There is an old adage that says that if you want something done right you better do it yourself. This is the attitude that many gun enthusiasts take as they prefer to make their own ammunition for when they head out to the range, go hunting, or get involved in some other kind of endeavor.
Of course, one of the lessons that I learned is that you are only going to be as good at creating your own ammunition if the equipment that you have is top-notch. You want products and tools that are going to make sure that the reloading process gives you accurate ammunition and an efficient process that helps you to get the kind of cartridges you need, and this is why you want to make sure that you get a quality brass tumbler to help in the reloading process.
Brass Tumbler Buyer’s Guide : How to Make the Right Choice?
If you are kind of new to the world of creating your own ammunition, then you may not really be aware of the advantages of a brass tumbler. This is a product that cleans the brass which helps you to be able to create better cartridges that fire more accurately. While there are different ways for you to clean your shells, using these tumblers is one that is an economic choice, as well as one of the safest and easiest ways to perform the task. It removes most, if not all chemical cleaners, and this is why so many prefer the tumbler.
Of course, not every brass tumbler is the same, so you want to make sure you are choosing one that does the job and does it in a way that works within your budget and to your level of standards. This is why having an idea of what are factors you want to consider when choosing your tumbler are important. They include:
Type of tumbler
The two most common types of tumblers are vibrating in Rotary. The Rotary tumblers are generally a bit more expensive than the vibrating once, but they allow you to use both wet and dry media if you so choose. Vibrating, on the other hand, gives you only the dry option.
This is a big factor to consider. While most tumblers use primarily metals, such as steel or aluminum, for most of the tumbler, there are those using a durable plastic. While that can be just as effective, you should be aware that not all plastics are equal.
Capacity is an important consideration as well. You will find that most standard tumblers can handle up to 500 cases at one time, but some will take as many as 1000.
Types of Cases
Not every tumbler can handle every kind of case. Make sure that the tumbler you are purchasing is designed for use with the kinds of cases that you use.
This can be an expensive purchase, so you want to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. Getting a durable tumbler is extremely important because you don’t want to be purchasing a new one every six months or year.
6 Best Brass Tumblers on The Market!
With this in mind I wanted to now share with you what I have discovered during this review. Understand that I have tried every one of these products. I even own some of them. I am giving you the information that I have acquired based upon my own usage as well as what I have learned in discussions with other gun enthusiasts and in reviews I have read.
|#1 Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ 110V Case Tumbler Kit||9MM|
|#2 Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler (115-Volt)||9MM|
|#3 Dillon CV-750 Case Cleaner||.45 ACP|
|#4 Chicago Pneumatics 18 Lbs. Vibratory Tumbler Bowl||.45 ACP|
|#5 Lyman Pro Magnum Tumbler (115-Volt)||9MM|
|#6 Hornady 050202 M-1 Case Tumbler, 110V||9MM|
Before I Continue…
#1 Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ 110V Case Tumbler Kit
- Easy to use and you can use it right out of the box
- Large capacity allows you to clean a large number of cartridges at once
- Extremely effective in how it works
- Durable and built to last
- Fully motorized and has become one of the most popular tumbler choices
- You can only use dry media
- Extremely loud because of vibration and number of cartridges it can clean at one time
It comes with an on-off switch that is mounted on the cord, it takes up a small amount of space, and has a large amount of capacity, allowing you to hold up to 600 9 mm brass cartridges or up to 350 .223 brass rounds.
This is a vibrating tumbler, where the brass is mixed with the media causing the shells to rub against the cleaning media not only cleaning the cartridges but polishing them at the same time. Only a small amount of media is needed for this to work.
Keep in mind that this is a high capacity brass tumbler. For those who are only looking to prepare a small number of cases at one time, this may not be the ideal choice for you. However, you will get maximum effectiveness by using this even with larger loads.
You should also be aware that because this is a high capacity tumbler and a vibrating option, it is going to be noisy. The more cases you have in the latter it will be.
Its price makes this a fantastic option, and is extremely easy to use. It’s a reliable tumbler that’s built to be durable and long-lasting. It truly is a product you will be glad you purchased.
#2 Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler (115-Volt)
- Does not produce a lot of noise
- Cleans quickly and effectively
- Comes with a built-in sifter, ensuring you don’t have to buy one
- Can handle large loads up to 350 cases or 2 pounds
- Only offers the option for dry media
- Would have been better if the lid was transparent so you can monitor the process
What I found during my evaluation is that many tumblers that were around the same price as this one did not, with the sifter, making this a cut above those options. I did not have to buy one or to try to pick out each brass piece by piece.
While this is a 115 V, they also have a 220 V for those who may have a workshop where they have set up their tumbler. The capacity is up to 350 cases per cycle, which is large enough to be able to handle a big load without causing a large amount of noise.
Amazingly, this is a vibrating tumbler but does not produce a huge amount of noise. I loved that aspect of it and found it to be one of its better qualities simply because I could use this at almost any point during the day and not disturb neighbors or family.
This is a heavy duty tumbler which can hold up to 2 pounds of media. It also cleans efficiently and quickly and it is built to promote better airflow, which allows you to use it for longer periods of time.
#3 Dillon CV-750 Case Cleaner
- Large capacity case cleaner that can handle several different kinds rounds
- Makes a low amount of noise
- Exceptional quality product built the last
- Brand name you can rely on
- Perfect for storage in any location
- Would have been better if a transparent lid was included
- Was surprised by the fact that there are a small number of reviews related to this product available online
- Restrictive one year warranty
Despite being a large capacity tumbler, the noise level is extremely low, you might even describe it as quiet. It does a remarkable job of cleaning the brass and is about as loud as your dishwasher sounds.
Dillon makes exceptional quality products, and this is one example. It is built with durable materials that not only help but to be able to handle the capacity, but provide great durability. It really does provide a lot of power despite the fact that it is so compact. That is one thing that I found quite impressive about it.
While only able to use dry media, that is pretty standard in vibratory case cleaners. I also really like the fact that he was able to handle many different kinds of cases, making it an ideal choice for a person who is handy with several different kinds of firearms.
#4 Chicago Pneumatics 18 Lbs. Vibratory Tumbler Bowl
- Made of durable materials that are meant to last
- One of the top tumblers in terms of capacity
- Can handle a variety of materials
- Built to perform tasks quickly and efficiently, faster than most
- This is a rather large tumbler, weighing over 26 pounds with a height of over 18 inches
- Can be extremely loud operate
This is an extremely durable tumbler, which has a great deal of finesse to it as well. I was surprised that I not only could use it to clean brass cartridges, but it also worked effectively on rocks, and I was able to deburr and polish my wife’s brass jewelry in the tumbler. It was pretty remarkable that way.
It contains an 18gauge steel motor housing area, plus a polyurethene drum and lid assuring you that you were going to get a durable product. The base has rubber feet mounted that gives you a great deal of stability and you were able to set the tumbler settings for either fine, medium, or coarse. That was truly a nice touch.
If there was one thing that I found that I was a bit dissatisfied with, it was the actual height of this product. It is slightly over 18 inches, which makes storage a little more complicated. However, that was a small price to pay for such an outstanding product.
#5 Lyman Pro Magnum Tumbler (115-Volt)
- Large capacity tumbler that can handle just about any load
- Heavy duty motor that comes with an advanced drive system that makes cleaning quick and easy, while also providing a long-lasting tumbler
- Great design that helps to reduce noise
- Can be used for long periods of time without need of rest
- Some have reported that the motor is not as long-lasting as the company states
- The on-off button is fairly small
- Airflow system needs some improvement
The tumbler is quiet, making noise that isn’t much more than what you would expect from your standard dryer. Part of that is due to the design, which make sure that weight shifts in such a way during vibration that the overall vibration is dispersed throughout the tumbler.
I liked the fact that the lid came with a wingnut on top that help to secure the lid in place. I not only found that this helped in the process of cleaning, but it helped to reduce vibration as well. That was a pretty impressive little touch that was likely needed because of how large the capacity is.
While I really like this tumbler overall, I found that the way that it was designed was not ideal for airflow. In fact, a couple of friends had even advised me to drill holes underneath to allow air to more properly flow so that it did not overheat. That worked perfectly, but it shouldn’t have been necessary for me to do that.
#6 Hornady 050202 M-1 Case Tumbler, 110V
- Designed to be used for long periods of time
- The media sifter is included as part of your purchase
- Comes with a brand name you can depend upon
- Can handle large capacities
- Easy to use even for beginners
- The dimensions of the container were smaller than images would portray
- You may find that you need to clean the bowl after each use as dust can build up
This is a bigger size tumbler, but is extremely easy to use. Even for those who don’t have much experience in creating their own ammunition, you will find that in just a few minutes of using the product that you will have the knack on how to use it.
It provides a quality capacity, as you can get up to 400 of the .38 cases in at a time. Thanks to the cyclonic action of the tumbler, you can be sure that each case will be cleaned consistently each and every time with each load.
The design was created to make it so you can quickly change batches and it comes with a media sifter, which was a nice touch. Because you are able to clean your cases quickly and are able to quickly change batches, this is one of the most outstanding products that you can purchase.
It uses a 110 V delivery system so you get constant speed with each batch. This makes the process a lot smoother. Plus, the components of this tumbler are built to handle the vibration of the motor and to provide for longevity. Truly a fantastic model that can handle the wear and tear of continual use.
What is the Best Media for Cleaning Brass?
To clean your brass, there are really three different kinds of media that you can use: corncob, walnut shell, and stainless steel pins.
The corncob media can be quite effective, but it is not designed for cases that are heavily tarnished. While it can be used in both vibratory and rotary tumblers, the media can only be used on slightly used cases.
Walnut Shell Media.
If you have brass that has not been clean for some time or that is severely tarnished, your best option may be the walnut shell media. This is a much more invasive form of media than what you would find with the corncob, and this is why it is perfect for those brass casings that are heavily tarnished. This works in both types of tumblers.
Stainless Steel Pins.
The stainless steel pins can only be used in the Rotary tumbler. This is the most effective type of media for polishing brass, but only if you are using this specific type of tumbler. It does the very best job of cleaning inside the case and primer pockets and will provide a great cleaning and polishing of your cartridges, especially when a small amount of dish detergent or cleaning product is that it.
If you are using a Rotary tumbler, you are likely to find that the stainless steel pins are your best option. However, if you have some heavy duty tarnishing on your cases and you are using the vibratory option, then take a look at the walnut shell media. It’s really all about how much cleaning your cases need in the kind of tumbler you have.
What is the Best Way to Clean Brass Shells?
I have discussed two different types of tumblers during this review, and you may be wondering which one is the best? You want to make sure that you have clean your brass properly, but you also want to be able to use a tumbler that will do the best job for you. So which is the one that you should use personally?
Using the Vibrating Tumbler
The vibrating tumbler allows users to be able to process automatically such things as cleaning, de-scaling, debugging, and polishing. This is the newest method for cleaning brass, and requires that you use either the corncob media or the walnut shell to do the cleaning.
While there are some advantages to using this form of tumbler, the primary one of them is cost. The vibrating tumbler and the media that are permissible to use within the tumbler cost a small fraction in comparison to what you would pay for the rotary type. Plus, it is the most effective at removing grit and dirt, which is one of the reasons why it is quite popular with people who are avid outdoorsman.
How this product works is quite simple. As the machine vibrates, the friction causes the media to rub against the casing, not only removing tarnish, grit, dirt, and other materials on the brass, but buffing the casings at the same time. Many find that this method of cleaning is just as good as the Rotary options, and so it makes sense to them to save money and go with something that works just as effectively.
Using the Rotary Tumbler
The Rotary tumbler is usually used with the stainless steel media, but that is not required. You just get the best results by using this form of media. You should be aware, however, that the use of this media is more expensive as it is in general to purchase a Rotary tumbler.
Despite this, the truth is that the Rotary tumbler provides a great many benefits that make it a priority for those who are looking to clean their cases as thoroughly as possible.
How this works is simple. As the machine turns, the barrel turns with it which causes the casings inside the barrel to tumble inside where they are cleaned by the steel pins. To get the best possible results, you can even include liquids within the tumbler, anything from water to dishwashing detergent, which will help to remove dirt and debris. Because of the design of this tumbler, the liquids do not leak out and you get a fantastic cleaning each and every time.
Be aware that you are not locked into using the stainless steel option. You can use either the corncob or walnut shell medias and still get a great result. You are discouraged from using forms of wet media during this type of cleaning, as they can damage the corncob or walnut shells.
Most Frequently Asked Questions
- It is common for people I know to ask me questions related to reloading equipment. They know what a not I am about this kind of equipment, and so they will frequently ask me questions. Here are a few of the most common questions that I have received related to tumblers.
How Long Do You Need to Tumble Your Brass?
This is one of those kinds of questions that someone trying to be witty would say “until they are clean.” The reality is that it takes about four or five hours to get them to look like brand-new. The more cases that you have inside the tumbler, the longer the duration of time will be.
What you will likely find is that after 10 or 15 uses with your tumbler you will have a clear idea of exactly how long it takes to be able to get your cartridges to look like new.
How to Make Brass Shine Like New?
Amazingly enough, you may be surprised to learn that it is the dry tumbling that actually gets your brass to shine like new. This is due to a combination of factors, which start with the fact that soap or other residue does not build up on the cartridges during the cleaning process. Because you are getting a proper cleaning and polishing at the same time you are going to find that your cases look just like new.
If you are really wanting to make sure that your brass shines like new, the amount of time that you leave the cases inside the tumbler also matter. It will usually take somewhere between four or five hours to get the best look, but you may need longer. You may also want to include some car wax inside your Rotary tumbler to get a really good look from your cartridges.
Dry Tumbling or Wet Tumbling – Which One Should I Choose?
This is totally dependent upon the kind of tumbler you are using. If you are choosing to use a vibrating tumbler, then dry tumbling is your only option. In fact, you are likely to find that any warranty that is provided will automatically be made void if you use wet media with a vibrating tumbler.
In using the Rotary tumbler, wet tumbling is quite possibly the best option. This is especially true if you find that the rounds that need to be cleaned have been in an area where they have been stuck in the dirt or mud. These kinds of materials can be hard to clean, even with the steel pins, so a wet media will really help to remove any dirt and debris that has built up within the case.
As with any other product you buy, make sure that you take care of your equipment. Store your tumbler in a place where it will not get damaged or be subject to high humidity. Clean it regularly, and provide the proper maintenance. By doing this your tumbler will last longer and you will get the most benefit out of it.
This should give you a real clear idea of what to look for in your tumbler, how to use it properly, and what would be the best option for you. There are other factors that are important in making your choice, such as price and how many cases you expect to clean each year, but this should give you a good head start. So enjoy!