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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys got a question for ya. So I don't reload, but I have been saving brass for about the last 4 years. I currently have 3 5-gallon buckets full of 9mm, .45acp, .357mag, .380acp, 10mm auto, .223/5.56, .308 winchester, and 45/70. I am not ready to undertake reloading yet, but I would like to start getting my brass sorted, cleaned, and polished. I would like some advice on how to more easily sort it rather than going thru it one by one. Is there a better method? Also what would I need besides a tumbler and media to clean the brass up? Im thinking my budget for sorting and cleaning this brass is around $200-250 for the gear. Any equipment recomendations would also be appreciated. Thanks in advance guys!!

PS I may be interested in selling some of this brass after I get it cleaned up so if I do ill post it on here at some good prices.
 

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You can wash the brass with formula 409 or something similar and water. With the primers in the brass, they will hold water so you have to make sure they are drained well. After washing I simply tumble them for a couple of hours and then bag them up for future use. Water, formula 409 and a bucket don't cost much. Get a good tumbler. Pick a supplier and look at the reviews on tumblers before making a decision. Prior to tumbling you might want to get some gallon coffee containers or smaller buckets to sort the brass. kwg
 

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I deprime all my brass first with the small rcbs press, dedicated to just depriming. Then I tumble them in a water solution with birchwood-casey case cleaner. You must deprime before using a cleaner like B-C because cleaner will get trapped and can cause corrosion. Rinse real good and spread them out on a towel in the sun to dry. Then sort one at a time by hand..
 

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There's no quick and easy way to do it. Ultimately, you're gonna have to look at each piece of brass individually: you have to cull the defective brass, and you might as well do it before you put a bunch of work into it.

The only way I know how get it done is basically a combination of what kwg and scott said above: collect up a bunch of coffee cans, get a tumbler (my Midway tumblers have lasted almost 20 years now) and a small press (I use a LEE) with a universal decapping die. Use reptile bedding material in the tumbler: it's the same crushed walnut shells as tumbling media, but 1/2 the price. If you toss a dryer sheet in during tumbling, it traps most of the dust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
wow thanks for the quick and informative replies guys. So would I be better off depriming the brass before I clean it. I guess I can also sort it while depriming. So I don't know all that much about reloading but when I do start, I want to get a press with all the stages in one. From what I understand a multi stage press de-primes, resizes, adds powder, reprimes, and seats the bullet correct? So im thinking if I am going to get one of these presses eventually, then I shouldnt worry about buying a de-priming press now because the multi stage press will do this. Is my logic correct here guys?
 

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Re. depriming prior to tumbling: six of one, half-dozen of the other. If you tumble deprimed brass (I do), you'll have some cases with tumbling media in the flash holes; you'll have to poke it out with a small punch or paper clip.
If you deprime after tumbling, the primer residue doesn't have a chance to leave the case. And there's a surprising amount of primer residue: the depriming step is probably the dirtiest step in reloading.
Tumbling deprimed cases doesn't really clean the primer pockets in the sense of getting them all shiny, but I believe it does keep the whole reloading process cleaner. Plus, you get to sort and cull your brass before doing any work on unacceptable cases.

Even if you're going to get a progressive, you should still have a single-stage press. Changing a progressive (depending on which one you have) is a multi-step process that takes time. For load development or small batches of ammo, a single-stage is much more convenient. I have a Dillon 550, but I also have 3 single-stage presses set up for various tasks. I load all my hunting ammo on a single-stage: it's not high-volume production.

The LEE C-frame press is dirt cheap and perfectly suitable for light tasks like depriming and taper crimping. Something like a RCBS Rockchucker or a LEE cast iron single-stage press will handle heavy tasks like case forming.
 

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I sort, de-prime, tumble in a model B Thumler's tumbler (about $200.00 see ebay), using 1 1/2 lb of walnut shell & 1 1/2 lb of Lyman's green treated corn cob, & 12 lbs of brass run 4 hrs. (like my brass bright) .
PS Running into a few .223 with a head stamp of 12 and date of 83 that are Berdan Primed
 

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I use a little dawn, lemon shine, lemon extract, and some Rain Dance Car wash. I tumble them wet with stainless steel pins. I use a Lee universal decapper. Under normal circumstances this might cost a bit more than budget. But if you check out craigslist and other places, you can make it happen.

As for sorting, it can be hard. I tend to take these jobs a step at a time. Doing a little each day until its all done. If you want to sell some brass, if doesn't necessarily need to be clean and shinny first.
 

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Pistol brass you really do need a tumbler. I clean my 30-06 and 7.7 mm brass by hand using first a soak in Dawn/water, dry them and then polish with Brasso. They stay untarnished for ages that way. I always de-prime them first, brush the inside out and also clean the primer pockets.
 

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I take a lazy approach. I have an old RCBS vibratory tumbler that is loaded with crushed walnut shells. I can run about 100 .45 acp cases at a time. I pour a couple of tablespoons of brass cleaner into the media and tumble 6 to 12 hours. The brass comes out clean, inside and out, bright and is easily separated from the media with a kitchen colander and matching bowl.
I de-prime in the press, Dillon Precision RL550B, and recap in the next stroke. No big mess, no primer pocket issues, in many thousands of rounds.

I only shoot a couple of calibers, so sorting isn't really an issue for me. I do catch a few smaller cases getting into mine when i gather brass at the range, though. I make a final inspection of each case as I place them on the lube pad, before they enter the rotation on the press. I straighten any dinged case necks by hand (discarding any severely damaged) then they go through the decapping/full length resizing die. This straightens any remaining issues and clears any media stuck in the primer pocket before the new primer is seated. For plinking, I am not too particular, but I hand pick brass for any precision loads, defensive rounds, etc.
I probably have 3000 .45 acp cases in rotation, with several reloads already on most. No case failures, no rim failures, no duds to peak of. Once in a while, I make a mistake and have to disassemble one with the puller mallet. I watch every load carefully as it goes through the press, and I spot check 1 out of 4 or 5 rounds with my digital scale. Any suspicious weights get closer inspection of the lot, usually running 50 at a time.
 

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Until you decide what caliber(s) you want to reload, you might find it easier to simply sell/trade your brass as is. I don't know if you'll make enough extra with clean shiny brass to make it worth the expense and effort. Personally, I'd rather have a bunch of unprocessed brass that has been culled/sorted of berdan-primed and undesirable headstamps such as A-MERC.
Be aware that you can have berdan-primed brass in the mix (especially in 9mm, .223 and 308...usually NATO stamped brass) and this will cause you to snap a few decapping pins.
At worst, about $1.50 a pound scrap value.
 

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I like the lyman turbo sonic cleaner 110 volt with the cleaner that is made for the lyman mix like it says on the bottle. If first shot it will take you about 10min to clean 200 of them. you can use the mix about 5 times for first fired brass.Deprime it before cleaning! Midway has them so does other places. Fast and very good to use. I have done away with my tumblers takes to long with them. GOOD LUCK
 

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Sort first. If you go to Dillon Precision who makes some of the ebst reloading tools known to man, you will find a Three Tier Seive they sell for @$35. This will make short work of sorting your brass.

On rifle brass you need to deprime and resize before you tumble it. Pistol brass you can just tumble, and then reload.

I highly recommned Dillon, and that is not to say other brands of loading equipment aren't good, I have many brands of tools. But Dillon has everything you need and their service is second to none.

Midway, Cableas, Bass Pro and many others have reloading equipment, and the cost of that equipment varies greatly. You need to shop around and buy smart.

You will get hooked quickly.

Randy
 

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Range brass needs to be cleaned first before decapping and sizing. Crude on the brass can scratch up the inside of the die.

Tumbling is the easiest.. A vibratory tumbler from Midwayusa is ideal, use fine crushed walnut for the media,I say fine in the case of .223 since its a bottle neck certain sized media can clog inside the case and you'll be individually poking out the media by hand. Also never use an additive such as Brasso amonia weakens brass. So be safe rather than possibly sorry later.

If you go wet get you a bottle of Lemi Shine dish detergent additive mix it up in a 5 gal bucket add brass and agitate. Lay brass out in the sunshine to dry on top of some old bath towels.

Seperate your brass,cull out Amerc and any steel casings group into like manufacture lots. Always be visually alert for imperfections and flaws to the brass wall also.

Now with 45acp brass some come with a small pistol primer and other with the traditional large pistol primer seperate these into seperate groups.

When you start loading. Use some lubricant on the brass as you deprime and size, a little goes a long ways getting a peice of brass stuck in the sizing die.
 

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AMERC is generally considered really crappy brass. Way off center primer holes, cracks easily, loose primer pockets, all kinds of problems. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who likes it. Well, I should say I found a good use for it. Scrap yards still pay the same for AMERC brass as they do for split Winchester cases. :lol:
 

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Does it say AMERC on the headstamp?? ( I have NEVER seen any of this brass and I police my range REGULARLY... at which I am the president of the shooting club... )

OR does it say something ELSE?
 

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The headstamp is "A-MERC", along with cartridge designation.
American Ammunition should not be confused with Federal American Eagle ammo, which is GTG.
The very condensed, consensus view of A-MERC is that it's basically a Miami-based reloading operation that a couple of guys set up in a warehouse; heavy on marketing, but very light on actual expertise and QC.
A Google search will turn up plenty of info on A-MERC, the vast majority of which is negative.
 
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