Educational Zone #18 - Shooting Wolf steel-cased Ammo
in an AR15
Question: Does shooting Wolf ammo in an
AR result in the "Lacquer" or
"Poly" being deposited in the
chamber, resulting in stuck cases?
My buddy Tman and I do a lot of shooting.
I had previously shot a lot of Wolf 5.56
ammo (steel cased) through my Model One
uppers and had no problems whatsoever. But
one day, I followed-up a session with a
few rounds of South African ball. The first
round stuck in the chamber and the rim was
pulled off by the extractor.
Some time later, I tried the same thing
again, and had the exact same results. I
attributed it to the old "lacquered"
Wolf and decided to just wait till I needed
some more ammo to try the new Polymer stuff.
used up that last of the lacquered Wolf
and just bought some new stock with the
Here they are.
The new Polymer Wolf is on
the top and the old "Lacquered"
Wolf is on the bottom.
It is easy to see the difference.
I expected a difference in the old problem
of it leaving "lacquer" in the
chamber, (but was to learn that this was
a mistaken belief)
So, we went to the range. I shot about 100
rounds of the polymer Wolf in my rifle and
then, without letting it cool off, I loaded
some South African ammo and shot it.
The first round stuck in the chamber and
the extractor pulled off the rim.
This is a picture of the rim.
had forgotten to bring a bore rod, so we
had to wait till we got home to knock out
the brass. It was much more difficult to
knock out than I thought it would be.
Once we knocked it out, it was clear why
it was stuck so fast.
Look at the stuff on the case.
You can see the black build-up on the body
of the case and also on the shoulder of
The question is: What is this stuff?
we had been able to duplicate and repeat
this failure several times, I believe we
had pretty well identified the problem.
The problem seemed to be shooting a lot
of Wolf and then following it with South
We decided do further experiments by substituting
XM-193 Ball or Israeli Ball to see if they
also stick in the chamber.
In the mean time, I discussed this phenomenon
and got this comment by Troy, a noted expert:
"What's happening here is that the
steel Wolf cases aren't expanding enough
to form a good seal when fired, so some
of the (dirty, carbon-filled) gasses are
getting between the case and the chamber,
causing a build up of carbon in the chamber
that is far in excess of normal. Then, firing
a brass case that DOES expand fully will
result in that case being "glued"
into the chamber by the carbon buildup.
It actually looks to me like the SA brass
is BRITTLE, not too soft. Soft brass will
be deformed at the case rim where the extractor
pulled through it, while hard, brittle brass
will just have that section of the rim broken
Likely, neither ammo would be a problem
on its own, but mixing them is clearly bad
I agreed that this was the likely explanation.
The "stuff" on the sides of the
case was carbon residue, not lacquer or
went back to the range.
I used the same rifle as before.
I shot about 80 rounds of Wolf, loaded a
round of South African, waited about 15
seconds, and then fired it.
It ejected, but the rim was bent where the
extractor grabbed it.
See the photo, at about 2 o'clock on the
Not a really clear picture, but it is more
obvious in person.
also noted the carbon on the side of the
It was not as bad as earlier
this week, but I had given the chamber a
really good scrubbing with a chamber brush
and carburetor cleaner.
I then loaded up and shot another 25 rounds
of Wolf and tried a round of XM-193.
Then the same with a round of Israeli Ball.
Neither failed to eject.
This is the photo.
The SA is on top, then the XM-193, then
the Israeli Ball.
Notice how they get less "carboned-up"
as they go.
I think that shooting only 25-30 rounds
of Wolf between tests did not dirty up the
chamber very much. Also, shooting the brass
seemed to "catch" most of the
carbon and remove it from the chamber.
Some have suggested that firing the military
ball in brass cases might help to "clean"
the AR system after shooting the Wolf. This
test seems to confirm that theory.
South African Ball seems to be brittle and
more susceptible to the breaking off of
the rim, when fired in a dirty chamber after
Oh well, an interesting day at the range.
1. This is certainly not a "bash"
against Wolf. I still plan to shoot
Wolf as it is the cheapest ammo I
can buy. It shoots fine for plinking
and I will continue to use it. I will
simply be sure to use a chamber brush
and carburetor cleaner on the chamber
when cleaning it after a shooting
2. We have heard rumors of SA ammo
having "brittle" brass.
These tests seem to verify that as
a possible problem.
3. I will not shoot Wolf and follow-up
with brass-cased ammo unless I have
a bore rod with me.
4. My experience is that Wolf may
have the following "problems":
- It can be dirty.
- The steel case can lead to carbon
build-up in the chamber.
- I have seen 1 or 2 failures to fire,
probably primer related, per thousand.
- It may not be as accurate as other
military surplus ammo.
Those were the bad parts.
The good factors are:
- It is the cheapest ammo out there
for .223, usually about 16 cents per
round or less.
- It shoots just fine for plinking
and drying-up mud holes.
- For the most part, it goes bang
- Did I mention that it is cheap?
I see no reason not to shoot Wolf
I will continue to load my "Social
Purposes" weapon with conventional
high quality ammo, and only use the
Wolf for practice.