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Is cleaning brass a mandatory

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by MoreIsLess, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. MoreIsLess

    MoreIsLess Well-Known Member

    I was going to go to the range tomorrow with someone and got ready to work up a batch of 9mm loads when it dawned on me that I forgot to run the cases through my Lyman vibrator to clean them. Is there any danger in not cleaning them. I don't plan to make a habit of it but thought maybe I can skip it in a pinch (which I'm in).

    I could just buy some ammo but I just bought 1000 bullets in bulk so I hate too.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  2. k4swb

    k4swb Well-Known Member

    Nope but neither is taking a bath. Both do make life more pleasant tho.

    I'd wipe the outside of the cases to insure the crud didn't scratch my dies or gun chamber.

    ROCKFISH Well-Known Member

    Cleaning brass helps to preserve your dies and makes it easier to see damage on the brass (small cracks etc.) Dirty brass may scratch your dies, but it can be reloaded.
  4. MoreIsLess

    MoreIsLess Well-Known Member

    I probably wouldn't make a habit of it I just need it quick
  5. Jenrick

    Jenrick Well-Known Member

    Not a problem at all. I never clean my brass (indoor range pickup), never had a problem. For that matter I don't do much other then wipe off my .223 brass before I start.

  6. 4895

    4895 Well-Known Member

    I guess you could preheat the oven and wash them in the sink with Dawn dish soap. When the oven is warm, and I mean only warm, you could spread them out on a towel atop a cookie sheet. Might clean them in 20 minutes total instead of hours in a tumbler.
  7. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    If I am working up a load or pick them up off the clean cement floor of the range I do not bother clean them at all. Never had a problem in years. If they have dirt and sand then I will take the time to clean them. IMHO clean bullets shoot better so I usually polish them up. :D It doesn't hurt to get into the habit of cleaning the brass when you get back from the range, then they are ready whenever you want to use them.
  8. x_wrench

    x_wrench Well-Known Member

    as long as the brass is not dirty as in DIRT, you will be fine. where i shoot, everything lands in sand, so cleaning for me IS mandatory.
  9. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Clean yes, shiny no. Shiny is nice though.
  10. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Well-Known Member

    That may clean them a little, but it sounds like a bad idea to me. I burnt some cornbread the other week, but it didn't explode.

    Richard Lee said to wipe them and load them; he probably knows more about it than most.
  11. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    Cleaning your brass results in clean brass, but...

    The only parts of the whole reloading and shooting process that will care if the exterior walls of your cases are clean are the inside of your sizing die and the chamber(s) of your gun, and then only if they're really grungy.

    I don't tumble my own revolver and bolt action rifle brass before I size it, but that's because it hasn't hit the ground and therefore isn't dirty. Semi-auto, lever gun, range pick-up, and otherwise acquired brass gets tumbled.
  12. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    I clean my brass by a trip through a rotating tumbler with walnut because I have it.
    Clean brass is nice, but sure ain't mandatory.
    Like a lot of guys I reloaded for years before I ever heard of a tumbler.
  13. dickttx

    dickttx Well-Known Member

    What JohnM said.
    When the revolutionary CARBIDE pistol dies came out in the late 60's they advertised that there was no longer a need to wipe off your brass.
    I know that the RCBS catalog still states this, and I suspect the others do too.
    When I got back into reloading I was amazed at the attention paid to brass cleaning.
  14. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    Yep, you don't have to clean your brass, just like you don't have to change the oil in engines. Things tend to last longer the better you care for them but how much and when is a choice not a need.
  15. amlevin

    amlevin Well-Known Member

    Depends on how proud you are of your handiwork. Some people don't care. Just like the guy who spent the last year rebuilding his car and now drives it around with a spotted primer patched paint job.

    I like to clean my brass because it makes it easier to see any flaws/damage. It also keeps my hands cleaner when I handle it. I know that there isn't any crud that's going to cause premature wear on the dies or firearm chamber. I also like to be proud of my accomplishment.

    No, it's not required but then you don't have to wash the dinner plates either. Just knock off the dried food from the previous meal or let the dog lick them off.
  16. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Honestly, I reloaded for a several years before I started tumbling, and other than having ugly loads and increased wear and tear on the die's, your good to go. Skipping it once in a while isn't going to cause any problems, it's long term that has an effect on die's.
  17. mdi

    mdi Well-Known Member

    No, polishing/cleaning brass in not a necessity. I reloaded ammo for two handguns for nearly 12 years before I got a tumbler. All that was necessary was a wipe down with a mineral spirits dampened cloth, to remove any "grit" that may damage a die. And I wasn't alone either, way back when, you could tell a reloader at the range by his dark/dull brass. Nothing to do with pride in one's handiwork, if you wanted "show brass" or "BBQ brass" you either hand polished brass or used nickel plated...

    Now every new reloader thinks a tumbler/polisher is absolutely necessary.
  18. Steve C

    Steve C Well-Known Member

    Tarnish and carbon burns have no effect on the utility of the reloaded round. No need to polish other than to make it pretty.

    Brass just needs to be free of dirt and other particles that can stick to it but can be wiped off with a rag or blown off with compressed air if present. If the cases where picked up out of the mud a washing is probably in order.

    I loaded thousands of rounds for many years before I got a tumbler for Christmas. Now that I have one I like the bright and shiny brass but often skip it with clean once fired.
  19. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    Exactly! Now anytime a newcomer to reloading starts asking about gear he needs everyone insists a tumbler and a variety of different media is an absolute necessity.

    It's handy, especially if you get a lot of range brass or just have more brass than you want to wipe down by hand, that's all.

    And it's a disservice to try and tell people they're going to wreck their dies or are uncaring slobs if they don't use one.
  20. Old Grumpy

    Old Grumpy Well-Known Member

    If you want the ladies to swarm around you you'll need clean shiny cases and plenty of aftershave. If that's not a goal of yours you should be able to load up untumbled brass without any major problems. Shake the sand and grit out of them, roll them across a towel, and load away.

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