For all the gun hobbyists, a brass tumbler is a must! Getting the best brass tumbler can help you save, and keep your cases and reloading equipment clean and looking as good as new. The cases of the bullets are expensive and using a tarnished brass case can be a safety hazard. But what is the best way to clean brass cases?
As the cases are reusable, a brass tumbler comes in handy because it allows the user to clean the cases of the bullets. Multiple bullet cases can be cleaned simultaneously in a brass tumbler. So, the users get to reload ammunition without spending too much.
To help you pick out the best brass tumbler, we have put together a list. But wait for a second! Let’s have a look at the types of brass tumblers.
|Rotary Tumbler||Vibratory Tumbler|
|A rotary tumbler or wet tumbler consists of a barrel that is loaded and then placed on the machine. Once the barrel is placed on the machine, it moves because of the machine and the bullet cases tumble, often with additional media like stainless steel tumbling media and cleaning solution to help create more cleaning friction. Due to this, the bullet cases become clean and all ready to be reloaded.||A vibratory tumbler consists of a large bowl in which the bullet cases are placed, often with a dry tumbling media, something like corn cob media. The machine of the tumbler vibrates and produces vibrations. Friction is produced and due to this, the brass cases end up being cleaned.|
|They are more expensive as compared to vibratory tumbler.||The vibratory tumblers are fairly new in the market.|
|Rotary tumblers use wet or dry media both, however wet media is recommended.||They are cheaper and have a pretty simple design.|
It is now time to have a look at the best brass cleaner for reloading or the best brass tumbler for reloading.
1. Top 8 Best Brass Tumblers
Do you intend to invest in a top-notch vibratory case tumbler? If yes, then the Frankford Arsenal vibratory case is the best vibratory tumbler on our list. It is a reliable tumbler that is made with plastic.
This specific tumbler is designed to ensure fast yet aggressive cleaning. It is capable of extending the life of the brass bullet cases. It comes with an on and off switch, so it can be easily turned on or off according to the need. Also, it gets rid of all the fouling or lube.
You will be surprised to know that it is capable of cleaning about 600 9mm and 350 .223 cases at a time. We highly recommend it for its superb performance and high capacity.
- Quick and easy
- Gets rid of fouling and oxidation
- Functions fast
- It may be slightly noisy
Next up, we have the Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler. It comes with a uniquely designed sifter lid that quickly separates media. And for this reason, the user doesn’t need a separate media sifter.
In one cycle, this tumbler is capable of cleaning up to 350 bullet cases which is also pretty decent. Also, it is capable of holding about two pounds of media.
A lot of the users rave about this tumbler because of its efficient functioning and quick performance. With this tumbler, the users will not only get clean brass bullet cases but they will also get the job done quicker. We highly recommend this economical yet efficient tumbler!
- Decent capacity
- No need of separate sifter
- Less operating noise
- Gets rid of heavy fouling
- The material or dust may come out of the top
Frankford is a pretty popular name in the world of tumblers. So, here we have another tumbler by Frankford but this one is a rotary tumbler, and it is a large brass tumbler. It is capable of running for 3 hours straight and then shuts off automatically as well. The coolest thing about this tumbler is that it is designed to be maintenance free.
Some of the tumblers can be very annoying because of the loud noise. But this one has a dual-layer drum which is why its operation is less noisy as compared to others. It is also a wet tumbler with stainless steel pins included in the kit to get you started right out of the box.
Its versatility, convenience and ease of use make it one of the best brass rotary tumblers. We are sure that you will also like using it.
- Allows visibility during the tumbling process
- No need for replacing belts
- Less noisy
- It may end up leaking if the cap is not screwed tightly
Need a Rotary Tumbler that is affordable? Well then you need to give this Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler a try!
It is capable of cleaning about 300 brass bullet cases. The feature that deserves the most appreciation is the leak-proof cap design. It makes sure that the cleaning process is completely mess free. It also has a clear viewing window with which the users can easily view the cleaning process. Also, the on and off switch makes the overall functioning easy and reliable.
No more mess because of this best-case tumbler for reloading!
- Comes with a rubber seal
- Heavy duty
- Decent capacity
- Affordable price
- For some users, its motor may be less powerful
The Hornady tumbler is known to increase the life of the brass cases. It has the ability to clean and polish a large number of bullet cases in a small period of time. With the use of this tumbler, the users will witness a shine on the polished bullet cases. it even comes with a sifter which separates the brass from media.
As far as the time is concerned, this tumbler gets the job done quickly. However, the running time varies. This is because, not all the cases are in the same exact condition. Some are extremely tarnished while others are slightly less. It comes with a base that is stable and its operation is quiet. It will end up being the best buddy of shooters.
- Large capacity
- Works efficiently
- Comes with a sealed ball-bearing motor
- It may cause some spills
Before we get into the details of the Lyman cyclone rotary tumbler, it is important to highlight that this tumbler is quite expensive as compared to others. Typically, rotary tumblers are more expensive as compared to the vibratory tumblers but this one is more towards the high-end rotary tumbler. That being said, there is good reason for the added expense and this is also our top pick for the best brass rotary tumbler, and overall best brass tumbler. It is also the tumbler I now personally use for my own brass as well.
With the high price, it comes with tremendous features as well. The coolest thing is that it comes with tumbling media and sifter as well, not only one, but two. One to separate the brass and media from the liquid, and then rinse it, then a second tray to separate the media from the brass as well, saving you a huge amount of effort and time. So, you can get started as soon as you receive the package. There is no need to get a sifter or media separately to get started, this actually makes this rotary tumbler, although initially more expensive than the others on the list, lower priced when you realize that you need to buy the media separators, separately for the other tumblers.
Its running time is also pretty good. It works for about 0-3 hours. If you don’t have budget constraints then getting your hands on this rotary tumbler would be a great investment. It is reliable, durable and high performance. It is also a wet tumbler with stainless steel pins included, so nothing stops you from starting right away.
No more wasting bullet cases!
- Less noisy
- Comes with rubber lining
- Increased load capacity
- Easy maintenance
- Some cases might get stuck to the container
All the gun hobbyists who have been looking for a super heavy-duty tumbler should get their hands on this one. It has a superior build quality and is pretty durable because of the thick materials used in the making. The thick rubber lining is present to protect the brass. It is also powder coated on the inside and outside both.
The durable base, high quality ball bearings and powder coating make it one of the most popular choice of the gun hobbyists. Hence, it is highly recommended.
- Thick rubber rollers
- Seamless drive belt
- High-quality materials used in the making
- Its rollers need improvement
At last, we have the Raytech standard vibratory tumbler. It has a plastic bowl which works to hold a capacity of about 4 pounds of metal castings. It is suitable for wet and dry operations both.
The clear acrylic lid makes it easy for you to see the cleaning process and the contents as well. This tumbler is suitable for wet operations and for dry operations as well.
Above all, it has an affordable price as well. If you have been in search of a high-performance yet affordable vibratory tumbler then this Raytech tumbler is one of the best choices.
- High capacity
- Removable acrylic lid
- Threaded nut and stud assembly
- Suitable for wet and dry operations
- Not suitable for steel media
2. Benefits of a Brass Tumbler
|Save Money||One of the major benefits of a brass tumbler is the fact that you get to save a lot of money because you don’t have to buy the brass bullet cases again and again. You can simply clean and reuse.|
|Use already used cases||You can buy already used cases in a cheaper price and then clean them in a tumbler. Also, you can pick them up at different shooting ranges as well. Just cleaning the cases with a tumbler will make them as good as new.|
|Clean ammunition according to your satisfaction||By using a tumbler, you get the opportunity to keep an eye on the entire cleaning process. You have the liberty to stop at any point or continue as long as you want. The best thing is that you clean the ammunition according to your own satisfaction.|
|Customized reloading||Once you have cleaned the cases, the next step is reloading. You can custom reload the cases as well. So, the reloading will be according to your choice and satisfaction.|
2.1 Buying Considerations
Following are the buying considerations that will help you in making a learned and rational decision.
The first buying consideration has to be the brass tumbling performance. The tumbler must be high performance. It should efficiently clean the brass cases from the inside as well. The tarnish and fouling must be removed.
The durability of the tumbler is extremely important. Sometimes, the tumblers are made with low quality plastic and they may not be able to withstand the movement of the brass cases.
So, it is extremely important that the tumbler must be made with high-quality materials so that it can last for a long period of time.
Some tumblers have a large capacity and some have a small capacity. Some can hold around 350 bullet cases while others can hold even more. Usually, the greater the capacity, the better it is because more bullet cases will be cleaned at one time.
However, capacity is a personal preference. Try to get your hands on the highest capacity so that more cases can be cleaned.
2.1.4 Run Time
Then comes the run time. The run time of different tumblers varies. Some run for up to 3 hours. However, different bullet cases may need a different run time. This is because the tarnish intensity may be different in different cases. Hence, the run time may vary.
If the tumbler is not sealed properly, it will end up leaking. Leakages can create a lot of mess. So, it is extremely important to get your hands-on tumblers that can avoid leakages. Also, there are some tumblers that have sifters attached, they can end up being messy as well.
Lastly, you need to consider accessories or extras that may come with the tumbler. Some of the tumblers come with a sifter so that the cases and media can be easily separated. This also makes sure that you get started cleaning cases without having to invest in a separate sifter.
Secondly, there are a few that have media in the package as well. So, you can get started right out of the box. You can pick the most suitable option according to your need.
3. The Best Reloading Brass Cleaning Method
There are certain aspects of rifle shooting that are as crucial as perfecting your aim and shooting it right. Maintenance of your shooting gear is one of that. Reloading is a significant practice in shooting and actually, a very large percentage of shooters abide by that.
For the newbies here, reloading refers to the process of making cartridges manually, where everything is assembled by hand. The cases for the cartridge is reloading brass, the primary component of our topic of discussion today. In this article, we are going to talk about the best cleaning method of reloading brass: wet tumbling with stainless steel media; what is it, how is it done, what are the equipment required and why is it better than most other cleaning methods. One thing is for sure, brass tumbling is the best method of cleaning your brass casings after shooting. There is a saying that goes, “you clean your brass for yourself, and not for your brass”, what does this mean? Well, exactly what it says. There is no advantage to clean brass cases compared to dirty brass cases for precision shooting, it merely looks good for yourself, keeps your hands and reloading equipment clean, and once loaded, looks good and keeps you rifle action cleaner.
3.1 Cleaning your brass
The first and foremost thing to do after firing your bullets is cleaning the cartridges or the brass bullet casing. Post-firing there is carbon residue that is left on the case, near the neck and shoulder. If the residue is slightly heavy and resistant, try to change your powder. A light powder charge can lead to improper sealing which causes a heavy residue on the case.
Cleaning your cases is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is essential to increase the life of their dies as debris’ piling up can reduce that. This debris can get inside your case and make a mess of your load by contaminating it. Moreover, your brass is susceptible to scratches. And finally, no one will like to put a dirty case in a cleaned chamber right?
Cleaning and reloading is a much more cost effective option than buying new bullets. To pursue the hobby of shooting, buying new bullets is a huge expenditure and reloading helps with that. Proper cleaning and assembly of a cartridge using reloading brass not just saves money and gives similar performance as a new bullet, but also allows freedom to customize.
3.2 What is Tumbling
Tumbling is a traditional yet one of the best cleaning methods for a brass bullet casing. They are effective, can clean large number of cases at one time and employ simple procedures. For best results, it is better if you clean the cases soon after firing them. This is because the carbon deposits harden and settle down over time and can get difficult to remove. Tumbling is of two types, dry and wet, with the latter using water along with media.
In tumbling, the media plays a crucial role as it is the substance that removes the carbon deposits. Traditionally, corn cobs and walnut shells were the common choices for media but people have used plastic beads and ceramics too. These methods work really really well in cleaning the outside but the primer pockets remain dirty. Changing your media periodically helps a lot. Corn cobs are slightly less aggressive than walnut shells as a media.
You can put additives to treat the media with that. This reduces the chances of the dusty layer to settle down in the tumbler. An interesting tip to cleaning is to put the brass first with treated media for some time and then with untreated media to clean up the residue. Post-tumbling, if there is any chance of debris remaining on the case, it will possibly be on the neck. Try to clean that by hands.
3.3 Wet Tumbling with Stainless Steel Media
Wet tumbling is a comparatively newer method over traditional tumbling, but is the best way to clean brass cases. As already mentioned, this process is done with water in the tumbler and stainless steel pins as media. It is considered as a better method for the following reasons:
- Cleaning and polishing is done more effectively.
- The overall process is really fast. Time take for wet tumbling can be as less as half of the time taken by traditional tumbling.
- Stainless steel media is durable and indestructible. You can reuse it as many times as you want.
- No dust lining on the tumbler that remains as a residue after cleaning is over.
- Wet tumbling tumblers produce a lot less noise.
The tumbler that is used is a bit different. For traditional tumbling, a vibration tumbler works really well. For wet tumbling, you will need a tumbler with roller shafts and it generally arrives with an electric motor. They have a rubber lining that seals the drum to prevent water spillage and to reduce noise.
3.4 What do you need for wet tumbling?
The requirements for wet tumbling with steel media is pretty basic. The only special equipment that you need is that rotary shaft tumbler like on of the options posted in our comparison list above. It has a large drum where you put the water, brass and the media mixture. There is the rubber lining that seals the drum and prevents the water from spilling out. This tumbler is rated at a weight capacity of 15 lbs.
Other than these, you will need stainless steel pins for media, soap solution and water.
LemiShine does not only help in cleaning better or improving loading performance of the cases. It just adds a sparkling, shiny finish to the cases and slightly softens the water in the drum. The separator helps to remove the brass from the media.
Initially, it is a slightly higher investment than traditional equipment but you will reap great results from that quickly.
3.5 Wet Tumbling Brass Cleaning Equipment
Before you start cleaning, you need to take care of a few things. Firstly ensure, you have everything need. So we will need :
- A tumbler
- stainless steel pins
- brass cases
- liquid Soap
- Detergents like LemiShine (optional)
One important thing to consider the number of cases you put in the drum at once. It depends on the size of the cases. Taking the example of the Thumler’s drum, you can put about 320-340 9mm cases, 150-200 .223 Remington or around 60-70 cases of 300 Winchester Magnum. These numbers are based on the instructions given by Thumler’s which tells to put about 5 lbs of media, 2-2.5 lbs of brass and 1 gallon of water.
It is ideal to keep the ratio of media and brass to around 2:1. Always avoid overloading the tumbler, else there will be excessive wear and tear in it.
3.6 Setting Up The Tumbler and Tumbling Duration
- Take the lid off the drum and remove the gasket.
- Pour the media first followed by the brass.
- Add a gallon of water to the mix.
- Along with that, add 1 tbsp dishwashing soap like Ivory or Dawn. You might add a bit more, if the water is really hard but not more than 2 tbsps.
- Add 1/2 tbsp of LemiShine in the mixture. In case, you do not want your brass shiny and look like new, you may not use it.
- Shut the lid down and start tumbling.
- When you have finished tumbling, open the lid and drain the dirty water down, keeping the brass and media intact.
Tumbling duration greatly depends on how many times have the cases been fired and how long the period was between firing them and tumbling them. The higher is this time, the longer it will take to clean. A few examples of tumbling times:
- Once fired brass: 1.5 hrs with Lemi Shine
- Brass which is fired multiple times: 3 hrs approx. with LemiShine
- Dirty, corroded brass with heavy debris: 4 hrs approx with Lemi Shine.
- Primer pockets are difficult to clean, so around 5 hours for that.
- Really corroded brass might take 2 sessions to be properly clean.
If you do not have LemiShine, double the time you tumble the brass.
3.7 Post-tumbling Process
Immediately after tumbling, rinse the mixture with running water to flush out any residue, soap or minuscule brass particles. After clearing off the soap, rinse once more to remove chemicals, if any. This is flushing.
After you are done flushing and rinsing, you need to separate the cases from the media. A good-quality separator will give results but can be inconsistent too. You can use your hands but that is cumbersome and separators do a good enough job. Once done, put the cases out in the sun to dry on a towel. Never dry it in an oven or through any artificial heating methods. It can soften the brass.
Visually check the flash holes and the case mouths to see, if any pellet is stuck. Pellets in the flash holes can lead to misfiring cartridges or even detonations in the primer.
Drain the tumbler out properly and check for any pellets or residual matter. If that is left over near the gasket, lining or lid, wipe them off.
3.8 Maintenance of the tumbler
- Keep the tumbler lubed with motor oil when not in use. Put lube on the motorshafts and the bushings.
- Always wipe off water, soap or residues after tumbling. Exposure to these can lead to rust on the metal drum.
- Follow the last point even while doing multiple rounds.
- Clean the media occasionally too.
- Never use any media additive on the rubber liner.
- Take the motorshaft out when not in use.
3.9 Lemi Shine for Cleaning Brass
We have mentioned it a few times throughout this article so far, but really to reiterate, Lemi Shine works wonders for cleaning brass, removing the ugly green hue sometimes left after tumbling brass in a wet tumbler, and leaving the brass looking shinier than when it was new. You can also use Lemi Shine ultrasonic brass cleaners.
We created this article so that you all don’t have to waste time researching about the best brass tumblers. We picked out the top 8 best ones. We hope that this article will help you in finding the best brass tumbler, and how to use a wet tumbler to clean your brass cases. These tumblers do not just work for cleaning brass cases for reloading, but general brass restoration, and cleaning brass jewelry too.
We wish you best of luck!
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