Tumbling reloads

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by GunNut, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. GunNut

    GunNut New Member

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    I've been reading other gun forums about reloading. What I've been seeing a lot of is people tumbling their reloads after their ready to shoot. Is this a common practice? And why would you want to do this? Seems to me this would be unsafe.
  2. DWARREN123

    DWARREN123 New Member

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    Mostly for reloads with lead bullets to clean off any lube that may have got on the brass or portion of the bullet that is outside the brass, to help with loading/feeding and ejection.
    Some people think it is okay while others do not. I do some times and have had no problems, just tumble no more than needed to clean and you should be good to go.
    Try it by tumbling a few and see if it works for you and/or changes the performance of your ammo.
    I WOULD NOT TUMBLE ANY REALLY HOT LOADS!
  3. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

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    Typically the brass is tumbled after firing to clean and polish them for two reasons:

    First cleaning helps the reloader see any splits in the brass so they can discard any defective cases.

    Secondly cleaning gets the grit off the brass prior to running through the dies which is better for the life of the dies.

    Once brass has been loaded into ammunition it should not be tumbled as that is a dangerous practice. The tumbling motion could cause primer detonation.

    One thing you will find is some people that reload are uninformed or just plain stupid and do not know or (if they do know) follow good safety practices. Reloading manuals are a great source of information and if you are getting into the hobby the first purchase should be a current manual or two. They have excellent information on safety practices to follow and will guide you safely through the reloading process.
  4. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Most pistol cartridges are sized with carbide dies that need no lubrication so tumbling after reloading is not required. Rifle brass is coated with sizing lube which should be removed. I use water soluable lube from RCBS issued from a pad. It wipes off easily with a wet cloth followed by a roll on a dry towel. It takes a few seconds and all the lube is gone.

    Cartridges can be set off when the rim of one case strikes the primer of another as one magazine editor found out the hard way. When you tumble the loaded cases you are asking for trouble.

    Add to that the effects of the relatively loose powder, that is coated with a burn retardant (used to fine tune the powder to the exact burning rate the manufacturer desires), rubbing against the case and the other powder granuals. Such actions cannot be good for the powder for a repeatable accurate load. For those reasons it is DUMB to be tumbling loaded ammo. Wiping down each round is not that big of a effort and it allows for one final inspection of each loaded round for high primers, backward facing primers, and other aspects of the reloading process that may have gone wrong.

    LDBennett
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2008
  5. Shorty Bang

    Shorty Bang New Member

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    In my opinion tumbling is just something for show....I have hand loaded 1000's of rounds not yet have I had one round to go wrong due to lack of tumbling "making it pretty"...but I do agree that tumbling would be important if you are above 10 reloads on any giving rifle brass....I only try to use brass at the max of 10 times b-4 I chuck it.....keep in mind all I do is neck size them...I know this might be controversial but oh well...to each their own. If you want them tumbled then tumble away!!
    PS: I hope I did not just jinx myself
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2008
  6. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    I only tumble fired empties for reloading. However i believe most major manufacturers tumble thier loaded ammo as a final once over to ensure clean attractive ammo when you open the box. BTW shorty, i have some .45 ACP and some .44 mag that are well on thier way to 50 some odd cycles. Trick is not to load em as hot as the data allows.
  7. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    I could be wrong but I remember reading somewhere that the major ammo manufactures tumble the live ammo before they package it. If they do then what would five minutes hurt to remove lube. In a vibratory tumbler you won't get anything banging against anything, the loaded rounds will just rub against each other. I have talked to many reloaders that have done this for years without problems. Some have tumbled live rounds for a few hours to experiment and then shot over a chrono and didn't see any difference.
    Rusty
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Say a person tumbles to remove the lube . When does he check each round for high primers and other screw ups of the reloading process. If you wipe them down by hand you get the opportunity to inspect them too.

    While I have not seen any official reloading manual instructions that say NOT to tumble loaded rounds and maybe even the manufacturers do it, I don't and won't for the reason stated. I think safe is better than sorry. We all get to choose.

    LDBennett
  9. Popgunner

    Popgunner New Member

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    I vibratory clean my brass before it goes into my dies. )I lost a .357 sizer die when it got a scratch from a dirty case.) Then the brass is inspected & re-sized/decapped. Then it's into the cleaner again because I don't want any lube left on the outside OR inside of the case especially the inside of the necks where it would affect bullet pull. I use resizing "wax" to lessen the mess.

    My Vibratory cleaner-RCBS came with a warning not to clean loaded ammo. The ammo manufacturers all tumble their loaded ammo to make it presentable. If a round did go off I don't think they'd worry since their hoppers are most likely metal-not plastic like mine & the round popping off wouldn't have much force. I don't tumble my loaded rounds.

    Tumbling loaded ammo has no effect of removing surface deterent. I've tumbled cases with powder in them(no live primers) to test this theory & found that the deterent which is graphite stays on the powder very well & none of it transfers over to the inside case walls.
  10. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    popgunner:

    I agree! You got it right!

    Since I reload progressively, I must put off final case cleaning until the ammo is loaded. Since my case lube is water soluable it wipes off effortlessly.

    Perhaps I am being too cautious but the whole concept of vibratory cleaning loaded ammo scares me, even though my vibratory cleaner is in an empty garage. I see no use to tempting fate. Safety first!

    Maybe powder grains are tougher and more resilient to deterent loss than I imagined and vibratory cleaning loaded rounds does nothing to the powder granuals, but it is not intuitive obvious to me that they are that impervious to hours of vibration (???).

    LDBennett
  11. Popgunner

    Popgunner New Member

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    I vibrated several test cases for what ended up to be two days straight. In cases that were clean inside the powder ended up looking just the same under a microscope as un-vibrated powder & none of the graphite coating had transferred over to the inside of the cases. The case walls were left shiny brass color. I tried several cases with several powders & got the same results.

    On one case I tested that had the primer corrode itself green, there was a dark coating on the inside of the case when I started. This coating was abraisive enough to take all the graphite off the powder when vibrated for two days. That powder ended up the original green color of the powder & all the graphite ended up on the walls of the case. I'm sure that particular powder treated that way would have burned hotter with no surface coating.

    I had time on my hands I guess...
  12. Shorty Bang

    Shorty Bang New Member

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    WOW....My Brass is probably feeling underused. Hum....maybe the wife will stay off of me if I use them more than 10 times....Thanks for the post I hope she don't see this or I will never buy brass again
  13. gandog56

    gandog56 Member

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    I have some 38 special brass like that. I use low power DEWC's.
  14. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    I check each round for a high primer as I pull it out of the shell holder to throw it into the ammo box. I guess that's easy to do for me loading on a Lee classic turret, it would be harder if loading on a progressive.
    Rusty
  15. Trek Jeff

    Trek Jeff New Member

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    I may be a newbee to all of this, but the idea of tumbing after loaded seems like that last thing I would want. If I want a "pretty" bullet, then I have a steel wool pad...lol
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