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Cleaning OLD Factory Ammo

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My Dad has several Old boxs of WesternX ammo that has been in a ammo box in there original boxs,but they look aged.Whats the best way to clean them up to make like new again? Tumbler? Let me know your thoughts,or what has worked for you.
Thanks,Bob
 
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NEVER PUT LIVE AMMO IN A TUMBLER OR VIBRATOR

you can use some Brasso or other brass polish on a soft rag and do it carefully by hand.
 
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Thanks for the quick replys and help Mark & Mikeli,I will look into it a little more on what to use and clean then all by hand,Thank you,Bob
 
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If the cases look bad the primers and powder are probably no good either. Don't be surprised if you get misfires and hangfires.

H
 
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Don't be surprised if you get misfires and hangfires.
I was trying to shoot up some old 30-30 ammo the other day and I had several hangfires. I am going to pull the bullets for reloading with fresh powder and primers!
 
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I have some old Winchester in 7.62x54R that I bought at a gun show cheap for the brass. Not sure how old but the boxes look like they've been on a shelf for years. A couple rounds looked more than tarnished. An old handloader and long-time shooter I trust said to spray them with some WD40 and leave them for a few hours. Then wipe them down and if the brass is good shoot 'em. If they looked bad or a sharp knife shows any weak spot where they had corroded, pull them. All the cartridges make noise when I hake them, so the gunpowder isn't wet.
 
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The warning "Do not tumble live ammo" is getting to be worn out. Even the article presented above is equivocal on the subject. Pointed out how one "commercial entity" merely warned about "prolonged tumbling". Several other members of the same "accurate shooter" forum have tumbled rounds hours, in some cases days, pulled them down and examined the powder under a microscope, and found no degradation.

If all the arguments were true then the Military wouldn't transport live ammo in helicopters, especially the old Huey. All that vibration for up to hours of transit would be "damaging the ammo". Just think how much vibration and jousting about your powders have been subjected to just traveling across the country in the back of a freight truck.

Yes, manufacturers do "finish" ammo in a vibrator/tumbler without harm. I've been doing it for well over 30 years and performance wise still am able to shoot "one hole groups" with it.

All this said, the use of a tumbler/vibrator would not be recommended in your case. It's a good chance that the tarnish or verdigris on the cases is more than just on the surface. If the brass is severely discolored no amount of tumbling will polish it out unless you remove a significant amount of material.

I'd consider just wiping the cases with a rag and some Nu-Finish Car polish. There is just enough solvent and polishing compound in the Nu-Finish product to remove any surface "crud" and leave a good shine, unless the brass is severely corroded.
 
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as far as cleaning any brass goes: DO NOT USE BRASSO OR OTHER AMMONIA BASED CLEANERS!

There are several reasons for this, the main one among them is ammonia eats copper forming complexes similar to the mechanical red rust you find on steel. Also, while it does a great job for the first few days, within a few weeks the ammo looks even worse than it did before you started.

The best way to clean loaded cartridges: a slightly abrasive cloth, or a cloth with some abrasive polish on it. The best finish on brass is obtained using a polish which contains carnauba wax, which will leave a very thin coat on the outside of the brass and it will keep it's luster for a long time.

However, if you have old ammo, depending on caliber it may have some collector value, which will be destroyed by any attempt at cleaning.

I will also state, tumbling live ammo is not a great idea, I have on two occasions had a cartridge have it's primer hit hard enough to cause it to go off by another cartridge. But this is an incredibly freak occurence and didn't result in damage to the tumbler, media, and only a few other cartridges were damaged. Certain cartridges need case lube during the loading process to avoid being galled or scratching the dies, in this case we typically tumble the rounds in clean corncob for 5-10 minutes, no more.
 
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I have on two occasions had a cartridge have it's primer hit hard enough to cause it to go off by another cartridge.
Was this in a Vibrator type "tumbler", a rock polisher type tumbler, or one of your commercial "Cement Mixer" type tumblers?

Frankly, if a primer is so sensitive it will go off in a tumbler, then just think of the possibilities in a firearm. Slam-fire? Detonation in the magazine???
 
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This was in a standard vibratory tumbler, in fact it was the standard issue midway tumbler. The actual cause of the explosion was a cartridge rim, coming in contact with the primer with just the right force to set it off, don't ask me how, like I said, it's a freak thing, and is a very rare event. I saw someone toss a bag of blanks to a guy at a re-enactment event, the guy dropped it, and one of them went off. Didn't hurt anyone, but was definitely cause for pause. It is important to remember that small arms cartridges contain explosives, and propellant. The modern cartridge is a marvel of design, simple, compact, and in general has an insanely high safety margin, but if handled improperly, they can explode.
 
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The warning "Do not tumble live ammo" is getting to be worn out. Even the article presented above is equivocal on the subject. Pointed out how one "commercial entity" merely warned about "prolonged tumbling". Several other members of the same "accurate shooter" forum have tumbled rounds hours, in some cases days, pulled them down and examined the powder under a microscope, and found no degradation.

If all the arguments were true then the Military wouldn't transport live ammo in helicopters, especially the old Huey. All that vibration for up to hours of transit would be "damaging the ammo". Just think how much vibration and jousting about your powders have been subjected to just traveling across the country in the back of a freight truck.

Yes, manufacturers do "finish" ammo in a vibrator/tumbler without harm. I've been doing it for well over 30 years and performance wise still am able to shoot "one hole groups" with it.

All this said, the use of a tumbler/vibrator would not be recommended in your case. It's a good chance that the tarnish or verdigris on the cases is more than just on the surface. If the brass is severely discolored no amount of tumbling will polish it out unless you remove a significant amount of material.

I'd consider just wiping the cases with a rag and some Nu-Finish Car polish. There is just enough solvent and polishing compound in the Nu-Finish product to remove any surface "crud" and leave a good shine, unless the brass is severely corroded.
Thanks for all the replys.
I used the tumbler w/a fine/course media mix and the results were great.Firied 20 rounds,flawless.Again,Thanks for all your help.
Bob
 
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sorry I didnt mention,but case`s were run threw a Hornady Vibrate/tumbler. M-2 model iam thinking .
And you are Right skydiver,it did feel wrong from the get go.That is why I asked for info/help here.
Again,Thanks for all the replys.
Bob
 
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Kinda like shaking dynamite - even though that probably won't set it off.

It just feels wrong from the get go...if you know what I mean.
If smokeless powder was that sensitive then it would be transported like dynamite. You wouldn't be able to buy it and have it shipped to your house by UPS.

I think people have a fear of things they don't understand.

All anecdotes aside, loaded ammo takes a substantial impact on the primer to be set off. In fact it's considered safe enough to be transported via UPS WITHOUT a hazmat fee. All the tossing around and tumbling down their conveyor belts doesn't set it off.
 

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