Guns The New Face of Steel Cased: Freedom Munitions Dave Merrill December 4, 2015 Join the Conversation There are a lot of ways to describe the typical steel cased ammo. They include: Dirty. Inaccurate. Foreign. Weak. Smelly. Manufactured by slave labor. But overall–Cheap. American shooters can overlook a lot of warts if the the price is right. Even still, steel cased ammunition is a contentious topic in many circles. However, the sudden decrease in ammunition supply and the subsequent increase in price that happened a few years back has brought even some strong anti-steel advocates to the altar. Freedom Munitions is probably best known for their remanufactured lines of ammunition, but in their Idaho facility they also produce new brass casings, projectiles, and complete rounds. What they've added looks like the same-old same-old–but it's not. They're calling it American Steel, and admittedly the name does have a nice ring to it. Freedom's American Steel line is just like any other new production ammo—it's just that the case itself is steel that's plated with brass. Aesthetically I can't tell the difference between American Steel and any other old ball round (if anything I found the Freedom offering to be shinier than most). Generally steel cased ammo, aside from being foreign and cheap, is coated with a lacquer or polymer and is berdan primed. The coating is to help prevent environmental fouling (untreated and exposed steel can rust very quickly) and to aid in feeding and extraction. And though some might protest that last bit, lacquer doesn't melt and cause stuck cases—the fact that steel cases don't fully expand to the chamber and therefore allow for more fouling, does. It's still much better than a raw steel case. As mentioned, what Freedom did instead of a lacquer or polymer coating was plate brass directly to the steel. It serves the same purpose of protecting from moisture and giving a slicker surface for feeding and extraction. But why brass? I don't know for sure but I have a theory: As a company that collects spent brass from ranges across the nation, if there's one thing Freedom Munitions has in bulk, it's brass. Not all of the brass received is suitable for reloading and would otherwise be sold as scrap. I used a tool to intentionally scrape one up and you can see the raw steel beneath. Normal storage or transport like rolling around in your range bag is unlikely to cause any issues. American Steel is also boxer primed. Although this means it could possibly be reloaded, I'm advised that Freedom Munitions doesn't recommend it. No doubt it's boxer primed because all of their machines are setup for it already. But does it shoot? I loaded a pile of pistols, some targets, and several hundred rounds of American Steel into my range bag and headed to find out. The recoil seemed exactly on par with Freedom's remanufactured line and also with a number of other American commercial loads. I am by no means a precision Olympic 50m Pistol shooter but just casually shooting offhand at 10m produced results I wasn't disappointed with. Some formal accuracy testing with a bench may be warranted in the future. I didn't experience any issues with function or feeding, nor would I expect to with just a few hundred rounds. It worked. It's noteworthy to mention that the muzzle flash is very sparky. It's surprising the first time you see it. Since the casings are plated inside and out, some microscopic bits of the brass inside flakes off during combustion. These bits follow the round down the barrel and mix with the burning powder. I'm told that this doesn't cause any additional wear and tear. I was unable to find any signs of brass shavings or other debris in the weapons used. Long term use will tell the tale. Freedom Munitions using a brass plating doesn't mean that the casing expands like brass, but since it's using American powder and primers it's still far cleaner than most all other steel cased ammo you'd be using. With prolonged use I expect the gun to be dirtier than the same with traditional ammunition. I'm not going to tell you that you should use American Steel to circumvent your range rule against steel cased ammo, but I will say that you could probably use it for that purpose. The only way to readily tell that it's steel cased is with a magnet. The price point of American Steel is similar to their remanufactured line at $200/1k for 9mm. Some people avoid reloaded or remanufactured ammo regardless of who produces it, and it's not entirely without warrant. With American Steel, you get brand new ammo at a remanufactured price. Seems like an easy win/win for range ammo to me. Currently only 9mm is being offered but we're told the line will be expanded in the future. 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