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Old 01-09-2013, 12:12   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 327
Brass vs. Steel Torture Test: Which Is More Reliable & More Cost-Effective?

The question of brass vs. steel ammunition has spawned a seemingly never-ending debate from new and seasoned shooters alike. Our team at Lucky Gunner Labs took 4 brand-new AR-15 carbines and a total of 40,000 rounds of 55 grain FMJ ammunition from Federal, Wolf, Tula, and Brown Bear out to the Arizona desert for an epic brass vs. steel ammo torture test to try and scientifically settle this debate once and for all.

Scroll down for a written summary of our test, click here for our 2-minute video summary, or go read the full test results at Lucky Gunner Labs by clicking here.

Our Test Tools:
Our Test Methodology (Full Summary):
  • We paired each ammunition type with a specific Bushmaster AR-15 and then fired all 10,000 rounds of it through that particular carbine.
  • We systematically observed and tested various things, including:
    • At the start: accuracy, velocity, chamber and gas port pressures, chamber cast
    • After 2,000 rounds: accuracy, velocity
    • After 4,000 rounds: accuracy, velocity
    • After 5,000 rounds: throat erosion, chamber cast
    • After 6,000 rounds: accuracy, velocity
    • After 8,000 rounds: accuracy, velocity
    • After 10,000 rounds: accuracy, velocity, chamber and gas port pressures, throat erosion, extractor wear, chamber cast, barrel wear
  • We logged every malfunction of every rifle-ammo combination.
  • We cleaned each rifle according to a preset schedule and temperatures were monitored and kept within acceptable limits.
  • We sectioned the barrels and otherwise made unique observations after the test was complete.

Our Test Results For Reliability (Full Summary):
  • Federal: 10,000 rounds, 0 malfunctions.
  • Brown Bear: 10,000 rounds, 9 malfunctions (5 stuck cases, 1 magazine-related failure to feed, 3 failures to fully cycle).
  • Wolf: 10,000 rounds, 15 malfunctions (stuck cases).
  • Tula: DNF (6,000 rounds in alternate carbine, 3 malfunctions).

Our Test Results For Cost (Full Summary):
  • Federal's brass rounds performed the best but certain brands of steel-cased ammo are most cost-effective, even after factoring in the cost of replacement barrels. Click here to read more.

Full Report Summary (including an overview video, pictures, methodology, and full findings): Click Here To View

And most importantly, next time you're engaged in this age-old "brass vs. steel" debate, use the 40,000 rounds of ammo we put down-range in our test to back up your position!
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:59   #2
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Location: Austin, TX
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I have only used Wolf steel casing ammo. Yep, stuck case was the only type of malfunction I have had.
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Old 01-11-2013, 15:03   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 10,532
Excellent test! Thank you for posting the results.

I have a fair amount of silver bear remaining. But now that I reload, I have not been buying - or shooting - steel.
"I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration." - Hillary Clinton, 2003

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Old 01-12-2013, 07:58   #4
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 20
It's not worth shooting crap. I use Federal or sometimes privi if I can't get Federal.
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Old 03-20-2013, 15:24   #5
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Cackalacky
Posts: 499
Great torture test! Based on that info, I think I'll keep using the Federal brass.
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.~ Thomas Jefferson
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:15   #6
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 98
Wow I had no idea it would wear out a barrel in 5k rounds...
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