So we’re all in a similar conundrum- ammo is hard to find, and right now beggars can’t be choosers. On the other hand, it’s not like you were warned or anything, multiple times, and even told earlier this year that ammo was never cheaper than it was at the time I told you. Regardless, we’re here now, and the panic buying bug is hitting everyone.

Patriotman and myself were headed down to the Scout Course in TN last week and swung by Smokey Mountain Knife Works. There was a giant pyramid of ammo sitting beside the ESEE knives counter- all Wolf, mostly 5.56, for around $220 per 500 rounds. Kinda high for steel case but that wasn’t slowing anyone down. By the time we slid back in Sunday afternoon, it was all but gone. This begs the question again- just how destructive is steel case ammo, exactly? We’ve all heard its both just fine and bad for our weapons. So let’s see what American Partisan affiliate Brownells has to say:

So, they say it won’t. But I argue a bit differently. Steel is all I shoot in the AK. It was designed for it. The AR is a completely different animal however and the shooter has to take into account clearing malfunctions. Under normal circumstances, its fine. Although hideously inconsistent and dirty, it functions well. The average shooter is not going to see a difference in wear or premature throat erosion in the chamber. The problem with steel cases is what happens to the internals of an aluminum weapon when a steel case is jammed into a bolt override.

A bolt override is when an ejected case gets wedged over the top of the bolt and in between the charging handle. This type of malfunction, while rare, requires mortaring of the carbine (jamming the butt of the weapon into the ground to break it loose) to initiate ejecting the case and (hopefully) dropping the case without damage to the charging handle and gas tube. But that said, when inducing this malfunction in class, I show the students just how mangled the spent casing gets. And when I do I ask them- how much more stress do y’all think steel cases will put on the internals of your weapon?

So while I think the stuff is fine for running low-stress drills and maintenance, I’d never stake my life on it, nor would I use it in anything other than my training weapons. And when that time comes, if it comes, that things calm down, brass cased ammo is no doubt the way to go if the AR is your go-to.