removing sealant from pullet milsurp bullets


November 23, 2007, 10:59 PM
A few months ago I posted about some "oversized" milsurp pull-down 150 grain FMJ bullets I have that were supposed to be .308.
I checked them out a little closer today and it turns out that there is old sealant on the bullets and this is the cause of them being "oversized". I fished a few out that didn't have much of it on them and the readings were .308 right on the nose.

So I'm wondering now...
1. is it necessary to remove this sealant? I'd like to load these up as some home made m-80 ball and seal them for long term storage so I'm wondering if sealant plus old sealant will cause any problems.

2. second, what is the best way to get this stuff off. I placed one bullet in nail polish remover (IIRC, nail polish and sealant are pretty close to one another) and it did soften the stuff enough that I could scrape it off with my thumbnail. I'm thinking if I soaked them in nail polish remover for awhile then tumbled the hell out of them to remove the remover...
Think that would work?

Or am I making too much of this?

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November 23, 2007, 11:22 PM
Nail polish is acetone with perfume in it for the ladies. Good solvent, but wear gloves and have lots of fresh air. I'd try some Lacquer Thinner, stuff is pretty strong. Also, brake cleaner or carb cleaner might do the trick too. If all those fail, there's solvent for cleaning auto painting equipment, I haven't found anything that stuff won't cut through yet. You'd have to go to an auto paint store for that stuff.

Always use gloves and have adequate ventilation, all this stuff I mentioned is quite nasty on your central nervous system.

November 24, 2007, 12:10 AM
Soak them overnight in Simple Green and all the sealant will come right off. Then if you want them to shine, tumble for a couple of hours in Corn Cob.

Hope this helps.


November 24, 2007, 10:09 AM
I would definately remove the asphaltum from the bullets. Let them soak overnight in a jar of gasoline and them wipe them off with a paper towel.


November 24, 2007, 11:30 AM
i used mineral spirits on the ones i ve cleaned.


November 24, 2007, 01:10 PM
I had this same problem with many thousands, here is what I did. Took the tumbler outside away from anything, ran a long extention cord to it, but not plugged in. Add clean corncob media, bullets to be cleaned and half a cup of acetone. Left the lid off and pluged cord in, it was a warm sunny day and in 10 minutes the bullets were clean, cloudy cool days will take longer for the acetone to evaporate. Just be careful when dealing with possible fire hazards


November 24, 2007, 01:14 PM
Load them like they are.

It won't hurt a thing.

You still will probably have to wash off what scrapes out when you seat them, but a rag and mineral spirits will wipe it right off.

November 25, 2007, 02:48 PM
Thanks for the ideas. Simple Green sounds about the most user friendly so I will probably try that first.

I was thinking though - I kind of want to store these for long term anyhow. I can't afford to buy much current production 7.62x51 ball ammo but I'd like something better stored away than just the south african stuff I have now (my handloads shoot groups half the size of SA ammo).
Now that I know they aren't larger than .308 (the sealant threw me off), what harm would there be in leaving the sealant on them?
Wouldn't it still just serve as a sealant?

November 25, 2007, 02:52 PM
What did I just say?

"Load them like they are.
It won't hurt a thing!"

The waterproofing seal won't be nearly as good as it was the first time, but it just might still help a little.

November 25, 2007, 06:50 PM
rcmodel - I "heard" you the first time. ;)
I have a reason for all the questions so bear with me...

What I'm trying to do with these is get ammo loaded that is at least as high of quality as current production US made 7.62x51 ball ammo. I have a decent stash of LC 89 brass for them that I have been processing. I got it free a couple years ago and just recently got all the tools together to finally start using it.
I have half of the brass trimmed, decrimped, and ready for one more go in the tumbler before it gets loaded. I also have about 30 casings primed and ready to load as a test lot.
It has been a lot of work but for some really good ammo that I can store for 30 years or so that will cost me way less than an equal amount of current production ball ammo (if I can even find it), I think it will be worth it.
I'm planning to load half of my brass with these FMJ's and half with Hornady 155 grain AMAX bullets to try and approximate their TAP ammunition (sort of).

If it were just plinking ammo that I was going to put together I'd load them up and shoot them and just not worry about it now that I know the bullets are the right size. If they were sealed once and could have been shot down the barrel without issues then they would also be fine now.
So it's not that I'm not reading the replies or that I'm ignoring anyone.

But this is going to be special purpose ammo that gets the highest attention to detail. The brass has been measured and trimmed, eventhough it probably would have worked fine without trimming. First I have to use a little of it to figure out what load I'm going to want to use with each type of bullet. Then it's going to get sealed primers and sealed bullets if I can find a way to do that safely, and then its going to get sealed in an ammo can with some dessicant for long term storage. Since I can't afford to buy several hundred rounds of "good" ammo, this is going to be it for me.
In my ideal world, some day my kids will find this stuff sealed in an ammo can ten years after I die and say "Gee, that sure is nice looking ammunition. I wonder where dad got this stuff. It looks brand new! I think we should go shoot it!"

So that is why I am so big on asking the questions. I have loaded lots of rounds for hunting and shooting before, but I have never loaded ammo for a purpose like this. Removing the sealant may be necessary for safety since I am planning to seal it. If it would have worked on its own, I probably would have just left it on there and loaded them that way. But if the seal is going to be weak or inferior, then I want to put the extra effort in and do it right.

Just want to make sure I get it right.

November 25, 2007, 10:42 PM
Thanks for the corncob/acetone solution.

November 26, 2007, 09:17 AM
Soak them overnight in Simple Green

Another ReloaderFred knowledge gem.:D Simple Green is non-toxic and biodegradeable. Good stuff, thanks again Fred.

Does anyone use clear fingernail polish to seal primers and rounds? I'm wondering if there would be a residue problem after a long range session. I don't imagine it would be any worse than shooting lead bullets and having all that lube buildup muck up your firearm, but I'm just asking.

As far as long term storage Goon, I like using the military ammo cans. You usually have to inspect them pretty good, but I've found them to be air tight when you find ones that aren't beat up too much. Just toss one of those oxygen absorbers in there with it if you have any worries. Most of those that come in consumer products can be rejuvenated by tossing them in the oven for a while. Here at work, we used to toss them in wafer boxes to abate moisture issues with our copper processing since copper likes to oxidize so readily in the mere presence of air. (I work in Semiconductors) When their indicator strips said they were done, we'd bake them to drive out moisture and reuse them. You can find them on ebay. Search with the term "dessicant" and you'll find plenty, and cheap too.

Fred can offer some real world advice here too I'm sure. Being he lives on the Oregon Coast, you can bet he knows how to deal with moisture issues regarding ammo.

November 26, 2007, 10:34 AM
We used to use Simple green for all kinds of stuff in the Army. I even knew one guy who was a little fruity and he would drink the stuff! I figure that if he could do that and live it must be far less toxic than acetone.
I think I'll try that next time I get a little time to devote to reloading.
As for the sealant, there are a couple products I have looked up online. Cabelas offers one of them. Some have said that they basically amount to about the same thing as nail polish and some have also used nail polish to seal their rounds. I can't say how that works but that's why I tried nail polish remover on the sealant on my bullets in the first place (didn't realize its a different kind of sealant).

I already have a couple good Ammo cans and a couple packs of dessicant to go in them. Now i just need to load the ammo.

Mark whiz
November 26, 2007, 12:08 PM
I bought a bunch one time and I just soaked them in mineral spirits for about 30minutes, wiped them down and then tumbled them in walnut media which I had also treated with mineral spirits. I'd say this took off 95% + of all the sealant residue.

November 26, 2007, 12:16 PM
For long term storage, I like GI ammo cans best. I've got about 50 of them for various items, such as loaded ammunition, bullets, etc. It's best to load them where it's warm and then seal them up for long term storage. One important thing to do for long term storage is to keep the cans off concrete, since it conducts moisture. You can stack your cans on wood, which will keep it from close contact with the concrete. Another thing that helps is a constant temperature. Extremes of hot and cold will cause more problems for getting moisture in the cans than just plain humid weather will by itself.

The sealant used on the bullets is tar based, so anything that will desolve oil based products will work on it. I like the Simple Green because I don't have to worry about toxic fumes or fire danger. I've used mineral spirits in corn cob, and that works, too, but it stinks and is flammable. (also works to remove moly from bullets that I bought at a yard sale really, really cheap)

Dan Scharch sells primer sealant at He also sells some of the finest pistol brass on the market. I've never seen primer pockets or flash holes that well done, but then I digress.

As for sealing the bullets, unless you're going to be exposing these rounds to a lot of water, such as submerging them, it's really not necessary to seal them, as long as they're stored properly. I've carried rounds in the pouring rain and they shot just fine and neither the primers or bullets were sealed.

The reason military rounds are sealed is because of beach landings, use in jungles and trenches, etc. Those rounds have to be able to resist daily exposure to water and being submerged for hours at a time.

What usually happens to rifle rounds that are really old is the necks split. This is caused from the constant tension of holding the bullet in place. Properly annealed brass will last much longer, but if your brass has been loaded several times, then it will be work hardened and will split sooner.

I've got 2,000 rounds of virgin LC 7.62 brass in a sealed 20mm ammunition can that I may someday load. But since virgin LC brass is no longer available, I just may hold onto it for awhile and see what the market does.....

Hope this helps.


November 26, 2007, 12:33 PM
+++++1 to everything ReloaderFred just said.

For very long term storage, annealing the cases is much more important then sealing the bullets & primers.
And "proper" storage conditions are more important then anything else.

I have ammo I reloaded in the 1970's that looks just as good, and shoots just as good, as the day I loaded it.

All my ammo is kept in sealed .50 cal GI ammo cans on steel shelving units in the basement.

Unless you foresee a beach landing, or 6 weeks in a water filled foxhole, the bullets & primers do not need to be sealed if kept in air-tight containers at 70-80 degrees year round.

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