Do you clean pistol primer pockets?


August 10, 2010, 10:28 PM
Some of us do, some don't.
I'm curious to see who out there is as obsessed as me, cleaning out each of my pockets with wire cable.

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August 10, 2010, 10:33 PM
I'm not that obsessed. Last pistol primer pocket clean out 37 years ago. Each person must do what they think is best.;)

August 10, 2010, 10:39 PM

August 10, 2010, 10:40 PM
For 99.9% of all pistol shooting I only clean them by replacing them with another.

August 10, 2010, 11:06 PM
I like clean looking ammo, so I use an ultrasound cleaner on them. It seems to do a good job of cleaning the primer pockets while also doing a good job cleaning out the inside of the case. If I still have crud in the pocket, I may still clean it out manually. You can call me anal if you want, I don't mind.:D

August 10, 2010, 11:07 PM
I only clean rifle primer pockets, when I watn to be thorough on case prep. I don't recall cleaning any pistol primer pockets.

August 10, 2010, 11:12 PM
Some of my self defense 357 mag rounds i may clean the pockets, but my plinking .38s leadcast ones i dont clean.

August 10, 2010, 11:15 PM
I don't clean primer pockets for .45 ACP or .44 Rem Magnum.

Steve C
August 10, 2010, 11:57 PM
Sometimes I do when loading small batches on the single stage, those being loaded on the progressive do not get cleaned.

August 11, 2010, 12:06 AM
I clean them all!


August 11, 2010, 12:08 AM
I clean them all. I have custom single actions with headspace adjusted to a minimum and can't afford high primers because my pockets are dirty.

August 11, 2010, 12:26 AM
The way I clean my primer pockets, it's not (too much of) a pain. After I knock out the primer with a Lee universal decapping die, I hit the primer pocket with the appropriate RCBS primer pocket uniforming tool spinning in the RCBS Trim Mate case prep center before chucking the brass in the bowl. Since I've already uniformed all the primer pockets with this tool, all it takes is a second for the tool to clean out the primer residue, and then on to the vibratory case cleaner. Cases come out of the cleaner ready for priming and loading.

Do you have to do this? Not at all. I like doing it because it's just one more step in helping me make the absolutely best ammo I possibly can.

August 11, 2010, 12:40 AM
I clean all of my primer pockets regardless of caliber. Loading is one time I NEVER hurry and really take my time and check out my brass as well as all stages of the loading process. I have a primer pocket cleaning brush designed just for that purpose but usually end up using an old dental tool. I have found that dental tool to come in handy for a lot of misc gun related jobs. A quick swipe with that tool usually cleans out a pocket quite well. I guess you can call me anal too.

August 11, 2010, 12:46 AM
I don't trim the brass, but I do clean the primer pockets. Not sure why I do it, but I suppose I must have read it somewhere many years ago when I first started reloading. I now load mostly for rifles so it's not that often I have to worry about it. When I do, I just chuck one of the little wire pocket cleaning brushes in the drill and it takes about a second to clean.

August 11, 2010, 12:52 AM
Every single one. I even turned down some old hollow ground gunsmith screwdrivers that fit large and small primer pockets perfectly to get out as much primer ash as possible. High primers are a safety hazard and clean pockets are one way to minimize or eliminate.

Just my .02,

Ruger GP100 fan
August 11, 2010, 02:36 AM
Yes. I use Lee's $3 pocket cleaning tool.

dagger dog
August 11, 2010, 06:03 AM
Yes, the more gadgets the better!

August 11, 2010, 06:24 AM
I use RCBS little hand tool.
M-1 carbine primer pockets accepted new primers better when clean....................

August 11, 2010, 07:41 AM
Some yes, some no.

August 11, 2010, 07:48 AM
Yes, but I'm a noob and just doing what the books tell me. I'm terribly concerned I'll find one which tells me to jump off a bridge.

I've use the tool that came with the Lee setup I bought, and chuck that into a drill. A quick zip and primer pocket is cleaner.

August 11, 2010, 08:01 AM
Dear lord, no. I load handgun practice ammo by the gross, and I can't imagine taking the time to worry about the primer pockets....

August 11, 2010, 08:42 AM
I had some 45acp win. brass that had to be cleaned or the primer would seat too high. Got tired that and left the brass at the range...

August 11, 2010, 08:53 AM
I clean the primer pocket because that is how I was taught to do it. Plus reloading is a form of relaxation for me so the longer I can drag it out the better.

Lee Roder
August 11, 2010, 09:03 AM
Yes, they come out of my tumbler squeaky clean

The Bushmaster
August 11, 2010, 10:24 AM
YES!! Every dang one! Every dang time! Why? You have a problem with that?!?:D

Redneck with a 40
August 11, 2010, 11:14 AM
Only on my rifle rounds, every little step helps accuracy.:)

August 11, 2010, 11:53 AM
Waste of time for pistol.

I clean them for rifle because rounds might be fired in a gas gun and I don't want high primers.

If I only fired them in a bolt rifle, I would not bother.

A shooting bud of mine, a National Long Range Champion, he never cleaned his primer pockets.

August 11, 2010, 12:01 PM
Avoiding high primers is a WISE move so I inspect all cartridges and clean those that are obviously cruddy. I truly hate malfunctions of any kind when shooting. A little more preparation avoids aggravation.

GW Staar
August 11, 2010, 03:08 PM
If I'm loading Pistol on a progressive, the way God intended, then no. They don't make a progressive with a primer pocket cleaning station!:scrutiny:

For rifle, I load only semi progressive...and I don't own a Dillon 1050. So there's an ready opportunity, during case prep, so....might as well.

August 11, 2010, 03:39 PM
Yes. I'm in no hurry.

August 11, 2010, 11:43 PM
MarcoPolo - I clean the primer pocket because that is how I was taught to do it. Plus reloading is a form of relaxation for me so the longer I can drag it out the better.

When I load for auto pistol on my Lee Turret or on the Square Deal B, no. When I load single stage for rifles, yes. When I load single stage for my revolvers, yes.

My reason is the same as MarcPolo.

And welcome aboard MP.



August 12, 2010, 01:47 AM
...I'm terribly concerned I'll find one which tells me to jump off a bridge.

Here's a link to a design specification which covers that -

Reloading manuals seem to be more complete than in the past, including references to specialized aspects of the shooting sports such as Cowboy Action Shooting and gas-operated (military) rifles.

I have yet to find anything in a reloading manual which is dangerous. If anything, the authors seem to be making an effort to explain how to do it as safely as possible.

(I did understand your bridge remark to be humor... :) )

Jeff H
August 12, 2010, 12:46 PM
I anticipated the "no" vote in the poll would win, but I am surprised how many "yes" votes there are.

I see no benefit in cleaning primer pockets for all of the pistol rounds I reload for, but I don't shoot competition either.

August 12, 2010, 02:09 PM
I've done it occasion with premium components loads in heavy big bore pistol loads. Not sure it's beneficial in pistol, but that little lee primer pocket cleaner chucked into an 18v cordless, makes small work of big piles of rifle brass.

Hondo 60
August 12, 2010, 04:09 PM
I used to clean primer pockets until I got a progressive press. Kinda defeats the purpose if you stop to clean 'em out.

August 12, 2010, 10:58 PM
I run 'em all through my progressive with the decapping/sizing die being the only one installed. Then I do all the trimming, bevelling, etc. That being the case, I can clean 100 in about 3-5 minutes with the brush chucked into a drill. I pride myself on 100% function rate in my semi-autos so I don't mind the effort.

August 13, 2010, 12:03 AM
Yes. Because my Grandfather did and he taught me how.

August 13, 2010, 03:59 AM
For all those who love Blue, Dillon also considers it a waste of time. Like everything else, if it makes you happy and doesn't hurt any one else, feel free to clean every primer pocket you want. It is your life.
Now, I have NEVER had a high primer from primer ash. With my Dillon 1050s, a high primer means the machine is out of calibration and needs to be adjusted.
Never think that Benchrest shooting case prep has any part in handgun reloading. In benchrest, if they can drop the average group size from 0.301 to 0.275, they have made a significant improvement. Handguns work in the 3-5" at 25 yard area and good reloads (bullet and standard dies) tries to shrink it to less than 2". We are no where near the goals of benchrest shooting and will never see the effect.
That said, the easy way to take care of it, at least it is easy to me, is to deprime all my brass before I clean. I inspect my fired case, deprime, tumble clean, and get ready to pour them into my case feeder. Using 20/40 grit corn, the primer pockets come out almost completely clean. If there is a grain of corn in the flash hole, it will fall into the spent primer container when I resize.
Don't sweat any of the small stuff until you are happy with your reloads using just the techniques required to produce safe and reliable ammunition.

August 13, 2010, 08:32 AM
Back when I could still shoot pistosl I always did. But I'm surprised so many do. I thought I was the only oddball. :D

August 13, 2010, 08:53 AM
On pistol brass I will clean them after 10 or more loadings just to ensure I can seat the primer all the way down below flush with the case head. I run a number of competition revolvers with very light springs and if the primers are not fully seated you may get a failure to fire once in awhile because the hammer/pin blow has to finish seating the primer and then bang it off. Murphy follows me to every match. I hate Murphy.

August 13, 2010, 10:26 AM
Handguns work in the 3-5" at 25 yard area
I think there is a significant difference in expectations. If a revolver does not shoot better than 2" at 25yds, something is wrong with it. My good ones shoot into 2"@50yds.

Ky Larry
August 13, 2010, 12:55 PM
Call me anal-retentive but I clean every one. It's more entertaining than watching the drivel that comes out of my T.V.

August 13, 2010, 04:07 PM
Practice ammo - No

Competition & SD/HD - I use a tool to square the primer pockets and this cleans them meticulously at the same time.

August 14, 2010, 08:58 AM
I never clean pistol primer pockets, as they are loaded at full-progressive. That's what the progressive is for after all, making lots of ammo fast... :D

Sometimes I clean rifle pockets, sometimes I don't. Powder charge/type, projectile and primer make more difference IMO than the steps I include or skip on case prep. But then, I don't shoot from a benchrest, I shoot Highpower, and do all of my load workup from the prone position at 200-300 yards. I also load by volume from a powder measure and always strive to find a load in that "sweet spot" where a a variation of a couple tenths or so up and down doesn't impact it.

August 14, 2010, 10:02 AM
U need to go to Camp Perry.;)

August 14, 2010, 12:05 PM
Those numbers ain't from standing hind-legged. ;)

Tom S.
August 14, 2010, 12:45 PM
Please remember that I've only been reloading since the late 50's, but NO I do not clean pistol primer pockets and have NEVER had a high seated primer.

I reload pistol between 300 and 1000 at a time and have far better things to do with my time than waste it doing a needless task. :neener:

GTS Dean
August 15, 2010, 09:58 PM
I have hundreds and hundreds of .44 Mag cases and a single stage press. I'll spend an evening in the garage doing nothing but case prep - decap, bell, clean. I may do 2-300 rounds of this, then grab last time's prepped brass and and brush the pockets and work with the Lee Auto-Prime. Next time, I will load and crimp bullets then start on another round of case cleaning. I always have 2-3 hours worth of work to do at a sitting. I like mass production effort - with accuracy. I just get into a rhythm and roll.

Rifle ammo always gets treated special.

August 15, 2010, 10:10 PM
I cleaned 90 7.62 x 39 today
I always clean cases b/4 removing the military crimp.

I also had to reclean some of the pockets as the crimp had broken up & was still in the pocket.

August 15, 2010, 10:42 PM
I'm loading 9mm on a Lee single stage press, when I'm seating the primers and it doesn't feel right I'll stop and clean that primer pocket. If it seats straight away I just move onto the next one.

August 16, 2010, 10:42 AM
Nope, with the amount of pistol rounds I shoot at a time that would take forever. And I load single stage. I usually lose the brass before it is too dirty anyway.

Rifle I clean always.
I might have to re-evaluate that system though. Last match I was in I was in a rush and didn't have time to clean them. Didn't seem to matter. Shot a 144/150 at 500yrds. Wind played more of a role than clean primer pockets.
I'll have to experiment more on that.:)

August 16, 2010, 11:37 AM
It takes practically no time at all. I grab a group of 20-30 cases at a time in one hand, use the Lee tool in the other and do 100rds in seconds.

August 17, 2010, 07:31 PM
Clean pistol primer pockets?? Why on earth???


August 22, 2010, 10:21 PM
After seeing the crap left behind by Federal primers and having to use extra force seating the new primers in some pockets I can't bare to go without cleaning EVERY pocket (rifle or pistol). Federals being as soft as they are will flatten out if too much pressure is used to seat them flush.

August 22, 2010, 10:25 PM

if they look to need it

August 23, 2010, 02:34 PM
I clean them if one of the following conditions are met:

1) I am thoroughly bored out of my mind
2) The Packers aren't on TV...

August 23, 2010, 02:37 PM
Sounds about right. Gotta really have nothing else to do.

August 23, 2010, 02:39 PM
I do. I always thought cleaning the pockets was part of the process, so I've done it for everything. Wasn't even aware that skipping it was an option. So maybe I'll stop.:)

August 23, 2010, 03:03 PM
momchenr----i'm with you. When I started, I didn't even know you could leave 'em dirty! Now, I'm set in my ways.

August 23, 2010, 03:28 PM
I do the first time around, then every 3-4 loads because I usually get crimped primer pockets from military brass. Since I'm there, I will clean 'em out with the Lee tool or throw them in the tumbler after resizing. Like others, I want maximum reliability. For rifle loads, for sure, every single time. I look at it as just another way of getting max accuracy and reliability.


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