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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was at the range yesterday and picked up some nickel cases in 45acp.
Does anyone reload nickel. Pro's and con's.
 

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I reload any case I come across, except for Berdan primed ones. Nickel cases are plated brass, of course, but they have a tendency to crack around the case mouth as they work harden from resizing. Just keep an eye out for this, and you should be able to get several reloads from them.
 

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10-15yrs ago, the word on the street claimed that nickel brass could not be reloaded safely. Some of us did it anyway.

It seems to work harden more quickly, and it's a little tricky to anneal, and if you neck turn, it ends up looking like crap, AND the brass life is shortened, but it's reasonable to reload nickel plated brass.

You'll tend to get chips or splits at the mouth a lot sooner with nickel brass.

The most extreme "abuse" that I've applied to nickel brass has been this year, and they've held up better than I thought they might. I've played this fall with necking down nickel 44mag brass to 357/44. I neck it down, ream from the inside out, fireform, size again, then turn from the outside and anneal. I don't cut through the plating that way, and I have gotten 5 rounds of full-house loads through them without chipping/splitting so far.

On the other hand, nickel brass does require extra work, that only really offers an aesthetic advantage and no other functional advantage, so most folks don't consider it to be worth reloading nickel brass for anything more than bulk handgun shooting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks guy's for the quick response. I'll give them a try and let you know how it goes.
 

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GONRA read somewhere that Ni plated cases are more resistant to salt water corrosion.
Nice when you are on on the ocean a lot and havan ammo stash that travels with you.
Anybody really know facts on this?
 

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Never had a problem with nickel plated cases. I reloaded full house 357 magnum with 180gr hornady's and W296 35 years ago for metallic handgun silhouette in a 10" Contender without problems. I rotated through a few hundred cases multiple times and still got about 50 of them. Looking at 'em right now, headstamp WW Super 357 Magnum.

EDIT:
I'm not trying to come off as some kind of expert but I think the same precautions you use for regular brass case would apply to nickel plated cases. JMO
 

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Like earlier posts, I have been reloading since 1978 and while I separate my cases by headstamp, I have loaded nickel cases for years. Only thing I worry about is if you clean them in a hydrosonic cleaner, you need a special cleaning solution or they turn black.
 

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Guess I didn't get the word 10-15yrs ago ... been loading nickel plated handgun cases since Moby Dick was a minnow. I found when I clean my nickel cases in a vibratory case cleaner using corn cob media, they come out looking like new ... maybe better than new. I don't load nickel plated rifle cases but I'm sure they would work just fine. As others stated, case life (split mouths) with handgun nickel is usually shorter because the nickel gets brittle and the case walls are typically about .008" versus .010" with normal brass cases.

I really like nickel cases for loading lead bullets. That's because lead bullets are typically a thousandth larger than jacketed and nickel cases have thinner walls ... a great match that produces a load where it doesn't look like a snake that swallowed a gopher (bulged case). I also like nickel cases for ammo I store in my leather holster belt rigs. This is exactly what nickel cases were designed for ... they don't turn green, they don't develop slimy crud that keeps them from chambering ... they just stay nice and shiny. Nickel cases are also a good way to keep your "duty" loads separate from range loads. For my 38 Specials/357 Mags, all my range loads are in conventional brass cases and personal protection ammo is in nickel plated cases. Years ago when most police officers carried 38 Specials or 357 Mags, just about all their ammo was purchased with nickel plated cases ... if you remember the old leather Sam Brown rigs, you would see why. As such, a good share of my 38/357 range brass is nickel plated.
 

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One other nice advantage I find for nickle cases -- they stand out amongst all the brass ones at the range making it easy to pick up your own brass at the range!
 

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I reload any case I come across, except for Berdan primed ones. Nickel cases are plated brass, of course, but they have a tendency to crack around the case mouth as they work harden from resizing. Just keep an eye out for this, and you should be able to get several reloads from them.
+1! They definitely do not last as long (for me). I agree with Iowegan on SD ammo & a lot of it uses nickel cases as it seems easier to do a chamber check & see the cases with nickel.
 

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I load both and like Iowegan stated, they clean up very nicely and don't have the little ripples like the brass with the lead bullets. Just inspect them all and be safe.
 

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GONRA read somewhere that Ni plated cases are more resistant to salt water corrosion.
Nice when you are on on the ocean a lot and havan ammo stash that travels with you.
Anybody really know facts on this?
I used to sail a lot here in New England. Because the water is so cold (always) the water isn't as salty as say Florida. However, the general rule is everything corrodes sooner or later.

Without a doubt Ni cases will do better but in looking at really old ammo from my late father in law, it's the lead corrosion that's the worse. The lead bullets will swell up to the point of being useless.

My best guess: Use the Ni cases; its better than brass. Wipe them down with Barricade. I've used that stuff a lot and it really works but doesn't leave a sticky coating.

I think you'll see that most (all?) SD ammo comes in Ni cases.
 

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I think you'll see that most (all?) SD ammo comes in Ni cases.
Definitely a majority of marketed SD rounds these days come in nickel plated cases, but there are loads out there that aren't. I never can quite make up my mind whether I believe someone put actual thought into that decision for function, or I believe that some marketing agent made the suggestion that nickel plated stands out as "premium," so they can charge more for it. More days than not, I lean towards the latter - I expect it's a marketing gimmick that coincidentally works out to our favor as shooters.

In parallel - why do certain "premium" rifle ammo lines come in nickel brass? Winchester Ballistic Silvertips, Federal Premium Vital Shok's, and Remington Full Boar product lines (among others) come in nickel, and I can't really sooth out any reason for that choice, other than an aesthetic choice for marketing. Why did Hornady get away with selling millions upon millions of green tipped bullets that don't do anything that their red tipped brothers didn't do? Just a gimmick...

It works out well for us in SD loads, but I'm more prone to believe it was a happy accident.
 

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I have reloaded nickel cases for 40 years with no problems. Inspect your brass before reloading because nickel cases do split quicker than brass. I have used about every type of case I find on the range. Once, I found a couple hundred .45acp Blazer, aluminum cases, that were boxer primed, (the new ones are beridan primed). They sized and shot like a dream. I loaded 230 grain LRN bullets over 4 grains of Hodgdons Clays. I got three reloads out of them before I disposed of them........robin
 

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I cannot ever remember not loading nickel cases. Especially in 38 special. Back in the day when the 38/357 ruled the roost 38 cases once fired were extremely abundant and very cheap or free and I have lots of them still from those days. I have never noticed any differences in loading them or a higher failure rate from splitting but then I have so many a split cases mouth does not get much attention. The only problem I have ever seen is that the nickel tends to flake off after several loadings. I tried some nickel rifle cases once and they seemed to scratch easier or maybe they were just more visible. It seems to me that nickel requires just a little more effort to resize but I may be imagining that.

I use them if I get a deal on them but I don't select them or pay extra to get them.

I think the reason they are used in some premium ammo is mostly for sales appeal but not any real performance reason.
 

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Nickel plated cases for pistols OK, possibly less friction upon stripping them from magazine then chambering - the nickel appears to be harder than brass and slicker.

Rifle cases - rather not because I fuss around with them quite a bit - annealing, I have some concerns about the reaction of the nickel even if it is of a tiny thickness with a propane torch having a flame temp of over 1000 degrees. What would the much harder nickel do to my neck turner cutter blade. After turning the necks down the nickel would be gone. Have to admit those nickel cases come out of my magazine real easy and chamber well. Not knowing that much I will stay with brass cases for my rifles.
 

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I have a couple of 45/70 rifles, one being an old trapdoor and the other is a Marlin 1895 XLR. To prevent loading the wrong heavy load in my trapdoor. I use nickel plated brass for that and regular brass for my Marlin.
 

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I reload nickel a lot. They are great to separate out and use for test loads. That way when you only have a dozen or so nickel casings you'l know they were the ones you need to check for pressure signs and what have you. They are also great for your hunting rounds that will sit in a leather bullet wallet or in a belt and sling for the off season. I've seen brass turn green and get a build up of gunk thick enough to let it not chamber.
 

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I have some .38 special and .357 mags that the nickel plating is plain worn off. I had never heard anything about loading safety with them. I do have mouth cracking I find and cull as required.
 
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