The use of steel ammo in handguns and long guns has been the source of controversy for quite some time. A major misconception about this is that since steel is comparably harder than aluminum, it is harder as well on the gun as it travels out. Those supporting this refer to extractor breakage and failure. However, is this true? Besides, is steel ammo the cause of extractor failure?
What Causes These Problems?
The steel cartridge cannot be solely attributed to any problems witnessed in handguns and long guns. Such problems often stem from corrosion between the chamber and rustproof materials used to coat steel ammo. Manufacturers use a rustproof coating to prevent the ammunitions’ integrity, even in harsh conditions.
Brass and aluminum cases have different expansion and contraction features from steel cases. This affects the timing of the cycle of operation in the extraction phase, especially in semi-automatic firearms. When the cartridge is fired, the resulting action expands the ammo case to fit the internal diameter of the chamber. The case must then contract slightly for easy extraction. However, steel ammo contracts slowly compared to brass and aluminum, forcing the case to stick in the firing chamber.
The cartridge’s design probably has the greatest effect on the extraction process for steel ammo. However, this affects specific firearms and may not extract at all in other firearms.
On the contrary, the advantages of using steel ammo are that they are economical, making them affordable to shoot compared to brass offerings. Another great overlooked benefit of this cheap bulk ammo is that the spent cartridge can be policed with a magnet.
Does This Make It Bad for Your Gun?
Steel ammo, like brass and aluminum, has both advantages and disadvantages. They can be bad for your gun if you are worried about the durability of the gun, as they are hard on the barrel and extractors. They also have range restrictions and not a good choice for reloaders. However, if you want economical ammo that can be easily picked up, steel is a good choice.