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Steel case vs Brass case - reloading

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  • Steel case vs Brass case - reloading

    Not new to reloading but am new to loading steel cases vs brass cases. Me and my boys have moved over to 223 AR caliber and was given a few different brands to break the gun in. Among these were a box of WOLF and TCW steel cases, nothing new there but, both are using boxer primers. I managed to pick up a box of TulAmmo small rifle primers at a good price. But, the box does not indicate if they were boxer or berdan. Since the box says "small rifle" I assume they were boxer. Fast forward - - - after shooting some brass and steel ammo I decided to look into reloading a few rounds of the steel stuff. Looks like nothing unusual. Primers fit so decided to try some of the brass cases. However, only 1 round of 10 allowed the primer to insert under normal squeeze using a Lee hand prime tool. After a few rounds of frustration I decided to measure the diameter of the primer and primer hole in both materials. The sr primers measured .0015 +/- larger than the primer hole in the brass. Evidently the TulAmmo primers are made for the steel cases and not the brass (USA made?) I tool a few brass cases and removed about .001" or just enough for the primer to insert under a firm but good install. Since then both the steel and brass rounds shot fine. On another note I did find the steel cases did not want to resize as easily as the brass case. I had to make small adjustments in the die to get the neck opening to resize and still used a lot of force on the handle! Thoughts and suggestions...……...

  • #2
    I have always treated steel cased ammo as non reloadable, all my loading gear is aimed at brass, and I wouldn't be sure that I could safely replicate a steel round. My dies are too costly to experiment with steel casings, and the steel ammo is cheap enough to not hunt up casings afterwards.
    This is only my opinion, and your may vary.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Milo Mindbender View Post
      I have always treated steel cased ammo as non reloadable, all my loading gear is aimed at brass, and I wouldn't be sure that I could safely replicate a steel round. My dies are too costly to experiment with steel casings, and the steel ammo is cheap enough to not hunt up casings afterwards.
      This is only my opinion, and your may vary.
      Understand completely. But right now you would have to search heaven and earth to find even steel ammo! Even brass cases from MidwayUSA are out of stock. If I can reload steel consistently and safely it would be a one time reload and put away for a rainy day.

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      • #4
        I tried it as a mad science project . It is a LOT of effort for not much return. What i did was hydraulic the primer out by finding a old screwdriver to act as my ram, filled the case with water and hammered the ram down forcing the primer out. this means a snug fit between the case neck and ram . From there i removed the standard anvil from a standard primer then Crazy glued it in location over the boxer primer anvil with a drop of glue , not too much mind you. then i treated it like a standard case, BUT i only reloaded any case once as a safety measure to prevent and case separation.

        Method 2 is to DRILL the primer out using a small drill bit and while doing this it also removes the ANVIL that the berdan primer hits to ignite the charge. Then insert a standard primer after ensuring you have removed all of the anvil .it's the small bumpy thing in the primer pocket.
        Then again giving it a drop of glue to retain it and going ahead with charge seat shoot. again a WHOLE LOT of work and mess. USE THESE AT YOUR OWN PERIL!
        Last edited by Armyjimbo; 04-13-2020, 06:42 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Armyjimbo View Post
          I tried it as a mad science project . It is a LOT of effort for not much return. What i did was hydraulic the primer out by finding a old screwdriver to act as my ram, filled the case with water and hammered the ram down forcing the primer out. this means a snug fit between the case neck and ram . From there i removed the standard anvil from a standard primer then Crazy glued it in location over the boxer primer anvil with a drop of glue , not too much mind you. then i treated it like a standard case, BUT i only reloaded any case once as a safety measure to prevent and case separation.

          Method 2 is to DRILL the primer out using a small drill bit and while doing this it also removes the ANVIL that the boxer primer hits to ignite the charge. Then insert a standard primer after ensuring you have removed all of the anvil .it's the small bumpy thing in the primer pocket.
          Then again giving it a drop of glue to retain it and going ahead with charge seat shoot. again a WHOLE LOT of work and mess. USE THESE AT YOUR OWN PERIL!
          I could understand why it was a lot of work for you. Were your removing a berdan primer? I have seen the water thingy. Berdan primers are not in my vocabulary! These steel cases I have are boxer primer and are easily removed using the standard sizer die with the primer removal pin. Piece of cake. only issue I had was the primer hole size difference between the steel case vs the brass case. My TulAmmo boxer primers insert perfectly with other "Russian" steel but not the brass. American primers for American brass.

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          • #6
            My bad I corrected my mistake. That's odd, could it be the crimp on the primer?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Armyjimbo View Post
              My bad I corrected my mistake. That's odd, could it be the crimp on the primer?
              My first thought.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by herk7769 View Post

                My first thought.
                Well, it could be. But then why do the primers fit the steel cases perfectly? I mic'ed the primer hole in the steel and brass and get a different measurement.

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                • #9
                  TBH I have no idea.im drawing a blank

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                  • #10
                    A lonnng-term question...

                    As I understand it, primers are not something you can make yourself. Nasty, count-your-fingers, toxic chemicals, spontaneous combustion etc etc...

                    What's the storage life ??

                    So then you're down to flint/steel musketry ? Or is there a reliable way to initiate gunpowder in reloaded brass cases without primer ??

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                    • #11
                      I'm shooting ammo that was packed in 1987. As to DIY I am not sure but, I'm sure it's possible.

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                      • #12
                        Well, the grandson shot some of the reloads this week. I think we will NOT be reloading the steel stuff. Just can't rely on the resizing die to make a usable neck size. It appears the steel cases will not hold a size small enough to seat the bullet. When chambering a reloaded steel round the bullet gets pushed deeper into the case. Even though the die will squeez the neck to .221/.222 it will not stay there. Soooo, looks like we are sticking with brass.

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                        • #13
                          That seems to be the rest of the story. Not malleable enough with the die pressure. I'm always interested if someone can make it work, but right now its a a fail.FIRST ATTEMPT I LEARNED!

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                          • #14
                            Ammo stored at proper temps, and humidity will last a really long time. .Mil spec ammo is sealed with a laquer on the primer and case neck for additional protection.
                            IIRC ammo from WW1 is still being found across Europe, and passes fire testing.

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                            • #15
                              Further investigation on the primer issue inserting my TulAmmo boxer primers into brass. If you remember in the first postings my comments on difficulty putting the primers in? I found a video about "primer crimps". It seems US makers of commercial loaded brass crimp the primers in the pocket. This leaves a small edge around the perimeter of the pocket that must be removed. When I did this the primers went in fine with what felt like a normal amount of pressure in the hand primers. Making progress.

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