Cleaning brass
Clean annealed brass ready to reload

Clean brass

There are several reasons why your brass should be clean, the main ones being to reduce wear and tear on your rifle’s chamber and reloading dies. 

It’s not a difficult process but it can be time-consuming. 

When you pull the trigger on your rifle some of the combustion residues are left within the case and on the neck. Usually, such residues are of the hard variety and difficult to shift.

Initially, primers are removed and the pockets cleaned. 

Neck residue can be removed in a vibrating cleaner with crushed walnut shell and probably in an ultrasonic cleaner but I prefer to get rid of it using the best liquid I have found, common bathroom crème cleaner: a couple of drops on a piece of paper towel or cleaning cloth, a couple of quick twists of the case, the job is done.  

The next step is a matter of some debate. I run the cases with the contaminated necks in a vibratory cleaner for a couple of minutes to eliminate the residue. Then I run the cases through an ultrasonic cleaner for two eight-minute cycles. 

Exactly which fluid to use is your decision. There are commercial ones available but I brew my own, which seems to work okay. 

Clean brass
Brass cartridge cases in an ultrasonic cleaner

It’s just a level teaspoon of citric acid plus a level teaspoon of cream of tartar and a capful of household detergent. Mix and hold in a suitable plastic container. 

After four such cycles, the liquid will be black with residue from within the case and needs to be replaced.

When I decided to start using an ultrasonic cleaner, I formed the opinion that the commercial ones were too large for the average home reloader, who simply does not need such capacity. 

The next best option was a much smaller model sold as a jewellery cleaner for about $50 on the internet. It still works efficiently after ten tears. It has a capacity of about 20 or 25 .270 Winchester cases. 

At the end of the two cycles, cases are removed, rinsed in clean water, and allowed to dry. 

Overall case length is important and needs to be checked each time it crosses the bench

If you must dry them in a hurry, use a hair dryer rather than placing them in the oven. You cannot get into trouble overheating the cases with the hair dryer. 

Cases are then resized, trimmed etc, after which you may need to run them again through the vibratory cleaner with crushed walnut shell to eliminate the lubrication on the cases.

If you anneal your cases, afterwards drop them into a container with enough water to cover them. It may not be necessary but it is my choice. The water has lemon juice added to prevent water marks when they dry. Again, cases are allowed to dry naturally.

However you store your cases, try to keep them clean. Closed boxes are ideal. 

That’s the whole process — time-consuming, perhaps, but it does produce clean shiny cases. 

Because of the ultrasonic cleaning, you might consider lubricating the necks with graphite powder before reloading.  




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Ron James