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If I Tumble "SLOWLY" Enough... Is It Safe To Tumble Loaded Cartridges?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Mike1234567, Oct 16, 2011.

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  1. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

    ** Also, If I limit how many I tumble at a time and use plenty of media.

    I just bought several boxes of Silver Bear 7.62x39 Match "8M1" ammo and the zinc is oxidizing. I want to remove the oxidation before I store them in sealed ammo cans with oxygen absorbent.

    Is it safe?

    1. Very slow rotation
    2. Twenty cartridges at a time
    3. Lots of media

    ETA: Added the caliber...
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
  2. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Well-Known Member

    Why not just give them a light "wipe" with a scotch brite pad?
    Yeah, tumbling is easier, but even if you have 100 cartridges, a couple dozen at a time won't take that long.

    "just bought?'
    1. Can't you take them back and tell the vendor the problem? If 240 rounds are corroded, chances are that his other stock is also corroded. You ought to get your money back

    2. "Match"? (7.62x39 match is almost an oxymoron :) )
    Are you shooting this in a precision bolt action rife? If it's an AK, I'll bet they will chamber just fine and shoot fine. There is quite a bit of tolerance in those chambers and they were meant to shoot dirty, muddy, oxidized ammo and still operate.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
  3. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

    I'm too lazy to wipe down 240 cartridges. :)
  4. HK SD9 Tactical

    HK SD9 Tactical Well-Known Member

    There are two schools of thought on this:

    Some people are adamantly opposed to tumbling loaded ammunition. Others say they have never encounted a problem in years and years of doing it.

    There is a myriad of reasons "to" or "not to" do it.

    Personal preference mostly......I doubt that you would set off a round if there is sufficient media to buffer them, but the possibility, however remote, may exist.

    Do so at your own risk.
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    This question comes up about every fortnight, at least.
    If you do a search, you will get pages & pages of hits on tumbling loaded ammo.

    I vibrate clean everything I load after I load them.
    (Except lead bullet loads. The media sticks to the bullet lube)

    Not in small batches of 5, 10, or 20 at a time either.
    I tumble whatever will fit in my Dillon polisher.

    It is safe & it won't hurt a thing.
    How do you think they get factory ammo so nice & shiny?

    BTW: Your old Rusky ammo has already been vibrated and violated much more just getting it here from Russia, and from a U.S. sea port to where you got it then you can do with a case cleaner in 30 - 45 minutes.

    Still not convenced?
    See this:

    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
  6. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    I suppose all you can say is, "do it at your own risk".
    But you gotta figure, ammo can take a lot of thrashing around without going off.
    The strike of a firing pin is an intense point of impact.
  7. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Mike, toss them in the tumbler, either kind, and have at it.

    Do as rcmodel says.
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    IMO: A vibratory tumbler would be "safer" then a rotary tumbler.
    If there is a "safer".

    At least rounds are not being tossed around violently on top of each other where a bullet tip "could" hit a primer with some light force in a rotary.

  9. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

    Okay, folks, I'm taking the easy way out. :)

    Sorry that my searches failed. Maybe I misspelled something and didn't "notis".
  10. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    ....almost as much as "what caliber for bear?".;)

    As usual, RC's info is correct and concise.
  11. nojoke

    nojoke Well-Known Member

    Is there any data on how much force is required to set off a primer?

    Can those forces be generated w/in a tumbler?

    My shoot from the hip guesstimate is that when my gun's firing pin hits the primer quite a detent is left. I really doubt in a zillion years of tumbling in any tumbler could that sort of a detent be left behind.
  12. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam


    Friction, Heat, or Impact sets off primers.

    Friction can't happen to seated primers because all the components of the primer are tightly compressed together.

    Heat is a non-issue, unless your tumbler motor shorts out and it burns to the ground.

    Enough impact in a tumbler to dent the primer cup and smash the compound against the anvil?
    Don't think so.

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  13. DickM

    DickM Well-Known Member

    The other myth about tumbling loaded rounds is that it will break up the powder granules and change the burning characteristics - i.e., the powder will burn faster and create dangerously high pressures. That isn't any more true than the myth about tumbling setting off the primers. I know someone who loaded up some rounds and tumbled them for a solid month - that's right, 30 days straight - and then pulled the bullets and carefully examined the powder. Absolutely no difference (and he didn't set any off during his little experiment either).
  14. ArtP

    ArtP Well-Known Member

    This ^^^^^ is exactly what I was going to post as I read through the thread. The manual for Lyman tumblers cautions against tumbling live rounds for this very reason, powder breakdown.

    My estimated guess is that Lyman inserts this information for lawyer reasons and it's probably ultra-conservative info. I also think the type of powder (ball or extruded) and the load density would play a role. I.E., I'd feel better about tumbling cases FULL of ball powder.
  15. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Well-Known Member

    Huh, perhaps I will tumble some of my reloads that are a bit tarnished!
  16. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Powder is polymer, or plastic, regardless of grain type.

    It doesn't break down from tumbling.

    The manufacture tumbles it in huge drums to add graphite and other coatings during the powder manufacturing process.

    Once again, consider military ammo that gets hauled & vibrated all over the world in cargo planes, trucks, helicopters, tanks, and hummer's for weeks or months on end with no measurable change in performance.

  17. ArtP

    ArtP Well-Known Member

    RC - I happen to completely believe you, and trust you. I just thought I 'd throw out another consideration.

    The notion of breakdown from tumbling sort of made me think of the beach. That is, that waves over time can turn solid rock into sand. Given enough time, I don't think any material is immune to break down. But in the sense we're discussing it here, I understand your point.
  18. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I agree anything will break down given enough eons to do it.

    But when I talk about tumbling loaded ammo, I'm talking about 30-45 minutes or less.

    Thats about all it ever takes to get off toxic finger prints or mild tarnishing.

    I would not recommend leaving it go for a day or a week.
    Although I don't believe it would hurt the powder if you did.

  19. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Powder after 48 hours of tumbling.

  20. Rollis R. Karvellis

    Rollis R. Karvellis Well-Known Member

    The longest I, have ever tumbled loaded ammo is 48+ hours. And it looked good. Shot well also.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
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