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Best medium for tumbling brass
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September 10, 2023 - 11:40 am
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Got to clean a bunch of brass for reloading. Figured I’d ask for opinions knowing lot of the people here reload.  

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September 10, 2023 - 1:52 pm
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I have one of those set ups for stainless steel pins and water. Seems to work well. Especially for black powder. 

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September 10, 2023 - 2:31 pm
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I’ve been tumbling brass for over 40 years – and wouldn’t say I know the answer on this one.  My experience is limited to corncob and walnut shell media.  I don’t shoot black powder so I don’t have to clean those cases.

But, Tom – good to hear you’ve started handloading Cool

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September 10, 2023 - 3:21 pm
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steve004 said
I’ve been tumbling brass for over 40 years – and wouldn’t say I know the answer on this one.  My experience is limited to corncob and walnut shell media.  I don’t shoot black powder so I don’t have to clean those cases.

But, Tom – good to hear you’ve started handloading Cool

  

Not quite yet Steve, but a friend offered access to his equipment, which btw is still in a box unused. Wont be for any of the great calibers for my 86’s yet. but I just recently acquired a rifle that chews up a lot of .300 blkout!

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September 10, 2023 - 4:53 pm
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oldcrankyyankee said

steve004 said

I’ve been tumbling brass for over 40 years – and wouldn’t say I know the answer on this one.  My experience is limited to corncob and walnut shell media.  I don’t shoot black powder so I don’t have to clean those cases.

But, Tom – good to hear you’ve started handloading Cool

  

Not quite yet Steve, but a friend offered access to his equipment, which btw is still in a box unused. Wont be for any of the great calibers for my 86’s yet. but I just recently acquired a rifle that chews up a lot of .300 blkout!

  

Tom – but with every breath I feel you inching closer.  It won’t be long at all before you’ll loading .45-70 and .45-90.  These are very fun cartridges to load.  Brass is available, a tremendous range of bullets available (cast and jacketed).  That will be the clincher for you.  

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September 10, 2023 - 4:55 pm
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I do as Steve does.  But, with any method there can be drawbacks.  With corncob or walnut there is dust and the possibility of a small piece getting lodged in the flash hole. It is easily pushed out.  There are problems with some of the steel pins doing the same thing. Plus you have to dry the brass. There are sonic cleaners too.

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September 10, 2023 - 5:02 pm
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I typically use the corncob media, and to prevent the issue/problem that Chuck mentioned (stuck bits of media if the primer flash hole) I tumble my brass before depriming the empty cases.  I deprime and size after cleaning (tumbling) the case, and then clean the primer pockets with a pocket brush immediately before repriming them.

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September 10, 2023 - 6:43 pm
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As of late, I’ve been using short grain rice.  Seems to be as good as anything else and pretty cheap- well, at least here in Louisiana.  Tends to stack inside bottleneck cases though, so beware of that.

Technically, the glass is always full; half liquid, half air....

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September 10, 2023 - 8:45 pm
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I’ve been using vibratory cleaners with corncob and/or walnut media most of the last 40+ years. Used a tumbler with media for awhile but it was too slow for the volume I was shooting at the time. I use different polishes with the media and sometimes tear up a paper towel and toss it in there while it’s running to clean the media. I use an ultrasonic cleaner for initial cleaning with BP cartridges but they also get a quick trip through the vibratory cleaner because clean brass isn’t enough, I like it shiny. Media in the flash hole is annoying but I generally clean the primer pocket anyway. 
For volume reloading look at the Dillon cleaner and media separators. They take up a bit of room but they are very durable.

 

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September 10, 2023 - 10:24 pm
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Bert H. said
I typically use the corncob media, and to prevent the issue/problem that Chuck mentioned (stuck bits of media if the primer flash hole) I tumble my brass before depriming the empty cases.  I deprime and size after cleaning (tumbling) the case, and then clean the primer pockets with a pocket brush immediately before repriming them.

Bert

  

Bert – 

One of the reasons I tumble (vibrate) my cases after sizing them, is to remove the case lube.  How do you address this with your method?

By the way, I do have to poke a piece of corn cob media out of the flash holes on close to half the cases.

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September 10, 2023 - 11:17 pm
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Like Steve I have been tumbling brass for about 40 years to and I shoot both black powder and smokeless and I don’t know what works best either. Back when I started reloading I guy I knew use to take cases that  were shot using back powder and soak them in water with dish soap. Knowing nothing better at the time I did the same thing. Then wash each of them in a spray with a brush and dry them in the oven at low temp 125+- for a few minutes. They would be left with water stains that would be removed by tumbling. I figure a couple hours tumbling was enough but sometimes they would tumble for a lot longer if a lady dropped by to say hi.

Smokeless I never washed them just tumbled them in walnut never used corn but I figure it works as good. 

Rob

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September 10, 2023 - 11:44 pm
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steve004 said

Bert H. said

I typically use the corncob media, and to prevent the issue/problem that Chuck mentioned (stuck bits of media if the primer flash hole) I tumble my brass before depriming the empty cases.  I deprime and size after cleaning (tumbling) the case, and then clean the primer pockets with a pocket brush immediately before repriming them.

Bert

  

Bert – 

One of the reasons I tumble (vibrate) my cases after sizing them, is to remove the case lube.  How do you address this with your method?

By the way, I do have to poke a piece of corn cob media out of the flash holes on close to half the cases.

  

Chuck,

On my straight wall pistol cases I use carbine dies… no case lube required.  On my cartridges with shoulders and necks, I neck size only… again, no case lube required with a perfectly clean case neck.  The only time I full length size a case is when it is brand new brass.

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September 11, 2023 - 1:31 am
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steve004 said

Bert H. said

I typically use the corncob media, and to prevent the issue/problem that Chuck mentioned (stuck bits of media if the primer flash hole) I tumble my brass before depriming the empty cases.  I deprime and size after cleaning (tumbling) the case, and then clean the primer pockets with a pocket brush immediately before repriming them.

Bert

  

Bert – 

One of the reasons I tumble (vibrate) my cases after sizing them, is to remove the case lube.  How do you address this with your method?

By the way, I do have to poke a piece of corn cob media out of the flash holes on close to half the cases.

  

Steve (and Bert)-

I prefer to clean my cases before sizing to remove any dirt and grit which may damage my dies and/or brass. I full-length resize most of my rifle brass as much of it is used for hunting and may be used in different rifles. Much of it also uses new brass. Yep, that means most get a quick second trip through the media with a bit of polish before moving along to the next step. Sounds a bit silly but some of my hunting ammo sits in a box for years and I hate “fingerprint” corrosion. Some polishes contain a wax that prevents this corrosion. 
These steps are probably not desired for ammunition used for competition or load development but my load development projects sometimes go on for several years. 

Mike

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September 11, 2023 - 3:32 am
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Mike,

That is exactly what I do… I tumble the brass (cleaning it), then deprime it, clean the primer pockets, and resize size it.  I seldom ever shoot the same ammo in different rifles, so to the maximum extent possible, I neck size only.  With a freshly cleaned case, lube is not required to resize the neck only.

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September 11, 2023 - 11:33 am
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Use both corn cob and walnut. I deprime first then tumble, and normally only do 20 per batch.Try using a sheet or two of bounce to remove dust. Clean primer pocket prior to resize FWIW–BILL

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September 11, 2023 - 2:07 pm
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I’m getting confused. There is a difference between a tumbler and a vibratory thingy right? Tumbler is like a barrel that rolls over and over, the other thing is stationary and vibrates.?

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September 11, 2023 - 4:17 pm
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Brooksy said
I’m getting confused. There is a difference between a tumbler and a vibratory thingy right? Tumbler is like a barrel that rolls over and over, the other thing is stationary and vibrates.?

  

The Lyman “Tumbler” is a vibratory device.  I usually put (50) full size rifle cases in it at a time (e.g. 30-06, 30-40 Krag, etc.), or (100) 22 K-Hornet cases.

Amazon.com: Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler (115-Volt) : Home & Kitchen

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September 11, 2023 - 4:53 pm
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How you clean your brass is always a hot topic.  The best way is the way that suites you and your pocket book.  There are World class shooters that don’t clean their brass.  But, they change brass often.

I load every week and I actually clean most of my brass twice.  I deprime the brass.  Then I clean the primer pockets and use a nylon brush to clean the inside of the necks. If the brass has a shoulder I clean the shoulder neck junction occasionally. This area often doesn’t get real clean. Then I anneal it.  I don’t like annealing dirty brass.  After sizing I clean it again to get the lube off.  I almost never neck sizing only and I don’t know any precision shooters that just neck size.  In our older guns you may get away with just neck sizing but we have found that if you just neck size eventually you might get a stuck case.  Most full length sizing dies reduce the base/head about .001″.  In bolt guns this problem first shows up as clickers.  Your bolt has to overcome the tight case and it makes a click as it breaks loose.  As of this week I have loaded brass for 2 calibers 13 times.  It pays to take care of your brass.  The 1st place they start to fail is the primer pockets wear out and the primers start backing out.  That is why I measure the brass to see if this is happening. No use cleaning them if they are starting the fail.  If you are using a good tool to deprime or seat the primers you can feel the difference of a tight or loose pocket. The next thing is the necks split.  I found 1 split case this week in one of the calibers so after firing what I loaded all the brass goes into the trash. 

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September 11, 2023 - 4:55 pm
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I ought to have one of those…..I wore a couple vibratory “tumblers” out over the years, might be time to get another for smokeless cases.

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September 11, 2023 - 4:55 pm
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Bert H. said

Brooksy said

I’m getting confused. There is a difference between a tumbler and a vibratory thingy right? Tumbler is like a barrel that rolls over and over, the other thing is stationary and vibrates.?

  

The Lyman “Tumbler” is a vibratory device.  I usually put (50) full size rifle cases in it at a time (e.g. 30-06, 30-40 Krag, etc.), or (100) 22 K-Hornet cases.

Amazon.com: Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler (115-Volt) : Home & Kitchen

  

I have been using a similar device for over 30 years and see no reason to change.  If you like shiny add some polish.  You need one of these.

Dillon Precision CM-500 Case/Media Seperator

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