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Old 05-03-2018, 07:05 AM
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Default Cleaning casings

How often should casings be cleaned prior to reloading? Is this a step that should always be taken or is it more for clean looking reloads? I'm thinking that one benefit of doing it is that it will help keep your reloading equipment cleaner.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:17 AM
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I clean them after every use in a dry mix of walnut and corncob expressly for the reason you stated, so as not to muck up the inside of my dies.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:17 AM
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Default Clean Brass

Bottle-necked rifle cases are much easier to full-length resize if the cases are cleaned prior to sizing.

I clean my handgun cases to insure that no grit is present that might scratch the die. All brass is easy to clean by soaking in very hot water using liquid dishwashing detergent (the kind used in dishwashers), mixed with Lemishine, another dishwashing product. Then, allow the brass to thoroughly air dry. If in a hurry, you may bake them. You may also tumble the brass.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:17 AM
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I started reloading in the late 1980's. For several years, I merely wiped the brass off with a rag, and loaded. I used carbide dies, and never had a problem.

Keep in mind, this was handgun only.

Then, I started washing the brass first - hot water and dish soap. Rinse, set out in the sun to dry, reload.

After a few years, I traded into a lot, which included a vibratory tumbler. I've been using it ever since. I still wash the brass first, it gets off the majority of the oogies, and helps the tumbler media last longer.

So, my answer to your question is - as often as you feel is necessary.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:47 AM
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Wet media rotary tumbling produces the best result.
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Old 05-03-2018, 08:40 AM
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Started using SS pins and tumbling about three years ago - never looked back since. Cases are clean, saves wear on the dies, helps to be able to pick out defects in the brass.

Yes - it does add an extra step, yes - it does take more time but - - - - I have the time and like working with factory new looking brass.
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Old 05-03-2018, 08:40 AM
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Why clean the cases? The only reason we HAVE to clean cases, is to remove dirt and abrasive matter and any corrosive chemicals from old primers or Black Powder. The "dark" powder fouling from even the dirtiest smokeless powder is actually carbon, which is a dry lubricant.

The disadvantage to "Super Brand New" cleaning, like Wet Stainless Pins and Sonic is the inside is so clean, it can stick to a progressive press's powder funnel!

Personally, I like the super shiny brass, It is easier to find on the ground!

Ivan
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Old 05-03-2018, 09:55 AM
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I always clean the brass before reloading.
Crushed walnut hulls and about a 1/3 to 1/2 of a shot glass of 50/50 mix of Nu-Finish car wax and odorless mineral spirits in the vibrator for a couple hours. Makes the brass nice and pretty..

Plus it makes it easier for my old eyes to pick out defective brass, read headstamps,, etc.

A buddy uses a little cement mixer he purchased from Harbor Frieght. A little noisy but it does a nice job and you can do a bucket of brass at a time..

Last edited by old&slow; 05-03-2018 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 05-03-2018, 10:11 AM
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The only time I have ever cleaned brass was when I was given a bag full of range brass . I have been reloading for many a year shooting mostly revolvers and have yet to really clean my brass . Just a quick wipe down before resizing , sometimes . Regards, Paul
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Old 05-03-2018, 10:27 AM
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Clean brass loads easier, won't scratch your loading dies, won't get dirty looks by other shooters. I wouldn't think of putting dirty brass in a loading die.
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Old 05-03-2018, 10:32 AM
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The only time I'm touching dirty brass is when I pick it up, after that it goes through sorting plates and wet tumble before any further processing.
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Old 05-03-2018, 11:25 AM
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In order to save my pistol brass out of my 9mm auto, I have to
shoot outdoors and pick my cases up from the desert floor.

So this brass needs a cleaning when it gets home.

My revolver and rifle bolt actions just get a wipe down and a cleaner..........
if real dirty, they will get the walnut rub down.

Even brass that does not hit the ground is dirty.....
Just depends on what you think is needed for you next loading adventure.
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Old 05-03-2018, 11:51 AM
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I've had the same issues with stainless pinned brass as Ivan the Butcher (post #7). They look great but they can be a real bear when the neck is flared on my Turret press.
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Old 05-03-2018, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shark Bait View Post
How often should casings be cleaned prior to reloading? Is this a step that should always be taken or is it more for clean looking reloads? I'm thinking that one benefit of doing it is that it will help keep your reloading equipment cleaner.
I'd expect your cases pick up sand the way mine do out here in the high desert (much different from when I'd shoot back at the range in Indiana in the Eighties), so I would agree with you that cleaning is beneficial to your reloading equipment's continued health.

I tumble my cases in a bunch of rice - rice dust gets on them and seems to "slicken them up" some, but the grit is gone. Every so often (depending on how dirty they're getting with my loading and range conditions) I'll chunk a bunch of particularly grimy cases into a large laundry soap jug (there's always a bit of soap left in there), fill it with water and agitate the heck out of it. Then I'll rinse the cases in a bucket and leave them to dry on newspaper on my driveway pad under our arc lamp New Mexico sun - they're always dry in an hour, and they look great.
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Old 05-03-2018, 12:43 PM
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As noted, it is about NOT putting grit into your reloading dies. Cases just need to be clean though, factory shiny new is a bonus, curse at times. For years I just rolled my empties in a damp towel. I only loaded 100rds of 357mag a week. Then I went to a dry tumbler, just easy & if you add a polish, it leaves a thin coating that helps in sizing. Wet cleaning is fine, but IMO< they are too clean & really make things more diff during reloading & powder charging on a progressive.
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Old 05-03-2018, 12:59 PM
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I gave up on shiny brass long ago. Just get the grit and crud off them now. I always clean before reloading. But then if I forget the tumbler is running in the garage overnight...
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Old 05-03-2018, 01:26 PM
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I handloaded for decades without ever cleaning brass. Never had a problem.

A while back I picked up a wet tumbler. I confess I do like the look of shiny, fresh ammo. But as far as I'm concerned it's purely cosmetic.

The last thing I'd want a potential new reloader to think is that a brass cleaning system is a requirement for handloading. It's not.
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Old 05-03-2018, 01:43 PM
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After tumbling with ss pins and after drying, I run my cases theu corn cob with nu finish polish; it keeps them from tarnishing and sticking in the dies
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Old 05-03-2018, 02:39 PM
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I've only reloaded Shotshell to date... haven't even purchased a reloader for pistol/rifle yet but I have started to clean my brass. It's mostly what I've been able to save the last few years from myself and friends. This is good information for me. So thank you. I've been depriming my brass and using an RCBS UltraSonic II Cleaner with their case cleaner solution. I got a good deal on it on eBay and figured my brass has been sitting around for a few years so why not. Hopefully by the time I decide on a reloader all my brass will be cleaned...
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Old 05-03-2018, 03:00 PM
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Cleaning brass is prolly the most talked about part of reloading and the least important. Ninety-eight percent of brass cleaning is just cosmetic, and new reloaders are lead to believe it's an essential part of reloading, it ain't. It is just a personal preference. I'm not anti-tumbling, but I do object to new reloaders being told tumbling is a necessary part of reloading and they needs to spend $$$ just to get started.

FWIW I reloaded for 12 years without tumbling any brass (this was pre-web so I didn't know I had to tumble). Since case inspection is an essential part of reloading and usually done first, I just wiped my brass with a solvent dampened rag as I inspected it. In those 12 years I did not ruin, scratch, gunk up any dies, and my handloads were as good/safe/accurate as any.

I've got a story of some reloaders I watched at a range back when, whose reloads were brown and their groups very small...

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Old 05-03-2018, 04:12 PM
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The biggest advantage I have found in running brass through a tumbler (actually one of the vibrating tumblers from Cabelas) is that it seems to run more smoothly through my dies. For what it's worth, if you do decide to get a tumbler, I've been really happy with my Cabelas tumbler. I have been using it for years with zero issues. I don't know how many times I've accidentally let it run overnight with no problems. I let it run once from Friday afternoon until Sunday night when I got home and it seemed perfectly happy to keep doing it. They're less than $70 and come with everything you'll really need to get started. As everyone has said though, it's not necessary.
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Old 05-03-2018, 04:20 PM
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Started using a Lyman 1200 in the mid 80's when I started reloading and have always cleaned after every use. I use a universal deprimer then into the tumbler.
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Old 05-03-2018, 04:33 PM
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I don't think it is absolutely necessary but I do dry tumble with a mixture of walnut and corn media and nu finish car polish. I do it for a couple of reasons, clean brass is easier for my old eyes to find damaged pieces and it does seem to be less stress on the dies. That and it only takes 30 seconds of my time to put the brass in the tumbler plug it in and walk away. I doubt they shoot any better though.
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Old 05-03-2018, 04:40 PM
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I tumble after each firing.I use the same procedure as Joeintexas.
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Old 05-03-2018, 04:45 PM
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I clean them before reloading in my old Lyman tumbler.A bucket of water with some barkeepers friend works almost as good,just rinse with clean water a few times after sloshing em around.
Edited to add: If you're shooting semi autos shiny brass is easier to see in the weeds and dirt

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Old 05-03-2018, 05:31 PM
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I always clean primer pockets to assure proper seating of new primers (Dremel tool with wire brush). I seldom worry about cleaning my own brass, but I do clean range brass or other fired brass that finds its way to me.

Hot water and dish soap in a plastic bucket is a good first step, 4 or 5 hours soaking followed by two rinses to carry off the soap and other residue. Spread them out on newspaper in a sunny area for a few hours and they are cleaned and dry, ready to process.

I have a vibratory tumbler with walnut shell media, but I seldom use it. Last time I recall loading it up was a batch of .30 Carbine brass with some pretty heavy surface oxidation and tarnish. After 8 hours in crushed walnut shells it all looked like new, but did require routine decapping and primer pocket cleaning to remove excess media.

Basically, I stopped worrying about reloads with cases that weren't looking factory-fresh and shiny along about the time Jimmy Carter was doing his best to destroy the American economy. I don't really care if my reloads show a bit of tarnish or a lack of shine, as long as they function properly I'm a happy guy.
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Old 05-03-2018, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Shark Bait asked:
How often should casings be cleaned prior to reloading?
Cases should be cleaned at least once to remove dirt and debris that could damage dies and other reloading equipment.

Quote:
Is this a step that should always be taken or is it more for clean looking reloads?
Please note that "cleaning" is distinct from tumbling or polishing the cases. Tumbling or polishing brass cases is primarily done for cosmetic purposes - although polished brass is arguably easier to visually inspect - and is NOT required.

But you can see the number of posts so far that have taken your question about cleaning and turned it into a referendum on tumbling and/or polishing. Tumbling and polishing is the least important part of reloading yet it seems to generate the greatest amount of discussion.

There's nothing wrong with wanting brass that is not only clean but also shiny - even shiny as a mirror. But, it would be a mistake to think that there's any correlation between how shiny brass is and the quality of the ammunition assembled with it.
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Old 05-03-2018, 05:48 PM
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Agree with mikld. It's mostly cosmetic.

But cosmetic is good. Who wants to shoot ugly ammo?
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Old 05-03-2018, 06:19 PM
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Default It's also a motivator.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan the Butcher View Post
Personally, I like the super shiny brass, It is easier to find on the ground!

Ivan

It's also a motivation to pick up your brass!!!

I used to wash my brass in hot soapy water, but tumbling is not any harder. Maybe less so.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
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It's also a motivation to pick up your brass!!!

I used to wash my brass in hot soapy water, but tumbling is not any harder. Maybe less so.
Way less. Dump into tumbler, turn it on, dump them in a separator, done. The reason I do not wet clean is the time suck of it & extra steps. To do it right, they need to be deprimed, extra step. Then they must be dried 100%, more time & handling. Then they are so clean as to cause add'l force to reload, UNLESS you dry tumble with media & polish after? So why not just dry tumble to start? Just me, dry tumble has been working fine for about 37y. Before that I just rolled them in a damp towel & loaded them up. Which still works btw, especially if you use Lemishine in the water to dampen the towel.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdwhit View Post
Cases should be cleaned at least once to remove dirt and debris that could damage dies and other reloading equipment.



Please note that "cleaning" is distinct from tumbling or polishing the cases. Tumbling or polishing brass cases is primarily done for cosmetic purposes - although polished brass is arguably easier to visually inspect - and is NOT required.

But you can see the number of posts so far that have taken your question about cleaning and turned it into a referendum on tumbling and/or polishing. Tumbling and polishing is the least important part of reloading yet it seems to generate the greatest amount of discussion.

There's nothing wrong with wanting brass that is not only clean but also shiny - even shiny as a mirror. But, it would be a mistake to think that there's any correlation between how shiny brass is and the quality of the ammunition assembled with it.
You do realize one can tumble cases to clean them without polishing them, don't you? I never polish my cases, but I do tumble them clean.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:31 PM
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I clean all my cases in my Frankford arsenal tumbler before reloading. A cleaned case allows for better inspection & weeding out any cracked cases or any other defect that may not be noticed if the case wasn't cleaned. It does allow for a nicer appearing product in the end and arguably a cleaned case will chamber easier and lessen the chances of fouling the chamber.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:53 PM
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I appreciate all the responses and helpful info. I reloaded many years ago and never bothered with cleaning beyond a wipe down. I'm getting back into reloading now and I know you guys are a great resource. Thank you for the input.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:56 PM
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I started reloading in 1968. Not one case was ever cleaned until 2016, when i retired. Now that I have extra time I thought I should make the cases pretty.

I am using the same dies since 1968, so I guess I haven't hurt them yet.

I DO clean primer pockets each time.
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Old 05-03-2018, 08:12 PM
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Clean brass looks nice. A bucket with warm water and citric acid works for me. Don't leave it sit too long is all. Put the wet brass in a dehydrator and Bob's your uncle. Good stuff guys.
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Old 05-03-2018, 09:31 PM
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Decap first, then wet pin tumbling.
Every loading.
Do it right every time.
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Old 05-04-2018, 07:55 AM
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I mostly reload straight wall handgun cartridges. I dump mine in my Lyman Turbo Tumbler (actually, it is a vibrating case cleaner) loaded with crushed corncob and a little of Lyman's brass polishing liquid. Vibrate them until they are shiny, then remove them. I de-prime after cleaning. I tried de-priming, then tumbling, but the corncob had a tendency to pack into the primer pockets.

I've been doing it this way for three decades, no issues.
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Old 05-04-2018, 08:07 AM
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I like the look of dirty brass when using lead bullets. Give's it a vintage ammo look. *shrugs*

If I'm using plated or fmj I like the look of shiny bullets.
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Old 05-04-2018, 08:13 AM
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I vibrate mine for a couple of hours now before I load them but when I started years ago, I would just wipe them off. You do not need to be too anal about it and the stainless pin stuff gets them too clean and they stick on expanders too much.
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Old 05-04-2018, 10:58 AM
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I hand polish each case with a small piece of microfiber cloth , a Q tip and Flitz. Then sterilize them in a hospital grade autoclave

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Old 05-04-2018, 12:58 PM
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I hand polish each case with a small piece of microfiber cloth , a Q tip and Flitz. Then sterilize them in a hospital grade autoclave

I thought I was the only one to do this. It does take a while to learn to use tweezers on the cases after they are sterilized. I use rubber gloves when loading magazines, cylinders, etc. on the range, as well as, surgical masks, caps and robes. I never use the clothing more than once.

Last edited by BE Mike; 05-04-2018 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 05-04-2018, 01:06 PM
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Well, now I'm grinning - thanks, gents, I needed that.
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Old 05-04-2018, 01:39 PM
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The only topic with more posts(any forum) than "cleaning brass" is what is the best Progressive Press"
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Old 05-04-2018, 01:46 PM
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Or, the dreaded oil thread..
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Old 05-04-2018, 02:15 PM
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I deep-sixed my tumbler because tumbling generates lead dust and lead dust is a major source of lead ingestion. Usually I'll spray a towel with 409 or whatever, shake the cases around in it, then reload. If I want really clean cases I'll use the old lemon juice, salt, dish soap solution. THAT makes 'em sparkle.
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Old 05-04-2018, 02:30 PM
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I started reloading in 1968. Not one case was ever cleaned until 2016, when i retired. Now that I have extra time I thought I should make the cases pretty.

I am using the same dies since 1968, so I guess I haven't hurt them yet.

I DO clean primer pockets each time.
This part I do NOT understand. In 40y of reloading, I have never cleaned a service pistol primer pocket, never. Over 300K rds loaded & fired, never a misfire from a dirty primer pocket. I still clean the pockets on precision rifle out of habit. Everything gets checked & over done for precision rifle.
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Old 05-04-2018, 02:33 PM
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I vibrate mine for a couple of hours now before I load them but when I started years ago, I would just wipe them off. You do not need to be too anal about it and the stainless pin stuff gets them too clean and they stick on expanders too much.
My buddy is a machinist, custom grinding/polishing. He was asking me why his PTX/powder thru expander sticks so much. I told him he has got to stop wet/ss cleaning & it will go away. He doubted me & polished his funnels mirror bright, still sticks. So now he tumbles after in cob & polish to make them a little slicker?
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Old 05-04-2018, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
I always clean primer pockets to assure proper seating of new primers (Dremel tool with wire brush). I seldom worry about cleaning my own brass, but I do clean range brass or other fired brass that finds its way to me.

Hot water and dish soap in a plastic bucket is a good first step, 4 or 5 hours soaking followed by two rinses to carry off the soap and other residue. Spread them out on newspaper in a sunny area for a few hours and they are cleaned and dry, ready to process.

I have a vibratory tumbler with walnut shell media, but I seldom use it. Last time I recall loading it up was a batch of .30 Carbine brass with some pretty heavy surface oxidation and tarnish. After 8 hours in crushed walnut shells it all looked like new, but did require routine decapping and primer pocket cleaning to remove excess media.

Basically, I stopped worrying about reloads with cases that weren't looking factory-fresh and shiny along about the time Jimmy Carter was doing his best to destroy the American economy. I don't really care if my reloads show a bit of tarnish or a lack of shine, as long as they function properly I'm a happy guy.
2 vibratory tumblers gathering dust in the garage. Boiling soap/water/vinegar/pinch of salt, then oven dry <250 degrees, let cool & a SMALL spritz of Hornady one shot (while still hot) & mix well. IS IT REALLY NEEDED??? IDK, but haven't had a stuck case since using this method. The eyes can lie if you only give them a quick look see. Don't want a bit of media in the flash hole, sand, or a spider web in the case. The inside & primer pocket is more important than the outside, to me, as long as they are not sticky, TEHO. A BIG +1 for the dremel & wire brush.
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Old 05-04-2018, 07:25 PM
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This part I do NOT understand. In 40y of reloading, I have never cleaned a service pistol primer pocket, never. Over 300K rds loaded & fired, never a misfire from a dirty primer pocket. I still clean the pockets on precision rifle out of habit. Everything gets checked & over done for precision rifle.
When I started reloading (as a teenager) I went to the libary (remember those) and borrowed a how-to book. It said to clean primer pockets. As a novice I thought it was necessary, and i just continued the practice.
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Old 05-05-2018, 07:19 AM
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For precision ammo, especially rifles, clean and uniformed primer pockets and uniform flash holes. I tried this one with 45 ACP and found it was a waste of time. So for precision rifle, yes, for pistols and blasting ammo, I would not bother the primer pockets other than to remove any crimp.
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