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Is Reloading 223 Worth It?

Filed in Ammo, Articles, Shooting by on July 3, 2011 0 Comments • views: 1559

The answer is: Yes.

When you are reloading you can produce top quality ammo for less than the cost of the cheapest off-the-shelf ammo. But only barely cheaper.

A quick check of this writing reveals that I can get Wolf polymer-coated steel cased 223 55bg ammo for about $260 per thousand plus shipping. that’s about $90 per thousand more than my cost to reload. With shipping let’s say the difference is $140.

First lets talk about steel-cased ammo: Steel-cased ammo will cause your gun to be dirtier.  When a brass-cased round fires, the case expands to form a tight seal between the base and the chamber.  Steel-cased ammo does not expand as much, the seal isn’t tight, and some of the dirty carbon-filled gases blowback into the chamber.

It’s probably not a good idea to fire a bunch of steel-cased ammo and then switch to brass without first cleaning the gun. The extra carbon in the chamber will cause the brass-cased to be more likely to get stuck in the chamber as it DOES expand.

For those with HK and HK clone rifles with fluted chambers this is probably not an issue. They are designed to have some of the gases blow back through the chamber.

There have been stories about the adverse affects of using the older lacquer-coated steel cases because the lacquer can come off  the case and stick in the chamber.  I have no experience with this myself, I’m only repeating what I’ve been told.

All of the .223 Wolf ammo being produced today uses a polymer coating and everyone seems to agree that it is trouble free.

And no, you cannot reload the steel cases. For one thing, they are Berdan-prmed and not boxer primed.

Some other considerations:

  • It will not be as accurate nor as consistent as your reloads.
  • The chronograph results I’ve seen reveal that it is slightly under-powered. Expect 2700-2900 fps with Wolf.
  • Some guns will not reliably feed Wolf, due to a combination of factors.


  • I probably would not run Wolf ammo through my prized, highest-quality weapons.
  • I wouldn’t using it for target matches or other situations where accuracy counts.
  • I probably wouldn’t use it for varmint hunting.

Conversely, if your gun has no problems with it and you’re just going out with your buddies to kill some cans then why not? Buy a couple hundred rounds as a test and see what happens.

Me? I may keep a thousand rounds of it packed away for SHTF situations.  I do however enjoy the reloading process. I also know that I am producing high-quality near-match-grade ammo that has been tuned to my gun. My normal daily shooting rounds will always be reloads.

Here is a great article about steel-cased ammo

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