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Old June 11, 2001, 09:01 PM   #1
George Helser
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Clean primer pockets?

In 1972 I started loading my own ammo. The common practice back then was you should clean the powder residue out of the primer pocket after decapping. The 1971 Sierra reloading manual stated about cleaning primer pockets:
“With a clean primer pocket the reloader is surer of a tight fit when the primer is seated, eliminating gas leaks to get better performance from your loads.”

I also recollect reading/hearing that with a clean primer pocket the primer seats more firmly so firing pin strikes were more uniform.

The Dillon progressive reloaders have become very popular but they don’t clean primer pockets. Dillon says you can get match accuracy from their reloaders.

With the reports from Dillon and Dillon users I stopped cleaning primer pockets about 4 years ago. I am not a target shooter but I have had no problems with reliability using dirty primer pockets.

What is the best information on primer pocket cleaning? Are there any benefits to cleaning? Or, is not cleaning just a concession needed to take advantage of progressive
reloading machines? Was I wasting my time for 25 years?

In sunny Arizona
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Old June 11, 2001, 09:30 PM   #2
Big Bunny
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George -you have been re-loading far longer than I, BUT -I have had so many reports of problems of operation/safety with Mechanical Reloaders, that for heavy rifle and pistol reloads I would continue cleaning the pockets.

I agree with Sierra here!

However, for light/cleaner burning target loads -I would not bother unless they needed it.

My 5c worth anyway.

Bad boys, bad boys...watcha goin' to do - watcha goin' to do when they come for YOU ?!
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Old June 11, 2001, 09:53 PM   #3
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Primer pocket cleaning

the primary reason for cleaning the pockets is to make sure the primer cup seats flush with the primer pocket seat....

If you have residue build up here, the primers can be seated to varying degrees of depth, and can cause erratic velocity spreads, and igniton problems and variances...ALL contributing to poor accuracy..........

This is especially true for precision rifle.........

Just because you use a progressive, doesn't preclude the customary rules of case prepping.........

All this said, it just really depends on how UNIFORM do you want your loads to be?.

Myself, with the cost of match grade components being what they are, I want to eek out ALL the benifits I can on each and every round.
Consistency is the key.

And, yes, I use a RL 550 B...............

With a few minor "tweaks", here and there............
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Old June 12, 2001, 09:11 AM   #4
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I always clean them, but again I do not use a progressive. I take the little wire brush RCBS cleaners and rather then screw them in the plastic handle I chuck them in a 3/8 VSR Drill clamped in my vise. Set the drill to about 1/2 speed and just pop the primver pocket of the cases on it for a sec or so. Works for me.
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Old June 12, 2001, 11:45 AM   #5
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FWIW, I've NEVER seen anyone loading benchrest ammo with a progressive press. And since you have about 20 minutes between matches to clean your rifle and load anywhere from 5-25 rounds, speed is appreciated.

Get a Sinclair primer pocket uniformer, and use it to both uniform and clean the primer pockets - Works great.

FWIW, I experimented with not cleaning (some folks don't), and I found that primers seated much more consistently in clean pockets.

Consistent is good.
Job hunting, but helping a friend out at - and learning the finer aspects of becoming a precision machinist.

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Old June 12, 2001, 04:27 PM   #6
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I don't really know if it makes an accuacy difference, but I always clean mine. I install the stainless brushes on my RCBS Trim Mate. It makes it so easy and fast to do that I never mind the extra step.

Good Luck...

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Old June 13, 2001, 03:53 PM   #7
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I clean the pockets because my gramps taught me to do it. I find that the primers seat better if I do clean. Gramps wasn't wrong very often !!!
Other than That, Mrs Lincoln, How was the play?
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Old June 13, 2001, 08:51 PM   #8
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My answer, for me = it depends.

I've loaded Ks of rounds & have yet to have one not go bang. Lots of those loads were used ('specially for handguns or cast rifle loads) for only plinking where accuracy, or reliability, really didn't matter all that much to me - effort-gain ratio. They go bang & hit "close enough" & I'm happy.

However, for anything used for hunting (varmits to big game), target work, OR utmost reliability (defense round - handguns), the primer pockets not only get cleaned, but reamed to depth. I want the best I can make & that's just one of those li'l extras that goes into making 'em that way.
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Old June 17, 2001, 04:13 AM   #9
George Helser
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I will clean primer pockets on important ammo and not clean on plinking ammo.

I am suprised the progressive reloaders did not jump in to say pimer pocket cleaning is useless.

In sunny Arizona
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Old June 17, 2001, 09:40 AM   #10
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Jumping in............

Manufactured considerable numbers of rds in multiple calibers for L.E. training; all used cases.

Never cleaned primer pocket, never had F-T-F. Ever.

Would recommend cleaning for ultimate long-range rifle accuracy...........
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
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Old June 17, 2001, 10:00 AM   #11
Doug 29
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Warren Page (Former Field and Stream Shooting Editor and author of "The Accurate Rifle") stated that he never cleaned primer pockets. He did pretty well in Bench Rest shooting! His book should be in EVERY rifleman's library!
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