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Thread: Nickel versus Brass?

  1. #1
    Member marshall's Avatar
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    Default Nickel versus Brass?

    I good friend of mine has 80 once fired 300RUM and 80 once fired 375 H&H nickel plated brass. He would like my assistance in developing accurate loads for his rifles.

    Any reloaders out there with first hand knowledge of benefits or problems with nickel plated brass please chime in.

    A recent DVD that I watched titled "Highpower Rifle Reloading" by Sierra authored by G. David Tubbs mentions that he does not like to make his brass real smooth and shiny. Tubbs claims that when the cartridge is fired and expands a slick piece of brass doesn't grip the chamber and recoils briskly into the bolt face causeing more wear on the rifle. I'm thinking that the nickel plated brass would have the same effect.

    As a hunter I realize that smooth slick brass feeds better. Some people like their reloads to be nice and shiny. Anyone with failures or problems using nickel brass please chime in.



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    Default nickle problems

    Honestly the only problem I have with my nickle cases is they fail faster than brass. UNLESS I treat them properly. If I anneal them after every other shot, I can shoot them forever..... or until the primer pockets open up.

    I neck size and keep an eye on the necks for weak spots AND feel the primers seat in the pocket. If the primer seating feels like a weak handshake and makes you wanna vomit....... the case is a "NOGO" it gets squished and/or gets used for something other than delivering lead.

    IF I see signs of metal fatigue in the neck....... same deal ... it's a "NOGO"

    10K rounds in 4 different rifles and not an issue with abusing the bolt (yet)

    hope this helps,

    Mike

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    Default

    Thanks, the bolt comment was the first time I had ever heard of it. Perhaps Tubbs is a bit more picky than I.

    I prepped the H&H cases tonight. There was a little flaking when I trimmed the necks. The primers seated with very little resistance. Not sure if these cases are going to last long.

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    Default

    marshall:
    I've used a lot of Nickel brass for handgun Ammo, like 357, but not for a Bottle-Neck Rifle case. The purported advantage of Nickel for handgun ammo is they are corrosion resistant.

    The problem is that the plating can come off. I heard RCBS recommends against Nickel brass, and I sent them an email, and they told me that was true.

    Apparently, the dies can be damaged by the flaking of the nickel. Notwithstanding the fact that many people claim this has never happened to them, and they've loaded it successfully for years, I still avoid Nickel brass for bottle-neck cases.

    One of the reasons I don't use a case tumbler, is that I don't want slick brass either, and it seems to me that shiny brass is slicker brass. If slick brass wasn't a potential problem, why would we be so careful to wipe the lube off our cases? And clean the grease and oil from our rifle chambers?

    There again, I've mentioned this before, and haven't had many, if any, people agree with me about potential problems due to shiny (Tumbled) brass, so take my cautions for what you think they're worth.

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    Default plating flakes

    Yes, I to get flakes from "young" brass. I suppose it could damage the dies if a person didn't clean them every now and then.

    Primers won't/shouldn't require a lot of force to go in, but you should be feeling some resistance before it hits bottom. I have managed to get some really old cases mixed in with younger stuff and it's pretty easy to tell when you run into the old cases. feeling nothing and then bottom......

    You could probably shoot it and be ok....... but doesn't make it a good idea. Better to pop the primer out of it and smash the case with a hammer just to make yourself feel better!

    Just remembered another "problem" with nickle cases....... they are very slick!! Feeding can be an issue in my gun(s) if you run the bolt slow. It'll either pop the case clean out of the gun, or it'll pop 2 cases up and try to double feed..... (I can hear it now ) "so why in the (*^)&^ do you shoot nickle???

    my answer......... I like it and cuz it werks fer me.

    as far as cleaning lube off of cases and out of chambers goes........ I clean it off the cases to avoid case damage and because it can and will eventually gumm things up and that's bad. Same for the chambers.....

    it's amazing the ammount of protective coating most consider as "a light coat of oil" I can probably protect the metal on all the guns in my cabinet with what most call a light coat.

    don't mean to change the subject.... back to brass vs nickle which just so everyone knows....... right now I'm running about 50/50 for which I'm shooting..... depends on the rifle right now... and for no specific reason

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    The argument that, cases grip the wall and reduce bolt thrust and that slick brass will lead to more pressure signs on the case head and a slapping of the case in to the bolt on firing, has been around a long time.

    It sounds good on the surface but when you think about it some more it makes no sense.

    When the firing pin hits primer it drives the case forward in the chamber. On firing the case stretches radially and grabs onto the chamber walls. As the pressure rises the case stretches at the base to fill the gap between it and the bolt, if the grip to the camber is strong enough. This stretches the case just above the base and leads to case head separation.

    Now lets pretend that with some polished or nickle cases the grip is not strong enough, now the case would slip back in the chamber and the shoulder move forward. This would cause failures over time as the cases worked at the shoulder, and we would see case shoulder separations. I have never seen or heard of shoulder separations so I would argue that this proves that even the slickest of cases grip the chamber enough to stretch at the base.

    It would be really neat if we could slick Nickle cases enough that they did move back and stretch at the shoulder. A shoulder separation would still keep the gas in the chamber and prevent it from getting back into the action. For that mater it would make head space issues mute with Nickle cases. However, they are still a problem so the cases must grip well enough to stretch at the base like regular cases.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bandhmo View Post
    The argument that, cases grip the wall and reduce bolt thrust and that slick brass will lead to more pressure signs on the case head and a slapping of the case in to the bolt on firing, has been around a long time.

    It sounds good on the surface but when you think about it some more it makes no sense.

    When the firing pin hits primer it drives the case forward in the chamber. On firing the case stretches radially and grabs onto the chamber walls. As the pressure rises the case stretches at the base to fill the gap between it and the bolt, if the grip to the camber is strong enough. This stretches the case just above the base and leads to case head separation.

    Now lets pretend that with some polished or nickle cases the grip is not strong enough, now the case would slip back in the chamber and the shoulder move forward. This would cause failures over time as the cases worked at the shoulder, and we would see case shoulder separations. I have never seen or heard of shoulder separations so I would argue that this proves that even the slickest of cases grip the chamber enough to stretch at the base.

    It would be really neat if we could slick Nickle cases enough that they did move back and stretch at the shoulder. A shoulder separation would still keep the gas in the chamber and prevent it from getting back into the action. For that mater it would make head space issues mute with Nickle cases. However, they are still a problem so the cases must grip well enough to stretch at the base like regular cases.
    "The argument that, cases grip the wall and reduce bolt thrust and that slick brass will lead to more pressure signs on the case head and a slapping of the case in to the bolt on firing,"

    is not one that I've ever heard.

    Here is what I have, heard, and my understanding of it.

    The case will expand to fit the chamber, always. If the sides of the cartridge case is slick they will not stick/grip to the sides of the chamber as well, and this will increase the pressure on the bolt, or breech.

    It is a safety issue, but not having anything to do with case head separation, or pressure signs, except the one in which the rifle blows up, because of a number of things, the increased bolt pressure among them.

    Of course, there are other things that effect how much pressure is on the bolt, like the cartridge design.

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    Default

    I'm with Smitty of the North on the flaking problem. In my early reloading days I had some Ni .357 (WW) brass and they flaked bad and scratched the sides of the brass. Never used any Ni again.

  9. #9

    Default nickle plating

    One thing I never liked about nickle plated cases, especially bottle necked is that the nickle plating can conceal any potential problems such as case head separation. Unless you use the "bent wire" method of testing the inside of the case to feel for cracking, you might detect it. Nickle is also harder then brass and can affect obturation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bandhmo View Post
    The argument that, cases grip the wall and reduce bolt thrust and that slick brass will lead to more pressure signs on the case head and a slapping of the case in to the bolt on firing, has been around a long time.

    It sounds good on the surface but when you think about it some more it makes no sense.

    When the firing pin hits primer it drives the case forward in the chamber. On firing the case stretches radially and grabs onto the chamber walls. As the pressure rises the case stretches at the base to fill the gap between it and the bolt, if the grip to the camber is strong enough. This stretches the case just above the base and leads to case head separation.

    Now lets pretend that with some polished or nickle cases the grip is not strong enough, now the case would slip back in the chamber and the shoulder move forward. This would cause failures over time as the cases worked at the shoulder, and we would see case shoulder separations. I have never seen or heard of shoulder separations so I would argue that this proves that even the slickest of cases grip the chamber enough to stretch at the base.

    It would be really neat if we could slick Nickle cases enough that they did move back and stretch at the shoulder. A shoulder separation would still keep the gas in the chamber and prevent it from getting back into the action. For that mater it would make head space issues mute with Nickle cases. However, they are still a problem so the cases must grip well enough to stretch at the base like regular cases.

    I think this is an old argument about the bolt thrust being changed with slick cases but I'd like to point out that if cases stretch, they stretch, or grow from just in front of the solid web which will eventually bring a separation at that point. This is true whether the case is set back or pushed forward. In other words the case will grow forward or rearward from this point. This because the thrust vector is that direction and the force is on the cartridge butt.

    Tubbs may be splitting hairs about the bolt thrust but I think there is something to it, case shape, case friction come into this. I had a long discussion with the Dr.'s Ken about this and they both say there is nothing to it, so I'm probably wrong.

    The theory of the nickeled cases is to make extraction easier so there is some belief that they offer lower friction I suppose this was with regard to dirty chambers, high temperatures, etc.
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