What tools do you use for cleaning primer pockets?

Whisky Tahoe

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I'm searching for a better method of cleaning primer pockets. I'm already uniforming most of the pockets* as part of virgin brass prep but for all my fired and prepped brass I use a pocket brush with less than ideal results. I know many don't worry about pockets and that's cool but for those of us who take the time, there might be something I could learn.

I tried ultrasonic cleaning today and that didn't turn out as expected either. Goopy pockets are worse than dirty pockets. I'll try a few different solutions before I return my unit. I started with Shooter's Choice which is more geared as a parts/carbon degreaser. While I thought it would work, not so much.

I'm all set on flash hole tools. I'm a big fan of K&M.

* I don't touch Peterson Brass pockets because I don't have to. The depth is so consistent I save time by not doing anything.
 
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Do you do any wet-tumbling of your brass as part of prep? I just switched from dry to wet tumbling and my 9mm and 223 brass pockets are very clean as well as the interior of the brass. I also use an RCBS pocket uniformer for military-crimped 223 brass, but use it in order to fit the small primers easily into the pocket. I quit using my RCBS swager, since I have a LEE press and it does not work well with that press.

Probably more info than you asked for, but hey, it's Friday! :)
 
OP
Whisky Tahoe

Whisky Tahoe

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All good info. I wouldn't consider my ultrasonic a wet tumbler however the brass comes out wet.
I switched solutions today on my ultrasonic and had better results but not perfect. I also noticed that if I use a patch with a primer pocket brush it cleans and dries the pocket after ultrasonic cleaning.

I am avoiding wet tumbling and steel media to make sure I don't drop a pin by accident into my induction annealer. Maybe I'm worrying about nothing but it is a good way to fry the unit or cause problems at least.

For military brass, I have the RCBS press mounted primer pocket swager die that has worked best for me. All the reamers I used were ok but a lot of work.

I saw that Lee has a pocket cleaning tool that looks promising. Unless I hear otherwise, I'll give it a try.
 
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In the past, many reloaders cleaned the primer pockets. Recently, however, reloaders have found it unnecessary to clean them unless they are really dirty. I recently saw a YouTube video on lead contamination when dry tumbling with dry media.

After I saw that, I switched to wet tumbling without the pins. I use an inexpensive tumbler from Harbor Freight ($50), fill the rubber tub 1/2 way with brass, add water to the inside lip, add a little bit of Dawn dish soap, and finally add a pinch of Lemi Shine.

After a couple of hours of tumbling, I'm amazed at how clean my brass is inside and out. Much cleaner than dry tumbling and any lead contaminants from the primers or the inside of the brass are suspended in water and can be properly disposed of easier than by having airborne dust floating around my reloading bench with lead particles in it.

I may eventually switch to a bench-mounted primer swager/conditioner,like you have, but I'll save that for later.
 
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Whisky Tahoe

Whisky Tahoe

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In the past, many reloaders cleaned the primer pockets. Recently, however, reloaders have found it unnecessary to clean them unless they are really dirty. I recently saw a YouTube video on lead contamination when dry tumbling with dry media.

After I saw that, I switched to wet tumbling without the pins. I use an inexpensive tumbler from Harbor Freight ($50), fill the rubber tub 1/2 way with brass, add water to the inside lip, add a little bit of Dawn dish soap, and finally add a pinch of Lemi Shine.

After a couple of hours of tumbling, I'm amazed at how clean my brass is inside and out. Much cleaner than dry tumbling and any lead contaminants from the primers or the inside of the brass are suspended in water and can be properly disposed of easier than by having airborne dust floating around my reloading bench with lead particles in it.

I may eventually switch to a bench-mounted primer swager/conditioner,like you have, but I'll save that for later.
Thanks! That sounds like a great solution (he ha) No one needs lead contamination.
 
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I don't clean primer pockets.

If I tumble in SS media, it'll get them mostly, but mostly, I don't care. Have never seen a dirty primer pocket cause a thrown shot.

If the pocket is too deep or too shallow, that's a different issue altogether.
 
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With some of my brass I use my K&M primer pocket uniform tool to clean with. I have some Lapua 221 Fireball brass however that is too tight for that tool, in which case I use an RCBS wire brush tool that works. I have the Redding cleaning tools but they don't work that great.

I did the ultrasonic method and like you found while it cleaned the brass inside and out, for some reason it never cleaned the pockets very good - carbon goo was the result. I also don't like cleaning the inside of the necks that clean cause I found neck tension was not as consistent without the carbon in there.

I honestly don't think cleaning the pockets is critical to accuracy but old habits are hard to break.
 
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Whisky Tahoe

Whisky Tahoe

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Thanks! so far from this thread I have picked up a tip on wet tumbling without pins, cleaning pockets with either a couple of brushes (including wire) or tools that I haven't tried yet.

I'm leaning towards quick brushed/scraped/scoured but not necessarily clean pockets
 
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Why clean primer pockets? The black residue never seems to build up--it's like the primer cleans the pocket and the powder residue from firing reblackens the pocket.
Years ago, I started to deprime on a junk press as I found that some used primers, when they came out, left white powder residue to the press (maybe lead oxide?). I found that I liked depriming the cases as I inspected and sorted them when I came back from the range, prior to cleaning (20/40 grit corn for 30 minutes).
Beyond that, I have NEVER read one article even attempting to show any accuracy improvement by cleaning or uniforming a primer pocket. What I did see were a lot of loose primer pockets after "uniforming."
I'll swage military crimp from a primer pocket, but that is as far as I go.
If you can't stand it, get an ultrasonic cleaner (from years of soot build-up to totally clean in 8-15 minutes) or stainless steel pins in a tumbler (from years of soot build-up to totally clean in 6-8 hours).
 
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Whisky Tahoe

Whisky Tahoe

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Why I clean? In my brass the residue does accumulate and I'm making an effort to keep variables in check. That said, I would rather shoot than scrub so my cleaning isn't thorough, just a quick couple of turns to keep the residue from building.
 
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Whisky Tahoe

Whisky Tahoe

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Use your primer pocket uniforming tool again. Just a quick spin by hand and the pockets are spotless again.
While I was avoiding using the uniformer more than necessary it is perfect for keeping the residue from stacking. Using it by hand is the key. When I initially uniform, I use a power tool. Great suggestion.
 
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My best suggestion is to buy a Frankford arsenal case prep center. It will do what you need. As far as tumbling, the choices are endless. I'll probably always use media and a tumbler, as I've seen those tiny stainless pins get lodged in the cases. If you want to shoot those through your guy, have at it... Not me. I prefer my brass to be clean on the outside and sooty on the inside. There are benefits to not having your brass spotless on the inside as well. I won't go into detail, but you can research it. Been shooting for a long time and hand loading for a long time, but when you get results that are good, why change?

From my new M&P 10 yesterday. Yes, thats from an AR...:
euBT5vW.jpg

Another new rifle that I'm developing loads for:
y6QAKK7.jpg

Old Stevens 200 22-250:
eCH9hJe.jpg

The proof is always going to land on target...
zaoJDul.jpg
lz3Wibp.jpg
gwFD55A.jpg

I very rarely ever clean primer pockets..
 

Goosebrown

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I tested cleaning and not and got zero difference in ignition. Zero difference is SD or ES or velocity. I do uniform the hole though on the small size holes 6mmbr and 204. Other than that I wouldn’t spend time on it. I get much more benefit from regular annealing and turning my necks to get uniform case neck tension.
 
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My ultrasonic units all completely clean cases in about 15 minutes (these are case that I have been shooting for decades). I just use hot water, a squirt of Dawn liquid detergent, and some lemi-shine (citric acid). They come out completely clean, but not bright and shiny.
Stainless steel pins in the same solution on my Thumler's Tumbler B requires 6-8 hours to get completely clean, but I am using cases that have been fired innumerable times. All I do is air dry them overnight on a towel and they are as shiny as virgin brass.
Again, my experience is still that primer pocket residue simply does not build up over time and, if I worried about it, all I would use is the cheap Lee cleaner (no metal being removed). Don't even see any benefit to uniforming primer pockets--just need the primers to be held tight.
If someone ever publishes some data showing a REAL effect, I might change my mind, but at 70, I doubt it.
 

ron

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Why clean primer pockets? The black residue never seems to build up--it's like the primer cleans the pocket and the powder residue from firing reblackens the pocket.
Years ago, I started to deprime on a junk press as I found that some used primers, when they came out, left white powder residue to the press (maybe lead oxide?). I found that I liked depriming the cases as I inspected and sorted them when I came back from the range, prior to cleaning (20/40 grit corn for 30 minutes).
Beyond that, I have NEVER read one article even attempting to show any accuracy improvement by cleaning or uniforming a primer pocket. What I did see were a lot of loose primer pockets after "uniforming."
I'll swage military crimp from a primer pocket, but that is as far as I go.
If you can't stand it, get an ultrasonic cleaner (from years of soot build-up to totally clean in 8-15 minutes) or stainless steel pins in a tumbler (from years of soot build-up to totally clean in 6-8 hours).
I use a primer pocket uniformer set up on a RCBS prep center after trimming and sizing brass. Not all cases are trimmed each time. A high primer can result in a slam fire
on a semi auto rifle.:(:(:(
The slam fire issue is increased with the floating firing pin design of AR-15, M1 and M1A.
Looks like it WAS a nice M1 Winchester Garand. o_O
C-1HCb1WsAEsKzi.jpg
 
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Fastest cheapest way I found that works really well. Take 2” piece of multi strand copper wire. Strip the insulation off 3/16” of one end. Chuck it in a drill press. Turn up your speed to the maximum. Gently hold the primer pocket to rotating “ brush”. 12 ga. Wire for large primer pockets, 14 or 16 for small. A hand drill works too , if you have some way to hold it and keep both hands free. When the “ brush” wears down, cut it off and restrip it.
 

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