cleaning lube after sizing?


April 2, 2008, 03:18 PM
alright, I know there are no hard and fast rules for this, however I can't really find that much about it and I would like to know if the way I am cleaning and sizing is acceptable.

First with straight wall pistol brass I do the following:

1- Tumble for a while to clean the brass up
2- Lightly lube the brass with my fingers
3- Size and prime

I tend not to clean the lube off after I size because I use very little, and I have carbide dies. I know I don't need lube, however I find it comforting when the brass sizes so easily.

Is it really necessary to clean off just the little bit of lube that I use on pistol cases? I have lee, hornady one shot, and RCBS brands.

Now with rifle brass I use hornady one shot inside the case mouth and RCBS on the sides. Again should I be cleaning off the lube before proceeding any further?

If there is a technique that I could perform to not have to clean lubrication off before moving on I would very much like to know what it is.

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April 2, 2008, 03:48 PM
You can just throw that sized brass in the tumbler for about 20 minutes with some untreated (or treated) corn cob and all the lube will be removed.

Hope this helps.


April 2, 2008, 04:03 PM
For sure, clean the rifle brass.

Lubed cases and hi-power rifles are not a good mix.
It increases bolt thrust on the action, and promotes case stretching.

I'm with Fred though.

I clean everything with treated walnut media before sizing, size, then clean again with treated corn-cob afterward to get the case lube and sizing marks off.

Comes out looking better then factory loads!


April 2, 2008, 05:08 PM
Well I am chiming in on this one too. I agree with Fred and RC clean that lube with a second tumble, in fact I prefer to remove the lube before I prime. Now if your nit picky like me I clean the primer pockets after the second tumble.

April 2, 2008, 05:41 PM
I don't disagree with any of you, except that I am trying to avoid that second tumble. It may just be my laziness talking here, or that I am just trying to get more done in less time.

So Yes I will concede that I should definitely clean rifle brass after sizing. Which I will most likely do with either a quick rinse and dry in a sink, or by just wiping it off. And the question here is will wiping the outside be enough if hornady one shot is used on the inside necks? Or will the one shot have to be cleaned out too? (which would require a bath or tumble)

But what about pistol brass? Am I just better off not using any lube at all?

I really hate tumbling is what I am getting at here.

April 2, 2008, 05:55 PM
I hate washing brass in the sink and then drying it for three days much worse then tumbling it twice!

Besides, then it gets those unsightly water spot rings on it!
You wouldn't treat your fine crystal that way would you?

What would the other ladies think? :D


April 3, 2008, 01:53 AM
Wiping off the lube with rag will suffice; it's what I did for many many years before I had a tumbler and now I have two tumblers. One for initial 50/50 corn and walnut and one for lubed cases walnut only.

Regarding your question about pistol; since your have carbide dies I certainly wouldn't use lube and I don't.

April 3, 2008, 10:25 AM
alright guys, I can get behind it. Thanks for the advice.

April 3, 2008, 01:18 PM
I've done a LOT of experiments with case lube. I've tried most of the commercial case lubes and I've tried a few of my own homemade versions.

For straight walled pistol brass, I use carbide dies, but still prefer a very small amount of case lube. I put a tube of Lee Case Lube into a spray bottle (available in the gardening aisle at Walmart) then I add 16 ounces of 91% isopropyl alcohol (available in the pharmacy aisle at Walmart). I cover the top with my thumb or a regular screw cap and shake until it's uniform with no blobs of case lube floating in alcohol. Don't screw in the sprayer cap until the case lube is distributed in the alcohol or a blob of case lube could plug the sprayer dip tube.

Shake before each use (OK to leave the sprayer attached at that point) and lightly mist the cases. I put them in a Rubbermaid container and shake them around. A little lube even makes it down inside the cases. Dump the cases on a cookie sheet (used only for reloading) and the alcohol quickly evaporates and leaves a very small amount of dry wax lube on the cases. They run through the progressive press like a dream. You shouldn't be able to see any lube on the cases. A couple of quick spritzes is all that's needed for 500 cases. You don't absolutely need to wait for the tiny bit of lube to dry before reloading.

I was using Imperial Sizing Wax for bottle neck rifle brass. It was the best of the commercial products. It worked well and was fairly easy to apply. Removing it wasn't too bad, but it was a bit sticky.

Then I tried full synthetic motor oil. It has excellent shear properties so I thought it might work well as a resizing lube. It's by far the best case lube I've ever used. Pour 1/4" of full synthetic oil (not synthetic blend) into the bottle cap and dip the neck. A little goes up inside the neck to lube the expander rod. Wipe the oil down the outside with your fingers as the brass is loaded into the press to be resized.

I was resizing .308 brass that had been fired in a machine gun. It needed a lot of resizing. I could lubricate every 20th case and didn't have any stuck brass. I was previously lubing every single case with Imperial Sizing Wax. In practice, I lube every tenth case with synthetic oil and the resizing force remains minimal.

Here's a cheesy video I made that shows the full synthetic oil used as case lube.

The case lube info starts at 4:30.

The synthetic oil is easy to clean off the cases because it's an oil and not a wax. You can wipe it off with a paper towel, but I greatly prefer to tumble it for 30 minutes. That cleans inside the case as well and results in very uniform results. Otherwise, some case necks may have more case lube in them than others, resulting in different friction when the bullet is starting to move, probably resulting in different ballistics which cause larger groups.

I use crushed walnut for all my tumbling. I'd worry that corn cob is more compressible and may tend to plug flash holes, but I haven't tried it so maybe that's an unfounded concern. I only have one tumbler, so it's all walnut shell media. I toss in a used dryer sheet or two to collect the black gunk (dirt, burned powder, burned primer, oxidized brass) and also to absorb the case lube. This makes my tumbling media last a VERY long time. It also helps that the synthetic oil is such an effective case lube that I use very little oil. There isn't a lot of oil to contaminate the tumbling media.

Watch the video if you can stand to hear my voice (I can't). It explains a lot of the more subtle aspects of what works for me. Maybe you'll find something that will work better for you.

April 3, 2008, 01:42 PM
Denatured alcohol. It's a pretty harsh solvent, but it cleans any kind of case lube off the cases quickly. It evaporates quickly so I just moisten the corner of a paper towel, it will clean about ten cases before drying out and getting loaded up with lube. Available at any paint/hardware store, a quart can is about 5$, enough for many thousands of cases.

Otherwise for large numbers of cases, like the output of my 650, I just tumble the loaded ammo in new corn cob media. Takes all the lube off, and puts a final shine on the cases. Like about 15 minutes for 100 .223.

April 3, 2008, 04:06 PM
For my pistol brass, I use a light dose of HOS as it makes even carbide dies work smoother on a progressive and I never clean the brass afterwards. Got this tip from others on another forum.

April 3, 2008, 04:19 PM
polish them up good before sizing. If you are using carbid dies why are you lubing the cartridges? That is what the carbid ring is there for.

If the brass is clean and shiny then just resize it and load it.

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