Speeding up aging on a case,can it be done?



I’ve just read the post about cleaning cases and have a question.

Is it possible to go the ‘other’ way?
I have old cases that have been highly polished,is there a way of speeding up the aging process to get some patina back on the case?

All help appreciated.

Kind regards,


I don’t think there is much to do to get a ‘natural looking’ patina back, other than to waiting 50 or 60 years. While you are waiting, you might try talking with BMG.50 and telling him to cut it out. He’s shining them up and you trying to make them dull again, and the rest of us are worrying about the diminishing supply of collectible cartridges left in England.


Maybe just putting it in your pocket and handling it for a few days. I know skin oil darkens brass and copper considerably after a few days of contact.


Go to any antique shop. They will sell or can order or give you the address for products to add patenia to any type of metal. It is done all the time in refinishing antique furniture.



Brass Oxidizer No 2, used by most hobbiests to darken bronze, will work if applied properly.

But why not do what I do? Collect competition cartridges. They are supposed to be shiney.



“COMPETITION” cartridges? You wrote that article on all the various ways to alter a .50BMG cartridge for competition in the JOURNAL some time back. Interesting.


Don’t get me wrong about cleaning cases, i don’t like cleaning them as much as anyone else. All i asked was how to prolong the brass and copper from tarnishing from its new fired state or unfired condition etc, and how to prolong the brass and copper of cases that were in a dog state to a reasonable condition with out resorting to cleaning again. I was expecting a wax coating or silicone spray etc to be used, I know that constant polishing creates wear to the cases in the end and this i want to avoid. I thought the idea of the forum was to pick up on hints and tips, to pick up on ideas to get the best on the up keep of a collection.


I give my rds/cases a wipe of silicone. I spray some silicone onto a cloth then wipe the rds/cases.


I was given a lot of old 310 Cadet or Greener rounds recently, very dirty with some corrosion , and as they are fairly common rounds here, decided to try to clean them to show the don-er as he had no idea what they were as he inherited them along with other cartridges and guns.
Dipped them in a very mild acid [Tarnoff ] rinsed with water , then placed in a tumbler for a couple of hours, then sprayed with WD40
THEY LOOK GREAT, not NEW as they are old rounds, but they certainly do not look polished. Terry.

Live rounds that have been sujected to a tumbler should not be fired
as I beleive there can be pressure change when propellants are treated in this way.


I have recently tried to “restore” some highly polished inert cartridges and came up with this method, I like the results:


  1. Remove lacquer or urethane coatings with lacquer thinner, nail polish remover (acetone) and bronze wool. Do this outside or someplace with really good ventilation.

  2. Tumble in a vibratory cleaner with other brass cases and very little cleaning media. I use .22 rimfire cases that I swept up at the range. About a quart of cases and with a cup walnut media. (Thats about a litre and 250 mL for those of you that speak metric.) It doesn’t take long to texturize the case surface, use your own judgement.

  3. Submerge the case in a container of water and dump in a generous spoonful of “OXY MAGIC”. Yeah the stuff from that info-mercial. I get mine at the grocery store under the Clorox brand name. Let it fiz for a couple of minutes then pull your case out and check it. If the case is tarnished enough, then rinse it off in a bunch of cold water (I recomend a final wash in distilled water) if your case is still to brassy, put it back in the OXY MAGIC until it achieves the proper degree of ugliness.

  4. Let your case dry out in a warm (not hot if the pimer is intact) place for a couple days. Give the interior of the case a nice shot of WD-40 and reassemble the round. I suppose you might also want to anneal the neck on some rounds, but you are on your own there, especially if the primer is still intact, even if it has been oiled.


Annealing, there was an article about annealing cases once in Guns & Ammo, can’t remember how they done it but the cases looked as if they were factory fresh. Don’t have a go at me for doing this to collectible cases but it would be worth ago to have a play with expendable modern rounds just as an experiment.



That’s great information. I use a procedure almost exactly the same as yours except for the OXY-MAGIC. Instead, I boil the cases in water with a generous dose of Cascade dishwasher crystals. I then put them on a towel out in the Arizona sun for an hour or so. (I think the Cascade kills the primer).

I will try the OXY-MAGIC.


Recipes for annealing case mouths can be found on most of the shooting forums. It’s not hard to do. Most competitive shooters do it to restore work hardened case necks to their original softness. But, we DON"T do it with primers in place, even fired ones. And the colors are never the same as on original specimens.



Seems like I read a warning somewhere about live rounds in a tumbler. And regarding tumbled cartridges, I once picked up several hundred .45 Colt Govt (45 S&W Schofield) cartridges at a great price, but on receiving them found that they had been tumbled. They looked brand new, but unfortunately the sharp edges of the flat noses of the bullets had been rounded off. I found that laying a flat piece of metal across the nose and giving it a rap with a hammer restored the flats quite nicely.



You’re correct that tumbling or vibrating loaded ammo that is intended to be fired is a very bad idea. If done for a long enough period it can break down the powder into smaller granules. 4831 can turn into Bullseye. There was a reported accident several years ago where a Ruger 44 Magnum revolver burst, severely injuring the shooter. It was found that he had carried the revolver, loaded, in the glove box of his pickup for a couple of years and most of his driving had been on gravel roads. All of that vibrating had reduced the powder to not much more than dust.

Tumbling lead bullets or soft points will round off all the edges. Vibrating them with any kind of course media, such as ground walnut shells, will leave them pock marked like an automobile that had been caught in a hailstorm.

My above description involved only empty cases. I probably should have specified that.