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Wet tumbling brass - primers in or out?


SGCpistol

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I have been wet tumbling my brass with steel pins for several months now. I am sold! This is, IMHO, the best way to clean brass. I have been de-capping the brass before tumbling, cleaning, rolling in a towel to remove excess surface water, and then placing in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes to dry. This has worked well and I have no complaints.

But, my brass cleaning volume is ramping up as I am beginning to shoot more and more. The de-capping before cleaning is becoming a real chore. My question is this,,,,,,Is it necessary to de-cap prior to wet tumbling? I have seen varying opinions on this. My questions are:

1) If I do not de-cap prior to cleaning, Is there an issue with water being trapped in the primer pocket and causing a problem during/after loading? Wet powder, wet primer, etc.

2) To alleviate any concerns over this, what would you folks recommend as far as drying, to eliminate any potential moisture related issues in the primer pockets? Oven drying (time/temp.), etc.

3) What are the opinions on all of this? Primers in or out, moisture issues, drying techniques, etc.

Thanks in advance!

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I started wet tumbling the same way. I too liked the idea of decapping first to clean the primer pocket. Now I leave it in, dump the brass on a towel and leave it out over night. I then put the brass to the back of line so to speak to make sure complete drying before use.

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I've been wet tumbling for a couple of years now. I never deprime first. If the weather is good I put the rinsed brass on a towel out in the sun, it dries in a few hours. If it's in the wintertime, I just leave the brass on the towel in my shop (it's heated) for a few days and it dries out. Never had a problem with my loads working so I imagine there isn't any problem with moisture being trapped in the primer.

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I have done all types of wet tumbling. I usually only load a few times a year, but I process brass almost every weekend. I either just let it sit for a week or so, or bake it at 170 for 1.5 hours. Completely dry either way.

I always tumble with primers in.

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I've been wet tumbling for a couple years now and have tumbled with the primers both in and out. Probably about the same for most people either way. I tend to end up with some pretty dirty range brass sometimes (been laying in the mud, rain, snow for awhile) and those I always decap first. The primer pockets on those are really dirty with mud down in them sometimes, and I have had a few problems seating primers so I just decap first and the problems go away. That being said I've only ever had a few problems and that has been with exceptionally dirty brass.

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I decap first, actually, let me rephrase that, I have my 11 year old son decap first, but I let him run them thru my LnL. He wants to shoot, he can help make the ammo. ^_^

Im thinking, as others say, as long as your brass is dry when you load I cant see any issues.

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If you leave the primers in and wet tumble them be sure they are completely dry before you store them. I cleaned up some large batches of pistol brass and laid them out to dry. Thought they were completely dry and stored them in 5 gal buckets with lids. When I got ready to load them some of the primers were stuck from corrosion and when decapping them it would pop the end of the primers out and leave the sides of the primer inside of the primer pocket. There is no real good/fast way to remove the ring the primer left so they ended up being scraped.

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I punch the primers out - I try to decap after a range trip or match, and then throw brass in a plastic coffee can. When I have 3-4 full I will tumble and dry in the sun over a weekend day or 2 while doing yardwork, chores etc. I can usually tumble 3-4K in a day (9mm mostly). Brass dries pretty fast in FL sun if you stir it up every 20 minutes or so.

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Primers in, food dehydrator. More like a low temp convection oven than baking but same result - assuming you bake it long enough. No point doing it any faster than my wet processing cycle time. If the brass isn't fully dry it oxidizes rapidly and ruins the whole point of wet/SS pin processing. One shot afterwards to keep the brass pristine.

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In. I made a rack that has a small fan under it and pour the brass on it. 24 hours on that seems to be adequate. I did rush a batch thru and had a lot of duds so pulled a bunch od bullets when I first started.

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I just started wet tumbling without depriming first for 9mm brass. BTW - I used to do wet tumbling after depriming first a few times.

The difference I noticed between depriming or no-depriming first is not the moisture or anything, but rather how sticky my Dillon press becomes in the upstroke when sizing the brass if I do not deprime before wet tumbling.

Somehow, if you leave the spent primers in the brass and do your wet tumbling, and you let it dry for a week under Texas sun, there are something "gluing" the spent primers to the pockets. I first though the upstroke stickiness is due to the expander die, until I did some experiment with just 1 brass on the press to resize. It appears that the stickiness is the decapping pin got stuck in the primer hole after the spent primer is punched out.

I suspect wet tumbling + drying process with the spent primers somehow reduces the size of the primer pocket hole? It causes the decapping pin to get stuck in there when backing out. I even broke a Dillon decapping pin. I got a new pin and the same difficult when the pin is being backed out. This never happened before, but only after I wet tumble without decapping first.

Did anyone else notice this?

brokenpin_zpswuznbfdd.jpg

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No. I chuck Dillon decapping pins and use 600 grit to polish/taper them slightly to keep from sucking the occasional primer back up into the primer pocket on a 1050 but have never seen this. That pin seems oversize but I haven't gotten out a pin and case to look.

I can't see how wet tumbling / drying would cause 'shrinkage' of a primer pole.

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Milkmyduds yes the primers can "glue" in if they dry too slowly or you wait too long before decapping. It's best to dry as quickly as possible and decap promptly (within a week ideally).

I wet wash with primers in but I tumble dry the outsides then oven dry in a PID temperature controlled oven at 230F. They are completely dry in less than an hour.

Be careful trying to emulate this with a regular oven though, often the temperature sensor is at the top and the heating element is at the bottom. If you put too much cold wet brass in between the two, the heating element can stay on for a long period of time and give your brass some surface pinking from radiated heat (guess how I know). If I were doing it in a regular oven, I'd cut the temperature down to 150F, make sure to let it preheat fully, and leave them in much longer (2 hours or more).

Just setting them out overnight does not dry primer pockets in most climates. Around here they'd take 2-3 days to dry naturally with primers in.

You can decap them while still slightly wet and that doesn't hurt much, and then they do dry much faster (within an hour or so after being decapped in my experience).

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I have never experienced any sticking related to wet washing brass with the primer in.

The picture above seems to clearly show an interference fit between the pin and the flash hole. I would suspect undersized flash hole as Steve suggested.

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I have never experienced any sticking related to wet washing brass with the primer in.

The picture above seems to clearly show an interference fit between the pin and the flash hole. I would suspect undersized flash hole as Steve suggested.

Yeah I agree his problem isn't just the sticking, but the sticking does happen. Usually results in rings or punctured primers though, not broken or stuck pins.

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  • 1 month later...

I resize/deprime and trim before I tumble. At least for 223. The tumbling makes the deburring unnecessary and a very quick chamfer makes it go much faster

I don't bother with pistol.

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