Lucky Gunner torture tested four AR-15s with 10,000 rounds each of four different loads to assess how the ammunition worked.  The guns were treated the same to control for as many variables as possible.

What they found was scary.

The Federal, brass cased ammunition had zero malfunctions and after 10,000 rounds, the rifle was still shooting good groups.  That’s good.

Contrast that with Brown Bear ammo  Brown Bear also had 9 malfunctions, but notably, after 5200  or so rounds, they had a series of short-stroking failures that were found to be caused by carbon build-up that almost entirely occluded the gas key and gun tube.  Also, in just 6000 rounds, the Brown Bear ammunition had completely shot out the barrel, eroding the lands to the grooves.  There were also lots of stuck cases at around 8,000 rounds.

The Wolf ammunition also completely shot out the barrel after 6,000 rounds and there were numerous stuck cases.

The Tula ammunition had problems after just 200 rounds and they switched to a different rifle with a larger gas port.

For the summary, watch this video.



If you’re serious about finding and using the best ammunition out there, or want to make sure you’re using the right stuff when the zombies come out, read the entire article here.


3 thoughts on “Lucky Gunner Torture Test: 5.56 ammo Steel does erode your barrel!”
  1. Perhaps one of the lessons of torture tests is that if we need/expect reliability in our systems in ‘real life’, we must NOT torture them. I would like to know what of the observed malfunctions could have been avoided / prevented with routine cleaning and what, if any, are inherent in the steel-cased ammo. I haven’t yet read entire article. Were the Ruskie projectiles plated steel, or conventional gilding metal jacketed. If steel,then the tests really do show a higher wear/erosion rate! Good to know. Also, to keep in perspective, 5000-6000 rounds, while inferior performance vis a vis the brass cases, still constitutes a lot of perforated zombies before burnout. A lot to be said for deliberate, accurate, shooting – versus many rapid and promiscuous firings… Good post.

  2. I don’t dare to check current ammo prices. However, back in December of 2012 the price difference between the Russian stuff and cheap domestic brass cased 5.56×45 ammo was about $200 per 1k rounds. Assuming the barrel has an expected lifespan of 6k rounds with steel-cased ammunition, one does save ~$1,200 in ammunition costs. $1200 used to buy a nice AR – replacement barrels were considerably cheaper.

    1. Matt M: “replacement barrels were considerably cheaper.”

      Yeah, the operative word being “were”, now they are all sold out or going for a lot more on GunBroker. I used to shoot cheap commie ammo, now I wouldn’t unless I had an extra, beater gun to use it with.

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