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Thread: Tumbling and lubing primed brass - yes - no?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    Tumbling and lubing primed brass - yes - no?

    I have a few hundred primed military 308 brass that I broke down a few years ago.
    I pulled the bullets and recycled the powder (I had just loaded them so I know what the powder was)
    In this coronavirus thing I am spending LOTS of time in the casting/reloading stall.
    I would like to load these but they are kind of tarnished and not shiny like I like them.
    They are clean and ready to load, however.
    Can i tumble them to shine them up? I use an old RCBS Vibratory Tumbler.
    I know there are differing opinions about tumbling primed brass (or loaded ammo for that matter).
    I am open to thoughts and ideas whether this is a good idea or not.
    Has anyone done this and not blown up their tumbler?
    Last edited by FISH4BUGS; 04-03-2020 at 08:56 AM.
    Collector and shooter of guns with selector switches and threaded barrels. Collector of suppressors, SBR's, AOW's and SBS's. Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    I would be more concerned about debris getting in to the primer and filling it along with the flash-hole. Just shoot them and do what you need to do after this firing. If they are clean, stop worring about it....thinking way too much about it, get them loaded and then get out and empty them with all the time you have now...then citrus clean and polish until you are happy!
    Last edited by remy3424; 04-10-2020 at 07:17 AM.
    Take a kid to the range, you'll both be glad you did.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    You could use some fine steel wool with a case spinner, if you just need to spend some time.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by remy3424 View Post
    I would be more concerned abound debris getting in to the primer and filling it along with the flash-hole. Just shoot them and do what you need to do after this firing. If they are clean, stop worring about it....thinking way too much about it, get them loaded and then get out and empty them with all the time you have now...then citrus clean and polish until you are happy!
    OK...so let's explore that.
    The cases are primed. I looked at the primer being used and it would have to be a VERY small piece of debris to get in the anvil (not that it couldn't happen), and the flash hole is already plugged by the primer.
    I really don't see how it could get clogged.
    Have you actually done this before and did it work for you?
    Just trying to logically flesh this out.........
    Collector and shooter of guns with selector switches and threaded barrels. Collector of suppressors, SBR's, AOW's and SBS's. Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have done this to very small amounts of cases. BUT I would just load and shoot them. if corroded, then do the steel wool if they are not deeply corroded. I was being pretty stupid when I tumbled primed cases!
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trebor44 View Post
    I have done this to very small amounts of cases. BUT I would just load and shoot them. if corroded, then do the steel wool if they are not deeply corroded. I was being pretty stupid when I tumbled primed cases!
    So WHY were you being stupid? Did some of them misfire after reloading? Did some actually fire in the tumbler?
    These are not corroded at all....just not shiny like I like them.
    I am still on the fence about this.
    Last edited by FISH4BUGS; 04-03-2020 at 09:57 AM.
    Collector and shooter of guns with selector switches and threaded barrels. Collector of suppressors, SBR's, AOW's and SBS's. Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have never tumbled brass. It isn't needed when the casings are clean.
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  8. #8
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    No I have not done it before, but I my little brain, it tells me that all the powder residue and bits of walnut shells will find their way into the primer and cause an issue. I can't imagine it will do anything that is a positve outcome to those primers. If therey aren't crimped-in," I will catch heck here on this", I would rather de-prime a few live primers and then reseat them, but that can be a little hard on primers and could be semi-dangerous. I have never had one go off de-priming live ones, not a practice I encourage or do often and wouldn't do if they are crimped, but have before, reseated them and shot them with no problem. I have had the anvils seperate after depriming. Seems to be no real good reason to tumble or de-prime them. As ioon44 says, spin them. Lee has a cheap attachment for a drill, that and some fine steel wool and you will have your bright shiny cases....that might get most a day behind you.
    Last edited by remy3424; 04-10-2020 at 07:19 AM.
    Take a kid to the range, you'll both be glad you did.

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    I wouldn't tumble primed brass.
    I would de-prime them, then only use the primers for plinking purposes.

    Years ago, I acquired a few hundred pcs of 30-06 brass that was primed, but it was stored in a basement in cotton cloth bags, and the brass had become quite tarnished and some spots of mold/mildew. I deprimed them, then tumbled them clean. This brass seemed to be new/never fired, so I FL sized them. Since I didn't "trust" the primers, partially due to storage conditions, as well as the potential cracking of primer compound during de-priming (my thoughts were more about brisance consistency, then total failure), So I put the old primers back in for "fireform" loads, so the brass would become gun specific. Then I would necksize only, for future loads.
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  10. #10
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    I am pretty content with "clean" brass, I do tumble rifle brass after full-length sizing to remove the case lube. I seem to have OCD issues on other things, but not my brass.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    If there is no corrosion, why not just load them and shoot them - then you can deprive them, swage the primer pocket and make them nice and shiny. I understand that some people like hamburgers and some like prime rib . . . but they both get the job done as far as nutrition. Brass is brass and if it isn't corroded, then why take a chance on tumbling and getting a particle of the media where it could block the primer function? On the other hand, I have heard of those who have tumbled loaded cartridges with no issues . . . but that would be at your own risk. For years, I only washed brass in soap and water with citric acid added and then rinsed ewell - wasn't shiny but it worked just fine. I recently got a small tumbler and use stainless steel pins and wet tumble - yea . . . it makes them nice and shiny and pretty . . . . fut as Louis Sullivan said . . . "form follows function". If the cases are clean, they certainly won't hurt your rifle . . .nor you . . . after you shoot them, you'll have the remainder of the case life to keep them shiny. In the end, you have three options - 1. try tumbling them and you may or may not have a few that won't go off - 2. Load 'em and shoot them as they are and then polish them before the next reloading - or 3. punch out the existing primers, swage the primer pockets, polish, re-prime and load 'em up. Personally, I'd prefer to save the primers and shoot them as they are . . but that's me. Let us know which door you choose. Good luck and enjoy!

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Load them, put them in your gun where you can't see them and pretend they are bright and shiny. Then shoot them for accuracy and compare to ones that were actually bright and shiny. Perfect time to see if shiny brass works any better than tarnished brass. IMHO bright and shiny brass looks good on the shelf but has no other function.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master JoeJames's Avatar
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    I kind of hate to admit this, but one time, and only one time, I tumbled fired brass with fired primers still intact and not de-primed. After bending my de-priming rod all to heck, and after having to salvage a rod from another die set I learned my lesson.
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  14. #14
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    I think you could tumble them successfully, but if it was me I'd always have just little nagging thought as I fired each round, is this going to go off or not? And, if some of them don't, what have you got then? A loaded round with an indented primer--a dud. Much more dangerous to disassemble than just addressing the issue to begin with. Better, I think, to de-prime them and then tumble if appearance is of great importance to you. I have de-primed many loaded cases and have never had a primer fire on me, but it may be technique. I use a single stage press and apply slow, even pressure. I wouldn't perform the de-priming with sudden impact. The next thing that will come to mind, should you chose to de-prime, is "can I reuse the primers?" Same mental dilemma--maybe, and probably yes in most cases, but after reloading I'd always wonder when firing each round if it was going to go off. Ideally, I think I'd de-prime, trash the primers, and re-prime with new primers. Really, they aren't that expensive. You could just pop the primers.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    The brass is Cavim 90 & 91 MilSurp brass. I have already processed them properly, including the Dillon Swage.
    I unfortunately overloaded them just a hair for my Windham, Maine Bushmaster, and to be safe, pulled the bullets and powder.
    These are truly ready-to-load....just not too shiny.
    RBUCK351 may well be right. It is only cosmetic.
    Collector and shooter of guns with selector switches and threaded barrels. Collector of suppressors, SBR's, AOW's and SBS's. Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I've had walnut shell stick in the flash hole of decapped brass. I'm sure yours would all fire, but might be a little inconsistent in lighting the powder. Me, I'd worry about shiny after firing them.
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  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy Captain*Kirk's Avatar
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    No. Not worth the risk. Either fire the primers, decap and start over, or endure the tarnish for one firing. I've tumbled many cases in corncob media with fired primers in place and found media stuck under the anvils after decapping. There is also a small risk that one could detonate in the tumbler.
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  18. #18
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    With all the extra time we all now have ...0000 steel wool will bring back the luster without the worry of grit in the flash hole .
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  19. #19
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    M-Tecs's Avatar
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    Personally I would not tumble primed brass simply because of media getting stuck in the flash hole. On the other hand I have no problem with tumbling loaded ammo so loading them than tumbling is an option. I also have not problem shooting brass that is tarnished.

    After reading this in 2008 http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/...n-loaded-ammo/ I did a very limited test. I tumbled a total of 18 M118LR 7.62 loaded cartridges. Tumble times were 2, 4, and 8 hours. Over the chrono and pulling down one cartridge to visually inspect I could not detect any change.

    A little more here

    https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=300510

    http://forums.accuratereloading.com/...43/m/602103723
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 04-03-2020 at 03:04 PM.
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    Why not hand polish them after you’ve loaded them?

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
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