AR15.Com Archives
 Steel Cased Ammo, Chambers, and Chamber Polishing
perdurabo  [Member]
3/14/2011 9:12:56 AM EST
Ok, back several years ago when ammo was priced sanely and was affordable by mere mortals, I invested in a very large quantity of Wolf polymer coated steel cased 55grain .223 to feed my various .223/5.56mm rifles.

There is a well known and well documented problem with steel cased ammo thats been around for years, namely that both the lacquer and polymer coated steel cased ammo tends to stick in chambers (both .223 and 5.56mm chambers, in my case). If I shoot a long string of a couple mags and then let a round sit in the hot chamber for a little while, invariably that round will fire, fail to eject, and the extractor will generally rip a chunk of the rim right off the head of the case. I then have to pound the case out from the other end with a cleaning rod. We've all heard about this and the usual solution is to simply dont shoot so much of it or suck it up and fork over more cash for brass cased ammo ("cry once..." etc etc blah blah blah). Well, I'm not really satisfied with those answers. After all, i'm sitting on a rather large pile of poly coated steel cased Wolf ammo that I'd like to shoot without having to worry about chamber sticking issues. I have no intention of selling it and theres no way I'm gonna buy new ammo of ANY type at the current buckwild crazy prices. I do reload, but usually only pistol rounds as tapered neck rifle rounds are painfully slow and tedious to reload, so thats not really a solution either.

What I need is a way to modify my chamber so that these rounds DONT stick in the chamber. I would much rather spend money to modify my rifle and make it fit the ammo that I have (and which is still the cheapest ammo you can buy) than modify the ammo that I use to fit the rifle. I've heard of many people talk about polishing their chambers, but thusfar I haven't actually seen a product or tool specifically touted to do this job. I've used products like JB bore paste to clean rifle bores, but it says explicitly in the instructions for the product not to get it in the chamber. So what exactly DO people use to polish their chambers? A cotton chamber mop with rouge on it chucked into a drill? Do they take the barrel out, out it on a lathe and run a chamber reamer down it? How exactly does one actually polish a chamber without heavily investing in specialized gunsmithing tools? Will polishing my chamber routinely between trips to the range help alleviate this "sticking" problem with steel cased ammo anyway? What else can I do to help mittigate the problem apart from not using steel cased ammo? I've already tried using a stronger extractor spring and those goofy "d-fender" extractor buffers... extractor strength is irrelevant when the case is essentially glued into the chamber. I've also heard smartass suggestions about buying a Galil or .223 chambered AK out of some ignorant kneejerk assumption that these rifles were "designed for" steel cased ammo... I'll have you know I've had the same chamber sticking issue with both Romanian .223 AK and Galil clones as well. The only rifle that never seems to have chamber sticking issues is my FN FNC, but theres nothing inherently different about its chamber or extraction system, as far as I can see.

Any other ideas?
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Firebird69  [Team Member]
3/14/2011 10:07:40 AM EST
I have never polished a chamber. Since you bought the ammo so cheap sell it and reload something you like. Why continue to jam a square peg in a round hole?
Lokjell  [Team Member]
3/14/2011 10:24:39 AM EST
Wonder if there would be a way to coat the chamber in one of the random wonder-lube coatings. Might cause problems with too much force rearward if there is no stickiness in the chamber though.
Espos1111  [Member]
3/14/2011 10:35:54 AM EST
I know this is not an answer to what you were asking. It kind of is an answer or opinion, but not directly.

Don't let a round sit in the hot chamber after going through that many rounds. Eject and let it cool some. As you know the "coating" covers the chamber, then you let a coated steel case sit in a hot chamber. The case will expand a bit (because it is steel) and the coating will "glue" itself to the coated chamber wall. I do not think that any amount of polishing will stop this. If you enlarge the chamber so much (.001 or less is a mile in firearms, if ya ask me) that the round would not touch the sides or the coating, you would lose the effectiveness of the rifle. I'm sure polishing will help some, but how much? At some point they would begin sticking again when the buildup becomes great enough.
Samuel_Hoggson  [Member]
3/14/2011 11:11:18 AM EST
I always advise people to try a small quantity of a given lot of steel .223 before buying the boatload. And I know you don't want to hear that I've never experienced the stuck case problem with any of my Colt DI uppers (and I've got a bunch).

I have used JB and Rem Bore Cleaner on the distal end of chamber mops attached to cordless drills..........at low speeds, and for seconds at a time, inspect, repeat as needed. I've done this to get carbon..........I said carbon..........fouling out of chromed chambers. These are not match uppers, but the chambers have continued to digest Wolf by the case. Keep the stuff away from the lug area/raceways as best you can while doing this, and clean the snot out of the lug raceways after you are done with the abrasive. I use brake cleaner or Kroil for this last bit. Don't forget to use the stuff as directed on the chamber throat area. I have never gotten more aggressive than this (ie., oil soaked emery cloth).

Now, for the millionth time, lacquer and poly do not melt in chambers. The crud is fouling related to low operating pressures of most steel ammo plus the less complete obturation that obtains from the less compliant steel case material. Moreover, I have repeatedly tried to make a case stick by dumping between 100 and 300 rds full-auto mag dumps followed by a deliberate pause with a live steel-cased round in chamber. Each and every time round went bang and ejected fine with zero evidence of finish loss. Better than that.........I have used my magnet to hose up about a ton of steel cased empties at MG shoots. I have never seen one empty that showed even the slightest evidence of lacquer or poly melt. I have had a brass case break up after firing in a dirty chamber.........but that's another story, one that Box of Truth readers understand well.

Sam
perdurabo  [Member]
3/14/2011 11:19:56 AM EST
Originally Posted By Firebird69:
I have never polished a chamber. Since you bought the ammo so cheap sell it and reload something you like. Why continue to jam a square peg in a round hole?


As I said, I'm not going to sell this ammo and I'm certainly not going to pay the buckwild insane prices people are asking for brass cased ammo these days. I would much rather find a way to modify my existing rifles to be able to shoot the cheapest ammo available than to change the ammo I'm shooting. I refuse to pay 30 cents a round or more on ammo, especially when I don't have to.

dfariswheel  [Member]
3/14/2011 12:00:49 PM EST
If your chamber is hard chrome lined, there's nothing you can do that won't ruin the chamber AND make the problem worse.
You can't polish the already perfectly smooth chrome. Hard chrome as used in firearms is in a layer that averages about 0.0002". That's thin enough that any polishing attempts will ruin it fast.

Also, as above, lacquer doesn't melt on the chamber walls.
If lacquer would, ya think maybe the Russians, Chinese, and all the other steel case ammo users might have noticed a problem in all the full-auto weapons it's been used in over the last 60 years or so?

Since your problem is extraction related, I'd be looking at ways to beef up extractor power.
New extractors, and stronger extractor springs, and the various inserts for the extractor that increase holding power may have better results than ruining a chamber.

Last, whether you like it or not, sometimes you just have to accept that some guns just don't "like" some ammo and won't shoot it.
perdurabo  [Member]
3/14/2011 12:09:21 PM EST
I'm willing to accept that the problem is not related to the lacquer or polymer coating melting in the chamber, thats fine. What i do take issue with is the suggestion that its a matter of extractor power. As I've mentioned, in almost all cases of a case getting stuck in the chamber, the extractor RIPS OFF the rim of the case in such a way that additional attempts to extract the case by letting the bolt go back into battery and pulling the charging handle fail to extract the case again because THE EXTRACTOR NOW HAS NOTHING TO GRAB ONTO. The beefiest extractor spring I could possibly buy coupled with one of those goofy plastic D-shaped things to improve extractor power DID. NOT. WORK. to solve this problem.

SOMETHING is causing the cases to stick. I'm more inclined to think that its actually the case expanding in the already hot chamber BEFORE being fired and then failing to extract, but I can't be sure. It might also be various amounts of crud getting into the chamber because the steel doesn't deform correctly to seal it from gas pressure. Whatever is causing it, I can 100% guarantee you that it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with extractor power or grabbing force.


Originally Posted By dfariswheel:
Also, as above, lacquer doesn't melt on the chamber walls.
If lacquer would, ya think maybe the Russians, Chinese, and all the other steel case ammo users might have noticed a problem in all the full-auto weapons it's been used in over the last 60 years or so?

Since your problem is extraction related, I'd be looking at ways to beef up extractor power.
New extractors, and stronger extractor springs, and the various inserts for the extractor that increase holding power may have better results than ruining a chamber.




NCHornet  [Member]
3/14/2011 2:27:18 PM EST
I understand what you are saying. I can't promise you this will work but it is something to try. For the last 7 years I have used to wax on my truck, car or RV. I kept reading about a product called REJEX in the RV magazine. They showed a photo of a motorhome and the bugs coming off with just a strong jet of water. If you have ever scrubbed the bugs off the front of a RV you know what I am talking about. I did some research mand actually talked to the man who invented the product. It isn't a wax, it is what teflon is to cooking pans, this stuff is to paint. I thought it was to good to be true. But it works, not all the bugs will wash off but it doesn't take nearly the work to get them off after using the Rejex. My truck actually stays cleaner longer, because crap don't stick to it. It is bar the slickest finish on paint that I have ever felt. I would use some Rejex on the chamber throat and the chamber walls. Let it cure for 8 hours and give it a shot. I don't have issues with steel cased ammo sticking. If this works for you, you can sell me some of the 5.56 that you got a good deal on. If I can help out further just IM me.
AK_Steve  [Member]
3/14/2011 3:41:14 PM EST
It sounds like the solution to your problem is to either empty the magazine or not leave a round in the chamber when you stop shooting. You shouldn't leave any round in a very hot chamber anyways. I would also keep the chamber pristine.
Gregory_K  [Team Member]
3/14/2011 8:10:38 PM EST
http://www.m-guns.com/tool_new.php?product=reamer
Espos1111  [Member]
3/15/2011 11:02:43 AM EST
OK. What I was talking about was not the lacquer or polymer on the sides of the cases, it is the crap coating on the primer. This does blow all over the bolt and barrel extension/lugs. I have seen it. Eventually some of this would make its way into the chamber, not with one or two shots but hundreds. I have never had a stuck case, but rifles do not defy the laws of physics. That crap does get everywhere. Also the Russians, Chinese, etc are NOT shooting surplus ammo, just like our GI's are not shooting surplus ammo. Not wanting to start a war here but I have cleaned that stuff out of every part of my rifle before and I will not shoot it anymore. And if he says it sticks then it sticks. Heck, he might just have a very tight chamber that doesn't like steel or surplus ammo that was crap to begin with.

Edit: I haven't shot Wolf, so I don't know if they coat their primers. I have shot Brown Bear and those were coated. That is the crud I was talking about. I worded my first post incorrectly, sorry.

Edit: One other thought. Since, right now, only you are having this problem, have you tried tumbling the rounds? To clean any fowling that might be on them before you use them. It might help with your rifle. Just a thought.
Samuel_Hoggson  [Member]
3/15/2011 1:56:00 PM EST
Originally Posted By Espos1111:
Edit: I haven't shot Wolf, so I don't know if they coat their primers. I have shot Brown Bear and those were coated.


Every lot of my old BB poly has (or had) primer sealant - none have had neck sealant. The primer sealant is not overdone, ie., it's comparable to what you might see on brass cased milsurp. I can't remember if any of the Mil Classic had neck sealant.

Sealants, per se, are not bad. You can get in alot of trouble with poorly annealed brass, or with powder having unpredictable burn rates. So, too, can you expect problems from sealants that are either poorly applied (ie., too much), or of poor quality. Consumers in the US rarely encounter sealants on domestic ammo loaded for hunters and target shooters. For obvious reasons, sealants are highly regarded by manufacturers and consumers of steel......and brass........cased ammo for military forces worldwide. So, of course, sealants are very commonly - if not quite universally - encountered on brass and steel cased milsurp.

You are correct that there have been credible reports on the ammo forum of too-generously applied sealants from some lots of Russian .223 causing problems in some guns. I've had no problems with those lots of Bear I've used.

Sam

zulthor  [Member]
3/15/2011 6:18:29 PM EST
I've had the problem you described happen with an AK. The problem is due to the steal not expanding enough and letting carbon build up in the chamber.

The only solution is to clean the chamber more often and not let a round sit in a hot chamber for a long time, especially in a cold environment.

SkagSig40  [Team Member]
3/15/2011 10:21:00 PM EST
I run wolf in my 5 AK's and my 5 AR's as well as many others. Not a single problem. If your gun can't run Wolf it's not the ammo's fault, the gun has a problem.
T-TAC  [Member]
3/15/2011 10:54:42 PM EST
Probably a good idea to hit the chamber with a chamber brush and some good bore solvant. If the gun runs fine for say the first 200 rounds and then start to give you problems, then you would know it's the Laqure and carbon building up in the chamber.
AK_Steve  [Member]
3/16/2011 4:43:53 PM EST
Originally Posted By T-TAC:
Probably a good idea to hit the chamber with a chamber brush and some good bore solvant. If the gun runs fine for say the first 200 rounds and then start to give you problems, then you would know it's the Laqure and carbon building up in the chamber.


Please stop propagating this bullshit about the lacquer melting.
N2CH_556  [Member]
3/16/2011 5:09:56 PM EST
Respectfully, please review these two resources: AR15.com Ammo Forum FAQ #5 and The Box O' Truth #18

Then, find a local smith with a Ned Christiansen 5.56 NATO Chamber Reamer or talk to ADCO
AR15fan  [Team Member]
5/20/2011 6:59:52 PM EST
Originally Posted By Gregory_K:
http://www.m-guns.com/tool_new.php?product=reamer


This.

Though not designed to improve reliablity of steel cased ammo. There are several reports that it does.
wagonwheel1  [Member]
5/28/2011 2:49:59 PM EST
Originally Posted By Espos1111:
OK. What I was talking about was not the lacquer or polymer on the sides of the cases, it is the crap coating on the primer. This does blow all over the bolt and barrel extension/lugs. I have seen it. Eventually some of this would make its way into the chamber, not with one or two shots but hundreds. I have never had a stuck case, but rifles do not defy the laws of physics. That crap does get everywhere. Also the Russians, Chinese, etc are NOT shooting surplus ammo, just like our GI's are not shooting surplus ammo. Not wanting to start a war here but I have cleaned that stuff out of every part of my rifle before and I will not shoot it anymore. And if he says it sticks then it sticks. Heck, he might just have a very tight chamber that doesn't like steel or surplus ammo that was crap to begin with.

Edit: I haven't shot Wolf, so I don't know if they coat their primers. I have shot Brown Bear and those were coated. That is the crud I was talking about. I worded my first post incorrectly, sorry.

Edit: One other thought. Since, right now, only you are having this problem, have you tried tumbling the rounds? To clean any fowling that might be on them before you use them. It might help with your rifle. Just a thought.


Also the Russians, Chinese, etc are NOT shooting surplus ammo

How old does ammo have to be before it becomes surplus? Your post,if I understand it, seems to point to the sticking issues as an age of ammo problem?

This "sticky ammo" problem never seems to come up on a regular basis with the AK,SKS, or Mosin-Nagant crowd.

To the OP, I wouldn't modify my AR to acommadate cheap ammo and then to have other issues when you go to run some high test US brass through it. Just treat it as a lesson learned.
thor15  [Member]
5/29/2011 2:52:05 AM EST
I had a bushy that took 2500+ rds of WOLF and never, ever, ever failed me. I am pro wolf. Alot of guys say it will screw your rifle up, maybe over time but the avg joe with an AR.... I think not. I can kinda see your concern but I really think you are "over thinking" the problem. Why modify a rifle for no reason? BE RESPONSIBLE. Clear your chamber, let it cool off, then shoot some more. I mean how hard is it to do that. I mean these weapons are not cheap so just take care of it.
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