Internal case corrosion question

I just disassembled a 1905 dated Russian 7.62x54r cartridge. The powder had obviously gone bad as it was green and clumped together and gave off an ammonia smell. Inside the brass case is uniformly corroded green. I would like to dissolve/remove/neutralize this corrosion without damaging the brass case in order to preserve it. Is just removing the powder and washing the residue out with water enough or is there more I can do? I don’t normally deal with cartridges this old, so this is a new endeavour for me.



A Guide To Ammunition Collecting, linked thru the home page, discusses this. It recommends a vinager bath, then baking soda/wtr bath. I recently used this procedure on an old 44 cartridge and it worked fine.

I used the same treatment on a 50BMG Incendiary round, worked great and saved the round!


Muriatic acid works great on corrosion and grime - it amazes me how it can salvage what appears to be a ruined case. Mix about half and half acid and water in a glass container. Be sure to add the acid to the water and not the other way around.

  • @ AKMS: Yes, muriatic acid works extremely fast cleaning the brass but I would not use it in this situation because the cartridge case walls may be already too thin due to corrosion and you don’t want to damage your 104 year old 7.62X54R rimmed shell case. A very safe method to clean the brass cartridge case [inside or on outside] is using “lemon juice”. Fill completely the 7.62X54R shell case with lemon juice and let it stay over the night. The lemon juice next day is going to be green and dirty and the brass clean. Rinse with warm water and dry the brass. Liviu 02/27/09 P.S. I’ve used the muriatic acid to clean the inside of the rusted fired shell cases made of steel [20mm, 25mm, etc.] After the inside of the steel shell case is clean and dry, using a small paint brush and the sunlight to the right angle, I paint the inside with primer [paint]. It may take a few days the inside [especially the bottom] to get dry. I repeat the operation this time using an oil based paint [the color is my choice] and the result is very good, no rust will ever again attack the steel shell case inside.

AKMS, what is the head stamp of this round? “B” or “X” ?

The headstamp is mostly illegible, which is why it is being dismantled and cleaned for sectioning.

Thanks for all the info. I am using vinegar with good results so far…



I let my case soak several days in vinegar changing the soulition every day then the same with the baking soda.


I guess I need an infusion of patience, but I’d find the whole vinegar and baking soda routine to be a bit tedious. Two minutes in the diluted muriatic acid, rinse them and polish a bit with a rag, and they usually look pretty good. I use this only with the really rough ones that would otherwise be headed for the trash, the rest I leave as they are.


I’m with you. Vinegar and Lemon Juice are nothing more than a weak acid so why not go with a strong acid?

The action of White Vinegar can be accellerated quite a bit with the addition of a dash of plain old table salt. I sometimes use that if I’m working with an especially valuable cartridge, like a wildcat, and I don’t want the speed to get out of hand.

Ace Hardware still sells Muriatic in gallon jugs which can be used for other things too. When AZ had the great forest fire in 2002 our house got slurried. It washed off most everything with plain old water, except for the concrete walk and driveway. I used muriatic on it. Took it right off.


I have been happy with the results using regular white vinegar. Only a few hours and the corrosion is totally gone. My first foray into the realm of really old and cruddy brass cartridges cases and I am surprised at the results! I had a bad experience with muriatic acid as a kid, but will keep that as a “plan B” for the future…


Guy and Ray probably are old hands with muratic acid but be careful where you store it. I placed some on a metal storage shelf in my shop and left it unattended for several months. It leached thru the bottle and attacked the metal like heat attacks butter! I store it outside now on a wooden shelf.

Have you ever had to remove solidified black powder… rock hard!(inside cartridge) Will the acid break that up? Could it be bored out without risk of ignition?


I also store my Muriatic outside. I keep just a small bottle in the garage.

One other thing about Muriatic - the fumes will rust any steel, quickly. So even if you store it in a bottle, tightly capped, you’ll often find your tools, that are stored nearby, with a nice coat of fine rust.

For black powder, I use the old shooters method. Soak in hot soapy water.


Vinegar. Straight up. Acid is too scary and sometimes, if not well diluted, is really really good about making metal things disappear. Sometimes valuable metal things. Like coins. Somebody told me that.

Hey Ray

Just read where Paul Harvey, the radio guy, died. Lived in AZ. Maybe you knew him.

Paul Harvy died!!! Wow…I used to listen to him all the time.

And now the rest of the story


Guy and Ray are a couple of the oldest hands on the forum at about anything we do. Old, old hands. Really old!

I also agree with keeping the bottle of acid outside - my bottle is stored in a 5 gallon plastic bucket in an open shed. It is sold at the pool supply store in gallon bottles - it would be convenient if it came in smaller containers. I have had my bottle for about 15 years and still have a quart or so left.

If you keep an eye on the cartridges as the acid is doing its work, you don’t have a problem with anything getting eaten up. I have on rare occassion allowed something to distract my attention (happens sometimes with us older folk) and left a cartridge in longer than necessary, but I’ve never had anything get seriously damaged. This past week I cleaned up a handful of 7.65 Argentine tracers, and was surprised to find that what remained of the red paint on the bullet tips and primers was not affected by the acid.