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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm going to start reloading after a 20 year layoff. In reading up on some of the latest equipment and techniques it seems that cleaning brass before reloading is an accepted process now. That's something I never used to do when reloading rifle and pistol several (many) years ago.

I have ordered an RCBS 88895 pro 2000 press and the dies for 9mm and .40 S&W. I'm leaning toward a thumbler wet tumbler with stainless steel pins for cleaning. The question I have is about de-priming before cleaning. I like the idea of cleaning up the primer holes, but do not like the added step to the loading process. So the question is can the brass be effectively cleaned without removing the primers? That would eliminate a time consuming extra step, but what are the negatives? All the brass I'll be using has been previously fired and uncleaned.
 

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i keep a cheap lee C press with a universal deprimer pin in it for decapping.. i then vibro tumble.. then US clean.. and dry.. then I lube and resize, then trim to finish a bulk batch... tha tincludes a run around the primer pocket and case prep lyman center i have...

then I prime up a few trays..

then I set and charge up a fw trays..

then I load.

( i'm a single stage guy using an rcbs rock chucker supreme

since I do it all single stage.. one more pull don't matter much to me.

I usually never load up more than a hundred at any 1 setting anyway..
 

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The thumlers is THE way to clean brass, no more dusty residue from corn and walnut media. Your question is one I have experimented with, cleaning the casings with primers in works, however, there is residual water inside the primer pocket, and it stays trapped in there for a week or so. The question remains if the minute amount of trapped moisture can affect primer/powder function if you load freshly tumbled brass right away. Consider decapping first, you will be effectively loading like factory new-clean brass all the time.
 

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Welcome to TFF Stev! Using a universal deprimer is the way to go if you want to deprimer alot of brass prior to cleaning/sizing. Pretty much all the universal deprimers out there work equally well. I use the RCBS myself, but I've used the Lee also and it works the same.

As far as getting the brass clean enough without removing the primer; I don't decap my pistol brass prior to cleaning and only clean the primer pocket every 5-10 loadings. I decap all my rifle brass prior to cleaning and then brush each pocket to ensure that the flash hole is clear.

I've seen the SS pins in action and they are the absolute best for clean shiny brass; not even ultrasonics can get it that spotless. I just can't justify the investment when I already have a suitable method for much less dinero.

Glad to hear you've got back into reloading and that you stopped by.
 

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Clean shiny brass is very over rated and unnecessary.

The results from a vibratory cleaner are more than adequate. I don't like using any liquid cleaning method on my brass as it is difficult to be sure it is all out. I also will NOT clean the brass by de-priming it first. That can lead to media getting stuck in the primer hole causing a problem as only the primer goes off and the bullet travels half way up the barrel (been there done that!).

In a vibratory cleaner you have two choices and two different results:

1). Walnut shells media that aggressively removes the powder fouling, leaving a matt like finish. But just the act of sizing the clean brass burnishes the brass surface to a mild shine.

2). Corn cob media that polishes, rather than thoroughly cleans, right over some of the residue powder fouling on the outside of the case.

I suppose a person could use the walnut media followed by the corn cob media (??) but that is more than is necessary.

The brass cases need to be cleaned such that no grit from the fouling scratches the chamber when the loaded cartridge is put into the chamber of the gun. Anything more than that is wasted energy and work. Shinny cartridges don't shoot any better than ones cleaned in walnut shell media.

Any small amount of fouling left on the inside of the cases after vibratory cleaning is actually a necessity for reloading. It lubricates the bullet as you seat it, keeping the bullet from grabbing the case walls through excessive friction. The cases are sized a few thousandths smaller than the bullet diameter and the bullet has to stretch the case open to enter. A dry new case is much more difficult to seat a bullet into than a fired and vibratory cleaned case. In most cases the case mouth lube (NECO graphite like products) are unnecessary if there is still some residue of fouling in the case mouth (vibratory cleaner will NOT remove all the fouling inside the cases).

Shinny cartridges are not necessary. And if you store the polished ones for very long then the surface gets tarnished anyway. So why waste your time and money just to have shinny cases for a while? It makes no sense to me. But I'm a shooter, not one to gloat over friends about how shinny my brass is.

LDBennett
 

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I respect LD in his opinion re: shiny brass - in this case, however, I liken it to a "blonde vs. brunette" discussion. Some like one, some like the other. I am retentive enough to like shiny new looking brass and while I know that it does not shoot any better-at least for me- I like it that way so I use the wet SS pins in the Thumler's tumbler method.
Deprime using Lee Universal de-primer, toss 'em in, warm water, soap and Lemmi-Shine.
They is beautiful!!

So, to answer your question, yes, deprime first.

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Can the stainless steel pins get stuck in the primer hole? I thought they were small enough to pass though. That is an interesting observation about needing residue inside the case to provide bullet lubrication.

Wet tumbling appeals to me for a couple of reasons. One is cleaning the primer hole. That used to be very annoying when a primer would not seat because of residue in/around the hole. When that happened I had to manually clean the hole with a brush and that was time consuming if it happened frequently. The second is the dust and debris generated by a dry vibratory cleaner. I watched one in action and there was considerable dust generated while it was cleaning and when the casings and media were dumped into the separator. The SS pins in the wet tumbler look like they would last a lifetime. So that would be one less component to buy or keep in stock.

In my first post I said it had been 20 years since I did any reloading, but it has actually been over 40 years (the time flies). So I'm sure my knowledge is out of date, but back then the only cleaning done was to brush out the primer hole if needed. I didn't even think about dirty cases scratching the chamber, but I'm sure they did.
 

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No, the pins will not get stuck in the flash hole.
 

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Can the stainless steel pins get stuck in the primer hole? I thought they were small enough to pass though.
One pin is small enough to not stick in the flash hole but I have read post's from people that said they have had cases where some pin's were stuck in the flash hole. It sounded like it doesn't happen very often but it does happen. Personally I would rather use a vibrator tumbler because there is less hands on time involved. I use a 50/50 corn cob/walnut mix and add 1/2 cap full of Nu Finish car polish. I like my cases to look shiny new because it makes them much easier to find in the gravel at the range I belong to.
 

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Not disagreeing with the specific points.. but it seems quite a myopic and 'in the box' view.

for instance. I've expiremented with mixing media.. like rice, corn cob and walnut, and get a good compromise finish. not quite high polish.. but deffinately clean.

as for depriming before cleaning CAUSING primer failures.. that just means the operator didn't inspect their brass.

As to liquid cleaning causing liquid residue to remain in a case.. that again is an operator error issue. dumping the brass onto a paper towel in a large foil turkey pan and then set in the clothesdryer show rack for about 5m makes a nicely warmed brass bed and no water residue..

extra steps yes.. but then.. if you are worried about extra steps.. cut them all out and buy factory laods.. no?

whole idea behind reloading is getting the most out of your materials.. I include loengevity, looks, and performance in that group. I'm willing to spend the extra few minutes or couple extra hand pulls to achieve that result.

minimal effort almost always yeilds minimal results.

extra effort usually yeilds more than normal results.

just my opinion anyway..





Clean shiny brass is very over rated and unnecessary.

The results from a vibratory cleaner are more than adequate. I don't like using any liquid cleaning method on my brass as it is difficult to be sure it is all out. I also will NOT clean the brass by de-priming it first. That can lead to media getting stuck in the primer hole causing a problem as only the primer goes off and the bullet travels half way up the barrel (been there done that!).

In a vibratory cleaner you have two choices and two different results:

1). Walnut shells media that aggressively removes the powder fouling, leaving a matt like finish. But just the act of sizing the clean brass burnishes the brass surface to a mild shine.

2). Corn cob media that polishes, rather than thoroughly cleans, right over some of the residue powder fouling on the outside of the case.

I suppose a person could use the walnut media followed by the corn cob media (??) but that is more than is necessary.

The brass cases need to be cleaned such that no grit from the fouling scratches the chamber when the loaded cartridge is put into the chamber of the gun. Anything more than that is wasted energy and work. Shinny cartridges don't shoot any better than ones cleaned in walnut shell media.

Any small amount of fouling left on the inside of the cases after vibratory cleaning is actually a necessity for reloading. It lubricates the bullet as you seat it, keeping the bullet from grabbing the case walls through excessive friction. The cases are sized a few thousandths smaller than the bullet diameter and the bullet has to stretch the case open to enter. A dry new case is much more difficult to seat a bullet into than a fired and vibratory cleaned case. In most cases the case mouth lube (NECO graphite like products) are unnecessary if there is still some residue of fouling in the case mouth (vibratory cleaner will NOT remove all the fouling inside the cases).

Shinny cartridges are not necessary. And if you store the polished ones for very long then the surface gets tarnished anyway. So why waste your time and money just to have shinny cases for a while? It makes no sense to me. But I'm a shooter, not one to gloat over friends about how shinny my brass is.

LDBennett
 

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The thought of shine on my brass never crossed my mind when choosing a thumlers and stainless pin set. The longevity, effectiveness and cleanliness of the stainless media system is a no brainer. The thumlers tumbler has a reputation of operating for 20 years or more, the stainless media lifespan is limitless. No more cleaning dust and media residue out of dies, shellplates, and rotating parts of the press and general work area. Shiney brass is at the bottom of my list of importance, being able to operate a press and dies for 2000+ loads in a session without a worry of having to stop and cleanup is at the top. And dont forget, you can throw out primer pocket cleaning tools and omit poking media out of your flash holes. Duds caused by media jammed in the flash holes simply do not occur. So far every bullet I have seated occured without effort, a clean, smooth brass surface embraces a bullet rather smoothly, and much to my surprise they all go bang just the same.
 

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We all get to choose. I made my choices as shown based on my needs, my available time in the reloading area, the volume of my reloading lots, and the amount of effort I wanted to use to get good shootable ammo. Your needs may vary as will your choices.

As an aside I have many calibers of centerfire handguns for which I reload. I NEVER have had to clean any of their primer pockets in many reloading of the cartridges for these guns over my 25+ years of reloading. I also have NEVER trimmed any of those cases, many decades old and reloaded many times.

I have gotten a combination of corn cob media and Dillon liquid polish stuck in a primer pocket when I de-primed before cleaning. When shot, the bullet lodged in the barrel as the powder did not go off but the primer did. My then pre-teen was shooting the gun. He had enough common sense to put the gun down and get me. If he had shot the gun with the stuck bullet who knows what the results might have been but none I can think of would be good for him or the gun. De-priming after cleaning assure any media caught in the primer hole will get pushed out by the de-priming pin of the sizing die. I no longer use any polishing liquid in my media and only use walnut shell media.

A pretty product is not why I reload. I reload to allow me to shoot more as commercial ammo is expensive and would seriously limit my shooting if that is what I had to use. I can count on both hands the number of boxes of centerfire ammo for handguns I have bought over the last 25+ years. I started shooting centerfire handguns with my reloaded ammo and continue to this day.

I do clean rifle primer pockets but only when I trim the brass which is only as needed, perhaps every third or fourth reload. I have a motorized RCBS case trimmer and a motorized RCBS station with de-burrin tools and rotating brushes to clean primer pockets. I clean the primer pockets because it is easily done on my setup when I trim.

I do it my way because it fits me and you can do it however you choose so it will fit you. As long as it makes good, reliable, accurate ammo who cares. Appearance of the resulting ammo is all personal and NOT part of good, reliable, accurate ammo but only nice, in my opinion.

LDBennett
 

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The last batch I did I deprimed first with a universal deprimer then cleaned. I like it better that way. I could skip the step of cleaning the primer pocket. My first die resizes and deprimes, so it pushes out whatever media is in the flash hole. If you deprime first, make sure you don't omit the step of depriming again during your normal reloading process, to make sure the flash hole is clear.
 

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my primer pocket station has a flash hole cleaner.. so it's another 1/4 second when stuff makes it's rounds from the rcbs trimmer tot he lyman case prep, to the bucket..
 
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