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Old February 6, 2013, 08:03 PM   #1
KBP
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Cleaning loaded ammo!

I have a new RCBS vibrating tumbler which I have now learned to use with great results using corncob media. I have been reloading for 35+ years Has anyone ever tried cleaning loaded ammo in a vibrating tumbler? I have a box of tarnished .308 ammo that I would like to polish. Would it be safe?
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Old February 6, 2013, 08:09 PM   #2
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Yes. I've heard stories of people tumbling them for days. Pulling bullets and looking at powder. Powder wad all good.

Factories do it to their loaded ammo.

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Old February 6, 2013, 08:16 PM   #3
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I often place loaded pistol ammo in my tumbler to remove case lube. It is in there about 15 to 20 minutes. I haven't found any problems with my ammo from doing this. Sorry I can't help you with rifle ammo since I have never tried it.

If you want to keep it looking good longer try adding some NuFinish polish to the media. When doing this put it in the media and let it run at least 15 minutes without any cases. This gets it mixed with the media pretty well. Then add the cases you are cleaning. Check it every 30 minutes and stop when you see the results you are looking for.

The NuFinish will leave a very thin amount of polymer type sealant on the cases keeping them from tarishing for quite a long time. I have not seen any negative effects using this method.
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Old February 7, 2013, 10:09 AM   #4
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KBP, powder companies say it won't be safe. Do whatever you want.

Fire Moose, name one ammo company that tumbles or vibrates their assembled rounds to clean them, please. I ask 'cause I've never heard of one doing it.
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Old February 7, 2013, 12:29 PM   #5
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Winchester. These are some RA9SXT. As you can see there is media caught in the primer sealant.....



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Old February 7, 2013, 12:45 PM   #6
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I tumble my .223 stuff all the time, I've used walnut and corncob with equal results.
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Old February 7, 2013, 02:32 PM   #7
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I tumble my loaded cartridges in a rotary tumbler not a vibrating tumbler for years with corn cob media and NuFinish, with no problem. The heavier cartridges never seem to move around in a vibrating one which is why I bought a rotary one from Harbor Freight.
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Old February 7, 2013, 02:35 PM   #8
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Fire Moose, I can see something but cannot tell what it is.

Are you convinced it's cleaning media because you analyzed it and therefore it cannot possibly be something else such a packaging debris or residue?

I'll call Winchester, ask them then post their response.

Yikes, Winchester's 1 hour wait for a phone contact made me email them. Hopefully, they'll respond soon.
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Old February 7, 2013, 03:07 PM   #9
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This subject has been hotly debated as long as I can remember;
http://us.yhs4.search.yahoo.com/yhs/...&fr=att-portal

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ling+live+ammo

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ling+live+ammo
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Old February 7, 2013, 05:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart B. View Post
Fire Moose, I can see something but cannot tell what it is.

Are you convinced it's cleaning media because you analyzed it and therefore it cannot possibly be something else such a packaging debris or residue?

I'll call Winchester, ask them then post their response.
I haven't had it lab tested but I can tell it's not styrofoam or cardboard and is the same size as my walnut media. Just a diffetent color. I've never used corn cob but that's my guess of what it is.

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Old February 8, 2013, 02:04 AM   #11
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Maybe it would be a good idea to use corncob, just because its larger in size.
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Old February 8, 2013, 04:29 AM   #12
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For a very short time it "might" be ok but you are breaking down the kernels of powder and this increases the burn rate and therefore the pressure the cartridge will produce. Don't leave a loaded cartridge in a tumbler for a long time. In general, corrosion will not harm the gun as long as it has not weakened the case significantly. It's only cosmetic.
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Old February 8, 2013, 07:48 AM   #13
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How much is powder vibrated when it is shipped?
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Old February 8, 2013, 03:04 PM   #14
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http://www.americanhunter.org/blogs/...mmo-dangerous/

Here is a link to NRA American Hunter where they pretty much say its ok to tumble your loaded ammo.
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Old February 8, 2013, 03:30 PM   #15
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I've spent hours upon hours in deuceandahalfs, hueys, blackhawks, chinooks and C130s and don't feel that my kernels broke down at all(I have 8 kids to prove it).

I don't suppose that ammo transported in similar situations that would mimic tumbling has suffered. Seems the crates would be labelled FRAGILE or ammo cans would be stuffed with bubble wrap.

Only going for a little bit of smart-a$$.
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Old February 8, 2013, 03:32 PM   #16
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It has been proven over and over that the powder does not break down, even after many many hours.

Go for it.
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Old February 8, 2013, 05:55 PM   #17
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GTOne, Hodgdon says it'll break the micro whiskers off the powder and change it's buring properties. Take your comments to them and see how they respond.
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Old February 8, 2013, 06:16 PM   #18
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I'd be most curious as to how the powder makes it's way by truck/train/ship from the plant to the distributor to the store to the consumer's home without being "tumbled".

and

Not to mention the hundreds of millions of rounds that have been transported in every way shape and form for war-time.

and

After the experiments I've seen posted online, wherein some loaded ammo was tumbled for DAYS and then fired over a chrony, with ZERO change from the control batch...

I have no concerns whatsoever.
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Old February 8, 2013, 07:40 PM   #19
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I also have NO worries. Done it tons to tarnished loads myself. Corncob or Walnut media but make sure to use some tumbling polish. It sure cuts down on time. For loaded or just brass.
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Old February 8, 2013, 11:07 PM   #20
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I've also tumbled many thousands of rounds of both pistol and rifle ammo and never had my reloading room explode. And yes the major manufacturers DO tumble their loaded ammo just prior to packaging. I've also seen bits of cob stuck between the primer and case in several different brands of ammo.

Here's a link to what I consider an exhaustive test of this issue on AR15.com a while ago. Read it all the way through, and judge for yourself if tumbling changes any of the burning characteristics of powder.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_1_5/989...nds_in_OP.html
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Old February 9, 2013, 12:53 AM   #21
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Quote:
GTOne, Hodgdon says
Whatever they need to say to cover their backside.
All firearms manufacturers say never fire reloads, too.
(yawn)
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Old February 9, 2013, 12:57 AM   #22
KBP
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Cleaning loaded ammo

Thanks for all the information. I am confused on one thing! I asked about cleaning loaded ammo with a VIBRATING cleaner. Reguardless of what your answer was, is tumbling the same as vibrating? I intend to clean most of my brass when it is unloaded, but just wanted to see if some could be cleaned up safely for a few minutes in the vibrating cleaner. Is there a difference between tumbling and vibrating ammo?
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Old February 9, 2013, 01:48 AM   #23
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Same thing....I think there is a difference between a tumbler and vibrator (snicker) but for our purposes, its the same.

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Old February 9, 2013, 03:07 AM   #24
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Brian Pfleuger-
"I'd be most curious as to how the powder makes it's way by truck/train/ship from the plant to the distributor to the store to the consumer's home without being "tumbled"."

That one is easy to answer. The transportation method involves vibration that is both damped and random. The tumbler is a fixed frequency forcing function.

Brian Pfleuger-
"Not to mention the hundreds of millions of rounds that have been transported in every way shape and form for war-time."

Same thing said twice. Damped and random is still damped and random.


Brian Pfleuger-
"After the experiments I've seen posted online, wherein some loaded ammo was tumbled for DAYS and then fired over a chrony, with ZERO change from the control batch..."

Now you have reached the heart of this debate. What potential problem do we anticipate from tumbling?

The tumbler is going to be a fixed frequency. That can have structural effects. Resonance is unlikely due to the grain size and composition, so the powder grains will not shatter like glass when the tumbler hits "high C". That leaves the mechanical motion induced by the tumbler. If the powder is so constrained by the container (case volume remaining after the bullet has been seated) then there is little or no movement. Motion = friction. No movement means no friction, means the powder is not self-abrasive. The powder would be self-abrasive if there is plenty of remaining case volume to allow movement.

So for an experiment to be viable, the tumbling would have to allow for the powder to move against itself within the case and that amount of movement would have to be quantifiable and repeatable. In addition, where grain size/shape is a factor in burn rate control, that would imply a separate experiment for each powder type.

Brian Pfleuger-
"I have no concerns whatsoever."

Lets try these:

1. If the powder experiences abrasive friction, it will wear down. The only questions with a well defined experiment would be time and abrasion rate. How much time ? How much empty case space ?

2. In well controlled experiments, expect and try to anticipate the unexpected. I have seen no concern expressed for other components, such as the primer.

The powder will be more or less contained but not constrained by the case. The primer compound is constrained by the primer cup, is constrained by the case, and the constraining material has very different physical properties from the material it constrains. I am saying that the possibility exists that the priming compound, in a fixed frequency environment is the one item in the case that I would expect the unexpected because of the nature of its constraint.

medalguy
"Here's a link to what I consider an exhaustive test of this issue on AR15.com a while ago."

Thanks for making my point for me. Excellent photo work. That fellow has the ability to resolve this issue if he could apply his photo doc talent towards characterizing how much powder abrasion was applied to the powder. While I agree that the powder shows little abrasion, I also believe it experienced NO movement. What happens when the powder is free to move around more ?
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Old February 9, 2013, 06:06 AM   #25
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I have a great idea for those who firmly believe that tumbling will somehow create inert or dysfunctional ammunition-----don't tumble your stuff!

Do I think that tumbling will do that? How long will you tumble it? The Grand Canyon started off a lot less deep than it is today-look at what 200 million years of erosion will do.

Smoke one cigarette and you have very little increased statistical risk of lung disease-smoke 3 packs a day and see what you have develop over time.

Get my point?

Have I tumble cleaned up some of my reloads-YUP.
Notice a difference - NOPE

Will I tumble it for 3 weeks continuously- not hardly.

Everything in moderation guys.

Gary
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