Steel-cased Ammo

At Gun Nuts Media, I have a post talking about Hornady Steel Match ammunition.  This ammo is available from Cheaper Than Dirt in 9mm,  .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .223 Remington, and .308 Winchester.  Now, the debate about steel-cased ammo has raged on the Internet for as long as I can remember, with opinions that vary from “never use steel ammo” to “I use it all the time” and everything in between.  I’ve known shooters who would use steel-cased ammo in certain guns but not others; I know people who say “never use it in Glocks”, and so on.  The issue is that if you shoot a lot, it’s kind of hard to argue with less than .00 a box for 9mm ammo from our friends in Russia.

Tula 115 grain 9mm ammo: $8.69 for a box of 50

So what do you say?  Do you run steel-cased ammo through your guns, pistols and rifles?  Or would you not touch the stuff with a 10-foot pole?  Add in to that the fact that many indoor ranges prohibit the use of steel-cased ammunition as it messes with their recycling contracts for brass, and the equation becomes even more complicated.  I think one of the big issues that I have with the “anti” steel-cased crowd is that to my knowledge no one has ever done a truly high round count with steel-cased stuff to see if it actually increases wear and tear on guns.  I’d like to see someone take a Glock 17 or other modern production firearm, and run 20,000 rounds of steel-cased ammo through it, and compare the wear and tear to a gun that’s had 20,000 rounds of brass-cased ammo.  Would it be different?  Hard to know unless we do the shooting.

For me, I’ll keep using steel-cased ammo.  Sure, I can only use it at outdoor ranges, but that’s fine with me.  Sound off in comments—are you for or against using ammo in a steel case?

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Comments (30)

  1. WInchester has just come out with steel case ammo (9MM), and I
    bought two boxes, the price works out to about $10.00 per 50 rds.
    Gonna try it in my 1911, my LC9, my lC9S and my Walther P-38.
    My guns, my problem if it does not work. The fact that the extractors
    are made of much harder steel than the casings is self explanatory.
    Forget that dog. coating on the casings not to sure about. But
    WInchester is a respected name in ammo. If I break a gun, I will either fix it or take it to a Smith. :<)

  2. i have tried wolf .380 in a pk380 and it would not even chamber. I have two friends that have the same gun and it would not chamber in theirs either. result for me was money wasted. so, for me, once burned = never again for any caliber.

  3. I have just bought a Bushmaster Carbine 15, and I have shot nothing but 1000 rounds of steel ammo. I have not had any problems at all. I tried 5 different types of magazines, each preform smooth. I just tore it down to thoroughly clean. Everything is fine besides the normal debris after firing 1000 rounds continuously. I believe steel is fine, but accuracy is not as good. Usually I will have 1 out 6 or so, that maybe and inch off at 100 yards, but for the price they are great to shoot.

  4. Steel or Brass, in most of my firearms I typically run steel case, tula or Wolf in 9mm Para, 7.62X39mm, 7.62X54R, the steel cased ammo ran better in my Walther P-1 without any problems whereas the brass cased Remington UMC was so inconsistent in manufacture it fouled up every time! the steel case ammo is dirtier but runs fine! for those who have trouble with steel cases (mostly AR guns), Clean your gun! and for the AR owners check your extractor/ gas tube timing, that causes 100% of your extraction problems! The shorter M-4’s are notorious for this, just as Brass cased ammo are known to case head separation in a AK! If you are having extractor case issues check your gun’s Chamber, carbon fouling or a rough champer will jam steel and brass case ammo in any gun. I would use Steel case for plinking any day! except for my K-31 (no-one makes 7.5X55mm swiss in steel case), AK’s, SKS, bolt guns like a Mauser or the Mosin Nagant actions, will shoot steel case all day, I would suggest running steel cased ammo in any H&K G3 series of rifle (due to the fluted chamber! which destroys brass so why waste the money if reloading brass is not an option?). Check your guns owner’s manual, a good gun should be able to shoot any case: brass, steel or Aluminum!

    Your extractor is made of STRONG STRONG STEEL and the steel cased ammo is made of very soft steel so they can shape it and whatnot. There is no way physically possible that it could wear out the extractor!!
    THE REAL REASON steel cased ammo isn’t allowed in ranges is MONEY. THEY MAKE MONEY OFF THE BRASS. PERIOD. THAT is the main reason. All this “causes fire” junk is just that- GARBAGE. LIE.
    In alot of ways (in other countries) steel ammo is HIGH QUALITY. It works just fine, and it’s ridiculous to say it’s dirty.
    The only think bad that is said about steel ammo that is SOMEWHAT TRUE is when Wolf used lacquer on the outsides of their cases- AKs shot them fine but ARs (finicky girl gun) got the paint hot and melted the lacquer on the case causing it to get stuck in the chamber. You have to use the barrel rod to pop it loose. AKs feed them normally just like THEY ALWAYS DO.
    It’s just fear mongering on the part of ranges and people that MAKE MONEY OFF YOUR BRASS SHELLS!

    1. The steel case issue is all relative to the gun,,,,, A rifle is a MUCH MORE robust weapon than a handgun ,,, that being said,, i can run cheap mass produced Russian ammo in my SKS and Nagant, and they will BOTH chew it up just fine with no issues. Now I take the same make ammo and run it through my 1911 and its issues all day,,,, As a former S&W employee, and an AVID shooter ,,, It is my personal opinion that it is not so much the STEEL as it is the “COATING ” they use on it. Lacquer Vs.Polymer . Once this stuff is heated up and soft enough to transfer from case to chamber it WILL gum up and it WILL complicate shell extraction …. Brass is MUSCH softer , couple THAT with no coating ,, and Brass wiss EVERY TIME,,, thats NOT to say you can’t use steel case…. but I’d be sure to clean your weapon VERY well afterwards. Conclusion ?????? Steel case = RIFLE AMMO,,,,,, not so much for Auto pistol. Hope this helped.

  6. I have used Tula in my Saigas. .223 and 7.62. No problem at all. In my Ruger LC9 it worked without any fte or ftf. I tried it in my Hi-Point 9mm. When the gun was new, it did not work at all. After a couple hundred rounds of brass, it worked well enough that I had no problem at the range. I would not depend on that combination for a self defense situation. My ATI 1911 runs almost exclusively with it and has had no problems whatsoever. No problem shooting the steel cased ammo at Lemoore Sportsman Club, as the only restrictions there are tracers and explosive rounds.

  7. just bought a Savage Axis .223 at Cabela’s. Also got some Herter’s steel case ammo. 3rd round stuck after firing in the chamber. It was a very hot day (103) and I was out in the sunshine so action and barrel were very hot to the touch. I guess I’ll use brass from now on….

  8. I bought 200rds of tula 45acp for my new sig traditional 1911. I had previously shot 250 rounds through it with some ftf due to a tight extractor spring (which loosened up by leaving a round in the chamber for a week) took the gun to the range and shot 50rds of aguila ball ammo and 50rds of aguila jhp without issues, than loaded up the tula and the very first round failed to feed, it stuck about a 1/8″ outside the chamber, so I tried to rack the slide and it moved about an 1/8″ and became completely unmovable. Couldnt eject so I pushed the slide until it chambered, shot the round but still it didnt eject or budge manually, had to remove the mainspring, and it came loose than I tried to chamber another round and again failed to feed, pushed it, shot it, it ejected, and, now I have 198 rds I dont even want to even try.

  9. Today I used steel cased ammo in my .380 beretta. Monarch brand I believe. I ran through a few clips just fine. But then the bullet jammed in the chamber, and the primer in the round was gone. The staff at the range had to come and hammer the round out, and then he gave me a big lecture on not to ever using steel ammo. Switched back to my federal hollow point ammo, and it was fine after that.

  10. I use the Tula stuff in my AK all the time and never have a problem with it. I used the Tula .223 in my AR and it had trouble cycling, like it was underpowered.

    I tried it in my Hi Point 9mm and it jammed every round (previously that gun went 500 rounds without a jam). Since the Hi Point is a straight blowback, I think that maybe the Tula wasn’t strong enough to push the slide all the way back.

  11. I have to modify my previous comment (#12 above). I tried to shoot Wolf .223 in my T/C Contender yesterday and it did not go well. Switched back to brass after almost having to use a cleaning rod for extraction on about the 3rd shot. Before anyone says anything: yes I was using .223 ammo in a .223 barrel. This one shoots .223 and 5.56 just fine as long as it’s brass. My AR-15 doesn’t care. It eats anything.

  12. I run the tulammo 9mm in my Steyr M9A1, works perfectly. However, I cannot use steel in my Savage bolt action .223 as they get stuck if they are not ejected while the case is still hot. Oh well, I’m going to start reloading my .223 anyway.

  13. I have shot a lot of Wolf in 5.56 and 7.62×39. Never had any problems with the 7.62 stuff in my AK. I have had the 5.56 not cycle correctly in a few ARs before. Seems to be a bit weak. This is from recent cases I have gotten so it may just be the lot# is that way. Previously it has run fine. Much better than the old laquered case stuff. Out to about 200 yards, it is sufficiently accurate for most use.

    In pistol, I have only used the 230 ball 45ACP ammo. I shot it exclusively at the IDPA Nationals one year in CDP out of my Para. It ran 100% although the 190 power factor ammo slowed my times somewhat.

  14. I’ve shot thousand of rounds of steel case ammo in my AK and pistols and my AR and my brother shoots the hell out of this stuff in his pistols and rifles (1911 Mini14 AR’s) love the stuff. I wish to god some body in America would start making this kind of bulk ammo.

  15. I’ve shot steel-cased ammo in just about everything it is chambered (9mm, .45 ACP, .223, 7.62×39) and don’t recall ever having any problems. As some others have noted, our local indoor range doesn’t allow bullets with steel jackets. They started this policy after seeing dents in the backstops. Too bad I had just stocked up on cheap Russian steel cased and jacketed 9mm! Before their policy change, it was cool to see the sparks fly from the bullet impacts.

  16. As a range officer I saw more jammed up AR platform rifles with steel cased ammo than with brass, alot more. I believe this was before Wolf switched to polymer coatings so it may not be as much of an issue now. I will gladly shoot steel from an AK or SKS. They were designed for it. As for my Colt AR, brass only. I figure if I want to spend that much money an a gun, I can afford a few more cents a round for good brass cased ammo, and I load alot of my own anyway.

  17. I’ve had extraction problems with steel case ammo in my Mosin-Nagant. Not every round but enough to annoy my out of buying it for that particular rifle. My 92fs and CZ 75B have had zero failures with the steel casings thus far. The Russian ammo is dirtier but that is the only downfall I see in the 9mm at least.

  18. Run 300 rounds of Tul Ammo thru my Sig 2022 9mm with no problem. Living in a rural area I do most of my shooting in the back yard. I have cleaned the pistol roughly every 60 rounds and sure it’s dirtier than some ammo but cleaning a gun is just that.

  19. Never had a problem with steel ammo out of my AR, Xd-40 or my 1977 Firearms International .380 Model D. Pull the trigger, goes boom, puts hole in what it hits. Only downfall for me with steel ammo is you can’t reload it.

  20. My S&W Sigma 9mm pistol does not like steel rounds. I get failure to feed/eject.. stovepipe! But on that note, i have similar problems when i use Academy’s Monarch brass brand rounds too. The best for my pistol is any Remington, Federal, Blazer, or Hornady.

  21. At the indoor range I regularly visit they are not allowing steel-cased ammo. But their reason has nothing to do with the case. Instead, they say they’ve found that some brands of steel cased ammo also have steel jackets on the bullet. Usually it’s a lead core covered with a steel jacket that is then covered with a copper jacket.

  22. I shoot steel ammo in my Savage Axis .223 and have not experienced any issues other than the gun gets a bit dirtier…however i clean the gun between uses using a mix of rubbing alcohol and windex and that cleans the gun very well. I am currently shooting the Academy monarch and and getting same results as shooting the brass ammo from US companies. At $5 per 20 rounds you can’t beat the price for target ammo.

  23. I have used Tul Ammo and Wolf for a while and only one problem with Tul Ammo, squib. But from what I have heard, they do happen with other ammo, so as of right now I am good with it. I did have a range bring up the question of whether the bullet is jacketed with steel under the brass. A magnet is attracted to it, but I was not sure if that was from the casing. Does anyone know the answer?

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