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Old April 21, 2019, 18:07   #1
kysjck
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Cleaning Badly Tarnished Ammo

Got a 1974 M60 belt at a swap meet. The rounds seem to have been left in the weather and in the links for years. They look bad, green tarnish and rust. After de-linking them I decided to try some in my SAR48. Being LC 74 they shoot fine. I then made the mistake of shooting another 10 for about 15 total, when the rifle started short cycling. The chamber was full of crud. So was the gas block, piston, and cylinder. The rifle cleaned up quickly, the ammo not so much. So far steel wool and lots of elbow grease are all I can find to clean it. Rust from the links is the most stubborn to remove. Is there any better meaning less labor intensive way to clean this ammo.
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Old April 21, 2019, 18:42   #2
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Bench grinder with a fine wire wheel will make quick work of it.
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Old April 21, 2019, 19:38   #3
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Cordless/corded drill. Insert the bullet end up to the case neck and gently tighten the drill chuck. Then spin the cartridge with one hand while holding #4000 steel wool in your other. Is time consuming, but works quite well.
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Old April 21, 2019, 19:55   #4
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The armory that would issue our 240s would scrub the belts with CLP and wipe them down. Undoubtedly they were doing so at the urging of whoever was in charge, because they would get pretty nasty.

They'd would be exposed to salt water for 6-12 months, with only that and fresh water rinses to keep them in shape. We would all use piping hot water, of course... yunno.. so we wouldnt have spend 5 minutes drying them.

I don't think I would do any of that, if I were you. When we would go to shoot off the old stock whoever was unlucky enough to get those belts got a lot of remedial practice. Steel wool and elbow grease are probably your surest bet of having shootable ammo at the end of it.
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Old April 21, 2019, 20:02   #5
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I'm thinking a 1/2" drill or drill press could take the bullet and case neck to get most of it and I could clean the neck/bullet by hand. Good news the drill press chuck takes case heads too. Thanks!
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Old April 21, 2019, 21:44   #6
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CLR diluted, leave to soak, maybe scotch pad, towel rub/dry. Should clean up the rounds.
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Old April 21, 2019, 21:46   #7
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I think I would tumble it.
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Old April 21, 2019, 22:36   #8
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Not a good idea to tumble live ammo. The powder can break down and the burning properties can be altered
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Old April 22, 2019, 10:34   #9
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Not a good idea to tumble live ammo. The powder can break down and the burning properties can be altered
Please do not parrot internet nonsense. That myth has been thoroughly debunked. Please stop repeating it.
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Old April 22, 2019, 12:52   #10
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I think I would tumble it.
This would be the easiest way in which to clean up a large batch of tarnished ammo. Corn cob media should work fine, but walnut may required for the more stubborn stuff.

As HBR stated, there is no risk in tumbling live ammo.
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Old April 22, 2019, 14:12   #11
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Back when Samco was still a thing, I stopped in to pick up a case of Port .308 loose ammo. Stuff was badly tarnished from the git-go. They had a portable cement mixer set up in the parking lot tumbling 1000 rounds at a time.
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Old April 22, 2019, 14:28   #12
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2 tsp of powdered citric acid
per quart of hot water...mix until dissolved

Throw in the ammo . Even the ugliest of brass should clean up in 30 seconds to 2 minutes
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Old April 22, 2019, 16:37   #13
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Not sure I would want to put old ammo in a bath. Yeah, it's supposed to be sealed, but that sealant is 50 yrs old.
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Old April 22, 2019, 17:37   #14
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Originally Posted by Hebrew Battle Rifle View Post
Please do not parrot internet nonsense. That myth has been thoroughly debunked. Please stop repeating it.
Amen from the back pew (went to Baptist Church this week and have to be early to get seats on back row as church fills from rear to front with late comers having to walk do isle to front while all who showed up on time stare) along with my buddies who saved a seat for and are all shooters as well.

Would de-link, put in my Thumblers Tumbler drum unit with walnut shell media to degrunge it well enough to shoot without cycling issues. I have tumbled tens of thousands of live ammo that arrived nasty. Have a source for belt fails that may be found after laying in field for over a month and maybe a year. De-link dun through the walnut shell and also clean the links. Someday, God willing going to need a bunch of 30 caliber links. Just totally filled my first five gallon bucket and have a second almost full. Someday ifs going to be illegal for civilians to own links marked .GOV like 30 round LEO use only AR magazines during Papa Bush Ban. We will covet and seek out old links with the marking making them illegal for civilian use.

Tumbling does not break down powder kernals, bullet tips don't set of primers so round blows up in tumbler or other such rumors. Only issue I have found is where neck is crimped to bullet with crimp cannelure will build up much more residue in cannelure and along edge of case neck than a person could imagine till they sat down and cleaned necks of a 500 rounds over a pan and saw how much collected. This walnut dust being abrasive and getting slammed into throat of a barrel could easily cause throat erosion and even barrel erosion as worry the walnut dust in cannelure might act like fire lapping compound.

Also had some where way more walnut shell dust packed in rim of case than expected or normal and around primers where primer sealant seems to grab the media dust. Use a dental pick if primer cap is full of media dust as the more abrasive dust can remove from crimp, rim and between primer/primer pocket edge. Whenever we do a bulk run from 500 to 5,000 rounds at a sitting when entire lot is loaded we run all loaded rounds through a half hour corn cob tumble and then wife and I each wearing clean cotton gloves wipe down each round with cotton cloth. This gets all sizing lube, wax and oil from fingers off each round so if packed away for twenty years do not have a corroded oily thumb print on brass or if shoot immediately don't have the sizing lube from several hundred rounds building up and turning to glue in rifles chamber.

Started cleaning hand loads early as a teen because used almost all lead bullets and would have some bullet lube build up which became an issue if fired over several hundred rounds of 45 or 9mm between cleaning pistol. Became common for rifles when began loading bulk runs for long term storage or if bought surplus that looked like it was not factory clean and still get in boxes. Would not use liquid cleaner of any type on loaded rounds. Be careful if decide to use some products like Brasso and others as can make brass brittle.

If you have a nice rifle and care for it don't run nasty ammo or steel case ammo through it. That's what AK's and SKS's are for. That said in a pinch if all I had was steel case 7.62x51 and had to run it to defend the castle till had a chance to load more brass case would run any steel case if had it through my fluted chamber CETME's and HK91/G3's as do not think you can destroy a G3 chamber unless did it on purpose.
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Old April 22, 2019, 21:08   #15
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I shot 1000 rounds of heavily tarnished and slightly corroded Argentine 7.62x51mm. No operating issues, and it's some of the best ammo I've put through FALs. Didn't even bother to clean it, either.
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Old April 22, 2019, 21:54   #16
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Got it done with the drill press and coarse steel wool. The chuck seems to be 3/4". My Dillon vibrating tumbler isn't good for removing normal tarnish. This stuff was far worse. The rust spots never came off with steel wool. They just got smooth and shiny black so tomorrow I'll shoot some. I'll put them on top of loaded mags. It seems the first 2 rounds from a loaded mag are the ones most likely to short cycle. More spring pressure I guess. I've never seen such corroded brass. Just de-linking them turned my fingers olive drab. After only 15 rounds the build up in the chamber wouldn't let the next round chamber and go into battery. And FALs have generous chambers. I have a couple thousand rounds of Port that are tarnished, but the normal type. Shooting that never caused any problems. I just load it as it comes out of the battle packs. It's quite accurate too.
I know USGI ammo is sealed at the neck and primer pocket, but liquid soaking worried me.
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Old April 22, 2019, 22:37   #17
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Shooting 45 year old badly tarnished ammo in a pre ban FAL....what could possibly go wrong?

I'm a penny pincher myself....but damn.
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Old April 22, 2019, 22:47   #18
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Shooting 45 year old badly tarnished ammo in a pre ban FAL....what could possibly go wrong?

I'm a penny pincher myself....but damn.


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Old April 22, 2019, 23:12   #19
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Some time ago I noticed that Lime-Away cleans the tarnish off of the copper bottoms of Revere Ware pots.

Later I bought some "slightly tarnished" ammo--some of which was actually corroded. The tarnish I was able to clean off with Lime-Away and a bit of scrubbing with a Dobie sponge. The portion that wouldn't clean up with that I sent back to the company. Although they said they wouldn't accept returns on ammo, they not only took the corroded crap back, but they credited me for the returned portion.
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Old April 23, 2019, 14:50   #20
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I have tumbled plenty if dirty ammo. It usually cleans up fairly well.

If you could dry tumble it with ss media I bet it would really clean up.
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Old April 23, 2019, 16:18   #21
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Be careful using liquid cleaners not designed for firearms brass. many will shine it up fast and nice but weaken the brass to point it becomes unsafe.
anything with high ammonia content like Brasso is to be avoided IMHO, YMMV, etc.

Quote:
I'll pass on my experience with Brasso and I don't mean my 3 years in the Army using it to clean buckles, insignias, copper pipes in the latrine, etc. I ran out of Dillon polish so I poured some Brasso into my corn cob media and ran 200 .45 cases for a couple of hours. Unfortunately I had to go out of town and didn't empty my cleaner for 4 days. When I started reloading them I had a major problem. About every third case had the the top of the primer peal off leaving the sides of the primer firmly stuck in the case. Of course the new primer wouldn't seat or sometimes stuck part ways in stopping the whole operation. I suspect the ammonia in Brasso weakened the thin area of the primer where the sides bend to form the top causing the top to tear away under the push of the decapping pin. In 25 years of reloading I have never had that happen before or since this incident.
Someone mentioned LimeAway:

Quote:
Iron, cadmium, cobalt, nickel, tin and lead do not react with water, but hydrochloric acid will dissolve them, displacing the hydrogen from the HCl. Iron reacts with hydrogen chloride to produce iron chloride, FeCl2 sometimes known as ferrous chloride.
Brits learned the hard way storing ammo near horses was a bad deal:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Season_cracking

Some LimeAway Ingredients:

Quote:
Known Ingredients

Ingredient.
HYDROCHLORIC ACID. ...
FD&C YELLOW 5. ...
PEG-2 HYDROGENATED TALLOW AMINE.
ALCOHOL ETHOXYLATES (C12-15)
METHYL SALICYLATE. ...
BENZENESULFONIC ACID, ((4-(BIS(4-((SULFOPHENYL)AMINO)PHENYL)METHYLENE)-2,5-CYCLOHEXADIEN-1-
PEG-8 TALLOW AMINE.
Check this link on separating the copper and zinc in brass. Do you want to chemically alter the alloy used to make your brass?

https://www.instructables.com/id/Ext...tive-Electrod/

I can quote many snafus people experienced after using Walmart and paint store chemicals to clean brass. If you must only soak a short while and immediately neutralize with a base such as baking soda dissolved in water. Unless a liquid cleaner is specifically marketed for use to safely clean any kind of pistol or rifle brass I am not going to risk having a case suffering a catastrophic failure a few inches from my face.

If in doubt find a real chemist, provide hi with the ingredient list in your home brew or store bought brass cleaner and ask them if it alters the properties of the brass in the process of cleaning it. Many clean by dissolving the outer layer and if aggressive enough will weaken significantly while others are o.k. in use diluted and neutralized acid when finish. have a friend that is a college chemistry professor and have run dozens of peoples home brew brass cleaner by him for review. Only two would he say did not change the strength or annealing of the brass but also said probably other than rinsing dirt and loose debris off did not have any chemical advantage to actually removing stains or corrosion. Lurk on some intermediate chemistry discussion groups so able to ask questions of chemists about brass, batteries and other things we fool with on regular basis and try to find a better mouse trap.
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Old April 24, 2019, 23:00   #22
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After doing every ammo test I could think of, I can say the drill press method worked perfectly. It was still time consuming tho. The ammo cycles well and shoots accurately. I haven't shot the orange tipped tracers yet. I'm saving them for I don't know what.
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