Lightweight cartridge case

Use of polymer and stainless steel offers weight savings and corrosion mitigating advantages

Materials Military Technology

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Lightweight cartridge: Steel body 100, a steel sleeve 110 terminating in a mouth end 112 and a base end 114. The mouth end attaches a projectile (not shown) to the body. The space 116 stores gunpowder. Joined to the base end of the steel sleeve is a steel base 120. At least partially within the base of the steel body is a fiber reinforced polymer composite annulus 140. Within the annulus is a primer 150.

A scientist at the Army Research Laboratory has recently engineered a lightweight cartridge case. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

Small caliber ammunition cartridge cases typically consist of brass that has been formed through a series of cold working and annealing steps. This process results in a graded microstructure that produces higher hardness and strength near the base of the cartridge and a graded hardness and strength along the length of the sleeve sidewalls. The base of the cartridge is substantially thicker than the remainder of the cartridge, as it serves to hold the primer in place, as well as allow for the extraction of the cartridge case from the weapon after firing. Thus the base area possesses the highest mass of the entire cartridge. Weight savings of the ammunition can be obtained by substituting steel for brass. However, to achieve larger reductions in weight for the ammunition, additional changes are needed.

Those changes are embodied in the patent at hand. The novel ammunition cartridge case includes a stainless steel sleeve and base and a fiber reinforced polymer composite annulus within the base. The fiber reinforced polymer composite annulus is dimensioned such that it can be placed securely within the central aperture of the steel base and has a center aperture wherein a primer can be located. The material offers weight savings enabling a person to carry more ammunition per weight unit as well as providing corrosion resistance over current materials.

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