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Old January 17, 2019, 09:17 PM   #1
Kram
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Nickle plated

Hello, I'm new to the forum and new to reloading. I just started loading for .38sp/.357 . I have a few nickle plated cases in my bag of .357 once fired brass. I'm loading just for plinking rounds. Should I treat these cases just like brass or toss them in the recycle bin.

Thank you
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Old January 17, 2019, 09:37 PM   #2
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I kind of like the nickel cases. I reload them the same and at the same time as regular brass. The only thing I do differently is separate them prior to running through my ultrasonic. The nickel brass will leach onto the brass ones; although it is not pretty in the least. I keep one mix, same stuff for both, for the nickel in a jug and a separate mix for the other.

When I want to be poetic, I will use nickel primers for the nickel cases if I have any.

My understanding is nickel ones are brass with a nickel finish.
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Old January 17, 2019, 09:37 PM   #3
Dufus
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Use them. 98% of my 357 cases are nickle plated. Been using them since the early 70s. Well, not the same ones, but nickle plated.

I don't use nickle plated rifle brass, with one exception. The last time I loaded up on 375 H&H, they were all nickle. Price was right.
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Old January 17, 2019, 09:38 PM   #4
big al hunter
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Load 'em up just like regular brass. They may start to split earlier than regular brass, so keep an eye on it. You may get similar life from the nickel plated, but my experience was splitting at the mouth after several loads. Last time I loaded nickel plated was about 20 years ago.

And welcome to the forum.
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Old January 17, 2019, 09:38 PM   #5
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No different than brass, more susceptible to splitting so inspect closely. I use nickel cases to quickly differentiate my hotter loadings + they look nice in gunbelt loops and don’t tarnish like brass.
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Old January 17, 2019, 10:01 PM   #6
Kram
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Thank you all so much for the information and warm welcome.

I hope you all will be patient with me.
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Old January 17, 2019, 11:33 PM   #7
Nick_C_S
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Welcome to the Forum Kram.

I'm just going to reiterate stuff already said; and give a brief history . . .

Most 357 Mag brass is nickel plated when purchased as factory ammo. I may not have this exactly right: but originally most 357 Mag ammo purchased tended to be for law enforcement. This is back in the day when cops still carried rounds in their holster belts. The leather tarnishes brass; hence, the nickel plating. Fast forward a few decades, and now, 357 Mag brass is usually nickel plated out of tradition more than any actual need. If you notice, most semi-auto ammo of the defense variety tends to be nickel plated. Not because of the leather belts; but because they are still in use "in the field." Extra corrosion resistance remains a plus. I guess Schlitz 45 touched on this

I've been loading 357 since 1984 so I have a lot of experience with nickel plated cases. Yes, they do seem to split sooner at the case mouth, compared to their non-nickel plated counterparts. And yes, cleaning nickel and non-nickel cases tend to be problematic. I'm not sure about all the chemistry ins-in-outs of it all; but I do know from experience that they come out shiny when separated; and not so much when tumbled together.
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Old January 18, 2019, 08:49 AM   #8
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I load nickle plated cases in .357M for 30 years now. No problem sizing them with a Carbide RCBS Die Set. In Large Rifle I have found that Foster Die Sets were the smoothest sizers for nickle plated cases.
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Old January 18, 2019, 09:01 AM   #9
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Kram,

I have seen both easy and problematic nickel-plated cases. The easy ones behave like normal brass and after enough reloading, the brass starts to show through the nickel from wearing off. The problematic ones have the nickel flake and/or peel at the case mouths down. The flakes can embed small particles in a carbide sizing ring (carbide is sintered dust bound together in a binder metal matrix and nickel is one of the binder metals used, so this may be a case of nickel-on-nickel bonding). After that, it scratches every case going into the die and can be difficult to remove.
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Old January 18, 2019, 10:31 AM   #10
Charlie98
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If all you are loading is generic range ammo, treat nickel brass like any other. Personally, I use nickel brass for either my full-house (Magnum) loads, or my self-defense (practice, not for carry use) loads.
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Old January 18, 2019, 10:33 AM   #11
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Thanks for that explanation @UncleNick, i always wondered how they could embed in a carbide ring if carbide was incredibly hard material but that makes total sense.
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Old January 18, 2019, 11:54 AM   #12
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As most above, I treat them the same as nekkid brass cases. I have not experienced any early deaths due to mouth splits and I don't count most of my revolver case reloadings. I do have a box of Federal nickel plated 44 Magnum cases that I have reserved for my "T-Rex Hunting Loads" (cast 310 RNFP over max/near max loads of WC820). So far I have 12 reloadings on them and they still look like new...

When I started reloading, the police still used 38 Specials and 357 Magnums and I picked up a lot of nickel plated cases, I probably still have some of those laying around...
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Old January 18, 2019, 03:38 PM   #13
T. O'Heir
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Most of 'em will crack at the case mouth before plain brass, but they're loaded the same way. The plating might flake off too. Nothing to worry about though.
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Old January 18, 2019, 04:04 PM   #14
briandg
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You've been told a lot of good stuff.

It's the same stuff, but nickel plated. Plating it seems to make it less resilient, and I have a lot of it split, but I can't remember unplated handgun brass splitting in my lifetime. Nickel is clean and looks good, that matters to me. So does clean unplated brass, if it has been tumbled that's good enough for me.

While I have a pile of nickeled brass in all calibers, I don't use it in anything but .357. I like that the magnum brass is visually set apart from .38, I prefer to have it with that cleaner look as well. I also do that because it's just a habit.

To some people, it's just brass. They don't sort it out, they process it right beside their unplated, and it makes no difference. No difference at all.
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Old January 18, 2019, 07:24 PM   #15
Carmady
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I reload some brass and nickel (nickel plated brass) 38/357 casings. About 100% of splits occur with the nickel casings.

I separate them before crimping, then crimp all the brass first. The die usually needs to be lowered a little more to get the same feel when crimping the nickel.

Other than that, it's same ol' same ol'.
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Old January 19, 2019, 01:37 AM   #16
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I've been reloading nickel cases in .38 Spl, .357, and some other calibers since the early 70s. I haven't noticed the nickel cases splitting at any significantly greater rate than regular brass. Nor, have I noticed any need for different die adjustment for nickel, but then, I do trim my cases to the same length...

Nickel looks pretty. It stays looking pretty when brass fades. It has the benefits of being a little more "slick" feeding, and the oft mentioned resistance (not immunity) to the tannic acid in leather.

Nickel is better when your ammo spends most of its time in leather belt loops.

Even if it does crack "early" or flake off (and not all nickel cases do), there's no reason to avoid nickeled brass, and if you use leather ammo carriers, it makes good sense to use nickel rather than plain brass.
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Old January 19, 2019, 11:45 AM   #17
F. Guffey
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Quote:
Nickle plated
A wild guess: I have no fewer than 10,000 pieces of nickeled brass. Nothing bad has happened to my nickeled cases with the exception of tumbling. The necked pistol cases has thinned leaving the cases to take on a brass appearance. I have never had a nickeled case peal.

And then there is that thing about being a case former. I have formed nickeled cases from 30/06 to 35 Whelen and 338/06. In that effort I have had half of them split. And I have necked up 270 and 280 Remington cases to 35 Whelen and 338/06 cases. When I necked the cases up half of the cases split. But! when necking up brass cases to 35 Whelen or 338/06 cases I have not experienced split necks.

I am not talking about cases that vave been fire an unknow number of times, I am talking about new and or once fired cases.

F. Guffey

Last edited by F. Guffey; January 20, 2019 at 10:46 AM. Reason: change 08 to 06
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Old January 20, 2019, 08:53 AM   #18
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I use nickle plated for my carry ammo in 9mm, 45ACP, 38 Spec.
I find it easy to know what is my carry ammo vs my practice ammo.
I've had cases where the nickle plating has flaked off, or rather started to flake.
I throw those immediately in the scrap bin, as i don't want to take the chance of scratching one of my dies, or worse yet jamming up my pistol.

Have run into no issues using to reload 30-06.
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Old January 20, 2019, 10:35 AM   #19
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I don't resize nickle. Seems tougher to size vs brass, which in my mind equals more wear on your dies. Probably never going to be an issue, but I just avoid nickle.
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Old January 20, 2019, 04:48 PM   #20
Gary Wells
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I have shot & reloaded nickel plated .45 auto in 6 different 1911 pattern .45 autos for the last 30 or so yrs without any flaking, cracking, or splitting. I shoot until they split or are lost.
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Old January 20, 2019, 05:19 PM   #21
Charlie98
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Quote:
45 autos for the last 30 or so yrs without any... ...splitting. I shoot until they split or are lost.
Uhhh....
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Old January 21, 2019, 12:02 PM   #22
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I reload with cast lead projectiles and won't use nickel plated for cast round reloading as I flare the pistol case mouths more to easily accept the softer cast lead rounds without shaving any lead off the round. Flaring and crimping the nickel plated rounds is slightly harder on both the dies and the case, so I don't do it. But for FMJ projectiles that don't need additional case mouth flaring, I'll use whatever shells are next in the hopper, so to speak.

Another point - I swage less favorable 9mm brass into .40 S&W JHP rounds which requires annealing of the shell - and that is only done with brass - can't be done with nickel plated -

I find the 9mm nickel plated shells make nice bullet necklace pendants - I'm sure someone will cringe at that comment ;-)

Nickel plated shells are " pretty " and they do hold up longer in storage as they won't tarnish- but then if you are storing your ammo correctly, this shouldn't ever be a problem.

At the end of the day, for responsible & learned shooters & reloaders, nickel plated brass seems a fashion statement more than anything. I have more reason, being a caster, to avoid nickel plated shells and no reason to seek them out or favor them.
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Old January 21, 2019, 12:35 PM   #23
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One major plus for my semi-auto nickel plated cases; they are so much easier to find in the dirt, rocks, trash at my "range"...

I believe the plating process may have changed over the years. I think earlier plating was "electroplating" (using electron flow principles to "coat" a material with nickel), but now much is done with "electroless plating" (an auto-catalytic reaction that deposits an even layer of nickel-phosphorus or nickel-boron alloy on the surface of a solid material). I'm thinking the different processes may have an effect on case life? I have nickel plated cases from the late '60s (picked up at a police range, pre 9mm, which are still nice and shiny and I have reloaded some so many times the plating is wearing thin and brass is showing through...

My "observation" and I'm not a metallurgist, just a lifelong machinist/mechanic...
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Old January 21, 2019, 05:39 PM   #24
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Quote:
The flakes can embed small particles in a carbide sizing ring (carbide is sintered dust bound together in a binder metal matrix and nickel is one of the binder metals used, so this may be a case of nickel-on-nickel bonding). After that, it scratches every case going into the die and can be difficult to remove.
Uncle Nick, I just resized a little over 3k nickel plate 9mm with my good 9mm resizing die.
I did hose them down good with lube before resizing them.

I'm going to go resize some brass 9mms now to see if my dies picked up. If they did I will know why.

Thanks for the heads up and I wish I would have known this before I bought the nickel plated brass.
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Old January 21, 2019, 10:20 PM   #25
Gary Wells
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Charlie 98:
Uhhh....

I shoot & reload in quantities of from about 500-600 cases from the same source (me or friends) & same purchase date, generally new but occasionally once fired. I do not comingle them so that I can keep a close eye on when they start splitting. Out of a lot of about 500 cases I will see my 1st split case at about the 6th or so reloading cycle. By about the 10th cycle I will start seeing 2-3 split cases per 100. I shoot a very "pip-squeak" target load and will get as many as 25 or so reloading cycles. I lose very few cases, maybe 1-2 per 100 fired. I will shoot & reload until I am down to about 100 or less cases with most split.
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