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  #1  
Old 12-13-2011, 10:23 AM
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Exclamation Beware Steel Jacketed Ammo

All,

Over the past year I noticed a decided change in ammo being shot here in the range. It concerns me that just maybe some shooters out there may not know what they are shooting is damaging their firearms.

As we clean out the spent rounds from our rubber backstop we always examine what has been shot and what amount of this or that caliber was used. Not in detail, but just to see what happens to bullets. We see every kind of projectile imaginable in all the calibers up to .50BMG – we don’t allow that here.

Just by chance we swept a large magnet across the pile of bullets (see attached PDF labeled – bullets to see what +15,000 pounds looks like), and found some bullets that were magnetic. While we have seen some bullets in the past with a steel core or steel jacket, the amount we found concerned me. See attached PDF labeled Steel Ammo.

I did a complete search through all of our ammo and found that the only steel encased bullets were the Wolf and Tula brands. Nothing else we sell had a steel jacket, including our reloads. We started watching what was being shot and we did not find the supplier of the steel jacketed rounds. We did ask some of our known reloaders if they were using steel or bimetal jacketed rounds, but they all assured us they were not.

We just did a de-leading operation here and found a considerable increase in steel jacketed rounds being fired. So much so that I felt inclined to write this up and post in where I could. I know that this ammo has to be “cheaper” to purchase and is the primary reason for the increase in use.

I don’t think that shooters fully understand the damage being done to their firearm when they shoot copper flash coated, steel jacketed, lead filled rounds. No matter what, the steel will come into contact with the steel of your barrel. The very light copper flash coating of the bullet quickly burns off as it moves down the barrel. I would guess that by the time the bullet moves more than two inches the copper is gone on the sharp edges of the rifling and then you have steel to steel contact. I have looked at some of these bullets taken from the pile randomly and without exception they all have zero copper left where the edge of the rifling meets the jacket.

I cannot, nor will I, mandate someone use a specific kind of ammo in THEIR firearm. I can with our range guns and with my personal firearms. Having a background in manufacturing I know firsthand what happens when you rub steel against steel at high speed and add heat to the process. Eventually the barrel will become smooth and all sense of rifling will be gone. Then what do you have?

I know what a new barrel costs and the problems with replacing them. Shooting this steel material through your firearms is a disaster waiting to happen. Don’t think for a minute that it will hurt just to do a box or two. Even once is too many times.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Bullets.pdf (140.1 KB, 390 views)
File Type: pdf Steel Ammo.pdf (597.8 KB, 325 views)
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  #2  
Old 12-13-2011, 11:16 AM
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The US Army has been manufacturing 30-06 and 7.62 ammo with bimetal steel/copper jacketing for over 40 years.

It has been proven in military ordnance tests that this does not damage barrels and only increases the wear rate by about 10-15 % in stainless barrels and not at all in chrome lined barrels.

Frankford Arsenal ran a test many moons ago on barrel wear with copper versus bi-metal jacketing and they found there was no difference whatsoever.

This testing was done with US military mfgr. bi-metal jacket ammo with a .008 copper wash thickness over the steel jacket.

Barrels (stainless) are tool steel grade and have a 675 Brinnel hardness rating. Copper jacket has a 35 Brinnel hardness and mild steel jacketing has a 130 Brinnel hardness factor. The bi-metal jacketing would need to have a hardness rating up near 400-500 to cause any actual barrel damage.

IMHO, this is nothing to worry about especially if you have a chrome lined barrel.
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  #3  
Old 12-13-2011, 11:28 AM
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Even once is too many times.
Man I am screwed.
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:28 PM
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True or not.
10K rounds of Wolf $2000
10K rounds of PMC $3000

For 1k you could buy 2 JP barrels or 5.5 off the rack barrels. Sounds like you are coming from a good place but seems unwarranted.
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  #5  
Old 12-13-2011, 12:31 PM
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I expect powder erosion will kill the throat before steel jacket kills the bore.
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:48 PM
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Wow, look at all that lead. I'm drooling.

Sorry, just took up casting.
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:59 PM
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Sure would like to have that pile in my garage.
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Old 12-13-2011, 1:33 PM
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That pile of lead is all I can think of too. I could take that load of toxic waste off the OP's hands and dispose of it properly.
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Old 12-13-2011, 1:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpo628 View Post
That pile of lead is all I can think of too. I could take that load of toxic waste off the OP's hands and dispose of it properly.
Oh, gets disposed of and paid for.

Ukiah Gun Club did the trap range last year. 100,000 lbs of lead mined off the hillside.
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Old 12-13-2011, 8:37 PM
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Why don't you allow 50 BMG? Sounds like the range would rather have just copper and lead for higher recycling profits. I too have read several articles stating that there is no adverse effects shooting copper coated steel jackets. The only ones I shoot are M2 150fmj-fb military surplus in my Garands.
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Old 12-13-2011, 9:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ontargetrange View Post
...I know what a new barrel costs and the problems with replacing them. Shooting this steel material through your firearms is a disaster waiting to happen. Don’t think for a minute that it will hurt just to do a box or two. Even once is too many times.


Have you seen what can happen when you confine explosives inside of an expensive machined steel device and then detonate the explosives? It's not pretty. But still, some people insist on using powder and primers in their ammo.

A guy at my local range was telling me he gave away a whole case of Portuguese surplus 7.62 NATO when he found out it had steel jacket projectiles. He didn't want to wear out the barrel of his new M1A. He said he was only going to shoot American Eagle commercial ammo from then on. This was at a time when...

a case of American Eagle 7.62x51 was $500
a case of Portuguese surplus was $169
a new M1A barrel was $300
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Old 12-14-2011, 1:15 PM
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Please note that none of the rounds pictured are 30-06.

I am showing steel casing on 45acp, 9mm, and 223 rounds. The steel was just flash coated with copper, not a bimetal shell at all. I have seen and shot bimetal for years in my Garand.

That pile of lead is from just 3 months of shooting. It is sold to be recycled into fishing sinkers. If you have done any saltwater fishing here in CA you most likly have used some of my lead.
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  #13  
Old 12-14-2011, 8:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffLinder View Post
The US Army has been manufacturing 30-06 and 7.62 ammo with bimetal steel/copper jacketing for over 40 years.

It has been proven in military ordnance tests that this does not damage barrels and only increases the wear rate by about 10-15 % in stainless barrels and not at all in chrome lined barrels.

Frankford Arsenal ran a test many moons ago on barrel wear with copper versus bi-metal jacketing and they found there was no difference whatsoever.

This testing was done with US military mfgr. bi-metal jacket ammo with a .008 copper wash thickness over the steel jacket.

Barrels (stainless) are tool steel grade and have a 675 Brinnel hardness rating. Copper jacket has a 35 Brinnel hardness and mild steel jacketing has a 130 Brinnel hardness factor. The bi-metal jacketing would need to have a hardness rating up near 400-500 to cause any actual barrel damage.

IMHO, this is nothing to worry about especially if you have a chrome lined barrel.
X2

Weideners sells the lake city round that have the copper flashed steel jackets.

I talked to LMT and they said 10% extra wear.
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Old 12-15-2011, 9:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffLinder View Post
The US Army has been manufacturing 30-06 and 7.62 ammo with bimetal steel/copper jacketing for over 40 years.

It has been proven in military ordnance tests that this does not damage barrels and only increases the wear rate by about 10-15 % in stainless barrels and not at all in chrome lined barrels..
What is the anmount of time and number of rounds fired? Any wear in addition to normal wear needs to be a qualified number. Is it furlongs per fortnight or after 2000 rounds you have 80% of your barrel left?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffLinder View Post
This testing was done with US military mfgr. bi-metal jacket ammo with a .008 copper wash thickness over the steel jacket..


I completely understand the thinkness of the copper versus a thin flash coating. With most rifling just a few thousandth of inch, I have read from different manufacturers that they produce anything from .0025 to .006 in height/depth. This clearly would not create a real wear issue with a copper thickness of .008. It is when the copper flash appears to me at most .001 thick that you have issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffLinder View Post
Barrels (stainless) are tool steel grade and have a 675 Brinnel hardness rating. Copper jacket has a 35 Brinnel hardness and mild steel jacketing has a 130 Brinnel hardness factor. The bi-metal jacketing would need to have a hardness rating up near 400-500 to cause any actual barrel damage.

IMHO, this is nothing to worry about especially if you have a chrome lined barrel.


Not so -- if you take even the softest steel and rub it at supersonic speed it will create heat and friction - thus wear. An example can easily be done by taking a simple cast iron or wrought iron bar and press it against spinning heat treated material on a lathe. Spin it at 10,000 rpm and see just how fast both metals get hot and see what marks are left on each. Steel against steel is never a good thing.
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ontargetrange View Post
Eventually the barrel will become smooth and all sense of rifling will be gone. Then what do you have?
A shotgun?
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:53 AM
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I love my steel jacketed ammo. Shoot it all the time.
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Old 12-15-2011, 2:36 PM
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Do you have hardness measurements or other data?

Last edited by 30Cal; 01-02-2012 at 4:42 AM..
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Old 12-31-2011, 11:12 PM
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You are confusing Nickle plating for steel! Did you know that Nickle is also MAGNETIC? They make magnets out of Nickle.
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Old 12-31-2011, 11:44 PM
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Lead, steel, copper JACKET. Unless the copper jacket was to come detached inside the barrel and expose the steel how you explain excellerated wear. I thought Wolf and Tula was bi-metal jacket, not steel jacket with a copper wash?

I like Yugo 7.62. Brass cased FMJ, and corossive. Love the stuff.
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Old 01-01-2012, 12:15 AM
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Why are the surplus Swiss K31's don't show much of this wear? I could swear the GP11 are steel jacketed.
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Old 01-01-2012, 2:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coehorn View Post
You are confusing Nickle plating for steel! Did you know that Nickle is also MAGNETIC? They make magnets out of Nickle.
There isn't any plain nickel plated ammo. There is a lot of cupronickel plated ammo though. While nickel is magnetic, cupronickel is not. U.S. 5˘ coins are made of cupronickel and you can't pick them up with a magnet. When you find cupronickel plated ammo that attracts a magnet it's because there is a steel jacket under the thin cupronickel plating on the projectile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Low-Pressure
Why are the surplus Swiss K31's don't show much of this wear? I could swear the GP11 are steel jacketed.
Yep, Swiss GP11 is steel jacketed. Most European surplus is steel jacketed, with either a copper or cupronickel wash or plating over the steel.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chim-chim7
I thought Wolf and Tula was bi-metal jacket, not steel jacket with a copper wash?
The term "bi-metal jacket" was just created by ammo sellers to calm the fears of people (like the OP) who freak out when they hear the words "steel jacketed". Bi-metal jacketed projectiles are just the standard steel jacketed projectiles with a copper wash. The steel in the projectile jackets is a soft steel. It does increase barrel wear slightly over copper jacketed ammo, but not enough to freak out about like the OP has done. But some people are so in denial that their ammo is steel jacketed that they will make claims that it's the nickel that attracts a magnet or that there are flecks of iron in the copper jackets that attract the magnet and not steel. But it's really steel that is attracting the magnet.
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Old 01-01-2012, 3:55 AM
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LOTTA surplus M855 hitting the market these days. I'd count on finding even more of it in your sweepings next year.
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Old 01-01-2012, 8:17 AM
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Glad I only shoot my own reloads.
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Old 01-01-2012, 8:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ontargetrange View Post
...
I cannot, nor will I, mandate someone use a specific kind of ammo in THEIR firearm. I can with our range guns and with my personal firearms. Having a background in manufacturing I know firsthand what happens when you rub steel against steel at high speed and add heat to the process. Eventually the barrel will become smooth and all sense of rifling will be gone. Then what do you have?

I know what a new barrel costs and the problems with replacing them. Shooting this steel material through your firearms is a disaster waiting to happen. Don’t think for a minute that it will hurt just to do a box or two. Even once is too many times.
Do what you want at your range. I personally do not load steel penetrator or bi-metal bullets.
However
That is completely false. The steel penetrator is incased inside of the copper jacketed bullet. It doesn't touch the barrel at all.
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  #25  
Old 01-01-2012, 8:46 AM
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I am very pleased that you are seeing this trend. First off the public areas on BLM ground are seeing less lead contamination which is fine with me. The Marine Corps just finished testing non lead bullets and has a ton of scientific data on barrel life and it doesn't show a problem at all.
By reading the amount of lead recovered by shooting facilities you can see why they are concerned with this trend a big part of their profit comes from recovering brass and lead.
I would like to see your data on increased wear if you have any. I will point out there is a reason for hardened barrels and soft steel bullets. The chrome lined barrels are even more resistant to wear.
Looking forward to your data
Respectfully,
Bill
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Old 01-01-2012, 10:29 AM
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I have shot a lot of Dynamit-Nobel (mfg by RUAG) in 9mm Luger in the past. This is steel jacketed with a thin copper coating. I never noticed any negative side effects from this ammo.
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