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Reloading Berger Bullets


Nickle vs. regular brass?

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Unread 02-22-2014, 07:37 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 446
Re: Nickle vs. regular brass?

The problem with nickel brass is,it can vary from lot to lot.The first batch I tried I absolutely loved it.I loaded some of that brass more than a dozen times out of my 7mag.I bought a second batch that was the worst brass I ever saw.It was so inconsistent in hardness.Some bullets would be very hard to seat because of the hardness and some would seat with ease.The uneven neck tension showed up in lack of accuracy with that batch of brass.I went back to regular brass after that and have not used the nickel stuff since.
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Unread 02-23-2014, 09:41 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 411
Re: Nickle vs. regular brass?

I don't find nickel brass any more difficult to load than conventional non-plated brass but there is one nice advantage to nickel plated brass. It is not subject to corrosion when stored or carried in a leather ammo belt like conventional brass. I try and reserve my nickel brass for hunting for that reason.
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Unread 02-24-2014, 08:37 AM
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Ohio
Posts: 601
Re: Nickle vs. regular brass?

From Varmint Al's reloading page.
I liked the looks and feel of nickel-plated cases, but I don't load them anymore and here is why. The cases are strong and it is easy enough to outside neck turn them. That is not the problem. The nickel-plating on the case neck ID is like sandpaper. The only way you might be able to remove this grit is with a case neck ID reamer if you have a "tight neck" chamber and enough neck wall thickness to work with. If you have a loaded nickel-plated round laying around and don't believe me, just pull the bullet. It will look like you pulled it out of a tube of 180 grit wet/dry sandpaper. If you pull the bullet out of a brass case mouth that has been carefully chamfered and polished with the steel wool process above, it will be essentially like out of the bullet box. Want copper in the barrel? Start by sanding the surface of those nice polished precision bullets. Try it with a Moly Coated bullet and it is even worse; the nickel-plated cases scrape off the Moly. The nickel-plated case neck IDs don't get any better after you reload them a few times. They are still like sandpaper. Think about a few of those nickel pieces of grit imbedding into the copper of the bullet and what they do to your rifle barrel! I have heard that the nickel is hard enough to score some reloading dies and also wear down the expander ball. Any metal that hard, should be kept away from your precision barrel. I have heard that some people have had success in removing the nickel plate from the neck IDs with a stainless steel brush and a drill motor. I haven't tried it.
MORE ABOUT NICKEL PLATING.... This is interesting about the mechanical properties of the nickel plating:
Electrolysis nickel plating is a process for chemically applying nickel-alloy deposits onto metallic substrates using an auto catalytic immersion process without the use of electrical current. ...snip....
Hardness and Wear Resistance
One of the most important properties for many applications is hardness. As deposited, the micro-hardness of electrolysis nickel coatings is about 500 to 700 HK100. That is approximately equal to 45 to 58 HRC and equivalent to many hardened alloy steels. Heat treatment causes these alloys to precipitation harden and can produce hardness values as high as 1100 HK100, equal to most commercial hard chromium coatings. ...snip...

Note that if you anneal your nickel plated necks, you are hardening the nickel plating. It can be harder than many alloyed steels before you anneal and can increase is hardness as much as 2 fold by precipitation hardening. I sure wouldn't want those tiny little hard pieces inside the neck getting embedded in the bullet's copper surface and then fire lapping my nice shiny barrel
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