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Old April 14, 2010, 07:54 PM   #1
t45
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Nickle versus Brass cases

What is the advantage (if any?) of a nickle plated case versus plain brass? Im mainly a rifle reloader so I never fooled with nickle cases. I picked up 1000pcs of Federal nickle plated 45acp cases at a gun show a few weeks ago.
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Old April 14, 2010, 07:58 PM   #2
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better corrosion resistance, easier to find at the range, easier to chamber.

just picked up 30 .357 nickle and 20 brass .38 cases that were laying in the grass for almost 9 months now. brass was brown, nickle wiped clean, still shiny.
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Old April 14, 2010, 08:19 PM   #3
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I believe straight-walled nickel plated cases have the advantage of not needing to be lubed prior to sizing in a reloading press if you are using standard, not carbide, dies.

Bottlenecked nickel plated cases, like most rifle cartridges or pistol cartridges like the .357 Sig will still need to be lubed.
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Old April 14, 2010, 08:31 PM   #4
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Nickel cases come from the era of leather cartridge belts and ammo carriers. Over time (months, usually), the residual acid in the leather from the tanning process will attack and corrode brass cases. It will do the same to nickel, but it takes even longer.

Back when cops carried their ammo in leather belt loops, with the same ammo being in a belt for months (maybe years) corrosion became an issue. Nickel cases last much longer, and look great in a black uniform belt too!

Now that we have nylon, and cops seldom use revolvers for duty carry, the advantage to nickel is reduced, but it still exists, to a small degree, in that they take longer to tarnish and are easily cleaned back to nice and shiny.

Nickel does have its drawbacks, but they aren't major ones. About the only real world drawback is that nickeled cases can be a little more brittle when reloaded time after time, and the nickel plating can wear or flake off sometimes. But its not a big thing. I have some nickeled .38 and .45 cases that have been reloaded and chambered so many times that they have brass streaks showing through the nickel. They still work fine.

Rifle brass never got the nickel treatment much, as the problem of duty wear in a leather belt seldom applied. There are nickeled rifle cases, in some calibers, and boy, do they look pretty! I have some for my .222Rem, and use them for certain loads, so I can tell at a glance, which is loaded with what (nickel/brass). I think they are also a little less likely to pick up dirt and grit, than brass, and stay "slick" longer.

Quote:
I believe straight-walled nickel plated cases have the advantage of not needing to be lubed prior to sizing in a reloading press if you are using standard, not carbide, dies.
Not true. Nickel cases do need to be lubed if using steel dies, just like brass cases. They are more "slick" than brass cases, and in some calibers (like .38Spl) you can get away without lubing them, for a while (because there will still be some lube in the die), but it isn't good for your die, or your brass, and odds are eventually, you will stick a case, but good! Thats why carbide dies are so popular, for pistol rounds, with them, you don't need the lube.
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Old April 15, 2010, 08:19 AM   #5
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Over on Varmint Al's forum he has a little essay on why he avoids nickel cases. He claims that tiny pieces of the nickel can flake off and do damage to the gun. That's what he says, not me. I use a lot of nickel cases, both rifle and pistol and have never had a problem. I'll take nickel handgun cases over brass any time -- the nickel protects them from discoloration so much better and just in general look better.
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Old April 15, 2010, 08:52 AM   #6
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I have had issues with mouth cracks on nickel plated brass. It does have its merits, but personally, I avoid it. A little longer in the tumbler, and the brass brass looks great.
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Old April 15, 2010, 08:54 AM   #7
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Nickle will be easier to load. The finish stays "smooth" and really passes through the carbide die a lot easier than brass. They both work and shoot the same, I just like the nickle because the finish stays smooth and if you load a lot (and I mean a LOT) you'll like the nickle in the long run.
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Old April 15, 2010, 01:09 PM   #8
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Nickle cleans up nice and shiney
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Old April 15, 2010, 01:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Nickle cleans up nice and shiney
Yep, that's about it.
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Old April 15, 2010, 02:01 PM   #10
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I use the nickle plated cases for my hollow points. I store most of my ammo in green plastic boxes, with the projectile pointed down. I grab a box and open it and if the cases are nickle, then I do not use then for practice rounds.

(I also label all my ammo on the inside of the plastic boxes. The nickle plated brass just makes for much quicker identification.)
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Old April 15, 2010, 02:48 PM   #11
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What little nickle plated I've used over the years, I have found it does tend to get a bit more brittle and split at the mouth quicker than plain brass.

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Old April 15, 2010, 05:47 PM   #12
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If you use the nickle plated brass and then really polish up a lead bullet and then load them up in your single action 6 gun, you can pretend you're the Lone Ranger! Hi Yo Silver!
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Old April 15, 2010, 08:59 PM   #13
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In my experience with nickel rifle cases, I found that they were a bit smaller in capacity than a brass case of the same caliber, hence a good load for the brass case could very well be too hot for the nickel.
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Old April 15, 2010, 09:15 PM   #14
William T. Watts
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Nickle versus Brass cases

Nickle cases can damage reloading dies if nickle flakes off, I personally have had a sizing die (RCBS 270Win) scratched bad enough the die had to be replace. RCBS did replace the die but I was told it was a one time replacement only, if I scratched another die with a nickle case I would have to replace it not them! Even if a nickle case doesn't flake the nickle is much harded than brass and may damage your sizing die if you regularly use nickle cases! FWIW! William

Last edited by William T. Watts; April 15, 2010 at 09:20 PM.
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