn’t expand – and more importantly, contract – like brass means that extraction will be naturally more difficult.

Beyond these differences, though, is it possible that extraction of Tula – and possibly other ammo – could be made easier by adjusting the pressure curve? A clever test conducted by the US Army’s TACOM and presented at NDIA in 2003 may have the answer. Titled “Understanding Extractor Lift in the M16 Family of Weapons,” the test concluded that the extractor lifts off the rim of the case during initial rearward travel, but that residual chamber pressure holds the case against the bolt face until the extractor returns to the case rim.

In other words, if there are pressure curve issues, case extraction – made slightly more difficult by the steel case – becomes questionable, as the extractor may not return to place in time to pull the case out of the chamber. While a drop in Tula’s chamber pressure at the appropriate time is not observed, it is possible that the location of the gauge is not ideal for reading pressures against the bolt face.

We know from the rise time and gas port data that the powder does burn too fast for the system, so it is quite likely that this is a contributing factor to the rate of extraction failures.

A man firing a Bushmaster AR-15.
Tula ammunition is not ideal for AR-15s with small or military spec gas ports.

To be sure, the short stroking failures are a result of low gas port pressure, which is due to a powder burn rate not perfectly matched to that which would be ideal for the AR-15 platform. If you aren’t sure if this ammunition will cycle in your AR-15, buy a few boxes and shoot one round at a time from an otherwise empty magazine. If the bolt does not consistently lock back to the rear, chances are that you will encounter problems with this rifle/ammunition combination.

What Effect Did Coatings Have On Steel Cased Ammo Performance?

A common belief is that the lacquer coating of certain steel cased ammunition will “melt” in the chamber of a hot rifle and cause subsequent rounds to fail to extract. At one point, we might have believed that.

But in this test, we saw three times as many failures to extract  with the polymer coated Wolf brand ammo (15 extraction failures) than with the lacquer coated Brown Bear ammo (5 extraction failures). Although the polymer coated Tula ammunition was fired in different rifles, the rate of extraction failures in those rifles was lower than that of Wolf.

A man fires an AR-15 with laquer coated casings.
There will be a very small number of stuck cases experienced when shooting steel cased ammunition, but we didn’t see a correlation between lacquer coatings and stuck cases.

If anything would make that lacquer coating “melt,” it would be the treatment these rifles received during the test. We shot them until they were too hot to hold – hot enough that a chambered round would cook off in ten to fifteen seconds. We also tried leaving rounds chambered before temperatures reached that point. None of this harsh treatment caused extraction problems.

We found no evidence to back up the claim that lacquer coatings melt in the chamber and cause extraction failures.

Why Did The Barrels Wear The Way They Did?

Certainly one of the most visually striking parts of this article is the inclusion of post-test barrel cutaways. The barrels were cut axially with an angle grinder and then longitudinally by the wire EDM process. This lets us see exactly how the barrels wore throughout the test – and there were significant differences.

The first answer to this question is, “Because we shot them until they got hot, and then we kept shooting them.”

A saw cuts into the barrel of an AR-15 during the steel vs. brass test.
Due to the position of the front taper pin and the effects of extreme heat over time, the front sight base of the Brown Bear carbine had to be cut off before the barrel could be removed from the upper receiver and sectioned.

The rate of fire definitely contributed to rapid barrel wear. Still, there were other factors which played a major role.

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These tight images of the barrel cutaways offer insight into barrel wear.

As indicated by accuracy testing, the steel cased/bimetal jacketed ammunition caused accelerated wear to the inside of their respective bores. While the barrel of the Federal carbine had plenty of life left, even after 10,000 rounds at extremely high rates of fire, the Wolf and Brown Bear barrels were subjected to the same rates of fire and were completely “shot out” by 6,000 rounds.

At the end of the test, the chrome lining of the Wolf and Brown Bear barrels was almost gone from the throat forward, and the barrels had effectively become smoothbores, with the rifling near the muzzles acting only as a mild suggestion on the projectiles. A throat erosion gauge could be dropped into the bore from the muzzle end with absolutely no resistance.

A throat erosion gauge.
This is a throat erosion gauge. It’s not supposed to fit inside the muzzle.

The bottom line is that for both Brown Bear and Wolf, the lands had been completely ground down to the diameter of the grooves. What’s still visible is the differences in material, for the grooves have some chrome lining left. Longitudinal scratches are visible inside the bore, and it is believed that they were caused by the projectiles meandering their way down the bore in a casual manner before exiting and tumbling in a fairly random direction.

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A detailed look at gas port erosion for each of the ammunition manufacturers tested.

However, the gas port of the Federal carbine was far more eroded towards the muzzle than the Wolf or Brown Bear barrels. I believe that this is due to the excessive throat erosion and barrel wear of these two barrels – the Federal barrel maintained a good seal between itself and the bullet up to 10,000 rounds, while the Wolf and Brown Bear barrels let a significant amount of gases past the projectile, reducing the flame-cutting effect on the gas port as time went on.

A chart indicating Brown Bear exhibited secondary pressure spikes and ignition delays at 10,000 rounds.
Brown Bear exhibited secondary pressure spikes and ignition delays at 10,000 rounds.

 

A pressure curve showing a downward pressure curve with Wolf ammunition.
At 10,000 rounds, Wolf’s pressure curves were about as ugly as they could be and still result in a functioning weapon.

 

A curved graph showing the decline of gas port pressure for Federal.
Federal ammunition at 10,000 rounds exhibited minor secondary pressure spikes, but the initial rise was not vastly different than the initial testing.

The steel cases themselves don’t have any effect on the condition of the bore. The difference lies with the projectile – the soft copper jacket of the Federal ammunition simply doesn’t cause the same amount of wear as the bimetal (copper and steel) jacket of the Russian ammunition.

A graph detailing troat erosion in LuckyGunner's brass vs. steel test.
For this measurement, throat erosion was measured in thousandths of an inch from a specific point forward of the case mouth. At 10,000 rounds, the Wolf and Brown Bear throats had eroded to a point which could not be easily measured. The diameter of the entire bore had become enlarged.

Firing continued for the Wolf and Brown Bear carbines after their barrels had been shot out in order to collect other data and finish the test. However, Tula firing was halted at 6,000 rounds from the backup Spike’s Tactical midlength.

The data from this weapon cannot be directly compared to the others, due to differences in construction (the barrel had a midlength gas port, was manufactured via the hammer forging process, and featured “extra thick” chrome lining) and methodology (it was fired with only reliability testing in mind and saw even higher rates of fire as well as environmental abuse such as mud, water, and dirt testing). Still, general conclusions can be drawn, even if direct comparisons cannot.

The barrel of the Spike’s Tactical midlength shot acceptable groups at 4,000 and 5,000 rounds, after it saw seventeen magazines of 30 rounds dumped through it several times, but by 6,000 rounds, it too was keyholing. The changes in barrel construction did not appear to offer a massive advantage in terms of barrel life, while changes in ammo – to copper jackets only – did. Performance indicators for the Federal barrel show that it would likely have remained serviceable for at least another three to five thousand rounds when it was sectioned after 10,000.

An important factor to consider is that in the real world, barrels are wear items. They will eventually become unserviceable if shot enough. If you plan on shooting a lot, don’t get too attached to your barrel – think of it as a thing that does a job for a certain period of time at a certain cost. When that time is up, change the barrel. The AR-15 is a modular platform, and barrel changes are quite simple.

Think of it this way – if a barrel A costs 50-100% more than barrel B but only delivers the same level of accuracy for 0-50% more time, isn’t it a more financially sensible decision to shoot through more examples of barrel B?

The high speed video below offers a comparison of each firearm’s cyclic rate as testing continued.


Did The Steel Cases Break or Wear Down The Extractors?

Different wear patterns were evident on the extractors after 10,000 rounds had been fired. Given that most of the extraction failures with the steel cased ammunition brands occurred during the last half of the test, it is possible that a replacement of the extractors at the halfway point or later would have reduced the number of failures to extract. These wear patterns were not easily visible with the naked eye, only becoming obvious with the aid of macro photography.

Interactive photo - mouse wheel or image controls to zoom or hold & drag


1
2
3

The image above lets you zoom in to see the extractors in great detail.

If you regularly shoot steel cased ammunition, it might be a good idea to replace your extractor along with your barrel, or at 5000 rounds, whichever comes first. Replacement extractors are not very expensive. Changing the extractor spring at the same time would require no additional work – just set aside the old extractor and spring assembly and install the new one after popping the new spring into place in the new extractor.

Average OEM extractor springs should be replaced beginning at 2,500 rounds and no later than 5,000. Better extractor springs will not require such frequent replacement with any ammunition – the Colt “Gold” extractor springs used in each rifle starting at 5,000 rounds were still providing reliable extraction at the 10,000 round mark, and would not have required replacement after 5,000 rounds.

Which Ammo To Buy

If Federal Brass Cased Ammo Performed So Great, Why Bother Buying Steel Cased Ammo?

The performance of the carbine firing Federal ammunition in this test was undoubtedly impressive. The firing of approximately 412 pounds of ammunition with very minimal maintenance in austere conditions without a single malfunction – not to mention remaining serviceable and combat accurate from the first shot to the last – could hardly be improved upon. To many who read this report, this is all the justification they need to purchase this type of ammo.

A man firing an AR-15 with Federal ammunition.
It is hard to argue with a functionally flawless performance.

To others, the increased cost of brass cased ammunition isn’t worth it – after all, the Wolf and Brown Bear ammo had very few malfunctions, all things considered. Plus, let’s be honest – in all likelihood, most people will never shoot 10,000 rounds through their AR-15. As a company we would be excited if they did, but the use these rifles saw was far beyond what is likely to be encountered in the real world. So, for many consumers, this test will be justification that buying steel cased ammunition is a sensible decision. In many cases, it is.

A photo showing two men firing steel ammunition.
Imported steel cased ammunition is a lot better than it is sometimes given credit for, especially considering the reduced price.

Although ammunition prices are volatile, the prices of brass and steel remain similar to one another – that is, brass is generally more expensive. We created a chart comparing the cost over time of each type, including ammunition and spare parts replacement costs.

The difference in price between brass and steel cased (more specifically, copper jacketed and bimetal jacketed) ammunition means that you’ll have plenty of savings with which to buy new barrels – even if you shoot so fast that you replace them every 4,000 rounds. For this chart, brass ammunition was calculated at $130 per thousand higher than steel and replacement barrels at $250 apiece.

A chart detailing the cost of shooting brass vs. steel ammunition over 10,000 rounds.


The final decision is up to you, but now that you know some facts, you can make a better-informed decision.


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390 Responses to “Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test”

  1. Frank Tait

    Great analysis of the brass case vs Steel Case Ammo debate. Also nice to see validation of no malfunctions with brass cases no cleaning for 5,000 rounds ;-).

    Reply
  2. Brass vs Steel cased ammo - An impressively comprehensive test - INGunOwners

    [...] Brass vs Steel cased ammo – An impressively comprehensive test if (!window.OX_ads) { OX_ads = []; } OX_ads.push({ "auid" : "226154" }); document.write(''); Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test [...]

    Reply
  3. Brass v Steel-cased Ammo: Andrew Fires Steel-cased Rounds In the “Lab” « MJ Mollenhour's Blog on the 2nd Amendment, National Defense, and Terrorism

    [...] always wondered about steel-cased rounds.  Andrew at Luckygunner.com Labs digs down deep, fires lots of rounds, tears up some rifles, and reports to you what he [...]

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Superb! Thanks, again, Andrew, for all of the hard, hot, dusty work.

    Reply
    • Andrew Tuohy

      You're welcome, and thank you for the wonderful dinner and support, MJM.

      Reply
  5. Larry Overmann

    Very informative…and I even understood it! Thanks for the comparisons as I tend to sgoot much more steel than the brass mainly for the cost factor. I can see why having a rifle that is modular is better in ways than a 'solid' rifle might be if you plan on doing the shooting on this type of scale.
    Thanks for being so thorough.

    Reply
  6. Jon Vivas

    Best article on the subject I have ever seen. Empirical data FTW!

    Reply
  7. John Robert Hanna

    This is a terrific find. Good on ya for doing all this leg work for us. A wonderful read and data to use in the future. Many thanks.

    Reply
  8. Sergey Vorobyev

    Хорошая работа!
    Очень информативно, поразительные результаты!
    Тест патрон, по 10 000 выстрелов:
    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).

    Reply
    • Sergey Vorobyev

      Применение биметаллических пуль оправдано! практически и экономически :), даже при замене выбрасывателя и ствола после износа (Там у них :) ).

      Reply
  9. Russell Curry

    Nicely done and highly informative. My range diet doesn't reach those proportions but the platform was built around brass and everything counts at 50+kpsi: frankly, I am surprised that two of the three steel cases performed as well as they did. The few times I have used steel for lack of anything else I had a couple of nasty extraction problems (Wolf and some surplus Russian/Czech), but never with brass, i.e. (formerly) cheap Lake City cartridges. I chalked it up to the melted coatings story, but hey, I'm wrong as often as right. Clearly, if youre going to shoot steel far out in the boonies, carry a driving rod and a shell extractor :) Thanks again for a great report!

    Reply
  10. Sean Yunt

    Correct me if I'm mistaken, but the fact that steel cases were used was just a characteristic of different products more than a root cause for performance.

    It appears that different propellents and bullet construction had far more to due with wear than the case material. Feeding and failure to extract are valid concerns.

    Imagine if just 1 in 10,000 federal rounds had a malfunction, the stats would be infinitely different :)

    Reply
    • Michael Z. Williamson

      The brass obturates better and then relaxes back toward loaded dimensionality, making extraction easier. It was most certainly a factor in that aspect of the test.

      Reply
    • Matt Newcomb

      I might be wrong as well, but i thought steel cased ammo (or Wolf, for example) was more designed for foreign guns over American guns because foreign guns (like an AK or SKS) are loose tolerance weapons. American guns and German guns (from what I've been told) are more finicky about the ammo they use.

      Reply
    • Trent Maynard

      Chamber tolerances do play a part. I have a tight tolerance dpms ar10 that runs great but does not like steel case but my buddy has a sig ar10 with larger chamber tolerance and seems to have no issue running steel…. However on the topic of ak vs ar, you need to look at the overall case taper. The difference there also plays a part in function with particular ammunition

      Reply
    • Ben B. Rodríguez

      Yes, the case material likely has nothing to do with the barrel wear. The bullet jacket might have something to do with the wear, but I would be more on the powder.

      What would be an awesome comparison is the Hornady steel match loads.

      Reply
  11. Dylan Martin

    Great info. Cleared up many questions on my end.

    Reply
  12. 8541 Tactical

    Very nice article. Shared for all of our readers.

    Reply
  13. Paul Lowe

    It would be interesting to see one more test with steel cased with lead/copper bullet (maybe Hornaday's ammo) to see how that performed in the same test.

    Reply
    • Sean Yunt

      Ideally the identical bullets, primers and charge – but that's asking a lot, esp. given the massive quantities in this test.

      Reply
    • Paul Lowe

      I was thinking of the Hornaday Steel Match, if any can be found. Hornaday 55gr match bullets in a steel case. It would be interesting to find out if these are Wolf or Tula cases loaded by Hornaday with the rest being Hornaday components and if there would be any significant difference in the amount of erosion.

      Reply
    • Joshua Berry

      Hornady Match steel is still very expensive when purchasing 10,000 rounds of it.

      Reply
    • Alan Simon

      I have been shooting Hornday Steel Match 55gr HP in my CMMG with 1 in 9 twist and can benchrest dime sized groups at 100 yards all day with it. After a couple hundred rounds, far cleaner than any other ammo I've used. Not one extraction problem with it either.

      Reply
    • Mike Branham

      Paul is looking at running this test on a "smaller" scale… Maybe a box of each, and then only if someone is willing to donate the ammo.

      Reply
    • Paul Lowe

      Mike, are you calling me a tight-wad? I was still thinking of the full 10,000 round test with barrel sectioning and all, but with someone else buying all the ammo. 'Cuz I'm to cheap to do it myself.

      Reply
  14. Aaron Henley

    Fantastic job guys!

    Reply
  15. Robert Boik

    I quit shooting steel casings after the first jammings. I've shot brass ever since without any problems. Now I have a case of steel I can't use.

    Reply
    • Rob Yang

      Sell it, I bet you would get your money back and then some considering the current market.

      Reply
    • Steven Carinci

      Robert
      The reason steel is giving you stuck cases is that you have a 223 chamber instead of a 5.56 chamber. Get your chamber reamed and shoot cheap steel without issue.
      SJC3081

      Reply
  16. Tom Schmidt

    Thank You. Very well thought out, planned and executed. Perhaps to deepen the database, another could be run in the 75gr range. The only steel cased ammo I have shot has been Hornady Steel Cased Match 75gr. After 200 rounds in my ASA M4gery it has cycled just as flawless as any other brass cased ammo I've shot to date. I've not shot any other steel cased ammo and based on my experience and your write up…..I will only use the Hornady in steel cased ammo if I can help it.

    Reply
  17. brass vs. steel cased testing - INGunOwners

    [...] that would cost way more $$$ than most of us could afford. 40k rounds total used. heres the link http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our [...]

    Reply
  18. Joshua Berry

    Great test, what barrel was used on the Spikes middy?

    Reply
  19. Steel cased/jacketed ammo vs. brass-cased/copper-jacketed | VolkStudio Blog

    [...] Gunner just posted an extremely informative study. I have been very impressed with one of the brands they used, American Eagle (the target above was [...]

    Reply
  20. LuckyGunner.com’s brass vs. steel test « Loose Rounds

    [...] LuckyGunner.com did very interesting test comparing brass cased ammunition to Brown Bear, Wolf, and Tula. [...]

    Reply
  21. Kyle Pellegrino

    Wasted all that ammo to tell us something we already know…

    Reply
    • Patrick Hargrove

      Says the guy who DOESN'T have 2k rounds of steel case inbound for a class…at a shipped cost of $5.30 a box. Reading that only made me realize I'm getting a new barrel after I shoot those 2k rounds in 3 days. Figure the round count on my gun is about 2500-3000 now with about 1000 of those being wolf.

      Reply
    • Rusty Shackleford

      They were cooking the living SHIT out of those barrels. That made a HUGE difference! I have a training rifle I have shot many cases of Brown Bear out of and it still grooups well at 200 yards. I clean the gas key well with Shooters Choice and use a foaming bore cleaner occasionally that also gets the gas tube and have no problems. I am monitoring the throat erosion carefully. That barrel is close to 15K rounds of mixed ammo. 4K of that at least is Brown and Silver Bear (Same Bi-Metal projectile)

      Reply
    • Rusty Shackleford

      As long as your barrel is grouping acceptably at around 200M, there is no reason to replace it on a whim. Buy a spare barrel but save it till you need it.

      Reply
    • Andrew Tuohy

      The rates of fire used in this test were identical to the 2003 CQBR testing, as stated in the article. http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2003smallarms/john.ppt

      Reply
    • Rusty Shackleford

      True, but this still constitutes a destructive test in that if you are getting it hot enough to cook-off rounds, the steel on the inside of the barrel was being severly weakened and becoming soft. Not hot enough to slump the barrel or create a hazardous condition but hot enough to make the rifling very soft and malleable. Andrew, I would lkie to see you do a similar test where you use the wolf or brown bear but simulate a more normal firing schedule of aroudn 500 rounds per day like at a typical carbine class. I would like to see what that looks like at 10K vis a vi the one shot out over two days.

      Reply
  22. SayUncle » Brass v. Steel Ammo

    [...] 40,000 rounds of science on which is more reliable [...]

    Reply
  23. Brass vs Steel cased ammo, scientific test results - Gun & Game - Gun Forum Community

    [...] found it!! http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Thanks for the "heads up" TACAV! __________________ The Bill of Rights says I [...]

    Reply
  24. Ethan Perks

    My only experience with steel 223 was Seller &Bellot. And only a fraction of what you used. Never had a problem. Based on your findings, I would use only quality brass cased ammo if my life was on the line. I'ld save the steel for practice..

    Reply
  25. Steel Versus Brass | justbarkingmad.com

    [...] Learn more at LuckyGunner.com [...]

    Reply
  26. comparison of .223 ammo: brass and steel cases

    [...] on this site. So, if your mouse pointer disappears, wave the mouse around a bit to get it back. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/ if (!window.OX_ads) { OX_ads = []; } OX_ads.push({ "auid" : "115640" }); [...]

    Reply
  27. Charlie Walker

    Very informative… Thanks.

    Reply
  28. Steel or brass cases.... ? - Kentuckiana Firearms

    [...] or brass cases…. ? Seems to be a decent comparison test…. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ NRA Life Member Freedom has a flavor the protected can never taste…USMC [...]

    Reply
  29. Ray Sadesky

    Wow – great article. I've always shyed away from the wolf because it fouls the action, but this confirms it. FANTASTIC! I did a quck read, but this will require some re-reading and analysis. Thanx again!

    Reply
  30. Blogs Roundup « DaddyBear's Den

    [...] Andrew over at LuckyGunner does an excellent write-up on brass versus steel cased ammunition. [...]

    Reply
  31. Steel vs. Brass cased ammo (huge article, great read)

    [...] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ NYSRPA Member – SCOPE Member – NRA Life Member – NRA Range Safety Officer Reply With Quote [...]

    Reply
  32. George Zee

    Awesome article and test data!

    Reply
  33. brass vs steel cased ammo

    [...] vs steel cased ammowell someone did a pretty thorough test with very interesting results!! http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/ if (!window.OX_ads) { OX_ads = []; } OX_ads.push({ "auid" : "115640" }); document.write(''); [...]

    Reply
  34. Chris Smith

    The only times I've ever seen someone with a stuck case in an AR, they were shooting steel-cased Russian made ammo. I don't really know how many rounds were fired by the gun's owner, but it probably paralleled my own rounds fired, as the guy was in a lane next to mine, so it was probably not more than 100 rounds at a session. I've refused to shoot the steel stuff for that reason, and by now I have something like 2,000 rounds down the barrel. Not all of it has been federal, but it has all been brass cased and copper jacketed.The last 500 rounds or so have been M855 Lake City ball. No problems, but it does seem to be "dirty."

    Reply
  35. steel casings vs. brass casings - Kentuckiana Firearms

    [...] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Not the case causing wear but the bullets __________________ CW Shooters Supply Inc.Machine Shop , Hot Bluing,Painting, Cammo etc Stocks.Locks & Barrels; Black Rifles to Black Powder 502-231-1118 1-866-217-5990 http://www.guncrank.com [...]

    Reply
  36. Clint Notestine

    I had stuck steel case problems with an Upper I built but after swapping the gas block I had zero problems. Ive always shot steel case out of my.223 and 7.62 Ar's with no other problems and very little cleaning issues. They smell bad but other than that Tula, wolf, and the bear brands have done me good.

    Reply
  37. Steven Blalock

    Great article! But do the test with an Ak and you would get 10,000 rounds easy with no malfunctions no matter if your using the absolute cheapest dirtiest ammo you can find or the expensive stuff, you can stop em no matter how hard you try they just work

    Reply
    • Andrew Tuohy

      I have had numerous problems with steel cased ammunition in AKMs and Vz58s.

      Reply
  38. Liberty and Justice For All

    Absolutely incredible test. Thanks. I'm about half way through the 500 round tin of Tula that I bought maybe 6 months ago. I discovered that it wouldn't run in my LMT 10.5" upper, even with a carbine buffer. When I had my first stuck case in my M4, I started questioning whether I want any more. I'm not sure that I want to be the guy in the carbine class who needs to take breaks to knock stuck cases out of the chamber, even if it is cheaper.

    Reply
  39. Brass vs Steel Cased Ammo

    [...] An Epic Torture Test Reply With Quote [...]

    Reply
  40. Jeff Moss

    I think the test might have been flawed. The steel ammo probably heated up the barrel well past what an ordinary shooter would do. You could have dramatically altered the results if you did a cool down every 180 rounds. Similarly you might have been able to "shoot out" the barrel with the federal by firing at twice the rate you went. But i don't know anybody who shoots 2500 rounds in one sitting to the point they cook off. Weren't you concerned about safety?

    I'd also be curious to see how Melonite performs.

    Reply
    • Andrew Tuohy

      The rates of fire used in this test were identical to the 2003 CQBR testing, as stated in the article. http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2003smallarms/john.ppt

      Reply
    • Jeff Moss

      It says in that powerpoint:

      300 round firing cycle
      2-4 round short bursts
      4-6 round medium bursts
      Barrel temperature kept below 1000 degrees F
      Weapons cooled after each 300 round cycle
      Weapons cleaned/gaged every 600 rounds

      That doesn't sound like the same test to me.

      Reply
    • Jeff Moss

      Andrew Tuohy Nevermind, I see here: "Although the shooting was fast and hectic, we did not exceed certain temperature and rate of fire limits – the barrels did not exceed 750 degrees Fahrenheit."

      Looks good. I believe it now.

      Reply
    • Jeff Moss

      Andrew Tuohy One interesting addition would have been a barrel temperature graph at each 300 mark, so that some conclusion could have been made whether it was the added heat or just the hardness of the jacket that was causing the increased wear.

      Reply
  41. Dan Carrier

    This test was a great read and a very important and of great value to gun owners. Thanks for your work !!!

    Reply
  42. pdb : Lucky Gunner’s 40000 Round 5.56 Ammunition Test

    [...] So here’s something awesome. The folks at Lucky Gunner decided to answer all the questions about brass versus steel cased 5.56×45 NATO ammunition in the AR-15 type with a forty thousand round torture test. They did a great job in setting the conditions, collecting the data, and presenting their analysis. I recommend you read the report yourself if you have an AR, but here’s some of the things I found interesting. [...]

    Reply
  43. Joe Masotti

    Thanks for the hard work, guys. That was real addition to the knowledge base.

    Reply
  44. TC Inva

    Nicely done, Andrew.

    Reply
  45. Rich Metzger

    I didn't notice a direct mention of chamber-wear with the steel cases, but, the FTE's would suggest that the chambers remained factory-tight. I suppose the coatings prevented steel-on-steel contact/wear. Nice to know. I also didn't see mention of bolt-length contraction, which would increase headspace… The reason I mention that is that the differences in wear on the extractors. While that wouldn't be a bullet-composition issue, or even a case-composition issue, the differences in burn rates and pressure spike timings might have made a difference. Was headspace measured?

    Reply
  46. Gary Jeter

    Outstanding work. Thank you!

    Reply
  47. Steel Cased Ammo - M14 Forum

    [...] Bi-metal jacket bullets wore out the barrels much faster than the copper jacketed bullets did http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ I suggest reading the entire article before drawing any [...]

    Reply
  48. Levan Shooter

    did you enjoy this article? HELL YESSS!

    Reply
  49. Is there anything I shouldn't shoot through this thing?

    [...] this is very detailed description of recent testing performed on 5.56 brass vs. steel cased. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ "Did you ever observe to whom the accidents happen? Chance favors only the prepared [...]

    Reply
  50. 223, steel vs brass!!

    [...] el cual se ponen a prueba varios factores, cascos de laton, acero, precision, mantenimiento etc.. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Espero que les sea de su [...]

    Reply
  51. SayUncle » Wear and tear

    [...] PDB has thoughts on LuckyGunner’s 40K ammo comparison. [...]

    Reply
  52. Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test « My Constructed Reality

    [...] Gunner emailed. They want their brass vs. steel cases ammo review shared. If you’re interested in knowing which to shoot in your AR-15, go [...]

    Reply
  53. Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test

    [...] 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:                                                                      More @ Lucky Gunner  [...]

    Reply
  54. steel ammo in AR-15 and HK416

    [...] HK416, the HK416 had Zero malfunctions with Tula ammo compared to the DI Spikes tactical carbines: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Last edited by M995; Today at 07:32 PM. Reason: wrong link Reply With [...]

    Reply
  55. Anonymous

    [...] techres This is amazing and a must read – especially for the re-loaders and engineers among us: Steel cased/jacketed ammo vs. brass-cased/copper-jacketed A huge thumbs up to Oleg Volk for passing this one [...]

    Reply
  56. New Mini 30 & Berdan Primers

    [...] might want to read this—— http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/#/ It is about 223 but is very interesting. googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1357766515306-7'); [...]

    Reply
  57. "AR-15 Torture Test 40k rounds"

    [...] brass cased and copper jacketed ammunition. My good friend Andrew Tuohy has conducted an epic torture test to see how the more expensive brass-cased ammunition compares with cheaper steel-cased …. It turns out that brass cased ammunition is a lot better, more than I thought it was, but over [...]

    Reply
  58. Bushmaster-Brass vs. Steel ammo 10,00 rounds - INGunOwners

    [...] Bushmaster-Brass vs. Steel ammo 10,00 rounds if (!window.OX_ads) { OX_ads = []; } OX_ads.push({ "auid" : "226154" }); document.write(''); A search did not turn up any results on this test. I thought it was quite interesting. I put this in General firearms as it's results pertain to the rifles as much as the ammunition. As the title says this is a test of Bushmaster carbines and different ammunition to the tune of 10,000 rounds per. Interesting read IMO. Enjoy. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  59. Steel vs Brass - Ruger Forum

    [...] site has a ton of information for those with an AR15 and have questions about steel vs brass ammo. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) [...]

    Reply
  60. Joe Lobcheck

    Great article…..Thanks for researching and posting the information on your site!

    Reply
  61. Terence Rybak

    I have seen one round of Wolf 223 in an AR15 that stuck halfway in the chamber and had to be taken to Williams Gunsmithing to have it removed, it was stuck so well.

    Reply
  62. Jonmark Groover

    Outstanding. Where were the Mythbusters?

    Reply
  63. Martti Putkonen

    Wow and I thought you were just a warehouse selling stuff. I learned so much. I can only imagine the man hours if took to put this together I too would have been interested in testing of Hornady steel. (Maybe.308 bolt action).
    Thank you.

    Reply
  64. Vernon Prewitt

    I just want to know can steel cased ammo be reloaded or not.

    Reply
    • Andrew

      No, it cannot.

      Reply
    • Paul Lowe

      I have reloaded a 200 cases just to see how it did. first reload went off with no problems. the second time many of the necks split. those that did not split worked as normal. I did not try a third loading. I figured one time was enough and that was all the testing I would do.

      Reply
  65. Lexa Haskins

    So running steel ammo through my L1A1 308 is probably not a good unless someone knows where I can get cheap parts.

    Reply
  66. Stephen Keeney

    Outstanding test. Well documented and practically concluded. Thanks for the time and expense to bring this info to bear.

    Reply
  67. Patti McDowell

    Excellent article. Thank you for doing it. Answered a lot of questions and settled an argument, too.

    Reply
  68. David Cole

    I believe part of the issue with the barrel wear can be explained in this article.

    http://www.uspsa.org/front-sight-magazine-article.php?Should-I-Buy-BiMetal-Ammo-8

    Reply
  69. Alan Butterworth

    Excellent data Andrew, it looks like the L.G. Lab works as hard and are as Dedicated as the Great Folks in the Supply side. Lucky Gunner has really raised the Bar for Shooting sports suppliers everywhere.

    Reply
  70. Rappini Pachetti

    That had to be an expensive test. Great article though, very informative.

    Reply
  71. Richard P. Ervin

    Gentlemen, I salute you. That article is outstanding and the research goes far beyond the initial question asked. The data can (and should!) be used for a number of different things. One of the first things that can be seen is the fact that the Stoner design, with direct gas impingement on the bolt carrier group is just as solid as a gas piston design. I knew this from my own experience, as I have used these rifles a lot, in challenging conditions. All you have to do is clean it now and then. You don't need a gas piston system. Also, your photos of the barrel wear are very telling. This is good work!

    Reply
  72. Thanks « Vuurwapen Blog

    [...] easy for me to bask in the accolades that have been showering upon me since the publication of the steel vs. brass ammo test. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally doing [...]

    Reply
  73. David King

    excellent article…thanks for taking the time and expending the effort. I have issues with the Wolf ammo and cases sticking but seems the steel case/coating isn't necessarily the issue. This says I need to look further….thanks again.

    Reply
  74. David King

    excellent article…thanks for taking the time and expending the effort. I have issues with the Wolf ammo and cases sticking but seems the steel case/coating isn't necessarily the issue. This says I need to look further….thanks again.

    Reply
  75. Lance Geist

    Excellent report! Very interesting :)

    Reply
  76. Michael Murray

    Excellent, you have covered everything I can think of and have given clear choices. THANK YOU.

    Reply
  77. Kakie Walters Franz

    I can not help but wonder what results would look like in piston guns. Barrel wear should not change but with cleaner receivers and bolt groups, heat related issues should have moderated…I think….

    Reply
  78. Brass vs. steel case torture test

    [...] test. Thought I'd make a post here for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. Well worth the read. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/ if (!window.OX_ads) { OX_ads = []; } OX_ads.push({ "auid" : "115640" }); document.write(''); [...]

    Reply
  79. Lin Old

    It was nice to see the Federal American made brass ammo did so well.
    I have to say in the last 5 years, I've made the conscious effort to by American products, even when they cost more. My ammunition is no different. It's hard to swallow the price difference at times, but it's worth it. When purchasing american manufactured products, it feels good knowing that a percentage of that money is going back into our country. I have to say though, that seeing prices get to the 50 cent to a dollar range is truly disappointing. I think ammo re-loaders are going to benefit the most because if the ammo stays the same price it is today, that's going to be the most cost efficient way to buy an American made round.

    Reply
  80. Lucky gunner looking for help-- business is good!!

    [...] of steel vs. brass cased ammo! If you like it or learn something, share it with your friends! http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ That's all for now.. we appreciate your loyal support and we promise to continue working hard to [...]

    Reply
  81. SharonAnne Stinson

    One thing ignored is that the brass cases are reloadable. The steel cases are not. Even if you do not reload you can sell the brass as reloadable. The steel cases are only worth whatever you can get for recycle value.

    Reply
  82. Yai Hernlund

    Had an awesome time at this event minus the haboob. Thanks, Andrew for letting us be a part of the Epic Torture Test!

    Reply
  83. Something to look at if you use Russian Ammo.

    [...] }); These tests were on AR-15 but the wear on bbl. would be the same on the SCARs bbl. IMHO. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With [...]

    Reply
  84. Nicola Tognon

    great test, many compliments. I use tula ammo, and I'll go on with them. I'm shooting only for pleasure, and the economic saving is worth the reduced reliability.

    Reply
  85. Sue Freshour Ayes

    Wow. Great job!!! I have always been a fan of federal ammo. .223 or 5.56 shoots great in both my ar's!!!uppppss time to go and buy some more!!!!

    Reply
  86. Anonymous

    Great article. Can you do the same test using AKs in 7.62×39?

    Reply
  87. Ruger SR-556 Thread - Page 21 - Ruger Forum

    [...] ammo test on steel vs. brass in ARs. Definitely a torture test, but some interesting results: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…mmo/#bookmark5 [...]

    Reply
  88. Accurizing .223 ammo - Page 2 - Shooting Sports Forum

    [...] You have questions about brass vs steel? Look at this. kwg http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  89. Anyone wear out an AR barrel? - INGunOwners

    [...] exactly the question you are asking , but kind answers the question… http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Enjoy. __________________ AMERICA – Clinging to our GUNS and RELIGION since 1776. NRA Certified [...]

    Reply
  90. Mini 14 or Mini 30

    [...] this if you haven't already as it is very informative(tested 223 but would be similar with 7.62). http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/#/__________________Times are tough – Keep your powder dry "These are the times that try men's [...]

    Reply
  91. Aric Mickelson

    Nice article gentlemen. I appreciate the raw data you gave to support your conclusions. Well done

    Reply
  92. Darrin Fort

    Thank You for taking the time to do this test. It will be a great asset for in the future.

    Reply
  93. Bob Smith

    Amazing report! Thank you for the great detailed review, just awesome!

    Reply
  94. Brass or Steel Ammo? | Urban Survival Guys

    [...] Learn more at LuckyGunner.com [...]

    Reply
  95. Tulammo - Shooting Sports Forum

    [...] not sure steel cases are that much of a problem. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ USPSA Member Discounts and Promotions – United States Practical Shooting [...]

    Reply
  96. Justin Haser

    For what its worth I've fired about 2000 rounds of brownbear .223 through a S&W M&P 15 without any cases getting stuck nor keyholing. The rifle was not cleaned during the 2000. Russian ammo is famous being really dirty..It is like bulk .22.

    Reply
  97. Wolf steel cased ammo with MR762 & MR556

    [...] may find this study by Lucky Gunner informative: Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo It's not the steel case that would concern me, but the steel jacket on the bullet that will go [...]

    Reply
  98. Sam Summey

    This report needs to be made into a booklet and sold. Best info I have ever seen and should be available in every gunshop in the country.

    Reply
  99. Justin Regan

    I have one caveat about this this test. Bushmasters are bottom of the barrel AR's, I don't even think the newer models after their acquisition even use chrome-lined barrels (?). Do you feel that this test would have gone very differently had the weapon been a BCM, DD, Colt, Noveske, etc? I have a strong feeling it may have.

    Thanks for doing this regardless though!

    Reply
    • Sam Summey

      I think the point of the test was to establish that the steel jacketed copper washed/plated bullets wear the barrel three times faster than copper jacketed bullets and that the difference in expansion of brass and steel cause the steel cases to stick when the gun is run hot. Chrome or no chrome makes some difference in wear because the chrome is harder that the steel bullets and may aleviate the sticking issues. Most manufacturers chrome the bores according to mil. spec.

      Reply
    • Andrew

      As stated in the article, the barrels were chrome lined.

      Reply
  100. wolf .308 question

    [...] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With Quote [...]

    Reply
  101. David Humphreys

    Extremely interesting. Information well delivered by people who know.

    Reply
  102. Ammo availability.... - Page 3

    [...] in an AR-15 or like rifle you may want to see this before buying brass or steel (Wolf) ammo http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…ammo/#reliable Reply With [...]

    Reply
  103. Chris Francis

    I wonder how a melonited barrel would hold up? Maybe also polygonal rifling vs land and groove? I dunno…Thanks for the test guys!

    Reply
  104. New to AR shooting, Need ammo help. - Glock Forum

    [...] I have been a long time steel cased ammo shooter, but after this I am having second thoughts. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/ If you don't want to read it all, just watch the video, it sums it up pretty well. [...]

    Reply
  105. tulammmo use in sig 556 rifles - SIG Talk

    [...] of debate over Steel vs Brass, this is the first, 40,000 test on 4 new/identical rifles Ive seen http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ While we have been discussing the dirt from steel case ammo and possible wear on extractors from [...]

    Reply
  106. John Joseph Hall

    Glad I ahvent shot steel cased rounds out of my AR. I stick to the military rounds that are brass cased.

    Reply
  107. Is steel non corrosive really that bad - Page 2 - INGunOwners

    [...] be more concerned about the bi-metal bullet jackets than the steel cases. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ AMERICA – Clinging to our GUNS and RELIGION since 1776. NRA Certified [...]

    Reply
  108. Frank Steele

    Awesome, thanks for taking the time to educate and inform us.

    Reply
  109. Want to Jam an AK47? - Page 4 - INGunOwners

    [...] extensive test should make the differences in wear pretty clear: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ As for chrome being used to protect against corrosion, that's never been why chrome was used in [...]

    Reply
  110. Robert Carter Miller

    Excellent Article!!!

    Reply
  111. Lucky gunner

    [...] of rounds both steel case and brass in new rifles then cut the barrels in half down the barrel. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…ammo/#reliable Reply With [...]

    Reply
  112. Need Bulk Ammo - SIG Talk

    [...] Speaking of Ammo, this thread is a good place for everybody to learn about the ammo they are shooting. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…ammo/#reliable [...]

    Reply
  113. Ericc Theodore Cartmann

    Nice test and write up. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I am still going to shoot mostly steel/bi-metal rounds due to the fact that I save about $750 per 5000 rounds. $750 is the price of about 5 barrels.

    Reply
  114. any ammo to avoid? - Shooting Sports Forum

    [...] jacket and copper wash ('bimetallic construction') that wears bbls excessively. Take a look here: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…mmo/#bookmark4 Basically the bimetallic bullets ripped the heck out of the rifling and dramatically shortened the [...]

    Reply
  115. Ammo Comparison - Brass and Steel; Foreign and Domestic: Which is better?

    [...] Found this on another forum and thought it would be of interest to folks here. It is a serious comparison of four brands (Federal, Rolf, Brown Bear, Tula). Bushmaster AR15s fired 10,000 rounds. Data was compiled for EVERYTHING. Very interesting study and very interesting conclusions. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  116. The Colt Python – An Ideal Zombie Gun? - iSurvivedtheZombies : iSurvivedtheZombies

    [...] Lucky Gunner Labs is a place for rigorous and exhaustive testing, unique product reviews, how-to guides, and data sharing. Well, this time, they made the mistake [...]

    Reply
  117. Russian ammo - Page 2

    [...] pre-panic of course, of Wolf steel cased ammo with no problems. Another member posted this: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ It will tell you all you need to [...]

    Reply
  118. Question about "Tulammo"

    [...] bullet that wears out the bore, much faster than copper jackets bullets. Here's a report on it: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ NRA R.S.O. & Life [...]

    Reply
  119. Jack Faenza

    Great article! Looks like a fun job to do as well! Thanks!

    Reply
  120. Ben B. Rodríguez

    I love seeing science applied to guns. What would make a good test is to compare the Hornady steel cased match rounds to the russian steel cased stuff.

    Reply
  121. Long Term Use of Steel Jacketed Rifle Ammo - Shooting Sports Forum

    [...] Term Use of Steel Jacketed Rifle Ammo http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…mmo/#bookmark4 In a nutshell, four Bushmaster MOE carbines were used to test four brands of .223 Remington. Each [...]

    Reply
  122. Desperate times call for desperate measures

    [...] You might want to read this to find the results of steel versus brass. A very good read indeed. Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test [...]

    Reply
  123. Chrome lined barrel vs non chrome lined..... - Page 2

    [...] call BS on this. here is actual article about http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Originally Posted by G30 The general overview is CL will outlast SS while giving up some [...]

    Reply
  124. Steel cased ammo?? - SIG Talk

    [...] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ This truly answered my questions on steel case ammo. [...]

    Reply
  125. Russian Ammo Help!

    [...] Never had a problem using it in a ar-15 though some say it is under powered and may cause misfires. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…eel-cased-ammo Reply With [...]

    Reply
  126. Anonymous

    I will take that crap tula off your hands and dispose of it properly. Thanks for the break down.

    Reply
  127. Criss Morgan

    Finally…a real endurance test that means something It is honestly presented with no aqpparent brand name bias.

    Reply
  128. Newly Purchased M&P 9c - A few questions

    [...] are right, here's the answer: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ NRA R.S.O. & Life [...]

    Reply
  129. German DAG 7.62 x 51 ammo questions - Page 2

    [...] bullets, they cut open the barrels and compared wear…bi-metal bullets killed the AR test barrels: Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test Reply With [...]

    Reply
  130. Dutch Duchnowski

    Great article about brass and metal cartridges.

    Reply
  131. Pompeii

    Very impressive showcase. I would applaud you for such work

    Reply
  132. Brass vs Steel case ammo

    [...] option is available (like 9mm pistol ammo). Some myths were debunked, while others were confirmed. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ "Live Free or Die" Glock 19 gen4, S&W Shield 9mm, Mossberg 500 Pump Action, [...]

    Reply
  133. mini 14 wont cycle ,acts like a bolt action - Page 2 - Ruger Forum

    [...] Was Luckgunner.com, they compared brass vs steel in torture test. Way too much information and have to wade through to see conclusions scattered at the end. I don't have steel but they show how much you would spend on ammo versus cost of a barrel, and some other insight. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  134. WHY Ak or SKS - Page 3

    [...] gunner did an extensive test on steel and brass ammo. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With [...]

    Reply
  135. steel case ammo? - Page 2 - MP-Pistol Forum

    [...] It's not the steel case that causes wear, nearly as much as the bi-metal bullet. Read the full report: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  136. 223 Cheap Ammo Test

    [...] article about brass vs steel ammo: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ "…the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and [...]

    Reply
  137. Ammo sources

    [...] are bad for the chamber…any truth to that? The price is tempting A good read on the subject. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ NRA NYSRPA S.C.O.P.E. Reply With [...]

    Reply
  138. 223 and 308 *cheap* in stock at Cabela's...

    [...] issue. I posted this in another thread, but for those who missed it it's an excellent read. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ NRA NYSRPA S.C.O.P.E. Reply With [...]

    Reply
  139. Ron Johnson

    Outstanding test. To refer to it as 'Thorough' doesn't do justice. I feel that EVERY question I've ever had regarding the subject was answered. Great job!

    Reply
  140. Quality vs. cheap ammo

    [...] This link has additional useful information on it.http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…mmo/#bookmark1 To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You [...]

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  141. Mike Callahan

    This is not only a great test and analysis, but a great service to all of those who love and shoot these rifles. I would also suggest that it creates questions around the longevity/functionality/long term accuracy of AK's and SKS's. Their barrels are not as easily replaced as an AR. One that's seen a lot of shooting, while the action may cycle reliably with mud and blood, may have unacceptable accuracy, even in an adversarial action. Just an additional thought as one considers platforms and rifle/cartridge/ammo systems. And, at least in a serious situation, I think that's the way one ought to look at it. Wonderful work and it should be much more widely publicized. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  142. Nick Bosco

    This mirrors my personal experience. I have had multiple instances of badly stuck Wolf and Tula cases, and the Tula has been too underpowered to run reliably in some of my ARs. Never had a problem with Federal, Lake City, Winchester, Remington or PMC.

    The steel cased stuff is ok for plinking, especially given the savings. But for ammo I need to depend on, I'll stick with brass cased.

    Reply
  143. New US Military ammo in the works - Page 2 - M14 Forum

    [...] a little Light on the subject rather than Heat… Here's an interesting side-by-comparison… http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ CAVman in [...]

    Reply
  144. Nfa Trust

    Great data. Explains some things that I have noticed.

    Reply
  145. Nfa Trust

    Great data. Explains some things that I have noticed.

    Reply
  146. Anthony James Clark

    Tons of respect and thanks for running these tests and providing such a comprehensive review of the info uncovered. I shoot an ak-47, but the idea is still the same. I am showing this to everyone i know.

    Reply
  147. Brass vs Steel Case «

    [...] LuckyGunner.com did a  thorough test of the differences between brass and steel cased ammo. [...]

    Reply
  148. Jim Watson

    Fascinating.
    I guess that clears up the prospects for regular use of steel jacketed bullets. We are usually told that it is mild steel, softer than the barrel and won't hurt a thing. Wrong. Not to mention functionality of a long skinny cartridge made of a material less resilient than brass.

    I'd like to see a steel jacket durability test with the new generation of nitrided barrels; supposedly more durable even than chrome lined.

    Reply
  149. Jim Watson

    Fascinating.
    I guess that clears up the prospects for regular use of steel jacketed bullets. We are usually told that it is mild steel, softer than the barrel and won't hurt a thing. Wrong. Not to mention functionality of a long skinny cartridge made of a material less resilient than brass.

    I'd like to see a steel jacket durability test with the new generation of nitrided barrels; supposedly more durable even than chrome lined.

    Reply
  150. 5.56/.223 Brass Cased vs Steel Cased debate: SETTLED

    [...] in-depth test and evaluation. Debunks common myths, I learned a lot. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With [...]

    Reply
  151. Polygonal Rifling - Page 2

    [...] Glad I checked my sources before I posted. Too bad others don't do it! The link to the test: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…eel-cased-ammo Reply With [...]

    Reply
  152. Steel Rounds in M1A - Shooting Sports Forum

    [...] I imagine the results would be the same. [...]

    Reply
  153. told not to use russian ammo at range? - MP-Pistol Forum

    [...] Maybe you guys should read this. The money you save shooting bi-metal bullet Russian ammo will buy you a new barrel. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  154. Steve McInnis

    Came to new and different conclusions as to what I would chose to shoot in my AR15 about half a dozen times before reading the entire results. My personal final conclusion is this. The number of rounds that I will fire in the lifetime of owning my gun will not have any great significance in money spent on ammo. Therefore, with consideration of the number of opportunities I get to go fire 50-100 rounds of ammunition, whether it be shooting prarie dogs or targets, why would I take any higher risks of spending any of my time picking a casing out of my gun? I'll enjoy recounting the event while cleaning my gun after each and every outing and shooting the more expensive, most dependable, Federal ammunition. Enjoyed this article! Thanks for the info.

    Reply
  155. TulAmmo 115gr FMJ 9mm - An Analysis - SIG Talk

    [...] TulAmmo 115gr FMJ 9mm – An Analysis http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ sent from my rotary dial phone using [...]

    Reply
  156. Sean Hohensee

    Amazing article. Has helped me alot in my self argument on whether to buy steel cased ammo for target shooting. Thank you for the time and effort you put into this!

    Reply
  157. John Shirley

    Excellent article. Useful data, obvious hard work, well written. Thanks.

    Reply
  158. Garry Logan

    I appreciated the thoroughness and accuracy exhibited with this article. You went far beyond all means of measurements in comparison to what I've viewed from other information websites. Thank you for clearing up misconceptions as well as making clear a lot of questions which I could not find answers to anywhere else!

    Reply
  159. Anonymous

    [...] { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1326486542628-1'); }); http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ 70-71 RVN U.S. Army Combat Engineer 75 taken alive, 76 technical glitch, 77 going to [...]

    Reply
  160. Bi-metal jacket? - M14 Forum

    [...] I know it has been asked and some people say they won't wear your barrel faster but in this test http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ the barrels with the bi-metal jacketed bullets were shot out a lot faster. is it different in a [...]

    Reply
  161. Anonymous

    Very good review, wish you had more varieties of guns and ammo in the test but I know that will considerably increase the budget required.

    I shoot both steel and copper but lately because of crazy prices I been shooting Russian(wolf, tula, bear, tiger) metal-cased ammo. Been through about 1000+ rounds on my Palmetto and DanielD and so far everything is A-OK, it smells like pee after couple hundred rounds but goes bang every time for me, plus at 22 cents a round what else can you say? Thanks Russia! Hehe

    Reply
  162. Bill Smith

    Thank you for the truth. Considering I shoot less then 500 rounds a year. I can now ignore the warning in my DPMS handbook not to use steel ammo. Maybe you can forward these results to them.

    Reply
  163. Bill Smith

    Thank you for the truth. Considering I shoot less then 500 rounds a year. I can now ignore the warning in my DPMS handbook not to use steel ammo. Maybe you can forward these results to them.

    Reply
  164. For Sale: M1A Loaded w/ 1240 rounds; $2000 - M14 Forum

    [...] There is no problem shooting steel case through your gun. You would have to shoot over 10,000 rounds to have it make any difference and at that point its time for a new barrel anyways. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  165. Ammo type - M14 Forum

    [...] Ammo type I would like to see what you guys think of this lab test. I would love to do a test like this if ammo was easier to find and I wasn't paying for the guns either…. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  166. Mark Richard

    very informative, thanks!

    Reply
  167. Another good read for AR junkies (bushy owners a must)

    [...] Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test. Reply With Quote [...]

    Reply
  168. Anonymous

    I understand everyone wanting to maintain the American version of 223 for the obvious reasons, however, I am looking at switching my upper over to a 7.62 but probably a 5.45 for the cost savings. I believe the surface area (for friction purposes) and taper of the casing in the 223 has MUCH to due with FTE or stuck casings. Shot out of a gun with a chamber designed for steel, I would venture to say the steel cased ammo will come closer to Federal performance, minus barrel wear.

    Reply
  169. Red Fox

    this test was well done. but ar15s probably wouldn't handle steel cased ammunition for long periods anyways. I know some guys that do use steel case ammo in american guns, but american guns are not designed to handle it. russian guns are designed to handle the lacquered steel ammo. and the copper coated steel jacketed bullets that go with em. soviet weapons have overbuilt parts, are hard chrome lined, and typically are hammer forged, thus will outlast most u.s. barrels. while I'm glad this test shows that steel cased ammo isn't horrible. they fail to mention these wear and tear issues would not be seen in combloc weaponry. I will say tula is meh, but bear ammo is great. wolf sucks, it will get the job done, but expect some dud primers every once and a while.

    Reply
  170. Bernaul brown bear ammo ?? - M14 Forum

    [...] Somewhere on the interwebs there is a torture test done on AR rifles with steel ammo. IIRC at around 10k rounds the barrels were minus rifling. The ammo functioned plenty good but the alloy that the FMJ is made of has a lot of tin in it. Here it is interesting reading. lucky gunner article [...]

    Reply
  171. Richard Highsmith

    Great article, I would note that the cost comparison doesn't take into account the cost savings that can be achieved if you reload the brass cased ammo with a good small base resizing die. Although cheap, steel cased ammo is all waste (technically you can reload, but it really isn't worth it for steel cases). I've all but abandoned steel cased ammo after I started reloading.

    Reply
  172. AR15 Ammo - INGunOwners

    [...] The most objective review/torture test is; http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  173. Is steel cased .223 bad for ar's????? - INGunOwners

    [...] I've never had any issues with my Sig AR running TulAmmo. This has been posted before but a nice report… http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  174. John Bryant jr

    I shoot Colt AR frames and WeatherBy,remington,Browning in .223/.556 Bolt. I agree with what the study showed…But I have very few issues with Wolfe ammo vs Remington or federal…In my Bolt guns Wolfe will out shoot the Remington or Federal…with that said I’d say if you have a low end AR Buy Brass..Everyone knows your gun may do Better with a certain Brand of ammo…find what works Best for your gun…..

    Reply
  175. Frederic Testa

    GREAT READ.

    Reply
  176. Frederic Testa

    GREAT READ.

    Reply
  177. Gerald Dietz

    Excellent article…

    Reply
  178. Gerald Dietz

    Excellent article…

    Reply
  179. Joseph Riconda

    I guess I'm sticking with brass.

    Reply
  180. Joseph Riconda

    I guess I'm sticking with brass.

    Reply
  181. Rick Harner

    Must read for any AR15 owner.

    Reply
  182. Adrian Freeman

    Great study guys. Very, very interesting.

    Reply
  183. Derrick Timeisluck

    Good work, very informative.

    Reply
  184. Rusty Alward

    I guess this why DPMS voids you warrante if you use steel ammo.

    Reply
  185. Steve Martin

    I scanned the article but will save it for a more detailed review. This seems to say what I believe that I already knew. Steel cased ammo is often covered with laquer probably for several purposes. The laquer can build up on the inside of the chamber and the weapon gets dirtier and faster. This impacts on the interior components as well. Not sure if this implies more carbon build-up as well but it dirties the gun. Brass casings are of softer material as opposed to steel and they are also reloadable. I was once at a range I belonged to and watched some guy run a lot of Wolf ammo through his M-16 on full auto and that bothered me. I wondered why a person would use garbage ammo through a $10-12,000 rifle. To each his own I guess.

    Reply
  186. Grumpee Dasmurph

    I absolutely love articles like this. I'll read abnd re-read. If I had power ball money I would simply perform tests like this all day long.

    One thing though I think it would have been better to take 12 carbines, and do 3 samples of each ammo. It's possible flawed parts appeared in one carbine, but if you see redundant patterns appearing then certainly a pattern exists. Like I said one failure might be a flawed part, not ammo induced.

    This is certainly a very excellent read!

    Reply
  187. William Gagnon

    I have been given some.223 brass. It will go to the reloader someday. So reading these stats has given me the convincing I needed to save my brass Thanks for your dedication!

    Reply
  188. Alan Cookson

    This seems to be in a large degree an example of poor quality propellants and possibly too hard of jacket material. The steel case may react differently with quality components. For the casual weekend shooter who may shoot a couple of boxes and go home to clean their firearm, with the cost and difficulty of obtaining food for your AR, I don't see that it matters. However, for the professional I would most certainly want the absolutely most reliable product for the worst possible conditions in my weapon.

    Reply
  189. Beeswax Nun

    Excellent article with some good methodologies. I wish some attention were given to a couple of other factors like fps profiles and case measurements. I've seen wide variations in case dimensions and OAL which could, over time, have a direct or indirect hand in some malfunctions I suspect. I also wonder how PPU 5.56 would have stacked up in this test–it's sorta in a mid-ground between the steel and brass used here but I've found to be of very high quality–and generally is more accurate out of my carbines than the federal. Great job folks! : )

    Reply
  190. George Cortez

    Well Done article.

    Reply
  191. George Cortez

    Well Done article.

    Reply
  192. Jim Lucier

    For all my shooting buds.

    Reply
  193. Michael Caldwell

    Thank you for testing this. The info was great

    Reply
  194. Michael Caldwell

    Thank you for testing this. The info was great

    Reply
  195. Steel versus brass - Glock Forum

    [...] versus brass This is an often asked question and I just thought some may be interested… http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/ googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1364420449836-5'); __________________ "There are two ways [...]

    Reply
  196. John Paulson

    Good information!

    Reply
  197. AR Not Cycling - Page 6

    [...] test. The Box O' Truth – Educational Zone #18 – Shooting Wolf steel-cased Ammo in an AR15 http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Why yes it is, but I am also happy to see you. Reply With [...]

    Reply
  198. excellent torture test on various ammo in the AR-15 - Gun and Game - Firearms Forums

    [...] ammo in the AR-15 I saw this on facebook and thought people might be interested in reading it. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…ammo/#reliable __________________ I don't drink or smoke. I spend my money on gunpowder and [...]

    Reply
  199. excellent torture test on various ammo in the AR-15 - Shooters Forum

    [...] excellent torture test on various ammo in the AR-15 I saw this article on facebook and thought people might find it interesting. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…ammo/#reliable [...]

    Reply
  200. Issues at the range - Page 2

    [...] steel I've shot since reading this are the last few boxes to say good riddance to what I had left. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Lord, make me fast and accurate, let my aim be true and my hand faster than those that [...]

    Reply
  201. Tul Ammo 308

    [...] out like crazy, everyone considering shooting those Russian ammo brands needs to read this article http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Lord, make me fast and accurate, let my aim be true and my hand faster than those that [...]

    Reply
  202. Joshua Winne

    Very well done. Thank you

    Reply
  203. Tulammo steel-case handgun ammo - Page 2 - INGunOwners

    [...] discussion of steel vs brass in carbines: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Steel generally accelerates [...]

    Reply
  204. Russian ammo - Ruger Forum

    [...] Bushmaster AR's, with each gun assigned an ammo: Federal brass, Tula, Wolf, and Brown Bear. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Short answer is that yes, the steel stuff is generally dirtier, does have FTF/FTE issues more [...]

    Reply
  205. Jim Dooley

    Fantastic article. I would love to see you guys do this same test but with glocks.

    Reply
  206. Experiences with Brown Bear Ammo? - Page 2

    [...] – YouTube And a link to a very thurough study on the effects of russian ammo on AR-15 rifles: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/ For a self governing country to survive, it must be inhabited by self governing people! [...]

    Reply
  207. Why I don't shoot TULA ammo - Page 2

    [...] more training. Here are some links to more facts and data on Russian ammo: ComBloc Ammo FAQ http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/ And some more links to facts about Russian Ammo from our own YouTube personality FullAuto: The [...]

    Reply
  208. .308 Winchester vs 7.62 Nato what to use for 17S - Page 4

    [...] article is also a good read regarding the steel vs. brass debate http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ arcticzale thanked this. Reply With [...]

    Reply
  209. ARP 032 - Overwhelming Listener Curiosity about Barrels and Ammo | AR-15 PodcastAR-15 Podcast

    [...] Steel vs. brass cased ammo and its possible effects on reliability, accuracy, wear and tear on the rifle, etc.: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/ [...]

    Reply
  210. Chrome Lined Barrel Life?

    [...] the oil in a car. Here is the best Brass vs. Steel Case Ammo Report I have seen on the web: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will [...]

    Reply
  211. Anyone used TulAmmo? (Update 9-25) - Page 8 - XDTalk Forums - Your XD/XD(m) Information Source!

    [...] faster than others. The only extensive comparison test I've read was the Lucky Gunner article. (http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/) What they found was that in AR-15 rifles the bi-metal jacketed bullets completely wore out the [...]

    Reply
  212. Steel cased vs brass... the never ending debate. (resolved?)

    [...] already been posted. I found this very interesting article/review and thought I should share. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With [...]

    Reply
  213. Experience with steel rounds? - Page 2

    […] rds of ammo in one sitting, then cut the barrels open to compare, etc. You can find that here: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ They shot the shit out of these guns, and other than one of the barrels being basically shot out […]

    Reply
  214. Nickel-Boron bolt carriers groups - Gun and Game - Firearms Forums

    […] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ ^ There's what a standard bolt is capable of with minimal service. Most of us would characterize the service and maintenance in that test as bordering on abuse or neglect. Even after that kind of severe duty cycle extractor wear seemed to be the major mechanical problem with the bolt and that was attributable to the steel cased ammo used in some of the test guns. I would be surprised if the extractor on a Ni B. bolt would have performed noticeably better than the extractors on the standard bolts in this 10,000 round test with the steel case ammo. Maybe some one will run a test of that nature at some point. In a head to head test with no lube the Ni B. would win handily I'm sure. In the real world though most of us could probably find some oil, ATF, Crisco, Vaseline, or any other type of lube, at least as easily as we could find the cash for the premium bolt. (but yes I'd like to have one though) __________________ Rex […]

    Reply
  215. Guns & Ammo Part II - Page 23 - TundraTalk.net - Toyota Tundra Discussion Forum

    […] pretty poor, but the wolf is great stuff. there's a pretty good article on some of the 5.56 stuff http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…ammo/#reliable as for the rest, for the most part, you will only have issues if you switch between steel and […]

    Reply
  216. Serious Imput on Steel Cassed Ammo Wanted - Gun and Game - Firearms Forums

    […] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ I'd submit that it is more complicated than just an issue with chrome chambers. __________________ Rex […]

    Reply
  217. MP15 jammed up - Gun Hub

    […] Steel case ammo either works sort of okay, or it causes problems. The problem is, steel ammo doesn't work well in American weapons due to the more straight walled chambers. Russian weapons and ammo have more tapered chambers and cases, and since steel isn't as elastic as brass, it doesn't expand and spring back as well. You often have problems with extraction, and cases stuck in the chamber. It comes down to whether it works in a specific weapon. Here's some very interesting info on steel ammo in the AR-15 rifle. Unlike the usual internet arguing about personal results with a couple of thousand rounds, these people really tested it. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

    Reply
  218. Gun Culture 2.0: Examples in the digital community | Undivided US

    […] is also the man behind the unparalleled brass case vs. steel case testing for LuckyGunner Labs.  In that testing, Andrew’s team ran a total of 40,000 rounds through four […]

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  219. Age old question answered: How does Steel cased ammo compare to Brass

    […] dispels many things I have read on this site like which is the cleanest or causes the most wear. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With […]

    Reply
  220. FTF - Read - SIG Talk

    […] FTF – Read This is some good reading, which proves some ammo are more likely to FTF, etc. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

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  221. Is Steel cased ammo really that bad?

    […] might help. So, do some reading and choose what YOU want to do. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Aloha, Mark Reply With […]

    Reply
  222. Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo Test

    […] The guys over at LuckyGunner.com did a torture test with 40,000 rounds of brass and steel cased ammo running it through 4 separate Bushmaster Carbines. Video and data after the jump:Some interesting but pretty predictable results. Check out the video below and jump over to their site for the real in depth data. […]

    Reply
  223. A Deal Came My Way - Page 2 - XDTalk Forums - Your XD/XD(m) Information Source!

    […] something covering, looks like on Bear it's zinc. On Tulla it's copper. Here's a thorough test: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ If you read through it you will see that Wolf and Brown Bear steel ammo completely shot out a […]

    Reply
  224. Anything Wrong With using Polymer-Coated Steel Case Ammo in Guns ?

    […] is the best test I have seen between the two types and a fair pro and con for using either one. Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test Reply With […]

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  225. Ar 10 - Page 2

    […] Or even better, a refined FAL. FAL-SA58 Rifles-D S Arms I suggest that everyone go to this url: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ and view the summary video. It is a test of brass vs steel cased ammo using 4 Bushmaster AR's that […]

    Reply
  226. Mini 14 and Steel Casing Ammo - Ruger Forum

    […] article on Brass vs Steel. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ I don't know who paid for the test. YMMV […]

    Reply
  227. .223 Ammo time - Ruger Forum

    […] Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test […]

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  228. Tula Ammo 45 ACP.?? - Page 3 - XDTalk Forums - Your XD/XD(m) Information Source!

    […] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ I don't shoot it. Just ran it for 50 rounds as a part of a 500 round torture test of various ammo. Wolf, Tulammo, etc. aren't cheap enough over WWB or Federal especially considering the steel non-reloadable case to make it worth it. I prefer to shoot poor quality eastern ammo out of poor quality eastern weapons. […]

    Reply
  229. Your Rifle, Your Budget | The New Rifleman

    […] is running around .25 cents a round for your typical wolf and tula loads. Quality brass ammo (want to shoot wolf in an AR15? Read this) for the AR is running at best .40 cents a round. Can you better afford to become proficient with […]

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  230. Tula .223 and ARs

    […] ammo. They used 4 identical Bushmasters and 10,000 rounds of each ammo, very interesting reading. – Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test Reply With […]

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  231. Brass Vs. Steel? - Page 2 - XDTalk Forums - Your XD/XD(m) Information Source!

    […] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ synopsis; steel wears out a barrel 2.5-3x quicker, but you can easily pay for several barrels with […]

    Reply
  232. 223, 5.56, or both? - Shooting Sports Forum

    […] for thought http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Not minis but it is a very extensive test. Read it and make your own […]

    Reply
  233. TulAmmo - Page 2 - Ruger Forum

    […] case. I've shot many rounds of Tula with out issue but don't anymore after reading this article… http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ " As indicated by accuracy testing, the steel cased/bimetal jacketed ammunition caused […]

    Reply
  234. Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test | The Old Gunhand

    […] Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test […]

    Reply
  235. M&P good to go with steel ammo?

    […] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ NRA R.S.O. & Life Member […]

    Reply
  236. What is the best practice .45 Ammo - SIG Talk

    […] steel cased stuff is the poor quality of the powder, here is a link to a test run on it in 5.56; http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Everything you wanted to know about steel case ammo and […]

    Reply
  237. Why wont this work ? - M14 Forum

    […] almost impossible. 1. There is NOTHING "wrong" with steel cased ammunition in GENERAL. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ 2. From your posting, all we know is you have fired some reloads, or which we know (exactly) […]

    Reply
  238. Tula ammo? - Page 3 - SIG Talk

    […] Just in case anyone hasn't seen this before: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

    Reply
  239. Steel Case ammo... Pros/Cons? - Springfield Forum

    […] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-vs-steel-cased-ammo/ __________________ Rick Occupation: Retired Lifestyle: Biker "It is…what it is" […]

    Reply
  240. steel cases - M14 Forum

    […] It shoots FINE. NO evidence whatsoever or any risk of damage, etc. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

    Reply
  241. steel case ammo

    […] Herters out of my AR and Tavor. No issues whatsoever. Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test If you want something to read about it. Life is short and death is long. And the drive for […]

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  242. Steel Case Ammunition - Page 3

    […] case exclusively in my AK platform rifles. It was faster than I thought, according to this test: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Doesn't really apply to OP though, I'm sure it's much different for rifle vs. pistol. Take […]

    Reply
  243. Do you use Wolf Ammo (Steel cased ammo) - Page 12

    […] understand just how much the bi-metal jackets will wreck your barrels, here's the link again. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Lord, make me fast and accurate, let my aim be true and my hand faster than those that […]

    Reply
  244. October 26th Show | TriggerTalk Radio

    […] Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test […]

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  245. New member new M400 FDE - SIG Talk

    […] is a good comparison of steel vs. brass cased ammo; http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Seems the powder is actually the main issue in degrading accuracy over time. Guess it depends on […]

    Reply
  246. Concealed Carry Defense coverage by CCW Safe | TriggerTalk Radio

    […] Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test […]

    Reply
  247. Steel cased ammo in ar15?

    […] I found this very informational http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

    Reply
  248. Sig 716 and Silver Bear ammo. - SIG Talk

    […] is a pretty in depth test; http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ The powder itself is an issue on the longevity of the […]

    Reply
  249. Why are steel casing bad? - XDTalk Forums - Your XD/XD(m) Information Source!

    […] subject, and for you people who like video's there is one in the article so you dont have to read. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ Life is hard, but its even harder when your […]

    Reply
  250. How often do you use copper solvents down your bore? - Page 3

    […] Probably not. This is worth the time to read, I found it very informative: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With […]

    Reply
  251. Steel Jacketed Projectiles Question. - Gun and Game - Firearms Forums

    […] don't care about that, because the barrels of the AK47s are not that accurate to start with. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ GUN CONTROL is NOT ABOUT controlling […]

    Reply
  252. Is it worth reloading what I shoot? - XDTalk Forums - Your XD/XD(m) Information Source!

    […] about it, but if you shoot a lot of ammo you will replace your barrel much quicker. Read this: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ Ineptocracy – A system of government where the least capable to lead are […]

    Reply
  253. Steel Cased Ammo Recomended: Brass does not cycle well.

    […] cost. Because it was such a great article and I love reading it again and posting it again… http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With […]

    Reply
  254. The Captain's Journal » Notes From HPS

    […] Vanderboegh links this piece, which provides interesting results.  As I said earlier, don’t tell me that we can simply […]

    Reply
  255. I probably deserve to get slapped for this. - Page 3

    […] take the time to read this article, and I guarantee it will change your mind on variances in ammo. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…ammo/#reliable Lord, make me fast and accurate, let my aim be true and my hand faster than those that […]

    Reply
  256. Wolf Gold .223 | The Bang Switch

    […] your barrel, and obviously it can increase wear to some degree as LuckyGunner confirmed with their in-depth testing. However, I’ve fired well over 50,000 rounds of the stuff in my life and I’ve yet to […]

    Reply
  257. Steel case vs brass case ammo ??

    […] gunner did a test on both and I believe this will give you the information you want. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With […]

    Reply
  258. Quick ammo question - SIG Talk

    […] ammo with the famous Luckygunner test: (hint he reaches the same conslusion I just stated) http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ The bullet (lead/soft steel/copper skin) IS a real thing. […]

    Reply
  259. Steel cased ammo - confused

    […] brass vs steel cased ammo […]

    Reply
  260. Bimetal vs. Steel Core - MP-Pistol Forum

    […] This will help you decide. It's long, but worth reading. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

    Reply
  261. Tulammo steel case in .40S&W & .45ACP - Pistolsmith

    […] Not really. About five to six thousand fired rounds will more than do it! http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ (2) Yes, I'm aware of that. […]

    Reply
  262. Novice ?? with steel ammo

    […] The most comprehensive brass v. steel comparison I've yet come across comes from LuckyGunnerAmmo at http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ 6.5x55mm: God's greatest gift to mankind Reply With […]

    Reply
  263. Wolf/Brown Bear .223 killed my SLR-106 barrel in less than 7000 rounds.

    […] found this about a month ago and found it very interesting. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ I know its about Ar15s but the information in the article is useful for all 556 rifles. […]

    Reply
  264. Anonymous

    […] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Here's a great write up on Lucky Gunner. Hold My Beer and Watch This! Reply With Quote […]

    Reply
  265. Good Price

    […] my heart to hurt one of my "friends" by shooting steel cases. I am just that way! LOL! http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ I still don't get the "goofy" part? I need caliber, twist rates, barrel lenght, etc. […]

    Reply
  266. Never seen this before. - Page 2 - Ruger Forum

    […] here's some good info for the steel-brass debate. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) […]

    Reply
  267. What are the most common ar-15 modifications or additions?

    […] and thats just fact, but whether the cost savings on ammo is worth it or not is a personal choice. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…-ammo/#erosion NRA – S.C.O.P.E. – SAF – NYSRPA – NRA Certified Pistol Instructor "Tyranny is defined […]

    Reply
  268. Steel Cased Ammo - Page 2

    […] }); Based on this extensive testing of steel vs brass http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ it is better to pay for the brass since SCAR barrels are about $1k if you plan on shooting more […]

    Reply
  269. Ruger and steel case ammo

    […] of combustion gas impacting against the breechface, too. Here! More than you ever wanted to know: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ (As for what the gun manufacturers have to say? They're in business to sell guns – Right!) […]

    Reply
  270. my XCR has a potential name..... - Page 2

    […] the bbl. Are there any Engineers to graph for us? Here is the test Sean and I are quoting. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Bear in mind, like Sean said, that the wear in the test is much faster than you'd see in real life […]

    Reply
  271. Steel case ammo - M14 Forum

    […] if you the whole truth rather, than a cherry picking just part of the report, go to this link. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…-ammo/#erosion That's the entire test that LuckyGunner did, it's really informative but what they conclude is […]

    Reply
  272. Steel Ammo vs Brass Ammo

    […] Steel Ammo vs Brass Ammo If you ever wanted to see an extensive test of steel ammo vs brass ammo then you might want to spend some time checking this out. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

    Reply
  273. Brass Vs. Steel in AR-15

    […] got this from a friend recently and thought it was interesting. Sorry if it is a dupe http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ "Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door" Reply With […]

    Reply
  274. Will scar eat this?? - Page 2

    […] shooter will get a longer barrel life than they would if they are a 300-rounds-in-an-hour shooter. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With […]

    Reply
  275. Surplus Ammo and Match Grade Barrels?

    […] on barrel wear using steel jacketed ammo and gilding metal jackets in an AR-15 platform rifle. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ I don't run steel jacketed ammo through my precision rifle barrels. I do shoot them through my […]

    Reply
  276. AR Parts Identifcation - Gun and Game - Gun Forum

    […] time there will be more wear and tear on your gun and parts by shooting steel vs brass cased ammo. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ TACAV: Griz, if you had to choose between bacon or coffee… grizcty: You […]

    Reply
  277. Bullet not seating all the way in Bushmaster .223 barrel - Page 2

    […] you get a free minute read this. It puts the differences of brass and steel into perspective. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…ammo/#reliable Lord, make me fast and accurate, let my aim be true and my hand faster than those that who […]

    Reply
  278. Is it true steelcase ammo will damage my p250? - SIG Talk

    […] is about rifles, but a lot of good info: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ The problem really isn't the steel case (unless your range allows brass case only), it's lower […]

    Reply
  279. Which Is Better, Brass or Steel?

    […] Learn more at LuckyGunner.com […]

    Reply
  280. AR sorrows - Page 4

    […] seem to have no problems though (FN SCAR, FN FS2000, Galil, Yugo M85, and Arsenal SLR106U). The Lucky Gunner testing on barrel erosion, I believe, has more to do with the steel/copper jacket that virtually all steel […]

    Reply
  281. Brass vs Steel cased ammunition - Gun and Game - Gun Forum

    […] cased ammunition and the effects of them on the barrel, throat erosion, extractor etc., etc.,etc.. Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test var ord = window.ord || Math.floor(Math.random() * 1e16); document.write(''); […]

    Reply
  282. 085 AR-15 Wisdom | The ProArms Podcast

    […] Article about steel cased vs. brass cased ammo. […]

    Reply
  283. Steel cased ammo in a scar 17?

    […] ammo but the game changer is actually the bullet Here is a little light reading on the subject. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With […]

    Reply
  284. 9 mm ammo

    […] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ NRA R.S.O. & Life Member […]

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  285. Yet Another Gun Thread - Page 210 - Miata Turbo Forum - Turbo Kitten is watching you test compression.

    […] of Russian powder/bullets might not be the best stuff (if shot rapid fire for hours and hours): http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ Robert McElwee and "Sleepy" (LS1 Miata) Miata Trailer – "The […]

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  286. Rifles to avoid? - Page 4 - Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

    […] torqued properly and shot terribly until the crew figured it out and re-assembled them properly. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ You will note that in the referenced article, they say that the trigger weight ranged from 8-10lb […]

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  287. Steel firing pin? - Page 2

    […] know of after reading this article, it's a long article but very comprehensive and a worthy read. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a […]

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  288. Aluminum/Steel cased ammo throughr your PPQ? - Page 3 - WaltherForums

    […] I just found this link. It deals more with the AR platform, but I still found it to be an interesting test. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

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  289. My new M&P Sport

    […] was very interesting. Summary: bi-metal jacketed ammo reduced barrel life to around 6K rounds. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ -John M&P 15-Sport | M&P […]

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  290. Steel vs Brass

    […] Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test This is a good, albeit long read. Everything you want to know to help guide you in your choice. Reply With Quote […]

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  291. Terrible range day - Page 3 - WaltherForums

    […] test, the lacquer coated steel cased ammo did better than the polymer coated steel cased ammo: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ All three brands of steel cased ammunition caused issues in this test. The brass cased ammunition […]

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  292. Which would you buy? .223 AR-15 Ammo Question

    […] (Difference roughly ~$55.00) The reason I am asking is because I found this article: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Essentially, since a new barrel and components kit costs roughly $250.00 (even checked windhams […]

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  293. [gun thread] guns, i wanna buy a gun by soggynuts - Page 12 - TribalWar Forums

    […] Originally Posted by Data To answer your earlier question… Your AR shouldn't give two ****s what your ammo is cased in. Steel and brass cases are virtually identical. Some extractors can get picky but that should be rare. The thing about import (usually Russian, typically from the Barnaul plant) .223 Rem and 5.56 NATO is that (1) they tend to be dirtier firing, and (2) the bullets are different. The keyword is "bimetal jacket". Most (not all) steel-cased ammo is loaded with bimetal-jacketed bullets — a copper-zinc alloy. These bullets create additional friction in the barrel and will result in increased barrel wear over the life of the rifle (measured in thousands of rounds) versus pure copper jackets. However, this additional wear is generally regarded as negligible as the cost savings in steel-cased ammo is greater than the costs associated with replacing a barrel. In other words, you'll save money shooting steel-cased and just replacing your barrel at 8-10K rounds than if you shot exclusively brass-cased, copper jacketed ammo. Any fouling is bad for an AR, so you should expect to clean it more often, even every few hundred rounds if you're shooting a lot of import stuff. But don't take my word for it, read through this exhaustive real-world torture test: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

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  294. Anyone Know Lucky Gunner Labs - Gun Hub

    […] Know Lucky Gunner Labs Folks came across this in a comment from The Firearms Blog: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…ammo/#reliable Anybody have knowledge of this outfit and it's people? Geoff Who is a curious […]

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  295. Wolf ammo & SCAR? - Page 7

    […] you could buy a new rifle. Guess it's all up to personal opinion. The test can be found here: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ From reading that and like djv38 said, I came to the conclusion to stop using steel and only use […]

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  296. Which 5.56/.223 ammo should I buy - Page 2

    […] actually function in your rifle before you stock up. One thing worth mentioning is this though http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Also, some companies' warranties are void if you use steel through it. If SHTF then warranty kind […]

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  297. Tulammo 9mm - Page 2 - MP-Pistol Forum

    […] If you think the steel case is hard on the gun, you should see what the bi-metal bullet does to the barrel. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

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  298. New M&P 15 MOE owner!

    […] Also because it will come up, a web article from Lucky Gunner Labs on Brass v.s. Steel Case ammo. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ -John M&P 15-Sport | M&P […]

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  299. m&p 15 help

    […] projectile v.s. Russian manufacture steel case with bi-metal jacket evaluation & torture test: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ The notable thread index (a.k.a. sticky) section has a listing of good threads. […]

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  300. Finaly got my first AR - Page 3

    […] wrong on any of the brand name AR's but I suggest any one with an AR see this post on Ammo for it. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With […]

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  301. 556r and Steel Cased Ammo - SIG Talk

    […] Many of us use it with no problems at all. I shoot it in my Mini-14, the AR and the bolt action MVP. Each functions well with the steel case. I do however, try to shoot a brass cased round every 15 rounds or so. The brass will suck much of the carbon fouling off the chamber walls. For a great info article check this out: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

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  302. Tulammo 223 in the tuna can

    […] All you could ever want to know: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

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  303. Don't Worry About Ammo Types in M&P 15s

    […] barrel wear. Best to be aware of the difference, so that you can make an informed choice. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Things to remember: 1. Barrels and bolts are wear items on AR-15's. Eventually they will need to […]

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  304. keymod lightweight barrel?

    […] bullets. Some of the best gun journalism ever written. Too bad the gun rags can't take a hint. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With […]

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  305. M&P15 .223 ammo

    […] steel case ammo because the ranges near me banned it. Tons of additional information here: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ -John M&P 15-Sport | M&P […]

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  306. 2014 Gun Thread - Page 70

    […] brass vs. steel cased ammo comparison. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Reply With […]

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  307. Steel Cased .22LR and the Shortest Ammo Test Ever

    […] propellant, or load recipe used by the manufacturer, but not the steel case itself (see our epic steel vs. brass cased ammo test over at Lucky Gunner Labs for […]

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  308. Wartak 9mm Steel Case Ammo in a P938 - SIG Talk

    […] Studies I have read confirm your observation, the problem is cheap powder! http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

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  309. Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test | TactiCarolina

    […] Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test. […]

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  310. Shooting steel case in PTR 91

    […] the heck out of it in my HK's… :) Here is a great read on bimetal bullet barrel destruction…..http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Last edited by Obiefox; Today at 07:01 PM. Reply With […]

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  311. Mini 14 - Steel Cases? - Shooting Sports Forum

    […] Lucky Gunner Steel vs Brass case ammo torture test. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ TLDR: Fed AE vs Brown Bear, Tulammo and Wolf. Nominal 55gr FMJ. Brown Bear was laquered, the […]

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  312. I usually buy XM193

    […] operates at higher pressures than .223. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ __________________ Bob M&P Sport | Glock […]

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  313. Using non-brass cased ammunitoin - Ruger Forum

    […] I believe I read somewhere that one of the issues with steel cased ammo – especially military surplus – is that it has a rust inhibitor coating which can melt in a hot chamber leaving a residue in your chamber which can build up and cause problems with chambering a round. There was a torture test done with AR15s and various ammo – reported about on sites such as this: Epic Torture Test: 40,000 Rounds and Four AR-15s – The Firearm Blog more details here: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

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  314. New AR15, Best ammo for "break in" - Page 2

    […] vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test ; KLiK My policy ; crappy ammo in cheap guns, name brand brass in high end guns. Reply With […]

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  315. The $5 Part that Saved My AR-15! | Beat The End Survival Blog

    […] is the cheapest ammo you can get, but many AR-15s don’t seem to like to eject it very well.  This is a great article from Lucky Gunner about the differences in brass vs steel ammo that everyone […]

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  316. Tula ammo and collapsing stock - M14 Forum

    […] Tula was part of an article on the whole "steel vs. brass" debate. I'll go find the article….. but the gist was that they had some serious problems with Tula due to its pressure curve if I remember right. It functioned in certain rifles but not others. Heres the article. LOTS to read and a lot of "data" but some interesting information. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

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  317. Steel AR ammo review!

    […] http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ Shoot what you want. I am not shooting steel cased in my guns. Reply With Quote […]

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  318. Wolf WPA 55grain ammo through a MM-23E, anybody doin' it? - Page 2

    […] Posted by hkindiana Long Term Use of Steel Jacketed Rifle Ammo http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…mmo/#bookmark4 In a nutshell, four Bushmaster MOE carbines were used to test four brands of .223 Remington. […]

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  319. The Definitive "Avoid Wolf Ammo" Thread **2-02-10 Update - Page 6 - M14 Forum

    […] Yeah, here's that article. AWESOME test. Wish I had the money to do this kind of testing! Definitely showed that steel case stuff is a bad idea, catastrophic failures aside. http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/bras…el-cased-ammo/ […]

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