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Old April 6, 2013, 06:32 AM   #1
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Dirty Ammo

My brother gave me about 400 rds of 9mm+p rounds that were loose laying around and have some light corrosion on the cases. Can I put live ammo in a tumbler to clean them up? Is there a better way? The ammo is Federal and nickle plated I think.
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Old April 6, 2013, 08:23 AM   #2
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You're probably going to hear mixed answers on that. Why don't you just try to shoot it first to see if there are any problems before worrying about tumbling it? I've shot some pretty crusty looking 9mm and .45 mil surp ammo with no problems.
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Old April 6, 2013, 09:03 AM   #3
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This has been discussed many time and at great length in the handloading forum. The consensus, AFAIK, was that you can tumble loaded ammo.
You might want to search there for the details.
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Old April 6, 2013, 09:34 AM   #4
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It's not a consensus but a majority opinion, there is a difference .
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Old April 6, 2013, 11:10 AM   #5
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I had a issue with a CZ P01 duty. The round chambered but not to full battery. It would not fire. Then I could only open the slide just a little. I ended up clearing the round by pulling the trigger and it went off sorta to my surprise. I don't want any more surprises. Thanks for the info.
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Old April 6, 2013, 09:43 PM   #6
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I've tumbled loaded ammo a few times and never had anything happen to it.
majority vote says it's safe but there is also that little safety voice in the back of your skull telling you that it's a bad idea.
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Old April 7, 2013, 07:26 AM   #7
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If you use a vibratory tumbler, you are OK. The ammo has already been through a vibratory tumbler twice - once at the factory immediately prior to packaging, and once enroute to the retail outlet. The second vibratory tumbler is huge, and most people call it a truck.

Modern propellents are essentially a type of plastic. In fact nitrocellulose, one of the first mass produced plastics which also happens to be the main ingredient in modern propellants, was used in billiard balls, collars, and early movie film at one time. You don't expect plastics to be modified by vibrations when they are not under stress.

The concern for people who think tumbling loaded ammo is a bad idea is that they think the powder granules will break down into fine dust, changing the burning characteristics of the propellent. Several interested people have performed experiments with different cartridges, posted their findings on the internet, and there seems to be no cause to worry. I believe Geoff Beneze tumbled a few rounds for 2 weeks straight, and the propellant appeared to be unchanged.

I do believe you could alter the physical structure of modern propellents in a tumbler, but the mechanics of it would require some sort of media that is harder than the powder and you would probably need a larger volumetric chamber than a cartridge case.

So, in the end, tumbling to clean the ammo is OK.
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Old April 7, 2013, 07:56 AM   #8
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I ordered a Lyman vibrating type. This purchase could be the start of me reloading ammo again after a 30 year layoff.
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Old April 9, 2013, 10:47 PM   #9
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Tumbling is fine, but I did notice a considerable change in some reloaded 22/250 that bounced around in my truck for more than 2 years hunting coyotes all over AZ.
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