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Clean brass vs. dirty brass

jonkjonk Member Posts: 10,121
Just thought I'd open a can of worms...

What various reloaders do to their brass after firing seems to vary from nothing, to ultrasonic cleaning that gets a cartridge as clean as it was when it left the factory. I just wonder, what you do and more to the point, if it makes a whit's worth of difference???

Let's ignore the benchrest crowd for a moment, as in the most exacting tolerances, yes, that last little bit might matter. For the casual hunter, target shooter, or plinker, does clean brass really matter? Before I got a tumbler, I had no facility to clean my brass and so didn't, but don't notice any difference in accuracy from my dirty days to now. The one crucial step I see is that lube should be removed from a case after sizing- otherwise bolt thrust might be excessive. But that is easily enough done with a cloth after loading. All the stains, soot, and ugliness remain if your cleaning routine only amounts to wiping off the cases.

When I tumble, the interior of my cases is still black. If anything is being removed in the way of interior fouling, it isn't much. In theory, I guess combustion residue COULD build up and lead to pressure problems, but I have done some experiments of measuring internal capacity of uncleaned brass when new and after 1, 5, and 10 firings, and it didn't notably change; it varied by .1gr on my scale, which could just be scale error or the meniscus affecting the level of water in the case.

So is tumbling or any other cleaning necessary? Yes, it WILL help prolong die life, no doubt there; at least for standard dies. But in terms of accuracy, do you notice a difference? I don't. That said, i DO tumble all of my brass as I like it looking nice and neat, but it is more of a cosmetic thing to me than anything else.

Comments

  • JustCJustC Member Posts: 16,055 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    extraction will improve or at least stay positive. Ignition consistency will remain constant due to primer pocket cleaning. Other than that, for BR and LR purposes, it maintains the same internal capacity for shot to shot consistency due to no carbon buildup which will decrease capacity overtime, and increase pressures affecting MV and harmonics.
  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    Hello This is just my $.02 I am not the norm but for the past 40+ years have loaded 5000-7500 round of 45ACP per year . The only thing I can state for sure is clean brass will cause less wear on your reloading dies , Cause less wear on the chamber area of your firearm , Cause fewer feed problems. if this is a semi auto fire-arm . does this add up to being worth cleaning you cartridges only you will be able to decide. "praise the Hard Ball gun"
  • joesjoes Member Posts: 484 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    And don't forget how pretty they look after a good cleaning. My brass can't stand when the other brass on range ,makes fun of how dirty they are!
  • bpostbpost Member Posts: 32,204 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Clean shiny brass shows cracks and flaws better. It is also a matter of pride in a job well done. Something like taking a spotless race car to a dirt track week after week. BTDT
  • jonkjonk Member Posts: 10,121
    edited November -1
    Well even so, if it were just a case of needing to remove dirt so it feeds better, is easier on dies, etc., just shaking your brass in a jug of purple power and water and letting soak for a bit, then letting it dry in the sun does a fine job; it does not clean the stains and such, but it does remove dirt. If removing dirt is all that is needed, then again, anything else is just cosmetic, yes?

    The point about spotting flaws defects and wear on cases when clean is well taken though. So chalk one up to 'clean and shiny' vs. just 'clean'.
  • PinheadPinhead Member Posts: 1,485 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Well, I have been cleaning my brass for some 40+ years now using different methods. Some of these worked very well and some of them were duds. I started out loading because it was the only way I could afford to shoot very much and I just kept adding more and more chores to the actual reloading process as the years flew by. I can say that cleaning cases does seem to make my dies last longer(never had one to wear out yet) but beyond that I think it is more a personal preference than anything else. I take pride in what I produce both to accuracy and looks. I therefore go the whole 9 yards to produce better than the factory-in looks as well as accuracy. My way anyway.
  • HighballHighball Member Posts: 15,755
    edited November -1
    A job worth doing...ect.
    Just me...but somebody sets up next to me and drags out dirty, dingy obvious reloads..I tend to drift to the other end of the line.

    Pride might be sinful...but popping open a box of my pristine reloads that I know have been primped to the nines does my heart good.
  • shootlowshootlow Member Posts: 5,425
    edited November -1
    ever piece of brass that i reload goes thuough the tumbler and comes out real purty [;)]that is the way i like it
  • jonkjonk Member Posts: 10,121
    edited November -1
    Again, I DO tumble all my brass. I like the nice, shiny appearence too! Though sometimes that does NOT get it clean, even with fresh media. It depends how stained it is. Or more to the point, clean, but not totally shiny. And if there is any bullet lube from cast bullets, that's a real pain to remove with anything but solvent.

    But thanks for the replies... I'm still waiting for someone to say, "heck I've never cleaned it!" [:D]
  • sandwarriorsandwarrior Member Posts: 5,453 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    jonk,

    I might be the only one who does this, but, I don't tumble much, even though I have one. I neck size mostly and to get the carbon off the necks I use Lymans spray for lube on the cases. That lube emulsifies the carbon and all I do to clean is wipe the case clean with several rotations in a shop cloth. The brass comes clean pretty easily but isn't as shiny as when new. But, it sure shoots good. The cases are wiped again when completely loaded.
  • HighballHighball Member Posts: 15,755
    edited November -1
    Another consideration is volume.
    Cleaning 40 cases by hand is light work....1000 is a real pain.
  • leeblackmanleeblackman Member Posts: 5,683
    edited November -1
    Walnut for the real dirty ones, then into the corn cobb with a bit of brazo or other polish additive and it comes out white shiny.
  • gunnut505gunnut505 Member Posts: 10,290
    edited November -1
    Word to the wise; don't use ammonia-based cleaners like Brasso or silver polish or it may weaken your cases.
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