Cleaning primer pockets

Discussion in 'Caliber Talk: Ammunition, Reloading, and Shooting ' started by Gress, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. Gress

    Gress Don't need no education Supporting Addict

    Nov 21, 2011
    Shooting .50gi is fun! To keep my brass costs down (at $ .39 per case new from Guncrafter) I want every case to serve me as long as possible.
    And I wish Lee had a case loader for .50gi…different story though.

    With my .45 reloading I did not care too much about how clean primer pockets were, but now I do. After doing some homework I decided to go for what seems to be the best and give stainless steel tumbling media a try. I got the media, put it in my tumbler with 100 cases of .50gi brass for 4 hours and …waited for the outcome. The results did not impress me honestly. Take a look and you see nice dirty spots in every primer pocket.

    I contacted stainlesstumblingmedia and got a reply from Cory who sent me more media at no cost to me (way to go for every business who cares about customer sat!), but warned me that the issue is most probably my tumbler, so more media may not help too much. And it did not, as promised :lol: although I have 10 pounds now.

    So, now to my tumbler. What I used was a “rock tumbler” with a round tank. Very nice, heavy plastic with nothing to wear out, but….a bit too round, I guess 

    Here is the tank I got from Cory which he promised would make a difference. Here it is with nice polygonal shape.
    The only drawback is that it’s using metal tank with a rubber insert, which perhaps will not last as long as my heavy plastic rock-n-roll tank. We will see….
    But indeed it worked. After 4 hours of tumbling (180 cases in the tank and perhaps a bit too much) here is how my brass looks now. Pretty clean, ha?


    Not sure if better or cheaper solution exists, but this one worked. What is your guys best cleaning hints?
  2. CMG

    CMG Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    I don't bother with primer pocket cleaning.

    When I first started hand-loading, I experimented with cleaning primer pockets but found no difference in accuracy or brass life. Mine will show cracks around the case mouth long before the pockets get loose.

    I have a friend who is more anal than I, and he cleans his brass, after de-capping, in a liquid solution sold by one of the reloading companies. He also uses a rotary tumbler like yours.

    I use Dillon rapid polish and walnut media in a vibrating cleaner.

  3. Gress

    Gress Don't need no education Supporting Addict

    Nov 21, 2011
    I did not bother with primer pocket cleaning before either, however now I do :lol:
  4. duketbrd88

    duketbrd88 Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2011
    Damm, those are clean. Nice job, I don't bother, but I am just doing 45 and 357 cases. I'm sure the primers will go in a lot smoother now. I tell ya what makes a big difference even on 45 brass and 357 is just a little one shot case lube. It feels like butter. I have the Redding TC dies in both calibers , they say you don't need lube, but it only takes a minute to hose down 100 case's.

  5. Gress

    Gress Don't need no education Supporting Addict

    Nov 21, 2011
    Yes I lube a little usually too.
  6. Legion489

    Legion489 Well-Known Member

    Oct 28, 2011
    I am curious why you think cleaning primer pockets will make the brass last longer. Sure clean brass will will work through the dies easier and the dies will last longer, why why would cleaning the pockets make the BRASS last longer?
  7. limbkiller

    limbkiller Pulling my hair. Supporting Addict

    Aug 18, 2011
    I can see in a small way how primer pockets clean might last longer on light loads but when I reloaded rifle ammo a few yrs ago I got split cases before any signs of primers fitting loose as CMG said. Straight walled pistol could be differant. I also loaded hot in my .220 swifts and other rds.
  8. Gress

    Gress Don't need no education Supporting Addict

    Nov 21, 2011
    No scientific reason :lol:
  9. 50GI-Jess

    50GI-Jess Member

    Aug 24, 2011
    Nice job,
    Havn't tried SS media yet but will.
    I use ceramic stones from Cabela's, and run the casings in a little bit of water with Lemi Shine detergent. If it's for competition use, then I tumble them after drying in walnut media for a perfect shine.
    It's a lot of work, and I usually dedicate a weekend for the whole cleaning process, but I we talking about 5 to 10 K cases at the time.
    By the way, does that SS media ding or scratch the cases ?
  10. Gress

    Gress Don't need no education Supporting Addict

    Nov 21, 2011
    Thanks for chiming in Jess. Your volumes are definitely beyond my reach. Mine are 300 rounds per day top. The cases come out "tumbled" with no dings or real scratches. They do not look polished though just tumbled. You hopefully can see what they look like in the pics above.
  11. 50GI-Jess

    50GI-Jess Member

    Aug 24, 2011
    Just to make sure I understand it right!
    Did you run the cases wet or dry?
    Well, I have come to believe, that if the cases are clean but not shiny will be OK. I make them shiny too for competition, because it looks cool.
  12. Gress

    Gress Don't need no education Supporting Addict

    Nov 21, 2011
    I run them wet with a table spoon+ of a dish detergent and a pinch of Lemi Shine per tank.
  13. Spokes

    Spokes Supporting Addict Supporting Addict

    Sep 18, 2011
    When I load on my 550 do not bother to clean primer pockets. When I load on my single stage RCBS Rock Chucker I do clean them.
  14. Mythree

    Mythree Banned Supporting Addict

    Oct 9, 2011
    Need to get a sonic cleaner
  15. pdogkilr

    pdogkilr Can't afford Therapy

    Jan 7, 2012
    As with others above, I do not clean the primer pockets on pistol brass. Main reason is I use a progressive press - RL 550-B.

    Rifle cases get a "full prep" after initial firing of factory ammo. Consists of the following steps:

    1) Tumble to clean
    2) Lube and resize / deprime on Dillon
    3) Trim / Chamfer / Deburr the case necks
    4) Uniform the primer pocket (also remove crimp if military) This also cleans the pocket.
    5) Deburr the flash-hole
    6) Tumble to remove the lube
    7) Tumble to polish (cases never touched after this without gloves) Some of my rifle loads are stored a long time before use.
    8) Prime with RCBS priming tool
    9) Charged with RCBS powder charger - weigh every 10th load
    10) Back to the Dillon for seating and crimping

    Subsequent firings get 1 / 2 / 3 if needed / 4 clean only / 6 through 10

    Two feet lower than a pain in the neck, but the rifle loads look factory new years later, and shoot better than I can hold.
  16. polizei1

    polizei1 It WAS Quack

    Aug 18, 2011
    I don't clean my pockets, and probably never will unless I get into competitive rifle matches. I just don't see the point with pistol unless you're shooting a high level competition, at which most people are sponsored and probably use new brass anyway.
  17. billt

    billt Member

    Mar 7, 2012
    This is some range pickup .223 I gave the Stainless Steel Media treatment to. I used Dawn Dish Washing Liquid and Lemi-Shine. I tumbled for 12 hours. My Thumlers Tumbler only has a 1,500 RPM motor so it takes longer. You can see it even cleaned the burr in the flash hole. This stuff was FILTHY. Some of it was black. Now I need to find a larger tumbler. I'm thinking of going with one of those small concrete mixers from Harbor Freight. Get your Stainless Steel Media here, it's cheaper:






You need 3 posts to add links to your posts! This is used to prevent spam.

Draft saved Draft deleted