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Old 07-22-2018, 09:53 PM
dwpmusic dwpmusic is offline
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Default Tumbling Reloaded Ammunition

Probably been asked many times but not by me I don't think, so here goes. Is it safe to tumble reloaded rounds? Do you do it? Why or why not? I personally haven't but I'd like to if it was completely safe. Reason being is that I lightly lube my brass prior to reloading it and I like to wipe the finished round before I shoot it. Probably not necessary but I don't like the feel of it with lube on it. Truthfully, wiping off each round gets a little monotonous. So, what say you? Safe or unsafe?
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Old 07-22-2018, 10:01 PM
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Well you are in for an interesting ride that really isn't going to tell you a darned thing! You will get many "opinions" and I may as well lead the pack.
That said, many , many people tumble loaded ammunition to remove sizing lube, only needs about 15 minutes in clean walnut hull media. and is perfectly safe. It will not harm the powder and the risk of a primer ignition is remote and largely inconsequential if it happens. Your choice, your decision but in my experience of 50 years of reloading, perfectly safe.
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Old 07-22-2018, 10:11 PM
Marshal Kane Marshal Kane is offline
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I tumble the case lube off my cases right after resizing. I prefer not to tumble cartridges.
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Old 07-22-2018, 10:55 PM
Mike, SC Hunter Mike, SC Hunter is online now
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Tumbling is a misconception. Running loaded ammo in a vibratory "tumbler" doesn't hurt a thing.
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Old 07-22-2018, 11:15 PM
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When I first got into reloading I tumbled my finished loads for that final shine mostly out of pride & excitement of reloading my own ammo but after a couple months it got to be too monotonous. I just want to load & shoot.
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Old 07-23-2018, 02:27 AM
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I size/deprive in one operation, hand prime, then run the cases through the press a second time to powder fill/bullet seat/crimp. I like the spray on lube on the case during the reloading process so will tumble my loads again after they have been loaded to remove the lube.

No problems at all
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Old 07-23-2018, 06:04 AM
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Default Highway travel

I have ammo that has 12,000 highway miles on it riding in a U-haul trailer or back of a pickup truck -- that's 3 prairie dog trips from Georgia to Wyoming or Colorado. That is a lot of bouncing in a GI ammo can.

I also tumble loaded ammo in a vibratory tumbler with media and a tablespoon+ of mineral spirits to remove case lube. I shoot my ammo through a chronograph to verify ammo quality because of age. I have not had a significant change in velocity and no change in primer appearance. Tumbled ammo has included 222 Rem, 223 Rem, 25-06, 30-06, 30 Herrett.

I do not tumble ammo that is loaded with cast lead bullets because you end up with a real mess on your hands.
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Old 07-23-2018, 08:04 AM
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I've tumbled WW2 milsurp .30-06 to get the verdigris off the brass. Never had a problem.
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Old 07-23-2018, 11:22 AM
Steve K Steve K is offline
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I just finished processing about 700 pieces of .223/5.56 brass. It is a little time consuming but worth the effort. In order to avoid cases with lube on the loaded round I first resize, then place the cases in a sonic cleaner I bought at Harbor Freight. It cost about $45.00 and works great. I use a mixture of water and Simple Green and the cases come out sparkling. I then place the cases in a vegetable drier, $48.00 from WalMart, after that they are trimmed. I prefer this process because I have cases ready for reloading if I choose to try something new.
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Old 07-23-2018, 12:06 PM
peh_7 peh_7 is offline
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Default Leather Scraps

Years ago (in the 70's), when I still used the "dry" tumbling method, a friend of mine, who was a commercial reloader, advised me on the way that he tumbled (in a rock tumbler, i.e. Tumblers Tumbler) his reloaded ammo before sale. He used leather scraps cut into about 1/2" squares to clean and polish the loaded ammo. I used this method for may years with no problems.

I now de-cap all my brass (de-cap and size bottle neck cases) and then tumble them in the same tumbler using pellet pins (wet method). This produces a case that is essentially as clean as new brass and is the only method that cleans both the primer pocket and the inside of the case. The inside of the case being clean aids in checking powder level before seating the bullet. Wit this method there is no need to clean the ammo after the reloading process.
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Old 07-23-2018, 12:39 PM
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Back in the day the rumor was that tumbling loaded ammo could/might affect the powder, the thought being the powder would grind itself into a finer powder and change burn rate ....I've never seen any kind of test done on this...So who knows.
Gary
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Old 07-23-2018, 01:14 PM
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I can't see a good reason to tumble loaded ammo and don't. Comments from persons who have tumbled loaded ammo without apparent harmful effects doesn't mean it's necessarily a good and safe practice. Maybe it is, but I certainly don't know, just like many others.

If I was really interested in a righteous answer on the subject, I'd contact an engineer or ballistics guy at Hodgdon or one of the other powder companies.
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Old 07-23-2018, 02:23 PM
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Thanks for the replies,guys. So far it's looking as if the "go for it" guys are outweighing the "I wouldn't do it" guys. I like rockquarry's answer about contacting somebody at Hodgdon. Just might shoot them an email. They might even answer. Thanks for the input.
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Old 07-23-2018, 02:31 PM
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I have seen this "discussion" on reloading forums since I started watching in 2009. You are never gonna get a consensus and some get pretty emotional about the subject. You will see all the opinions from "I do it and it's safe because..." to "No never! you'll put your eye out!..." and many examples to back up each argument. Good luck...

If you wanna, go ahead, I've never heard/read about anybody dying as a result of tumbling live ammo, nor any ruined guns. I don't because my reloads aren't dirty...

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Old 07-23-2018, 04:38 PM
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Years ago there was a guy that did some tests and showed before and after pictures close up of different powders that had been tumbled and you could see no difference in the powder. And it only takes a few minutes to get the lube off.
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Old 07-23-2018, 04:51 PM
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I just tumbled 450 45 Auto 225 grain LSWC loaded ammo. They were very tarnished and very grungy. One hour in batches of 150 in my Dillon 750 with walnut and Nu-finish. They came out like new , all went bang, and nothing blew up. I usually vibrate my .223 ammo for 15 after reloading, I know it's not necessary, but I like the shine.
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Old 07-23-2018, 05:07 PM
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As I'm not entering my reloads in the county fair the loaded cartridges don't get polished.
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Old 07-23-2018, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autonomous View Post
As I'm not entering my reloads in the county fair the loaded cartridges don't get polished.
I like that answer. I've also got some 30.06 ammo that came from CMP that I'd like to give a spin in the tumbler.
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Old 07-23-2018, 08:34 PM
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I was criticized once (by an "expert") for not tumbling my brass. Something about dirty brass potentially hurting the resizing die.

My pistol brass needs no lube, so no need to clean it afterwards. I use Lee sizing lube on rifle brass, and it cleans off with a simple wipe, so no need to post tumble.

I don't know if its harmful, but I never saw the need to do it anyway, so why bother worrying about it.
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Old 07-23-2018, 10:11 PM
Triggernosis Triggernosis is offline
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The manufacturers do it, so why wouldn't it be OK for you to do it?

Some of y'all aren't going to believe me, but I've seen it in a video tour years ago at one of the big manufacturer showing how their ammo was manufactured.

I personally tumble all of my competition service rifle ammo to keep the brass shiny so I can more easily find it in the grass.
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Old 07-24-2018, 02:17 AM
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Quote:
dwpmusic asked:
Is it safe to tumble reloaded rounds?
Yes.

Quote:
Do you do it?
I have.

My reloading procedure has the empty cases tumbled, so there is no need to tumble loaded rounds, but I have felt the need to tumble ammunition loaded decades earlier to ensure they did not corrode. They all functioned as expected.

Quote:
Why or why not?
See above.

The reason I tumble loaded cartridges is to remove tarnish from cartridges loaded 30-40 years before. The tumbling has had no noticavle effect on the performance of the cartridges.

See above, I have tumbled loaded rounds on a number of cases over the last 40+ years.

The hypothetical concern - that tumbled rounds would run into the primer of adjacent rounds - has yet to be demonstrated.

The other hypothetical concern - that tumbling will somehow "grind" the powder into a more energetic form thus causing the gun to explode, likewise has yet to be demonstrated.

Bottom line is that every fear, uncertainty or doubt (FUD) advanced by those who don't want to tumble loaded cartridges has yet to be demonstrated to actually occur even 40+ years after these baseless fears were first proposed.

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Old 07-24-2018, 02:27 AM
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Hey, Moderators, it seems high time that we have a sticky on the Reloading forum discussing whether one can or can not safely tumble loaded ammunition.
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Old 07-24-2018, 02:59 AM
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Default I'm asking now...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RGVshooter View Post
When I first got into reloading I tumbled my finished loads for that final shine mostly out of pride & excitement of reloading my own ammo but after a couple months it got to be too monotonous. I just want to load & shoot.
Do I have to tumble them EVERY time?? So far it's yes, but it if looks like it was just tumbled......
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Old 07-24-2018, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by hdwhit View Post
Hey, Moderators, it seems high time that we have a sticky on the Reloading forum discussing whether one can or can not safely tumble loaded ammunition.
Mebbe, but there is no one answer that everyone can agree on...

FWIW, shiny brass is polished before loading, and tumbling post loading is only (normally) to clean up the reloads or in the case of older tarnished ammo. I reloaded for 12 years before I tumbled any brass and I just wiped each case with a rag as I inspected it. Nope, no ruined dies, no scratched chambers and yep, I could spot any defects...
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Old 07-28-2018, 09:26 PM
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mikld,
That's what I did the first few years, then I got lazy and bought a Lyman vibe cleaner. Years passed and I decided to go with the wet SS pins. Either way my brass was clean before it met the sizing die. I also got into the habit of using a lanolin spray lube on all my brass before sizing. It makes a difference even with carbide dies.
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:22 PM
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Well, I finally got up the "nerve" to go for it. I had a couple hundred 30.06 CMP rounds which I've had for several years. After about 2hrs in the tumbler and wow, shiny as if I'd just bought them. Ah, success AND not a single round went bang. Not one!
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:38 PM
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I used to tumble loaded ammo all the time. Going through old Handloader magazines I read that the tumbling ammo tended to crush the powder making it burn faster (i.e. higher pressure). Looking over my relaoding notes I find some identical loads in the same handgun run 50~100 fps faster. So I done tumbling handloads.
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Old 08-09-2018, 08:15 AM
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I tumble my un-primed brass before handloading...........why take a chance!
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Old 08-09-2018, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwpmusic View Post
Well, I finally got up the "nerve" to go for it. I had a couple hundred 30.06 CMP rounds which I've had for several years. After about 2hrs in the tumbler and wow, shiny as if I'd just bought them. Ah, success AND not a single round went bang. Not one!
I hope you mean no KABOOMS but all fired normally (went bang)...
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Old 08-09-2018, 01:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwpercle View Post
Back in the day the rumor was that tumbling loaded ammo could/might affect the powder, the thought being the powder would grind itself into a finer powder and change burn rate ....I've never seen any kind of test done on this...So who knows.
Gary
I've heard this rumor as well and can't really say whether it is true or not. However, my son is a deputy sheriff. He carries an M1A with spare loaded mags in his work truck. A few of those mags have been in the truck for more than a year and have been subjected to a good deal of vibration and hard bounces. We recently chronographed some of that older ammo and compared it to a sample of the same ammo that was new out of the box. The stuff that came out of the magazine was FAR more inconsistent that the new factory stuff with one string of 10 rounds having an extreme spread of more than 300 fps and velocities all over the place. The new ammo had a spread of more like 20 fps. Clearly, there was some degradation in the powder. Whether that was from being bounced around or, perhaps, being subject to extreme temperature swings, I can't say. Maybe a combination of several things. Suffice it to say that ammo that is subject to these conditions should be changed out regularly.

Having said all that, I have cleaned loaded ammo in a vibratory case cleaner for about 40 years. Never had a problem and never had issues with degradation of quality. I'd say you're perfectly safe if you do it.
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyo View Post
I've heard this rumor as well and can't really say whether it is true or not. However, my son is a deputy sheriff. He carries an M1A with spare loaded mags in his work truck. A few of those mags have been in the truck for more than a year and have been subjected to a good deal of vibration and hard bounces. We recently chronographed some of that older ammo and compared it to a sample of the same ammo that was new out of the box. The stuff that came out of the magazine was FAR more inconsistent that the new factory stuff with one string of 10 rounds having an extreme spread of more than 300 fps and velocities all over the place. The new ammo had a spread of more like 20 fps. Clearly, there was some degradation in the powder. Whether that was from being bounced around or, perhaps, being subject to extreme temperature swings, I can't say. Maybe a combination of several things. Suffice it to say that ammo that is subject to these conditions should be changed out regularly.

Having said all that, I have cleaned loaded ammo in a vibratory case cleaner for about 40 years. Never had a problem and never had issues with degradation of quality. I'd say you're perfectly safe if you do it.
Seems like a pretty conclusive test that you performed. Who's to really put a definitive answer to it? I only posed the question for my own edification. Reason being, I do tumble my brass prior to reloading and also put a little case lube it on it before it goes in the press. Some do, some don't but it's easier on the wrist so to speak. Then, after all is reloaded I hate the semi-greasy feel of the loaded rounds but I love the shine of the polished brass. So many nights finds me wiping each individual round off by hand. Sometimes kinda fun,other times kinda monotonous. So, I've been wanted to tumble it to get the goo off. More than likely, I'll continue to tumble it. As I said all those 30.06 rounds survived with no ND (negligent discharge) Thanks for you input. God Bless your son and tell him to be careful. There are some card carrying idiots roaming around and I'm sure he's aware of it.

Last edited by dwpmusic; 08-10-2018 at 11:41 AM.
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