Cleaning Brass


March 10, 2013, 08:06 PM
Hello Everyone.

Just wanted to see what people out there are doing when cleaning brass. Do you guys knock out the primers before you put your brass in the tumbler?

I normally leave the primers in the cases until after i clean them and get ready to reload them.

Just wanted to see what everyone does and if they is any benefit to de-prime them first.


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March 10, 2013, 08:27 PM
I clean my brass with a Dillon vibrator. Looked at the ultrasonic and the tumbler with stainless pellets, but corn cob is quick and easy.
I don't de-prime before cleaning. I have a RCBS case prep and have tried cleaning primer pockets but haven't noticed a change of accuracy. My feelings are if you are looking for max accuracy then don't spare the prep steps. For me
I spend a little less time reloading and more shooting.
I always work new brass over, trim, de-bur flash hole, true up primer pocket, ect.

March 10, 2013, 08:29 PM
I find that if you deprime first then you need to check the flash hole for any media that is blocking primer hole. I poke a small punch by hand to make sure small pieces of media are out.

Better to clean then deprime.

March 10, 2013, 08:38 PM
What I do is clean the brass for about 30 mins with walnut, cleans off any debris etc. I then load those up in my Dillon 650 and de-cap with an universal de-capper. Then I clean the brass again with corn cob.
Find it does clean the primer pocket some what and I don't have a problem with media sticking in the flash hole or primer pocket.

Does it make any difference in performance probably not but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy...Eric

March 10, 2013, 08:43 PM
I do.

March 10, 2013, 08:44 PM
My understanding is you should clean first because otherwise the grit is too rough on your sizing/decapping die. Often I clean twice maybe that is overkill. 3 or 4 hours on walnut with Nu Finish, decap, then another 4 hours on either walnut or corn cob again with a few dabs of Nu Finish. Usually a speck or two of cleaning media is jammed in the flash hole which can be pushed out with a push tack or a straightened paper clip.

March 10, 2013, 08:51 PM
I do 10 minutes in a 1 tbs citric acid per gallon of very hot water (with primers removed). Then bottleneck cases go stright to annealing which gets the drying done now!

March 10, 2013, 09:15 PM
I've tried it both ways, and (to me) there is no benefit in de-capping first. The primer pockets do not get any cleaner by de-capping, and I get particles stuck in flash holes. if I tumble first, then the subsequent de-capping will knock any media out of the flash hole.

Maybe one day I will spend the big bucks for the stainless pins and liquid set-up. Then I will de-cap, and the primer pocket (and the rest of the case) will be spotless...but it will only be for vanity. They won't shoot any better.

March 10, 2013, 09:20 PM
Everybody does it differently. Myself, I deprime everything as soon as they're sorted out. I never run brass with old primers in the tumbler, because I want all that old carbon OUT of the primer pockets.

I've also bought a small cement mixer and 25lbs. of stainless pin media. When warm weather gets here we gonna be experimenting! Should be able to run 25# of brass at once, I hope.

March 10, 2013, 09:25 PM
Leave primers in, tumble in crushed walnut with dryer sheets.

Take brass out, size it, and brush the primer pocket.

Then you won't need to use the flash hole tool to push out media out of the flash hole.

My age is young, but I reload like the old timers. Reloading to me is for accuracy, not quantity.

March 10, 2013, 09:58 PM
My routine:

1. Shoot
2. Deprime
3. Sonic Cleaner (brush primer pockets when/if needed)
4. Lube
5. Size
6. Tumble (Corn Cob media w/ NuFinish)
7. Trim/chamfer/debur (when needed)
8. Load
9. Repeat

March 11, 2013, 12:02 AM
For almost 30 years, I cleaned them once to get rid of any grit on the cases that might scratch my sizing die (after ruining my first resizing die that way), then sized the brass and got rid of the primers, then tumbled them again to get rid of the lube. Then I started reading about how the black dust that always built up in the tumbler included dust from primer residue that was both abrasive and a source of lead contamination. So I started decapping the primers before the dirty brass went in for the first tumble.

Now I have the stainless steel setup so I always decap first then tumble. If I'm doing a full length resize, I tumble again after sizing to get rid of the lube.

Hondo 60
March 11, 2013, 12:11 AM
Tumbling with corn cob or walnut media will NOT clean the primer pocket.
(not that I clean 'em, just saying)

I do NOT want dirt, fouling etc in my dies.
So all brass gets tumbled when I come home from the range.

Then I use a progressive press.
(for hand gun brass)

For rifle brass, I tumble, lube, size/deprime, trim, chamfer, tumble a 2nd time etc, etc.

March 11, 2013, 12:26 AM
Its clean then deprime then clean, sort by brand caliber and primer size.

Matt Dillon
March 11, 2013, 06:08 AM
I tumble them in corn cob, deprive them, then tumble in walnut shells.

Steve in PA
March 11, 2013, 08:10 AM
I always leave the primers in while tumbling. Spend some time picking media out of primer pockets and you will know why they should be left it.

March 11, 2013, 09:48 AM
The only time I will knock out primers before cleaning is when I use Liquid Cleaners. I do not want fluids to get trapped. With dry media I just dump and go.

March 11, 2013, 10:17 AM
we clean a LOT of brass for resale

1. extra coarse walnut media from Harbour Freight works better than purpose packaged - the stuff we have seems 'grittier'

2. more media than brass gives better results

3. a tiny squirt of flitz metal polish helps a lot

4. not sure if it's needed but we put 1 cap full of mineral spirits into the media. Though is to keep any 'dust' from forming.

5. we don't tumble inside the hvac 'envelope' of your home - in case of any lead

6. wear gloves when handling the used media - I've been told lead can build up in there over time

March 11, 2013, 10:18 AM
Pistol Brass- tumble in Walnut 3 hours with polishing wax and dryer sheet, size/deprime and load

Rifle Brass- tumble in Walnut 3 hours with polish and dryer sheet, lube, size/deprime, tumble in corn cob 3 hours with dryer sheet.

Rifle brass comes out looking new, and pistol brass has a little tarnish on a few cases, but shoot great and do not dirty up my dies.

March 11, 2013, 03:20 PM
how much NU finish wax are you guys putting in?

March 11, 2013, 03:27 PM
how much NU finish wax are you guys putting in?
I use about a cap full. I added it every fourth (or so) time I use the tumbler.

March 11, 2013, 03:55 PM
A cap full, and I reapply after about 4 runs. I also discard the media after 24 hours of use.

March 12, 2013, 11:22 AM
Ok thanks. I baught some yesterday and put a few globs in the brass I was tumbling but it didnt seem to mix well in the walnut. It was clumping..I let if go for a few hours but didnt check the results as it was late last night when I turned it off.

March 12, 2013, 11:39 AM
I tumble in a 50/50 mix of walnut shells and corncob with the primers in the brass.

If you decide to remove the primer first Lee sells a very inexpensive universal decapping die which can be used instead of taking the chance of scoring your sizing dies.

March 12, 2013, 11:54 AM
Speedster, with the tumbler running, take your hands and mash the Nu Finish up with the media until all mixed in.

I de-prime, run brush in primer pocket, then tumble in walnut, poke out media with an old dental pick, prime and load. I don't brush my revolver brass primer pocket.

March 12, 2013, 11:57 AM
Thanks Ham. Im not depriming first..Im just throwing in the spent brass into 100% walnut. will depriming first make a difference?

March 13, 2013, 01:33 AM
I resize, de-prime then tumble.
I get very consistent COL on progressive press.

March 13, 2013, 02:29 AM
I deprime before ultrasonic cleaning because it prevents air from getting trapped and preventing efficient cleaning of the inside of the cases not to mention the primer pockets get a nice cleaning with the primers removed as well.

March 13, 2013, 03:19 AM
Hi STODD; I use a Thumler's Tumbler with stainless steel pins to clean brass.

Therefore I deprime with a Lee universal deprimer first of all, then I tumble

clean the brass. This yields brass that has the case interior and the primer

pocket ridiculously clean and ready for inspection.


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