Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default How do I clean up old ammo?

    Recently, I got 1200 rds. of .30-06 from CMP. It has been in storage in cardboard boxes for decades, and a few of the rounds are beginning to show a bit of corrosion on the brass, particularly the necks. However, nothing that would make me question the integrity of the round.

    What should I do to clean to them up to store them? Brasso?

    Any suggestions?
    "The rifle is the weapon of democracy. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military. The hired servants of our rulers. Only the government-and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws." (Edward Abbey, "The Right to Arms," Abbey's Road [New York, 1979])
    I have my rifle. Do you?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How do I clean up old ammo?

    Brasso might work. Scotchbrite should work, also, as will bronze wool. You can get mounted wheels made from Scotchbrite at Enco (www.use-enco.com) that you can chuck in your hand drill, if that'll help. I wouldn't spin it too fast; you don't want the cartridges flying around the shop!
    Kevin Singleton, Potawatomi - {ZRT - Sector 4}

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How do I clean up old ammo?

    A tumbler.

    Ammo manufacturers tumble most of theirs before packaging.
    RIP: SFN, 1861, twoeggsup, Lambo, jamesjo, JayBell, 32 Magnum, Pro2A, mrwildroot

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How do I clean up old ammo?

    Quote Originally Posted by knight0334 View Post
    A tumbler.

    Ammo manufacturers tumble most of theirs before packaging.
    You can tumble finished ammo??? I dont reload, but know a little about tumblers - that they tumble the casings and knock off any debris.

    Interesting.... what kind of medium would one use for finished ammo?

    Damn... may have to get a tumbler now.
    "The rifle is the weapon of democracy. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military. The hired servants of our rulers. Only the government-and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws." (Edward Abbey, "The Right to Arms," Abbey's Road [New York, 1979])
    I have my rifle. Do you?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How do I clean up old ammo?

    I use crushed walnut shells (sold in pet stores/walmart) for tumbling, very cheap. I haven't bought any of the expensive media ever.

    I add a cap full of flitz polish, sometimes nu finish car wax.

    I don't normally tumble finished rounds, usually surplus ammo that is dirty, had some 7.62x51 that had an oily residue, tumbled it clean.
    "Disperse you Rebels! Damn you! Throw down your Arms and Disperse!" British Major Pitcairn at Lexington April 19, 1775

    "Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things" Marvin Heemeyer

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How do I clean up old ammo?

    That is exactly what I am doing - its Greek surplus ammo that just got dirty from sitting in the cardboard for my guess is 30 years.

    Awesome, awesome. How long do you tumble, just until they look good?

    Anyone have a good line on a decent tumbler what will work with .30-06 rounds?
    "The rifle is the weapon of democracy. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military. The hired servants of our rulers. Only the government-and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws." (Edward Abbey, "The Right to Arms," Abbey's Road [New York, 1979])
    I have my rifle. Do you?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How do I clean up old ammo?

    I basically tumble until cleaned off, not necessarily shiny, check the tarnished spots that they are nice and smooth. An hour or two should be fine.

    As far as tumblers, I like the Lyman offerings, have a 1200 with hundreds if not a thousand or so hours on it. Got it at Cabelas, had a coupon though, so not sure on prices.

    Usually do 100-150 pistol or 50-75 rifle at a time.
    "Disperse you Rebels! Damn you! Throw down your Arms and Disperse!" British Major Pitcairn at Lexington April 19, 1775

    "Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things" Marvin Heemeyer

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How do I clean up old ammo?

    Any of the case tumblers (Lyman, RCBS, Dillon, etc) will work, with crushed walnut shells, or even corn cobs, but I DO NOT recommend tumbling finished cartridges! While it's extremely unlikely that anything bad will happen, if something bad does happen, it's likely to be really, really bad, and involve things like fire trucks, lots of water damage, and insurance claims inspectors. At the end of it all, you get to explain to the wife that it all happened because your ammo was dirty.

    What could happen, you ask? How about a bullet, or two, shakes loose, dumps the powder into the tumbling media where it finds a spark from static electricity, and starts a little fire in your neat reloading shop, which eventually goes up in smoke, with the sound of gunfire keeping the firefighters at bay while they try to keep the fire from spreading too far into the neighborhood.

    How bad is it, really? I'd stick with the Scotchbrite. Maybe the wife will help, once you tell her that she's saving the house from certain destruction.

    From the Lyman website:

    Important Safety Information
    1. Under no circumstances should live ammo or primed cases be tumbled.
    Last edited by kevindsingleton; July 17th, 2008 at 02:34 PM. Reason: Added Safety Info from Lyman
    Kevin Singleton, Potawatomi - {ZRT - Sector 4}

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How do I clean up old ammo?

    I take the word tumble with a grain of salt when talking with gun people. I will say I tumble my brass but in reality it is a vibratory case cleaner. The rounds do not actually flop around like they would in a rotating tumbler (think rock tumbler). I don't think I would "recommend" it to any person asking, I would just tell them this is what I do on occaison and they can try it if they wish. I've done it before and have had no problems (knock on wood ).

    And yes, IIRC some ammo manufacturers do clean the finished ammo in some manner, I would suspect large industrial vibratory cleaners.

    You don't need to leave it go for very long, just long enough to remove the corrosion. Crushed walnut shells would probably do the job the fastest but ground corncob would work also. As stated above, go to the local pet store, you can get both and much much cheaper than buying it from a gun place.
    Ron
    USAF Ret E-8
    NRA Endowment Member

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How do I clean up old ammo?

    Try some Tarn-X if you can find it. Usually works really well, and fast.
    "Guess what?! I got a fever, and the only prescription... is more cowbell!"

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