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Discussion Starter #1
In a previous thread I asked about sticky brass cases in my NEF 223 survival rifle. I was pleased to receive a recommendation, complete with instructions, for polishing the chamber, but thought I would try nickel plated cases first.

These worked flawlessly, and it is easy and safe to generate 3333 fps with 55gr Hornady Moly coated bullets. The surprize is that I went all the way to 3802 fps with 40 gr molys, and had to stop because I had an absolutely full case of AA2230.

This load put 5 rounds in 0.35 inches at 100 yards. I never would have guessed this, as the bullet is too short and sharp to seat to the lands. The rifle has a 1 in 12" twist and a heavy 22 inch bbl, so I guess it all works with this combo.

I have gone to nickel plated brass in a few of my hand guns where sticky brass cases happened at low velocities and pressures. It is especially useful in titanium cylinders, which are very strong but a bit too flexible with fast powders - the brass is allowed to slightly over expand and the cylinder contracts on it while it is extended. The nickel cases do the same thing, but there is no adhesion created and they slide right out.

Has anyone else had a similar exerience? What is the down side of nickel plating? Isn't it a must for hot self defense loads in semi-auto pistols?
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Hi, loader:
Nickel flakes off the brass with repeated firing and resizing. I wrecked my pre-carbide RCBS .45 ACP resizing die with nickel cases. It got so bad I couldn't polish the scratches out any more, so I retired the cases and the die. Now it's all brass cases and Hornady TiN dies for pistol.

I've heard of nickel cracking during fireforming of rifle cases. Now this is pretty rough treatment, but I wonder if the factories do the nickel plating after case forming is complete?

Some rifles shoot best with the bullet way off the lands. It's another case of Shoot It And See.

Bye
Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Jack -

I knew there must be a down side...no free lunches in this business.

My plan is to use the new Lee collet die for reloads. Hopefully, this will keep the nickel intact longer. The stuff sure is hard - you can tell when you trim and camfer.

Haven't loaded 223 in many years. Things have changed quite a bit with the new powders and bullets. Its getting hard to justify my 22-250.
 

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I have felt Jack's pain, and ruined my first non carbide sizer.

Even carbide and other exotic stuff will accumulate Ni on the surface. I have found that by lightly lubing the case mouth, I can go a lot longer in a sizing session before having to clean the Ni buildup from my carbide sizer, and the nickle finish doesn't flake off as fast.I then tumble the excess lube from the surface.
I wouldn't bother with Ni cases , except a buddy who is a range offficer at a police academy, gave me a spackle bucket of once fired Winchester .38 & .357 brass.
 

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Regarding nickle plated cases; I have two good reasons not to use them (at least for my own purposes).

Reason #1. They seem to be more brittle and tricky to form bottleneck cases from. I had a .30-30 T/C Contender barrel rechambered to .309 JDJ and had fits trying to get .444 Marlin cases necked down to .308". SSK Industries said it was easy to do if you used a .308 Win sizer (which has a much gentler shoulder than the JDJ) but I had about a 70% case destruction rate. I changed to brass cases and annealed the case neck and had no problems doing it just the way SSK said it could be done!

Reason #2. Everytime you fire a nickle plated case some of the nickle flakes off and goes down the bore, causing all kinds of havoc. It is an excellent and aggressive abrasive. I am told, this can cut useful bore life by more than 2/3's! Enough said!

As far as sticking cases are concerned, if you need to go to a nickle plated case to avoid this problem, you should probably consider backing off a wee bit on the powder and polishing the chambers. No matter how accurate or powerful a firearm you use, if it doesn't work EVERY time it can't be trusted completely. I'll take reliability over exceptional power or exceptional accuracy for my hunting any day. Just my opinion for what it is worth.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Congrats on your .223 loads! Sometims it's better to be lucky than good.

Interesting thought on nickel cases in Titanium guns. I have a Taurus Ti .357. The Cor-Bon loads 'drag' a little when extracting, and they are nickel-plated. Haven't tried any equivalent plain brass loads for comparison. Normally I would polish the chambers, but they look slick, and I don't shoot it a lot. Plus it's a defensive gun and I don't carry any extra ammo, so a fast reload isn't an issue. If 7 shots of .357 don't get the job done, it's going to make an expensive club.

On the Lee sizer, should work for your purposes BUT I would expect that you may have to reduce the size of the mandrel a bit to get enough neck tension. Nickel cases are pretty hard so they may spring back a little more than a brass case with that sizing system. Might need to take off 0.001" or 0.002". Just something to check if you have a neck tension problem with the reloads.

I'd probably go ahead and polish the chamber anyway. Can't hurt and who knows, you might hit a fabulous deal on a bucket full of plain .223 brass.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Mike -

Thanks for the advice. I still plan to polish the chamber, because resized nickel cases will occasionally stick at max pressures. This is one reason I really like the Encore extractor over the NEF approach, even though the NEF will completely eject the case when it does not stick a bit.

I have experienced the mandrel problem reloading the 243 Win with nickel cases. You are correct, those necks are tough!

I am glad I revisited the 223 again, as it burns many powders efficiently and is as much fun to reload as to shoot. The NEF has a 1 in 12" twist, so now I'm looking a a new Savage 11F with 1 in 9". Happen to have a Timney trigger set, and use them a lot in Savages with excellent results. These include a 300 WSM, 300 Ultra Mag, and 708.
 
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