Reloading 9mm-Do You Clean Your Primer Pockets?


September 28, 2012, 04:04 PM
I'm reloading 9mm, from brass picked up at the range. I've checked all cases by condition and headstamp, and picked out S&B, Privi, Winchester brass and thrown out the goofy miltary brass (Romanian,etc.-) because they seem to be really hard to set primers into. Using an RCBS Universal Hand Priming tool.
My question is-is reaming/cleaning out primer pockets necessary? Haven't added this to the cleaning process after brass comes out of the tumbler.
Wondering if you guys find it important to clean out the primer pockets before re-priming.

Thanks in advance for the help.

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September 28, 2012, 04:12 PM
Mine go from the ground, to the tumbler. After that I sort them into crimped vs. non crimped (and check for splits, etc, at the same time) then the non crimped go straight to the 650, so no I do not clean primer pockets.

Your funky military brass is probably crimped, which is why it is hard to impossible to seat a new primer.

September 28, 2012, 04:14 PM
No, not really, but I do it anyway while doing case inspection after sizing & depriming.

Just a twist with a primer pocket cleaner or small flat blade screwdriver knocks the crusties out.

Then I tumble.


September 28, 2012, 04:40 PM
Haha, no.

When the round is decapped, you know the flash hole is clear.

When you seat the primer fully and it's flush or below flush, then you know it's going to go into battery and go bang.

September 28, 2012, 04:41 PM

September 28, 2012, 04:48 PM
Crimped-primer ammo usually needs the pocket to be chamfered or swaged in order to reliably seat primers.

September 28, 2012, 04:48 PM
If I was still using my Dillions I would not clean the pockets but I am retired & have nothing to do so I use a turret press & clean the pockets.
Don't ask me to give or sell the Dillions as my grandkids would object.
Have fun -------------------:)

September 28, 2012, 04:53 PM
I don't bother... doesn't seem to make any difference.

September 28, 2012, 04:53 PM
I tumble after resizing and decapping. Some of the primer pockets gets cleaned in the tumbler, the rest of the loose stuff gets knocked out when I clean the tumbling media from the primer pockets.

Sometimes I wet tumble cases with stainless pins. Cases are spotless then.

Primer pocket cleaning is a by-product of other cleaning operations.

tightgroup tiger
September 28, 2012, 04:55 PM
I clean mine in a sonic cleaner so it takes care of that for me. It works very well at cleaning the primer pockets if you use it correctly.

If I didn't use a sonic cleaner I would clean them out with my drill bit that I flattened on a grinder and it get almost everything out of there with just a twist. What ever works.

September 28, 2012, 05:04 PM
Clean primer pockets on pistol brass??? Not hardly grasshopper----I reloaded for years and never bothered to clean them in anything. Then came the internet and all those that said you must or your ammo would not work (already proved wrong) so I tried it for a while. Found no difference with my ammo either way. Then happened onto a Thumlers tumbler and purchased some SS pins. Now I get that done without ANY extra effort when cleaning the brass otherwise I would not bother to do it anymore.:D

September 28, 2012, 05:08 PM
So, are you saying you toss S&B, Prvi and Winchester brass? Sorry for the odd question, I'm just unclear...

On the original question, I clean pockets on everything. Takes an extra 2 seconds to grab the tool and do one or two spins.

September 28, 2012, 05:21 PM

September 28, 2012, 05:23 PM

September 28, 2012, 05:44 PM
I never do, the odd crimped in primer I handle individually With a Lee hand tool, when the primer doesn't seat with the normal pressure in my Dillon XL650.

I quit sorting cases a long time ago.

September 28, 2012, 05:59 PM
"WIN" 9mm brass will seat just fine. "WCC" brass is crimped.

No, I domn't make a speciasl effort to clean primer pockets. After sizing & depriming, then tumbling, they are plenty clean enough to load.

Crimped 9mm will normally look like the center one---the third is a crimped brass that has been chamferred and can now be primed:

September 28, 2012, 06:17 PM
I've never seen a benifit from cleaning the pocket. I have some WCC brass in that I trimmed down for my cz-82 in 9mm Mak, and it takes a little umph on a single stage press priming on the press but I've loaded them dozens of times and no kabooms shoving the primer in!

Friendly, Don't Fire!
September 28, 2012, 06:31 PM
Yes, to me, it is all part of the reloading process.

What kind of quality should I expect if I were to "cut-corners" during reloading?

I like to take pride in my reloads, as opposed to seeing how fast I can reload X number of rounds.

Hondo 60
September 28, 2012, 06:40 PM
Haven't cleaned ANY primer pocket in years.

When I first started reloading I cleaned 'em all, cuz that's what the book said to do.
After reading here that many don't, I stopped doin' it.
And I haven't noticed any difference.

Just maybe I would IF, I was reloading a hunting rifle caliber.
But all I have is handguns & an AR

September 28, 2012, 06:41 PM
On basic target loads, usually including an unjacket bullet, made exclusively for range use, I do not.

Occasionaly I will reload with quality hollow point bullets and higher velocities. Or mabe make some rounds that go into long term storage. In those cases, yes, I clean the primer pockets.

September 28, 2012, 06:52 PM
I clean them with fire.

September 28, 2012, 07:48 PM
I decap then wet tumble all of my brass.
This gets the primer pockets, flash holes, interior and exterior of the cases sparkly clean.
It isn't necessary but it's nice.

September 28, 2012, 08:42 PM

Just depends if I feel like it or not.

Flatbush Harry
September 28, 2012, 09:04 PM
I clean all primer pockets on all the rounds that I load. Habit I developed years ago.


September 28, 2012, 09:18 PM
Heck no. I havent even seen my last 10K handgun primer pockets unless you count range pickups that the primer fell out of.

0 FTFire using Fed primers. I deprime, size, and prime at station one 100% of the time when loading for handguns.

September 28, 2012, 09:41 PM
I clean all primer pockets with the little Lee hand tool I have but that's it. Just habit from when I started reloading.

September 28, 2012, 10:24 PM
Uh, no...

But if I was going to.... I'd deprime them all with a universal decapping die, and then tumble.

September 29, 2012, 12:11 AM
not on pistols

September 29, 2012, 03:58 AM
I do, but I also trim all my brass regardlkess of what it is. But that is me and I'm the worst of anal reloaders that I know of.


September 29, 2012, 04:32 AM
Nope, never done it. Never had one not go bang :)

September 29, 2012, 05:34 AM
Never cleaned the primer pockets. All I do is verify the flash hole is clear which is easily done by looking inside the case as pull it out of my depriming/sizing die.

September 29, 2012, 06:29 AM
Previously, I didn't clean the pockets of my handgun brass either. Lately, with two young granddaughters who like to be at my side constantly, I've decided that I didn't want the dust floating around from dry tumbling with the primers in place. So I now decap and wet tumble with ss pins, hot water from the tap, a bit of citric acid and Dawn. Aside from the occasional nicks and dings, the brass looks like new, even the primer pockets. I couldn't care less about impressing others with shiny brass, and even though my goal was different, having them come out pristine is just a side benefit that I can live with.

As an aside - I finally found a use for that loadmaster that's been collecting dust under the bench. With the case feeder and a universal decapping die, it's great for decapping a large amount of brass in short time.

For the OP, even though they're not crimped, I always run s&b brass through the pocket swager because they are always tight (the first time).

September 29, 2012, 06:58 AM
I load with a Dillon RL550B so deprime/prime happens in stage one with no pocket cleaning option. I'm curious how primer pockets can become fouled thus requiring cleaning.

September 29, 2012, 07:10 AM
I'm curious how primer pockets can become fouled thus requiring cleaning.

There is some primer compound ash stuck to the bottom of the primer pocket after shooting. If you clean the pocket with a primer pocket brush or cleaner, when finished with all your cases, you will have a small pile of ash.

Many experts, gun writers, and pundits say it is not an issue.

September 29, 2012, 08:46 AM
They do not get dirtier and dirtier, they just remain about the same loading after loading.

High level accuracy shooting? Uniform and clean the primer pockets.

Anything else? No worries, unless if you makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Not knocking anyone who does.

September 29, 2012, 09:17 AM
I clean all my primer pockets but I am pretty anal when it comes to reloading. Ammo goes from ground to tumbler. Lube pad, decapped, clean the primer pockets with a Lee hand tool, then back in the tumbler for 30 minutes to and hour. Takes off the resizing lube and anything I missed in the primer pocket.

September 29, 2012, 09:32 AM
Yes, I clean primer pocket's, flash hole's on everything I load. Just for the fact that you should and it give's me a feeling of a complete job.

September 29, 2012, 01:29 PM
+1. I clean primer pockets and true it up with a primer pocket reamer on all of my once fired (and new WW brass) pistol or rifle brass. I also use an RCBS flash hole reamer on all new WW cases (haven't found a need to do this with Starline cases) and for a quick check on my once fired cases.

September 29, 2012, 02:25 PM
Nope. I barely do it with rifle hunting loads. I found that it doesn't make a difference.

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September 29, 2012, 02:31 PM
You are giving up the primary advantage of using a Lee Classic Turret or a progressive if you stop and clean the primer pockets.

September 29, 2012, 02:46 PM
And then trickle charge each and every load.

crank em out go bang

September 29, 2012, 03:44 PM
I found out years ago that it was a waste of time.

Mauser lover
September 29, 2012, 03:53 PM
I only clean the primer pockets in my rifle rounds, and only then because I want to squeeze the most accuracy out of them. You do not need to worry about 9mm, unless you are shooting at 250 yards with them.

September 29, 2012, 04:09 PM
.You do not need to worry about 9mm, unless you are shooting at 250 yards with them.
Like that'll make an angstrom of difference.

September 29, 2012, 10:24 PM
My wet stainless tumbling media cleans the pockets for me.

September 29, 2012, 11:42 PM

got ya on this one. i clean all primer pockets with a primer pocket reamer, pistol or rifle. always!


September 30, 2012, 06:42 PM
You are giving up the primary advantage of using a Lee Classic Turret or a progressive if you stop and clean the primer pockets.


September 30, 2012, 08:36 PM
I uniform rifle primer pockets when the brass is new along with all of the other tedious brass prep and very seldom clean them unless I'm very bored and trying to kill time (rare!). Pistol, nope.

October 1, 2012, 07:31 PM
I just decrimped a bunch of military .223s this afternoon. I use the Hornadyh cutter with handle and chuck the cases in my electric drill. Just takes a few seconds per case.

I also have decrimped some 9mm military brass, but don't bother with the electric drill for that. I just keep the tool on the bench and pull the crimped case when I realize the primer's not going in.

I never have understood why anybody would want to deprime prior to tumbling. It's befuddling! :evil::rolleyes::eek:

October 1, 2012, 08:57 PM
No reason to waste the time on 9mm!

October 1, 2012, 10:37 PM
I decap with a universal decapper, clean the primer pockets then tumble because the more I handle the cases the more I'm apt to see any defects.

October 2, 2012, 07:37 AM
I decap with a universal decapper, clean the primer pockets then tumble because the more I handle the cases the more I'm apt to see any defects.

Just leaves me speechless! Let me modify my previous statement: I can't fathom why a rational person would decap before tumbling! :cool: Have at it.

October 2, 2012, 09:38 PM
Just leaves me speechless! Let me modify my previous statement: I can't fathom why a rational person would decap before tumbling! :cool: Have at it.
Rational isn't in my resume.

October 6, 2012, 06:39 PM
I guess I' the rare finicky one, I prefer my cases as clean inside as out. But I'm not doing a 1,000 at a time. & Semi retired, so i have the time. (just a habit I guess) I don't reload crimped & yes I sort my brass by brand. Especially when I'm reloading & working up to max. (not that often)

October 6, 2012, 10:36 PM
As the other guys said, it's optional. Part of the fun for me is taking time with the reloading process and tools. So I do clean my primer pockets if I'm not in a hurry. Never made any difference in the shooting I do, though.

When I started reloading in the 80s, I didn't have money for much gear, especially a tumbler. I kept myself under a pretty strict budget. So I used a Lee Loader for my pistol and rifle ammo. This is almost as basic as reloading gets. While I always inspected the cases, they were all tarnished with uncleaned primer pockets; the ammo still worked just fine.

October 6, 2012, 11:10 PM
I have decapped before tumbling dirty brass before. Happened before I logically thought it through and read on here to clean brass then decap. Learned the error of my ways and thankfully my dies don't have any noticeable damage.

October 7, 2012, 07:13 AM
Everything i reload gets primer pocket cleaned. Factorys use new brass so the pocket is clean. When i pull the trigger for the 20+ calibers i reload for, i want the fireing pin or hammer to hit, set the primer off in a clean hole so nothing is obstructing it through the flash hole, and out goes the bullet.

October 7, 2012, 07:22 AM
In the beginning with rifle and during my years of High Power competition. Then never with pistol. My pistol cases are tumbled before sizing in carbide dies as to not scratch them.

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