SS / wet tumbling - media preservative

milanuk

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  • Mar 23, 2002
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    So... for those who do wet tumble using SS media... do you ever use any kind of preservative in the drum with the media when storing it?

    It'd been a while since I'd used my wet tumbling setup, and when I cracked the lid on the drum after tumbling the first batch of brass, the water was more brown than black. No more rusty water thereafter, but there's still a pretty good rust spot/stain on the rubber liner at the bottom of the drum.
     

    308pirate

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    Get rid of the SS pins. They do nothing useful.

    I'm making ammo with single digit SDs wet tumbling without them and without doing a bunch of stuff people think is necessary.
     

    ColinW

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    After you tumble a couple batches, it couldn't hurt to put some hot water and a little soap in your hopper/drum and run it for a few minutes to clean the SS media. I generally rinse the media after each clean cycle under the faucet for a little bit and let it dry before putting back in the drum and the water isn't that bad after that.
     
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    milanuk

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    Get rid of the SS pins. They do nothing useful.

    I'm making ammo with single digit SDs wet tumbling without them and without doing a bunch of stuff people think is necessary.
    I don't entirely disagree... which is why I don't use it as often as I used to - but I do still use it to clean shine some things up. Not everything comes clean in dry media (before the heat death of the universe, anyway) to my satisfaction (y)
     

    ColinW

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    Get rid of the SS pins. They do nothing useful.

    I'm making ammo with single digit SDs wet tumbling without them and without doing a bunch of stuff people think is necessary.
    What are you wet tumbling your brass in that cleans them out? SS media cleans the inside, outside AND the primer pockets.
     

    milanuk

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    I think what he's saying is that for sheer accuracy/consistency, getting everything squeaky clean in all those places can be over-rated. And I'd agree with him. (y)

    Doesn't mean I don't still have an interest in it ;)
     
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    ColinW

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    I think what he's saying is that for sheer accuracy/consistency, getting everything squeaky clean in all those places can be over-rated. And I'd agree with him. (y)

    Doesn't mean I don't still have an interest in it ;)
    It very well could be over rated! I toss 50-75 pieces of .308 brass or 100-120, .223 brass in the wet tumbler for an hour with SS media, hot water & soap and it comes out cleaner than they do in a corn meal dry tumbler that takes 2 hours. I just think it's handy and an efficient way to clean brass. Works well for me at least :)
     
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    308pirate

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    What are you wet tumbling your brass in that cleans them out? SS media cleans the inside, outside AND the primer pockets.
    Wrong. The SOAP cleans the brass. The pins just make it nice and shiny. Last time I checked dull brass shoots as well as shiny brass.

    I don't give a rat's ass about cleaning the inside of the brass or the primer pocket. None of that matters one bit to practical accuracy.

    The brass tumbles by itself in hot soapy water. That cleans the crap off the outside to make resizing easier. I tumble with the spent primers still in.

    I wet tumble again for a few minutes in a weaker hot water/soap solution to get rid of the resizing lube.

    And I never have to waste my time separating pins from brass.

    You do what you like, it makes no difference to me. I'm posting this to let those who don't know that stainless pins floating around in your wet tumbler are an unnecessary pain in the ass if all you need is CLEAN brass.
     

    milanuk

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    Wrong. The SOAP cleans the brass. The pins just make it nice and shiny.
    I just finished with a batch of .338LM brass that I wish I could go back and test that theory on.

    Six hours in corn cob with Nu-finish polishing compound... *most* of the cases were clean, but there were some... I don't know WTF the previous owner fired in them (black powder?!?) but it was *still* burnt onto the necks. #0000 steel wool didn't do much more than burnish it. Then after annealing... that $hit was really baked on there. Probably wouldn't have affected a damn thing for the purpose of reloading, but this was some stuff that I was 'cleaning up' to re-sell. So, it needed to look purdy...

    40-45 minutes in SS chips + some Dawn dish soap, and they were nice and clean, inside and out. Primer pockets too ;)
     
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    308pirate

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    Again, if appearances matter to you by all means deal with the hassle of ss pins.

    I don't care about appearances. I care about maximum results with the least effort. The brass cases tumbling against each other in a drum full of soapy water clean themselves where it matters to me just fine.
     

    TxWelder35

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    Again, if appearances matter to you by all means deal with the hassle of ss pins.

    I don't care about appearances. I care about maximum results with the least effort. The brass cases tumbling against each other in a drum full of soapy water clean themselves where it matters to me just fine.
    agree with this.

    I’ve cleaned the nastiest, corroded, range brass that has been sitting in the dirt for 6 months in the wet tumbler with just a scosh of dawn and a pinch of citric acid. Brass comes out clean. Was usinG SS pins but decided to try it without just to see what happened. Don’t think I’m going to be adding the pins any more
     

    nn8734

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  • Feb 26, 2013
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    With or without the pins, wet tumbling is where it’s at. Just got a Thumlers Tumbler and my Hornady dry media tumbler will likely collect dust.

    I use a half tea spoon of lemishine and some Dawn dish soap. Thus far I have been leaving the stainless pins in and then remove them via a Lyman media sifter. The brass comes out looking brand new. It takes about 30-45 seconds turning the sifter to completely separate the brass from the pins.

    I have another batch of filthy brass shot through my suppressed Mk18 that needs cleaning so will try it without the pins to see how they come out.

    The time consuming activity for me is primer removal in advance of tumbling but it’s something I do while watching TV.
     
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    Snafu_again

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    So... for those who do wet tumble using SS media... do you ever use any kind of preservative in the drum with the media when storing it?
    I always leave the lid off of the drum for a few days after tumbling and don’t put it on until the pins feel dry and haven’t had any rust problems. Have also tumbled just the pins with some industrial degreaser to clean them. Right or wrong, works for me.
     

    TxWelder35

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    How much of a difference (if any at all) did you see in the appearance of the brass when tumbling without the pins vs with them?
    Not much at all tbh. Go try it without. Think you will be pleasantly surprised
     
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    918v

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    I store them under water. Mine didn’t rust. There is no hassle with the pins.
     

    elfster1234

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    same here, stopped using media all together! both rifle and pistol! wished I stopped years ago.. just need to make sure the solution is good with HOT water! here are some good examples:
    go to 6:40 time stamp


    Get rid of the SS pins. They do nothing useful.

    I'm making ammo with single digit SDs wet tumbling without them and without doing a bunch of stuff people think is necessary.
     

    Nimothy

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    I have left mine in the tub wet for about 2 years now. No rust. No issues. Use them if you want to, they don’t cause that much of stink if you have decent media separator. the real bitch is drying them. Clean brass doesn’t effect accuracy but I’m not to keen on sending a bunch of dirt or tumbling media through my dies. And let’s be honest wet washing them with or without pins is the best way to do it.
     

    308pirate

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    For those of you who clean brass after depriming, aren't you running filthy brass through your sizing die?

    If you're using a stand alone decapping die, why bother with adding one more step? Just tumble with the primers in, bake dry, then resize/decap all in one go.

    Your ES/SD won't know the difference.
     

    dimar1492

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    81eAheJqn9L._AC_SX425_.jpg

    I like this little handheld tool and it's cheap. Don't have to stand at the reloading press either. It's also pretty quick.

    I like to clean the primer pockets because after a few firings I don't like the buildup of gunk in there. Sometimes you can even see it buildup around the inside edges of the flash hole. Not sure how much of this if any could eventually affect consistent ignition.
     

    jagged77

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    For those of you who clean brass after depriming, aren't you running filthy brass through your sizing die?

    If you're using a stand alone decapping die, why bother with adding one more step? Just tumble with the primers in, bake dry, then resize/decap all in one go.

    Your ES/SD won't know the difference.
    I use a decapping die (Lee or Redding), 100 cases only takes 10 mins or so. My preference has been to get the brass completely clean before annealing and resizing, in my case body size / neck size. I could probably cut several steps out of my reloading process without seeing a massive difference in the end result but in the end it's down to making my reloads as good as I can get them.

    I do wonder though if you can get cases too clean, especially when bullet seating and inconsistent neck tension.
     

    308pirate

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    I use a decapping die (Lee or Redding), 100 cases only takes 10 mins or so. My preference has been to get the brass completely clean before annealing and resizing, in my case body size / neck size. I could probably cut several steps out of my reloading process without seeing a massive difference in the end result but in the end it's down to making my reloads as good as I can get them.

    I do wonder though if you can get cases too clean, especially when bullet seating and inconsistent neck tension.
    I don't know why people constantly misconstrue what I say.

    I didn't say or even imply that one should resize dirty cases.

    All I've said is that pins are not necessary to clean cases where it matters, and that decapping before wet tumbling is a waste of time.

    Decapping before wet tumbling just gets the primer pocket clean. Is that necessary for best results? My testing says no. If you still want to do it that way fine by me.

    And yes, over cleaning the inside of case necks will increase the force needed to seat bullets. I never needed to lubricate the inside of the necks when I tumbled in dry media because the inside of the necks always kept a nice coat of carbon. Now that I wet tumble without pins most of that carbon inside the necks is gone and I need to run a small paint brush wet with die lube around the id of the necks before seating bullets. Wet tumbling with pins makes things even worse because from what I've seen it completely strips all carbon from inside the neck.
     

    dimar1492

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    I don't know why people constantly misconstrue what I say.

    I didn't say or even imply that one should resize dirty cases.

    All I've said is that pins are not necessary to clean cases where it matters, and that decapping before wet tumbling is a waste of time.

    Decapping before wet tumbling just gets the primer pocket clean. Is that necessary for best results? My testing says no. If you still want to do it that way fine by me.

    And yes, over cleaning the inside of case necks will increase the force needed to seat bullets. I never needed to lubricate the inside of the necks when I tumbled in dry media because the inside of the necks always kept a nice coat of carbon. Now that I wet tumble without pins most of that carbon inside the necks is gone and I need to run a small paint brush wet with die lube around the id of the necks before seating bullets. Wet tumbling with pins makes things even worse because from what I've seen it completely strips all carbon from inside the neck.
    714c4DSwv9L._AC_SL1500_.jpg

    If you haven't already, give this stuff a try for lubricating your necks. It's dry, fast, and easy.
     
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    elfster1234

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    Maybe for pistol but not rifle in my opinion due to cratered primers. If you want the most consistent headspace bumps during the resizing process then you should deprime as your first step IMO. Keeping the resizing process to just resizing and not knocking out the primer pockets at the same time will produce much more consistent headspace results if youre not going for spray and pray ammo

    For those of you who clean brass after depriming, aren't you running filthy brass through your sizing die?

    If you're using a stand alone decapping die, why bother with adding one more step? Just tumble with the primers in, bake dry, then resize/decap all in one go.

    Your ES/SD won't know the difference.
     
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    308pirate

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    If you want the most consistent headspace bumps during the resizing process then you should deprime as your first step IMO. Keeping the resizing process to just resizing and not knocking out the primer pockets at the same time will produce much more consistent headspace results if youre not going for spray and pray ammo
    My data does not indicate that depriming as part of the resizing process creates any shoulder bump inconsistency. I get .002" shoulder bump consistently.

    My 308 Win ammo loaded that way shows an ES of 26 and a SD of 8 for N = 10.

    Being an engineer, I prefer measurements to opinions.
     

    918v

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    For those of you who clean brass after depriming, aren't you running filthy brass through your sizing die?

    If you're using a stand alone decapping die, why bother with adding one more step? Just tumble with the primers in, bake dry, then resize/decap all in one go.

    Your ES/SD won't know the difference.
    I decap my brass before tumbling then dry the brass on the floor overnight so baking it is an extra step.
     
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    308pirate

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    I decap my brass before tumbling then dry the brass on the floor overnight so baking it is an extra step.
    It takes as much time to dump the cases in an oven tray and turn the oven on as it does to lay them out on the floor. The difference is that my cases are dry and cool to the touch in 30 min, and I didn't have to sit there squeezing each case through a decapping die.
     

    Nimothy

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    For those of you who clean brass after depriming, aren't you running filthy brass through your sizing die?

    If you're using a stand alone decapping die, why bother with adding one more step? Just tumble with the primers in, bake dry, then resize/decap all in one go.

    Your ES/SD won't know the difference.
    What are your es/sd? Let’s do the Pepsi challange show us a 10-15 shot read out.
     

    milanuk

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    In the past, when I tried wet tumbling without decapping first... I had some issues with residual moisture in the primer pockets even after drying - and that was with heat (in the oven) on a cooking sheet. So I switched to decapping first, and then putting them neck down in MTM universal case trays that I had modified by drilling 1/8" 'drain holes' in the bottom of each pocket (yes, I was bored ;)).

    Then there was the one time the wife came home and decided to pre-heat the oven for something without stopping to wonder "huh, why is the oven already on @ 150°F?" Having 100 neck-turned and weight sorted Lapua cases melted into the case trays made for some marital strife :ROFLMAO:

    After that I spent the $50 or so on a cheap food dehydrator dedicated to drying brass at 165°F with forced air circulation, and a timer. Works *great*. And everyone in the house knows not to mess with it - or eat anything that might have gone thru it 😁
     
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    308pirate

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    In the past, when I tried wet tumbling without decapping first... I had some issues with residual moisture in the primer pockets even after drying - and that was with heat (in the oven) on a cooking sheet. So I switched to decapping first, and then putting them neck down in MTM universal case trays that I had modified by drilling 1/8" 'drain holes' in the bottom of each pocket (yes, I was bored ;)).

    Then there was the one time the wife came home and decided to pre-heat the oven for something without stopping to wonder "huh, why is the oven already on @ 150°F?" Having 100 neck-turned and weight sorted Lapua cases melted into the case trays made for some marital strife :ROFLMAO:
    150 degrees is too cold for drying wet cases with spent primers in.

    I dry mine in a toaster oven at 230 F for 30 min. Since they whole case gets hotter than the boiling point there won't be any moisture left even if the primers were still in place.

    230 for 30 min is also way lower than any temperature profile that will affect brass tensile strength.
     
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    milanuk

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    My data does not indicate that depriming as part of the resizing process creates any shoulder bump inconsistency. I get .002" shoulder bump consistently.
    I'd go one further and say that if the primer is getting in the way of your resizing process, you're doing something very, very wrong ;)

    ...with the caveat that I would absolutely decap a case or three to use for checking that the resizing process was working as expected, simply to avoid any artifacts around the primer strike (crater, etc.) from skewing the 'before' read.
     
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    milanuk

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    Since we're off in the weeds here anyway...

    Some people (myself included) moved away from wet tumbling for match ammo, for the simple reason of time/hassle compared to tumbling dry media, or even just wiping the necks and calling it good. Obviously, that only works for ammo that goes pretty much straight from the ammo box to the chamber and back, on a bolt gun, and never comes anywhere near the ground. The other part of the theory is that when you wet tumble, the necks get a little too clean on the inside and then you have to dick around applying some sort of lube to each and every one - and trying to manage to do it evenly and consistently across a large batch. And yes, I've seen (and used) most of the ceramic media and bore mop methods out there - it's a tedious PITA, plain and simple. Other people lube the bullets instead, either dipping them in the same ceramic media / dry lube, or in a small container of OneShot.

    I've seen people shoot phenomenal scores both ways. And with even better ES/SD numbers than listed above (sorry). One way involves way less fiddle-fucking around with each individual component when it comes to large batches, so that was what I gravitated towards - simply because of economy of time.

    Now that I've backed away from the competitive end of things a bit, I enjoy spending a little more time on the 'details'... and probably will be shooting some ammo that's going to end up in the dirt at some point... so my wet tumbler may be seeing some more use ;)
     
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    308pirate

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    Berger factory ammo does better than that.......hell Sk match in my 457 does better than that. I would think a engineer would strive for better. Do you anneal? Or is that worthless too?
    Unlike some of you, I'm not interested in getting the absolute lowest SD and ES. I don't reload for the sake of it. I do the bare minimum necessary to get the accuracy that I need for the task at hand.

    I send brass lots to get annealed after a fixed number of firings.

    I'm relaying what works for me so that others get a different perspective than "I have to live at the reloading bench" to get any kind of satisfactory results.

    Truth is I enjoy shooting and I hate reloading. I do as little as necessary to accomplish the latter so that I can do more of the former.
     

    Nimothy

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    Unlike some of you, I'm not interested in getting the absolute lowest SD and ES. I don't reload for the sake of it. I do the bare minimum necessary to get the accuracy that I need for the task at hand.

    I send brass lots to get annealed after a fixed number of firings.

    I quite frankly don't give a flying fuck about what YOU do.
    You sure have taken a lot of your time to tell people how they are doing it wrong........ and how “your sd/es won’t care” if that’s true buy a progressive a 8# of cfe or 748 and let er rip. But if you want to make better ammo I bet you’d be better served annealing every firing and actually paying attention to your primer pockets/primers there is a great article on reloadingallday.com about the subject.
     

    6MT

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    I don't "store" my pins in the tumbler itself and I wouldn't recommend it either.

    I rinse them after each use and they end up in a plastic cat litter pan. That's where they dry. They're clean and ready for use immediately.
     
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    Nimothy

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    I don't "store" my pins in the tumbler itself and I wouldn't recommend it either.

    I rinse them after each use and they end up in a plastic cat litter pan. That's where they dry. They're clean and ready for use immediately.
    Why do they need to be dry? Or cleaned for that matter? I’m not hating I just don’t see the why? Mine are 3 years old and stored damp in the tub in a Texas garage and haven’t seen Any rust of drop in performance.
     

    308pirate

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    You sure have taken a lot of your time to tell people how they are doing it wrong........ and how “your sd/es won’t care” if that’s true buy a progressive a 8# of cfe or 748 and let er rip. But if you want to make better ammo I bet you’d be better served annealing every firing and actually paying attention to your primer pockets/primers there is a great article on reloadingallday.com about the subject.
    I don't need to make better ammo. What I have now exceeds my needs.

    Unlike some of you, I don't reload ammo for the sake of it. It's a means to my ends, not the end itself.
     

    Nimothy

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    I don't need to make better ammo. What I have now exceeds my needs.

    Unlike some of you, I don't reload ammo for the sake of it. It's a means to my ends, not the end itself.
    I think you just got called out on your crappy ammo and now you’re back peddling
     

    6MT

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    Why do they need to be dry? Or cleaned for that matter? I’m not hating I just don’t see the why? Mine are 3 years old and stored damp in the tub in a Texas garage and haven’t seen Any rust of drop in performance.
    They don't need to be dry. I said above that they are ready immediately to use. Wet or dry.

    As for clean....to each their own. I use Dawn dish soap and Lemi-Shine citric acid. I like to rinse them after use. If you don't...that's ok.

    And besides....they are supposed to be "stainless" steel aren't they? Really, they shouldn't rust. I'm still using the same pins after 6 years. They've had a lot of wet/drying cycles. They've never rusted. I'm not sure if it's the OP's drum causing that.
     

    nn8734

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    Multiple ways to skin the same cat when it comes to cleaning brass and producing ammo overall.

    If your hit rate at your rifle’s max effective range (or even at 80% of MER) is satisfactory to you and there are no functional issues with it, your ammo is gtg, regardless of how you load it.
     
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    milanuk

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    And besides....they are supposed to be "stainless" steel aren't they? Really, they shouldn't rust.
    Stainless can (and does) rust... just way 'less' (usually).

    I'm still using the same pins after 6 years. They've had a lot of wet/drying cycles. They've never rusted. I'm not sure if it's the OP's drum causing that
    I had a batch of pins for a lot of years, never had any issues with rust of any kind. For a variety of reasons, I decided to try some 'chips'...
    *now* I'm seeing some rust. Usually I just toss them back in the drum damp to await the next use. Thought maybe there was a preservative that might help with that.
     
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    918v

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    It takes as much time to dump the cases in an oven tray and turn the oven on as it does to lay them out on the floor. The difference is that my cases are dry and cool to the touch in 30 min, and I didn't have to sit there squeezing each case through a decapping die.
    You have to use the oven, gas, etc. It’s a step. Decapping is also a step, but it has the benefit of allowing your primer pockets to be cleaned by the pins and tells you which primer pockets are loose due to the sensitivity of isolating the depriming step.