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Old August 3, 2012, 09:06 PM   #1
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Discolored brass - probably resolved

After reading some more threads I took some steel wool to the most tarnished case and it cleaned up just fine, see third attachment, it is of the most discolored cartridge in the first attachment (third from the left in the first attachment).

So it seems these were surface stains and not anything that would affect the integrity of the case.

Original post:
I was reloading some 9mm range brass I had picked up, headstamp is WCC 12.

I had noticed the brass was not cleaning up as nice as some of my other brass but this particular batch I had picked up from an outdoor range bucket on a rainy day so I thought it was discolored from simmering in that wet bucket.

The crimps were still on the brass so I am fairly sure it was just fired once and integrity wise it looked nice, thick and sturdy.

Anyway, after reloading the cases I did a final inspection and the discoloration on a handful of the cases caused me to pause and think I should ask for advice whether you think it is safe to shoot. Looking around in other forums it seems like the general consensus is that tarnished brass is safe to shoot. The problem is I am not able to determine if these discolorations are 'tarnish' or something else.

I attach two pictures. The first one shows the loaded cartridges that were showing the most discoloration. The empty cases below are from the same batch, to provide a reference point for what most of the other cases look like.

The discoloration is mainly on one side of the case, I believe where they had touched the bottom of the wet range bucket. The second picture shows the exact same cases rolled over 180 degrees, as you can see they are a lot cleaner on the other side.

So, what is your opinion, is this tarnish or some other benign discoloration? Or should I reconsider firing these specific cartridges?

And yes, I should have asked this question prior to loading them
Attached Images
File Type: jpg P1040242-2.jpg (97.0 KB, 100 views)
File Type: jpg P1040243-2.jpg (92.6 KB, 70 views)
File Type: jpg P1040244-3.jpg (68.2 KB, 74 views)

Last edited by overthere; August 3, 2012 at 09:26 PM. Reason: Adding attachment
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Old August 3, 2012, 09:20 PM   #2
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It is hard to tell from pictures, but it looks OK to me.

It actually looks more like powder discoloration instead of tarnish in the pictures, but even if it is tarnish, I don't think it has penetrated into the case far enough to weaken it.

In the future, you can clean tarnished or powder burned brass by soaking it in diluted vinegar for several minutes. Using an ultrasonic cleaner makes the acid work faster. WATCH the brass -- don't leave it in the vinegar over-night or it WILL ruin the cases. When you take the cases out of the vinegar solution, drop it into a bath of baking soda water. (It should fizz a tad when you do that.) That will keep it from quickly retarnishing while in storage.

With the brass cleaned, it is much easier to inspect and judge whether you really want to shoot it.

SOMETIMES, range pick-up brass is quite old, even though it is once-fired. People sometimes go out and shoot old ammo that has set around long enough to not only tarnish, but actually pit. I don't want to shoot those. I wonder how some folks decided to shoot some of those cases the FIRST time, given how bad they look when I pick them up.

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Old August 3, 2012, 09:29 PM   #3
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It looks fine to me, I would shoot it. I have shot worse lookin brass.
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Old August 3, 2012, 09:42 PM   #4
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SL1 and Shootest, thanks for the replies.

SL1 I did a vinegar bath for 12 minutes with a 50:50 solution of vinegar/water on some empty cases from the same batch that had similar stains and after that the discolorations came right off with steel wool and the cases look really shiny. I think you are right about it being powder related, there was a lot of residue on the bottom of that wet range bucket.
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Old August 4, 2012, 12:17 PM   #5
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I'd avoid using steel wool on those cases. You're actually removing brass when you do so.
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Old August 4, 2012, 03:35 PM   #6
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Those are simply water stained. It only causes the very surface of the brass to tarnish. The definition of tarnish is a surface stain. Corrosion is pitting, usually identified by the presence of a green crusty appearance. The acid bath will usually take the tarnish stain right off, leaving no sign it was ever there.

It'll happen the next time they get wet, then allowed to air dry. I'd use them until either lost or crack their necks.
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9mm , tarnished

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