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Impact of ultrasonic cleaning on consistency

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Unread 12-26-2010, 03:03 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 15
Impact of ultrasonic cleaning on consistency

I'm considering an ultrasonic cleaner but I'm having a hard time finding good data on the impact of having clean interior brass. I don't really care about having clean exterior brass because it is pretty to look at. I'm only interested in improving my shooting. I found many threads on what works the best to get the cleanest cartridge, what is the easiest and least time intensive. I'm not interested in any of that as it has been discussed many times. I have read (and believe) that cleaning the interior by US does impact the velocity of the bullet. My question is does it improve consistency. You can always adjust your scope for dirty cartridges if having dirty cartridges only changes the velocity but not shot to shot velocity consistency. At the end of the day does cleaning your cartridge improve your chances of having a tighter shot group and lead to consistent velocity from reload to reload. I don't shoot large volumes so if it does make a difference I am willing to do the work.
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Unread 12-26-2010, 06:43 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Cabot, AR USA
Posts: 85
Re: Impact of ultrasonic cleaning on consistency

I use an ultrasonic cleaner....
Have only done very limited amount of testing. But you'd have to say that anything you do to make the internal area of the cartridge more consistant will only provide better results downrange.
But that being said, there is no way on the planet your going to make say a LC72 5.56 NATO cartridge have the same internal area that a Winchester 223Rem cartridge has. I still weight sort my brass, keep different lots seperated, and get pretty anal about a few other things at the handloading bench.... As like you, I don't shoot a thousand rounds at a practice session, so the extra work at the bench is no big deal.

My ultrasonic cleaned cartridges have shot better then my just plain ole tumbled stuff...............YMMV

I make some of the finest writing instruments available. My favorite is the Cartridge Pen and closely followed by Fountain/Rollerballs.....
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Unread 12-26-2010, 07:32 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Helena, AR
Posts: 300
Re: Impact of ultrasonic cleaning on consistency

I haven't used an ultrasonic yet. I use the stainless tumbling media. The reason that I used the stainless or would use the ultrasonic is to completely clean the case necks without a lot of manual labor. I have started annealing my dasher brass for my f class rifle. If the brass is not completely free of lube or residue on the nneck, it will leavel a grey smoke look on the neck. I am pretty sure it doesn't affect the accuracy but after spending all the time and the money to get the gun to shoot like it does one more step is not that bad. Another benefit from the stainless media is the inside of my necks and primer pockets are clean. I would think the ultrasonic would do the same thing. I do not know if I would worry about cleaning the brass this way for a hunting rifle unless I was trying to hit a target at extreme ranges. I would take every precaution to make the ammo as identical as possible.
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Unread 12-26-2010, 12:50 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: NC, oceanfront
Posts: 4,227
Re: Impact of ultrasonic cleaning on consistency

Nothing about my shooting systems and chrono are accurate enough to show a difference between squeky clean brass(ultrasonic), and standard tumbled.
Now I focus cleaning only the primer pockets for solid seating, run a brush through necks, wipe carbon off outside necks, and tumble before & after sizing.
Not concerned about any thin layer of carbon inside the case. Just keeping my dies and chambers clean.
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Unread 12-26-2010, 05:56 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 15
Re: Impact of ultrasonic cleaning on consistency

I have read several articles of individuals cleaning cartridges with different chemicals and for different lengths of time to see which method is superior. They cut open cartridges at each step to show the impact. If shooters are willing to go to such lengths to check cleanliness I canít imagine a few people not having systematically check the impact US cleaning has on the velocity with a chronograph. In fact this website just posted an article on reloading that stressed the importance of having cleaned interior cartridges. http://www.longrangehunting.com/articles/hand-loading-long-range-1.php Unfortunately he didnít back it up with proof of a test. Anyone know of such an article on the web?
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Unread 12-28-2010, 02:23 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 15
Found an article

After much searching I finally found an article on the subject.
Ultrasonic Case Cleaning ó Does It Really Help Maintain Load Consistency? ę Daily Bulletin
Unfortunately the results are inconclusive.
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