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0012-23 Smythbuster - You Don't Need to Clean Your Brass_Thumb

Smyth Busters: Do You Need To Clean Your Brass?

Author Caleb Savant
one year ago
To clean or not to clean? Some folks say cleaning the brass before reloading is unnecessary, a waste of time and money. Others expend a lot of effort to make their brass spotless every time they reload. Who's right? Let's get to the bottom of this by asking Caleb and Steve: Do you really need to clean the brass before you reload? Like so many questions in life, the answer starts with "That depends....." The world's nitpickiest shooters, benchrest target shooters, sometimes reload cartridges at the shooting bench, and they don't clean the case every time. (For maximum consistency, nothing beats using the same case for every round you fire in a string!) If those guys don't see a need to clean the brass, is cleaning just a waste of time? Not necessarily.
Clean brass is easier to work with and easier on your reloading dies. Tiny bits of dirt and grit on the cases are abrasive and will accelerate die wear. Especially if you shoot at an outdoor range and your cases hit the ground, you'll want to clean them before cranking them through your press. Cleaning doesn't have to be extensive. Steve just runs his cases through a tumbler with some dry corn cob or walnut media.
Should you de-cap the spent primers before you clean the brass? Steve doesn't, Caleb does. Both have good reasons. One benefit of de-capping AFTER cleaning is you'll be sure there's no tumbler media stuck in the flash holes of any cases. Caleb takes care of that by zapping each case with a burst compressed air as he sorts and inspects them.
What about running the brass through an ultrasonic cleaner? If you want it looking factory new, ultrasonic cleaning is the way to go. Neither Caleb nor Steve does it. And chucking each case in an electric drill or rotary tool and polishing it with Scotch-Brite is WAY too much work for both guys. They DO recommend a rotary or vibratory case tumbler as the fastest, easiest way to clean up brass.
So the myth is half busted, half not. There are situations where you don’t need to clean brass. But as a rule, the Smyth Busters highly recommend it.