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Old 10-17-2007, 07:39 PM   #1
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Cleaning tarnished/corroded ammo

At Knob Creek last week, where good ammo deals were nearly nonexistent...

I purchased a box of .380 ammo, 2000 rounds for $100.oo
The ammo is heavily tarnished or lightly corroded, with the brass looking like the Statue of Liberty before it was cleaned off. The dealer said the ammo had been stored in a damp location, but was 100% shootable "as is". I mentioned cleaning the ammo with a green pad, but he suggested putting it in a tumbler with corn cob media.

Others have told me never to put live ammo in a tumbler. My questions...
Can this ammo be safely cleaned in a tumbler?
Did the dealer sell good ammo, or was I (and many others) taken for a ride?
Any cleaning suggestions if a tumbler is excluded?

Finally, the headstamp is as follows: "F C" 380 AUTO
Any ideas on the manufacturer?

I appreciate any help and suggestions...
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Old 10-17-2007, 07:52 PM   #2
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Ammo may be Federal Cartridge Corp

I looked through the headstamp ID thread, and believe the ammo is probably from Federal Cartridge Corp ("FC"). The dealer said that even though the ammo had obviously been damp, it was "sealed ammo" and was guaranteed to shoot. (Of course I did not get a receipt and cannot recall the name of the company... )

So, I await suggestions on the cleanup procedures. Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:26 AM   #3
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I don't believe i would shoot anything that was corroded badly that weakens the brass,and if the corrosion is bad enought beside the weak brass it may cause extraction problems can you post any pic of the rds.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:11 AM   #4
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Tumbling live ammo really isn't a good idea and it doesn't need to be pretty to work.

If it goes in the chamber and fires I'd leave it alone.
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:04 PM   #5
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Thanks for the comments so far, and I'll try to post a pic soon. The ammo doesn't seem severely corroded, with some fairly clean and others nearly all green. The bullets are copper jacketed, BTW. The dealer at Knob Creek had ammo in this condition in several calibers, and had me wondering where he obtained such a mass of dirty ammo. Fishing in an ordnance dump somewhere?

The following is a reply I received on this question...I'll post it here in case it helps anyone else in this situation. Any further comments are welcome, of course...

You are correct that your .380 ammo is made by "Federal Cartridge" ...It's a very good brand with a decent grade of brass (in case you wish to reload the cases)...Being rounds for semi-auto pistols,they must be absolutely clean for best funcioning results (revolvers are much more forgiving with "dirty" cartridges)...I have found that 00,000 or 0000 "fine" steel wool is best for cleaning even the most tarnished ammo...For corroded cartridges,any steel wool finer than "00" will be very time consuming...500 to 1200-grit sandpaper can also work...If there is a dark brown spot in the brass after cleaning off the "green stuff",keep cleaning until you see bright yellow...If the "brown" doesn't disappear, or a black spot starts appearing,this might be a case of inner corrosion...These cartridges should NOT be fired...Cleaning each one by hand is the safest way...NO LIVE AMMO IN A TUMBLER!!! Since you have 2000 rounds of "questionable" cartridges,keep these only for "practice"...Pick the best of the bunch and simply clean as needed...If the bullets are not jacketed,use rubber gloves (or a good pair of cloth ones) to avoid lead contamination...An old piece of denim material or sometimes even a paper towel is good for polishing the lead...Keep a magnifying glass handy for close inspection of the primers...They should be nice and shiny around the edges and a good seal ...Inspect the bullet around the case edge or "crimping area"...This is not as big of a concern as the primers,but it's good to have everything check out "OK"...I learned these little cleaning tricks back in days of my cartridge collecting...There was always a way of making those 120-year-old Civil War rounds look as nice as the new ones...The only way to know if you were "taken for a ride" is to shoot about 300 rounds...If you never experience any misfires in this amount,I think you'll be fine...Even if it's one dud in 25,there is no cause for alarm...With the price of brass these days,you just might get most of your money back if you sell the empty cases for "scrap"...Hope all this helps...Good luck.......
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:16 PM   #6
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If the person who wrote that reply doesn't even know that Federal does not make anything but jacketed bullets for the .380 would his advice be sound?

Surely you didn't buy corroded ammo for any serious purpose so why should it be so spotless?

Does it go into the chamber?
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:23 AM   #7
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Shoot it. I'll bet it's Katrina ammo from some submerged gun store.
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Old 11-03-2007, 10:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Petty
Tumbling live ammo really isn't a good idea and it doesn't need to be pretty to work.

If it goes in the chamber and fires I'd leave it alone.
Why? I would think that it would be fine and I have done it before with no ill effects.

I was under the impression that all comerical ammo is tumbled before packaging.

I also believe that someone had tumbled ammo for a 24 hour period and removed some of the tumbled ammo every hour or so and cronographed the rounds and found little if any increase in velocity after tumbeling.

Please post any proof you have the tumbeling is bad. Also, just think of the transportation of ammo. I would think that when it is bounceing around on a truck or chopper/plane, it would cause about the same effect as tumbeling for a short time.
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Old 11-08-2007, 08:58 PM   #9
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Tumbling live ammo is bad because: 1) you are putting bullets in contact with primers and 2) depending on the powder and the tumbler, you are risking altering the coating on the powder grains. Short periods probably won't matter much, but I have read about glove-box rounds resulting in KB's after months bouncing around, possibly from the grains of powder being all chipped up and raising the burn rate.

Besides, Charlie knows what he's talking about.
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Old 11-09-2007, 06:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markw76
Besides, Charlie knows what he's talking about.
That's good enough for me.
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Old 11-09-2007, 02:39 PM   #11
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Tumbling live rounds

The debate on tumbling ammunition has come up elsewhere in the past.
I recall reading a detailed account of one person's experiment, where he tumbled several examples of different caliber ammunition for up to a MONTH.
None of the ammunition fired in the tumbler, there was no evidence of powder breakdown on the samples he disassembled & those he fired chronographed within the same tolerances as the "control group" of non tumbled rounds.

At least one surplus ammunition dealer has admitted to tumbling tarnished rounds in a cement mixer & I cannot imagine a vibratory tumbler subjecting ammunition to the same kind of forces.
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