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Thread: Why will you not use NICKEL plated cases?

  1. #21
    Boolit Master WILCO's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Where there is lots of things to do.
    I always thought nickel plated cases were for street bangers............
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  2. #22
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Mar 2014
    Fargo ND
    I do not go out of my way to aquire them, but I have yet to have a problem using the ones I have.

    I have some 60 .444Marlin cases in Nickle, those are full power loads. Brass are light loads for paper punching. Makes it easy to remember which is which.

  3. #23
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    I've loaded a lot of them but I prefer brass. It seems like I loose Nickel cases to splits sooner than brass. I've also had the Nickel peel off and once or twice stick to the inside of my sizing die. I had to polish this out as it scratched all of the following cases.

    I'll still pick up Nickel cases but they are the first ones that I will sell or trade and the last ones that I will load. Nickel cases do offer more protection from corrosion if you carry them in a leather belt. I have also had the Nickel come off or get thinner when tumbled in stainless media.

  4. #24
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Canton, Ohio
    I have a crapload of Virgin nickle 44 Special brass. I *think* I got them in trade to Lloyd for some obscure brass that someone gave me and it was all he had to trade of a caliber that I use.

    I don't have any particular problems with Nickle brass that I can ever remember. I saved them because it's virgin and I wanna use up the yellow brass stuff first. That could take awhile, lol.

    And some 38 brass that's nickle. but not a lot and so it's just sorta mixed in with the other brass.

  5. #25
    Boolit Master JBinMN's Avatar
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    Feb 2017
    Goodhue County, Minnesota
    Quote Originally Posted by fiberoptik View Post
    I never knew why they even made them.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I think it was mentioned already, but it is my understanding that they were coated to prevent "verdigris"(discoloration)when put into leather belts, since brass usually will discolor if left in the leather loops. I do not have experience in this, or know that it is true, since I do not use leather belt loops for my cartridges, but that is my understanding of why they nickle plated them.

    Could also be some sort of a "selling point" for folks who admire shiny bright objects of that particular color.


    As far as nickle plated go for me. I do not seek them out for any reason. The ones I have are 99.9 % from "just happened to be that box" when I bought some new cartridges. I do have a few from buying once fired cases , but out of thousands of those cases, maybe 10 -20 were nickle plated. Thus that .1%.

    The ones I do have that I reload are inspected a bit closer than the brass, simply to make sure they are not defective. I am not sure, but I thought nickle was a bit more brittle than brass & may even hide or camoflage wear/issues on the inside of the case. I could be wrong, but I would rather err on the side of safety.

    I can vouch for one thing I know for a fact. If you anneal like I do sometimes using the melted lead in your pot to dip the mouths into the lead for a few seconds & then cold water quench, the lead doesn't stick to the brass , but it certainly does to the nickel, or at least it did on the few case I noticed after trying them a while back since it was time for those cases to be annealed. I got the lead off some by taking them to a wire-wheel, very carefully to not remove the nickle, but in the end I just decided to throw them into the scrap container as I did not want to waste the time on just a few cases that are not that expensive & I have many other brass ones. I did learn a lesson though & now I have shared it here....
    Use a different method. LOL
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  6. #26
    Boolit Master

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    Sep 2009
    Ivanhoe, TX
    I have never had a problem with nickle cases that I haven't had with brass cases.

  7. #27
    Boolit Master quail4jake's Avatar
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    Dec 2015
    The North Woods of Pennsylvania
    .38 and .357 nickel plated brass seems to split faster than brass.

  8. #28
    Boolit Master

    Kraschenbirn's Avatar
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    Dec 2006
    East Central IL
    Over the years, I've had mixed performance from nickel cases. I've got some old (late-80s) .308 Remington Match that's been loaded with factory-level JB loads a half-dozen times or more without losing a single case and had much the same from BP-loaded nickle Starline 45-70s. One the other side, I've got a whole bunch of nickel Winchester .45 ACP leftover from my paper punching days that, from day one, has split a few cases every time it's been reloaded. For the most part, though, it's not something that really worries me...perhaps, when I get down to my last 2 or 3 thousand .45s or .38s, I might become concerned but at my current rate of loss, that'll be a few years down the road.

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  9. #29
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    MI (summer) - AZ (winter)
    All of my 38 special brass is "used". I've purchased different lots of it over time and of course some of hit has had nicke in it. I sort 'em out and keep them separate but use them and they work just fine. The one thing I have noticed on mine however, is that the nickel casings seem to split at the throat sooner than the brass. Is it because they are nickel plated? Who knows? It may be that they weren't 1 X fired when I bought them and had thus won't last as long. For the number of reloads I get out of a 38 special, I certainly can't complain as they seem to last through many many reloads. When I first started to reload 38 special, I bought 500 new StarLine 38 Special casings - while waiting for them to arrive, I bought a batch of 1 X fired - never have opened up the StarLine casings but they set on the shelf "just in case". LOL

    Nickel or Brass - I'm "open minded" and will use either until they split and need to be tossed.

  10. #30
    Boolit Master 308Jeff's Avatar
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    Dec 2016
    Tempe, AZ
    I've reloaded some 38 and 357 Nickel brass so many times that the nickel has worn off.

    As a previous poster noted, they look really pretty with PC bullets.

  11. #31
    Boolit Master scattershot's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    Denver, CO
    I use them, but I also expect a shorter case life when reloading. Something in the plating process makes the brass brittle. It’s not uniform across the spectrum, since I have cases that the brass is showing through the plating, they have been reloaded so much.
    "Experience is a series of non-fatal mistakes"

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  12. #32
    Boolit Master

    HABCAN's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    East Central Alberta, Kanada
    FWIW, many years ago I DID experience case-mouths splitting with Winchester nickle .357s, but have not had ANY troubles recently with Starline .44-40s. Maybe those early Winchesters started the 'splitting legend'??
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  13. #33
    Boolit Master
    Tom W.'s Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    Phenix City, Alabama
    I used a bunch I had to fireform some 30-06 a.i. cases. I had quite a
    few end up with split necks. Those that didn't split went on to a long and happy life.
    I still have several hundred plated 7 mm Remmag cases that I used in my #1. These showed no sign of anything bad.
    As for .38/.357 or any other straight walled pistol or revolver cartridge, I haven't had a problem with any of them since the late 1980's....I actually prefer them.
    μολὼν λαβέ

  14. #34
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    gardners pa.
    back many years ago like 73. I got my first 1911. a friend worked at a place where they tested firearms. they dumped a barrel of nickel .45 auto in the trash he fished them out and we loaded and shot them for years, in fact I still have some n the mix. all my .38spl. is second hand so some is brass some is nickel.

    at one time I loaded for some town police dept. that was all nickel.

    I use my nickel .38 brass for my skeeter loads used in .357 guns. the brass is used in the standard .38 loads.

  15. #35
    Boolit Master

    alamogunr's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    Many years ago when I was trying to get started casting & loading for .45ACP, I bought 1000 pcs of plated brass that was represented as government issue match brass W/inert primers. About the only thing true was the "enert" part. The primers were a smaller(not small) size so standard large primers would not seat without extra pressure. When sizing a large number split. Those that didn't split on sizing, split when fired. I did not the try whole thousand. They all went into the scrap bucket.

    Based on what I read in this thread, brittle nickel plated brass is not a tremendous problem but it does occur.

  16. #36
    Boolit Master gnostic's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
    Somewhere over the rainbow...
    Quote Originally Posted by Catshooter View Post
    I prefer them for fighting ammo. Better lubricity to aid extraction, no brass corrosion. I load practice in brass, fighting in nickel so a glance tells me which is which.

    Nickel is softer (way) than even un-hardened steel so there is no chance of it scratching a chamber or a die.

    You're spot on, nickel plating is normally found on high pressure ammo for the reasons you mentioned. It's about the way the case, grips the chamber wall and ejects. They probably don't last too long because, I load nickle cases on the warm side...

  17. #37

    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Mar 2010
    Land of 10,000 Lakes
    Quote Originally Posted by Catshooter View Post
    I prefer them for fighting ammo. Better lubricity to aid extraction, no brass corrosion. I load practice in brass, fighting in nickel so a glance tells me which is which.

    Nickel is softer (way) than even un-hardened steel so there is no chance of it scratching a chamber or a die.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bullwolf View Post
    I've had nickel plating come off a case, and get embedded in a sizing die.

    Sucks when it happens. Scratches all the rest of the cases that you size afterwards using those dies (both brass and nickel) until you get the embedded nickel out of the sizing die.

    Even had it happen to a carbide RCBS 38/357 sizing die, and Carbide is MUCH harder than steel. Managed to polish the embedded nickel out of the carbine sizing ring with a split dowel and some JB bore cleaning compound, and some Flitz metal polish. The size die worked fine again, after polishing.

    Like everyone else I've found that some nickel plated cases seem to split right away, (first firing) and others won't split for many firing and sizing cycles.

    Few weeks ago I found 15 pieces of W.W. 38 Special, nickel plated, double cannelure, full wad cutter brass. 4 of those 15 cases split during sizing & flaring.

    Alternatively I have some 38 Special +P Federal nickel plated cases that I've sized and fired so many times that the nickel plating is almost entirely worn off the cases, and they mostly look like yellow brass again.

    Not sure why sometimes they last, and other times they go to heck so fast.

    I'll happily use nickel plated cases for the added corrosion resistance, especially with leather cartridge loops.
    - Bullwolf
    I've used nickel 38spl as well as 44 mag, no problems, and Bonus!!! the cases are easier to clean.

    BUT, I also swapped for a large box of 1x speer nickel 223rem (500 of them), when I setup to load them, apparently one of the first cases flaked while FL sizing...I noticed after about 25...almost all the 25 cases were severely scratched. I tried to clean the Lee FL sizer die body, but the die looked like it was scratched up? But, maybe the flakes where just embedded? anyway, they didn't come out. I didn't try to polish or hone it? I just replaced the die body...they are cheap. I swapped those cases to a mall ninja on FB. So now I avoid using nickel plated rifle cases, But I think I have some 30-06 WIN cases that are nickel, in my stash somewhere?

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check