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- Have a look at the primer pocket after dry or wet tumbling for residue, it's there but de-capping in the loading process you don't see it only the crud left behind.
- As long as you are using walnut/corn cob media de-capping before tumbling is a problem getting corn cob bits stuck in the primer hole.
- When you wet tumble without de-capping first moisture has a place to get trapped and could/will be a problem at sometime.
- A Lee breech lock press and universal de-capping die is inexpensive, easy to keep clean and keeps the grit out of your reloading press. For me time doing this is not a factor.
- Wet tumbling with the SS pins cleans everything like new.
 

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I think the jury has reached a verdict:

If you tumble your cases in media like corncob or walnut, the de-capping after tumbling is the way to go.

If you wet tumble, then de-capping prior to tumbling is the way to go. But use a "universal" decapping die, so that you don't scratch your good size/de-prime die.
 

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I have a different approach depending on rifle or pistol.If it is pistol I only tumble before sizing and there done.If its rifle I tumble to clean then I use spray lube to decap and size and tumble again .I know its an extra step but I dont mind because I am not in hurry since its my hobby and its takes less than a minute to dump back in for another cleaning after all the tumble does all the work! I check pockets for debris before re priming and theirs always a few I poke out. I actually tested a long time ago with media in the pocket to see if the primer ignited the powder since I was curious if I ever missed one what would happen.The ones with debris went off like normal and the chrono showed no difference ,not saying thats it ok to have debris in the pocket by any means and I check every one but I was just curious.
 

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Discussion Starter #45
I have a different approach depending on rifle or pistol.If it is pistol I only tumble before sizing and there done.If its rifle I tumble to clean then I use spray lube to decap and size and tumble again .I know its an extra step but I dont mind because I am not in hurry since its my hobby and its takes less than a minute to dump back in for another cleaning after all the tumble does all the work! I check pockets for debris before re priming and theirs always a few I poke out. I actually tested a long time ago with media in the pocket to see if the primer ignited the powder since I was curious if I ever missed one what would happen.The ones with debris went off like normal and the chrono showed no difference ,not saying thats it ok to have debris in the pocket by any means and I
check every one but I was just curious.
Thanks man. Interesting observation....
 

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For me it's always been a case of what the brass look like before hand. If it's pretty clean to begin with, I'll decap. If it's something I wouldn't want near my dies, I tumble then decap.
 

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As a confirmed auto-advancing turret press reloader, I let the machine do the job it was designed to do. Namely, I place a tumbled clean once-fired case in the shell holder and never touch it again.

Station #1 - Deprime/resize/prime
#2 - Flare case mouth and powder charge
#3 - Confirm charge, Place bullet and seat it
#4 - Factory Crimp die, Inline Fab case kicker plunks finished round into tray.

Repeat.
 

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Pretty obvious that one size does not fit all... Just because a machine CAN do it all doesn't mean that is should, in every circumstance. The beauty of a versatile machine is that is can work for a lot of people... But the reality is that what's BEST for me and you may not always be the same.
 

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I use small-grain size walnut. It cleans the primer pocket and does not get stuck in flash holes.
 

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I use small-grain size walnut. It cleans the primer pocket and does not get stuck in flash holes.
Corn cob media is the only thing that ever caught in the flash hole, dust and residue is the only thing I didn't care for with walnut media. It's all personal preference, dry media is less work for sure.
 

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Time and work spent in tumbling is really minimal. I spend a total of maybe five minutes on a dry tumble load and about twenty minutes on a wet tumble load. Either way, not really much work.
 

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I deprime before tumbling if I wet tumble and after if I dry tumble. Wet tumbling will usually clean the primer pockets and dry tumbling will usually result in media stuck in the flash hole, which comes out when you deprime. Everyone develops a method that works for them, usually through trial and error.
 

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My Method

I always tumble before anything. I don't think that dies are so delicate they can't handle some powder residue, but I figure why introduce it into the process at all.

Occasionally, as in every third load, after the initial tumble I will deprime and use a primer pocket cleaner to remove carbon. That is slower than using my 550 all the way through, but I do see enough carbon buildup that I want to stop it.

That is for 45ACP that I shoot a lot. Less frequent loads for me, like high power long range, I do every step, I don't load enough of them to worry about saving time.
 

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I use an old lee single stage press to deprime my brass, then dump them in a Thumlers tumbler with a squirt of Dawn dish soap, a 45 case full of Lemoshine, and fill with hot water. Stainless pin tumble for a couple hours, then spin the cases in an RCBS media separater, rinse in cool water, dump on a trash bag spread out on a work bench to air dry. I then sort by headstamp, at which time you can watch for the occasional pins stuck in the flash hole. I had a Dillon 550B for years and when I first started reloading the shell plate would get progressively more difficult to advance and finally would need to be taken apart and cleaned. I finally figured out that the debris from depriming was causing the problem. Since then, I deprime separately. It adds a step, but I’m usually not in a big hurry! Good luck with your new hobby!
 

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I think the jury has reached a verdict:
...
Not quite! :biglaugh:
I wet tumble before decapping but use ceramic media. The ceramic media is much easier to separate than the stainless pins. It doesn't clean quite as well as the pins, maybe 90%, but still better than the dry media and has the benefits of low dust.

I use different size media depending on caliber, to prevent media from getting caught in case mouth.

It's also dry enough here in CO that they dry out in about 12 hours.
Youtube link where I got the idea.
 

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I started using a rock tumbler with dry media. I'd load up the day's range run brass and let it tumble until I was ready to load again the next day.

They I'd separate the brass and media, load the media and the new days brass in the tumbler, turn the tumbler back on and size/deprime and start loading.

Then I got a vibratory cleaner and cut my cleaning time down to a few hours.

I've never deprimed first or wet cleaned to the tune of over 100K plus rounds and never had a problem with a dirty primer pocket. While I like shiny brass I've never worried about a little carbon in the primer pocket.
 

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Decapping fired cases prior to tumbling has never been an issue for me, I generally do not do it. Getting cleaning media stuck in the charge hole can be a PITA. You just have to clean your dies once in a while.
If a true tumbler I leave the primers in as they stick in the holes.
If SS Pins I de-cap in my Model-B


Now I do still use the Lyman and RCBS Shaker with 50/50 mix of walnut and corn cob to do loaded ammo after to get the lubes off.
All new ammo you buy gets done like this.
 

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If wet tumbling I decap first; if dry tumbling then no I do not. In either case I use a universal decapping die (either Lee or Mighty Armory). I don't run dirty brass through my resizing dies. In rifle calibers I will tumble a second time to clean the lube off.
 

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For me, this depends on whether the tumbling is wet or dry. I stopped getting primer drawback in the deprime/sizing station, when I stopped using my sonic cleaner or washing dirty brass in a bucket of car wash solution, I suppose because the moisture created a sort of paste around the primers. Now using only walnut shell media, I don't deprime anything as part of case prep except for bottle neck rifle.
 
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