|wolf 45acp and 223 steel cases|
It seems pistol shooters are slightly less reluctant to take the plunge into toying with steel cases, partially (I suspect) due to the US military issuing steel cased 45acp during WWII. However, many rifle users remain reluctant.
I've experimented with 223 and 45acp wolf steel casings to see how they fair in the reloading world. I've learned a little, and shot a lot - and hope this might help other people do the same. In discussing the 223 casings first, know up front that not all wolf 223 is boxer primed. Much of it has been (and I suspect always will be) berdan primed. I can say that as of 2006-07 when I first started trying to reload steel, that both were available, and I never did figure out if there was a way to distinguish which was which from factory packaging.
|all reloaded and ready to go|
Second, they do not last as long as brass. I have never had case head separation while reloading wolf 223 steel, but I have had cracked necks. The maximum number of reloads I have ever gotten from a wolf steel rifle case in 223 was 5. I lost the nerve to load them after that, or the case mouth just was no longer suitable for shooting.
Finally, the third thing I have learned about steel is quite obvious, you have to dry them fairly quickly after shooting or they will rust on you. After a tumble, you will notice the steel feels extremely smooth, and is actually quite nice to work with.
|checking for boxer or berdan primer is as easy as looking down|
As far as the longevity of the pistol cases is concerned, I have never bothered to keep count. I lose them or just don't bother with the record keeping on the lower pressure stuff like 45acp. I can say I have yet to notice a crack in any of my 45 steel- but that could be as much a function of turnover as it is vitality on the casings' part.
As far as the feel of the steel for reloading pistols, I never have had to chamfer or debur a steel case in 45acp. I just treat them like brass and run them through dies (carbide lee dies). They hold bullets firmly, require no crimp modification, and don't seem to have any issues with primer pockets working loose quicker than any other casing.
|fired wolf 45acp with factory primer|
As far as loading data is concerned, All of my loads with steel (and brass for that matter) are published load data in 45acp and 223. The cases have had no issues with unique and reddot in 45acp, nor have the rifle cases in 223 had problems with 846T, IMR4473, or Win748.
I enjoy having a fair amount of steel around because I really don't care if I lose it / don't recover it. In that regard it is great for ranges or shooting situations where high grass, snow, or terrain makes losing empties the norm.
I also have found that people object far less to you picking up their empty steel casings as opposed to their brass ones. This goes for both ranges and individuals, who even if they don't reload, might scrap their brass to recover some of the cost of shooting.
Also, it was just nice to investigate something myself instead of blindly taking the word of others who are just repeating things they have heard. I've cycled through hundreds of steel 223 at this point, and probably just as many 45acp. I know that is not nearly an exhaustive number, but it is enough for me to know that this is a viable resource I can use to keep myself shooting.
|lets be honest, steel also looks badass when it is loaded|
Take this information for what it is worth- I am not advocating you go out and hotrod some shitty steel casings you find, but I am saying that I have played with them for a few years now, and have no issues to report when proper care and loading techniques are used.
carry on and shoot well.
UPDATE: follow up article on reloading more steel here