Poll- do you clean primer pockets?


October 20, 2011, 12:11 AM
Hey guys- yet another chance to participate in the endless debate... To clean or not to clean!


**Edit: To follow-up on what 'ants' reported below, I have validated that there are *no* issues with the link I posted to ultimatereloader.com. I checked with IE, Firefox, Chrome, and iOS/Safari. I did notice that there is a THR banner ad here that shows up in my post, and that may be what was clicked on. I any of you have lingering doubts , please google "reloading blog", and you'll see that my site is legit, and shows up first in the search results. Thanks! Gavin.

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October 20, 2011, 03:34 AM
I clicked the link and got attacked by a virus.

So I switched from the desktop to the laptop and clicked the link. Again attacked.

Norton logs this: "Fake App Attack: Fake AV Website 24. Attacking computer: www3.topasarmy.in"

October 20, 2011, 05:24 AM
It's probably something coming through one of their advertising affiliates. The site looks legitimate. I'm running Ubuntu Linux though which is immune to 99.9937% of the viruses out there so I typically don't mind looking around :).

In any event - no, I don't typically clean my primer pockets. Never had any issue with them failing to go bang. I'm not a benchrest loader though - I load to save money rather than for precision accuracy, so my requirements aren't as stringent as some others'.

October 20, 2011, 05:53 AM
Good morning
Some powder/primer combinations seem to leave more residue that others. When finished tumbling a batch of brass I look into the pocket after knocking out the spent primer & then decide. If it looks excessive then I clean then while watching the news.
Mike in Peru

October 20, 2011, 08:06 AM
I sort of clean them. I like to deprime before tumbling, that's about as far as I go in "cleaning" primer pockets. I think I might own one of those little brushes, but it's never been used that I can recall.

October 20, 2011, 08:35 AM
Not going to go to site after above reports.

I clean them every time.

I also floss daily, wash behind my ears, etc. :p

October 20, 2011, 08:59 AM
I clean all the pockets on my rifle brass, but do not on my .45 pistol.

October 20, 2011, 09:04 AM
Never have, but then I haven't been reloading for very long.

October 20, 2011, 09:20 AM
Only my rifle brass.

October 20, 2011, 09:24 AM
Ants: Can't reproduce your issue, nor have I had any other reports of such a thing. I've edited the original post above to reflect. I'm guessing that you clicked on one of the banner ad links that shows up in the inline ad here on THR. Feel free to PM me if you need additional info.

October 20, 2011, 10:26 AM
Getting back to the subject at hand: I pretty much concur with what most of you are doing, I only clean rifle brass primer pockets, and only for "match loads". The case neck is really where you get most benefit from sorting, prepping, etc.

October 20, 2011, 10:45 AM
Ditto on the SS media.

Since I changed to using it, no more dust either.

Another benefit for those trying to make the "perfect" round. The SS media cleans the inside of the case like no other media out there (except perhaps the ceramic). I found that when weighing cases to match them up I had a wider variation of weights on those cases that hadn't been cleaned versus those that were fresh from the stainless steel median cleaning.

I sure like loading with brass that's just like new, inside and out and I don't have to bother with a separate Primer Pocket cleaning procedure.

October 20, 2011, 10:50 AM
My usual weekly range diet is 300 cases, mix of 9mm and 45ACP. Each is deprimed, tumbled up to 4 hours in corn cob/NuFinish and then the primer pockets are cleaned. Agree with other observations, Federal brass seems to have cleaner pockets, Winchester the dirtiest (true regardless of primer used in my case). Winchester brass is also the hardest to get clean, while Federal, PMC, and Remmington clean up easily.

October 20, 2011, 11:28 AM
I sometimes clean rifle primer pockets, sometimes not.

I rarely clean handgun primer pockets.

I do tumble cases after resizing and de-priming, even if to be loaded on a progressive, and primer pockets get some cleaning in that process, both rifle and handgun.

DoI think it is necessary? No.

Does it make me feel good? Yes.

October 20, 2011, 12:56 PM
Retired 12 years---i got time to kill---I clean all primer pockets--especially new Win 30 carbine cases--it lets CCI primers seat more easily.--:):)

October 20, 2011, 09:16 PM
I use a Sinclair tool to square the primer pockets initially for all precision rifle and pistol ammo. The sinclair tool becomes my primer pocket cleaner subsequently for those rounds.

Practice pistol rounds for 50 yards & under and practice rifle rounds for 100 yards and under - no primer pocket cleaning.

October 20, 2011, 09:21 PM
Yes. There's gunk in there that wasn't there when I loaded it last time. Besides, this gives me another chance to ensure the case is good to reload (including making sure there's no obstruction inside).

October 20, 2011, 09:31 PM
The link seems to be fine. I clean my pocket primers but its easy with my Hornady Case Prep Center.

October 20, 2011, 10:09 PM
Any and all calibers I reload, Get there primer pockets cleaned.

October 20, 2011, 10:10 PM

Ants: Can't reproduce your issue, nor have I had any other reports of such a thing. I've edited the original post above to reflect. I'm guessing that you clicked on one of the banner ad links that shows up in the inline ad here on THR. Feel free to PM me if you need additional info.

I just clicked on the link and got a giant yellow screen from Norton saying the computer was under attack. I jumped over to my other computer running Linux and got the web page without any warnings.

Norton Anti-virus must think this web page is being run by long haired commie pinko perverts. :eek:
To be clear I have NEVER seen a virus warning that took up the entire screen before so it must be some sort of Norton software problem.

I clean all my primer pockets because I tumble them with a rock tumbler and stainless steel media.


I don't eat off dirty plates or use dirty silverware either.
(But the 5 second rule applies to dropped food if the dog doesn't get it first) :D

October 21, 2011, 07:32 PM
If somebody ever does a real study and can prove, statistically at a 95% confidence interval, that cleaning actually improves the accuracy.
Until that time, I just see it as a worthless activity that works as a placebo. Just because the OCD benchrest shooters do things because "it couldn't hurt" does not fill me with confidence that the activity actually pays any dividend for the time spent NOT reloading and shooting. I learned very early as an Engineer that "it couldn't hurt" almost always hurt.

October 21, 2011, 09:55 PM
9mm Pistol brass: never have at 200-250/week for years.
I clean/polish the cases a little excessively for smooth feeding and just because I like how they look.

Rinsing them off and drying them also shot seemingly just as well 'til I got a tumbler.

Pete D.
October 22, 2011, 03:55 AM
Not in many years and it hasn't made a bit of difference. Life is too short to spend time cleaning primer pockets.


October 22, 2011, 08:44 AM
Handgun brass, no I don't clean the primer pockets. Rifle brass shot off the bench, yup. Other rifle brass, not so much, depends.

October 22, 2011, 11:19 AM
I clean all of my brass (rifle & pistol) via stainless steel so all of my primers pockets are cleaned :)

October 22, 2011, 11:33 AM
I cleaned a few for some target rifle loads but it didn't make any difference.

Those are the only times I ever tried it....came to the conclusion that it's a waste of time. The only thing I do with primer pockets now is make sure there's no tumbling media stuck in there.

Us handloaders have been introduced to many steps in the "process" that really gain us nothing except the need to by more gadgets.

October 22, 2011, 12:17 PM
It's amazing the number of people who's posts say "I can't see any benefit" and then will post questions like "Can you explain this problem for me".

Not every piece of the process, especially cleaning, will lead to more accurate ammo. It can lead to more reliable ammo though especially in the case of clean primer pockets that provide for properly seated primers.

Sometimes you only realize the "gain" when it prevents a future problem.

October 22, 2011, 02:17 PM
On the Browning X-Bolt .243 Win I do, but on my 6.8SPC AR-15 I do not.


October 23, 2011, 12:17 AM
I could imagine a whole host of things that "couldn't hurt."
However, as a scientist and engineer, things must be proven to work.
Cleaning primer pockets of the black residue has NO effect on function of accuracy. Cleaning the primer pockets while tumbling to remove the white ash will ensure properly seated primers.
I inspect, sort, and deprime in the garage where all dirty jobs are conducted.
Using ONLY 20/40 grit corn, I have NO grit in the primer pocket or the flash hole. However, even if I did, the presses are still set up with fully functioning sizing/decapping dies that would remove any grit.
If you are going to do something, you should at least make sure it is a positive improvement.
I a purely stock Ruger M77 in .30-06, my best reloads produce groups of 0.65-0.90" c-to-c at 100yds.
A trial with cases with "uniformed" primer pockets and deburred flash hole and outside turned necks produces a series of groups ranging from 0.65-1.10". I say it made no difference.
Being a stock rifle, I think that it produces accuracy as good as I could hope for, but it will not shrink group size by 0.01" extra for additional case prep/fussing.
Remember, the biggest improvement in group size comes from concentration and practice, not from the latest "it couldn't hurt" toy.

October 23, 2011, 01:33 AM
Yes, I always clean them. I use an RCBS primer pocket lg/sm cleaner to knock the ash out, and then I take a Q with acetone on it and give them a quick twist. Even though I tumble my brass really well after resizing, I do the acetone thing because I've notice over the years that case lube will make it's way into the pocket, and then it cake's up in the corners of the pocket with media dust. I'm sure it's of no issue, but I'm really finicky about my loads.

I also use a Q-tip or a pipe cleaner to clean the inside of the case of media dust. I just like to eliminate as many variables as possible when I load.

GTS Dean
October 25, 2011, 09:19 AM
For years, I used to never clean primer pockets. With my Lee hand primer, I would notice problems with depth of seating. A few years back, I bought a primer pocket brush and it helped, but still had occasional issues. I've since started using a small pick to get at the fillet at the base of the pocket. If I finish with the pick, I start the next case with the pick and finish with the brush, then vise-versa.

I rarely go through the entire prep/load cycle for the same brass in a sitting.

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