How to clean old bullets?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by JackThompson, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. JackThompson

    JackThompson Well-Known Member

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    I got some old ammo last week, and it came with some old reloads.

    I've taken the ammunition apart, tossed the powder (no idea what brand/type it was) and polished the brass for reuse.

    Now I have a bucket of bullets I'd like to reuse for plinking.

    Some are 38 caliber lead, some are copper jacketed 30 caliber.

    I though about tumbling them, but it seems the lead would royally trash my tumbler.

    Thoughts?
    Ideas?
  2. deadshot2

    deadshot2 Well-Known Member

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    Tumbling lead bullets could also trash the bullet itself. Lots of dings and dents. The jacketed bullets should survive a trip through the walnut shell or corncob if you don't over fill with bullets.

    As for the lead, why not just glove up and use some steel wool to knock the loose scale off them. The part of the bullet that was in the case shouldn't be too corroded so it's just a case of cleaning the exposed portion.

    Another course for the lead bullets would be to just melt them down and cast some new ones.
  3. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg Well-Known Member

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    You can also use silica sand to tumble the FMJs
  4. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Well-Known Member

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    Is it like a white or greenish powder stuff on them? That's corrosion and erosion although if not too bad I'd clean it off.

    I have a typical bench grinder that I dedicated to polishing by putting buffing wheels on it. One is for medium grit and the other is for fine. I use the wax impregnated sticks to apply the compound by simply touching them to the wheel. They are different colors for different grits, like red, black white etc.

    I would have given them one quick turn against the medium wheel before I pulled them. Now that they are out, I might wait until they are reloaded and do it. The case creates a handle. They wouldn't get hot at all and I wouldn't feel any danger although I'd wear welder's gloves and safety goggles.

    Harbor Freight has everything you need although I've had mine a long time and it's Craftsman. I wouldn't be without that polisher in my shop. I'm forever giving something a quick polish but then I restore old Schwinn bikes too.
  5. JackThompson

    JackThompson Well-Known Member

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    At polisher is a good idea! I've always wanted an excuse to pickup a grinding wheel.

    I could just melt them too, but I don't have the moulds yet, and my smelting setup isn't finished.

    They aren't bad, just mostly some white gunk on them. (I wish I had tough to polish before pulling lol)
  6. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Well-Known Member

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    Just for clarity, that bench grinder has the grinding wheels removed and replaced with the cloth buffing wheels. It's an extra so it stays that way.
  7. JackThompson

    JackThompson Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I saw that :)

    I'm poor, so I'd have to just swap wheels depending on the task. ;)
  8. giddyupgo55

    giddyupgo55 Active Member

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    I had to tear down 100- 300 Win mag loads awhile back because of green on them. Tried a couple different things but found that by tossing them in the tumbler with some brass they cleaned up real good. The bullets by themselves just sat in the bottom and did nothing. (so it seem)
  9. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg Well-Known Member

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    Youse guys are missing something, they are "old reloads" and he may not know from whence they came. Good idea to break them down for components and the only real way to clean the bullets up is vibrating or tumbling them
  10. deadshot2

    deadshot2 Well-Known Member

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    Take a case that will fit these bullets. Put some extra "flare" on the case mouth. Drill out the primer pocket and push a machine screw from the inside of the case out the rear. Secure with a nut. Chuck the case in a drill, stick a bullet in the case just enough to secure it, spin with the drill and clean the white stuff off with some steel wool or "chore boy". Be sure to dull the edge of the case mouth so you don't have a sharp cutting edge. That is unless you like blood all over your work space.

    The case will grip the bullet just enough to spin it and yet be loose enough to pull it out without having to resort to drastic measures.
  11. AMProducts

    AMProducts Well-Known Member

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    Go over to wallmart, buy a few cartons of BB's (I like the copper plated ones) add bullets and BB's to your tumbler. This will knock off the scale and won't ding up the bullets too bad, just leave it in there for a few minutes, doesn't take long.