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November 1st, 2019

Tech Tip: Don’t Store Brass and Ammo Near Ammonia Solvents

Ammonia Solvent Brass Cracking MTM

Chances are that many of you have packed away your ammo and shooting supplies for the winter. Maybe you put your brass in a storage bin that might also contain solvents, old rags, or used bore swabs. Well, if you use any ammonia-based solvents, we suggest you separate the brass and ammo and keep it away from potential ammonia vapors. This is because long-term exposure to ammonia fumes can cause cracks to form in your brass. This can lead to case ruptures and possible injury.

This case-cracking phenomenon has been called Season Cracking, a form of stress-corrosion cracking of brass cartridge cases. Season cracking is characterized by deep brittle cracks which penetrate into affected components. If the cracks reach a critical size, the component can suddenly fracture, sometimes with disastrous results. If the concentration of ammonia is very high, then corrosion is much more severe, and damage over all exposed surfaces occurs. The brass cracking is caused by a reaction between ammonia and copper that forms the cuprammonium ion, Cu(NH3)4, a chemical complex which is water-soluble. The problem of cracking can also occur in copper and copper alloys such as bronze.

Season Cracking was originally observed by the British forces in India a century ago. During the monsoon season, military activity was reduced, and ammunition was stored in stables until the dry weather returned. Many brass cartridges were subsequently found to be cracked, especially where the case was crimped to the bullet. In 1921, in the Journal of the Institute of Metals, the phenomenon was explained by Moor, Beckinsale, and Mallinson. Apparently ammonia from horse urine, combined with the residual stress in the cold-drawn metal of the cartridges, was responsible for the cracking.

Ammonia Solvent Brass Cracking MTM
Don’t store ammunition (or brass) for long periods in a box or container holding ammoniated solvents:

The Australia Department of Defense (AUSDOD) has also explored the problem of brass cracking caused, at least in part, by exposure to ammonia. A study was done to see whether the amount of cracking (from ammonia exposure) varied according to the duration and temperature of the annealing process used on the brass. CLICK HERE to read AUSDOD Research Report.

Story idea from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
October 2nd, 2015

NEW Ruger Handgun Ammo Features Molded Bullet Technology

Ruger ARX Ammunition Ammo Injection Molded Matrix Composite Copper Nylon Polymer

BIG news in the shooting sports industry — Ruger has entered the ammo business. Ruger now offers high-tech handgun ammunition, using licensed polymer-composite, lead-free bullet technology. According to the Shooting Wire: “Ruger’s new lead-free ammunition will be produced under a licensing agreement with Savannah, Georgia-based PolyCase Ammunition.”

Ruger’s new ARX line of lead-free ammo features injection-molded bullets that are much lighter than conventional projectiles, caliber by caliber: 56 grains for .380 ACP, 74 grains for 9x19mm, 107 grains for .40 SW, and 114 grains for .45 ACP. The lighter bullets fly faster, but ARX ammo still offers reduced perceived recoil.

ARX Ammo for SALE
.380 ACP
9mm Luger
.40 SW
.45 ACP

Ruger ARX Ammo with Injection-Molded Matrix Bullets
The fluted projectiles are injection-molded from a copper/polymer matrix. This offers many advantages. First, being completing lead-free, these bullets can be used at indoor facilities that prohibit lead-based ammo. Second, because the composite bullets weigh 30% less than comparable lead-based projectiles, shooters experience noticeably less recoil (even though velocities are higher). Third, the composite matrix bullet has low-ricochet properties. When these bullets strike metal, they are designed to disintegrate (into a powder), rather than ricochet. This makes them well-suited for indoor use, or use with metal plates.

Shooting Wire Editor Jim Shepherd reports that ARX ammo delivers on its low-recoil promise: “Having spent time testing the PolyCase ammunition (largely in Ruger firearms), I know the reduction in felt recoil isn’t just hype. While firing PolyCase ARX ammunition in calibers ranging from .380 in small concealed carry pistols (including a Ruger’s LCP) up to .458 SOCOM in modern sporting rifles, the lessened felt recoil was noticeable.”

Ruger Ammunition pistol ammo PolyCase

PolyCase Molded Bullet Design Technology
For over a century most bullets have been mass-produced with a process called cold-forming. Lead and copper were shaped with brute force in punches and dies to create projectiles. While this is still a viable and effective way to produce bullets, other manufacturing methods are now available. By applying injection-molding technology, Polycase has developed a new type of bullet that has many advantages, as least for handgun applications. Bullets weigh approximately 70% as much as lead bullets with similar profiles. Lighter weight means higher velocities and less recoil. In addition, PolyCase bullets are lead-free, and low-ricochet — two qualities important for indoor and close-range training. The injection-molding process also reduces weight variations (compared to cast lead bullets), and ensures excellent concentricity. Molding also allows unique shapes that are impossible to produce with conventional bullet-making methods (see photo).

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 2 Comments »
February 16th, 2012

High Copper Prices Create Market for Unwanted Cartridge Brass

With Copper Exchange prices edging towards $4.00/lb, cartridge brass in any condition is worth saving. (Prices reached $4.50/lb last year!) Even worn-out, split, or Berdan-primed brass with negligible value to reloaders can be worth real money given current scrap metal prices. People commonly leave .22 LR casings on the ground because they can’t be easily reloaded. Nowadays, it may be worth saving brass of any kind. In California, scrap metal dealers are paying $1.75 a pound for used cartridge brass — including buckets of used .22 LR casings.

Of course, if you have good pistol and rifle brass that’s worth reloading, don’t take it to a scrap dealer. You should be able to get more money selling the brass to reloaders via Forum Classifieds or However, if you’ve got buckets of old, split, tarnished brass, .22 LR casings, or Berdan-primed cases and you don’t want to take the time to clean, inspect, and sort your cases… maybe you should just sell ‘em for scrap. For someone with hundreds of pounds of miscellaneous brass, current scrap prices can be attractive. In the past, at ranges, we’ve seen scores of milsurp Berdan-primed cases left on the ground since they are not easily reloadable. Now, we predict those cases will be collected and sold for scrap.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 2 Comments »
October 11th, 2011

Hodgdon Claims New CFE™223 Ball Powder Deters Copper Fouling

Hodgdon CFE 223 PowderHodgdon Powder has introduced a new spherical (ball) powder called CFE™223. Hodgdon claims that this new powder “greatly deters copper fouling” compared to other propellants. Originally developed for U.S. rapid-fire military systems, CFE™223 incorporates a proprietary chemistry named “Copper Fouling Eraser”. Based on tests with extended shot strings, Hodgdon claims that, by using CFE™223, match shooters, varmint hunters, and AR shooters can maintain accuracy for longer periods, with less barrel-cleaning time.

Load Data Now Available Online for CFE™223
Reload data for CFE™223 is available for 27 different cartridges with 147 loads. It is suitable for loading in many popular chamberings including: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, 22-250, 6mmBR, .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Rem, 7mm-08, and .308 Win. Maximum velocities are obtained in the .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, 22-250, and .308 Win with load data found at Hodgdon’s Reloading Data Center. CFE™223 is a spherical (ball) powder, so it meters well. The new powder will be available in one- and eight-pound containers starting in January, 2012. For more info, call (913) 362-9455 or write to: Hodgdon Powder, 6231 Robinson, Shawnee Mission, KS 66202.

Hodgdon CFE 223 Powder

Permalink New Product, Reloading 4 Comments »
February 24th, 2011

Montana X-Treme Solvents Now in Aluminum Bottles

If you’re looking to stock up on cleaning solvents, and you don’t want to carry around fragile glass bottles in your range kit, check out the new line of Montana X-Treme cleaners. These are now packaged in unbreakable aluminum containers. That’s a smart idea that makes a quality product even more attractive. While we like Wipe-Out foaming bore cleaner for regular cleaning, the Montana X-Treme Copper Killer is one of the most effective solvents you can buy for stubborn copper fouling. Copper Killer is used by many top benchrest shooters.

Aluminum Bottle Montana X-Treme

Permalink New Product 1 Comment »
May 15th, 2009

New, Highly Effective Bore Cleaner from Barrett

Barrett Heavy Bore CleanerBarrett Rifles, of 50 BMG fame has released a new, high-strength non-ammonia bore cleaner that really works. We know what you’re saying… that the last thing we need is yet another “miracle” bore cleaner. However, we’ve received reliable reports from fellow shooters that Barrett’s new Heavy Bore Cleaner does an amazing job on copper. One shooter told us he had cleaned his barrel with Sweets and then followed with Barrett’s new product and a lot more fouling and copper came out. Another told us that he had to switch to a nickel-plated jag because the Barrett solvent was so effective on copper.

We don’t know the Barrett chemistry, but it does NOT contain petroleum distillates or ammonia. It IS biodegradable and non-flammable. Barrett claims: “In a two-step process, our bore cleaner first dissolves copper, then chemically binds it to the solution to remove it from the bore. It also works to remove carbon and residue and even neutralizes corrosive salts.”

We’re always skeptical when we hear about new cleaning compounds. But the reports on this product, so far, have been uniformly excellent. If you have a rifle that copper-fouls badly, you may want to check out the new Barrett Heavy Bore Cleaner. Currently it is available only in a large 16-ounce bottle that costs $24.95. Purchase from the Barrett Store or other online vendors.

Permalink News 2 Comments »