After 50 Years, The Army And Marine Corps Are Closing In On Dumping Brass-Cased Ammo

BY Herschel Smith
1 month, 3 weeks ago

Wheee … big news for the DoD.

After more than 50 years of failed attempts, the U.S. military may be on the verge of ending its love affair with brass-cased ammunition, something that predates the Spanish-American War.

Advancements in body armor, communications equipment and other tactical gear have weighed down U.S. combat troops in the Army and Marine Corps, pushing individual loads well past 100 pounds and degrading service members’ physical performance, U.S. military studies have shown.

Both services have launched multiple efforts to lighten the weapons and equipment grunts carried while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, but ammunition weight has always been an Achilles’ heel for these efforts.

Oh bull.

We suit these guys up in 30+ pounds of body armor with Kevlar and SAPI plates, and then add cameras, comms equipment, helmets, etc., etc., etc., and then spend millions of dollars to design polymer case ammo as a solution?

My reaction is good!  That will relieve the pressure on the civilian market and [hopefully] the costs of real ammunition.  That’s more for me for less.


  1. On April 8, 2020 at 7:46 am, Mark Matis said:

    Wanna bet that instead the manufacturers will stop MAKING brass-cased ammo? Or be FORCED to do so???

  2. On April 8, 2020 at 9:34 am, Arthur Sido said:

    If you are going to fill the military with women and limp wristed trannies, better lighten the load.

  3. On April 8, 2020 at 9:42 am, Thomas Madere said:

    Economy of scale, a proportionate saving in costs gained by an increased level of production.
    Once the military is no longer buying large quantities of brass case expect the price to increase.

  4. On April 8, 2020 at 10:01 am, X said:

    IF this comes to fruition, it will be VERY bad for the civilian shooter and reloader. Manufacturers keep ammo affordable by producing billions of rounds for the military. Federal was blowing M8955 green-tip overruns out the door for $.25 a round after the rebate last fall. (Federal still produces billions of rounds of M193 almost exclusively for the civilian AR-15 market; the military has not issued it since the 1980s). The most popular sporting cartridges have been always been developed by the military: .30-06, .308, .223/5.56, .45, 9mm.

    The government has historically sold surplus lots of ammo for dirt cheap, and in some instances actually given them away for free: 45-70, .30 carbine, .30-40 Krag.

    This is direct contrast to Europeans, who have historically used Berdan primed cases and lacquered steel which is not reloadable. You cannot simply order a couple thousand rounds of milsurp bulk ammo and have it delivered to your door in Europe like you can here.

    If you pay close attention to the gun control people, you are starting to see that in recent years, they have begun to focus on ammunition control. NY and CA have already placed limits on shipping and purchasing ammo. Recall that the Obama administration attempted to outlaw M855 green tip, and attempted to prohibit the sale of surplus brass to the civilian market. That filed, but you can bet that at some time in the future a Democratic administration will succeed in implementing those policies, and much worse. The Left has figured out that ammo is an expendable commodity, and without it that gun under your bed is useless. Which is exactly what they want.

  5. On April 8, 2020 at 10:07 am, J J said:

    What “X” said. It’s a gun controllers wet dream to achieve their goal through the ammunition.

  6. On April 8, 2020 at 10:13 am, Fred said:

    Just start calling ceramic bullet casings Ghost Bullets and 3D Printed Bullets. That should do it. Heh!

  7. On April 8, 2020 at 1:35 pm, Bram said:

    Agree with all after “bull”. I had radios with steel cases – about the size and weight of a cinder block.

    The only thing I didn’t complain about being too heavy was my rifle and ammo. I transferred to a unit going to the Gulf War in 1990 – as they were issuing me equipment at the last minute, I requested an M-14 since we would be in open desert. The armorer would have issued me one if some old Vietnam vet NCOs had not already drawn them.

  8. On April 9, 2020 at 12:06 am, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ J.J.

    Re: “What “X” said. It’s a gun controllers wet dream to achieve their goal through the ammunition.”

    Yes, that’s got to be part of this development. The firearms press have been covering stories of ammunition R&D breakthroughs for the last couple of years,suggesting that something like this was in the pipeline.

    Caseless ammunition has been discussed for years, but the technical hurdles to that are more-complex and expensive to overcome than originally thought, so the focus lately has shifted to polymer-cased ammunition instead. As the story shows, it is now a reality.

    While in some ways this development is bad news for the liberty/firearms movement, the news isn’t all bad where attempts to control ammunition are concerned.

    The technology for manufacturing brass-cased smokeless powder metallic rifle cartridges dates to 1886, when France released its then-revolutionary 8x50mm rimmed Lebel rifle cartridge, the first smokeless powder cartridge adopted by a major nation. Experiments with various metallic cartridges for pistol and rifle go back perhaps half a century or more before that, depending on where you draw the line.

    The point being that this is a mature technology and the knowledge and technical expertise necessary to manufacture brass-cased pistol and rifle ammunition is both well-developed and widely-distributed. The would-be gun-banners aren’t going to close that particular Pandora’s Box anytime soon.

    If the U.S. shuts down production of brass cased ammo, that will do wonders for the profit margins of foreign firms still in the business, given the millions upon millions of people who own traditional pattern firearms, both in the U.S. and around the world. And any black market in such ammo would make the Prohibition Era and the smuggling of alcoholic beverages look like child’s play.

    Second, there are already uncounted billions of rounds of brass-cased ammo already in circulation and in the marketplace, whether legal or not. In order for the switch to polymer ammo to have any bite, vis-a-vis civilian owners of traditional firearms utilizing brass-cased cartridges, the authorities would somehow have to vacuum up all of it. That’s a Herculean task, to say the least.

    Although it isn’t recommended for routine use for obvious reasons, brass ammunition cases can be manufactured by expedient low-tech means. Nor do the cases always have to be brass, or an alloy of it. Steel, tin, and various other metals can sometimes be used.

    For a time during the Japanese occupation of World War Two, U.S.-Filipino guerillas behind enemy lines on the island of Mindanao made rifle cases out of old curtain rods. And that was using 1940s technology under relatively primitive conditions; imagine what enterprising craftsmen could do today using 3D-printing, and all of the other sophisticated tools available.

    As the saying goes, can’t stop the signal….

    Getting back to polymer cases and the like, it has long-irked the statist denizens of the beltway that the great unwashed out in flyover land have been able to acquire firearms and other weapons training while serving in the armed forces. Training that went home with them after their military obligations were through.

    Most folks of a traditional cast of mind are probably asking themselves along about now what is wrong with people having military experience. Why should our would-be rulers fear such a thing? The answer to that question is the Battle of Athens of 1946. Not Athens, Greece; Athens, Tennessee – where outraged WWII veterans rose up against a corrupt local government after a stolen election, and drove the crooks out of power.

  9. On April 11, 2020 at 9:21 am, Todd said:

    Back in the 80’s our basic load weighed 80+ lbs – we tested because damn, we fell to the ground fast under chute with full loads). I was an rto, so add another 30 lbs. then add the extra ammo (because 210 ain’t enough) and spread out the 60 gunner belted ammo across the hq element – and this was before we were issued body armor- other than flak jackets. The army is seriously f’d up

  10. On April 11, 2020 at 1:11 pm, Tim said:

    I agree that the civilian market will suffer if this goes through. Looking through any Gun publication, the ads are mostly products developed for civilian market and adapted or viceversa: MAGPUL being a prime example. Looking at old war photo’s of troops marching across France orisland hopping in the pacific, they were not loaded down with a bunch of gear like our modern warriors are. Armor is a great idea. On my last deplyment (2014) I ended up dorking up an ankle-not bad enough to get sent home but the mandatory wearing of armor to/from work did alot to keep that ankle from getting better. I ended up configuring my Tactical Tailor LBE to wear under my armor with a single mag pouch on vest for emergency use. If I got to a point where I felt I needed to trade protection for speed I could ditch the vest without losing all my crap and hobble away at top-like speed. Maybe the Army and Marines need to think about what they really need to have on hand. After all they’ve been fighting goatherders for nearly twenty years who carry little beyond their AK and a chest rig of mags, and they got us to the negotiating table last year, right or wrong. Something to think about.

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You are currently reading "After 50 Years, The Army And Marine Corps Are Closing In On Dumping Brass-Cased Ammo", entry #23892 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Ammunition and was published April 7th, 2020 by Herschel Smith.

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