Are Aluminum Bullets Bad?

Finding food to feed your Blasters has proven difficult this last year. Plenty of events can be blamed for it. But regardless of which event you think is responsible, we are officially living in the post-2020 world.

Prices have gone up across the board in all things firearms-related. Resources are difficult to come by, and manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand. The situation has gotten so serious that CEO’s of large and historic ammo companies have jumped in front of cameras to calm the panic. Even the heads of Hornady and Federal published a YouTube statement to debrief and encourage their bullet-loving American buyers.

All this begs the question: Is there a faster, less expensive, better way to make ammo?

For some shooters, brass-cased ammo is the only food for their firearms. For others, steel-cased bullets or aluminum bullets are great alternatives. (To be clear, when we say aluminum bullets, we do mean aluminum-cased ammunition.)

If you ask around the shooting community, you’ll find that some shooters don't want their guns to even make eye contact with aluminum bullets for fear they will be associated with some low-level model Taurus or KelTec. But are aluminum bullets that bad?

There are currently two companies producing aluminum-cased ammo: CCI’s Blazer line and Federal Premium Ammunitions. Both of these companies are held in high regard and would not risk their reputation for an untested and unproven product. The reality is, aluminum bullets are neither untested nor unproven.

In fact, the US military has been using aluminum casing for years in their ammo on the Abrams Tanks and the renowned A-10 Warthog plane. The main reasons aluminum-cased ammo is used is because it's 1) lightweight and 2) less expensive to produce. These features are significant when you’re talking about 120mm shells for Abrams tanks. Or take the A-10 Warthog. Ammo price and weight are crucial factors for a plane that fires 65 30mm rounds a second - or 3,900 rounds per minute - out of a gatling-style autocannon. (That’s enough to slow the speed of the plane down because it's firing so fast.)

For normies like us with our MSR’s (Modern Sporting Rifles) and pistol collections, aluminum bullets can also be helpful. You’re looking at around a 30% savings on ammo when you go with aluminum bullets vs. brass-cased bullets. As far as the weight goes: yes, it's lighter, but we’re only talking about 15 rounds in a pistol magazine and about .01lb savings in weight - not a big enough difference to be a deal-breaker.

So the downside of aluminum bullets? Well, you’re looking at two key points: The first one is that aluminum has a lower melting point, meaning that it heats up faster. If this happens in your firearm, the aluminum casing will expand in the barrel chamber and can get stuck. This can cause a failure to eject the casing and create a malfunction called a “double feed.”

The second downside of aluminum bullets is the fact that you’re not supposed to reload them. Aluminum is light and less expensive, but the material is not as malleable as brass. There are some cavaliers out there who say you can reload an aluminum casing once, but at that point you’re dancing with the devil. For all practical and safe use purposes, aluminum bullets are a one-time, one-use round.

Would aluminum bullets, therefore, be a good round for self-defense purposes? No. Hollow-point ammo with brass or nickel-plated brass casings are designed better and are more reliable for that use. You don’t want to take chances when people's lives are on the line.

With all that said, if you want to get some shooting range time in, aluminum bullets are a great way to go. You’ll get to shoot at a lower cost, and may even get the chance to solve some real-world firearm malfunctions. Solving these mishaps at the range will better prepare you for the moments when they really count.

So now you’re officially informed. If you can get your hands on some aluminium bullets in 2021, and they’re a good fit for your target-practice needs, your wallet - and your trigger finger - will thank you.

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