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Everything You Should Know About Steel Cased Ammo

Steel Case Feature

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Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy are going to go over steel cased ammunition today. Our goal with this blog post is to provide a brief overview of steel cased ammo while delving into various traits and other bits of information. Particularly, we are going to go over some of the common beliefs and questions which are associated with ammunition of this type. Without further ado, let’s go over everything you should know about steel cased ammo.


What is Steel Cased Ammo?

As the name suggests, “steel cased” ammo essentially refers to cartridges that feature steel casings. Typically, casings are of the brass or aluminum variety, making steel cased offerings stand out from their counterparts. The use of steel casings is typically done as a cost cutting measure as steel utilized for casings is cheaper than the brass utilized for casings. Historically, many militaries have utilized steel casings for their loadings in order to cut costs down and produce high quantities of ammunition.


Who Makes Steel Cased Ammo?

Currently, steel cased ammunition is available in the form of surplus ammo and modern production offerings. Military surplus loadings come from a variety of countries, specifically those which were a part of the Soviet Union or Warsaw Pact nations. Russia, former Yugoslavia, former Czechoslovakia, and Romania are just a few of the countries where military surplus steel cased ammunition comes from. These loadings will often be found in the form of military spec 7.62×39, 7.62x54r, and 5.45×39 ammo.

As far as modern offerings go, many ammunition companies produce steel cased ammunition. Companies such as Red Army Standard, Wolf, TelaAmmo, Maxxtech, Sterling, and more produce ammo of this type. These companies support a wide range of pistol and rifle calibers with their steel case loadings. Steel cased 9mm Luger, .45 ACP, .223 Remington, .308 Winchester, and 7.62×39 ammo are among the products offered by these companies. All in all, between steel cased surplus and factory new offerings, there is a fair amount of steel cased ammo on the market.

Red Army Standard 7.62x54r
Red Army Standard 7.62x54r

Is Steel Cased Ammo Going to Break My Extractor?

Steel casings are harder than brass casings. This holds true for case components such as the rims of casings. When it comes to steel and most other metals, there exist differences in terms of hardness and strength. The steel used to produce major firearm components, such as extractors, is generally going to be harder and tougher than the steel used on steel casings. Additionally, some steel casings feature some form of polymer coating which aids in sealing the cartridge and promoting lubricity. This coating essentially acts as a barrier against metal-on-metal contact between casings and the chamber. Granted, this coating is a thin layer and is not caked on the casing by any means, but it does aid in lubricity and minimizing friction. This holds true when contacting the extractor of a firearm as well. While steel is harder than brass and manufacturing variances exist, the amount of wear on an extractor is ultimately negligible between the two types of casings.


Are There Range Friendly Steel Cased Ammo Offerings?

Most steel cased ammo will feature steel core projectiles. Essentially, these projectiles are full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets with a steel construction. Many ranges bar the use of steel ammunition or any loadings which feature even a small bit of steel in their projectiles. Loadings such as M855 Green Tip ammo and other types of ammunition with steel projectiles are generally not allowed at many indoor or outdoor ranges. Indoor ranges state that the use of ammunition of this type will potentially damage their backstops. Outdoor ranges cite fire dangers and the potential of ricochets and sparking if steel and rock are hit by steel ammunition.

While most steel ammo tends to feature steel core projectiles, there are many exceptions to this rule. Companies such as Magtech and Maxxtech offer range friendly steel case ammunition loadings. While the casings may be steel, the projectiles themselves are not, making them compliant with the conditions set by ranges. Magtech offers a steel cased 9mm Luger loading while Maxxtech offers their steel cased NFR (Not From Russia) 7.62×39 loading. These two specific examples are just some of the steel cased ammo one can utilize at a range. Simply put, range friendly steel cased ammunition exists, it is just not as common as the traditional loadings which cannot be used at most ranges.


Will Steel Cased Ammo Projectiles Damage My Barrel?

As mentioned earlier, many steel cased loadings will feature steel core projectiles. Typical projectiles will generally feature lead cores, a much softer metal than steel. While steel cores may be present on many FMJ steel case loadings, these loadings generally feature some form of plating over the projectile. This is similar to how standard lead projectiles often feature a copper jacketing. Jacketing acts as a barrier between projectiles and the bore of a firearm. This allows for cleaner bores and prevents metal on metal contact at high velocities. This last part becomes more important when similar materials are used.

Theoretically, an unjacketed steel projectile will wear a bore faster than an unjacketed lead projectile. An overwhelming majority of steel cased ammunition feature exposed projectiles, meaning shooters continue to benefit from jacketed projectiles. The difference in wear caused between projectiles fired from steel cased and brass cased ammo is negligible. Quality barrels are common nowadays, often featuring durable coatings, rugged materials, or chrome lining to promote longevity. Simply put, if you can afford to put enough rounds down range to kill a barrel, regardless of whether it is brass or steel, you can afford to replace the barrel.


Can You Reload Steel Casings?

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to reload steel casings. While possible, it is often not very practical to do so. One aspect of reloading steel casings is the fact that they are much harder on reloading tools than brass casings are. Sometimes, primers will be more stubborn in steel casings, something which can lead to broken depriming tools. Additionally, steel is much less malleable than brass, making it more difficult to reshape or reform than brass casings are. Brass casings by contrast are easily crimped, reformed, annealed, and reloaded than their steel counterparts. Simply put, while one can potentially reload steel casings, it is generally not practical or cost effective to do so.

TelaAmmo 7.62x39
TelaAmmo 7.62x39

Is Steel Cased Ammo Corrosive?

While there are many steel cased offerings which feature corrosive primers, this is not the case for every steel cased loading. Many steel cased loadings on the market today utilize non-corrosive Boxer primers as opposed to corrosive Berdan primers. Commonly, surplus ammunition featuring steel casings utilize corrosive Berdan primers, leading many to believe that steel cased ammunition will typically corrode your gun. This is simply not the case. For example, the steel cased loadings offered by TelaAmmo and Red Army Standard are not corrosive by any means. All in all, most of the modern production steel cased ammo offerings one will encounter will not be corrosive. Corrosive offerings still exist, often in the form of surplus loadings, and firearms using the ammo will require thorough cleaning after use.



All in all, steel cased ammo offerings provide shooters with viable, affordable loadings for popular calibers. The reality of negligible parts wear and low risk of corrosion make steel case ammunition a worthwhile consideration for shooters of all types. We here at True Shot Ammo carry a wide range of steel case offerings in our inventory. Whether you are after steel cased ammo, brass ammo, or something else, we have got you covered. As always, happy shooting.


Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.


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