To lube or not to lube....when seating bullets

SinCityJets

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Hey guys, FNG here....

I have talked to a lot of people I have a lot of respect for, and it is funny how polarizing this issue seems to be. I know people squarely in both camps. Some people are set on using no lube on the necks or bullets for seating, and others use moly powder or graphite powder on either the necks or the bullets before seating.

Assuming one could ensure there was no powder contamination, why or why not should you lube necks or bullets when seating them?

Believe me, I have used the search function, and the responses are always split. Any real updated insight will help.

Thanks ahead of time for the replies.

Chad
 
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Huskydriver

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I have yet to lube a neck in my life and shoot great groups throughout the reloadable life of my brass.

With that said, I only tumble the brass which doesn't take the brass to sparking clean levels as opposed to using an ultrasonic or stainless tumbling.

I also use an expander mandrel vs dragging an expander down and up.

YMMV
 

SinCityJets

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I have yet to lube a neck in my life and shoot great groups throughout the reloadable life of my brass.

With that said, I only tumble the brass which doesn't take the brass to sparking clean levels as opposed to using an ultrasonic or stainless tumbling.

I also use an expander mandrel vs dragging an expander down and up.

YMMV
Do FL bump resize or neck size? In other words, what are you doing to the necks that you need to use the expander on them again?

THanks!

Chad
 

Huskydriver

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I always FL size... But with the expander ball removed.

I then open the neck back up to the proper ID with an expander mandrel.

A lot of us on here reload this way. My run-out is usually always less than .002 on average. Usually it's between .0005 and .001.
 

Dthomas3523

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If you’re using an arbor press with a psi or force gauge, you might need to lube necks to make sure you’re not getting errant numbers do to friction. The point of the gauge is a QC check for inconsistencies in loading or brass.

For example, take two new pieces of brass. Lube the neck of one and not the other. They can have the exact same neck tension, but far different seating pressures.

Same thing with fired brass that has been annealed. You can brush the inside of one neck and not the other. Same neck tension, but not the same seating pressure.

So, if you’re seeing a lot of random friction, you may need/want to lube to even it out. Otherwise your gauge is basically worthless because you don’t know if you’re seeing friction or something else in the gauge when there is a spike or decrease in seating pressure/force.

The downside I have heard from some very successful F class shooters is they feel the lube can get into the barrel and cause flyers from time to time.
 
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Kadams1563

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I stainless wet tumble, Anneal, lube, FL resize, use a mandrel to expand necks, dry tumble.

I then dip my bullets in dry lube before I seat them. I have always done it this way as it’s how I was taught.
 

Mad_Charlie

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I have noticed different levels of effort in seating bullets ever since I started loading over 40 years ago, but over the last year or so I started lubing the bottom half of my bullets with Imperial graphite. That helped with evening out the felt seating force, but I still had more instances of harder than normal effort to seat bullets. So just for grins and giggles I stuck my bore scope into the necks of some new cases after a little twist or two with the chamfer tool, and that was an eye opener. What I thought was enough chamfer with a VLD type chamfer tool, was NOT enough. There were still edges rolled inward and rough inside. The roughness inside the case necks was quite surprising when viewed under magnification. So now I run a fine ball hone with a battery drill, through the necks of NEW cases, which definitely helps knock down the high spots some. I clean the inside necks with q tips and denatured alcohol after a few strokes with the hone, then lube the inside of the necks with Neo-Lube #2 on a Q tip. Then they go through the sizing die with a .100 spacer to partial neck size and round the neck and then get chamferd (sp?) Makes a big difference in seating effort consistency, I don't have a gauge. Still experimenting with this, hoping to bring S.D.'s down. Yeah it's extra work.

Point being that various degrees of roughness in the neck, (possibly causing some degree of galling) and an incomplete chamfer job can't be helping consistent bullet pull.
 

El Cid 92

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I stainless wet tumble, Anneal, lube, FL resize, use a mandrel to expand necks, dry tumble.

I then dip my bullets in dry lube before I seat them. I have always done it this way as it’s how I was taught.
My plan exactly.

And I have documented that SD and ES are much improved with dipping bullets in Redding Dry Neck Lube before seating.

Andrew
 

whatsupdoc

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What is the point of lubing the bullets? Better seating depth consistency, better SD ? What?
 

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What is the point of lubing the bullets? Better seating depth consistency, better SD ? What?
Like many things, it depends.

If you do a lot of good brass prep, use a mandrel, and sure of your neck tension, it’s mainly to keep seating pressure consistent. Especially if you’re using seating pressure as a QC check. In this case you want the only reason to have high seating pressure is because something didn’t size right.

If you don’t turn necks, don’t use a mandrel (neck turning isn’t specifically required, but it helps), and don’t measure your neck tension properly, then lubing is almost necessary as you’ll have slight variations in your actual neck tension.
 

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I have noticed different levels of effort in seating bullets ever since I started loading over 40 years ago, but over the last year or so I started lubing the bottom half of my bullets with Imperial graphite. That helped with evening out the felt seating force, but I still had more instances of harder than normal effort to seat bullets. So just for grins and giggles I stuck my bore scope into the necks of some new cases after a little twist or two with the chamfer tool, and that was an eye opener. What I thought was enough chamfer with a VLD type chamfer tool, was NOT enough. There were still edges rolled inward and rough inside. The roughness inside the case necks was quite surprising when viewed under magnification. So now I run a fine ball hone with a battery drill, through the necks of NEW cases, which definitely helps knock down the high spots some. I clean the inside necks with q tips and denatured alcohol after a few strokes with the hone, then lube the inside of the necks with Neo-Lube #2 on a Q tip. Then they go through the sizing die with a .100 spacer to partial neck size and round the neck and then get chamferd (sp?) Makes a big difference in seating effort consistency, I don't have a gauge. Still experimenting with this, hoping to bring S.D.'s down. Yeah it's extra work.

Point being that various degrees of roughness in the neck, (possibly causing some degree of galling) and an incomplete chamfer job can't be helping consistent bullet pull.
I expand the necks after chamfering and the expander knocks down the sharp edge.
 

whatsupdoc

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Even seating pressure.
I have found that even when annealing and using a mandrel to expand the neck, checking the neck with a pin gauge will show variations in the I.D. of the neck.
You can feel the pin gauge will be looser on some necks and tighter on others. Food for thought.
 
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Dthomas3523

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I have found that even when annealing and using a mandrel to expand the neck, checking the neck with a pin gauge will show variations in the I.D. of the neck.
You can feel the pin gauge will be looser on some necks and tighter on others. Food for thought.
I don’t notice enough difference on a pin gauge to matter. And they all fall into consistent seating pressure.
 
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Dthomas3523

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Also, if you’re not lubing before inserting the pin gauge you may be experiencing friction the same way the bullet would.
 
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ofelas

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I lube the outside before FL sizing and then turn a brush with that Forster fairy dust inside the necks before seating.

But then again, I'm no benchrest shooter or competitor; anything I shoot over 750-800 yds are larger 18" square targets.
 
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Fig

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This is one of those things that only matters in your head unless you're shooting one of these:1591197051246.png

I seriously doubt anyone here could give you data showing increased precision because they lube their necks. There are multiple ways to get consistent neck tension, and seating with some dry lube is one.

I anneal and I seat with dry lube. It's not because I swear by it and can attest that it works, but it's because I read too much shit on the internet and I feel it falls under the category of primum non nocere (first do no harm).

We get most of this shit from the BR community, and new shooters think you need BR levels of precision to become a great marksman. The number of Terminators shooting store bought ammo belies this misunderstanding.

Most working snipers, or seasoned instructors, and most competitors are way past under what fractions of a minute their rifles shoot. It's a MOA rifle or it isn't. 20 or 30 shot groups actually tell the story.

The only person, I know of, who takes the time to actually test and answer questions like this is Bryan Litz, and his results on neck lube were a wash.

There is an in-depth thread on it over on the machinist/non-marksman site.
http://forum.accurateshooter.com/threads/working-with-neck-lube-as-a-means-to-reduce-sd-es.3950036/


It's either shoots under a minute or it don't. If it does it's good to go. If not you can still shoot an ungulate with it.
 

918v

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If you anneal and don’t lube and then try to seat a bullet you’ll experience excessive seating pressure and nose rings on the bullet and crappy accuracy. It has nothing to do with benchrest. It’s a friction issue. Similarly, bare brass neck straight out of a stainless tumbler will benefit from dry lube. Maybe not that day, but certainly if you let the ammo sit for months.
 

Dthomas3523

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This is one of those things that only matters in your head unless you're shooting one of these:View attachment 7342435

I seriously doubt anyone here could give you data showing increased precision because they lube their necks. There are multiple ways to get consistent neck tension, and seating with some dry lube is one.

I anneal and I seat with dry lube. It's not because I swear by it and can attest that it works, but it's because I read too much shit on the internet and I feel it falls under the category of primum non nocere (first do no harm).

We get most of this shit from the BR community, and new shooters think you need BR levels or precision to become a great marksman. The number of Terminators shooting store bought ammo belies this misunderstanding.

Most working snipers, or seasoned instructors, and most competitors are way past under what fractions of a minute their rifles shoot. It's a MOA rifle or it isn't. 20 or 30 shot groups actually tell the story.

The only person, I know of, who takes the time to actually test and answer questions like this is Bryan Litz, and his results on neck lube were a wash.

There is an in-depth thread on it over on the machinist/non-marksman site.
http://forum.accurateshooter.com/threads/working-with-neck-lube-as-a-means-to-reduce-sd-es.3950036/


It's either shoots under a minute or it don't. If it does it's good to go. If not you can still shoot an ungulate with it.
Agreed. When talking to some very high level F class guys......they cannot show any data to show anything definitive on seating pressure differences when neck tension is verified.

I.E. if you have two cases that both have the same .002 neck tension, one seats at 20psi and the other seats at 40psi......they haven’t been able to confirm any data that says they shoot differently. Key word is with the same neck tension (which most people don’t check properly if at all).

Now, if there is galling or scratching or the jacket, you can definitely see a difference. This is when I use lube. When the friction is enough to cause an issue.
 

Dthomas3523

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If you anneal and don’t lube and then try to seat a bullet you’ll experience excessive seating pressure and nose rings on the bullet and crappy accuracy. It has nothing to do with benchrest. It’s a friction issue.
I have found that running a brush through my annealed necks has the same effect as lube. But I agree, if you don’t do anything after annealing, you can see some issues.
 
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ChuckSwagger

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I stainless wet tumble, Anneal, lube, FL resize, use a mandrel to expand necks, dry tumble.

I then dip my bullets in dry lube before I seat them. I have always done it this way as it’s how I was taught.
I am a little confuse here.

If I FL my brass with a 0.002 bushing neck tension die and run the mandrel after, it will make the brass diameter increase, so my neck tension won't be 0.002 anymore, right?
 

Dthomas3523

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I am a little confuse here.

If I FL my brass with a 0.002 bushing neck tension die and run the mandrel after, it will make the brass diameter increase, so my neck tension won't be 0.002 anymore, right?
You run it with a slightly smaller bushing. A .003 or .004 under. Then mandrel up with .002 or whatever mandrel you want/need.
 

earthquake

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I tried some of that Redding dry lube for a bit, and it was more a pain in my ass than the results on steel showed. I stopped using it and haven't really noticed a difference.

Wow....I just used the words "dry lube" and "my ass" in the same sentence. Forget I was here.
 

Fig

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They say you never want any kind of wet lube in the case contacting the powder (hence the dry neck lubes). It seems logical, but I’ll bet it happens ten thousand times a day with no appreciable difference. I know I’ve used spray lube on pistol cases and then just loaded them. Never had any problems, and I’m certain a little bit gets in the necks...
It’s not a moon shot with slide rules and perfection required, but we are dealing in .001ths and it’s more of a “best practices“ thing.
 

Powder_Burns

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I used to put moly in the necks with a q-tip on my rifle loads. Never noticed a difference downrange but bullet seating felt a lot smoother from cartridge to cartridge.
 

Snuby642

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I deprime and tumble and also tumble new brass. A mix of nufinish and mineral spirits to build up a little lubricity and protection.

I use the dry lube inside the neck for expander ball sizing, you can easily feel the difference in force.

I work the brass as necessary and retumble before prime powder and seating.
Short bullets get the case deck dunked before powder and long bullets are dipped directly.

This is single stage sop and has worked well.

Now my dilema, the dillon.

I prep brass on single and prime / load on the dillon. I don't want spray lubes inside or outside my case.

I was thinking of removing the expander ball in the single stage so I could skip inside neck lube or grossly undersize the expander just to straten any dings.

Then I could tumble and set up a mandrell in the dillon first stage.

Dry lube should hold from mandrel to be enough for seating?

Ultimate goal is 1 moa, last test was 1 1/2 but only got to 27g of cfe223 with no pressure signs and 28.5 is book max.

There was a group at 25g and at 27.0 showed signs of tightening up, nothing in between.

I digress are you using dry lube on the .002 mandrells?
 

Dthomas3523

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I deprime and tumble and also tumble new brass. A mix of nufinish and mineral spirits to build up a little lubricity and protection.

I use the dry lube inside the neck for expander ball sizing, you can easily feel the difference in force.

I work the brass as necessary and retumble before prime powder and seating.
Short bullets get the case deck dunked before powder and long bullets are dipped directly.

This is single stage sop and has worked well.

Now my dilema, the dillon.

I prep brass on single and prime / load on the dillon. I don't want spray lubes inside or outside my case.

I was thinking of removing the expander ball in the single stage so I could skip inside neck lube or grossly undersize the expander just to straten any dings.

Then I could tumble and set up a mandrell in the dillon first stage.

Dry lube should hold from mandrel to be enough for seating?

Ultimate goal is 1 moa, last test was 1 1/2 but only got to 27g of cfe223 with no pressure signs and 28.5 is book max.

There was a group at 25g and at 27.0 showed signs of tightening up, nothing in between.

I digress are you using dry lube on the .002 mandrells?
You can tighten any group via seating depth, regardless of charge weight.

Find the charge weight node and then you can make anything shoot under an moa pretty easily.
 

Dthomas3523

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We have two main things at work with loading.

Ignition/combustion and harmonics.

When chronographs were either not available or not that reliable, we had to use techniques that used them both at the same time (I.E. looking at groups to find ocw).

Now, there is pretty much no reason not to separate these two. Work on your primer and powder charge selection via chrono without groups. Then work on harmonics using seating depth (and tuner if applicable) as well as neck tension. At this point, you should have already decided on your powder node and be inside of it. You won’t be changing much on powder/primer size based on your group size.

But, many are still utilizing these circa 1995 methods (and not their fault as it’s not a largely advertised process we have adopted now). And a lot of times people attempt to scold people for using a modern loading process.
 

ChuckSwagger

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I just checked my expander mandrell and Its diameter .306, so it will gives me .002 neck tension.
 

Nimothy

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This is one of those things that only matters in your head unless you're shooting one of these:View attachment 7342435

I seriously doubt anyone here could give you data showing increased precision because they lube their necks. There are multiple ways to get consistent neck tension, and seating with some dry lube is one.

I anneal and I seat with dry lube. It's not because I swear by it and can attest that it works, but it's because I read too much shit on the internet and I feel it falls under the category of primum non nocere (first do no harm).

We get most of this shit from the BR community, and new shooters think you need BR levels of precision to become a great marksman. The number of Terminators shooting store bought ammo belies this misunderstanding.

Most working snipers, or seasoned instructors, and most competitors are way past under what fractions of a minute their rifles shoot. It's a MOA rifle or it isn't. 20 or 30 shot groups actually tell the story.

The only person, I know of, who takes the time to actually test and answer questions like this is Bryan Litz, and his results on neck lube were a wash.

There is an in-depth thread on it over on the machinist/non-marksman site.
http://forum.accurateshooter.com/threads/working-with-neck-lube-as-a-means-to-reduce-sd-es.3950036/


It's either shoots under a minute or it don't. If it does it's good to go. If not you can still shoot an ungulate with it.
+1 I’ve moved every loading process except sizing to a progressive with a case Feeder and in everything but 6mm a bullet feeder. Still have sub moa groups and ammo that will shoot 5ish sd over 20 round strings. We get caught up in stuff that has very little real world effect on our targets. I look for stuff to make my process as streamlined as possible. I read on this forum once “load development for a 6.5creed, what’s that? you just find pressure signs back off .5gr and shoot it till the barrel wears out” (something to that effect) Albeit way over simplified..... it stuck with me. we get caught up on dumb stuff most of the time. Like chasing 1/3moa consistently when the rifle shoots 1/2-3/4 on your worst day.
 

Dthomas3523

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I just checked my expander mandrell and Its diameter .306, so it will gives me .002 neck tension.
Keep in mind the necks will likely spring back to the inside some.

For .241 tension, I normally use a .242 mandrel and sometimes a .2425. Just depends on your brass.
 

BCMulx

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One more thing to throw into the discussion - I have seen people encounter cold welding between bullet and case neck for rounds that sit longer. Mainly those that stainless tumble (and get the inside of the necks really clean) and then seat bullets without some sort of dry lube, dry tumble / etc to get some sort of coating on the inside of the neck. If you're leaving the carbon built up there, not an issue.

I personally neck size, and then use an expander mandrel like some above, so am using imperial dry lube on necks and bullets before seating. Sometimes though, I wonder if I'd be better off just eliminating the stainless tumble, leave the inside of the necks dirty, and eliminate a couple steps.
 

Dthomas3523

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One more thing to throw into the discussion - I have seen people encounter cold welding between bullet and case neck for rounds that sit longer. Mainly those that stainless tumble (and get the inside of the necks really clean) and then seat bullets without some sort of dry lube, dry tumble / etc to get some sort of coating on the inside of the neck. If you're leaving the carbon built up there, not an issue.

I personally neck size, and then use an expander mandrel like some above, so am using imperial dry lube on necks and bullets before seating. Sometimes though, I wonder if I'd be better off just eliminating the stainless tumble, leave the inside of the necks dirty, and eliminate a couple steps.
If I’m not letting brass hit the dirt or using brass catcher, I don’t even bother with cleaning. Wipe off with rag, and go to work. Still brush necks.

When I do clean, it’s just soap and water without pins. Only thing we need to do is keep brass from having anything that will mess up chamber/dies or contaminate powder. Pins not needed.

No one has been able to tell me what pins do except make brass look pretty.
 

Nimothy

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The pins also break up the carbon on the inside and the primer pocket.
I don’t notice a difference between pins and no pins in this area. But if I’m going through the 10hr process (3hr tumble 7hr dryer) you best believe I want my brass shiney as hell. I’ve never experienced bullet weld of anything like that, and I’ve only dry lubed necks for mandrel virgin brass (that’s before I got fancy black nitride mandrels). Also I never store any ammo in the garage or in non climate controlled places for very long.
 

918v

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If you tumble overnight and use the correct proportions of chemicals you’ll notice.
 

Nimothy

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If you tumble overnight and use the correct proportions of chemicals you’ll notice.
You wet tumble overnight? That seems excessive. As for chemicals I’m a lazy pos. I buy those Franklin arsenal tide pod things (don’t worry fellas, I won’t eat em) they work fantastically AND amazon delivers them prime. Like I said LLLLLAAAAAZZZZZYYYY

edit: my pockets come out clean as a whistle in 3hrs pins or not with those pods
 

Dthomas3523

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Everyone I know that has done testing on clean primer pockets vs not clean, doesn’t worry about decapping before cleaning anymore.

Most of them haven’t even been able to find a measurable difference in uniformed vs non uniformed pockets. General consensus is primer pocket is about the least critical part of the case.
 

Steel head

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I just checked my expander mandrell and Its diameter .306, so it will gives me .002 neck tension.
You accounting for spring back?

If I’m not letting brass hit the dirt or using brass catcher, I don’t even bother with cleaning. Wipe off with rag, and go to work. Still brush necks.

When I do clean, it’s just soap and water without pins. Only thing we need to do is keep brass from having anything that will mess up chamber/dies or contaminate powder. Pins not needed.

No one has been able to tell me what pins do except make brass look pretty.
I almost never clean my brass.
Quick wipe with a rag, brush neck and occasionally scotchbrite outside of neck.

Wet pins were sure a fad for a while”look at me with my ultra clean brass”then some saw stuff happening.

A bit of carbon in the neck is a good thing.
 

918v

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You wet tumble overnight? That seems excessive. As for chemicals I’m a lazy pos. I buy those Franklin arsenal tide pod things (don’t worry fellas, I won’t eat em) they work fantastically AND amazon delivers them prime. Like I said LLLLLAAAAAZZZZZYYYY

edit: my pockets come out clean as a whistle in 3hrs pins or not with those pods
How is it excessive? What do you care if they tumble got 3 hour or 8? Don’t you sleep? You think the pins will wear out the brass?
 

Nimothy

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How is it excessive? What do you care if they tumble got 3 hour or 8? Don’t you sleep? You think the pins will wear out the brass?
Chill out there turbo. Loosen your whale tail. You’re the one who said you’ll notice if the pins are in there or not. No I don’t think anything wears out brass except for shooting it. I find comedy in folks that try to keep cases until the end of time so to speak, I don’t need 20 firings out of my brass. And I do sleep, while my 3hr tumbled perfectly cleaned/polished cases are drying for 7hrs. I don’t use pins because I’m lazy, I don’t like checking to see if I got them all out, also in the 6.5 variety of calibers those pins are the perfect size to get lodged sideways in the case mouth. Not to mention the fact they make very little difference in the appearance of the cases. Here is some pictures of 3hr no pins cases
 

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918v

Best Reloader Ever
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Jul 15, 2007
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Chill out there turbo. Loosen your whale tail. You’re the one who said you’ll notice if the pins are in there or not. No I don’t think anything wears out brass except for shooting it. I find comedy in folks that try to keep cases until the end of time so to speak, I don’t need 20 firings out of my brass. And I do sleep, while my 3hr tumbled perfectly cleaned/polished cases are drying for 7hrs. I don’t use pins because I’m lazy, I don’t like checking to see if I got them all out, also in the 6.5 variety of calibers those pins are the perfect size to get lodged sideways in the case mouth. Not to mention the fact they make very little difference in the appearance of the cases. Here is some pictures of 3hr no pins cases
I did say that you would notice if you had used the pins with the right proportion of chemicals.

That sill doesn’t answer how tumbling overnight is excessive. Here is brass I tumbled with pins overnight:

CA95AF7E-632B-492E-878A-30DE9FCF6963.jpegFE25E763-ADC1-4BC6-A7BC-0EB9FD9808C1.jpeg
 

Nimothy

I’m trying
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Minuteman
Nov 14, 2018
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Dallas Texas
I did say that you would notice if you had used the pins with the right proportion of chemicals.

That sill doesn’t answer how tumbling overnight is excessive. Here is brass I tumbled with pins overnight:

View attachment 7344689View attachment 7344690
Fair enough. You got me there. What do you use? The lemon shine/dawn method, or do you have a secret recipe? I really like those pods. They also make them dry without spots