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The Concise Guide to Understanding Everything About Nickel vs Brass

Nickel vs BrassWhen it comes to the most popular materials for cartridge ammunition, you basically have two major options: brass and nickel. Picking the right one is not that simple, though.

In fact, reloading nickel plated brass might look the same as reloading a brass casing, but they differ in many ways.

There are many variable to consider and tips to make sure you extend the life of your casings.

Learn everything you might want to know to improve your firearm skills with this guide we prepared only for you.

This article helps both amateurs and professional hunters and shooters understand the pros and cons of each casing material type.

Let’s get right to it!

Pros and Cons of Brass Casings

Rubber bullets on red, close upBrass casings have long been used already for at least 200 years. This means its valuable features and even side effects have already resurfaced, and you can pretty much trust that this type will always deliver what you expect.

Here are some of the pros and cons of this type of casing:

  • Reusable – If you’re in a tight budget or you just want to maximize savings for your casings, this is the big reason you should pick brass casings.
  • Dependable – You already know that this casing type has been around for years, and that means you’re least likely to see new hidden defects or effects when using this type. This means you can rely on this type to deliver what it’s supposed to, and it’s less likely to get stuck since brass is intensely flexible.
  • High malleability – Brass is surprisingly made of a soft, easily bent material that expands rapidly when you fire it. This then quickly shrinks and seals the cartridge chamber so the noxious gas elements simply flows backward, preventing you from breathing them.
  • Low Firearm Damage – What this means is that your brass casings will almost always never scratch your firearm’s parts, preserving the style and design of your weapon. It’s an added bonus that brass doesn’t induce any type of spark when brushed against any type of metal.
  • The one main disadvantage most users of brass may complain about is the tarnishing factor. When you put them in leather holsters, you may stain and tarnish it, decreasing the holster’s lifespan.
  • You also need constant meticulous inspection with brass casings for any material failure, since you may have been overusing the brass at its maximum limit without you knowing.

For more information about how to clean your brass casings, refer to this video below:


Pros and Cons of Nickel Casings

Pistol gun bullets and magazine strewn on woodenThe one thing to remember first about nickel plated vs brass cases is that the nickel one is actually pretty much just brass that have been added a coating of nickel under the process of electroplating.

Like brass, nickel is also malleable and flexible, which makes them easy to reproduce in mass scale productions. But why are they more used in high-end manufacturers of ammunition today?

Let’s find the answer in its pros and cons.

  • Corrosion-resistance – Manufacturers want ammunition that last and don’t tarnish, and because of nickel’s corrosian resistance attribute, it’s very much preferred.
  • These nickel-plated ones can be more easily slided in semi-automatics, thanks to its friction’s low-coefficient score. The quicker casings like this are fed into a semi-automatic, the better and more efficient it is for the shooter or hunter.
  • This gives the shooter a better edge and improves the weapon’s overall performance because you get lesser chances of getting the casing jammed into the weapon. The nickel ones have a much more distinct appearance, which is a useful feature when you’re at a shooting range and you want to easily reload your firearm in one smooth go.
  • These nickel casings are much easier to load and reload to in major firearm types, especially the revolvers.
  • The first disadvantage people have over these nickel types happens in the reloading process, and the first one would be the time needed to clean each casing. You pretty much just can’t use a nickel casing without first rechecking each of time right after firing for scratches or damages they may have in the die.There’s also time required for the user to clean the dies each time they’re reused to make sure that their residual nickel playing are still molded into them tight and securely.
  • If you’re not able to use the right amount of gun lubricant, these casings will get stuck, causing problems in the resizing die.
  • You may also experience more cracks in nickel types than in brass since these are more brittle and fragile. As a result, most gun owners don’t attempt reloading nickel types of casing for more than 3-5 times each.
  • You also have to pay much more meticulous attention to nickel casings if the metal property in them are in the right size and the die are adjusted to the right length and crimping every after shot.
  • You risk getting the nickel plating into the die every after reload because the plating is known to flake or come off.



What is nickel plated brass?

It’s just a brass casing with a thin layer of nickel made through electroplating, causing the casing to be corrosion resistant and stain-resistant when brushed against belt pouches or leather holsters.

How is nickel plated brass better than just a brass casing?

When you coat the casing with nickel, the reloading will be smoother due to the lowered friction coefficient compared to brass. This means you get consistent feedings and extractions when you use these casings for semi-automatic weapons.

How can nickel plated brass be corrosion resistant?

This happens because the main feature of an electroless nickel-plated casing is that it naturally becomes resistant to corrosive mechanisms, such as galvanic corrosion, erosion and even a chemical attack.

How do you reload nickel plated brass?

It’s the same as brass, but you may experience sometimes observe that the nickel plated’s mouth will split quicker than brass.

Either way, even after multiple reloadings, you still will get a lot of life out of such casing type before they die on you. Your other advantage for using nickel-plated brass is that they return to their original sizing after shooting, so they’re easier to extract.


So there you have it: you now have a better overview and accurate comparison of what makes a nickel casing different from an original brass one.

As a summary, you also learned here the pros and cons of brass and nickel casings, why the nickel types are more commonly used in modern settings and which ones may be more appropriate for your needs.

So should you buy brass or nickel-plated ones? If you’re going for stockpiling ammos or buying in bulk for storage, then it makes sense to go for the anti-corrosion factor that nickel types give.

Overall, we can also conclude here that the choice of what casing to pick depends really on your goal, intention and personal preference. One thing’s for sure: whatever you choose, you now have this guide to tell you the difference between Nickel vs Brass.

How To Sort Brass For ReloadingThe Ultimate Quick Guide on How To Clean Reloading DiesThe Quick Rundown of How Many Times Can You Reload BrassHow To Clean Brass For ReloadingYour Ultimate Guide on What To Do With Empty Bullet Casings

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