This warning comes based on an increased volume of customer calls regarding feeding and ejection malfunctions of AR-15 style rifles. Further investigation of these situations came to prove that the vast majority of these malfunctions were based on ammunition, and not the firearm itself. Following is some of the information that have compiled based on this investigation.
Lacquer Coated Ammo
If you plan on using lacquer-coated ammo in your Olympic Arms AR-15, please be aware of the following. We have received many recent phone calls, as well as some rifles sent in for repair, complaining about reliability problems in their Oly Arms AR's. The first question usually asked is, "What ammunition are you using?" The answers to the question, as well as seeing the chambers of the rifles that were sent in are showing us that lacquer coated ammo is clogging the chambers badly.
What we are seeing is that once the chamber in the rifles gets hot, it is melting the lacquer off of the casings, and leaving a gelatinous goo in your chamber. Under continuous fire, this is usually not noticed, but once you stop, the barrel cools, the lacquer sets and you now cannot chamber and/or properly extract your ammunition. You will experience this in AR-15's much more frequently than other rifles such as the SKS and AK/MAC variants. In most cases the 7.62x39 rifles have chambers cut to the large end of the safety spectrum so that feeding and reliability is uncompromised by the type of ammunition or the consistency of the case dimensions. AR style rifles, and especially those from Oly Arms will have tighter chambers so that you can experience a greater level of accuracy that these rifles are capable of performing. Olympic chambers specifically are cut to 5.56 NATO specs via Clymer reamers in all button rifled barrels, and minimum SAAMI spec .223 Remington on all SUM Ultramatch barrels. Our rifles will provide superior accuracy, partly based on that fact.
Major brands of lacquer coated ammo we have seen are Wolf, most Russian ammo (even if it has the Remington head stamp), Norinco (or most Chinese) and most all former eastern block countries.
Our recommendations: DO NOT USE LACQUER COATED AMMO. Otherwise, be prepared for the consequences. Additionally, most lacquer-coated ammo utilizes steel cases instead of brass. BAD FOR YOUR CHAMBER.
The Consequences: Poor feeding, poor extraction, poor accuracy, and an impossible to clean chamber possibly resulting in a rifle that simply does not work.
Although Olympic Arms only warrants their firearms when used with new production brass cased US manufactured ammo, we would be remiss to think that the bulk of our customers do not use remanufactured, imported or reloaded ammo. We know that they will, and do. The reason that our warranty does not cover the use of this ammo is as much to protect you, as it is our product and our product. If you are using factory US new manufactured brass cased ammo, and something goes wrong and the rifle is damaged, the ammo manufacturer will usually take care of any repair costs. If not, and the damage can be proven to be the fault of the ammo, you have some sort of course of action you can take against that manufacturer to recover some or all of the expenses of the repairs. If you use foreign lacquer coated ammo as an example, you have NO options.
Is your rifle worth it?
I'll make this brief. For the reloader, Winchester brass is usually not the first pick. It's not mine. But until recently we have had no problems with Winchester ammunition. As of late however, we have been seeing a great many problems related to oversized brass and blowing primers. Please take this warning seriously. We have nothing against the Winchester company, as a matter of fact had used Winchester ammo for years as our official testing ammo, but there seems to be a large batch out there that simply does not work well.
Recommendation: Stay away from Winchester ammo, unless you are getting the really good match grade stuff, at least for now.
What ammo should I use?
We recommend that you use brass cased domestically produced new production ammo only. There are many manufactures and types of ammo that meet these specifications, so your options are large. But remember this, any autoloading rifle is only as good as the ammo and magazines you use in it. I will never understand why a person would spend $800- $1,000 on a new firearms, and then go out and buy a whole case of the cheapest garbage ammo he can find, and then complain because his rifle does not work properly when firing it. To me this is a bigger mystery than Bigfoot or the Bermuda Triangle. Use junk ammo, get junk results. Use quality ammo, get quality results.
Fine Print Warning!
We have all heard this before, but it applies here as well; always read the fine print. There are several well known manufacturers of ammunition that also sell ammo that is manufactured over-seas and then imported to the US. Additionally, most major manufacturers offer "less expensive" lines of ammunition bearing their factory names. I will not single out specific brands other than the Winchester which has caused many a problem, there's no getting around that.
The thing that these major brands have going for them is the name recognition. People see names they recognize, and they by the ammo with confidence thinking it is a good quality ammo. But the fact remains, that this is not always the case. CHECK THE FINE PRINT!
I have some ammo in my hand, sold under a major brand name label. I have 6 boxes of ammo, all from the same manufacturer, and they manufactured in 5 different foreign countries and imported back into the US. Italy, R.P. (Haven't figured this one out yet), RSA (Republic of South Africa), R.O. Korea, are all represented on this list.
Buy enough guns and sooner or later you'll run into some problems. This has always been a fact of firearm ownership; anything man-made is subject to flaws. So when that new pistol stovepipes, fails to feed or commits any of the other sins these type of firearms are capable of, the first reaction is often, "I got a lemon."
Fact is, the majority of new-gun woes are not due to manufacturing defects. So if your new auto is not living up to expectations, it's wise to check out a few things before calling the customer service rep. It could save you some time and expense.
Even if there's a real problem, informed customers can speed up things if they have already eliminated possible user errors the guy on the other end of the phone is sure to suspect. A word of advice: Don't get bent out of shape if the rep questions your shooting technique, ammo or general firearm aptitude. Considering roughly 70 percent of customer complaints are due to user error rather than factory defects, who can blame them?
No matter the make or design, the purchaser of a new autoloading handgun can make the honeymoon a more pleasant and trouble-free experience by following a few simple procedures. First and foremost, understand the design parameters of your gun. Some autos are designed strictly for self-defense, with accuracy a secondary concern. They're purposely built with somewhat loose tolerances to enhance reliability. Others, like many of today's 1911s, are intended for self-defense as well, but a high premium has also been placed on accuracy.
Good guns deserve good ammo. Premium loads with high-tech bullets are not required for practice, but even practice loads should be of high quality to ensure reliable functioning.
Some might even contend too much emphasis is placed on accuracy. Browning's original design called for loose tolerances and roundnose FMJ bullets, and as a result, they worked exceptionally well. But the gun and its ammo have evolved over the years. Many of today's production guns are built to closer tolerances--thanks to CNC machining--than hand-built match guns of bygone days, and still we expect them to gobble up any and all hollowpoint ammo we can find. Surprisingly, most do, when properly maintained, tuned and fired.
OK, so you've bought that new pistol, unpacked it and spent some time getting acquainted in your favorite easy chair. Now what? The first order of business is to fieldstrip it. The manual that came with the gun should tell you how. In fact, maybe what you should do first is read that manual from front to back. I know, it's not a manly endeavor, but it's an important one. Then clean the gun thoroughly with a good degreaser, and apply a quality lubricant. Guns are factory-shipped coated with a rust preventative. While this ensures your gun arrives rust-free, it may not guarantee smooth operation.
During initial cleaning, check over the gun carefully for defects, rough spots or burrs that may cause problems. Check the extractor. Make sure the lip is well shaped and smooth, and slide an empty case in place to test tension. The extractor should hold the case snugly against the breechface but not so tight it's hard to remove. Check the ramp for smoothness. On 1911s, place the barrel on the frame with the slide removed to see how well it meshes with the feeding ramp.
Don't panic if you find minor rough spots or tool marks. They're common. Unless the situation is hazardous, go ahead and reassemble the gun and head for the range. Carry along a couple hundred rounds of quality ammo, not some 1942-vintage lacquer-coated military surplus you got at the last gun show. Give the gun a fighting chance by using commercial ammo of recent manufacture.
Some will tell you that you need to try different loads until you find one that functions well in your handgun. I don't buy it. If your self-defense handgun will not function flawlessly with any quality load, do not bet your life on it. Note that some manufacturers clearly list certain guns as designed for hardball only. If these fail to feed hollowpoints, don't go crying to the manufacturer. Ask before you buy.
If your new handgun experiences a few bobbles on its maiden voyage, don't panic. You need to give it a reasonable break-in period for parts to mesh with each other. Two hundred to 300 rounds should work the kinks out of most guns, but tight-fitting models may require more. If you experience malfunctions during break-in, make note of each one and try to determine exactly what caused them.
For example, is the roundnose diving into the feed ramp or kicking up and hanging against the upper part of the chamber? Nose-diving may be due to a weak magazine spring while too tight an extractor could make the round kick up. Also note where empties are tossed. Erratic ejection is usually a sign of improper extractor tension.
A note of caution: One common ailment encountered on returned guns is a broken or damaged extractor due to the shooter dropping a round in the chamber and slamming the slide shut on it. Feed all rounds into the chamber from the magazine so the rim of the case slides up under the extractor as it was designed to do.
Feeding failures are often due to a faulty magazine. If you received two magazines with the gun, check to see if the jams are occurring with one and not the other. If only one magazine was included, get another one and try it. If you can determine the problem is definitely with the magazine, you'll save the expense and hassle of returning the gun.
A properly tensioned extractor should hold an empty case snugly against the breechface. Note the minor tool marks on the underside of the slide--nothing to worry about as long as contact surfaces are smooth.
There is one other very common problem, particularly with 1911s. It's often called "limp-wristing," whereby the shooter does not lock his wrist and the gun malfunctions because the frame is keeping pace with the slide under recoil, thus not allowing cartridges to eject and chamber properly. This often results in stovepipe jams where the empty case is caught in the slide, preventing it from closing on the next round. Have another shooter try the gun. If it works for him, you may need to tune up your shooting technique. Experimenting with different-weight recoil springs might also help.
If you have tried all of the above and the gun is still jamming, it's time to call the manufacturer. This contact with customer service will go much more smoothly if you remain calm and polite. Tirades about how disappointed you are will serve no purpose. Present yourself as a knowledgeable shooter and explain the steps you went through to check out the gun. Since you have already eliminated any possible user errors, you'll likely be asked to return the gun to the factory.
It's now required that all handguns be shipped by overnight delivery. Pack the gun securely, and include a detailed but concise letter outlining how you have gone through the aforementioned checks to ensure the problem is indeed with the gun and not the user. Be specific about how the gun is malfunctioning. Also note the ammo you have tried in the gun. Include complete contact info, even an e-mail address if you have one, and ask that you be notified when the gun has been examined.
Hopefully, you will never encounter the problems discussed here. If you do, following the procedures outlined should make the situation less frustrating.
PROBLEM: You have your AR15, bought some ammo and went to the range. Your are excited about a chance to shoot your rifle and test some cheap new ammo. You shoot and find that a piece of brass is stuck in the chamber. You can not pull the bolt back with the charging handle. The round is STUCK. What can you do and why did it happen.
FIX: To get the casing out, you need a rubber or non-marring mallet, so that you can lightly rap the charging handle to remove the casing. Make sure you have the charging handle release button set to release the charging handle when you start tapping!
SOLUTION: Chances are the ammo is not made in the US. It is likely that it is steel case with a lacquer coating on it.
Do you lubricate your chamber with high quality oil? Remington's Rem Oil, Tetra's Gun Oil are but a few of the high quality special lubricants that you can use to reduce friction. Use of high quality oil throughout your gun will reduce wear and problems. Never use your gun when it is dry. Always oil new guns.
In the case of the lacquered ammo, as the chamber heated up, some of the lacquer melted and made the chamber into a sticky gooey mess. Eventually problems will occur. The empty brass or steel casing might start not fully ejecting or it might get stuck in the chamber. Clean the chamber VERY well and make sure all lacquer has been removed. Acetone, a liquid can be used sparingly in the chamber will melt most lacquers used for ammunition. You can get it at any good hardware store.
Acetone has a low ignition temperature and will evaporate quickly. Use outside in a ventilated area. Acetone will also 'dissolve' many plastics. Use with care and only on the parts you are trying to clean up. Q-tips can be useful for this.
For the long term, do not use ammunition that is coated with lacquer.
If you are using ammunition that is not coated with lacquer and you are having problems with extraction, it is likely that it is slightly too large, the chamber is tight or a combination of both.
Chamber and ammunition are created according to SAAMI specifications. SAAMI was created by the government years ago to provide a standards organization for the firearms industry. They provide a standard tolerance "range" that companies are to use in their manufacturing.
The tolerance "range" can cause problems. If an ammunition manufacturer tends to make ammunition that is on the large side of the tolerance range and the chamber manufacturer creates chambers that are on the smaller of the tolerance range, ammunition can get stuck in the chamber. Most American manufacturers create ammunition that is in the average middle of the tolerance range, which makes it cause few if any problems.
Why make a tight chamber? It is a known fact that tighter chambers provide for better accuracy. Olympic is one of the few manufacturers that makes their rifles for better accuracy using tighter chambers.
Know your ammunition and know your chamber. If you pay attention to this small tip, you will have a great time on the range!
shot 500 through my brothers AR a few weeks ago. Zero FTF or FTE's
Admittedly SKS's & AK's are better suited to the stuff.
There’s always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!
I've always been picky this way. My .223 Bushpup has never tasted steel-cased ammo or the laquer-coated stuff - and never will. Like the man said - a quality gun deserves quality ammo. Even many milsurp types simply don't give the accuracy I like.
When I buy bullets for reloading, I'll usually buy the good name-brand stuff. I really prefer Nosler for my .45ACP.
Again, I avoid the cheapo stuff.
The Mosins get the steel-cased and laquer stuff, though I still prefer the copper-washed when I can get it.
Even in .22 rimfires, I pay for the better stuff. Cheapo ammo often gives cheapo results!
Yes, the steel cases are not ordnance alloy. They are a fairly soft alloy (otherwise they wouldn't fireform at all). I am not sure they fireform well, though. They are certainly harder than brass.
The real culprit is the lacquer in a firearm with a combination of relatively tight tolerances, relatively high pressure, and relatively high heat. I am qualifying everything, because all firearms generate heat, pressure, etc. The former Warsaw Pact arms do not have exceptionally tight tolerances. This is not because they are "cheap guns;" this is because they were designed to use ammo of this type. You might as well use Russian commerical ammo and S&B (their 7.62x39 is steel/lacquer) in these guns. I do.
9mm and lacquer are a bad combination from what I have seen. The extractors break, not because the steel is so hard that they can't take it. They break because the chamber gums up with lacquer (which is not always visible to the naked eye), and the steel alloy is harder than brass. Silver Bear ought to have a lot fewer problems.
I have limited my comments to 9mm, because I have seen many problems with Wolf 9mm. I won't comment on other cartridges, but use your own judgement. With 9mm so cheap, why hassle with this stuff? At the very least, your "savings" is going to go to more cleaning supplies.
and what does the mythical beast have to do with lacquered ammo???
"I will never understand why a person would spend $800- $1,000 on a new firearms, and then go out and buy a whole case of the cheapest garbage ammo he can find, and then complain because his rifle does not work properly when firing it. To me this is a bigger mystery than Bigfoot or the Bermuda Triangle. <- that was part of the original post.
I just wanted to point out that bigfoot is not a mystery just a really large seldom seen ape.
Mythical is a word to use for unicorns and fairies. Bigfoot is more like a legend.
remember that until the mid 40's gorillas were myth too. Also people lived side by side with orangutans on sumatra for 2200 years, every once and awhile, someone would come in from the forest and say they saw large hairy men. They would usually be stoned out of town.
there are three important things to know about me and sasquatches:
1) we are not related
2) I believe sasquatches are real
3) If I shoot "a man in a monkey suit" in the forest, he deserved it for wearing a monkey suit in the forest.
And I have no doubt that 5 or 6 7.62x39 bi-metal, steel core, steel case, berdan primed, laquer coated, hollow points from wolf will handle all but the oldest and mightiest sasquatches.
Having lacquer coated steel cases is not the problem. The problem is the excessive amount of primer and bullet sealer applied to pre 2004 mfg. Wolf 223 ammo. When used in the non chrome lined, non military specification chambers of off brand AR-15 rifles the sealer melts in the hot chamber. Due to the excessive amount of sealer used the surface area of the case covered by the sealer is 100's of times more than the amount of sealer used on military spec ammo. The melted sealer becomes sticky and creates way more resistance to exstraction than the AR-15 was designed to provide. In the pic is Wolf ammo with 55 and 62 grain bullets. Note the arrows are pointing to where the excessvie amount of sealer has run down onto the cases during mfg.