Ammunition

Throwback Thursday—Shooting Steel Cased Ammo In Your AR-15

Picture shows a steel-cased .223 Remington round.

You have no doubt noticed the large amount of inexpensive steel-cased ammunition available. It is hard to pass it up—prices for steel-cased ammo are cheaper than that of traditional brass-cased. Take it out to the range and it won’t be long before you hear the “tsk-tsk” of other shooters, commenting on how horrible it is to run steel-cased ammunition in an AR-15 style rifle.

But is steel-cased ammo really so bad? Is it safe to shoot steel-cased ammunition in your AR-15?

Busting Myths

Picture shows a steel-cased .223 Remington round.
Steel cased ammo may have gotten a bad rap, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

Let’s own up to a few facts first. In general, discount steel-cased ammo is dirtier and smellier than MIL-SPEC Lake City manufactured 5.56 NATO ammunition. Further, it is not quite as accurate either, but many shooters won’t miss a half-MOA here or there.

Now, on to some myth-busting. Modern production steel-cased ammo is not corrosive, even when Berdan primed and it will not destroy your extractor. The ferrous bi-metal jackets found on most steel-cased ammo will not damage the rifling of your AR and are perfectly safe to use on any rifle-rated backstop.

Dripping Wet

What do you need to do to run steel-cased ammunition in your AR-15 successfully? First, you will need to make sure your AR-15 is well lubricated. Dripping wet some might say—especially the bolt carrier group. You will need to clean your rifle more often when shooting steel-cased ammo; at least once every 500 rounds. However, you could get away with letting it go for up to 1,000 rounds. Because steel-cased ammunition results in more carbon build up, it’s important to use a high-quality solvent like M-Pro 7 along with a synthetic lubricant. Thoroughly clean your bolt, paying close attention to the bolt face and extractor. It is usually a good idea to remove the extractor to clean underneath as well. You will also need to clean the chamber with a good M16/AR-15 chamber brush.

Modern Coatings

Steel-cased ammo is generally loaded lighter than standard military loads, so it is important that the AR’s gas system runs well. Some AR rifles have smaller gas ports and will not cycle well with the reduced-power loads found in steel-cased ammunition. If this becomes a problem, switch to brass-cased ammo such as PPU. Using a lower-weight buffer or a lighter buffer spring may also be necessary when shooting steel-cased ammo.

Steel-cased ammunition is available with three different types of coatings. To help prevent rust and corrosion of the cartridge case, older steel-cased ammo is lacquer finished. Brown Bear still uses this coating. As heat begins to build, some AR-15 rifles start to have problems with lacquer-coated, steel-cased ammo. Switching to modern production steel-cased ammo with polymer coatings sometimes alleviates this problem. In other cases, it may be necessary to use zinc-coated steel cased ammo such as Silver Bear.

5.56mm v .223 Remington

The best way to avoid extraction problems due to stuck cases is to use an AR-15 with a 5.56mm chamber. Differences in headspacing between 5.56 and .223 chambers can cause steel-cased .223 or 5.56mm ammo to get stuck as the metal heats up. Even Wylde chambers and other .223/5.56-hybrid chambers have issues with stuck spent steel casings. Stick with a true 5.56mm chamber and, as mentioned, remember to scrub the chamber out every 500 to 1000 rounds to ensure reliability.

Steel-cased ammo may have gotten a bad rap, but there is really nothing wrong with it—so go for it! Some AR snobs may sneer at the mere thought of running steel-cased ammo through their precious rifles, but you know better now. Save money when plinking and try out steel-cased. Most AR-15 rifles run it just fine with no problems at all.

Do you run steel-cased ammunition in your AR-15? What have you found that works best? Share your tips and tricks with others in the comment section.

This article originally published on May 27, 2010.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (164)

  1. Does anyone here have any knowledge on barrel wear from steel cased ammo? If the round is bi metal will it wear a barrel faster than say m855 that is also a steel jacket? My psa runs the steel no problem tho I’m worried I’m damaging the barrel faster than other rounds would/tho most other ammo I’ve collected is m855 which I have read elsewhere can wear more than a typical lead projectile. Any info/experiences greatly appreciated!

  2. I cannot shoot steel case in my Bushmaster XM15. The chamber tolerances are too tight, and since steel cases do not “spring back” after firing to the same extent that brass cases do, the steel case rounds will stick in the chamber. In one case it has required a gunsmith to get the case out.

    My daughter, on the other hand, has a DPMS kit-built AR that will shoot steel case all day long.

  3. Steel case are fine to shoot. The problem is the ammo is dirty. The Ar chamber will foul up faster than using brass case. I clean well after i shoot steel. Another mistake is trying to shoot brass afer shooting several hundred rds of steel. they tend to hang up from the sludge ,,one more thing is to avoid shooting steel case in the wylde chambering, the tolerance is a bit tighter than a 5.56 std

    1. @ Berto.

      “Steel Cased” Ammo will Expand and Contract because of Ambient Air Temperature, which “Causes” fooling of the Ammunition Propellant. And Lacquered Steel Cased Ammo is only a Stop-Gap Solution, which degrades over time. “Brass” is Temperature Neutral…

  4. Pingback: Wolf Ammo In Ar 15
  5. I’m a gunsmith too – and I regularly shoot steelcased ammo out of my AR15 and AR47, and never have had a single issue. My personal and professional opinion is that is all bunk. I’ll even venture to say that there are UN friendly countries using M-16s and steel cased ammo as a standard practice.

    1. Andy, could you explain please? I am a third generation gunsmith/arms dealer and have shot thousands of rounds of steel cased ammo in several different ar platforms without any problems contributed to ammo.. As long as your running well lubed and clean frequently you should be problem free. Maybe if you run round after round of lacquer coated cases without cleaning you may run into some issues with your gas tube, especially smaller dia.

    2. I think he talked about bolt breakage and some other issues, varnish build up etc.My son purchased an AR at a local range. Went out to shoot it after a few rounds the gun exploded.With steel case ammo. Some people who sell uppers say Do Not USE STEEL CASE AMMO. I would rather not do it.People all over the internet are blowing up guns.

  6. I purchased theAmerican Tactical Imports Omni Hybrid Maxx Black .223 / 5.56 NATO 16-Inch 30Rd 13-inch KeyMod Rail
    For my first time plinking with it I purchased two boxes of 20 rounds .223 one of american eagle brass and one of tulammo steel cased (not sure of the coating). After shooting these 40 rounds both in the standard mag from ATI and a P-mag the Brass american had one miss fire and the steel Tulammo had none and extracted every casing. This was all i shot was 20 brass and 20 steel so its not a huge point but it was my experience with a AR that has polymer upper and lower. Oh and i was dripping wet before i began shooting.

  7. I have a dpms oracle 5.56 and steel coated is a no go. 3 shots in and it got stuck in the chamber and the round behind it got jammed into it.

  8. My. Ar 15. Uses 7.62×39. Rounds. My Ar 15. Del ton ,and my Ar10 308. I use the steel cased tula ammo shot. 20,000 plus rounds.each Never had a problem. And still hit at marksman moa …true need to clean a bit more. But. Oh well

  9. Hello,

    I am new to shooting. I am not as much concerned with saving money on the ammo as I am with easing collection of spent casings(by way of magnets). I would like to believe a quality ferrous casing exists without the issues of excessive barrel wear and improper powder burn rate(neither of which are related to the casing material).

    Any thoughts?

  10. I too read the Lucky Gunner report stating that the main problem with steel case ammo is more the bullet than the case.
    Too many rounds will leave your barrel a smooth bore.
    IOWs, your savings will go into a new barrel !

  11. Have none of you people read lucky gunners 10k round test with m193 and steel cased ammo? At 10k rounds the rifling was almost gone in the barrels that had Wolf shot through it. The jackets on these bullets are not copper and are more abrasive. It really is as simple as that. Now one might argue that you could buy another barrel and then some after 10k rounds of steel cased ammo with your savings. To each his own. Educate yourselves.

    1. “Educate yourselves”

      Oddly I was going to ask if you actually read the findings of the authors in the comments below that article? Test was 10k rounds w/o a single cleaning, endless mag dumps and chambers hot enough to cook off a round in less than 10 seconds. The author believes that is the sole culprit for barrel degradation. Clean your rifle b/c steel burns dirty and if you do chances are your experiences will be like mine. I have north of 8k rounds of various steel through my pre ban HBAR and have no loss of accuracy yet. Took a hog at 121 yards 2 Sundays ago from the back porch with irons and Wolf Poly .223. Steel is fine if you care for your gun routinely. I put over 7k rounds of steel through my AR stable last year alone.

    2. I shot several hundred rounds of brass through my Bushmaster 308, and shot flawlessly. I got a deal on a thousand rounds of steel cased 308 ammo and wen to the range. After 100 rounds, the extractor broke. I was like, damn, ok. So I ordered a new extractor, replaced, went back to the range. I don’t think it was even 100 rounds and the extractor broke again. It was the steel cased ammo without a doubt. I’ve shot hundreds, if not another thousand rounds of brass through the gun since with no issues. I don’t have a problem shooting steel cased ammo, but to say that it doesn’t take a toll on your rifle is probably just not the truth. It will wear it out much quicker, not sure about the barrel as long as you keep it clean, but it murders the bolt.

  12. I have a Delton AR 5.56 that eats up steelcased Tulammo. I shoot the 62gr HP and get very decent accuracy. Have shot 500 rounds so far and had absolutely no FTF, FTE, or magazine problems. The gun does get a little dirtier but I clean it and lube it and continue to march.

  13. Also, Google ‘education zone #18’ !
    NOT a good idea to mix brass and steel ammo in one sitting !
    Apparently firing Wolf? steel ammo, which doesn’t expand as much as brass, and therefore allows gas and carbon blowback over the shell case; will cause the more expanding brass shells to get stuck in the chamber from the accumulated carbon build up !

  14. my american made AR not so much-my Russian and Romanian AK’s eat it all day long. i think the Eastern European countries have compensated quite nicely for poor quality control

  15. My experience with steel cased ammo has varied depending on brand of Rifle.

    No problems whatever when using steel cased with a Bushmaster stamped .223 or 5.56mm.

    Problems arose within a Armalite stamped 5.56mm when using steel stuff. Problems feeding and ejecting when using metal magazines, but when using the Magpul P30 polymer magazine the feeding problem got much better, but still having some extraction malfunctions when ejecting live unfired rounds while clearing chamber. The polymer mags seem to feed much better. Try it.

    1. Try getting an extra power hammer spring and or an enhanced firing pin. That will solve the problems with failed to fire rounds

  16. My MP 15 Sport shoots steel case just fine. I use whatever is cheapest. I notice it gets a liiiitttle bit dirty quicker so I lube it more.

    1. @ Paul.

      The Soviet’s used a DRY Lubricant that was developed in the 1930’s, and was us at the Stalingrad Campaign. German’s used it too, once they fund out that their White Mineral Oil (water based) was Vastly Inferior to the Soviet Dry Lubrication. It’s called Russian Standard TY38.1011315-90 (Oil-RzH), it’s rated to MINUS 70F. Try a Lubrication Specialized Company. Kalashnikov-USA, probably carries it or something similar…

    1. I have helped a few people resolve FTE’s with steel by upgrading to the BCM extractor kit. 2 mintues to resolve and they both rip steel all day long now. One was an SBR, but want to say the DD was a 16″. Either way that was their issue easy 5 buck fix.

  17. My Ruger SR 556 had some issues firing the steel case ammo (TULA) but with a quick BCM spring extractor upgrade, it now devours every ammo out there. When SHTF, I want to continue fighting regardless what ammo I can scavenge once my stockpile runs out. That is why it is important that I can run any ammo thru my fighting rifles.

    PS : Extractors are so cheap, replace it every 60,0000 rounds if you are concern. They run about $8-20 each.

    1. @ Joe.

      If you have Disposable Income, then replacing the Extractors is CHEAP. But I you DON’T like ME, THEN “CHEAP” isn’t Cheap.

    2. If $20.00 to too is not cheep or rather CHEAP the.n why are you even operating a.556? Shouldn’t you be shooting and reshooting B.B.’S?

  18. its not banned everywhere, thats also a myth. plenty of it here in Texas. maybe its banned in an indoor range, thats a whole different animal.

  19. I’ an AR builder, I have found the problem of short stroking to be with factory guns being thrown together . They test shoot a couple of rounds and then box it. On cheep barrels the gas hole is usually too small and it was for super hot cartridges for full auto. I open the hole to .078 and you can go as high as .105 this will allow the gas to effectively charge the gas system with lower powered cartridges . I also found the gas blocks and the gas tubes don’t align well . I open the gas tube to be the same size as the blocks hole You can go through the allan set screw to do this . You can play with the weight of the follower and the spring . I prefer an adjustable gas block . Once the tube is properly over the barrel hole and the tube is opened you’ll see a big change in your rifle. It will feed and function so much better. I shoot Russian ammo and lake city ss109. The Russian is fairly consistent and cheep Hope this helps.

  20. Sorry for all the typos in my first comment – but I spilled coffee on my keyboard yesterday and turned it into a sticky bun.

  21. Maybe AR steel cases are the exception to the rule because of their size – the Rule to which I referred is the percentage of ammo-related failures that are deonted by a three-letter acronym where the first letter is always an “F” signifying FAILURE.”

    If the third letter in the acronym is also an “F,” it could stand for “Feed” or “Fire” – but, in reality, it should stand for “FUNCTION” OR “FINISH” in order to cover all of the things you do not want your ammo to do – INCLUDING gunking up your gun or leaving it full of nasty, oily soot.

    Because,in an AR, you can easily swap out the two main parts of the gun most likely to be aversely affected by steel-cased ammo, and the toughness of the material available for, let’s say the barrel and bolt carrier group, can be made out of titanium or tungsten carbide. Try finding a 9mm handgun witjh those materials.

    If steel was as problem-free as ou make it out to be, then why is it banned at every gun range in the country? (If there are ranges foir hasndguns that do not ban it, then please let me know because I have yet to see it).

    Wolf and Tula are the most popular steel-cased AR ammo in existence because they are the cheapest AR ammo in existence. However, they are aslo one of the DIRTIEST ammo in existence. Here’s where reloading a steel case would make it better than the original.

    Getting back to gun failures in handguns (as I noted, the experience with AR and AK ammo is a lot different as these long guns can take the punishment), pick a group of handgun owners who regularly practice in an open field or forest where their neighbors (if they have any) will not be bothered by their bang-bangs.

    If there are reports of ammo-related failures from this group, 80% of the time, these failures can be traced back to their use of steel-cased ammo.

    In fact, pick up any gun blog and count the number of instances where a shooter reports an FTF or FTE and see for yourself how many of them involve steel-cased ammo.

    Grantged, it is nbo more scentific that the anecdotal reports we always read that alweays go something liker this:

    “Well, I have shot ____ rounds of steel-cased ammo for _____ years and never had any problems”

    Of course, they forget to mention the complete configuration of the firearm they used to shoot all those rounds.In fact, when queried, you will find that multiple firearms were used in order to issue that statement.

    Faiurly recently, Wolf and Tula have been selling brass-cased versions of their AR ammo. If there is nothing wrong with their steel-cased stuff, then what’s driving the need? Gun ranges, for one. What else?

    My main question is, “OK, you’ve changed from steel to brass. Have you also changed the propellant?”

    It would be great if they did. However, their brass-cased AR ammo is no longer a price leader. And, if they are using the same dirty propellant, then where lies the advantages? Unless youy own stock in the companies, or can discount it more heavily than American brands, where’s the draw.

    No offense, but I’d like your take on steel-cased handgun ammo. Still as problem-free as the .223/5.56 magnetic monsters?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

    All I can say is thaty, if I owned a $1500 AR, I woujld not be pinching pennies by buying cheap, steel-cased ammo that is not problem-free no matter how many times you say it is.

    Because for every anecdote that claims to use steel-cased ammo and had no problems, there are at least as many or more anecdotes of claims that the steel-cased ammo they used screwed up their AR.

    To paraphrase a line from “Jerry MacGuire”

    “SHOW ME THE DATA!”

    Also:

    “YOU HAD ME AT {*click*} HELL!”

    1. Ive ran much over 50,000 rounds of Tulammo through my AR without 1 failure to do anything As long as you maintain your gun properly its not a problem. Not everyone spends $1500 on just the AR there are many great ARs for under $1000 straight out of the box and alot of people had to save just to get that. Not everyone can afford to waste there money on shooting Brass through there ARs you will far out weigh the cost of the cheap parts that may need to be replaced from running dirtier ammo but as long as your lubing at cleaning often that really isnt a lroblem either. And as far as pistol ammo this wasnt about that at all! I agree fully with you on metal and pistols you just dont do it unless you have no choice or you own a Highpoint and in that case who cares its junk anyways!

    2. There is nothing about the case (steel) that is banned or not allowed at any ranges. Steel core ammo is frowned upon for ruining backstops and sparking up fires. There is tonnes of evidence that steel cased ammo today does not have all the problems it once had a decade ago. Do a lot more reading and actually go out to some of these ranges. Oh, and shoot some of the steel cased ammo you “talk” about and then you can really have an opinion on that too. You will find it just as dirty as every other bulk brass round.

  22. From what I read in the “Steel vs. Brass Epic Torture test” on LuckyGunner.com last year it seems more of a barrel issue. From their test the steel cased ammo wears out your barrel a quicker. This is because the rounds have metal in them. If you put a magnet to a lot of the steel cased rounds[bullets] it will stick. This means the FMJ and/or interior has metal in it. Through repeated use it appears that this wears out the barrel quicker. This is the bigger issue for me personally; not whether it feeds well or is dirty…

    1. Yes, but the money saved with steel-cased ammo would buy you a brand new barrel and bolt carrier group AND still have 2000 more rounds leftover to shoot price-wise(on average). The rest of you’re gun won’t be affected. More hard-worked dollars left in you’re pocket and more plinking time at the range. One last note: If you use an 18″ barrel or bigger, it won’t build up carbon nearly as quick w/the shorter 16″barrels and won’t make you’re extractor work much (if at all) harder than if using brass cased ammo. It’s a no brainer for me and my 18″barreled Colt AR-15: steel ammo it is! (Regardless..I normally clean my gun after every shooting session. I never go more than 200 rounds without cleaning it. I play it safe plus I enjoy cleaning my guns).

  23. I have been using Brown Bear steel cased, fmj ammo in my 7.62 x 39 AR15 for years. I have had zero operational issues…none. As an added bonus, the 123 grain Brown Bear runs very consistent and accurately in my particular weapon….better than many, more expensive rounds…

    1. That’s good to hear since I just bought 500 rounds of Brown Bear for my Arsenal AK that will be in my hands in a week! (yes..I live in Cali. Argghh..the dumb 10 day waiting period.).

  24. You state “Using a lower-weight buffer or a lighter buffer spring may also be necessary when shooting steel-cased ammo.” but never explained why this would help. I was always under the impression that it had to be opposite – heavier buffer with stiffer buffer spring to slow down the cycle rate that will improve the FTE problems.

    1. @ John.

      When the inside barrel “heats-up”, temperature is transmitted back in to the “steel” cartridge and causes it to expand. As the barrel “cools-down”, allowing the barrel to contract. The steel cartridge stay hot, essentially “welding” itself to the inside of the barrel.

      There is another method you may or may not want to try, is getting a “paintball quick charge” device. Place it at the end of the barrel, release the small co2 cartridge. And use the co2 pressure blast, “ballistically” blow out the spent cartridge. Barrels vary, and this does not, unfortunately work with all pistols and/or rifles.

    2. The first sentence of that paragraph explained it, “Steel-cased ammo is generally loaded lighter than standard military loads”

      You want a certain balance in the cycling of your rifle. Lighter ammo needs a lighter buffer and spring to be able to fully extract and eject. Heavier loads need a heavier buffer and spring to absorb that energy. This is all before getting into gas port length issues.

  25. Got my S&W M&P sport about 5 months ago, have run Wolf 223 and 556 for most of the 1,000 or so rounds. Did try some Fiocchi, 10 mags full and had one round hang for some reason. My S&W seems happy with most anything i feed it. Try the steel before you knock it.

  26. Since switching to the polymer coated steel case ammo in .223 and 7.62×39, I have had zero issues with any of my rifles. No issues with carbon either, since my Bushmaster M4gery has had an Adams Arms gas piston kit installed (love it). Both it and my 1946 Russian SKS operate flawlessly.

    The cheap Tula/Wolf steel case ammo is great for practice, with Lake City used in the M4 when loaded for “duty”.

  27. Steel Case will not work with Slide Fire Systems. I have tried steel on a number of different uppers and lowers, including different bolts, but I think that the Slide Fire gets so hot that it causes the Steel to expand and jam the chamber. For regular use though, I have never had a problem, but for automatic fire, Steel Case is out.

  28. I have run thousands of rounds of surplus steel case ammo from various comm bloc countries of all different dates of mfg through my M4 that I built with a variety of no name parts, all of my AK variants and even my 1911s and various 9mm – all without a single FTF, FTE, etc. I’ve never had case failures, extraction issues or anything else.

    I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience and perhaps I just jinxed myself… but my experience has been nothing but positive.

    1. Thats amazing. I own a S&W M&P15 and I can’t shoot steel for more than 100 rounds before it will FTE. It happens every time without failure. The case gets stuck in the chamber and the BCG gets stuck in forward position. I have to literally hammer on the charging handle to get it unstuck. Every time after 100 rds or so.

  29. I own an MAK-90, which is a Norinco type 56 Chinese rifle. I’ve fired both brass & steel ammunition in it, hundreds of rounds, with never a failure–until recently.

    I received the rifle in 1994, a gift from my son when they sold for less than $300. Along with the rifle he gave me three 30 rd mags and three boxes of 122 gr Norinco “Chinese Arms” 7.62×39 ammo. Those boxes sat on a closet shelf for twenty years when I decided it was time to get rid of them, loaded up two mags and went off to the range with two AR 5.56s and the MAK-90. That old Norinco ammo almost immediately began to have FTEs. I cleared several then concluded that this batch was now unreliable and pitched the remainder. Bad powder, age, failure to properly store???

    Even an AK can have a bad day is the ammo is, in some manner, defective. As an aside, upon cleaning the AK the evening of the shoot, I noticed that the lower left rear of the FSG trunnion had a piece sheared off and missing. While the rifle is still functional, without a new trunnion, it is no longer a reliable self defense weapon & probably unsafe to fire.

    At some point in time the other side of the trunnion may fail or the bolt may cease to lock up properly.

    1. Interesting……do you believe the failure was CAUSED by the ammo or the ammo performance was a symptom of the trunnion failing?

    2. Interesting question. I wondered the same thing. I can’t form a conclusion, as the rifle did continue to function, and eject, until I got tired of clearing jams. I didn’t notice the defect in the trunnion until back on the bench at home. I can say that there was no significant event which highlighted when the trunnion’s piece parted. I’ve been up close to several weapons who’s chambers detonated and ended up scrap metal, nothing like that occurred in this instance.

      I think I’ll take it back to the range and run some 5 rd mags through with new ammo & see if it still fails to eject. The trunnion failure is on the ejector rail side.

      Perhaps the ammo wasn’t the problem but the trunnion failed due to metal fatigue? If I have to pull the trunnion I’ll probably put a new barrel in at the same time.

  30. I had a day at the range where I was using steel ammo in my M1A and DPMS LR308. About the 3rd mag I started getting ejection issues on both. At one point my M1 was locked up with a round or casing stuck in the chamber. I think the issue is the lacquer coating coming off from the heat and gumming up the works. I vowed never to use steel again in those weapons and actually decided to go to AK style (74) weapons as my primary SHTF battle rifles. They eat everything and anything. I was really disgusted with the LR308. FTF and accuracy issues with the steel even with a great scope. Probably sell that one but i love my M1A too much to sell. Was still pretty accurate with the steel just kept locking up.

  31. Been using herters in monthly rifle matches for past two years, no problem. RRA, 16″ barrel, carbine length gas system; have had two failures to extract during fast shooting sequences when chamber heats up; gonna pay the extra $1/box and get brass cased ammo for training and use the herters for the matches

  32. Those who have problems with steel case in a 5.56 or 223 msr, can you list what barrel length, gas tube length, carrier type, buffer weight, gas block and even 5gas port size?

  33. steal cased ammo has never failed me , ftf or fte.i have shot steal case through my dpms, my bushmaster my mini 14 and my 7.62×39 ar build. all have been wolf ammo. i have shot tula through my beretta px4 no problems . i have how ever have had ftf with brass ammo in my dpms but i think that was more of a magazine issue . but like i said steel case ammo has never failed and has been 110% reliable .

  34. I shoot steel cased ammo in my Colt and S&W AR-15’s. Have never had a problem. I do clean them after every trip to the range even if I only shoot a hundred rounds. The extractor does get quite dirty underneath so I always give it a good scrubbing.

  35. I shoot steel ammo primarily in my mini-14 and it feeds fine in that. never had a feeding or FTE issue. i tried it out in my DPMS eventhough DPMS says it will void the warranty, so what? worked 100% in my DPMS. Friend of mine has a bushmaster and man it always has FTE with steel ammo, even broke his extractor once. You can keep your bushmaster’s too finicky for me. My DPMS has never failed whatever i feed it. great gun. same with my mini14 no failures. so impressed with DPMS i bought a LR-308 but i only feed it brass ammo. Half inch groups using handloads and nosler ballistic tips. WOW

  36. I tried TulAmmo steel case .223s in my AR and I fired 5 out of the first mag before every one after that caused a jam. The problem is that the steel casings don’t expand the same way that brass casings do. The lack of pressure cause the bolt to misfeed the next round. The last casing would get stuck in chamber. I tried cleaning it out a few times but it continued to misfeed every round until I just decided to throw out the rest of the ammo. I’ll never buy it again.

  37. My S&W 15 Sport handles steel case ammo (Tula) very well with absolutely no issues. It has the 5.56 chamber and gets cleaned after every range visit. 2000 rounds so far. Sub 1.5 in groups at 60 yards. I will continue to use it and happy about the price.

  38. I’ve been using Hornady Steel Match in my Rock River AR ( though not exclusively) for quite a while. I’ve NEVER had feeding, extraction, or accuracy issues. Shoots MOA and saves money; what’s not to like. Personally I would only use the Hornady steel case ammo since they’re known for their superior products. I do avoid the Russian stuff just to be safe.

  39. I dont believe ANY AR manufacturer recomends using steel cased ammo. Bad raps come for a reason. The article even admits to switching to brass after having problems. Want to shoot cheap? Put steel through firearms with looser tolerances like an AK. Even if “no” problems are experienced with steel through ones AR; steel will wear on componets far faster than brass. Damage being the worst case scenerio and reliability being the least. Flaws with any ammo type can happen. Best to inspect ammo, brass and steel alike, for potential problems before loading a mag. At the end of the day; only your own experience will convince you. Stay safe, keep ’em blazin’ and have fun!

  40. I’ve fired steel cased in all my handguns and rifles, I’ve experienced a hicup here and there, but no more than any other type of ammo in any brand of firearm. My AK has only ever fired steel cased, and has never, ever, jammed, my bushmaster does double feed occasionally, but does so with steel and brass, doesn’t seem to make a difference. If you clean and lube your weapons properly it really doesn’t matter, anyone who argues that it does is a snob, which I’ve learned there are no shortage of in the world of shooting.
    CIA Romanian AK47
    Bushmaster Carbon AR 15
    DPMS Panther AR 10
    Romanian SKS
    Ruger 10/22 Takedown
    Mosin Nagant M44
    Magnum Research Desert Eagle 50
    EAA Tangfolio Witness 45/9/22
    Rock River 1911 45
    Glock 27 Gen4 40
    Ruger SR40
    S&W Bodyguard 380

  41. I have shot nothing but steel cased ammo in my 7.62 X 39 AR without any problems at all. It’s usually Tulammo or Wolf WFA. I clean my gun after every time I use it. I would certainly use brass cased but it is very hard to find for this caliber and when I do see it, it is a lot more expensive than the steel stuff.

    1. I have upgraded the extractor spring and put the little rubber donut in as well. My Bushmaster AR, which is a 5.56 chamber, just doesn’t like steel. My daughters DPMS and my son’s SP1 Colt will shoot it all day long. I think it is a gun specific problem, not necessarily one associated with a particular manufacturer.

  42. All I can tell you is my little Windham doesn’t care what it’s fed, it shoots it all! Never had a FF or a FTE using steel. as a matter of fact, I’ve experienced more problems with brand name brass.

    I shoot a LOT, and when I can get steel ammo at .18 cents a round, I jump on it! The article is true, keep a clean weapon and it will shoot anything.

  43. Regardless of the results in this article, I can tell you my S&W MP15 does not perform in a satisfactory manner with steel case ammo. FTE’s are the most common problem with the occasional misfire. I have experienced upwards of a half-dozen FTE’s per 20 rd box. Never again in any gun I own.

  44. Can’t put steel through a cheap crapy rifle.
    Needs to be milspec+

    Bushmaster
    Kel-Tec
    Hell even Colt nowadays
    Not milspec

    Colt is just sitting on their laurels collecting royalties on something they didn’t even create
    Kinda like the only thing that keeps IBM’s head above water.

    If you see this barrel address you’re gtg

    5.56mm NATO 1/7″ CHF/CL

    People with a similar barrel address

    7.62×39 button riffled SS AR stoner
    Should have just spent 1/3 as much and just gotten a Vepr or a Saiga or spent another hundred or two and gotten a Sig.

    While yeah stainless is nice on paper to someone who doesn’t know a thing about metallurgy. It’s soft as butter and isn’t heat treatable.
    Anyone notice this lucky gunner torture test used SS barrels and that they’re an ammo retailer and want you ordering the most extensive ammo you can from them and that the only ammo that apparently failed their test is the one of the only ones you can just go into WallyWurld and buy.

  45. I’ve been using tulammo in my stag arms model 1 ever since it was new never had any problems love the fact that I can shoot 40 rounds vs everyone else’s 20 rounds because there scared of steel cases Its a rifle designed to shoot bullets no matter what kind ! In combat you don’t care if its brass or steel as long as it hits your target !

  46. Don’t do it. Steel wears your gun and that Tula ammo sucks. There’s a reason why it’s cheap. Cause it’s junk. It will ruin your barrel and the head space between 223/5.56 is to different to use steel. Stay with brass.

  47. Luckygunner did a 10,000 round study on this exact controversy. The biggest problem with steel cases ammo isn’t the steel (but it can be a pain with extraction). It’s the bimetal bullet. The copper coating is VERY thin resulting in steel on steel contact in the barrel. It DEFINITELY wears the barrel down faster resulting in key-holing and decreased accuracy. Read it. It’s a great objective study.

  48. Being a tool maker, I shy away from steel cased ammo because if you understand ferrous and non-ferrous metals, heat treatment, and abrasion, then you would want dissimilar metals contacting each other – meaning brass on hardened steel. This is why casings have been made of brass for so long. Steel casings will wear your gun parts faster. We don’t care how badly the casings wear, but wear of you gun equals less accuracy.
    Also, why would anyone chance an increase in jams? A jam at the worst possible time is not worth any amount of savings.

  49. New production, steel cased ammo SHOULD run thru any gun, if not, find what works, or tune your rifle to get it to work-ie heavier bcg or buffer, bigger gas port, etc.

    Since countries have been booby trapping surplus steel cased x39, I will never buy it. I do not want to die bc of an exploded rifle.

    I can run almost any ammo full function (light charge, light bullets don’t cycle) no problems-
    16″ 1-9 5.56 chamber, non-chrome barrel, carbine gas, m16 carrier, 4.5 oz buffer, m4 buffer spring.

  50. Interestingly, I have never had any problems shooting steel cartridges through any of my Glock pistols…9MM or 45 ACP. But with my semis/rifles, Colt AR-15, Kel Tec Sub-2000 (9MM), and my Remington 770 (30-06), it has been nothing but misery, stove-piping and misfires. No more steel for me. It’s brass or nothing.

  51. I have run many different kinds of ammo through my AR-15 including steel case. All do just fine except for one. The Tula Ammo kind results in jam after jam for me so I will not use it. It also seems very puny with very little report and practically no recoil, so that might be part of the problem. This has also been the experience of several friends with other brands of guns. Mine is a Rock River but it doesn’t seem to matter what brand of gun is used. I had several boxes and made sure to trade them off when ammo became scarce a couple years ago. That being said, the 7.62×39 variety seems no different than any other steel ammo I have fired in that caliber but that is what the communists used to specialize in so it makes sense they have that one right.

  52. Wolf .223 polymer coated steel. After 90 rounds they started seizing in the chamber on my Kel Tec SA-16C. Don’t know if the polymer is melting or what.Now they do it after 3 or 4 rounds even after thorugh metal brush cleaning of the chamber. Brass runs fine no problems. One problem with the Kel Tec guns is you can not get a straight path to the chamber. I drilled a hole in mine so I could get straight to the chamber. Have not fired it since.

  53. I’ve used both steel and brass in my DPMS and have had no problems. I have noticed a slight drop off in accuracy at 100 yds with the steel but not enough to worry about with what I use it for and the steel does require more cleaning.

  54. I used to shoot steel case ammo in my Bushmaster XM15 purchased in 2004, but no more. During a tactical training course using it, I experienced multiple failures to eject until finally one case stuck in the chamber requiring a trip to the gunsmith to have it removed and the chamber dressed. As the gunsmith explained to me, cases expand in the chamber when fired, and steel tends not to “spring back” as do brass cases, hence the reason for the stuck round. I now shoot only brass in my XM15.

    On the other hand, my daughters DPMS shoots steel just find, and I attribute this to looser tolerance in the chamber that can accommodate the expanded case.

  55. I shoot both brass and steel in 5.56 & .223. Whatever is the best buy. In the long run, any barrel will eventually shoot out as a result of volume. If you have a very expensive barrel intended for accurate bench shooting, or long range hunting. By all means, protect it. But if you are a plinker and love to shoot thousands of rounds, the cost savings of shooting low cost, decently mfgd ammo permits the trade off of a new barrel eventually. Swapping out AR barrels is so easy a cave man could do it. Or, like a winter car and a summer car, shoot top quality ammo in your pride and joy and have a plinker for cheap stuff.

  56. I used to have an AR-15 that I buily with a Model 1 Sales kit on an Olympic Arms lower. The gun would run 1000’s of rounds of all types of stell cased ammo. If I still had it, I wouldn’t have a problem with the stuff. I finally burnt up the last of my steel cased .223 using my Armalite. I was having the break out a cleaning rod every 3-6 rounds to get the stuck rounds out of the chamber. I used that up and won’t be buying anymore of any kind for my rifle. I’ll shoot steel cased ammo in anything else, but not my AR-15.

  57. Steve Cullen,
    I suggest buying a box of the cheap steel cased stuff and trying it in your Diamondback. It will not hurt the rifle. If it doesn’t work, then stick with the brass-cased. I shoot cheap, steel-cased Tula (http://ow.ly/DW8Zu) and brass-cased Armscor (http://ow.ly/DW8Ss) without any issues.
    Hope this helps!

  58. Is “Stamped Sheetmetal Steel” and probably of “Common Stock Steel”, if not treated. It will Rust and Corrode, also because it the Stamped Steel, there’s are greater likelihood of ‘Static-Electricity Discharging”. The only reason their producing Cartridges of Steel and not Brass, is its “Faster, Easier and Cheaper” to produce.

  59. OK… Now I am confused..

    I’ve got 2 new Diamondback AR15 ‘s..223/556 chamber.

    I have not fired either one yet.

    So what should I use in there guns.?

    I’m also new to the AR15 platform.

    Any advice is welcome

    1. Oh… And I have been buying federal /Remington ammo but also looking at the cheaper ammo.

      So what should I do?

      I’ve spoken to some who say they have had issues with the Russian ammo ejecting properly.

    2. First of all you should take those weapons to the range once you are comfortable with them and fire some brass ammo at some targets. And if you happen to have some steel ammo, fire that too. Don’t rely on anecdotal evidence in regards to your weapon. If its chambered for 5.56 then shoot what you can afford. Just know how to clean and take care of your weapon and you’ll be fine. Experience is the best teacher.

  60. I’ve always used brass ammo to good effect in my AR-15. I’ve seen people with other AR-15s have problems with extraction or feeding of both brass and steel ammo. The main advantage of brass is that I know reloaders who will gladly use my once shot brass. None of them can make use of empty once shot steel cases.

    So what do people have against reloading is the question between brass or steel for me.

  61. I have shot 1000s of rounds of Tula 55 grain fmj in both a dpms carbine 223/556 and a colt with a 20″ bull barrel 223 and have never had any problems.colt has a 6×24 scope and will tear up a cigarette packs at 200 yards all day with no problem.with grand kids on site barrels are so hot you could lite a smoke still no problems. $5 a box is just right these days

  62. I use a AK series rifle. I fire a lot of steel cased ammo, through and have not had a single problem. Went to the local range, and the owner said, “not on my range, that ammo has been known to catastrophically fail.” Funny part is, I served 13 years as a Infantry man, and combat engineer. I’ve had more catastrophic (as in the case blew up in the gun) with brass then I have had with steel. All-in-All… good article.

  63. Stop owning crappy AR15’s and buy a SIG!!!! NEVER NEVER NEVER had any malfunction. Ever. I’ve tried every type of steel casing you could imagine. Here’s the trade off: buy a low priced AR and you have to buy a the most expensive ammo just to keep it shooting right, buy a quality gun and it will eat anything you feed it.

    1. I own two Sig 556R’s, a 556 and a 716. After firing over 15K rounds with them, I agree with you 100%.

  64. I put about 2000 rounds of Wolf through my AR. I am now keyholing EVERY shot. It doesn’t matter what ammo I put in it. I’m going to have to say that the harder steel jacket of the Wolf ammo caused excessive ware on my barrel. Now have to buy a new barrel. The replacement barrel will never see any steel ammo.

    1. Most of my 5.56 and .223 is brass. I have shot steel and still have some, but it is dirty and less consistent. IMHO one is better off with a brass stash than a steel stash. for a moderate price difference why risk consistency and perhaps an ocassional bad batch it terms of coating or moisture. Brass is clearly the superior material for this application.

  65. I shoot Tula and Wolf through my custom built 7.62×39 AR with no problems. Has Yankee hill 20″ fluted barrel with rifle length gas system. can probably shoot less than MOA with good shooter. Wolf shoots 1″ high and 1″ to the right compared to Fiocchi. Just keep her clean and lubed.

  66. I should mention that I can only speak for silver bear in ar’s, as that is the only steel 223 I’ve used. I’ve put about 2000 rds of silver bear, and a 1000 each of American eagle tactical & m855(mostly lake city, some pmc x-tac). All performed equally well on steel targets out to 300 yd using irons.

    I will caution that while the silver bears zinc coating is top notch for ar’s, there is one issue. If you shoot a lot in rain and snow like I do, use everything that gets wet. And only expose what you want to shoot to the elements. Zinc is sacrificial and reacts to damage and moisture, forming an oxide rather quickly that is rough and likely won’t cycle in future range trips.

    The luckygunner.com test was an admirable attempt and is a good read. However, the fact that 2 out of the 4 bushmasters were out of spec with loose barrels from factory started it out questionably. Then the substitution of a spikes tactical to make tula run throws the comparison off a bit.

    But my complaint is with the blaming the massive deterioration of accuracy on barrel wear from ammo. Why I say this is accuracy was checked at 4&6,000 rds , but at 5,000 they removed the barrels and chamber casted.
    The guns all were decreasing in accuracy pretty closely til after the 5000 rd mark when they were torn apart and had hardening substance poured in the chamber. Did they screw one or the other up? Were those the factory lemons? Was there a deeper cause of loose barrels? Bad metallurgy not holding torque? Loose barrels make for bad accuracy, dealt with a dpms that way.
    Not scientific enough to be taken for absolute accurate fact, but informative none the less.

  67. Heat and a dirty chamber is what I believe caused a FTE in my AR. On a 90 degree plus day in the deep South I was shooting a 22lr conversion kit in my Bushmaster M3A4. After shooting approximately 100 22lr rounds without a problem I switched the bolt back to the AR bolt to shoot the 5.56 TulAmmo Steel. The first round did not eject and that was that. After bringing the barrel to a gunsmith to have the shell extracted because I could not knock it out with a cleaning rod on my own he said “That shell was really stuck. Your chamber was really dirty”. After reading other comments about FTE with steel cased ammo,expansion, etc. the situation became clear to me why experienced the stuck case. Cooler weather when shooting steel cased ammo and cleaning the chamber before switching over to the 5.56 may have made a difference. I will shoot the steel cased ammo on a cooler day.

  68. I purchased my rra ar from a shop that specializes in ar’s and m1a’s, they sell thousands a year. The owner and his partners are vets that have served around the globe, from the sand box to jungle poo holes. They also shoot for Springfield armory.
    Their advice has kept mine running flawlessly(aside from operator error, be sure your bolt is open when you insert mag and be sure it’s seated good, 3 ftf’s taught me that). They gave me EWL for lube, just apply to carrier at holes and contact surfaces, then push bolt in and out a few times, lube locking lugs, done. After shooting, pull bolt, wipe off, reassemble, relube. No solvent in action, the manual says only to use solvents to change lube to special subzero lube. The parkerised surface is etched porous and holds oil this should not be left bare by solvent.

    For ammo they said to avoid light 223 ammo below 60 gr. Only 5.56 preferably 62gr til at least 500-1000 rds. On steel they said it’s all they use, silver bear 62 gr to be exact.

    I have no idea how much steel cased I’ve shot. But between 223, 5.45 and 7.62 x 39, and 7.62 x 51& 54r, it’s been many thousands. And I’ve got no complaints, however, it’s not all the same. Stuff from barnual is generally better, bear(Brown, silver, golden), barnual, and now colt( which is revamped silver bear with projectile change per colt specs. In 223 & 308) , yes colt endorses it.

    The Russian stuff uses bimetal jackets which are ferrous which means they contain iron. Which is why magnets stick, bullets spark, and barrels wear slightly more. The wear is so slight that you can replace your gun three times with what you saved in cost before your barrels shot out. All current production are lead core, surplus spam cans of 5.45 x 39 and 7.62 x 54r are mild steel core, as are old (pre 70′) 7.62 x 39.
    As for coatings, most are polymer, some zinc, brass, and copper. Lacquer is only on Brown bear these days, and on spam can surplus in 5.45 x 39. So the lacquer “problem” is nonexistent for 223 now.

    Only ar’s prefer brass, most military pattern rifle recommend steel, ak, sks, hk, cetme, etc, can be dangerous with brass.

  69. Not a cheap steel case ammo but a good one Hornady steel cased match ammo. Used it many times no problems at all in CMP match rifles. This stuff uses foreign made steel cases but loaded by Hornady in USA with Hornady match bullets.

  70. I own a Bushmaster .308 MOE, and have tried Tula & Wolf Military Classic for plinking. I’ve yet to encounter any problems with the very few Tula I’ve used(maybe around 5 boxes), but many duds with the Wolf. My friend who I split the 500 rounds of Wolf Military Classic with, his very first one in his Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle was a dud. I have read before that military cases may have tougher primer or something like that, but we aren’t very impressed with it.

    I’ll keep buying Tula for plinking, but I am done with Wolf as soon as my supply’s gone. But just to clarify, other than Wolf’s tough, or bad primer, I haven’t had any failure to load, or eject issues.

    P.S. I’m sorry if I sound like a noob, I am.

  71. Long ago I read that one of the main differences between steel and brass casings is the ability to expand and contract. The article said all casings expand when fired, and brass then contracts close to its original size, while steel expands and stays expanded. This is why so many steel casings get stuck in chambers after building up some gunk. A few Christmases ago I bought some Tula .223 for my son-in-law’s Bushmaster and he had many failures to eject.

    As an aside, I picked up some FMJ with aircraft aluminum casings in .38 Sp for my wife’s Ruger wheel gun, assuming aluminum will expand and contract like brass. The ammo has shot quite well, but then it is a revolver.

  72. I have used inexpensive Russian, Hungarian and Serbian steel cased ammunition in my Bushmaster A2 Patrolman and both Ruger Mini-14’s with NO issues noted. In fact, the Mini-14 is so reliable, if you could put a primer on a dog terd, it would probably fire it reliably. As for the AR-15 platforms, if you own a good rifle and treat it properly, there will be no problems with steel cased ammunition. If there is, a wooden dowel and a rubber mallet with a slight tap will free the lodged casing. I have never had this issue, but the local gunsmith told me this was a fall back position. Blessings of liberty to you all!

  73. I have shot many . . . many steel cased rounds through my AR-15 without one hiccup. The rifle does have a mid-length gas system, and I do agree with many others that a mid-length has an advantage when shooting steel cases. Because the gas port is a little farther down the barrel, it gives the hot, expanded steel case an additional fraction of a second to contract before the gas is sent through the gas tube and cycles the bolt back, ejecting the spent case. The only modification I have done regarding the ejection system, was to upgrade the extractor spring.

    One thing I have noticed though, and have not heard much comment on though, is the thin copper jacket around the steel core. I know that many penetrator rounds such as military issue, green tip ammo do also have a steel core. Now this is only my opinion . . . but I believe the copper jacket on these Russian rounds is thinner than other American made steel cored rounds. The next time you are out at your lease, where you can shoot at night, shoot some American made ammo with a steel core, then shoot some Russian made ammo (most of which has a steel core) through you rifle. I have found that when the Russian rounds are shot, considerably more sparks come out of the barrel. In my opinion, this is because the copper jacket of these Russian rounds is thinner, and the additional sparks are caused by the steel core going down the barrel. The rifle I am shooting does have a chrome lined barrel (1:7) . . . not sure if this is a factor.

    I will continue to shoot brass cases and steel cased ammo. In my opinion, it’s much cheaper to replace the barrel if ever needed than to shoot only brass. The chrome lined barrel on my Palmetto State Armory rifle costs less than $200 . . . this was quickly made up in the savings of shooting steel cased ammo. I would however like to hear other opinions regarding the effect on the barrel of these steel cored Russian rounds, or if others have noticed the considerable amount of extra sparks that comes out of the barrel. It really can’t be seen very well during the day.

  74. There are many variables that can affect how well your rifle operates using steel or brass cases that you never quite know for sure until you test it. As a rule of thumb, for ultimate reliability and durability, it’s best to try and use whatever type the rifle manufacturer generally recommends, since headspacing, gas system, port size, buffer design, and chamber sizing are usually tailored to the ammunition. Having problems with steel cased .223 ammo really has nothing to do with it being “cheap” or “commie”, though, or even with the fact it’s steel, which is not a problem in itself. It’s with the tolerances of the rifle you put it in. In fact, using brass cased ammo in a .223 AK (which are almost always tuned to use steel case ammo) can get you into trouble, too, as some .223 AK’s are notorious for not liking brass cased ammo. Brass cases simply expand more and shrink a lot faster than steel, so steel cases expand less but take longer to shrink so they can be removed from the chamber. This means the design of the rifle takes this into account. Like one guy here already said, adequate timing is vitally important, and a clean chamber with a good gas system and spot on chamber/headspacing helps a great deal on all these factors. Being “midrange” can often let you use either type, but each rifle (even of the same models) can have manufacturing tolerances that affect all this to some degree. Some guys here also said they can use steel cases until the barrel heats up, this makes the chamber shrink in size and then you get problems for the same reasons I just mentioned. Those rifles likely have a chamber that is already pretty tight. Having a short, quick carbine style gas system on top of that might really cause poor reliability. In any case, I wish everyone the best of luck!

  75. Three years ago I finally convinced wife we needed an AR. I bought a Bushmaster A3M4 in 5.56. The first time I shot the weapon I used wolf ammo. I had a fte after one or two rounds. Afterward i called guy who was a self proclaimed AR expert. He said it was the cheap Russian ammo.I bought CTD how to video and guy said oil it,oil it,oil it,to which my exoert said would only cause more buildup and problems. Im not an expert nor claim to be, but I oiled the gun up and have fired hundreds of rounds with no more mishaps. I just clean my precious every time I take her out.

  76. WOW, good points on both sides, not sure what to think. I guess that I will have to go ahead and pay up and shoot brass from my ARs and use the Steel in the AKs. Who knows I might need the brass to reload someday.

    Thank you so much for bringing up this issue and all for the input.

  77. I find it interesting that all the pro-steel cased ammo stories come from vendors trying to sell you steel cased ammo. Listen to your respected gunsmith not some guy that will profit from your purchase and use of this commie crap. The only other people that seem to champion this crap is the guy who bought a boatload of this junk and needs to feel good about his uneducated and short sighted purchase. That being said ak47 tolerances are made for shooting the non expanding cases made of steel. I would never consider putting this junk in any finely machined and tuned AR of any substantial value. Would you put the cheapest gas you could find in a classic muscle car? Well yes, if there was absolutely nothing else available.

  78. I used several thousand rounds of steel(so many I can’t remember) in the three weapons I have in 223. They are a century golani, a 25 year old mini-14, and a Daniel Defense v2. I have had a hand full of misfires but have had as many with brass. No problems and a lot more fun.

  79. Eric,

    My M&P 15 only eats the steel cased stuff for about 60 rounds, then jams every round. Interesting you have the same rifle, and see different results – I think this just shows we have yet to really identify the “real” problem(s). I’m really glad your rifle likes the ammo. Anytime some one finds inexpensive ammo, we should all cheer.

    What I’ve ended up doing, is pulling the ammo apart, and using the powder, and bullets in once-fired brass. This adds about $.02 to the cost of the ammo, however, it’s still cheaper, by about half, as the brass ammo. – OK, my time isn’t worth anything, so don’t throw that at me 😉 I’m thinking of just continuing to try this. Other then the bullets varying up to two grains each, they work fine out to 300 yards.

  80. For all these people who are getting FTE with steel ammo in an AR-15, I would be willing to bet you have a carbine gas system. The carbine gas system doesn’t give enough time for pressure in the case (walls of case pushing against wall of chamber) to reduce allowing the case to be ejected. My understanding is that it is a design flaw when shortening the M16. They have strengthened the ejectors and ejector springs and added heavy buffers to try and compensate in the carbine gas system rifles. Steel is a less forgiving metal than brass; my theory is that it’s just harder to eject when under pressure and more likely to break rather than bend. I run a mid-length gas system with all chromed internals and haven’t had any problems shooting exclusively steel ammo. Also to another above commenter the barrel and bolt extractor and bolt carrier are not aluminum they are all high-quality steel parts.

  81. I have a DelTon Sport AR15 that loves steel cased ammo! NEVER EVER had ANY issues! I love this weapon. Slow or rapid fire, SURE fire every time. Hot or cold doesn’t matter. Now I must say that I am anal when it comes to cleanliness! Steel gets an unfair bad rap.

  82. I have a S&W M&P 15 Sport that eats steel cased ammo up like a champ. I bought the gun this summer and so far shot just umder 1000rds of Herter’s and Tulammo. I did a lot of reviewing before pulling the trigger on an AR. I probably spend a year reading reviews on ARs to see what best suites my needs, which is running “cheap” ammo. I was not interested spending $10 a box for Winchester brass. So, that is why I went with the S&W M&P 15 Sport. “Oh my god! what about the dust cover and forward assit?” Well, I haven’t needed either of them so far. So, that would be a good thing. If I would need to use them I probably need to get my gun to a gunsmith! For “proper” brake in I shot about 40 rds of Winchester white box and 60rds of American Eagle black box and the rest have been +/-900rds of Herter’s and Tulammo steel cased ammo ever since. I have had no issues to date. For the price on a good day you can find steel cased for around $5-$6 (all day long) a box and brass $7-$10 (depending on sales). To me, it is just simple math. Yes, I do have brass ammo for “zombies and what-nots” but for the range steel is all I run. I read reviews on Bushmaster where it will either run steel or not. The reviews on the Ruger most said no go with the steel (and I am a huge Ruger fan, so a little disappointed about that). As far as the other manufacutures its a little wishy washy as well on running the steel. This is my thoughts on the topic on hand. Oh, if something brakes or wears out. Replace it. I highly doubt steel cases will wear out your gun any faster than the brass cases. I have no idea what the lifecycle of an AR is (rounds fired). Only time will tell. Remember we are on the same side “pro-gun” and remember to vote this November!

  83. Hate to break it to the “Debbie Downers”, but problems with steel are not the problems of the ammo, but the rifle. Too tight of tolerances in the chambers, and bad timing are the culprits to issues with steel ammo. And contrary to popular belief, the polymer coating used in 95% of steel ammo(you have to look hard for the lacquer stuff) will not leave any residue in your chamber. A middle ground tolerance chamber and a mid length gas system will be far more forgiving. For example, I have a RRA middy 16inch barrel that has 5000+ rounds of tul, wolf and herters, and 2-300 of various others through without a single hiccup. Not one. I started a log when I first got it to record any failures hopeing to justify getting a nicer one to the wife. Not one entry so far. Dwell time is imparitive if you want a “shoot anything” rifle.

  84. I bought 100 rounds of TulAmmo, after firing a few boxes through my MP15, I decided it was OK to shoot. I then picked up another 1000 rounds; this was an expensive mistake. Being a Marine, I clean my guns very well and often, I also lube them very well; so the “myth” about needing to have a well lubed rifle is just that.

    Here’s the break down of my testing:

    1st time out – 50 rounds of TulAmmo – then 1 in 3 rounds would jam. The case rims where ripped off the case by the extractors. To eject the spend cartage, I have to use a cleaning rod and tap the cartage out. Switched over to Federal Ammo for the remainder of the day – no jams

    2nd time out – After 60 rounds, the 61st round FTE. Every other round wound FTE after that. Same thind with the ejector and cleaning rod.

    I picked up some of the spend cases and got the micro out. While the TulAmmo is within Spec’s it’s .010 larger then the Federal.

    3rd time out – I was getting FTE after 10 rounds.

    Tried the ammo in number of bolt action rifles, FTE also.

    My conclusions:

    TulAmmo and other steel case ammo is not designed for the tighter barrel tolerances in US manufactured barrel. I’d guess that the ammo is designed for a rifle like the AK-74 (AK-47 in .223/5.56) – I’m not trying to sell/give away all my TulAmmo; I may just use the powder and bullets to reload into “new” bullets with Brass cases.

    Bottom line – You NEED ammo you can depend on when the Zombies come.

  85. I’m not sure if I’m lucky, or just damn lucky. I’ve put steel cased ammo through numerous manufacturers weapons: Dpms, Rock River, Stag, Lewis Machine and Tool, Yankee Hill, even the almighty Armalite. The only malfunctions were a couple of FTEs using hollow points in the Dpms and Yankee Hill rifles. Yes, it’s dirtier than brass cased ammo. However, it gives more practice time and opportunity to some of us with a limited budget. I agree with some of the posts above when they speak to the quality of the rifle, not the quality of the ammo. If your weapon won’t use anything you throw in it, fix it or find one that will. A final thought: When the world as we know it gets turned on it’s head, one can’t be especially picky with the bullets they come across.

  86. I purchased 1000 rounds of steel .223 TulAmmo for use in my DPMS AR15. I encountered numerous FTE issues and stuck cartridge casings. In fact, the empty cases were badly stuck in the chamber and required a lot of pounding with a rod to push them out from the business end of the barrel. That said, the steel cased TulAmmo seems to feed extremely well in my HK93 so I use it in there and use brass ammo in my AR15.

  87. I own a Daniel Defense AR-15 chambered in 5.56. I have run hundreds of rounds of steel TulAmmo thru it. I have had not one problem with this rifle. Yes, it’s dirty, but I clean my rifle thoroughly after each trip to the range. I’ve also run Lake City and PMC brass and no problems at all with any ammo. This rifle eats anything I feed to it.

    Now for pistols, steel cased ammo is a different story! My Springer .45 does not like steel.

  88. I have 3 AR’s and have had as much problems with brass as I have had with steel. My colt 6920 works best with wolf 62 gr and I have passed way over 5000 rnd down it over the last 5yrs. Brass cased was getting stuck and ripping the lip off of the case. This happened to me 3 times on a lil star AR I have never shot anything but brass out of as I was misinformed at the time about steel cased ammo. Now she eats wolf at a huge savings and I shoot more. I also like the sealed cans they come in as I can store them more efficiently. I recommend this ammo and use it all the time with no problems and 3 very different AR platforms

  89. I got 15 boxes of Tula ammo because of the cheap price after hearing all the bad reputation i dint get any more, a couple of days ago went shooting and i dint had a single problem with it all 10 magazines ran smooth also I tried Golden Bear in steel case brass coated runs great. Will buy some more of both using,
    Rock River Arms Operator Elite.

  90. while mine isn’t exactly an AR-15 I have a Remington 7615 Police Tactical .223 pump that uses standard AR mags, one day when headed to the range I preloaded 45 rounds, a 5, 2 ten round and two 20 round mags with a mix of Silver Bear, Brown Bear, Remington and Fiocchi ammo that I dumped into a pile and then loaded with my eyes shut, all went into a 3″ group at 100yds with no glitches, my brother did the same with the same result in his Bushmaster

  91. I have an Anderson AM 15 which I use for wild goat culling in New Zealand and I have run approximately 700 rounds of 55gr SP steel cased hornady training ammo with no problems so far. I find it shoots consistantly and so far the spent cases show no signs of seperation, cracks, or excessive preasure. further to this I have not noticed any signs of wear in my bolt face. My hunting partner has a RRA operator 2 and has had no issues either. We both have military backgrounds and clean our weapons after every use wether that be after 20 or 200rnds which I think is the key.

  92. I also have a bushmaster. One round and that was it for the day thanks to the Tula steel. I too could not clear the stuck casing in the field and may have broken my extractor. Not worth it don’t buy this crap

  93. Use your cleaning rod. Dont put an attachment on the end, just leave it bare and flat. Pull the rear takedown pin or both and separate the upper from lower. Insert the rod from the muzzle and push or tap it out.

  94. I have a Bushmaster M4 AR15 and i purchased steel Ammo (Tula) and it was my 1st time shooting the rifle and 1st round went fine and then the 2nd round went off and the casing remained in the barrel stuck in there. Does anyone know how to remove the casing with out damaging the M4?

  95. I just built my AR and found this page seeking information about steel cased ammo. Great article and great video Brandon. Looks like I’ll be running some of the Wolf I bought for my Mini through my new AR.

    I have to comment on a couple of the posts here.

    @ sawyer “The bolt, carrier group and other parts are aluminum.”

    For your own sake learn what the components of your firearm are made of before passing judgement.

    @ Mark “I got a shell casing stuck in my barrel”

    Cases don’t get stuck in the barrel.

    Am I being nitpicky? Probably, but I also appreciate accurate information from informed folks.

  96. I had the same problems with the steel ammo. It seems like most factory AR’s just don’t always agree with steel ammo. They can be temperamental.
    The problem with it getting stuck probably has to do with it getting hot like you said, as well as the coating on the steel casings to stop corrosion. Another issue I had was I had been shooting 223 steel case. The 223 will fire fine out of most AR’s but is not loaded as hot as brass and therefore may not always allow the weapon to cycle properly causing a short stroke. And I agree, “who doesn’t want to unload a hundred rounds of ammo in 10 min?” lol I sure do. Especially with the tactical black rifles. I even bought the slide fire stock to go full auto with mine. I am careful though and dont go overboard just to not heat up the gas tube or barrel too much. Occasionally I’ll put 30 rounds through on one pull but let it cool a little before another mag. I dont use steel anymore. I use Lake City 5.56 bulk ammo in mine. Works great. No problems. American made.

  97. I recently bought 500 rounds of wolf steel case ammo and it seemed alright until about a hundred rounds into shooting I got a shell casing stuck in my barrel which put a end to my shooting for the day . I know the barrel got to hot and was my fault a little but who doesn’t want to unload a hundred rounds of ammo in ten mins ? This was a huge inconvenience for me considering I dont know much about guns let alone how to get a bullet out . After that I used brass and haven’t had a problem since

  98. I am a dedicated cheaperthandirt customer and have been satisfied doing business with you. That being said, your critique of steel case ammo I find disingenuous. My experience with steel cased ammo, firearm manufacturers, and a plethora of other reviews have taught me never to put this crap in any of my firearms no matter the value of the gun. I am suspect of any review coming from someone who is in the business of selling steel cased ammo. If you post this I will be amazed.

  99. I have an ar I bought as a kit. Model one sales light weight 16″. I used a spikes tacical lower. In all I’m in the gun for 650.00. I have run tula. Brass. And anything I can find through it. The gun has had no issues. Other than with the steel cased stuff accuracy at 100 yards is off by about 1/2 inch or so. Not bad great for range use. Definitely recommend steal cased ammo. Inexpensive and fun. Yes it is a little dirty but if your like me I clean after every outing. I have yet to have a problem. So if thoae name brand rifles can’t hack it maybe your better off spending less and building your own.

  100. I have a Smith and Wesson M&P15OR that I modified by installing a low profile gas block and a free floating handguard. Before and after my modification, it fired steel cased ammo with no problems. I just built a lightweight rifle with a 16″ mid-length lightweight Rock River Arms barrel, Plum Crazy polymer lower, Yankee hill upper, Delton BCG, low profile gas block, and a VTAC TRX handguard. It weighs 5.5 lbs and I just dumped some Tula 5.56 with no problems. If your AR won’t cycle cheap steel case ammo, there is nothing wrong with the ammo. There is something wrong with your gun.

    Check out this video about steel cased ammo and how to resolve cycling problems:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5ZB3UfG960

  101. I just shot around 100 rounds out of my M4 Bushmaster today. I had posted earlier on some problems I was having. Today went one hundred percent better actually. No jams, short strokes, etc and the mag followers did not stick. Although I did only load 20 rounds in each mag this time instead of 30. Its almost like it needed to break in and wear off the new. Anyway I just wanted to do a follow up on that. I still however thing that the short stroking problem was probably caused by rounds that were not putting out enough pressure for the piston.
    @Bryce-I agree with you on the price factor with the shooting. I just do plinking as well which is the reason for my purchasing of cheap ammo. I have found mil ammo for around the same price though and may try it next. The 5.56 is slightly hotter round than the 223 and may take care of my pressure problems, and still be able to have cheap ammo.

  102. I’ve got an double star M4-Police edition (piston not gas)and a fnp-9, both of which i use steel cased ammo for plinking and plinking only. I use high end brass ammo for hunting and hornady HP for my personal defense rounds. I have yet to have any issues with either weapon with the steel ammo. the cheaper brass ammo for the M4 that is out there isn’t much more than the russian made steel cased ammo.

    In my opinion, as long as take good care of your weapons and clean them after every use and before storage, you shouldnt have any issues with the kind of casing the ammo uses. I’m not an expert on every different brand of AR or M4 as there are hundreds of brands that make them, but I personally havent had any issues.

    In my pistol I’m not focused on hitting a quarter at 100 yards. As long as I can hit the torso area at 10 to 20 yards im good. and frankly, i dont want to spend an extra 3 or 4 bucks a box for plinking ammo. therefore, the accuracy complaint isnt a big enough factor to get me to spend more for target and range ammo

  103. The price for the steel ammo was great. Thats why I bought 500 rounds of it. Probably wont do it again. My M4 just doesnt seem to like it. I have not even shot 200 rounds out of it yet and have alot of problems. Half of the time it short strokes, which I’m guessing is due to to light of a load. Occasionally it will jam also. I pulled a jammed round out yesterday with a nice sized dent in the side from the bolt. I’m also having terrible magazine problems. I am using the standard magazine that came with it from bushmaster and I also have 1 other just like it, and a third from a different company but same style. All 3 mags have the plastic followers. I have been loading with stripper clips. 50% of the time I get the mag half loaded and it gets jammed up. I cannot load any more rounds and then it goes loose, which then I can just turn it upside down and the rounds will fall out. The follower keeps getting stuck. I don’t know why this is happening. I could see one mag having a malfunction, but not all 3 with the same malfunction. I’m going to take the mags apart tonight and see if I can tell what the problem is. Could be just bad quality mags. I may end up buying some new ones. I saw some with self leveling followers and might try those.

  104. I have used steel in all my weapons. From my ak ,9 mm hi point carbine. Sr9c and a 40 haven’t had a problem with any of them.

  105. I tried 5 magazines of Tula through my Bushmaster and had cycling problems. Twice I encountered difficult extraction and about 90 times it would fail to chamber the next round. No damage noted to my AR, but not worth the risk to me. A buddy has a carbine model with aftermarket buffer spring and had very few problems. Definitley seems there isn’t enough pressure to operate my rifle.

  106. Armalite and Ruger both told me not to shoot steel cased ammo in my m-15.
    or my mini 30 Too hard on the bolt head. I did break a bolt shooting tulammo. on the 8th
    round my Del-ton ar 15 bolt broke. Tacticle machining of Deland FL. makes bolts for the AR 15 and
    they also told me not to shoot that ammo. it is not made for American weapons….
    Both rifles are 7.62×39..

  107. ive personally had bad experiences with steelcase ammo, in one case a round of wolf 7.62×39 in a romanian wasr10 ripped the neck of the casing off and dragged it down the barrel with the round. this was several years ago, and i never used wolf since. a month ago, i was at the range and a gentleman was firing wolf .223 through his DPMS ar15, and had the exact same problem. it had devastating effects on my AK variant and i can only imagine how the owner of the AR felt. though, i was recently given a dozen boxes of Tula .223 steel case, and despite it being years since ive used any steel case cartridge, have fed 40 rounds thru my m&p15. ive had no issue with it as of yet, but due to my past experience with steelcase inexpensive ammo, once ive burned this batch i will likely go back to exclusively feeding brass case ammo for all my weapons.

  108. I’m an old guy, and back in 1943, America was in a hell of a war. The country had a shortage of brass, and was using steel cased .45, and if you look you will find Penny’s made of steel as well in 1943, I have both in my collections..Oh by the way, We won the war..

  109. I won’t shoot steel in my AR’s. I was a range officer at a public range in Colorado for a while and witnessed numerous failures (mainly FTE’s) involving steel cased ammo. That was enough to turn me off to the stuff. I’ll wait for a deal on good brass cased ammo or load my own. Now the AK, that’s a different story…..

  110. I have been toldthat steel cased ammo is bad for your gun AND that will not affect your gun. there have been many rumors and myths about them.I am not a gunsmith nor claim to be any expert but my AR is made of aluminum. The bolt, carrier group and other parts are aluminum. Last i checked, steel is a harder metal than aluminum. With all the banging and slamming of parts when firing your AR, i would assume that the steel casings will wear on your Ar parts more than brass (which is a soft metal). So…….????

    I will continue to shoot brass only in my AR.

    1. Bolts, bolt carriers, and barrels are made of hardened steel. Only other thing that touches a round is a magazine and your hand.

  111. I have been having problems with Wolf Military Classic in my DPMS Lite 16. On my last outing I had 2 instances where the extractor ripped off the rim at the base of the round in the chamber resulting in a double feed. This has happened 3 times in about 100 rounds.

    I’ve never had this problem in my Bushmaster AR.

    I lubricate the rifle like I did when I was a rifleman in the USMC. My M16 never had a hiccup, even when operating in the desert.

    I still want to shoot the cheap stuff, because, well it is cheap. Any suggestions?

    1. When a round is fired it expands, and then contracts. If the timing is off the round doesn’t have time to contract. You could replace your gas block with an adjustable block.

    2. Had similar problem with my Bushmaster, I had the chamber polished and has run flawless since then.

  112. Nice article! When I bought my first AR last summer, the first thing the sales guy told me was to never run steel through it, if I like my rifle. With ammo prices the way they are, I decided to try the Brown Bear ammo, based off of the reviews I read about it. I will admit, I was a little worried the first mag I shot, but my S&W M&P15 ate the stuff right up! I think I have close to 700 rounds of Brown and Silver Bear through it, and I’ve never had an issue with it. I’ve had a few guys ask why I’m running that stuff, but I tell them it’s been good so far, and I make sure I clean it after every range trip.

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