Cleaning reloading dies?


January 31, 2007, 11:12 AM
What is the best proceedure for cleaning up some older RCBS reloading dies? These dies just have a lot of crud inside them which the resizing lube manages to attract. Add to that, they haven't been used in years, and they just need a good cleaning.

With factory ammo prices going the way they are I've got to get back into reloading and unpack all my gear which has been living in boxes for a few years now.

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Chief 101
January 31, 2007, 11:20 AM
My buddies son wanted to reload some rifle ammo yesterday so he brought over his stuff and a can of , I think, One-Shot spray on case lube. I sprayed it in the dies and cleaned just like a rifle bore. Worked great and no stick...there may be a better way to do this but it worked great. Chief :cool:

January 31, 2007, 11:21 AM

I disassemble them and swab them out with Hoppes 9. Then I flush out the Hoppes with WD40 and wipe them all with clean shotgun patches. I hear some people use brake fluid, diesel, or Simple Green but I would recommend using the same CLP you use to clean your guns.

January 31, 2007, 11:22 AM
I use brake cleaner. It's the simplest. Or you can just wipe it down with denatured alcohol. Use a bore mop to get the inside of the dies.

Mark whiz
January 31, 2007, 11:23 AM
Spray brake cleaner and Q-Tips ought to get the job done. After that, you will want to put a light lube on any threads as the brake cleaner will take off all lubes.

Smokey Joe
January 31, 2007, 11:27 AM
Trbon8r--For cleaning reloading dies--When the issue arises, I treat 'em like a firearm chamber: Bronze brushes, solvent, patches. Happens for me, most often, with bullet seating dies in pistol calibers, after seating a bunch of lead bullets. The die accumulates bullet lube.

When that occurs, I disassemble the die, and clean it with gun cleaning solvent. Then reassemble and proceed. No big deal.

Now, you saidThese dies just have a lot of crud inside them and I'm going to assume that they are NOT rusty or pitted, just crudded up. Dies with actual rust & pits, I'd suspect of having changed their inside dimensions, and that could cause problems, especially in a sizing die.

If that is (ugh!) the situation, I'd clean the dies, then size 2-3 cases and check the cases VERY carefully to see that they were within SAAMI dimensions, before proceeding further in making ammunition.

But if they are just dirty inside, and after cleaning, are nice & smooth & shiny, then no probbie.

January 31, 2007, 12:00 PM
brake cleaner or carb cleaner i usually by the biggest and cheapest can. works really good

The Bushmaster
January 31, 2007, 12:23 PM
Any good solvent. Disassemble and let them soak for a while and/or use a brush. Wipe them dry and reassemble. They are steel alloy and don't need anything special to clean them as long as the brush won't scratch them...If they have rubber "O" rings. Remove them and set the "O" rings aside.

January 31, 2007, 12:30 PM
I shoot brake cleaner in them swab them out, get them dry and then a shot of Rem oil just for fun. Has worked so far.

January 31, 2007, 01:15 PM
As noted, just clean the dies as you would your guns. If there is any rust on the outside, you can take the lockrings off and put them in the tumbler along with a batch of brass. The tumbler will remove any light rust, but can't remove pitting.

Hope this helps.


January 31, 2007, 03:07 PM

POLISH THE DIES.... I polish the inside of my rifle reloading dies. Most die manufacturers leave the die bores smooth but not polished. A polished die will resize with much less axial force than one in the as-received condition. I disassemble them and put a little Flitz on a cotton bore mop held in a drill motor and polish each one for 30 seconds or more at a 300 to 600 rpm speed. Sometimes I have to wrap a paper towel around the swab to get a good fit. Then I clean all the polish out with hot water and dry with a paper towel wrapped around a clean cotton swab. The polishing process does not remove a measurable amount of material, but results in smoother operation, minimizes the scratching or scoring of the brass, and minimizes crumpling problems when I use them while forming wildcat brass.

I use Al's technique for polishing dies. instead, for cleaning dies.

January 31, 2007, 03:25 PM
I use Varmint Al's technique for restoring dies that start to scratch, and for making them smoother to start with, but for dies that are fouled up with a lot of bullet lube, the lube would have to be removed first. Any lead shavings would also have to be removed.

Al also has a neat idea for smoothing case mouths after trimming. I made several of the tools and they work great.

Hope this helps.


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