Spike Camp

Cartridge case cleaner?

Re: Cartridge case cleaner?
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2017, 02:04:59 PM »
The only thing I consistently tumbled was handgun brass I loaded with Unique. I do any of that on my carport, 100% fresh air.  I worked with lead for years and we were tested for exposure every 5 years. I failed 3 times.  It's a whole lot more dangerous to kids than adults.  I was one of the last Telco craftsman able to "wipe" a lead joint as torches were very dangerous in a manhole.   Read and observe the warning labels!  JMO!

Re: Cartridge case cleaner?
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2017, 03:14:45 PM »
I started reloading in 1968 when I bought my first centerfire rifle, a .30-06.  I'm now reloading 12 rifle cartridges and 5 pistol cartridges.  I've scrounged range brass from day one, and I think that I've only bought new brass for 3 rifle cartridges and maybe the .357 and .44 mag pistols when I first bought them.

I believe that cases should be cleaned to remove any dirt or anything else that could scratch the chamber or bore of your firearm.  Shiny cases do not shoot any better than tarnished cases.

When I started reloading I would clean my cases by just wiping them with clean rags, or if the cases had caked on dirt, I would put them in a cloth bag, and wash them with my laundry.

Sometime in the late 70's or early 80's I bought a Thumler's Tumbler and used it with walnut hull media and a squirt of Frankford Arsenal brass polish to clean my fired cases.  Then when I started using my tumbler to tumble my homemade lead shot with powdered graphite the tumbler liner became too dirty to use to clean brass, so I bought a vibratory tumbler for my brass. 

My brass cleaning process now is to first deprime the bottle neck rifle cases, then I fill a 1 quart plastic jar with the cases, water, a squirt of Dawn detergent, and some Lemon Shine detergent.  I soak the cases for about an hour, and vigorously shake the jar several times.  I then rinse the cases in clean water and dry the cases.  I then put the dry cases in my vibratory tumbler with walnut hull media and FA brass polish for about 3 hours.  After tumbling, I wipe the cases with a towel and they are ready to reload.

I've made combination case length and overall cartridge length gauges for my most often reloaded rifle cartridges, so I can quickly measure and sort my rifle cases for trimming.  I also anneal my "high cost" rifle cases (7mm Rem mag, .300 Wby, and .375 RUM) after every third firing.

I full length size all of my pistol cases in carbide size dies, and I full length size rifle cases for the first firing.  After a rifle case has been fired in one of my rifles I then partial full length size the cases, except the .300 Wby cases that I only neck size.  After I size cases, I wipe off any residual lubricant with a clean towel.

I continue to reload and fire cases until either the primer pockets become loose or the necks split, then I toss them.   

NRA Life Member

Re: Cartridge case cleaner?
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2017, 07:46:48 PM »
One thing that I did a couple of times, but some guys did all of the time, with their split neck cases, loose primer cases, or otherwise no longer reloadable brass.  When we would shoot our NRA Highpower matches, there were usually three or four servicemen that would drive in from one of the Central Texas bases to shoot the match.  I do not know exactly, but they were required to shoot x amount of matches a year, or something like that.  They were required to turn in their "spent" brass cases to the bean counters at the base, to show that they indeed had expended their ammo.  We would trade them our crap brass for their now once fired military brass.  Occasionally one of them would have Lake City brass, which would be a real wonderful thing.  This was twenty-five or more years ago; maybe the military rules have changed.  When we would shoot at Camp Perry at the National Matches, the military guys left all their brass.  We would be picking that stuff up like seagulls picking up popcorn.  Some of the guys got really anal about it, and would bring home well over a thousand rounds of brass, which would be their match brass for the next year of shooting.  I have a box with hundreds of rounds of crap brass that I am saving.  One day, I hope to find a reasonable way of melting it all into one big huge clump.  Don't ask me why, I cannot explain.... it is just something I want to do.  MM


  • *****
  • 3289
    • View Profile
Re: Cartridge case cleaner?
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2017, 01:20:52 PM »
I more as aesthetic than anything else, I like my brass to look shiny :) ;D ;D


  • *****
  • 6757
    • View Profile
Re: Cartridge case cleaner?
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2017, 07:38:32 AM »
It makes em purdy


  • *****
  • 2684
    • View Profile
Re: Cartridge case cleaner?
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2017, 05:03:51 AM »
Tried the 50/50 mix of water and vinegar with a couple of drops of dawn dish soap, and it worked pretty well. It is a bit laborious wiping the necks down and drying. Not bad, if you have time on your hands, you shake the cartridges a couple of times and put them back in their cases to air dry in the garage. Believe I'll just go with the procedure that Doug and Mike use and save a little money, using once fired brass, and being watchful for wear and tear.   

Re: Cartridge case cleaner?
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2017, 09:54:26 AM »
I have one of Hornady's Sonic Cleaners. I use it with their liquid cleaner and water. They say distilled water is better, but tap water is easier to come by. I run the cases throgh for a total of 24 minutes then set them to dry on a self-mafe "rack" (a piece of wood with a bunch of nails driven partly in).

I like this way over the conventional tumblers because of the speed and quietness. I could speed it up even more if I dried the cases in my oven or jerky maker.

I don't know if it's cosmetic or not. They guy who taught me reloading did it, so I do it.
"The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence."


  • *
  • 28
  • Creedmoor
    • View Profile
Re: Cartridge case cleaner?
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2017, 11:42:54 AM »
1.  Tumble crushed walnut with a capful of Nushine and a capful of Mineral Spirits.  I really do not care about shiny brass, it really does help when I inspect brass.

2.  FL resize.

3.  Trim if needed. 

4.  Check for case head separation with a dental pick, inspect brass.

5.  Wash in hot soapy water.  Rinse very well, air dry for 2 days.

As soon as the Annealer gets here, that will be step 2.

This is just what works for me.  YMMV
We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.