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Old 07-12-2013, 07:10 AM   #1
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Geco Swiss ammo

I've used Geco Ammo in both 9mm and .45 ACP, and find it to be very high quality. Geco is made by the European conglomerate RUAG, which also makes RWS. I've read that the RWS bullets contain steel, but the Geco ammo I've shot so far, does not (I've confirmed this by doing the 'magnet test').

I recently received an order of 9mm ammo of Geco however, and it appears to contain steel (it's highly magnetic). I wrote to the merchant (who responded to me very promptly!), and told me that the bullet was a Tombac metal. The packaging contains a lead warning, so my guess is that the bullet also contains lead. My concern was two-fold: 1) if the bullet contains steel, the bullet will spark when it hits the backstop of my indoor range (I only shoot indoors); 2) it will do damage to my barrel. I was assured by the merchant that the bullets were designed for use by the Swiss military, and were specifically designed to *NOT* do damage to handgun barrels.

Can anyone enlighten me? As I said earlier, I've used Geco quite a bit, and find it to be very high quality, very accurate, and very clean firing. The Geco I've used in the past is even certified for use by IPSC, which adds a degree of bona fides (IMO). The Geco ammo I've shot up to now was manufactured in Hungary, whereas this ammo is manufactured in Switzerland.

My question is: is anyone familiar with Tombac? And, has anyone used this ammo? A wiki search indicates that Tombac is a brass/copper alloy, and is generally a softer metal. Softer is better, true, but if the bullet is magnetic, it must still contain steel...right?

regards
Jim, VA
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Old 07-12-2013, 12:09 PM   #2
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I have a few hundred rounds of the same ammo you purchased, and like you, I found the bullet is attracted to a magnet. Actually, I was shooting at the indoor range I belong to, and the range officer noticed my handgun rounds were sparking against the backstop. We then tested them with the magnet and discovered they contained steel.

Too bad, as they are accurate, inexpensive (at the time) and I have quite a lot of them. I now shoot them outdoors at the local rifle/handgun range.
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Old 07-12-2013, 12:45 PM   #3
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Thanks for the heads up. The indoor range I go to checks all ammo being used with a magnet as magnetic is a no-go.

Tombac - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"gilding metal is a type of tombak which is one of the most common jacketing materials for full metal jacket and jacketed hollow point bullets."

There is no mention of steel but obviously some alloy in the rounds is magnetic. Further research finds that nickel alloy is used in certain applications too.

Anybody know if the .223 is magnetic?

Respectfully
Oldster

Last edited by Oldster; 07-12-2013 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 07-12-2013, 01:10 PM   #4
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A couple of things:

Firstly, even though a particular bullet may have some magnetic attraction doesn't mean it has a 'steel core'. It does mean that it contains some ferrous material - Iron (Fe). That material may be an actual piece of iron or steel. This is unlikely today although the Germans used steel cores during WWII due to a shortage of lead. Reportedly, some Warsaw Pact countries used steel cores (not to be confused with steel cartridge cases) as well during the Cold War. Alternately, it may mean that the core contains some amount of compressed, powdered (or granulated) ferrous material which may or may not be mixed with other (non-ferrous) material.

Secondly, it is highly unlikely that there is any steel or iron in the jacket of the projectile - the actual bullet. I will emphasise "highly unlikely", and add it is beyond consideration. That said shooting these bullets through your gun won't damage the barrel

Consider the logic here. Let's assume you are Geco, a company that has been making ammunition and selling to profitably for literally decades. Are you going to make ammunition that will cause excessive wear in the very guns its shot through and try to sell it to the people be they a military, a government, a civilian) who own those guns? Are you going to make something that no one wants to use, and therefore something you can't sell to make that profit that keeps you in business?

Get a bullet puller, take the bullet out of the cartridge case, and dump the powder on your flowers and water it in (good fertilizer for roses). That done, put the bullet in a vise and cut it in half with a hacksaw. Then you can see the core and the jacket in cross-section and see exactly what is what. If you want, you can Dremel out all of the core material, or otherwise seperate core and jacket (so that no core material remains on it) and do the magnet test on jacket.

You can also see if the cartridge case contains any ferrous material at the same time. Again, that is unlikely for any German, Swiss, or Austrian post-WWII ammunition.
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:26 PM   #5
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Oldster -
I never heard the term Tombac before, but I can tell you that the guilding metal that Winchester uses is 95/5 Cu/Zn. Any ferrous metal would be only trace amounts.
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:28 PM   #6
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Below is a response I received from Weapon's World about the .223, I did not ask about the 9mm, but did ask another vendor. I have not received a reply on the 9mm yet.
----
Dxxxx

The Swiss Geco .223 is non-magnetic. We verified this when it was received.
Order with confidence!

Thank you,
Marc
Sales Support
WeaponsWorld.com
----

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Old 07-12-2013, 03:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plaidad View Post
Oldster -
I never heard the term Tombac before, but I can tell you that the guilding metal that Winchester uses is 95/5 Cu/Zn. Any ferrous metal would be only trace amounts.
Yes, from what I'm finding, if there is steel or other ferrous metals, it must be scant amounts. (My range is emphatic about the magnet bit. The little lady runs her magnet over every box/ammo bag).

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Last edited by Oldster; 07-12-2013 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 07-13-2013, 05:30 PM   #8
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Years ago that ammo was the favorite for the little Scorpion machine pistol then it was a steel core bullet and was a silver color. We sold hundreds of rounds or the 9mm and 380 ammo at the old gun store I worked at due to the silver bullets, there was a certain group of swamp rats that came in and just wouldn't buy any thing else but the "werewolf bullets", didn't hurt either that they had a sealed primer with red laquer
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Old 07-14-2013, 12:26 PM   #9
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It is possible to alloy copper with iron - Winchester's former parent company, Olin Corp. developed an alloy of copper and iron back in the '70s. I'm not aware of it ever being used for bullet jackets.
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