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Steel-core ammo (Bi-metal bullets)


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#1 Dux-R-Us

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 05:15 PM

If you have not read the article in the May/June 2011 issue of Front Sight by Eric J. Miller, I highly recommend it.

Using sophisticated X-ray technology, he examined some makes of bi-metal bullets after they were fired and found the copper jackets to be thin enough that the rifled bore came into direct contact with the iron core. The jacket was so thin on some bullets that rubbing a bit with sand paper exposed the iron core. Dr. Miller stated that much (but not all) ammo coming out of Russia was bi-metal. It should be noted that his sample was not inclusive of all manufacturers of bi-metal ammunition, nor all available calibers and bullet weights. This means that there may be bi-metal bullets available to shooters which are covered in a thicker jacket than those he tested.

For a list of ammunition used in the study, please consult the article. I am not going to reproduce it due to Copyright law. Perhaps someone else may want to summarize the table on page 33 for the readership.

Manufacturers do not indicate on the box whether or not bullets are bi-metal, but a magnet reveals all. Make sure the magnet is attracted to the bullet, and not the steel case. If you purchase ammo on-line or mail order you cannot do the magnet check and you are at the mercy of the seller.

I was not aware that bullets were being made with iron cores and such thin jackets. Using a magnet I found I had in my possession ammo loaded with bi-metal bullets. I pulled bullets to be sure that any magnetic attraction was not due to steel in the case.

Below is the bi-metal ammunition I found in my magazine.
Tula, 9mm Luger 115 gr FMJ, Russia
MFS, 9mm Luger 115 gr FMJ, Russia
Sellier and Bellot, .303 Brit. 180 gr. FMJ, Czech Rep.

Below was NOT bi-metal.
Fiocchi, 9mm Luger 115 gr. FMJ, Italy
Magtech, .45 ACP 230 gr. FMC, Brazil
Parizan, .303 Brit. 150 gr. SP BT, Serbia

According to Dr. Miller, Wolf Ammunition is well known to be loaded with bi-metal bullets, and therefore is banned on many shooting ranges. Ammo produced in the USA is very unlikely to be loaded with bi-metal bullets.

If Boomer-Shooter subscribers check their ammo with a magnet and send me the data, I will compile it and then post to the web-site. Please Include Manufacturer’s name, Caliber, Bullet wt., bullet style, and country of manufacturer. Such a data base might be useful for shooters to make informed purchases, especially when doing so on-line, or via mail-order.

The decision to shoot steel-core or bi-metal bullets is up to the individual. Personally, I have decided against shooting this type of ammunition in my weapons. What the effects of shooting bi-metal ammunition are on barrel life is not known at this time. It most likely will vary among manufacturers, calibres, weapon, etc. Therefore, it is premature to condemn all bi-metal bullets.

Caveat emptor.

K


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#2 J.P. Morgan

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 05:21 PM

thanks for selling 800 rounds today j/k
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#3 Jesse Tischauser

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 05:40 PM

There is a difference between steel jacketed and steel core isn't there? Steel core is usually limited to the spam can surplus stuff isnt it? Where as the copper washed steel jacketed bullets are very common in Wolf, Tula, Monarch and all the great cheap steel cases ammo that comes out of Russia.

#4 Dux-R-Us

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 06:16 AM

There is a difference between steel jacketed and steel core isn't there? Steel core is usually limited to the spam can surplus stuff isnt it? Where as the copper washed steel jacketed bullets are very common in Wolf, Tula, Monarch and all the great cheap steel cases ammo that comes out of Russia.


According to Miller (2011), most "steel-core" ammo has a lead core, covered by steel jacket, and finally an external copper jacket. Miller preferred the term bi-metal because "steel-core" was a misleading term. Below is a cartoon adapted from the article. It is the outer copper jacket thickness that is the focus of the paper. For example, Herter's 9X19 mm bullets had an outside copper jacket of 12-27 microns in thickness. The mean steel thickness was 417.6 microns.

I believe that he made the point that one cannot generalize that all ammo coming out of Russia is like this, albeit most of it is.

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#5 Jesse Tischauser

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 06:27 AM

Doesn't true steel core ammo have armor piercing or at least AR500 steal piercing characteristics? That is the ammo I worry about mist because it will ruin a $200 popper in one shot.

What does purpose does the steel jacket serve? I'm assuming it's cheaper to produce than a full copper jacket?

I need to read the article.

BTW I'm still buying your ammo Saturday. A little steel rubbing in my Glock barrels will build character.

#6 viloria

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 09:45 PM

"steel core" is a steel or tungsten carbide penetrator suspended in a covering of lead with a copper or other gilding metal jacket.

"steel jacketed" is a bullet covering of steel or other alloy gilding metal that will attract a magnet.

sophisticated x-ray equipment HA HA!
what a joke! You just take a dremel tool with a cutoff wheel , slice'em in half and look inside.

sounds like some non-gun guy writing a college paper.
sand off the copper with sand paper to reveal the iron core?
give me a break. might expose the steel jacket but not the core.

The picture of a bullet cross section is of a standard steel core bullet only the
black area would be steel and the inner orange band would be either copper or lead.
the outer orange band would be either copper plating or copper wash to lubricate(can't remember correct term)the bullet to aid in feeding and reduce barrel wear.

Bi-metal bullets have a core of bismuth and another metal mixed to replace lead.
this is common in lead-free indoor range ammo. made by win. federal, and other US makers.

#7 KurtM

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 02:38 PM

"Ammo produced in the USA is very unlikely to be loaded with bi-metal bullets."

Ummm, not true. U.S. GI 308 ball has had a copper washed steel jacket since about 1965 and winchester white box 308 has a steel jacket! So do several other brands of 308 ball. Funny how this is just getting noticed, and it really is a non issue, but hey if it scares you don't use it, after all we are talking a very mild steel, heck you can easily cut it with a knife. KurtM

#8 Dux-R-Us

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 08:29 PM

"steel core" is a steel or tungsten carbide penetrator suspended in a covering of lead with a copper or other gilding metal jacket.

"steel jacketed" is a bullet covering of steel or other alloy gilding metal that will attract a magnet.

sophisticated x-ray equipment HA HA!
what a joke! You just take a dremel tool with a cutoff wheel , slice'em in half and look inside.

sounds like some non-gun guy writing a college paper.
sand off the copper with sand paper to reveal the iron core?
give me a break. might expose the steel jacket but not the core.

The picture of a bullet cross section is of a standard steel core bullet only the
black area would be steel and the inner orange band would be either copper or lead.
the outer orange band would be either copper plating or copper wash to lubricate(can't remember correct term)the bullet to aid in feeding and reduce barrel wear.

Bi-metal bullets have a core of bismuth and another metal mixed to replace lead.
this is common in lead-free indoor range ammo. made by win. federal, and other US makers.


The article was a refreshing read for a change, i.e. actual conclusions based on real data. Most gun writers (and bloggers) use arm waving and conjecture. The main point of the conclusions were the copper jacket covering the steel was thinner than grooves of rifling. This means the steel part of the bullet contacted the bore when fired. I would be interested to know on the Rockwell scale the hardness of the average pistol bore versus the steel in the bullet. That would be the final bit of data to determine whether or not to use this type of ammunition.

BTW, being on the faculty of Northwestern University is no slouch job. As a research institution it blows OSU and OU out of the water.

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#9 KurtM

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 10:57 PM

No arm waiving or conjecture, get a magnet and some good old G.I. Ball or Winchester White box and see for yourself. It is magnetic and has been magnetic for a long time, at least since 1965 form imperical testing, no "majic", no arm waiving, no guess work or "I knew a guy whos uncle knew a guy who's brother claimed to work at Lake City". Before you get all wound up let em remind you that pot metal is magnetic and that is substantially "softer" than a barrel, but go ahead and act like Henny Penny without ANY info on what type of "steel" the jacket under that copper wash is!

#10 J.P. Morgan

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:22 PM

My AK only has a taste for this ammo!
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#11 Jesse Tischauser

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 12:51 AM

This discussion is like big foot. I'm not really sure I know what to believe.

#12 Dux-R-Us

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:40 AM

No arm waiving or conjecture, get a magnet and some good old G.I. Ball or Winchester White box and see for yourself. It is magnetic and has been magnetic for a long time, at least since 1965 form imperical testing, no "majic", no arm waiving, no guess work or "I knew a guy whos uncle knew a guy who's brother claimed to work at Lake City". Before you get all wound up let em remind you that pot metal is magnetic and that is substantially "softer" than a barrel, but go ahead and act like Henny Penny without ANY info on what type of "steel" the jacket under that copper wash is!



You have presented no data and there is no need to be a flaming Redneck in your writing.
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#13 Dux-R-Us

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 09:12 AM

This discussion is like big foot. I'm not really sure I know what to believe.


Jesse, the discussion has veered drastically from the original post which was the article in Front Sight and the thickness of copper jackets over steel bullets. I think it is impossible to have a rationale discussion in this format.

Whom do we believe? The experts appear to know all. They use the most exclamaton points and flame ad nauseam in their posts.



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#14 Wall

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 09:26 AM

So, what we're really talking about is the potential for this ammo to ruin your barrel, correct?

How much of it would you have to shoot to hurt the barrel enough that it needs replaced?

How much money is saved over those X number of rounds versus the same round count of premium ammo?

Is that saved $$$ more or less than the cost of a new barrel? Probably!!!

#15 Jesse Tischauser

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 10:15 AM

Jesse, the discussion has veered drastically from the original post which was the article in Front Sight and the thickness of copper jackets over steel bullets. I think it is impossible to have a rationale discussion in this format.

Whom do we believe? The experts appear to know all. They use the most exclamaton points and flame ad nauseam in their posts.




I'm gonna have to google that last sentence.

My point was that this discussion had been beaten to death on every gun forum and at every firing line and gun shop. The problem is this article presents some very good data to fuel the discussion but without a lengthy test of various bullets containing steel in barrels vs bullets without steel it's all just data.

Like Wall said you may be able to buy two new barrels for your high point with the money you save from shooting bullets that are $.01-$.02 cheaper. The average ashooter will never wear out a barrel even if he shot nothing but diamonds through his barrel for his entire lifetime. The world may never know.

#16 KurtM

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 11:15 AM

Might I take the time to point out that you present no data either, just someone else's that says there are steel jackets under copper wash. At no time does this academic scholar test the Rockwell B scale...(it is way too soft to even start on the C scale) of the material and yet goes to the trouble of X Ray, and micron spectroscopy. Seem like a large gap in his data that you claim to like so much. My "data" isn't data at all. It is, get some Winchester White Box 308 ammo...you don't even need to buy it...and stick a magnet to it....That my friend is a real world result. and you will also notice that it is U.S. made, something you claim would be very rare.

Here are the values of brass and mild steel on the Brinell hardness scale, which is a relative of the Rockwell scales: Cartridge brass (Cu70/Zn30): 155 BHN Mild Steel: 120 BHN, a 304 Stainless Barrel is around 250 BHN. These can even be looked up on WIKI so instead of spouting "someone elses data". Check what isn't there.



While we are on it the U.S. military has used Bi-Metal jackets for a long time. They use them when ever copper prices rise too much. It is easy to do a search on Bi-Metal Jackets and get info from Aberdeen and Tueillo Arsenals, to find out M1 carbine ammo has been made this way as has M2 ball (30-06) M80 ball (308) and even .45 ACP and they have done so since the 1940,s...all U.S. made.

I don't mind "data" but when it is incomplete or scewed to the rational of the presenter it is called "junk Science"

#17 mike cyrwus

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 12:46 PM

qualitiative, but data nonetheless

#18 taymoor

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:08 PM

I would just like to interject for a second and point out that "data" is a plural term and should be treated thusly. For the record, "datum" is the singular form. It can often feel unnatural to use it correctly. For instance: The data indicate that that ______. If the data are correct, then __________.


Okay, on with the heated discussion.
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