Piston Driven AR-15 Reviews, Articles, and Answers

Brass vs Steel Ammo

Posted by Samantha Gannaway

May 23, 2014 2:48:00 PM

There are a lot of opinions and controversy when it comes to shooting brass vs steel ammo. For instance most people argue that steel ammo causes more fouling because of the lacquer coating, and more malfunctions occur when shooting steel ammo. So what is the true story between the two and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Take a look at the differences below to form your own conclusion and learn why some people may prefer one over the other.

brass vs steel

Brass Cased Ammo

Brass is a good metal because when it is fired, it expands very quickly and shrinks back down very quickly. When the round goes off, the neck expands and seals the chamber preventing the gases from spewing back. Compared to steel ammo, brass is a lot cleaner and has less malfunctions in your firearm. Most guns are meant to fire brass and for this reason brass performs better with less malfunctions in the system. It has also been proven to be more accurate than steel because it creates a better seal on the chamber and creates less fouling. The main disadvantage? Price. For those who go through some serious ammo brass is going to be expensive.

Steel Cased Ammo

A lot of people do not like steel cased ammo for a few reasons. The main reason for the bad reputation of steel cased ammo, is that steel is lacquer coated. It's that coating that is said to cause extra build up from the coating melting on your components which is difficult to clean and causes the components to wear faster. This in fact is no longer the case for steel ammo. That may be how it used to be, but now a days steel ammo is manufactured differently with a polymer coating that is not going to cause any extra gunk. It is true though, that there will be more fouling than brass ammo because steel doesn't expand the same way brass does. What happens when you fire a steel cased round is the bullet goes out of the barrel, the casing goes back into the receiver, and it is then ejected out like any other round, but the difference is steel doesn't expand as quickly. So you still get gases and burning powder that goes back into the barrel.  

brass vs steel

Shoot What You're Comfortable With

It is really up to you what you would prefer to shoot out of your firearm. It depends on preference and how your firearm reacts to different ammunition. One thing you can test for with steel casings, is after a few hundred rounds check a few of the spent casing's rims for scratches in a pulling direction (there will be scratches in a pushing direction from ejection) and for no broken or bent rims. If you are willing to spend more time maintaining your firearm to spend less on ammunition then steel cased ammo is an option for you. Again, steel is not going to ruin your gun. But, if you don't mind spending the extra money on ammunition than brass is a safer bet. My advice to you, is to test it out, because not every firearm is going to like steel ammo, so it depends largely on your specific firearm. Brass vs steel? Your call.

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Topics: Ammunition