Steel Ammo out of ARs

This is a discussion on Steel Ammo out of ARs within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I recently got my hands on a Rock River AR. After looking at the ammo prices for .223 / 5.56, the ammo prices are kinda ...

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Thread: Steel Ammo out of ARs

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array skysoldier29's Avatar
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    Steel Ammo out of ARs

    I recently got my hands on a Rock River AR. After looking at the ammo prices for .223 / 5.56, the ammo prices are kinda up there for decent brass cased ammo. Looking at prices online at ammo to go, I saw that they have steel cased ammo, such as brown / silver bear, Wolf, and some Hornady TAP training ammo for quite a bit less than the brass cased stuff. I have heard stories that it wears out parts within the rifle, and I've heard stories that it is perfectly fine to run it. I'm trying to run it to ground to see what it will do to the gun, and if it does wear out parts in an AR which ones.

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    The steel-case stuff won't really wear out parts on your gun, except maybe the extractor might get a little more beat up due to steel-on-steel. The steel in the ammo is relatively soft, though, so don't worry about wearing out your chamber - your barrel will give up the ghost long before your chamber will. For everyday range use, it's probably fine as long as it works in your gun. The most common problem seems to be cases stuck in the chamber, which I've personally witnessed over a dozen times (but never seen that with brass-cased factory ammo). You might just pay a little more attention to keeping your chamber clean to avoid problems.

    Where I have seen problems is in training courses where a lot of ammo is shot in a fairly short period of time - in the range of 500-800 rounds per day. Leaving reloads aside, the only ammo problems I've witnessed in 3 courses were with Israeli-made Winchester QA3131A (blind primer pockets + popped primers) and Wolf steel-cased stuff (stuck cases). If you follow what guys like Pat Rogers and Jeff Gonzales say, their number one beef about ammo is with steel-cased stuff from any source. I have faith in their advice, since these guys run scores of carbine courses each year, and they see all sorts of guns going through tens of thousands of rounds per course.
    Smitty
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    Senior Member Array DoctorBob's Avatar
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    I was in Wal-Mart the other day buying some ammo and a clerk showed me the steel case ammo they are going to carry. Apparently it is from Russia. a box of .45 cal 50 rnds was under $20. I'm not sure how good the stuff is but the price was attractive.

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    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    A buddy of mine runs steel-cased .223 through his 7.5" SBR exclusively, and has yet to have an issue with it.

    I've fired thousands of rounds through my AR's, and not an issue, either.

    I'm comfortable with it.
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    I would like to have the time and money to shoot enough steel case thru an AR to wear it out or damage it. If you do, you are a happy, contended, man. Like Smitty said, the extractor is the weak part here, just buy a spare and have fun.

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    As I recall, the bigger issue with the steel cases was the coating, which would build up in the chamber and cause jamming. I prefer to reload as much of my ammo as possible, so except for a box of Brown Bear 9x18 Mak ammo at the indoor range (all they carry) I never use the stuff.
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    Distinguished Member Array MinistrMalic's Avatar
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    I have shot a lot of steel through my AR, and until last trip had no problem. Then this last time I had one jam inside the chamber so badly that I have to take it to an armorer friend to get it extracted. So caveat emptor.
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    Accuracy with Wolf ammo at 100 yrds was less than optimal for my M-4 clone. It works well enough at 50 yrds or less though for plinking purposes. I have run approx. 2-3000 rounds easily through my AR's with 1 chamber stuck casing that was easily removed.
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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    The replies will run the gamut here. I've heard good and bad. The bad side is....the economy and where things have lead toward the less expensive ammo. To me...this is a sin against humanity and the gun owner. I've got plenty of surplus steel cased ammo that I'll run through my AK47 and never have a second thought about it. Me and my AR15 would like to stay away from the steel cased/berdan primed ammo as long as possible. I also realize that some of the available steel cased ammo may or may not be as thickly coated as others. Most AR15s have tighter tolerances than the AK47. Depending on manufacturer, they can be tightly wound IMO. Generically speaking, use anything other than brass cased ammo in your AR15 and you're gambling between price of ammo and functionality. Don't be disappointed if your AR has a failure or a jam....expect it. I'm almost sure the issues will increase with the amount fired depending. The use of steel cased ammo in your AR15 should increase your maintenance of the chamber and the extractor IMO. Keep spare parts on hand. IMO...using a solvent that's good for plastic wadding in shotgun chambers might be good to keep on hand to solve the lacquer or sealant buildup. Ammonia based solvents will do very well, but beware of your chrome lined bore. Ammonia based solvents will attack the chrome over a period of time. You'll need to neutralize the ammonia based solvent with a good CLP and oil. Personally.....I want each and every one of my firearms to last me my lifetime. I've spend the past 20 years or so figuring out just how to do this and what works best through a number of resources. My knowledge is yours.

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    Member Array 120mm's Avatar
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    Any Quality AR should shoot steel ammo just fine. Note, that I do not consider Bushmaster, RRA or DPMS as "quality".

    Those ARs tend to use softer bolt and extractor steel, have out of spec extractor springs and buffers and use tighter chambers than 5.56mm.

    A Colt, BCM, Daniel Defense, Noveske or KAC should shoot steel ammo all day long without problems.

    One thing to look out for in any AR; if you are shooting a lot of steel cased ammo and follow up with brass cased ammo, you could get a stuck round.

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    Member Array sammage's Avatar
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    No problems with steel case in my BCM.

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    Distinguished Member Array Dragman's Avatar
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    only problems I have ever heard of are the laquer on the casings can gum up if you get it hot and then leave one in the chamber. I was told to always leave a clear chamber after your done firing it at the range and if your gonna reload it for personal protection wait until it cools befor racking the bolt.
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    Distinguished Member Array Jason Storm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skysoldier29 View Post
    I recently got my hands on a Rock River AR. After looking at the ammo prices for .223 / 5.56, the ammo prices are kinda up there for decent brass cased ammo. Looking at prices online at ammo to go, I saw that they have steel cased ammo, such as brown / silver bear, Wolf, and some Hornady TAP training ammo for quite a bit less than the brass cased stuff. I have heard stories that it wears out parts within the rifle, and I've heard stories that it is perfectly fine to run it. I'm trying to run it to ground to see what it will do to the gun, and if it does wear out parts in an AR which ones.
    I have a Rock River LAR-15 myself in .223 and 5.56 called the "Entry Tactical". These are the ammo I have used since I have bought it in August 2009. All of the ammo work fine. Never used Wolf ammo but I would avoid it at all costs since it is said they can wear out the extractors very quickly. Again, these are what I have used and worked fine:
    PMC FMJ .223
    Winchester FMJ 5.56
    Eagle Tactical FMJ 5.56

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    Member Array sammage's Avatar
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    Steel case won't wear out an extractor "very quickly". Some tips on running steel case: http://tacticalyellowvisor.net/8343/116021.html

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    Member Array 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sammage View Post
    Steel case won't wear out an extractor "very quickly". Some tips on running steel case: http://tacticalyellowvisor.net/8343/116021.html
    You're assuming the extractor is a quality part. Chances are the extractor in a Bushmaster,RRA, Stag, Armalite, DPMS or other lower quality AR is made out of less than quality material.

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