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Cartridge Reloading: Why are Boxer or Berdian primers on none brass cartridges like steel, aluminium and some plastic can't be

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  • Cartridge Reloading: Why are Boxer or Berdian primers on none brass cartridges like steel, aluminium and some plastic can't be

    Cartridge Reloading: Why are Boxer or Berdian primers on none brass cartridges like steel, aluminium and some plastic can't be reloaded and not recommended to do so? They are once reloaded for us consumers at the factory to start, used once, then scraped. I do reloading as a hobby and alot for our Fish & Game Club. Reuseable brass is becoming sacarce and would like to know if the mention cases can be reloaded and or if special dies and equipment are available for such safe relaoading applications. Alfred Pettit Jr.

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    Berdan primers use different flash holes and cannot be easily removed without damaging the case. There isn't a simple efficient method for converting them to the boxer primers used in reloading components, so they are basically unusable for the hobby reloader.

    The reason you cannot safely reload aluminum and steel cases is because of stretch and metal fatigue. When the round is fired, the case temporarily expands and then partially contracts. Brass is maliable and can take multiple stretching/contracting cycles while maintaining its elasticity. The same is true of the thick plastic shotgun hulls. The metal used in steel and aluminum cases has very different qualities. Working the metal makes it brittle and therefore any reloaded round would be very dangerous. There are descriptions and lots of warnings of this in reloading manuals.

    After recycling the steel or aluminum, its a toss up if reloading saves much money when it comes to common military caliber ammunition most shooters use at plinking ranges. Consider for example 1000 rounds of new production 223 or 762x39 can be had for less than $120. The primer, powder, and bullets alone will come close in cost, not including brass or your time at the reloading bench.

    So why isn't all ammo made with these cheaper cases? There are downsides. Case dimensions for any given caliber are modified to compensate for the changed expansion properties. There isn't an exact standard to gun chambers, so some guns will get stuck and jam them constantly. Proper annealing techniques allow these metals to be used as cartridge cases without exploding when it expands the first time but a casehead will rip off during extraction if the annealing job wasn't perfect. This leaves you with an unusable gun until you can get the rest of the case out with a special removal tool. Since steel is susceptible to rust, special lubricating coatings are applied to try to compensate. It helps, but the cases are not long-term weatherproof by any means with the headache of the coating wearing off and building up inside the chamber and bolt face of the gun.

    So why are steel and aluminum available? It's all about money. Government military groups around the world want cheap ammunition and arms to supply their troops. Armies don't pick up brass from the battlefield to reload, so one-time-use ammo is perfectly okay. Their guns are all the same caliber with crome lined chambers designed to match up with the steel case dimensions. The end result is a fairly reliable one-time use product at low cost.

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