M14 ammo: Copper Washed Steel Core vs. Solid Copper Jacket - Gun Hub
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Old 12-06-2004, 12:31 PM   #1
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M14 ammo: Copper Washed Steel Core vs. Solid Copper Jacket

I raised this question on another forum, in the context of shooting one or the other in an M14 NM (non-chrome lined) barrel.

Unfortunately, the discussion turned into a non-helpful "He-said-she-said" exchange, i.e., one person says Never use copper washed steel core in M14 NM barrel and another person says It's fine to shoot in M14 NM barrel.

However, no one has yet offered an authoritative reference to support either way.

So is it all just opinion? Does anyone know a source for the answer?

All agree that the M14 NM barrel has a shorter life, but higher accuracy.
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Old 12-06-2004, 12:45 PM   #2
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M14 rifle barrels were supposed to last 15,000 rounds before being deemed worn out, and were chrome lined.

USGI M80 ball ammo is copper-plated mild steel jacket, lead core.

Many highpower shooters start looking sideways at their barrels sometime between 5,000 and 10,000 rounds. No chrome lining, usually 100% of their ammo is gilding metal jackets, maybe no "ball" ammo down those tubes.

The barrel steel is a lot harder than the jacket steel. Calculate whether 5,000 rounds of cheap ammo with steel jackets saves you enough Moolahh$$$ to buy a replacement barrel, compared to the copper jacketed stuff. Me, I don't worry about it.
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Old 12-06-2004, 12:49 PM   #3
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Copper Washed Steel Core vs. Solid Copper Jacket
It is important to differentiate between "core" and "jacket".

The core of both bullets is really lead so the question really should relate to a steel jacket vs. copper.

Steel jacketed bullets have been around since before WWII and widely used in military arms but it seems to me the real question ought to be whether or not they are accurate.

You state that your concern is for an NM barrel so my question is if you're going to the expense of having a real match gun why would you want to save pennies on ammo.

I don't know if anyone has done a really definitive test to compare the accuracy of steel jackets vs. copper but my suspicion is that, since they will be harder to draw consistently accuracy might not be as good.
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Old 12-06-2004, 12:50 PM   #4
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somebody here, IIRC HighPowerShooter, examined copper-clad mild steel jacketed bullets recovered from a backstop. the underlying steel did not show through the copper cladding where the rifling was engraved into the bullet.

if the steel is not contacting the barrel, I cannot see how it will adversely affect the barrel much, if at all.

also, don't forget when we say "copper" we are actually being lazy and referring to gilding metal, which is harder and stiffer than copper. dead-soft copper jackets smear copper all along the bore after a few shots.

steel can be made pretty soft (relatively speaking).

I have no trepidations about using copper-clad steel jacketed ammo in my guns.

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Old 12-06-2004, 05:40 PM   #5
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And the answer is...

Interesting information and comments, so far.

However, still no answer to the original question, which is, to paraphrase:
Is there an authoritative reference to support either freely using steel bullets or routinely limiting to copper bullets when shooting the non-chrome-lined National Match (NM) barreled M14?

I suggest the possible answers would be either:
a. Yes (with reference source?),
b. No (with reference source?), or
c. I don't know.

Perhaps it might help if we specify up front:
1. The question applies only to the non-chrome-lined National Match (NM) barrel M14. (I have no concerns about the non-NM, chrome-lined 'standard' M14 barrels.)
2. I have no concerns about expense, either for the rifle/barrel or the ammo. (My concern is doing the least damage to the barrel.)
3. I have no concerns about relative accuracy comparisons between the two ammo types. (My concern is doing the least damage to the barrel.)
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Old 12-06-2004, 05:52 PM   #6
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Well, I suppose you could do a Freedom of Information Act records request on the accuracy testing barrels used at LCAAP during the M80 Ball years, along with the accuracy barrel tests for all that M118 ammo they also made.

What I know is that the yearly reports of Camp Perry issue ammo in the American Rifleman in the 1960s, and a few feature articles, described the round counts for machine-rest barrels and gave a pretty good profile of useful life for non-chrome match barrels that were fired fast 'n furious in their test cradles during lulls in the wind. Accuracy was tested to 600 yards. Accuracy increased very slightly for about 3,000 rounds or so**, held almost level for several thousand, and was back to the original levels around 7-9,000 rounds, IIRC.

Find something similar for the barrels used to test the ball ammo for accuracy standards, and you'll have the definitive word on chromoly barrels.

**which is why I was ho-hum over Layne Simpson's moly/non-moly bullet tests and everything else of that sort a few years ago, because it was typically only 1,000 rounds out of a brand-new slick 'n lapped custom match barrel. Go shoot 'em 300 rounds for new-barrel testing, put 3,000 more through them, then really test your accuracy in earnest for another 1,000 rounds w/o cleaning.
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Old 12-06-2004, 06:07 PM   #7
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I don't know. However what I do know is that approximately 6500 rounds of Portuguese has gone through my M1A loaded, and I group under 3" for 10 shots at 100 yards and have since the rifle was new. That's not phenomenal shooting, but it satisfies me. There were about 500 rounds of South African also, but I have no idea if that was steel or not. Iron sights of course and I still score around 220 on Fred's AQT.
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Old 12-12-2004, 06:11 AM   #8
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Back during WWII the US Army needed to find a way to conserve the limited supply of domestic copper... there was a war on, you know. Remember the steel pennies of '43, '44, '45??

The question: Would copper washed mild steel bullet jackets adversely affect barrels and-or increase wear??

The Army commissioned it's own Springfield Armory and Winchester (both producing the M1 rifle at the time) to find out in a comprehensive test.

SA and Win both fired umpteen hundred thousand rounds of regular gilding jacketed bullets and copper washed steel jackets in a comparison test... wearing out numerous M1 rifle barrels in the process.

Conclusion: There is NO appreciable difference in barrel wear between gilding metal jackets and copper washed steel nor any other significant difference or effect.

Since that time period the vast majority of all USGI .30 caliber ammo has had copper washed steel jackets.... including 7.62 Nato M80 ball. During the 60's there were some lots of 30-06 M2 made with gilding metal, most notably LC-66, but the following years saw the steel re-appearing.

Sorry, but I have lost my referrences to the above test. Check with Ed Clancy and see if he knows.

Best to all,

Garands forever
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