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First off, I'd like to say that I have been a member for a long time. I haven't posted in many years, but when I joined, I basically learned how to reload 45 ACP on my Dillon reloader. The feedback from members was amazing and I have been reloading 45 for USPSA ever since. Thank you all for that.

Now I picked up a Frankford arsenal Tumbler, the big one, for stainless steel media. I was just curious if anybody had any tips for a newbie. I'm looking at a bunch of mostly once fire brass, some muddy, pretty dirty stuff. I want to deprime them before I wash them with the SS media, so I want to run them through the Tumbler with soap and water or something before I deprime them and then polish them. Am I barking up the right tree? Any tips?
 

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I run my brass through my dry tumbler with corn cob media to quickly clean it and get rid of debris and then size/deprime before I run them through the wet tumbler. I only do this to keep my die clean. Others I know just use a universal deprime/decapping die and don’t worry about cleaning first.
 

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Best tip?
Dump the pins and try Brass Juice or Frankford Arsenal Brass Cleaning Solution.
I clean brass before decapping.
 

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I dry tumble them also for a short time to knock the crud of of them then de-prime before wet tumbling. I usually size while de-priming because I tried the Dillon universal die and it quickly broke or bent so I gave up. Also I wet tumble in Dawn and Lemishine, works fantastic. If you haven't already get a wet media separator, the Frankfort one seems cheap but works fine, but since I've been using it filled with water I stopped finding those pins everywhere.
 

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If you have a universal decapping die, you can decap before cleaning, even very dirty stuff.

If you really want to you could wet tumble w/o pins- just water and soap if you please, just to remove the mud and loose debris ahead of decapping. I don't ever bother since I use a Lee universal decapping die. (it's one of the few Lee products that I'd recommend) I'm about 30k or more rounds in and still on the first decapping pin.

I guess I should ask- do you decap and clean outside or in the house? I decap and wash outside or in garage on a dedicated utility press, never in the house. If you use your loading press for decapping, then I would be more inclined to "pre-wash."
 

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I’ve been using the Frankford arsenal wet tumbler and stainless media and love the way the brass comes out. Ive been using the Dawn soap (1-2 caps) and lemishine (1/2 tsp) mix.
Tumble for 2 hrs , then a good rinse (Like 4x ). I do it in my garage where I have a slop sink. Then they go thu the media separator and back in the tumbler for next time. Brass goes in the Frankford brass dryer. DO NOT mix brass that will end up inside another caliber: (ie. 45acp and 9mm)

I suppose, you can wet tumble them without the media, then hand deprime, then go back and tumble dry or wet; BUT that sounds like more time and work that imho is unnecessary.

If you insist on depriming before tumbling , then just deprime the dirty brass first.

I have a dry tumbler, but I have been so satisfied wet tumbling, its still in the box.

I DO NOT deprime my handgun brass first, and the brass comes out Beautiful. Inside the cases are super clean and there was no issues when I reloaded them. I use a Dillon 750 where the first stage deprimes and sizes without any excess dirt, etc. Primer seating is also incident free.

Recently, I tumbled some smaller batches of handgun brass and deprimed first just to compare, and just didnt see a huge difference. Yes, the primer pocket looks a bit cleaner but has no benefit from what I’ve seen in reloading them or function. I use the Frankfort Arsenal hand deprimer which handles everything from handgun to rifle brass.

The bottleneck rifle cases I’ve deprimed first, then wet tumble. .

The pics below show before and after of mixed brass from an outdoor range and not deprimed first. The top pic is some .243 brass i just did and deprimed beforehand.

605205


605206
 

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I deprime first using Lee decapping die. I use SS pins and a little dawn and lemishine. When it’s done, I screw on the included brass separator, rinse a few times and shake out the water and pins over a 5 gallon bucket with a “panning screen” insert I bought off of Amazon. It allows the water to drain in the bucket but captures the pins in the sifting pan. I bought a cheap dehydrator for drying my brass. No worries about airborne lead and no media to replace.
605387
605388
605389
 

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As others have pointed out, many of us de-prime using a universal die. I picked up a used RCBS die, no where near new, and have used it for over a decade. I bent a couple pins (hate those sneaky Berdan primed cases), but no other issues. I can de-prime extremely dirty brass without any worries. Good luck which ever way you choose to go.

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Though many criticize this approach, I size, decap and bell prior to wet pin tumbling. Virtually all of my brass are my relatively clean pick ups from an indoor range. I apply a bit of spray case lube to batches of cases in a bowl. Thus far (25k rds) no apparent issues with a carbide sizing or steel belling dies. While there may be remants of the primer residue which would cause issues, none have seemed to surface. It seems the internal case residue stops the brass build up on the belling plug I used to see when sizing/belling wet pin cleaned cases.

For dirtier brass, I decap 1st and then wet pin tumble, followed by the usual operations.
 

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I size, decap and bell prior to wet pin tumbling.
No criticism, just honesty curious as to why you do it that way? I can't see the benefit to belling (or sizing) dirty brass. Unless you load on a SS and are just cutting down operations by decapping and sizing in one step. But that still leaves my puzzled on belling.
 

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No criticism, just honesty curious as to why you do it that way? I can't see the benefit to belling (or sizing) dirty brass. Unless you load on a SS and are just cutting down operations by decapping and sizing in one step. But that still leaves my puzzled on belling.
I think he explained that in his last sentence of paragraph 1 - the internal case residue (mostly small carbon particles) have less galling on the inside case neck, particularly on straight-wall cases, and additionally wet tumbling afterward takes off the lube so that powder doesn't get contaminated. The spray wax case lubes, and the anhydrous lanolin case lubes (if used lightly) will not contaminate the powder anyway, but not all case lubes are made the same.

Synopsis: for once or twice fired cases, he uses lube and sizes, decaps, and expands/bells cases before wet-pin tumbling, leaving the cases super clean and dry for powder drop, bullet seat, and crimp. For dirtier cases, to save wear on the dies, decap, wet-pin tumble, lube, then size, expand/bell, powder drop, bullet seat, crimp and that should work very effortlessly with minimal wear to dies and/or brass. Just my take on it.
 

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I run my brass through my dry tumbler with corn cob media to quickly clean it and get rid of debris and then size/deprime before I run them through the wet tumbler. I only do this to keep my die clean. Others I know just use a universal deprime/decapping die and don’t worry about cleaning first.
I also de-prime with a universal single stage then clean to keep the Dillon cleaner. The biggest mess comes from spent primers.
 

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Grandpas50AE nailed it correctly. Process works for me at my rate of roughly 8k rds per year. I use a lower end multistation in an unusual config ... if I get time I'll post a new thread on this.

At one time I decapped first and then wet pin tumbled ... I had a real issue with brass residue building up on the belling plug .. the current approach addressed this.
 
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