Steel case .223 questions

Discussion in 'Ammo & Reloading' started by glocknloaded, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. glocknloaded

    glocknloaded Click Click Boom Supporter

    So I am near the end of my AR build and am looking into stocking up on range ammo, this being my first AR I have no idea if ordering a steel case ammo is a big no no or a good idea for the price.

    I have read many debates about steel ammo in glocks and I have never tried it in mine just because it's not that much of a price difference from FMJ but in the .223 rounds the price gap is much greater.

    I found some wolf military classic for around 230 for a 1000 rnds which seems tempting. I don't want to mess up my new AR or any thing and don't mind a few hiccups on range rounds.

    All experiences and advise is all ways appreciated, Thanks in advance!!
  2. odgreen

    odgreen Senior Member

    Military husband who just finished his own AR says: don't waste your money on steel- get the 556 Green Ammo.

  3. Happysniper1

    Happysniper1 New Member

    I will share what I know about steel cased ammo, specifically Hertzers and Wolf....

    The cases are coated in varnish. When you fire a round, an amount of the varnish (which is also on the bullet, as well as the red sealing wax used on a lot of Wolf ammo) vaporizes, and mixes with the combustion gasses in the chamber.

    These gasses eventually make it into the gas block, and travel -via the gas tube- back to the bolt carrier.

    Everywhere they touch, a small amount of this varnish, now mixed with carbon and primer and gunpowder residue, will recondense (due to difference in temperature), into a sticky goo that will attract more carbon, more gunpowder residue, and more primer residue, all of which is corrosive over time. Think of it a cholesterol blocking an artery. And it cannot be removed even with gas tube brushes and solvents.

    I have replaced at least 5 gas tubes for clients that have shot Wolf ammo in their ARs. The gas tube is cheap. Gunsmith's labor is not. 2 hours minimum charge.

    Now, you will, in the normal course of use, eventually replace the gas tube due to clogging, as you would eventually replace the barrel, from normal wear and tear. But the gas tube clogging with burnt varnish is not something even solvents can remove. Like the fuel filter in a car, it must be replaced eventually, but using dirty gas will ensure you need to replace it sooner rather than later.

    I have also had to replace for a client the extractor of his AR...the claw had been worn down so much that it would no longer engage the cases to extract them. Cost of part: $11.50. Cost of labor: 1 hour minimum.

    I personally would NEVER use steel cased ammo in any of my ARs, unless SHTF and I have exhausted my ample supply of my own reloaded .223 ammo.

    My views and opinions may not necessarily reflect those of Glock Forum, its management, its owners or affiliates.

  4. glocknloaded

    glocknloaded Click Click Boom Supporter

    Thanks Happysniper I don't want to ruin my hard work over a little more range time. I'll have to suck it up and spend the extra cash on FMJ Oran's maybe learn to reload.
  5. fls348

    fls348 New Member

    I've ran upwards of around 7500+ steel cased (Wolf Military Classic) through my AR and I get a dud every now and then but have never once, beside the duds, had and problems or complications with them. I get them in bulk for around $3.99 a box although I haven't ordered any in about 6mos. and I heard they went up???

    FYI, the new steel casing ammo is Teflon coated, they haven't used the 'varnish' in few years.

    Fact is if you clean your gun properly after you use it the steel cased stuff won't hurt a thing.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  6. glocknloaded

    glocknloaded Click Click Boom Supporter

    I have seen more and more of the green tip any idea what the green tips about.
  7. bhale187

    bhale187 New Member Supporter

    Like fls348 said, not many companies use the varnish any more. Zinc and polymer coats are fine, just make sure you aren't buying old stock lacquer/varnish coated ammo.

    I've used plenty of steel cased in ARs, I have a bolt carrier group I use only for the steel cased stuff, and if you shoot much 223/5.56 the cost savings on the ammo will pay for that spare BCG in no time.

    Get zinc or poly coated and you'll be fine. I'd suggest a spare BCG just for the steel cased stuff because it is going to be harder on the extractor/ejector.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  8. glocknloaded

    glocknloaded Click Click Boom Supporter

    Thanks I may pick up a spare spike tactical for a 100 bucks when shooting steel case.
  9. bhale187

    bhale187 New Member Supporter

    Here's a good write up on steel cased ammo

    Many former Eastern-Bloc countries use steel ammo casings in place of brass, as the cost of steel is much less. The steel casings would quickly rust if left untreated, so one of four methods is used to treat the steel cases: "copper-washing," lacquer, "nickel" (really zinc) plating, or most recently, polymer coating. Copper-washed ammo is a blotchy bronze color, and usually the entire loaded round is coated, leaving the bullet and case the same bronzy color. Copper-washed ammo is usually only found in the East-Bloc calibers.

    Until recently, lacquered cases were the type most commonly found. The outside of the steel case is covered in a grey or green heat-resistant lacquer to inhibit rust. There have been some problems with the lacquer, though, as it tended to leave drips and runs on the cases, which can make extraction more difficult. Until recently, most Russian and Czech-made ammo used this method.
    Recently, the Barnaul plant began offering zinc-plated ammo under the name Silver Bear. Aside from some problems with incorrectly-sized cases, this ammo seems to work well, but the zinc process is more expensive, and as a result, the price of the loaded ammo is a little higher.
    Most recently (near the beginning of 2004), Wolf announced that their new ammo would be polymer coated. The polymer process leaves smoother cases than the lacquer, but is much less expensive than the zinc plating. To date, no problems have been encountered as a result of the polymer coating, making the new process an overall success.
    There have been problems with steel-cased ammo. Through 2002, Wolf ammo came with a thick red sealant around the primer and on the neck of the bullet. This sealant was the cause of many problems, as it would build up and become sticky under high heat, leading to severe extraction problems as cases would literally be "glued" into the chamber. It would also gum up the firing pin channel and bolt face, causing further problems. Wolf wisely dropped the sealant on their .223 ammo in 2003, and reports of problems have dropped off considerably.
    There is still some understandable apprehension with using steel-cased ammo in .223. Unlike the Soviet-designed cases, the 5.56 cartridge has very little taper to the case and its length to diameter ratio is very large. The result of this is that 5.56 ammo has more friction during cartridge extraction and comparatively less extractor surface area. This usually isn't a problem with brass cases, but with steel cases, especially lacquer-coated case, stoppages are more frequent. This is likely to due with the difference in expansion/retraction properties between brass and steel.
    These problems aren't limited to .223 either, as some guns, such as the HK USP line of pistols, is notorious for having feeding and extraction problems with steel-cased ammo.Still, the Russian ammo manufacturers have been steadily improving their products, and many have found that problems experienced with older ammo aren't present in the current offerings. Plus, the competition from this bargain ammo helps keep the cost of all .223/5.56 loads reasonable, which is good for all shooters.
  10. bhale187

    bhale187 New Member Supporter

    It's just for quick ID of the ammo type
  11. glocknloaded

    glocknloaded Click Click Boom Supporter

    Just ordered 500 FMJ federal rounds still gonna try a small amount of steel but going with the brass for now.
  12. green tip = M855 62 gr 5.56MM. Made by ATK at Lake City but I believe there are some copy cats out there. It's fired out of the M4 and M16A2. No color on the tip = M193 55 gr 5.56MM. Also used by the military, mostly for training with both weapons mentioned above but was originally produced for use in the M16A1. Those are also made here at Lake City. Again, many copy cats with different SAAMI standards. Anything else is .223. I have no problems firing Wolf out of both my ARs and my FN SCAR. Unless you are firing thousands and thousands of rounds of steel ammo per year out of your weapon it's really not an issue. I tend to hoard .223 and 5.56MM ammo and I have several thousand rounds of Wolf and I have a lot of Lake City too (legally purchased of course). If the SHTF, i'd certainly be prepared to use the Wolf ammo as I have found it reliable. The only downside i see with it is that I can't reload it. Properly clean your weapon and you'll not have any issues.

    FYI, Federal .223 is produced here as well. The rounds that do not meet SAAMI specs for some reason or another automatically become Federal (commercial) ammo. Better to sell to some unsuspecting consumer than to scrap them i suppose.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
  13. scrubber3

    scrubber3 New Member

    I know that surplus ammo has a way of being "old" and some of the steel versions could still be bought that have the varnish on them. I'm not sure of any problems as I haven't fired any ever and I am no gunsmith, but I can tell you that the more varnish like substance is on a round, the more chance you have of it eventually gumming something up and possibly causing issues. I'd say to just be wary of any surplus you may encounter if any.