How to Clean Reloading Dies

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Reloading dies is an integral part of the reloading process. Over time, a buildup of oil, lead, copper or dust may form on reloading dies. Clean your reloading dies periodically to eliminate this buildup and keep the ballistics of your loads consistent. Reloading dies that are left uncovered, stored in high humidity or have visible dust and debris will need to be cleaned every 500 rounds. Reloading dies stored in covered containers and wiped off after every reloading session can wait 1,000 rounds between cleanings.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing needle
  • 14 gun cleaning patches
  • Gun cleaner solvent/degreaser
  • Gun cleaner rod
  • Gun oil
  • Perform an initial cleaning if recommended by the manufacturer. Some manufacturers recommend cleaning newly purchased reloading dies before the initial usage.

  • Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for specific sizing die disassembly instructions. For most sizing dies, remove the decapping assembly from the die body by turning the hex nut or lock nut at the top of the die body. You may also need to remove the washer and spindle bushing to free the decapping assembly. Set the decapping assembly aside.

  • Inspect the sizing die for a vent hole. The manufacturer’s instructions will also indicate if the die has a vent hole. If the die has a vent hole, push a needle through the vent hole to remove any debris.

  • Moisten two gun-cleaning patches with gun cleaner solvent/degreaser. Use a gun-cleaner rod to push the damp patches, one at a time, through the sizing die.

  • Use a gun-cleaner rod to push a dry gun-cleaning patch through the sizing die. Repeat with a second dry patch. Set the sizing die aside.

  • Moisten another gun-cleaning patch with gun-cleaner solvent/degreaser. Use the damp patch to clean the spindle and the expander ball of the decapping assembly.

  • Dry the spindle and the expander ball with a dry gun-cleaning patch. Put the spindle and the expander ball back into the sizing die in the same order that you removed them.

  • Moisten a gun-cleaning patch with several drops of gun oil. Wipe the threads of the sizing die and then replace the nuts or bushing. Set the cleaned and reassembled sizing die aside.

  • Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for specific seating die disassembly instructions. For most seating dies, unscrew the lock nut and remove the seating stem from the die body.

  • Moisten three gun-cleaning patches with gun-cleaner solvent/degreaser. Use a gun cleaner rod to push two of the patches, one at a time, through the seating die.

  • Wipe the bottom of the seating stem with the third moistened patch.

  • Use a gun-cleaner rod to push two dry gun-cleaning patches, one at a time, through the seating die. Use a third dry patch to wipe off the bottom of the seating stem.

  • Insert the seating stem back into the seating die. Wipe the threads at the top of the seating stem with a gun-cleaning patch moistened with gun oil.

  • Screw the lock nut back onto the top of the seating stem to complete the seating-die cleaning.

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