Tumbling live rounds

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Guy48065, Apr 17, 2021.

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  1. Guy48065

    Guy48065 Member

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    I occasionally see a mention of dry tumbling live ammo. It's something I've wondered about but have never done.
    Good to go?
    Or
    Are you effin nuts?
     
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  2. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Contributing Member

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    This comes up every now and then. Some say no problem and some say bad, bad, bad. The one main argument is the powder can get broken down increasing the burn rate. The counter argument is powder vibrates during shipping and nothing bad happens. If you call or write (email) the powder guys they will tell you not to do it. Then too, they are not in the liability business. Years ago I had copies of a few email replies I got but they are long lost. My advice is email a few and then decide what you want to do. That or flip a coin. :)

    A forum search will bring up plenty of previous threads like this one.

    We even had a member conduct his own testing and there were no ill effects.

    Ron
     
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  3. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    It's not a problem, I've done thousands.

    ETA: I only run them for a half hour or so to remove fingerprints etc.
    I wouldn't recommend running them for hours on end.
     
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  4. derek45

    derek45 Member

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    I always imagine an army duce n a half bouncing down the dirt road to pattons front line

    i have dry tumbled live ammo without issue

    i have pulled the bullet and found the powder looks exactly the same as before

    i wouldn’t do it for several hours, but 20mins is not going to hurt anything
     
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  5. CQB45ACP

    CQB45ACP Member

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    Have speculate that much tumbling on the way to front lines is wet, very wet.
     
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  6. frogfurr

    frogfurr Member

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    I do it for an hour. Not the same rounds for ten consecutive years. But over the period of a year I'll do it a half dozen times and then shoot them.
     
  7. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    Spherical powders are manufactured by rotary tumbling...

    And my Varget loads crunch. That powder isn’t moving...:cool:

    Consider the jiggle in the Everyday Carry of the average American man’s keister. Twenty minutes to keep ammunition clean and corrosion free is of no issue.
    Also considering that the tumbling doesn’t clean the insides of dirty cases, not near enough energy would make it to the already impact resistant, and dry lube coated, plastic that is smokeless powder.
    And further contemplate that tiny amount of energy is many magnitudes smaller than what is needed by a firing pin to ignite a primer.

    I have clean, shiny ammunition that is also worry free.:thumbup:
    (That would be a “Good To Go” @Guy48065 )
     
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  8. Pahonix

    Pahonix Member

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    Why tumble live ammo?
     
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  9. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    Because they get stuck in the dishwasher drain...:)
     
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  10. BCR#1

    BCR#1 member

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    Paragon used to sell tumbled MG ammo that had seen better days at the Creek back in the 90's-early 2K's, that is, until expensive guns started blowing up. They didn't come back the next year! The pole barn IS the ultimate gun show.

    Bill
     
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  11. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Contributing Member

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    I saw a lot of that in the early / mid 90s at guns shows. People were hawking old discolored stuff that was cleaned. This was really old stuff. While I heard rumors about the stuff I personally never saw the damage and the stuff did vanish from the shows.

    Would I worry about it? Not really but I have yet to have a need to tumble loaded ammunition. I just toss out some links and tell people to decide for themselves.

    Ron
     
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  12. jonas66
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    jonas66 Contributing Member

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    I feel sure those guns didn't explode just because they tumbled the ammo.
    There was some other problem.
     
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  13. jonas66
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    jonas66 Contributing Member

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    I only rarely tumble live ammo for personal satisfaction, or to make some non-reloader's eyes bug out:
    "You made that?!"
    :D
     
  14. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I started hanging out in reloading forums around 2006-2007 and this topic was alive then. Never a consensus reached and half the opinions were "No, you'll shoot yer eye out!" and half were "No big deal I do it all the time". Both sides quote "expert" sources and both sides give examples.

    Personally, my opinion is I very rarely have any need to tumble live ammo (although I did tumble some tarnished M2 Ball for my Garand) but if I did, from what I've read, I'd do it...
     
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  15. swg1

    swg1 Member

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    I'll tumble for up to 20 minutes to get any lube off rounds I loaded on a progressive press.
     
  16. lightman

    lightman Member

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    As others have stated, this has been argued a lot over the years. I've never seen any proof that its harmful. I've even done it a little over the years. I only tumbled for a short time and thats what I recommend others to do if you do decide to tumble.
     
  17. Otto

    Otto Member

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    RCBS: Do not attempt to clean loaded ammunition. To do so could result in cartridge detonation causing serious personal injury.

    Hodgdon: It is the policy of Hodgdon Powder Co. to recommend against ever tumbling or vibrating loaded or reloaded ammunition. Vibration for even short periods of time may degrade propellants or change their burn characteristics. Vibrating propellants may cause coatings to wear off and edges or
    ends to erode. Dave Campbell Hodgdon Ballistician.

    Federal: Can I put unfired ammo in a case tumbler?
    A: No. Placing ammunition in a tumbler can be very dangerous. The risks are detonation inside the tumbler or changed powder characteristics that can result in serious injury during firing.

    Lyman: Q: Can I tumble loaded ammo?
    A: No, this can be very dangerous. Tumbling loaded ammo can break down the powder causing extreme pressure problems.

    Sierra: Q: I have some loaded ammo that is pretty badly tarnished. Can I just put it in my tumbler and clean it up?
    A: No. The deterrent coating of the powder may be damaged, which speeds the burning rate. The simple answer here is, "No, don't do it."
     
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  18. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    I can believe that if you tumbled powder long enough it could have a bad effect on the deterrent coating of at least some types.

    But I'd be willing to bet that the cautions about setting off a round were written by a lawyer, not a ballistician.
     
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  19. Mike44

    Mike44 Member

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    Much like swg1, I tumble in walnut shells for 15 minutes after loading to remove the case lube that I use on 9mm cases to make reloading easier.
     
  20. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

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    For the manufacturers there is no upside to saying there is no risk in tumbling loaded ammo, all it takes is one absent-minded reloader tumbling some .338 Lapua for 4 days straight and finding out that was too much. I've tumbled plenty of 45acp for 15-20 min to shine them up. For me, no problems. I wouldn't want to tumble rifle rounds loaded with stick type powder for hours on end, I think that definitely could break down and change the burn characteristics. But for flake or spherical powders loaded in pistol rounds, 15 or so minutes isn't going to....let me rephrase that, in my experience has not caused any issues
     
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  21. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

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    Over the past couple of decades I have corncob- "tumbled" (via VCC, Vibratory Case Cleaner) thousands of rounds of both new and old ammunition.

    All of it was filthy (dirty/greasy/oily/grimy).

    About half of it was probably both MkVII and MkVIIz .303Brit milsurp. O'course no amount of tumbling is going to effect properly-loaded MkVII (tightly packed cordite spaghetti) but MkVIIz, ... perhaps. :)

    Much of the remainder was 7.62x51 milsurp ...

    Some here probably remember Century's "Shooter's Dream" 7.62x51 milsurp ammo that they offered about 20 years ago. Many of us quickly decided that a moniker of "Shooter's Nightmare" would be more apropos.

    I am convinced that most of the "Shooter's Dream" that I received was track floor-sweepings. It was all filthy and much of it was damaged. Some of the the case markings that I found strongly suggested boot-prints to me.

    It was all so filthy that I felt that I had to clean it before closely inspecting each one before shooting it.

    As I recall, my VCC cleaning runs would be with a not-maxed-out bowl (if they are freely "swimming" the cartridges experience very little of the vibration) for no more than about an hour.

    I have never experienced any issue from tumbling ammunition.

    FWIW.
     
  22. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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  23. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    I do tumble after load just to clean off any residual oils. Generally just a quick run and then dump them out and go again. A few times I have forgot and let them go for a few hours, a time or two overnight. In the overnight batch I pulled a couple and dumped powder onto a white piece of paper. Since I knew what the powder was I got a sample of that straight from the jug. I couldn’t tell a difference in them. Shot them and they shot normally. In theory it’s an issue. In reality, not so much.
     
  24. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    I personally experienced some of that tumbled 7.62 NATO back in the early 90's. I remember quite clearly, it was FNM 1970s ball, nominally 150 grain FMJ. I also fired the identical ammo in non-tumbled form, and it was very good ammo. I still have a small amount I put away for a baseline comparator. Excellent accuracy, and no difficult extraction.

    The tumbled ammo: This had clearly been subject to some heavy corrosion. Cases were discolored, some with distinct black blotches. Before I knew better, I purchased some on the word of the seller that it was just fine despite some discoloration. The price was certainly right I thought. I managed to successfully fire exactly 8 of them. This was before I knew about pressure signs, and thought beating the bolt handle open with a piece of 2x4 was a symptom of the corrosion rather than pressure far in excess of what was acceptable for 7.62 NATO. The 8th round blew out the primer and my extractor, and seized the empty case in the chamber. A trip to the gunsmith, who was familiar with this ammo and it's problems, also confirmed that my headspace had advanced beyond maximum and needed to be corrected. After repairs to the rifle, I sunk the rest of the ammo in a very deep swamp, never to be seen again. Lesson learned.

    Clearly the ammo was tumbled for a significant amount of time...I don't know how long...so this is a worst case scenario. In my opinion, and evidently the opinion of some powder, ammo and reloading equipment manufacturers, tumbling live ammo is a bad idea. A little bit to remove lube or dirt might be OK. I'll stick to a rag with alcohol. I also believe there is no comparison to the high frequency-low amplitute vibration of a vibratory tumbler to the low frequency, high amplitude vibration of a vehicle. Put a bucket of brass/media in your truck bed for a year, and see if it's as shiny as an hour in your tumbler.
     
  25. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    I would like to point out the difference between tumbling the lube off freshly loaded cartridges, and tumbling seventy year old, corroded ammunition that has been around the world twice.

    I think we all believe there is a difference between the two, right?
     
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