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Old July 12, 2001, 09:36 PM   #1
Join Date: June 19, 2000
Location: Worcester, MA, USA
Posts: 43
OK to tumble primed brass?

Hi guys,

I just got my first tumbler. I have a small lot of primed .30 M1 carbine brass that is pretty dirty that I would like to tumble. I am using a Berry's 400 with corn media.

Is this OK? I don't want theoretical answers, but experienced ones are welcome. It doesn't seem likely that a primer would go off, but 2 considerations that come to mind:

1. Will the corn media get stuck inside the primer/case?

2. Will brass polish adversely affect the primer?

I'm sure there will be a quick yes/no answer to this. Help a newbie!

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Old July 12, 2001, 10:19 PM   #2
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Janvs, I've never had the nerve to tumble primed brass. But I've tumbled some unprimed brass and found the media was really attracted to the flash holes (not to mention the big buildup in the primer pocket). So, you can take the chance that there's nothing between the primer and the powder, or take the chance that there's one chunk of media in the flash hole, which could give you a real problem. I just like to err on the side of caution. Just my .02.
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Old July 13, 2001, 12:56 AM   #3
Mike Irwin
Join Date: April 13, 2000
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I wouldn't for one reason alone...

Tumbling media can get stuck in the flash hole and cause reliability problems.

You'd probably be better off loading the cases and then tumbling them lightly to remove the worst of the crud.

Some say that tumbling loaded ammo isn't a very good idea, and I agree to an extent.

I don't think an hour or less is going to cause any real problems with the powder. It never has for a friend of mine.
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Old July 13, 2001, 10:39 AM   #4
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Don't tumble 'em - you'll get crap in the flash holes.

Instead, get a little OOOO steel wool, and buff 'em. Cleans brass right up. Then load 'em and shoot 'em. Then tumble 'em.
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Old July 13, 2001, 04:08 PM   #5
Hard Case
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I would reload them and then tumble them. I can't tell you how long to do it but I have left mine tumbling for many hours without catastrophic incident. The tumbling media and flash hole is a love/hate relationship. The media loves to get clogged in the flash hole and I hate it when that happens.
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Old July 14, 2001, 07:01 AM   #6
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Bad idea; can crap up the primer and/or flashhole.
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Old July 14, 2001, 11:34 PM   #7
David Wile
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Join Date: June 14, 2001
Location: Mechanicsburg, PA
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Hey folks,

I have been "tumbling" cases in a vibratory machine for many years in the following ways: fired cases before resizing and decapping, sized and decapped cases, sized and reprimed cases, and loaded cartridges. The vibrating machines do not actually tumble anything; the cases and the media actually flow with the shape of the bowl, and the action is not violent. Cleaning is a better term for the operation performed in the vibratory cleaners.

I have never had any primer discharge while cleaning primed and sized cases. I also have never had any loaded cartridge discharge while in the cleaning process. While cleaning fired cases before being sized and decapped, I have had pieces of media get stuck in the spent primer and cause the decapping pin to bend or break. While cleaning sized and decapped brass, it is common to find a piece of media stuck in the primer pocket hole.

I try to avoid cleaning cases before they are sized and decapped. I hate the trouble of replacing the decapping pins. After cleaning sized and decapped cases, I can tolerate checking the primer pocket of each case to pick out any piece of media before repriming the cases. I am not fond of cleaning cases that are resized and reprimed - not because of any concern that a primer will discharge, but, rather, because a piece of media can remain inside some of the cases and be overlooked.

For my purposes and for the reasons stated above, I prefer to either clean the cases after the rounds are loaded or after the cases have been resized but not reprimed. In my experience, there has been no safety problem in cleaning loaded rounds (including those with cast bullets) in a vibratory cleaner.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile
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Old July 15, 2001, 09:01 AM   #8
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My method is similar to Dave's, but I prefer to flare my cases also before cleaning, at least when it comes to straight-walled cases.

I think that one danger with cleaning primed cases is that there could eventually be a build-up of the dust of unspent priming compound. I have heard or read the suggestion that this is one of the reasons that primers should always be stored in their original containers. Many of us may have heard of incedents where someone put all his primers loose in a glass jar or other container with catastrophic results, and the priming compound dust was identified as the reason for the disaster.

I think it may be worth mentioning here that tumbling media accumulalates lead from spent priming compound, so the dust of the media can be harmful if you get it in your lungs. I always run my tumbler outdoors if possible.
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Old July 15, 2001, 09:50 AM   #9
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Personally, I'd hose em down with paint thinner to deaden the primer as much as I could, let them dry off, vibrate them then deprime them on an empty press with as much eye/skin protection as I coud wear unless I knew EXACTLY what primers were in them and how they've been stored.


I'd just fire the cases with just the primer and no charge/bullet just to make noise.

*shrug* that's just me though. I hate pulling bullets, and a few bucks worth of primers is no biggie to me to be certain of where they came from.
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