Primer Pocket Cleaning. Which method?


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gilgomesjr
February 22, 2011, 03:54 PM
Okay... this is probably a stupid question and if so won't be my first or last. The one thing I don't at all enjoy about reloading is cleaning primer pockets with a hand tool.

I'm wondering if it makes more sense to buy something like the "RCBS Trim mate" to help automate the task to a degree... or... spend about the same amount of cash on a decent ultrasonic cleaner.

If you're not worried about shiny brass, it seems the ultrasonic will clean the outside of the shell as well as the inside and the primer pocket (if you decap before resizing). If you do want shiny brass, you could always run it through a tumbler too.

Thoughts?

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MEHavey
February 22, 2011, 04:17 PM
I just keep/use a pocket uniformer in a variable-speed drill for rifle cases between loadings.
(and don't worry about it w/ pistol cases.)

k4swb
February 22, 2011, 04:37 PM
I'm wondering if it makes more sense to buy something like the "RCBS Trim mate" to help automate the task to a degree... or... spend about the same amount of cash on a decent ultrasonic cleaner.

If you're not worried about shiny brass, it seems the ultrasonic will clean the outside of the shell as well as the inside and the primer pocket (if you decap before resizing). If you do want shiny brass, you could always run it through a tumbler too.
The in thing now seems to be not to clean primer pockets. I did on everything I loaded, every time until I bought a progressive last year. Kinda defeats the purpose of a progressive if you have to stop and clean the PP.

I will still ocassionally go through the brass after depriming to clean them because I just like having them clean. Kinda like taking a bath and not washing your feet.

I am considering getting a sonic cleaner to try instead of a PP uniformer. To me a uniformer has always cleaned better than just a brush or scrape type cleaner.

GLOOB
February 22, 2011, 04:42 PM
Clean and shiny brass is only cosmetic. You can't even see the primer pocket, so a clean and shiny primer pocket is beyond cosmetic.

I decap, resize, and reprime all in one operation. What I can't see can't bother me.

rcmodel
February 22, 2011, 04:42 PM
I cleaned the old fashoned way for 50 years with a little hand twisted thingamabob or a small screwdriver.

Then about a year ago, I was staring at a bucket full of .223 cases to process and had a vision!

I used my cordless Dremel tool and one of the little brass brushs run on low speed.
You can clean primer pockets squeeky clean as fast as you can pick up cases and throw them down.

http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXC630&P=FR

More lately, I have been using Zila brand Lizzard Litter in my tumbler.
It is very fine ground walnut shell, and cleans primer pockets great while the cases get polished.

rc

Hendiadys
February 22, 2011, 04:47 PM
I'm not using a progessive loader, so high volume is not my realm, for cleaning primer pockets, I have taken to using a hardwood or bamboo skewer the size of the primer pocket or slightly smaller and square ended, embedded into a golf ball (as a tang handle). It is not nearly as agressive as brushes and cutters and burnishes the pocket without removing metal. The residues involved are, as a general rule, pretty brittle and crumble readily.

kelbro
February 22, 2011, 04:47 PM
A primer pocket uniformer is a totally different tool.

GLShooter
February 22, 2011, 05:00 PM
"kelbro A primer pocket uniformer is a totally different
tool."


However a pocket uniformer does , in fact, make an excellent primer pocket cleaner. I have one for small and large primer pockets and when I do clean the odd batch of pockets I fire up my Sinclair Pocket Uniformer in a Makita power screw driver.

Greg

cfullgraf
February 22, 2011, 05:30 PM
Even with the progressive press, I prefer to clean my brass between resizing and loading. So, much of my primer pocket cleaning is done in the tumbler. If nothing else, it gets rid of the loose debris and prevents build up of material in the pocket.

Occasionally i will get anal and clean the pockets of rifle cases manually. Then, I use a battery powered screwdriver with an RCBS primer pocket brush in the end. Nothing magic about the RCBS, it is what I have on hand.

Black_Talon
February 22, 2011, 05:30 PM
a pocket uniformer does , in fact, make an excellent primer pocket cleaner. I have one for small and large primer pockets and when I do clean the odd batch of pockets I fire up my Sinclair Pocket Uniformer in a Makita power screw driver.

That's exactly what I do too, except with a Black & Decker screw driver.

Canuck-IL
February 22, 2011, 05:42 PM
I uniform pockets on new, or newly acquired once fired, rifle brass and the SS media with wet tumbling leave it all looking new, every time. Most pistol brass just gets put straight through a progressive ... some match brass I'll decap first and wet tumble it.
/Bryan

ranger335v
February 22, 2011, 05:46 PM
I won't get into "what I do" stuff (because no one cares what I do anyway), but no one has ever shown that cleaning primer pockets does a thing to improve accuracy or reliability.

newfalguy101
February 22, 2011, 05:56 PM
The only time I ever clean primer pockets anymore is for hunting ammo, usually in batches of 20 or so rounds, enough to double check zero and kill Bambi.

When I first started loading many moons ago I used everything from q-tips to a a primer pocket reaming tool to clean them, then decided I didnt really care about a missfire on blasting ammo so quit cleaning those pockets.

Strangely enough in the thousands of rounds loaded, I cant recall a single missfire that wasnt traced to the gun being used.

Even when I was shooting matches twice a month I didnt clean primer pockets.

Do it if you want to, but, really, its probably not needed.

northark147
February 22, 2011, 05:57 PM
For Rifle, I use my primer pocket uniformer with a cordless drill, For Pistol... Faagedditaboudit, I just let the Press do its job. Nope no real evidence I found that cleaning them out helps my rifles accuracy, but shiny pockets makes me feel better, and if I feel better, I shoot better :D

Black_Talon
February 22, 2011, 06:03 PM
but no one has ever shown that cleaning primer pockets does a thing to improve accuracy or reliability.

I think there's a whole lot of benchrest shooters that will disagree with you.

W.E.G.
February 22, 2011, 06:18 PM
Unless you are using some sort of weird, crusty primers, or are having problems with the primer seating too high, its a complete waste of time to scrub primer pockets.

I use a Lee hand-priming tool, and I run my finger across the base of each primed case as I remove the case from the tool. So long as the primer is slightly below flush with the base of the case, I know its seated just fine.

I never stick my cases back in any kind of tumbling media after the spent primer has been punched. That's just inviting the chance to get some glob stuck squarely in the flash hole.

There is some sort of newfangled system that uses a rotary tumbler and little bitty stainless steel rods mixed-in some sort detergent solution. Gets the cases SPOTLESS inside and out (including the primer pockets - provided you "de-cap" before tumbling). Like I care.

For me, its two hours in the vibratory tumbler with walnut media, resize (and de-cap AT THE SAME TIME), stuff a primer in the case, and call it good.

cfullgraf
February 22, 2011, 06:30 PM
I never stick my cases back in any kind of tumbling media after the spent primer has been punched. That's just inviting the chance to get some glob stuck squarely in the flash hole.



Every deprimed case coming out of the tumbler gets a piece of piano wire poked through the flash hole to insure no media stuck in the flash hold.

I resize and prep cases shortly after shooting., then store for future loading. I don't like to store resized cases with primers in them as it may be weeks or months before they get loaded again.

Resizing and prep cases in "small" doses is palatable to me. I enjoy the actual reloading and can do that for hours at a time.

But that is one of my idiosyncrasies and not the only way it could be done. What ever floats you boat is what works.

StringTwelve
February 22, 2011, 06:34 PM
I wouldn't count on sonic cleaners to get your pockets clean. I've tried about everything in my Hornady to no avail. Went ahead an ordered a vibrator style tumbler after a few weeks of half way cleaned brass. It still doesn't completely clean the primer pockets but does a much better job than I was doing before with the sonic.

OldmanFCSA
February 22, 2011, 07:03 PM
I used to used a small electric motor with a RCBS primer pocket brush attachment.
It was still work to do them all.
NOW I USE STAINLESS STEEL PINS TO TUMBLE - it cleans the pockets perfectly.
There is a new posting here with pictures - trust me it does worl as well as it shows in the pictures, and the insides are even cleaner.
Try it - you WILL like it!!!!

smurf hunter
February 22, 2011, 07:08 PM
I find a clean pocket makes the priming operation much smoother and more consistent

Bula
February 22, 2011, 07:12 PM
I like the Lee Primer pocket cleaner chucked into my cordless drill. I only do rifle, but you can do a pile in a hurry.

Jasper1573
February 22, 2011, 07:13 PM
Recently bought a 1000 once-fired Lake City brass and decided to clean them as completely as I could. I tried cleaning the primer pockets with a hand tool, but that was laborious and painful. Inserted the primer pocket cleaner brush into my drill press, and the task becomes quick and painless. I do the same with a crimp reamer to remove the crimp.

I like the drill press better than a hand drill because only the case can move, not the case and the drill. If you don't have a drill press, the drill or Dremel is the next best thing.

Jasper

RidgwayCO
February 22, 2011, 07:21 PM
OK, I'll play!

Previously I'd decap my brass with a Lee universal decapping die, and then use my Sinclair primer pocket uniformer mounted on a B&D electric screwdriver to clean out the pockets (they'd already been uniformed earlier, and this is something that only needs to be done once). Into the vibrating cleaner, and they come out ready for loading (thanks to Walkalong's suggestion to use 20/40 corn cob media, I've since never had cleaning media stuck in the flash hole).

Since I purchased my RCBS Trim Mate, everything is the same except I use the correct RCBS primer pocket uniforming tool mounted on the Trim Mate to clean the pockets. It's great... deprime, hit the case with the spinning uniformer (only one hand required), then into the box for cleaning. Adds almost no time to my routine, but my primers pockets are clean and I know I'll always have the correct primer seating depth.

gilgomesjr
February 22, 2011, 07:25 PM
stainless steel pins in a tumbler? What kind/brand of tumbler? Like a rock polishing tumbler? This sounds interesting...

bloominonion
February 22, 2011, 07:25 PM
You can clean primer pockets? lol

I only clean if I see it looks nasty. If I do, I just use a pocket reamer. I usually de-prime, then tumble to remove oil from sizing (on rifle casings). Then I just check the pockets/flash hole for media and load away. I can usually get all the media out of the flash hole by holding the cases against the edge of the tumbler running empty, knocks all the crap right out.

You use the stainless pins in a rotary tumbler, tumbling the brass wet. I forget the dimensions of the pins you use though. If I had the cash i would probably do it on some cases.

k4swb
February 22, 2011, 08:08 PM
no one has ever shown that cleaning primer pockets does a thing to improve accuracy or reliability.
I have proven it to myself that cleaning the primer pockets does indeed help in the reliability and ease of primer seating. Can in no way be detrimental to accuracy.

ranger335v
February 22, 2011, 08:35 PM
"...but no one has ever shown that cleaning primer pockets does a thing to improve accuracy or reliability. "

"I think there's a whole lot of benchrest shooters that will disagree with you."

Doubt it, but I know many of them do it. Okay, so do I. But not because we have any "proof" it helps, we just know it doesn't hurt and it MAY help... a little...occasionally. And while the possiblity of trimming groups by .01 MOA thou IS hopeful/helpful for BR competitors it doest mean a thing to the rest of us so your comment is meaningless in the context of the question.

Canuck-IL
February 22, 2011, 09:48 PM
stainless steel pins in a tumbler? What kind/brand of tumbler? Like a rock polishing tumbler? This sounds interesting...
There are several articles around the web ... here's one with a few pics
http://www.accurateshooter.com/technical-articles/reloading/brass-cleaning-with-stainless-media/

It works well, media lasts forever, no dust, have to dry out the cases and reclaim the odd pin that sticks in a wet case but overall, I like the approach. Pins vary in size but .041 * .25 long seems a popular size. You can find them for half the price mentioned in the linked article.

The standard tumbler is probably the Thumler Model B - 15 #s max load ... Lortone also makes some heavy duty models that are supposed to be pretty good. The Thumler is $180 at Cabela's.
/B

788Ham
February 22, 2011, 11:39 PM
rc,

Thanks for the tip Boss, I'm off to get a couple in the morning, I knew that Dremel had better uses!!

gamestalker
February 23, 2011, 03:29 AM
I totally forgot in my first reply why I find it necessary to work with nicely tumbled brass. It is rather easy to mis-read pressure signs and also easier to miss the first stages of fractures, separations, and general deformations or problems that might other wise be over looked. I noticed others addressed the primer pocket cleaning quite well, but, I still feel it important to reiterate one of the primary reasons why myself, and a good number of others hand load, which is directly associated with how we treat the brass. There are plenty of good reasons to hand load, and for many it is to load as many rounds, as quickly, and as inexpensively as possible, why not. But for myself I have my own reasons which begin with quality custom ammunition that exceeds anything offered in a factory produced round. Second to that is economics, which I consider to be the icing on the cake. I guess I consider economics to simply be a benefit more than a reason for hand loading.

popper
February 23, 2011, 11:20 AM
I tried the HF ultrasonic, forget it. I bought some .40 once-fired that evidently had been ultrasonically cleaned. I punched the primer out and the pocket was absolutely CLEAN.
Just have to find the right unit.

USSR
February 23, 2011, 11:36 AM
However a pocket uniformer does , in fact, make an excellent primer pocket cleaner.

Yep, kills two birds with one stone.

Don

amlevin
February 23, 2011, 12:19 PM
The Stainless Steel Pins for tumbler media work great. I recently bought 5# of pins for use in my RCBS Sidewinder. A teaspoon of Dawn, 1/4 tsp of Lemi-shine (from Wal-Mart) and 1/2 gallon of water cleans a load of brass. It does take a while, about 4-5 hours depending on quality of brass going in. This process even cleans the crustiest military brass and makes it look like it just ran off the end of the production line.

The "pin" process doesn't shine the brass like jewelry but it is clean and bright. Primer pockets and the INSIDE of the case are clean, totally free of any carbon from the previous firing.

When the tumbler shuts off I merely pour the brass, pin, and solution into the case/media separator and separate just like with dry media. Pour off the dirty solution, replace the pins in the tumbler and get ready for another batch.

As for drying, I just leave the brass in a box lined with a couple layers of paper towel. Shake it a couple of times and let dry overnight. Once the brass has been "processed" once with primer pocket uniforming, neck turning, and flash hole deburring, it's only a matter of tumbling, inspecting, trimming if necessary and then reloading.

It's like shooting a handload that is made with new brass, everytime. Cases actually look better than those of most factory loaded ammo.

No more dust and lead contamination worries. Lifetime media so no more searching for a good deal on lizzard litter or ground corncob in smaller than 50# bags.

Only downside is that it doesn't work in a vibrating case cleaner/polisher. I'll keep mine for any cases I want to polish with a "jewelry like finish".

wyobruce
January 25, 2013, 09:44 AM
I guess Im the OCD one here. I tumble my brass to get it clean, decap and size, tumble again, clean the primer pocket (rcbs brush and my dremel), steel wool the neck and shoulder if "needed", tumble again, paperclip to clear the flash hole of media, prime, charge, seat the bullet......

several reloadings, and/or the occasional use of "non premium" primers can leave fouling along the wall of the primer pocket which can affect the seating of the primer, and thus the consistancy of ignition......

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