Revisiting Case Lube Alternatives

Over the years, I’ve talked quite a bit about different case lube products and techniques for both rifle and pistol reloading. Depending on your goals, the cartridge being reloaded, and what you have on-hand, your options will typically be honed down to a few “best options”. But the more you talk with seasoned reloaders, the more options you’ll discover.

About 4 years ago, I asked you all what you use for rifle case lube, and here’s the results so far: (you can take the poll HERE)

Rifle Case Lube Poll Snapshot
Rifle Case Lube Poll Snapshot

A couple years ago I blogged about some case lube products that I’ve used. Yes, I’ve sprayed, rolled, and wiped various types of case lube onto cases, and like to mix things up.

Mainstream case lube products I’ve used – Image copyright 2012 Ultimate Reloader

These products all work well for very specific reloading cartridges and scenarios, but sometimes you can do just as well with “less popular” or repurposed products, like Lemon Pledge (if you don’t mind a fresh lemon scent while reloading 🙂 ).

Another great way to lube cases for rifle loading is the RCBS Lube Die. This product has the advantage of lubing as a part of the progressive reloading or progressive case prep process.

The RCBS Lube Die lubes while you reload – Image copyright 2012 Ultimate Reloader

You can read more about the RCBS lube die HERE.

Since publishing these blog posts and polls, I’ve started using another product for rifle case lube: synthetic motor oil. In particular, I’ve been using this oil to “prime” rifle sizing dies when starting a loading session. This priming combined with fresh spray lube (Dillon DCL recently) has been a good combination for .223/5.56 and .308/7.62x51mm loading sessions. I just pour a bit of synthetic motor oil into the quart jug cap, dip my finger into the cap, and apply about one drop to the outside of the case with my fingers. I then dip the end of a Q-Tip into the oil cap (just a drop applied), and roll the end of the Q-Tip between my fingers. The Q-Tip is then “rolled” inside the case mouth to provide lube for the expander ball. I’m wondering how many 1000’s of applications I could get out of one quart of motor oil!

Do you have some “creative” products that you’ve used for case lube? Please leave a comment!


12 thoughts on “Revisiting Case Lube Alternatives”

  1. Lots of good choices in case lubrication for reloading, but the real annoyance is in wiping the cases off! That is a pain in the neck. I do it before placing my (deprimed) cases in the tumbler. Why? To avoid loading up the tumbler media with lubricant and having to change it often. I tried several methods but prefer Imperial wax.

  2. Any lube on the outside of a case is good and can be wiped away. Lube inside the case neck may be problematic. I know a dry case neck can cause problems when drawing the expander ball back out. I often get a galling feel which I take care of with a dab of mica dry lube. Using any oil could leave enough to affect the top of the powder column. Seems silly but 50 years ago I had ball powder, for reasons unknown, cake and affect ignition. Using Midway and another pump spray for years now, I have lube showing up inside the neck just from over-spray from coating the outside. I try not to get it there but it always shows up if I have to dump powder out of the case and I find it sticking to the inside of the neck.

  3. Don’t think I have anything novel or creative for you. I pretty much use Hornady spray lube from the trigger bottle. On 223 I put a few hundred on a cookie sheet and spray, shake the tray and spray again. I let it “dry” for 15 to 20 minutes and dump them in the case feeder. For rounds like 300 Ultra Mag or 338 Lapua where I have twenty to fifty I stand them up on the tray and spray all around. Some always gets into the neck and keeps the expander ball lubed. I use a carbide ball on 223. If I just have to do 20 or so I will use a felt pad with RCBS case lube and a nylon bore brush to get the case neck lubed a bit. I have Imperial wax but I don’t feel it works as good as other methods–just me. After sizing I put the brass in a bucket for large loads like 223 or 308 and wash them in a bit of dish soap to get the lube off and then tumble them in SS pins and air dry. In forty plus years of loading I have had one stuck case, I missed one in lubing, well really a few, and one stuck. I just can not imagine sitting down with 200, .308 cases and a can of wax. Like most folks, I really like pistol rounds and carbide dies. As a plus, my old cookie sheets have never rusted.

  4. I’ve been using the Frog Lube paste in the little tub as my sizing wax. I just dab my finger in it, just enough to get some in my fingerprints. The heat from my finger is enough to liquefy the paste, and I just drag my finger around the neck and shoulders of the brass as I pick it up from the bucket of cleaned brass. I also have upgraded all my dies to have carbide neck sizing balls, so I don’t have to lube the necks anymore. Those two things allow me to churn out consistent and stuck-free brass for a couple years now. Plus the Frog Lube smells yummy and makes a good hand moisturizer. 🙂

  5. I love Hornady products but was having trouble with One Shot with two occasions of stuck cartridges , then I read on a blog to shake can upside down for one minute before spraying. Spray liberal can’t use too much. Wait up to ten minutes not one like it says on can. Problem solved goes through like butter.

  6. 98% of the time I use RCBS Case Lube-2 because it is aqueus (water) based and it rinses off easily and completely with water. In a hurry? Cover the case ends with your thumb and forefinger and hold each case under a faucet. Also, its lubricity is as good as any and better than most. As an aside, I use smaller felt stamp pads as opposed to the larger pads the reloading people sell. They work just fine and don’t soak up as much lube.

    A carbide expander is the best way to reduce neck stretching without needing any additional lube inside the neck. Yes, they are expensive, but well worth it. You can economize and still get by with having a carbide expander for every caliber, not every cartridge.

    If you want to eliminate neck stretching, remove the expander from your sizing die and add a step using a Lyman M-Die. The M-Die opens the neck from the outside-in (compression), not inside-out (tension). I first started doing this with the 220 Swift cases which are known for neck stretching during re-sizing because of their thick (.015″-.018″) necks. Now, any stretching with my Swift cases can be traced to normal body stretching during firing and re-sizing. I hardly trim the necks at all any more.

  7. Lee Precision case lube….it’s cheap in price and it works…anything that is cheap cost wise and works well always trumps the pricey lubes no matter who places it’s name on the outside of a can/container. Tinkering with a few different home made brews but just in the testing stage at this point.

    Bottle neck pistol cases…my 357 Sig and 300 Corbon? I run the cases into depending on what case of course….the 35 Sig is ran into a 40 S&W carbide sizing die then into a steel 357 Sig die and with the 400 Corbon I run the case into a 45 ACP carbide die then into the steel 400 Corbon sizer lubing for these bottle neck pistol cases…sweet.

  8. One whiskey shot glass ,liquid lanolin,and 99% isopropyl alcohol.

    Two shots of liquid lanolin.
    Ten shots of 99% isopropyl

    Place in a spray bottle ,shake bottle to mix contents——–Ready to use.
    Wash cases in tumbler after use.

  9. Like nick said above. Lanolin is lambs wool oil. 1 bottle Lambs wool, I think it’s 4 or 5 ounces , $5.00 from Amazon. One bottle 100% isopropanol alcohol, must be 100%’ at any veterinarian supply store, $7.00. Combine into full size spray bottle. Shake vigorously before use. Put 100 cases into plastic bin, spray twice, shake around, wait one minute for alcohol to evaporate, start reloading. I have been using the same bottle for 12 years. I have never had a stuck case. I shoot 3 days a week on my own property. I reload more that I want to admit. I am on my same bottle 5 years later. Easily thousands and thousands of rounds reloaded for $12.00. The last time I posted this three years ago when you would time in lambs wool (lanolin) in Amazon it would automatically ad a spray bottle and 100% isopropanol alcohol to be purchased with it. Hee hee! I can’t imagine paying for case lube, total waste of money, buy bullets and powder!

  10. Thank you Nick and Robert B. I was thinking that Dillon and Midway case lubes might just be lanolin and alcohol from the way they feel. Was thinking of trying it, now I’m sure. Was getting close to buying a new bottle of Dillon but not now.

  11. Nothing is better than Lanolin for lubricity. Back in the day when I was doing a lot of reloading I used pure anhydrous lanolin I would get from the druggist. Am just getting back in to it with 223 which I never did before. I’ve tried the anhydrous lanolin and it works great, albeit slow. But here’s what else I’ve tried. Canola oil by itself. Seems to work good. But, this is what I want to throw out there… Fluid-Film. It is a lanolin based lubricant in both spray and can. You can buy it at Oreilly Auto Parts. I don’t have much to test it on, but I think this is really good stuff and I would be interested if you folks would give it a try and tell me what you think.
    Today I also tried Coconut oil on a few 223 cases and it worked very well. I used the pure stuff that’s solid at room temperature I got a huge bucket of it at Costco.

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