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Why tumble brass for reloading?

8745 Views 21 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  SWO1
I have seen several threads here about tumbling but none that explained why you are tumbling them

I understand it cleans the brass and makes it shiny and all.

But is there really a neccessary purpose for doing it?
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depends. tumbled brass is cleaner inside and out and loadings are more consistent. personally if its just cast lead blasting ammo, i dont tumble, i just load and go. For ammo that for storage or match ammo, i tumble it before and after sizing.

Its probably not necessary all of the time, It does help to have nice clean tumbled brass that you can see if there are any problem areas starting to develop, Cracks or other defects. Personally I like good clean brass because its alot easier to pick back up again because its so shiny.. other than that im sure a quick bubble bath and drying out would work just as good.. Personally Its a little bit of a take pride in your work type thing.. I dont like having my brass look like hammered dog poop... So I tumble it ,... Sometimes it still looks like hammered dog poo... But what can you do
One thing that I noticed with my .50AE reloads is that after I put the case lube on the brass during sizing, it tarnishes the brass if they sit for a few days before I shoot them. It's a hassle to pick media out of the flash holes, I know. Total PITA, but I am going to start tumbling before and after sizing, before I seat the primers to avoid this happening in the future.

I agree with Sakdog that it's makes it easier to notice defects. With alot of soot on a case, you won't be as able to pick out a crack/split in a case, which can cause your gun to KaBoom. A bad day for all.....

More than anything though, its a "pride in what you do" kinda thing... It is for me anyway.
It keeps the gritt out of my press
^ and can help feed better.
Stuff will gum up your press after awhile. I don't "polish" my brass, just tumble it clean and go from there. But if you don't tumble brass that's real dirty, your dies on your press will get a build up of the crud (grit, dirt, carbon, so on). Just good practice to always tumble. Only thing I dont tumble everytime is my .357 mag/.38sp rounds from my revolver as they come out pretty darn clean. Tumble after 2-3 loads. Range pickups ALWAYS get tumbled and closely inspected cause you never know what it's rolled in and needs to be inspected closely.
I use a mix of white 1/2 cup vinegar, 2-3 table spoons of salt and couple squirts of Dawn dish soap mixed in hot water. Let it soak for a while. every 5 minutes or so I swish the bucket around.

It does not make the brass sparkle but it does get off the dirt and powder.
I don't have a tumbler or I would use that.
I read a another reloading forum, that a good substitute for a a tumbler, is to take the ut off leg from a pair of jeans, and zip tie one end shut. then add rice or tumbling media and brass. you then zip tie the other end shut and place in the dryer with the heat turned of and voila.
I tumble in corn media just to keep the excessive fouling out of my dies and to identify bad brass. In the past I have wiped the brass down with a hand towel, checked for bad pieces then went on with the loading process. Didnt notice any difference between tumbled and wiped brass other than the ones that went thru the tumbler had a bit more shine to them.
I read a another reloading forum, that a good substitute for a a tumbler, is to take the ut off leg from a pair of jeans, and zip tie one end shut. then add rice or tumbling media and brass. you then zip tie the other end shut and place in the dryer with the heat turned of and voila.
I have tried this.. But I run to much brass, and if it comes open it could be a real mess! Made me think, tumbler $39.00 new dryer $500. :wink:
A chemical cleaning alternative to the case tumbler is Birchwood Casey Brass Case Cleaner. You mix this concentrated solution (mainly phosphoric acid) with water to then place the brass in, let it sit 1-3 min with slight agitation, remove, rinse well and allow brass to dry.

This is what I use when I want really bright and clean brass for my hunting rounds. It does a better job than corn media but does require you to wear rubber/latex gloves and goggles because you do not want this stuff on your skin or eyes.

There are other home brew solutions you can concoct from household chemicals but you really need to steer clear of ammonia based solutions. Ammonia will etch and eat away at brass and this is bad news when dealing with ammunition.
It does aid in spotting defects in the brass.
I tried the jean thing in the dryer today using plain white rice as the media. i tumbled for 2 hrs, and it worked beautifully. the brass is bright and shiny. if you are just trying to get in the reloading game, and trying to keep initial costs down, this is an option. I thought found a budy who has a gallon paint shaker. i am going to put my rounds in a plastic 1 gal paint can and rice and cleant hem that way from now on.
Be careful when cleaning brass in you dryer because you could end up with lead dust in your next load of dried clothes, bad news if you have children.
Personally, with a brass tumbler, you can keep the lead dust to a minimum... that's why I bought one in the first place. It's easy to clean out and with the lid on the tumbler, it's also contained within the tumbler. Something to think about.
while lead dust is an issue please keep in mind that you have to be exposed to it for YEARS to have any ill effets on your health. While i dont reccommend sniffing it every day, casual exposure shouldt be detrimental to grownups. Kids is a whole different ballgame.

Lead exposure has been a concern in the back of my mind w/ picking and sorting dirty brass, the bench i do it on always has a thick layer of gray afterwards.
Simply because I like clean brass. It is much easier to detect imperfections in clean, shiny brass than the dirty stuff.
lots of replies and valid reasons/explanations. Thanks guys!
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