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I am just getting into this whole reloading business. I have been shooting handloaded ammo for years at competitions, but I have someone who has always done that for me. Now I am taking this into my own hands, and am acquiring all the equipment necessary.
My question is this - I have been looking through all sorts of shooter's supply catalogs, and see that theres all types of contrapments for cleaning used brass. My wallet is just pushed wayyyy too thin right now for me to invest in a cleaner. I'll just sit and clean all my own brass one at a time if I need to... I am also going to put every powder charge on a scale before it gets loaded into my competition loads... I don't mind getting meticulous. My question is - whats the best way to do this? What methods do you all use if you do clean brass?
 

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Depending on your shooting/handloading volume, wiping each case with a rag, though effective, will be very labor intensive. Midway has a tumbler/case separator set on sale for about $40. If you're really going to get into reloading a tumbler is very helpful.
 

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You also don't need to weigh every charge, even for competition. Quality powder measures drop within .1grain, and that's plenty accurate enough.
 

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I not much more experienced than you, but after a couple K rds loaded, I highly recommend a tumbler. The guys above helped me with understanding powder measure/scale variances. I now measure one charge, then do an accumulated weight average of five more, then I call it good. That method seems to be getting me closer to less than .1 gr variance. Have fun, I'm enjoying the heck out of it and the guys here are a real resource.
 

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+1 what Retired Rod said. I've been using the Midway set for years and am very satisfied. Go to a Pet Smart or other chain pet store and get some ground walnut shells and then go to a big box retailer and pick up some car finish such a Nu Finish. Cut the Nu Finish with 1/2 mineral sprits and use it as your brass polish one cap full at a time - recharge your media as needed. For $60 you can efficiently clean your cases for years. Honestly, if your time is worth anything - buy a tumbler. If you can't spring for the tumbler, simply wash the cases in a little dishwashing liquid in a 5 gallon bucket, rinse in clean water and air dry them as appropriate to where you live.
 

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Only two reasons I polish my brass...get the dirt and crud off of them, and when they are shiny, they are easier for me to see to pick back up. :)

+2 on the Midway, I've had my tumbler for 15(??) years and it's still going strong. Still using the same media that came with that kit as a matter of fact, but it came in a 5 gallon bucket and I've not reloaded a ton all those years. IMO all you really need is the media, the polish, the tumbler, and a brass sifter. The sifter I got fits in the top of a 5 gallon bucket, so conveniently the used media goes right back into the bucket it came from.
 

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If you're wallet's "just pushed wayyyy too thin right now...to invest in a cleaner", then don't do it.

Go to the dollar store and pick yourself up a small bucket, a large plastic spoon, and a collander - should set you back all of $3.

To clean brass quicker than wiping them individually, fill up the bucket at least half full with hot water and add a little dish washing soap. Dump in some brass and agitate with the spoon. Pour the water and brass through the collander and rinse under hot water. Dump the brass on a towel and let air dry overnight.

You'll end up with brass that may not be as pretty as if it came out of a tumbler, but more than suitable for reloading and shooting.
 

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if you use any of the wet methods of cleaning, be sure to deprime your cases either before cleaning or immediately after.

The primers will corrode in the cases quickly and make depriming and pocket cleaning a huge PITA.
 

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A couple of points on the soap and water cleaning.
If you use soap and water and your water source is soft good, if your water is hard and your cases dry with a mineral film on them over time they will scratch your steel and even the carbide dies.
If you have hard water use some distilled water as your final rinse.

I have used the soap and water method and to avoid and corrosion problems dry the cases on a cookie sheet in the oven, just don’t use high heat. 150 to 180 degrees are plenty to dry out the cases. Even the unprimed primer pockets will get purged of moisture in about an hour.
 

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Put a tumbler on your Christmas list.

After all...X-mas IS, just around the corner! :cool:

All BS aside, as soon as you can afford around $50 bucks, go get a tumbler; you'll like the end result.
 

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A tumbler is a good investment if you shoot a lot. You could spend days cleaning brass by hand, where as a good tumbler can do 500 rounds at a time and be done in an hour or two. And they aren't that expensive, and should last you for many years. Like I said, if you shoot a lot... like several hundred rounds a week, get one, you won't regret it.
 

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RetiredRod said:
Depending on your shooting/handloading volume, wiping each case with a rag, though effective, will be very labor intensive. Midway has a tumbler/case separator set on sale for about $40. If you're really going to get into reloading a tumbler is very helpful.

Absolutely. Back in prehistoric days, before money for tumblers was invented, Dad and I wiped each case by hand. Dad was a master class bullseye shooter, so we had to wipe a lot of cases by hand for him to get there. When a tumbler finally came into existence in our household, I looked upon it in awe and wonder.

Nowadays, when I fill up my own tumbler, I truly appreciate a machine that can free up so much of my time. Well, it sort of frees it up. That tme is usually wasted; casting, sizing, reloading, shooting............ :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Ah, again, thanks for all the helpful replies! Once again, you guys have proved to be a wealth of knowledge! (I think some of you guys should be getting paid for this ;) lol).
Yeha, I won't be able to drop $50 for a tumbler till' maybe Feb. or so, and I plan on doing as much shooting and reloading as humanly possible between now and then ;).. and yes, I already have a lb. of Varget and BL-C(2) and a 100 rds. of 168gr. Matchkings and 50 rds. of Nosler 150gr. Accubonds (for hunting).... and as for the x-mas list, my mother has already gotten me a Lee Challenger press kit w/ powder scale, powder measure, .308 dies, and shell holders... and I don't have anyone else that buys me x-mas presents :( lol.
I wasn't too worried about cleaning the outside very much, as I color all my cases with a black sharpie so I can ID them at the range, and I polish my comp. cases with steel wool (on the outside) just to be shiny and pretty, and yes, I know the dangers of steel wool :) I do clean the residue off before using.
I was most worried about cleaning down in the case, where all the blackish burnt powder residue gets left... I thought about taking a nylon cleaning brush and some powder solvent and scrubbing them, but I think I'll just use the dishwater method for now.
Could I make some tumbler media, put it all into a 5 gal bucket w/ brass, and shake it up myself??? Could do that in the mornings when I exercise ;) Walnut shells and NuFinish as said by Stillwater788?
Again, thank you all very much! I'm sure I'll be posting much more in this forum when I start loading!
 

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I have two of the big Dillon vibrators cleaners that do seveal thousand cases at a time BUT remember the media you use is contaminated with lead and is toxic to a certain extent.
If you are weighing each charge for pistol cartridges, you are wasting your time. Today's powder measures are very accurate and you won't be able to beat the accuracy of the Dillon. Dillon's measure is also great for rifle charges too but I have the Lyman 1200 for weighing the powder charges on my rifle rounds.
To seperate the media from the brass cheaply you can make box with a hardwear cloth bottom that allows the media to spill out when shaken.
 

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Stillwater788 said:
+1 what Retired Rod said. I've been using the Midway set for years and am very satisfied. Go to a Pet Smart or other chain pet store and get some ground walnut shells and then go to a big box retailer and pick up some car finish such a Nu Finish. Cut the Nu Finish with 1/2 mineral sprits and use it as your brass polish one cap full at a time - recharge your media as needed. For $60 you can efficiently clean your cases for years. Honestly, if your time is worth anything - buy a tumbler. If you can't spring for the tumbler, simply wash the cases in a little dishwashing liquid in a 5 gallon bucket, rinse in clean water and air dry them as appropriate to where you live.

this is exactly what I do. works beautifully. I have the midway tumbler and for 4 years it has churned out 1000s of casings.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Nice.
Since people keep commenting on the comment I said - "I will be weighing every powder charge at a time that goes into my competition rounds"...
My kit that I got came with a Lee Perfect Powder measure. I was only figuring that since the Lee PPM was one of the cheaper powder measures out there, that it might not be as accurate as some of the other ones, and I know that generally, in CF rifles, differences less than 0.5g don't change anything... I guess I'm just over-meticulous :( I also read the directions for it, and it shows that I have to set it up differently for every different powder due to density changes... lots of math involved... I just thought that since reloading is going to be more of a recreation for me than a hobby, I don't mind weighing everything... I'll just have to get used to setting it up :)
Also, I know this is off-topic, but just a quick question. I am going out tomorrow to buy some primers.. for a .308 Win. I'll need large rifle non-magnum primers, right?
 

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Damascus welcome to reloading. The new Lee Challenger press should be the breech lock. I have been hearing a lot of good things about that press. Let us know how you like it. Take your time and don't get in a hurry. Pay very close attention to detail and you will be fine. If you are going to deprime before you clean then you will want a decaping die. You don't want to run the cases through your resizing die until they are clean. I agree with the others about buying a tumbler when you can afford one.
Rusty
 

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throw them in the tumbler if they look dirty if they are shiney there is no need
 

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Don't sweat the residue inside the cases too much, I really doubt it'll be noticable.

I've used the hot soapy water approach and it works fine, gets the crud off the outside nicely. I'd flush with the hottest water I could manage and then either use a hand held hair dryer or put the cases in the oven to get them throughly dry.

By the time I started doing rifle reloading I had a decent tumbler, sounds like you jumped straight in, good for you. Only thing I'd do for sure is decap the cases so you can be sure to clean out the primer pocket, THAT makes a difference in how easily you seat the primers.

And yeah, .308 takes Large Rifle Primers (non-magnum)
 
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