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Old July 6, 2006, 02:19 PM   #1
brselman
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Rifle case cleaning

So here comes a (new ?) question that will reflect my ignorance. Just how important is it to clean rifle brass when reloading? Lee dismisses it, yet some of you guys seem to think that it is very important. Is it truly worth the investment of ca. $70 to $80 of equipment and supplies, and, if so, what's the most practical?
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Old July 6, 2006, 02:43 PM   #2
Don H
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Dirty brass can scratch dies. I think you should at least hose brass off. Anything more is personal preference.
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Old July 6, 2006, 03:18 PM   #3
rem33
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cheap cleaning

for years I used a 1/2 cup or so of industrial cleaner like a simple green with a 1/4 cup or so of lemon juice concentrate in about a gallon of water. You can just stur the cases in a bucket or bowl etc. Save the liquid let it settle, pour off the cleaner part and reuse. Will clean a bunch of cases cheap. Be sure to rinse good, I always did a couple of rinses then would dry over a heater vent in the winter or at 175 in the oven on a cookie sheet. Don't heat too hot as it's not good for the brass, but 175 is just fine. couple of sturs on the cookie sheet shortens the time drying. I prefer to use a Lee decaper and have the primers removed first but it's not necesary.
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Old July 6, 2006, 04:01 PM   #4
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I've had a tumbler for years, use it some. Have used Dawn/vinegar/water and discovered it is too much trouble. Any more, for rifles anyway, I just wipe the necks with a paper towel with some Hoppes or Ed's Red immediately after extraction. When they get real dirty (like when I don't wipe them at the range, I use some OOOO steel wool. Just takes a second or two per case.
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Old July 6, 2006, 04:46 PM   #5
college
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rifle case cleaning

I have used an RCBS tumbler for Years. It removes any sand (if you shoot outside) which will save you dies, it removes any discoloration from blow-by, and it polishes the brass/nickel to it looks good, is easier to fiind at the range. When the cases are clean and I tap out the media it gives me a chance to check the brass for possible problems. Yes it is worth the money to buy a tumbler.
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Old July 7, 2006, 10:57 AM   #6
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I usually decap all of my brass, then stick it in some old Folgers coffee cans (the tall plastic ones) with hot water and some Birchwood Casey (liqiud) case cleaner. Shake it up pretty good every five minutes for about an hour or so (I do it while watching tv or a movie).

When I take them out I rinse them off in hot water, then take a q-tip to the primer pocket. I have found I can get the pockets cleaner this way. Plus it seems to eliminate any flash hole fouling. I place the brass on paper towels and roll them around a bit to facilitate drying, but a hair dryer, oven, or heater vent can work if you need them to dry faster.

I don't like sticking dirty brass in dies either, not just for the scratching. I hate having to clean all the lube, dirt, and crap that builds up in the die, and pre-cleaning severly reduces this.
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Old July 7, 2006, 11:09 AM   #7
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Its not just about scratching dies, or good looks. The dirt in the case has primer residue as well and this gunk is Hydroscopic ( absorbs moisture) it also changes the capacity of the case slightly and gunk in the primer pocket / hole changes the ignition characteristics, these are all slight but they are variables and inconsistencies you dont want.
If two minutes of arc or greater is OK and you buy a new rifle every couple of years do nothing.
If you are trying to get the best out of your gun, then removing variations has to help you get there. Remember factory ammo is a new clean case every time and in many cases today will shoot as good or nearly as good as homeloads, so if you get sloppy in preparation, you may as well get factory ammmo.
+1 on the dawn and vinegar and water, works fine, dry them and tumble in corn cob finishes the job off.
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Old July 7, 2006, 03:15 PM   #8
amamnn
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Mr. Lee

There is no denying that Richard Lee has accumulated years and years of useful and accurate information and experience into his books. That being said, he is not necessarily 100% right all the time.
I'm not so sure you can actually scratch a steel or carbide die with what is left on a case after firing. However, I know that junk on the case can help to hide defects, can contaminate your powder if the inside is left to just collect residue, can cause you to have to clean your dies more often, can give you inaccurate readings when you are checking neck concentricity and neck wall thickness, can screw up your annealing process, and can shed all over your nice pretty white anti-static mat you work on.
Mainly, "Modern Reloading" is a book for general reloading information and Mr. Lee is right within that context. Benchrest, serious varmint hunters, and competitors who shoot for long range accuracy will have some disagreements with what is in that book. Besides his views on cleaning brass, most of us would contest his views on flash hole reamers, primer pocket uniformers, and the efficacy of his version of the primer pocket cleaner, among other things. Still, if you're loading to plink, or hit a dinner plate sized target on an animal within 150 yards, he's pretty much on the money.
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Old July 11, 2006, 03:58 PM   #9
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I think I disagree. You can easily scratch steel dies or your brass with dirt and/or sand you pick up when your cases hit the ground. After all, silica (sand) is an abrasive. If you can use it to abrade the metal, you can use it to scratch the metal.

Carbide is virtually impossible to scratch, unless you shoot your autoloaders in a diamond mine.
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Old July 11, 2006, 04:01 PM   #10
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cases that--hit---what? --the ground?---must be an autoloader
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Old July 12, 2006, 08:09 AM   #11
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Just remember...Mr. Lee also makes the Loadmaster.
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Old July 12, 2006, 09:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
I usually decap all of my brass, then stick it in some old Folgers coffee cans (the tall plastic ones) with hot water and some Birchwood Casey (liqiud) case cleaner. Shake it up pretty good every five minutes for about an hour or so (I do it while watching tv or a movie).

When I take them out I rinse them off in hot water, then take a q-tip to the primer pocket. I have found I can get the pockets cleaner this way. Plus it seems to eliminate any flash hole fouling. I place the brass on paper towels and roll them around a bit to facilitate drying, but a hair dryer, oven, or heater vent can work if you need them to dry faster.

That's alot of work considering you can spend the $50 bucks for a tumbler and have it done for you in an hour with virtualy no work.
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Old July 12, 2006, 10:11 AM   #13
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Have to agree with Clayfish on this one. My Lyman 1200 is one of the highest value investments I've made in reloading equipment. It has been running heavily and reliably for 20+ years and just keeps chugging along. There are times I wish it would die so I could justify getting a (larger) Dillon, which I would do within 24 hours. Can't imagine reloading in any volume without one.
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Old July 12, 2006, 10:38 AM   #14
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Yeah, but it's 50 bucks and a spot of storage real estate I don't have to come up with.

Plus, I don't reload more than about 100 rounds at a time.
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Old July 12, 2006, 01:05 PM   #15
Dave R
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When I first started reloading, I did small quantities of a single wildcat caliber. I cleaned the cases by hand. Wiped them with a soapy dish cloth--the abrasive green kind. Then rinsed. Worked fine. Just make sure the cases are bone dry before you reload them.

Tumbling's a ot faster, particularly if you're doing several hundred cases at once...
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Old July 12, 2006, 04:54 PM   #16
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The problem that I have tumbling rifle brass is that the case mouths get little dents on them from hitting each other. I'd rather have smoother case mouths and find some other way to get em clean.

I'll sometimes polish a hundred or so with flitz while I'm watching tv.
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Old July 12, 2006, 05:37 PM   #17
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I tumble mine just because I like seeing bright, clean cases. If others don't, ok with me, I just know what I prefer. You have to make your own call on this.
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Old July 12, 2006, 07:26 PM   #18
amamnn
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dings on the case mouth

don't do so many at one time. do them before anything else and any little dings will come out with sizing and trimming. and be sure to use enough media
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Old July 12, 2006, 08:28 PM   #19
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best media is RICE, long grain rice like 2buckx for 10 lbs
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Old July 14, 2006, 02:33 AM   #20
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Its not just about scratching dies, or good looks. The dirt in the case has primer residue as well and this gunk is Hydroscopic ( absorbs moisture) it also changes the capacity of the case slightly and gunk in the primer pocket / hole changes the ignition characteristics, these are all slight but they are variables and inconsistencies you dont want.

WRONG! corrosive primer residue IS hyGroscopic, that's why it's corrosive, it draws water from the atmosphere. However, corrosive primers have not been made for over 50 years. Primer residue from primers used now-a-days do not draw moisture from the air,(hygroscopic).

The carbon left inside cases is nearly impossible to measure. And it does not build up. Unless, of course, you are loading with black powder or pyrodex.

Cleaning cases is as easy as putting your brass into a vibratory tumbler, some corn-cob or walnut hulls and something to help polish. I use either flitz or midway case polish. A couple hours and they will blind you on a sunny day.

Using a liquid cleaner depends on getting them completley dry! Any moisture inside will cause a dud. Also, I can tumble and load within 2 hours of starting. Try that with liquid cleaner!
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Old July 14, 2006, 05:52 PM   #21
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brselman:

I reloaded about 2000 rounds of handgun ammo and 200 rounds of 30-30 before I chose to clean my brass.

I probably had 8 different fungus cultures on my 45acp brass. My 30-30 brass was getting pretty dark and jungle-moss looking too.

But it all went bang, and the 30-30 could hit minute-of-soda-can at 100 yards just fine without a bunch of brass prep or cleaning.

I got a tumbler and media when I got my M1A and wanted to really see what accuracy I could achieve. Now I clean everything just because I have the gear to do so.

Not necessary, but useful.
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Old July 14, 2006, 10:59 PM   #22
hodaka
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Rice?

scgunsmith, never tried it. Has anyone else. I use walnut from the pet store and groundcorncob from wherever. Rice seems like a good choice. Anyone else use it?
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Old July 16, 2006, 12:07 AM   #23
Jseime
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I use water and vinegar to polish the Cragar mags i have on my truck maybe ill start cleaning my cases with that.

As for dirt on the cases scratching dies my brass rarely touches the ground and if it does i just give it a wipe and anything left will get noticed and taken off when i lube the cases.
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Old July 16, 2006, 11:00 AM   #24
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To clean or not to clean?

My brass always gets whiped down, but once in a while I do throw it in the shaker-although, now you have to make sure you get the corn cob or walnut media out of the case!
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Old July 16, 2006, 11:53 AM   #25
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SC----Polished rice?
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