10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

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10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by jor-el » Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:58 am

http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/brass-v ... #bookmark4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In a nutshell, four Bushmaster MOE carbines were used to test four brands of .223 Remington. Each brand was fired in a particular rifle to determine rates of malfunction and wear. 10,000 rounds were fired per brand, presumably over a single day in Arizona.

Federal American Eagle 55 grain. The control brand using brass cases and gilding metal jacket bullets.

Brown Bear 55 grain. Laquered steel cases and bi-metal jacketed bullets.

Wolf WPA MC 55 grain. Polymer coated steel cases and bi-metal bullets.

Tulammo 55 grain. Poly cases and bi-metal bullets much like the Wolf.

I'll cut to the chase and point out Brown Bear and Wolf caused substantial performance issues vis a vis accuracy and reliability. Tula had reliability issues that prevented it from completing the 10000 round test. The bi-metal jacketed ammo did produce substantial wear and tear on the rifles. Moreover, the muzzles of both BB and Wolf had zero rifling.

Federal? That rifle had wear and tear as expected from firing 10,000 rounds, but it retained acceptable accuracy ( because it didn't grind out the rifling) and had 0 malfunctions.

Now, the Minis we own in the primary calibers are unlikely to be utilized like that. Still, Minis aren't chrome lined, with spare parts available over the counter either. I'd be curious to see the test done with M1As and/or some mutually agreeable AK variant as there are 7.62NATO/.308 Win or 7.62x39 loads made by all companies involved.

Thoughts?
Last edited by jor-el on Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Tulammo issues

Post by jor-el » Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:09 pm

In the above link, they did more testing on the Tula and found high chamber pressure.

My guess is they used a fast powder, likely a AA2200 or faster powder meant for 7.62x39 loading.

There's a reason there's like fifty different powders and military variations that range from fast pistol to general rifle to .50 BMG.
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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by MacAttack » Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:55 pm

Did you read how fast they fired that ammo in each gun?

They fired it so fast that the heat permanently discolored the uppers of each gun. They only stopped shooting when they could no longer hold the gun.

In fact they caused so much damage to the barrels inside the first 6 thousand rounds that the bullets were key holing.


I was more amazed that the American ammo designed for the platform did so well and caused so little damage.

But then again if the Russians used the same powder things might have been way different.
Which would have been the real test to see if steel really did cause all the damage. The way they did it it could very well have been overly hot ammo causing the throat erosion and not the steel so much.
As in any scientific test only change ONE thing from test to test. They changed case, primer, powder, and bullet. Not a good test.

Brass also sucks up far more heat faster than steel does. And coating steel in a finish also tends to insulate it from the chamber. So it would have little chance of sucking off the chamber heat.


In my opinion I don't think any normal person firing that much ammo over a years time would get close to that damage.

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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by AmnJoker333 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:10 pm

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.
Point blank, they ran these rifles HARD. Harder than any of us are likely to do, even in an OMGTEOTWAWKI scenario. I wonder how much of a role chrome-lined bores plays in firing the bimetal jacketed ammo (as a Yugo M70 owner)? I was always under the impression chrome-lined bores were to inhibit corrosion when firing corrosive ammo.
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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by jor-el » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:18 pm

True, an extended period say 2000 rounds split between the morning and afternoon per day, for five days would be more realistic, say representing a short term campaign.

Still, it enhances my respect for those who choose to stock up only on brass and normal jacketed ammo foreign or US made.

I'm sure people would like to see a similar test done with 7.62x39.

I would also like to see a chromed vs non-chromed bore test.
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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by NorrisUnleashed » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:25 pm

Sounds like a waste. Everyone knows federal is a great round. I coulda told ya that without setting fire to $ 4000 worth of ammo.
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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by Dogan » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:29 pm

NorrisUnleashed wrote:Sounds like a waste. Everyone knows federal is a great round. I coulda told ya that without setting fire to $ 4000 worth of ammo.
Try 12,000+. IIRC, it was about 4k per casing tested. And it wasn't really "Federal Vs The World", it was more "Fed brass cased vs Steel Laq vs Steel Poly"
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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by NorrisUnleashed » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:33 pm

Dogan wrote:
NorrisUnleashed wrote:Sounds like a waste. Everyone knows federal is a great round. I coulda told ya that without setting fire to $ 4000 worth of ammo.
Try 12,000+. IIRC, it was about 4k per casing tested. And it wasn't really "Federal Vs The World", it was more "Fed brass cased vs Steel Laq vs Steel Poly"
I meant 4K for the federal alone. Im just pointing out that everyone pretty much knows what to expect from these manufacturers.
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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by doc66 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:46 pm

I read this some time ago. My thought was, "I wonder what the results would have been had they been using something other than a Bushmaster?"
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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by ZH10950 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:49 pm

I was taught to only use brass...

Also, I've heard a few guys complain about long term damage when using steel. A gun smith I do business with doesn't even sell it.
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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by Domino » Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:58 pm

The biggest concern I could see would be the accellerated barrel wear from the bi-metal jacket of the Russian steel-cased ammo. Although I do not believe that a barrel will wear out that nearly that fast under more normal shooting (say couple hundred rounds a month) it is still a very notable difference.

Even so, with the excellerated wear the low cost of replacement parts (a new barrel, gas tube, extractor ect...) the steel cased ammo provides SIGNIFICANT savings over the Federal ammo. So much so (over $100 per case) that it further prooves to me that steel-cased ammo is still the way to go as long as it is reliable and accurate in your weapons.

I have over 2,200 rounds of Silver Bear 62g SP for SHTF use and I am not going to get rid of it...

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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by MacAttack » Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:43 pm

I think all the barrelswere chrome lined.

But in my opinion the chrome expands differently than the steel of the barrel. Thus if things got extreme the chrome could have chipped early and then started to peel off at a rapid rate. Ever see cheap chrome come off something else? Its ugly and just gets worse fast.
With the chrome peeling off the steel underneath would erode at a far faster rate than ever thought.


I don't trust metal to metal electro coating. Thus I tend to like high chromium barrels better then chrome lined ones. No chance of chipping and a very good rust resistance.
Even though I am not an extreme accuracy guy when I target shoot, plated and lined barrels are known to be less accurate than plain barrels. I don't shoot at extreme ranges so I don't care about this aspect.


I wonder how accurate modern barrels are compared to older nickle plated barrels? The Japanese couldn't get chromium in WW2 so they used nickle instead to stop rust on the Pacific Islands. And those seem to have been pretty good.
I know nickle adheres better than chrome.

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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by jor-el » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:19 am

Probably an academic question, but would it help if the bullets could be pulled and moly coated, and I believe there's a moly bore treatment as well?
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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:27 am

Moly coating is supposed to help with barrel life, but (if I understand the reloading stuff correctly) I believe you get lower pressures and lower velocity as a result, and would have to up the powder charge to get the same muzzle velocity, which might mean fucking witht he gas system. That makes sense in my head, but I honestly have no idea.
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Re: 10,000 Rounds of Steel VS Brass

Post by ShooterMike » Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:19 am

Doctorr Fabulous wrote:Moly coating is supposed to help with barrel life, but (if I understand the reloading stuff correctly) I believe you get lower pressures and lower velocity as a result, and would have to up the powder charge to get the same muzzle velocity, which might mean fucking witht he gas system. That makes sense in my head, but I honestly have no idea.
I mix both moly coated and uncoated Sierra 69 gr BTHPs for my 3-gun rifle. Over the chronograph I don't really see much variance in velocity or pressure signs when switching out bullets. At least they stay within acceptable limits.

I have probably put 10-12K of Brown/Silver Bear, Wolf and Tula through 4 ARs over the last 2 years (along with a like number of other types of copper jacketed ammo). I haven't really noticed velocities start to fall off yet. That's the first sign of throat erosion, which is the real culprit of wear. The problems I see with this ammo are two-fold. The guns foul faster and need more frequent cleaning. And the steel jackets are much harder than copper jackets, so they generally accelerate wear throughout the barrel.

I have seen first hand some M4s that were abused much worse than those Bushmasters in the quoted test. All the abuse was with M855, amounting to 50K rounds full-auto in a single day pushed through 14" M4 barrels until they failed. In some cases, it only took 4-6K rounds to "cook" barrels until they ruptured under the handguard, though ruptured gas tubes usually happen first. Heat is the real culprit. Keep it from getting above about 400 degrees (most bare carbon steels turn blue, then purple when they reach around 500-650 degrees) and barrel life will be MUCH longer than otherwise.

Just my 2 cents. YMMV...but probably not. :oh:

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