Brass cleaning question`

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by rocklinskier, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Newbie question for sure, but I feel better if I ask.

    Gonna probably buy a tumbler today, but I'm wondering if I should clean/tumble brass..before sizing and depriming or after?

    I see two ways:

    1) size/deprime and then clean. This would let the media clean the primer pocket.

    2) Clean, then size deprime. This would allow closer inspection of brass and prevent anything 'dirty' to come in contact with your dies but then requires a pocket brush to manually clean the pockets of old residue.

    What's the standard? What works best?

    Also, Corn cob or walnut shell media?

  2. RandyP

    RandyP Active Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    I can only respond with my way of doing it, and there are many different opinions. I tumble all the dirty brass first and then reload it.

    I use a 60/40 mix of corncob and walnut shell (Lizard Litter) with maybe a capful of car polish added and blended in. I also add a few cut up used dryer fabric softener sheets each time to capture a lot of the dust.


    SCOTTYDOG New Member

    Aug 3, 2003
    Idaho Falls, ID.
    I much prefer to tumble the brass first. My reasoning is getting dirt and grit off the outside of the brass. Had a set of dies get ruined because of grit. Scored the inside of the dies and consequently scored any brass being resized there after. After that experience, I clean my dies just like I clean a firearm.
    Keep it clean, It's worth it.
  4. res45

    res45 Member

    Sep 21, 2007
    I tumble all my brass first for about 30 min to give it a general cleaning,then I resize and do all my case prep and throw it all back in the tumbler for another hour or so to finish polishing or remove any lube off the case if it was required.

    I only load for 30 cal. rifle and straight wall pistol cases so media size isn't much of a problem but it can be if you are loading small bottle neck cases in the 22 cal. range. I use corn cob pet bedding from Walmart $4 a bag and a couple cap fulls of NuFinish car polish mixed in to each new batch of media about 3 cap fulls will last for quiet a few tumblers full of brass. I usually end up adding one extra cap full about every 3 loads of brass after that.

    When it take more than 3 to 4 hours to polish my brass I toss it and start over with a new batch,but that will take quiet a few tumbling secessions.

    I always add a couple 2" strips of used dryer sheet to each batch of brass to pull out trash,carbon and flecks of brass,it just helps your media stay cleaner. Buy your Walnut and Cob media at a pet store it much cheaper get the size that best suits what your going to be cleaning,Walnut pretty much works with anything corn cob can be hit or miss depending on the neck size of your case as far as getting it out with little to no effort.

    If you tumble twice make sure you check your flash holes sometime even the walnut can get stuck in there.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  5. 312shooter

    312shooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    Las Vegas NV
    +1 on Randy and Scotty,

    I prefer leaving all the powder residue, dirt etc to the tumbler and not running that crap inside my dies. Yes you will clean your primer pockets after sizing however you will also be tediously cleaning media kernels that pack into each pocket, thats a step that is easily avoided by tumbling first.
  6. Gearheadpyro

    Gearheadpyro New Member

    Oct 11, 2009
    Charleston, SC
    +1 to res45, That's darn close to exactly what I do.
  7. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2008
    DAV, Deep in the Pineywoods of E. Texas!
    Here's another that cleans first. You will need to get a pocket cleaning tool (I use a couple of small screwdrivers) to clean the pockets with, no matter which way you go. Your media will not clean the pockets to a point where you will not need to do it manually.
  8. cakes

    cakes New Member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Northern Maine
    I use a universal decapper die if I want to remove primers before tumbling very dirty brass. It works very well.

    As noted above, do not use large tumbling media(most corn cob media) on small bottleneck cases. You will go insane trying to get it out.
  9. zkovach

    zkovach Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2009
    im with res45 i tumble first then resize and tumble again. I believe its worth the extra time spent.
  10. Tinman1986

    Tinman1986 New Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    I have a better method to clean cases...:)
    I collect range brass and I dump all of it in a 6QT pot with water and 1/2 cup vinegar, bring almost to a boil, drain them using a colander. Let dry on cotton sheet (i do it overnight) then deprime/resize (i trim, deburr/chamfur @ that time) put back into water and vinegar, gets all crap (and brass shavings) off the outside, then dry, and tumble for 1/2 hr looks like factory brass once done.:D

  11. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    As always, a good education.

    Thanks everyone
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