Using steel case ammo in a bolt action

Discussion in 'Large-Bore/Small-Bore Rifle/Shotgun' started by Bigz1983, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. Bigz1983

    Bigz1983 New Member

    Dec 4, 2015
    I recently bought a Savage axis chambered in .223 Remington bolt action rifle and I was talking to a friend of mine about target practicing with Russian Tula steel case ammo.

    My friend told me "Don't shoot steel case ammo with a bolt action rifle because steel case ammo could damage the bolt or cause catastrophic failure/hurt me".

    He said that steel case ammo runs at a higher internal pressure than brass cased ammo and in a bolt action could be dangerous. He said its only safe to fire in semi auto.

    Any truth to this?
  2. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Harriman, Tn
    I've never heard that.
    dbcooper and goofy like this.

  3. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    At times I do shoot Tulammo or Wolf .223 in my bolt action .223 Weatherby, have never had a problem with it. Used to have a bolt action 7.62X39 and shot nothing but Tula in it, never had a problem. Sold it to carver a couple of years ago and I think he still shoots steel ammo in it.

    I can see him thinking that with the older stuff. Way back, they used some sort of lacquer sealer around the bullet that would melt when fired and quickly get hard again causing extraction problems. I haven't see that used on any .223 or 7.62X39 ammo in years. I still have some of the old 7.62X54R ammo that has it.
    howlnmad and goofy like this.
  4. goofy

    goofy Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2011
    I have never herd of this either.
    dbcooper and howlnmad like this.
  5. Designer

    Designer Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2016
    Ames, IA

    All factory-manufactured ammo must adhere to SAAMI standards. They do not load to higher than approved pressures.

    You should be aware that steel cases do not "spring back" to pre-fired dimensions the way brass cases do. Brass cases will extract without drama, while steel cases will still be tight in the chamber, making extraction harder.

    Bolt or semi-auto, I don't use steel-cased ammo. And it's dirtier, too. The dirt may actually score the chamber, so don't use it.
    dbcooper and ral357 like this.
  6. ms6852

    ms6852 Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2008
    San Antonio Texas
    It's fake news or an urban legend.
    dbcooper likes this.
  7. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2012
    My reloading manuals dont have different .223 loadings based on case material.

    And in any case.. Bolt action imho would be a stringer/safer action than a semi auto, if it came to a overpressure cartridge.

    I think your friend was " mansplaining "
    Twicepop likes this.
  8. Bigz1983

    Bigz1983 New Member

    Dec 4, 2015
    Yeah he said something about steel case not expanding like a brass case.
  9. ral357

    ral357 Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2015
    You get what you pay for. It's dirty cheap ammo that runs well in sks ak guns. While I doubt it's use is dangerous it gives poor results in quality guns IME. Bought 500 rounds of Wolf 308 during the first Obama Obamagedion. Still have over 400 rounds ......abysmal performance. My M1A starts fte about 15 rounds in. As to groups 1"to 2" wide at 100 yards unfortunately it strings vertically 8" to 12". I don't have a chronograph but I suspect a huge variation in velocity. You pays your money you takes your chance, stuck with 400 plus rounds of garbage
  10. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    ral, I have a nice garbage can and would love to dispose of that .308 for you!
    crystalphoto likes this.
  11. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2012
    Agreed. I've run plenty of steel cased ammo, and out of the gun, ammo, and me, I'm always the finite limitation on accuracy and consistency.
  12. SilasW

    SilasW Well-Known Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    It was on the internet so it has to be true.
    Twicepop and ms6852 like this.
  13. Bigz1983

    Bigz1983 New Member

    Dec 4, 2015
    Yeah I think my buddy was trying to say that because the steel case ammo doesn't expand as much as brass case that the pressure on the bolt from the lack of case flex would do damage on a bolt action rifle because the bolt doesn't move back to eject the cartridge like a semi auto when firing.

    Thanks for your input guys. I'm not going to worry about it. I will keep shooting steel case ammo with my bolt action axis.
    gdmoody likes this.
  14. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2012
    Sorry, but there's a little mansplaining there too. Only on straight blow back guns do you not have locked bolts. Be sure, most semi auto rifles are using a locking or delayed bolt design.

    The steel case isn't as springy, thus less spring back. Believe me, when you pull the trigger, that steel case has seals to that chamber..thus it is expanding. It has different friction and return characteristics than brass, but it does expand to seal.
  15. Clipper

    Clipper Well-Known Member

    Mar 21, 2010
    Amarillo, TX
    Daniel Boone never used steel cased ammunition, neither did Davy I won't either. (Mainly because I don't have a rifle other than .22 bolt and Marlin lever action .38/.357...)
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