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Old June 20, 2007, 10:34 AM   #1
ShootingNut
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Tumbling Finished Loads

Is this a safe and wise thing to do? Have tried it myself, after reading some others routinely do this. Sure makes the finished product look great, BUT can
it affect the powder and shooting properties?
I'm talking about a small vibratory type of Tumbler. If the factories do this to a finished load, what type of equipment might they use to not affect the powder load?
Appreciate any knowledgable comments!
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Old June 20, 2007, 10:55 AM   #2
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As long as you don't run it for an excessive amount of time (days), it is perfectly safe. For years commercial reloaders have used cement mixers filled with shreded newspaper to tumble loaded rounds.

I have a friend who is a farmer/rancher in Montana. We worked up a load for his 25-06 about 10 years ago. That coyote rifle, along with two 50 round plastic cartridge cases have ridden in the cab of his last 3 pickups. Each pickup had well over 100,000 miles on gravel roads, open prairie, and across fields. Those bumpy conditions have worn holes in the plastic top above the last 30 or so rounds. They are still very accurate, with no pressure signs.

If any tumbler can even come close to those vibratory conditions over that length of time, I am yet to be aware of it. So I feel very comfortable running my loaded rounds in my vibratory tumbler for about 20 min to get the final finish.
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Old June 20, 2007, 11:02 AM   #3
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Response from Hodgdon Powder

I would never tumble or vibrate ammunition. It is bound to break up the grains of powder and effect the burn rate.
Dave Campbell
Hodgdon/ IMR/ Winchester

I appreciate and value his reply. My tumbling is only for a half hour or so?
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Old June 20, 2007, 11:43 AM   #4
snuffy
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Quote:
I would never tumble or vibrate ammunition. It is bound to break up the grains of powder and effect the burn rate.
Dave Campbell
Hodgdon/ IMR/ Winchester
Typical, lawyer generated response! What did you expect him to say?

Have you ever picked up an individual granual of powder, then tried to cut or crush it? It's some tough stuff!

Now there's those that say powder burn rates are controlled by detterant coatings on each granual of powder. Those coatings COULD BE worn off by the powder rubbing together inside the shell, while being tumbled. Well, if that's the case, why doesn't it happen while we're measuring that powder, pouring into a measure, scooping, trickling, or however we get it into the shell?

Then there's those that say it will reduce itself to a finer powder by some magical "grinding" taking place inside the shell. Abrasive? Who puts abrasive in with the powder? You have a smooth inside of a brass casing, smooth powder granuals, what is going to cause the powder to "grind" it itself up?

Yes I do it! When loading .223 with my dillon 650, the shells come off it with plenty of case lube on them. Wiping 3-4 hundred .223 shells with a cloth is NOT my idea of a good time! So into the midway tumbler they go for 20 minutes in bare corn cob. No problemo!
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Old June 20, 2007, 01:34 PM   #5
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Snuffy

Thanks, appreciate your input on the subject. I didn't think powder was overly delicate, but being pretty new I didn't know. The stuff must get "josseled" around quite a bit just in shipping I would think also.
Again, I can get a nice final finish on the casings, in less than 30 minutes. Again I'm no expert, but it doesn't seem enough to be harmful? But hey, if it would be, then I don't do it. Not the end of the world. Glad to hear you do so, and maybe many others?

I asked the man from Hodgdon, if he would shoot the ones I had tumbled.
His response was "I personally wouldn't". My guess is that it's the old CYA reply, afraid of the remote possibility of litigation.
Regards,
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Old June 20, 2007, 01:54 PM   #6
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I'm Beginning To Think

That nobody will agree on this subject. And, nobody will ever know for sure how many gun accidents are created by tumbling after loading. The following I found interesting reading.
http://yarchive.net/gun/ammo/tumble.html
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Old June 20, 2007, 04:06 PM   #7
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I tumble finished ammo all the time and have no issues or deviation from the guns in regards to speeds thru the chronograph. This is how the commercial loaders and reloaders do it. Now think of the military ammo that is run thru warehosues on a forklift, loaded into a truck and taken to the flight line to be put on a plane. Now you have major temp and pressure changes along with the bumpy ride. Then it gets to ride in a 6x for who knows how many miles and get another forklift ride. This may happen to the ammo several times before it is ever used. I have ammo in my truck that has over 100,000 miles on it and it shoots just the same as when I loaded it. Some of these folks are having issues with ammo no doubt, but it isn't from tumbling or the ammo getting bounced around. I don't remember ever seeing a warning about ammo being fragile on the box either.
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Old June 20, 2007, 04:09 PM   #8
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Old June 20, 2007, 06:34 PM   #9
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I haven't tried it yet myself. I know people that load on a progressive and will tumble them after they are loaded to remove the lube. If you think about it they should already be very clean from before you loaded them, so it shouldn't take long to remove the lube and shine them back up.
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Old June 20, 2007, 09:58 PM   #10
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Tumble loaded rounds?

WHY?
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Old June 21, 2007, 05:51 AM   #11
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ok41
Looks, that all. Makes them look like store bought, with the extra shine that winks at you.
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Old June 21, 2007, 06:53 AM   #12
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I tumble loaded rounds to get the case lube off after loading them on a Dillon 650. Been doing it for years without a hitch.

You can search this subject right here on TFL and you will come up with a day's reading.
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Old June 21, 2007, 08:34 AM   #13
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+1 HankL
Dillon 550 here. I don't do it for looks (but they do look great). 15 min and chuck in a few 2' squares of cut up dryer sheets. Not for springtime freshsness, but to take off case lube. Sometimes minute bits of pwder can be present at the mouth/crimp from sticking to the lube. You'll find it on the sheets if you look close.
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Old June 21, 2007, 08:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Tumble loaded rounds?

WHY?
to get the sticky lube off the rounds, ever pick up fired rounds with lube still on them ? they get real filthy, then there is that ol bug-a-boo of leaving some lube in the chamber to gather dirt, that usually causes failure to extract.., after all there is a reason factory ammo does not come to you in a box sticky with lube !!
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Old June 21, 2007, 10:51 AM   #15
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Range report please

I tumbled some the other day by mistake. They in a vibratory tumbler for 4 hrs. They really shine, and I'll see if the molecular structure has been altered when I shoot them. Shouldn't hurt, they are just so shiny...
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Old June 21, 2007, 01:37 PM   #16
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I don't have 'stickey lube' on my handgun brass.(carbide dies) And as for rifle rounds...well I wipe dry and tumble AFTER resizing. Although, sometimes the cob media has to be picked out of the primer holes. But again, I never tumble live rounds. If they're sticky, I wipe 'em off, if they're tarnished, I don't give a s#&%, cause they work just as good. That's my $.02 offered but not necessarily asked for.
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Old June 21, 2007, 02:09 PM   #17
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I use a spray lube for all aspects of loading, so there is not much residue to clean off of the brass. I tumble my brass before I load, but I don't think that a tumbler is going to hurt, if it is done in a short time.

I don't however think that using a tumbler for cleaning lube off, after loading, is a very timely way of doing it though. Before I started using spray lube, I used the same old pad lube that everyone does, and when I got done, I would just lay 100 rounds or so on 1/2 of a large bath towel, fold the other 1/2 of the towel over the top of them, and roll them around on the bench top for a few seconds. This gets the lube off, and I can do 300 or 400 rounds in just a couple of minutes.

I could have them cleaned and packed and a 6-pack drank by the time I tumbled them clean, and I haven't lubed up my media.
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Old June 21, 2007, 07:04 PM   #18
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I guess I have to ask "Why" as well - and I understand you said for looks but if you cleaned the brass so it's bright to start with, why ...

Even though I use case lube - before I check each round thru a case gague as I'm boxing them up, I just roll them around on a terry cloth towel on the bench in a palm sized handfull. That cleans up any excess case lube - and they look plenty bright enough to me.

I wouldn't recommend tumbling any finished loads / but then if I have to pull a bullet, I don't punch out a primer and reuse it either ......

Last edited by BigJimP; June 21, 2007 at 07:05 PM. Reason: forgot a thought
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Old June 22, 2007, 12:15 AM   #19
snuffy
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Quote:
Tumble loaded rounds?

WHY?
Perhaps if you had read the thread, you would not have had to asked that question?
I quote myself here;
Quote:
Yes I do it! When loading .223 with my dillon 650, the shells come off it with plenty of case lube on them. Wiping 3-4 hundred .223 shells with a cloth is NOT my idea of a good time! So into the midway tumbler they go for 20 minutes in bare corn cob. No problemo!
Actually 3-4 hundred is a very small run!

If you have some time, take a look at this thread over a THL;
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=156750
In there, you can see the test I did with my 300 WSM. One of these days I'm going to load some 44 mag with a light charge of flake powder, around 1,000 fps, so there's plenty of room for the powder to move around inside the case. Then tumble them for a long time, removing some at regular intervals along the way. Then shoot them at a target while reading the velocities with my pact chrono. My SBH will handle excess pressure quite well IF the tumbling causes a change in the burn rate.

Quote:
I use a spray lube for all aspects of loading, so there is not much residue to clean off of the brass. I tumble my brass before I load, but I don't think that a tumbler is going to hurt, if it is done in a short time.
WBB, so do I. It's the RCBS case slick spray lube. It aMUST be removed, like I said I would never do it by hand for hundreds or a thousand rounds.

Quote:
I don't however think that using a tumbler for cleaning lube off, after loading, is a very timely way of doing it though. Before I started using spray lube, I used the same old pad lube that everyone does, and when I got done, I would just lay 100 rounds or so on 1/2 of a large bath towel, fold the other 1/2 of the towel over the top of them, and roll them around on the bench top for a few seconds. This gets the lube off, and I can do 300 or 400 rounds in just a couple of minutes.
My tumbler is running while I'm loading more. I de-lube what got loaded in about 1/2 hour on the 650. They tumble while I'm spending the next 1/2 hour loading more, and so on until I run out of bullets.
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Old June 22, 2007, 02:59 PM   #20
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Response back from Accurate Powder

Posed the question to them, can tumbling after loading have an adverse effect on the powder. Here is their response, with one "red flag".

ShootingNut,

The tumbling cannot affect the powder. Powder is actually endlessly tumbled/shaken/vibrated and shaken during manufacturing

However there are cases were rounds have gone off in tumblers.

This was due to the primer being affected in some way either external energy or some internal effects.

That’s why tumbler manufacturers warn against it.





Regards

Johan Loubser

Ballistician

Western/Accurate Powders
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Old June 22, 2007, 04:06 PM   #21
Peter M. Eick
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I routinely tumble my 30 carbine and 357 sig ammo after loading because I have lube on the cases (even with carbide dies).

My logic is simple. Anyone who has driven around west texas for a while with a box of hunting ammo knows that pounding around the dirt roads for days on end does far more vibration and shaking then the tumbler could ever do.
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Old June 22, 2007, 04:17 PM   #22
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With all due respect to a professional ballistician posting here, I've had a bad experience tumbling loaded rounds.
About 20 years ago, Paragon (late and unlamented) imported a large quantity of Brit 308 ammo, marked RG67 (Radway Green 1967), which they advertised as like-new and shiny, selling for ~11 cents apiece.
Well, my lot of 5000 wasn't. All of the rounds were tarnished.

I took about 100 and vibra-tumbled them for 2 hours to get the crud off the cases. The rounds looked much nicer after the tumbling.

Took them to the range with my HB FAL, the first couple of rounds fired fine. The next round made an odd noise, and the action locked tight. I was unable to open the action on the range. After getting the rifle home, I was able to take everything apart. The brass case exploded (for lack of a better term) inside the rifle, the brass extruded into openings and jammed everything. No permanent harm to the rifle, a testament to good design.

I pulled the heads off some of the remaining tumbled rounds. The powder inside has partially turned to reddish dust, mixed in with extruded powder. I compared those to un-tumbled rounds, no such disintegration. Needless to say, I discarded the tumbled rounds.

My take on the above is that the extruded powder inside has partially disintegrated as the result of tumbling.
It may have been because of age or improper storage.
Whatever the cause, the burning rate of tumbled powder has changed dramatically. It was probably closer to burning rate of a pistol powder, not medium-speed rifle powder as is needed for .308, with corresponding astronomic pressure.

I will never tumble loaded rounds again, and recommend you don't either - unless you get a thrill from the risk of a hand grenade going off in proximity to your face.

Last edited by Linear Thinker; June 23, 2007 at 07:03 AM.
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Old June 22, 2007, 04:18 PM   #23
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I don't tumble loaded ammo because I don't want media or dust from the media getting stuck in the case mouth between the bullet and case. This is mostly due from loading bullets with cannelures which leaves a space for media to get stuck in. Other than that I don't see a few minutes in the vibratory tumbler causing problems.
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Old June 23, 2007, 06:51 AM   #24
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This, "Is it safe to tumble loaded shells?" question was being kicked around at the rifle club when I started loading in the early 60s. And I've yet to see anyone agree on it. If it hasn't been answered in 45 years, I seriously doubt it will be now. All the internet did was get a bigger crowd discussing it.
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Old June 23, 2007, 08:20 AM   #25
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i guess the final word on tumbling/polishing loaded ammo is strictly a personal preference, as long as i am feeding a semi-auto, i WILL polish/tumble my loaded ammo !!
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