Cleaning ammo

I’ve always been picky about ammo used for training, however after Covid and huge price changes I started lower quality expectations.

Recently I’ve bought factory ammo (I used daily deal, hard to be refused) which I’ve never used before.
During range time I noticed that one of my handguns started jamming almost on every other round. Sometimes it was “out of battery”, sometimes “failure to feed”, sometimes “I have no f@#$% clue what just has happened failure”.

First thing I found were my dirty hands after I load those rounds into magazines. Once I examined the ammo it didn’t shine as all other brands I had been using so far.

I decided to spend some time and clean each of remaining 950 rounds… :rofl: :neutral_face: :grimacing: :flushed:

Result was great. Better look, better feel and better feeding… meaning no more malfunctions.

This is what I used:

Towel after cleaning few rounds

Before (left) and after (right)

My question to ammo gurus → any idea why the ammo was dirty outside and if my procedure was ok? Perhaps I should use different chemicals? I’ve been using Acetone to clean firearms before painting and mounting accessories and thought it would work in this case as well.


That’s some dirty ammo for sure. I question the use of acetone though. I realize that you were probably careful not to saturate the rounds and that this is hopefully an isolated case.

I’m thinking a tumbler with maybe walnut shells would be less tedious.


I wouldn’t ever use anything but a dry cloth/rag becasue I’d worry about damaging the primer. Also, I don’t care if it’s dirty


I don’t have a problem with it if you don’t. I am not A guru, but I do reload. I have never used Cleniang ammo.:rofl:
I wouldn’t use anything but a rag on self-defense ammo.


Ah yes ammo maint. yep periodically here also.


I used towel soaked in the acetone and cleaned each round in my hands.


In my case, dry cloth didn’t work, I had to use anything that cleans dirt.
Acetone was my first choice and worked great… however I’m not sure it that was a proper procedure.
I don’t care if ammo is dirty or not…as long as there’s no malfunction caused by it.


Unless the gunk on your ammo is sticky, I’m skeptical that the tolerances in an ordinary 9mm handgun are so tight that dirty ammo would cause a malfunction.

Try this. Drop your dirty ammo into a case gauge and see whether it drops in and out freely. Case gauges are a pretty cheap way to check ammo sizing if you believe you have out-of-spec ammo.

This is a fancy-multicaliber gauge for handguns, but single caliber gauges are also available.

Lyman Multi-Cal Handgun Ammo Checker Cartridge Ga 380 ACP, 9mm Luger, (

Any liquids you might use to clean ammo risk seeping around the primer or bullet seal with unknown consequences for the power within the bullet. I’d be inclined to use a tumbler with walnut media for cleaning if (and only if) I determined that the ammo was so dirty it was causing malfunctions.


I think the malfunctioning is because of a dirty magazine not the gun.

Looks like wiping the brass solved the problem.


I use 70% to 91% Rubbing Alcohol for cleaning any metal, cheaper and easier on the skin and lungs and evaporates almost instantly.:slightly_smiling_face:


The moment it started shining I said to my wife:

  • pure gold babe :joy:

It depends and there’s no pattern.
It can be dirty gun, dirty mag, dirty ammo, operator’s error or combination of some or all of them.

In my case the problem was isolated to the ammo.


I use this for any firearm initial cleaning, before first shot.

But for ammo, I was afraid to use it, since the acetone evaporates faster.

I still got another 500 rds of this dirty ammo and will give it a try.


Oh, I was thinking it was the dirt.:sunglasses::disguised_face::rofl::rofl:


I once received a case of .45ACP ammo PMC which looked like it had been sitting in a corner for years. The date and serial number said otherwise. Opened the case and started removing individual boxes, noticed my hands/fingers turning black.

Took the case outside cleaned the outer box then each of the individual boxes and finally, with rubbing alcohol each individual round, 1000 rounds.
On a normal basis all my orders are opened, inspected and placed in MTM plastic cases for storage marked with date and lot number. Just an old habit.

Called the distributor and then the manufacturer in the event that something went wrong with the ammo due to the possibility it was wet and got moldy. Both stated no wetness and if anything went wrong, the specific lot it would be replaced if I returned my case!
I’ve cleaned the ammo inspected every round and tested on the range, no issues!


I’m sorry I wasn’t specific.
Yes, that were dirt’s particles that somehow stuck to the barrel’s surface. :wink:


I have a bunch of Norma 22lr ammo. It’s not dirty but VERY greasy. Need to wash your hands after loading a few magazines. I don’t know if that is common with Norma ammo. Anyone have a similar experience?


I typically wipe down my carry ammunition with a cloth dampened with CLP or Hoppe’s, but range ammo I just shoot straight from the box. I avoid cheap or steel case ammo like the plague though.


I do have ammo that seem to get cruddy over time (to the range & back) etc… I simply wipe them down with a cloth that has a bit of my good old Hoppes solvent. Looks shiney & new in no time. I’m not real comfortable with acetone residue getting in my mags.