Recently Peterson’s ballistician had some extra time in his schedule, and asked what he should work on next. He was told, “Just for the heck of it, see how many times you can fire our .308s before you experience failure.” So that’s what he set out to do.
He took five casings out of inventory and loaded them at SAAMI max pressure, which is the pressure we use for all of our longevity testing. It is a hot load, and he did the firing out of Peterson’s Universal Receiver. This way he could measure pressures and velocities each shot. He shot all five, 20 times. (It takes a long time to do that. Load five casings. Shoot five times. Back into the lab to reload, back into the indoor range to shoot, back into the lab, and so forth.)
After 20 firings with no sign of case deterioration, Peterson’s tester asked if he should keep going. “Sure, let’s see how long these can go”, was the reply. So he shot them five more times. Same result. All casings still in good shape. We told him to keep going. He shot each of them six more times. At this point each of the five casings had been fired 31 times. After several days of this the casings were still in good shape but “ballistician fatigue” was setting in. Finally he said, “Let me take these cases to an outdoor range and see how they do for accuracy.” The Peterson team agreed.
Five Shots at 100 Yards after 32 Load Cycles:
For the 32nd firing, the cases were loaded with a somewhat lighter load, and then tested for accuracy. The test rifle was a Tikka T-3 bolt action, with a 20 inch, 1:11″-twist barrel. After 32 firings the primer pockets had opened about 0.002″ (two-thousandths) but were still tight enough for further use. There were no cracks or signs of head separation. The tester put five shots in three holes at 100 yards. The group was 1.5 inches for the five shots, on a somewhat windy day.
Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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The verdict is in — Lapua’s new 6.5 Creedmoor brass is ultra-tough and very consistent. So sayeth the 6.5 Guys, who recently field-tested the brass, loading it to very stout levels. Even after 20 reloadings, the Lapua 6.5 CM brass held up extremely well. This brass, with its small primer pocket and small flash hole, really does out-perform other 6.5 Creedmoor brass offerings. Yes the Lapua brass is pricey, but it outlasts the alternatives, and, if the 6.5 Guys test is any indication, you can run higher velocities with this brass compared to other brands. Watch the 6.5 Guys Lapua brass test in this video:
If you have a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, or are considering getting a gun chambered for this cartridge, we strongly recommend you watch the full 6.5 Guys Video. Ed and Steve spent a lot of time conducting this test, and the video includes helpful summaries of their findings.
The Evolution of the 6.5 Creedmoor
Over the last few years the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge has become increasingly popular among precision rifle enthusiasts. However, availability of brass cases was limited to only a few manufacturers. In early 2017 Lapua introduced to the market its own 6.5 Creedmoor case with a unique twist — the case has a small rifle primer pocket and small flash hole — like the 6mmBR Norma and 6.5×47 Lapua.
Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass — Test Protocol
The 6.5 Guys tested a box of Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge brass supplied by Graf & Sons. The project involved two phases. First the 6.5 Guys weighed and measured the cases to assess weight uniformity and dimensional consistency (which was impressive). Then came phase II — the “torture test”. The 6.5 Guys loaded the brass with a very stout charge of H4350 pushing 140gr Hornady ELD bullets*. The brass was loaded and shot over 20 times. This durability test was conducted to see how many repeated firings and resizing/reloading cycles the brass could handle. Remarkably, after 20+ loadings, the brass was still holding up — no “blown-out” primer pockets. This stuff is tough. The 6.5 Guys note: “You can go at least 20 reloadings without a split neck…but brass spring-back may be another issue.”
After 20 Load Cycles — Going to the Extreme
Once the Lapua cases had been shot 20+ times, the 6.5 Guys tried something more extreme. They stuffed the brass with a very hot load — a powder charge weight well beyond a sensible maximum. Even with this “beyond max” load, the Lapua brass held up but there was some evidence of pressure on the primers: “You do see some cratering on the primer with a Remington 700 that you don’t see with a Defiance action, but nothing to indicate a potential pierced primer.”
WARNING: The 6.5 Guys deliberately used a very stout load for testing. Do not attempt to duplicate. This load was shot in a faster-than-average barrel with a chamber set up for long 140gr bullets. You may not be able to achieve similar velocities — maybe not even close. As with all hand-loading, always start low and work up charges in small increments.
6.5 Creedmoor vs. 6.5×47 Lapua — Battle of the Middle-Weights
With this new brass, does the 6.5 Creedmoor enjoy an edge over the 6.5×47 Lapua? The 6.5 Guys answer: “That’s hard to say. From a market share standpoint, the 6.5 CM is more popular in the USA. From a technical perspective, 6.5×47 Lapua offers near identical performance with better barrel life. But from our tests, you can drive a 140-grain bullet much faster with 6.5 Creedmoor than you ever can (safely) with a 6.5×47 Lapua. That’s our non-answer answer….”
The 6.5 Guys concluded that the 6.5 Creedmoor will enjoy a velocity advantage: “We’ve had a number of discussions with RBros and other folks about this. It appears that 6.5×47 still has the edge as far as barrel life. But it also looks like you can push a 140gr bullet pretty fast with the 6.5 CM — speeds that are not obtainable with the 6.5×47 Lapua.”
* Why were the Hornady 140gr ELDs chosen for testing? The 6.5 Guys wanted a bullet in the 140gr weight range. Beyond that, the choice was fortuitous. Ed explained: “Our bullet selection was quite scientific — we sat down at my reloading bench and looked around. Saw the Hornady 140 ELD Match and decided to roll with that.”
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Hey guys here’s a torture test video that’s really worth watching — you’ll be shocked and amazed (we guarantee it). In this video, Nightforce Exec Kyle Brown (with help from NF employee Sean Murphy), absolutely brutalizes a Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56mm scope. He bangs it on a concrete bench-top, throws it 50 yards downrange, knocks it on a hardwood beam multiple times, and then heaves it back again. We kid you not. To our eternal surprise, the Nightforce scope survives all that abuse and shoots fine. What did Timex once say — “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking”?
You’ve got to watch this video — it was shot with five cameras and runs with no “time-outs”, cutaways, or video tricks. What you see is what you get. This is one tough NXS. Thank you Kyle Brown and crew for taking the time to prove the durability of Nightforce Optics products.
LuckyGunner.com, a leading online ammo vendor, has conducted a remarkable “torture-test” comparison of brass-cased and steel-cased .223 Rem ammunition. Four different kinds of ammo (one brass-cased, three steel-cased) were fired through four different Bushmaster AR15s — ten thousand (10,000) rounds PER GUN. The idea was to see if brass-cased ammo was better than the cheaper, steel-cased ammunition. During the course of the project, Luckygunner’s testers logged malfunctions and checked for accuracy, chamber pressure, gas port pressure, chamber wear, and overall barrel wear. At the end of the test, the well-worn barrels were sectioned to see the effect of thousands of rounds… and the results weren’t pretty.
Test Findings: For a multitude of reasons, the test crew determined that Federal brass-cased ammo was “healthier” than steel-cased ammo. The brass-cased ammo shot more accurately, had far fewer malufunctions, and produced less barrel wear. The USA-made brass-cased ammo also showed more consistent velocities. CLICK HERE to READ FULL TEST.
Watch the video below for a summary of results:
Torture Test Procedure
Four types of .223 Rem ammo were tested: Federal brass-cased 55gr FMJBT; Wolf steel-cased (polymer coating) 55gr FMJ; Tula steel-cased (polymer coating) 55gr Bi-Metal Jacket; Brown Bear steel-cased (lacquer coating) 55gr Bi-Metal Jacket. Each ammo type was paired with a specific Bushmaster AR-15. Tests were performed at various round-count stages:
At the start: record accuracy, velocity, chamber and gas port pressures, make chamber cast
After 2,000 rounds: record accuracy, velocity
After 4,000 rounds: record accuracy, velocity
After 5,000 rounds: record throat erosion, make chamber cast
After 6,000 rounds: record accuracy, velocity
After 8,000 rounds: record accuracy, velocity
After 10,000 rounds: record accuracy, velocity, chamber and gas port pressures, throat erosion, extractor wear, chamber cast, barrel wear, make chamber cast.
During testing, rifles were cleaned according to a preset schedule and temperatures were monitored. After testing, LuckyGunner sectioned the barrels and made careful inspections.
Click the links below for specific data, test results, and conclusions:
During the testing process, all malfunctions of each rifle-ammo combination were logged. The brass-cased Federal ammo was the clear winner:
Federal: 10,000 rounds, 0 malfunctions. Brown Bear: 10,000 rounds, 9 malfunctions
(5 stuck cases, 1 mag-related failure to feed, 3 failures to cycle.) Wolf: 10,000 rounds, 15 malfunctions (stuck cases) Tula: DNF (6,000 rounds in alternate carbine, 3 malfunctions)
Barrel Wear and Throat Erosion
Some of the barrels didn’t make it to 10,000 rounds: “The steel cased/bimetal jacketed ammunition caused accelerated wear to the inside of their respective bores. While the barrel of the Federal carbine had plenty of life left, even after 10,000 rounds … the Wolf and Brown Bear barrels … were completely shot out by 6,000 rounds. At the end of the test, the chrome lining of the Wolf and Brown Bear barrels was almost gone from the throat forward, and the barrels had effectively become smoothbores[.] A throat erosion gauge could be dropped into the bore from the muzzle end with absolutely no resistance.”
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