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Reloading your supply of ammunition is not only an amazing way to save some cash but it is also a great way to be more involved in this awesome gun hobby.
For reloading, many items are generally required, one of which is a brass tumbler.
Tarnished brass looks unprofessional and is also be a safety hazard.
An amazing way to clean your excessive amount of brass is to use a brass tumbler. A brass tumbler can help you get your work done faster.
A brass tumbler turns the tarnished bullets into clean and professional-looking bullets. They are also safe to use. A cleaner brass will also protect your dies from gathering debris.
Before we get into it, here’s a nice summary table of our best brass tumblers:
7 Best Brass Tumbler Reviews
To get most work done you need to select a tumbler according to your needs.
Below we list down some of the best reloading tumblers on the market that you can pick and use for all your reloading purposes. They’ll clean your spent brass cases so you have the best starting point for your ammo.
1- Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series – Best Rotary Case Tumbler
Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Case Tumbler is a must-have for those who need to have an ideal device for cleaning and polishing the brass for reloading.
Rotary tumbling with stainless steel media in a liquid bath works much faster than as compared to ultrasonic or vibratory tumbling methods.
It comprises of a large volume drum (7-liter capacity) that can hold up to 1000 pieces of .223 brass. This best tumbler for brass also works as a media separator to deliver you a new level of brass cleaning performance.
Few other features that make the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler a good buy are:
- Molded rubber lining to protect brass and lower the noise during operation
- Built-in timer to run the device from 0 to 3 hours, shutting off automatically
- Pins that can easily penetrate inside the cases and into primer pockets to deliver unmatchable cleaning power
Above all this Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series tumbler comes with a sample of Frankford Arsenal Brass Cleaning Solution and 5 lb. of 304 Stainless Steel Media that is enough for accomplishing hundreds of washes. But you’ll want to buy more if you plan on reloading a lot of ammo.
We did find that it’s really helpful to buy some straining caps for your rotary tumbler – like these here – as they help you screen out the liquid and finer materials without losing pins or brass. Caps like these work on many different tumbler brands and are useful because most rotary tumblers don’t have strainers built-in.
2- Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler – Best Vibrating Brass Case Tumbler (Vibratory)
Lyman Pro 1200 Turbo Tumbler (115V) is an entry-level vibratory tumbler that comes loaded with some best high-end features.
With its powerful thermally protected motor, built-in sifter lid, and advanced bowl design this Lyman Pro 1200 Turbo Tumbler can help you to remove oxidation, old lube, and fouling from your brass cases so that you can get them ready for reloading within no time.
And for this reason, this best brass tumbler for the money offers you a perfect balance between capacity, durability, and economy.
Proudly made in the USA some of the key highlights of this affordable vibratory case tumbler are:
- No need for separate media sifter
- Works With Both Corncob And Nutshell Media (we recommend Walnut)
- Holds 2 lbs. of media and can clean up to 350 38spl. cases per cycle
Working:Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler is easy to use and is designed to deliver you the superior most results in a shortest possible cycle time.
You can simply add your favorite Lyman dry media into the machine along with dirty cases. And turn it on.
For getting better results and to remove the heavy fouling you can consider mixing in Lyman’s Turbo Case Cleaner solution into the tumbler.
This Lyman Pro Tumbler can also be used as an individual polishing and drying step for cases that are already cleaned in a rotary wet tumbler or your sonic cleaner machine.
3- Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ – Best Brass Tumbler Starter Kit
The Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler is next in our list that offers you a quick, easy and economical way to clean your dirty brass for reloading purposes.
This Quick-N-EZ Frankford Arsenal Tumbler kit can be used with the Frankford Arsenal walnut and corn cob media to remove all the fouling, lube and oxidation from brass very fast.
This best brass rotary tumbler comes with a huge capacity to hold up to 600 9mm or 350 .223 cases.
Also, the kit includes accessories such as 4 oz. Frankford arsenal brass Brass polish, 3 lb Cleaning Media and a Plastic Bucket that makes cleaning and polishing very convenient for reloading. If you just want the tumbler and not the whole kit, you can check it out here.
M-1 Case Tumbler by Hornady is designed to clean and polish all your cases quickly and efficiently in one round.
The powerful tumbler comes with a sealed ball-bearing motor and is pretty easy to use. It comes with a capacity to hold up to (400) .38 Special cases, (180) 30-06 cases, or other like-sized cases.
It uses Hornady Tumbling Media along with the cyclonic and vibratory action to clean large quantities of dirty brass to a brilliant shine.
Depending on the condition of the soiled cases and the degree of cleanliness you desire to get, you can set the running time.
By using the included sifter you can then easily separate the polished brass from the media.
Hornady 050220 Rotary Brass Tumbler has been designed brilliantly for cleaning and polishing a large number of cartridge cases in a quick and efficient way.
With a media capacity of 5 lbs, steel pin tumbling media and powerful rotary action this can easily clean and polish brass cartridge cases to a brilliant shine.
If you want you can use this best brass case tumbler in conjunction with Hornady One Shot Cartridge Case Solution to get the unmatched shine and cleanliness.
Few additional features that come with this Hornady Rotary Case Tumbler are:
- 6-quart rubber-lined drum
- Quick seal compression lid
- Digital timer and a fan-cooled motor
Lyman 7631550 Cyclone Rotary Tumbler is a great value product that can take brass cleaning and reloading to a whole new level. Its large capacity drum can easily hold up to 1000 pieces of 223 brass.
Its rotary tumbling action combined with the stainless-steel media, Liquid cleaning solution and small stainless pins (that can slip inside cases and primer pockets) gets all your brass cleaned within few minutes.
Few other features that come with this Cyclone Rotary Tumbler include:
- Media sifter and 5lbs of stainless-steel tumbling media
- Built-in timer (from 0 to 3 hours) that shuts off automatically
- Rubber lining to protect brass and reducing the noise during the operation
Extreme Tumblers Rebel 17 is an all-new revolutionary tumbler that is designed specifically to work with stainless steel media.
With a capacity of 17 lbs (2-4lbs of brass), this heavy-duty unit is highly durable and it comes with a 5-year warranty on barrel and liner, 3 years on unit, and 1-year warranty on the motor.
Comparable to the Thumler’s Tumbler it comes with some added features and benefits that are a must for cleaning brass and reloading.
Few other Key Features included in this best brass tumbler for reloading unit are:
- High strength powder coating including inside the drum
- Seam welded, durable base with dual motor support brackets
- Easy on/off nylon locking drum lid knobs and longer-lasting seamless drive belt
Primary Types of Brass Tumblers
All DIY brass tumblers have their own weaknesses as well as strong suits. The choice of tumbler depends on the re-loader and his needs.
Numerous types of brass tumblers are available in the market these days.
However, they are broadly categorized into two kinds – rotary tumblers and vibratory tumblers (sometimes called vibrating tumblers). Both of them are pretty efficient at cleaning brass.
1- Rotary Tumbler
This type of tumbler is in use for over fifty years. These are generally more expensive than the vibratory tumblers. They have a barrel and a type of roller at the bottom.
Rotary tumbles like Frankford Arsenal actually work as rollers. And they use small stainless steel pins to clean the brass (when “wet tumbling”). They can also be used with either dry or wet media.
Basically, you load the barrel and then position it on the machine. The machine then turns on the barrel. Then the machine tumbles the cases to clean them of any tarnish or dirt.
The best media to be used with this type of barrels are walnut media or corn cob media. If the tumbler is rated for wet tumbling then stainless steel pins are used.
As the rollers spin, they throw the cases towards the side and lets gravity do its work. The cases are then dumped back to the bottom with the help of gravity.
Rotary tumbles are less time consuming than the vibratory ones. Thus limits the chaffing of the brass against one another.
However, it is important to note that the agents must be selected with the utmost attention to avoid abrasive behavior.
2- Vibratory Tumbler
Vibratory tumbler like Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler is the most popular tumbler in the market today. It is cheaper than the rotary tumbler. And is also the most well-known tumbler for brass cleaning.
The working of this tumbler is very straight forward. And the design is also fairly simple.
The tumbler has a larger bowl and it holds the bullets that need cleaning.
Vibrations are produced by the machine and it causes friction. The bullets rub against each other due to friction.
Vibrations also move the bullets around to ensure cleaning. Strain out the bullets after this and you are good to go. This process cleans the bullets thoroughly.
Typically they use corn or a rough small object usually corns as the cleaning medium.
This tumbler can clean a huge amount of bullets in one cycle. This tumbler does have some disadvantages as well. They take a long time to clean the cases thus are very time-consuming.
Another disadvantage is that the bullets rub against each other causing the brass to harden.
The major disadvantage of this tumbler is that it does not clean inside the case. Also, the media can be stuck inside the primer pockets.
This tumbler is comparatively new and has been in use for almost two decades.
Best Media for Tumbling Brass
There are various types of tumbler media used for cleaning. They range from rice to small stainless material. Here we will discuss three main types of media.
All these have their own strong and weak points.
Two main things to consider when choosing a media are; the extent to which the bullets need cleaning and the type of tumbler you are using.
1- Walnut media
This is mainly used for brass that has fired many times and needs a thorough cleaning.
Also if your brass is heavily tarnished after not being in use for a very long time. You should consider using crushed walnut shells.
Walnut media has higher efficiency but it does not the brass brand new shine or polish. The other nice thing is that you can buy walnut media by the bucket load.
However many people recommend using a combination of media to get their brass looking new and shiny. First, they use walnut media. And then whip them in a cycle of corn cob media.
Polishing agents can also be used to increase shine. But if you don’t care about the shine too much and are okay with using dirty looking ammunition then you are fine with walnut shells.
Walnut shells work best with a vibratory tumbler.
2- Corn cob media
If your brass is not extremely tarnished then corn cob is your best friend. It can be used with either of the two tumblers.
It is quite aggressive and gives your bullets a nice shine. Different polishing materials can be used with this media to increase shine.
This is mainly meant for once or twice fired brass which is lightly tarnished.
If you want your brass to shine very brightly then it is recommended to use your own polishing agent or treated corncob.
3- Stainless steel media
Stainless steel pins are among the best brass tumbling media alternatives that can be used as a wet media. They do an exceptional job of cleaning your brass. They clean the cases from inside and out. However, it can only be used with a rotary tumbler.
This is the most effective media and gives the best professional-looking outcome. Using a little dish soap will help clean the media even more. And they will turn out even more fresh.
However, this media is a little hard to use. Separating the media and the brass is a little time-consuming. They can also be stuck in the primer pockets.
Another thing to keep in mind is the drying time. When using wet media it is extremely important to give the brass adequate drying time.
The drying time can vary from twelve to twenty-four hours. Usually, it is recommended to let them dry for at least twenty-four hours. This ensures complete drying.
Stainless steel pins are also more expensive than either of the two dry media.
Why Use a Tumbler for Reloading?
Before tumblers were invented people used to clean their bullet cases by hand.
To do this a mixture of citric acid & water or soap & water was used. Some people even used detergent or vinegar.
Some people used a rag and cleaned each case one by one. It was time-consuming. Not to mention daunting and a very slow process.
And even after all this the results were not very satisfactory and often sloppy.
Using a tumbler can save you from all this. And also generate a better looking and professional case for reusing.
A re-loader can benefit from the tumbler in the following ways:
- Using a tumbler is one of the biggest savings that you can do as a re-loader.
- The case of the bullet is generally one of the most expensive parts of the bullet. And it is the only part that can be reused. Using a tumbler can help you save some serious cash by reusing the casing.
- You can also buy fired cartridges. Or pick up the brass ones lying at different shooting ranges. Whip them up in the tumbler and you’re good to go.
- Cleaning your bullets is an extremely daunting task and by the use of tumbler, it is as easy as one two three.
- Using a tumbler also helps you clean your ammunition to your satisfaction. It makes them more professional looking.
Besides above, it also helps you save you a massive amount of time. It is true that it gets the work done in a considerably less amount of time.
And at the same time producing a more professional-looking outcome.
How to Make A DIY Homemade Brass Tumbler?
Since brass tumbler is one of the most important tools for reloaders, it is pretty awesome if you can make one at home using DIY methods and equipment.
Building a homebuilt brass tumbler not only proves to be cost-efficient but also makes you feel satisfied and proud of owning one.
If you are really passionate about making one, check the video tutorials below to know the exact steps.
What to Consider While Choosing a Brass Tumbler?
There are various types of tumblers available in the market. And that makes it easy to find the perfect match for your needs. Some important points to keep in mind while choosing a tumbler are:
The quality matters in everything that you purchase. The higher the price of the tumbler the better quality tumbler it would be. But sometimes the price is high and the quality is low.
Ensure that all the parts are working and are perfect to get the job done. Double-check the gears and the bolts. Check if they are screwed properly.
They should remain firm after a long duration of cleaning. Also, check that the sped of the cleaning wheels is constant throughout.
You need durability to ensure its working in the long run. Tumblers are usually made of steel or plastic. It takes no brainer that the steel one is more durable.
Steel tumbler is however more expensive than the plastic ones.
While choosing a tumble it is important to keep all these factors in mind. And make an informed decision about keeping your needs in mind.
Durability and size are the most important and can really make an impact on your decision.
☑ The type of cases you’re going to clean:
Generally, all the tumblers can hold almost all types of cases.
But there are certain custom tumblers for a certain type of case. Communicate about your case size with the seller before making the plunge.
It is recommended to buy the tumbler that can hold the largest size of the case. So that if you are working with different sizes than it can be helpful.
☑ Amount of shells that the tumbler can hold:
It is most important to check the storage of the tumbler.
To ensure faster cleaning larger tumblers are recommended. Most models can hold five hundred to a thousand shells.
However the price of the tumbler increase with the number of shells. Keep all these factors in mind when choosing the tumbler.
What is wet tumbling?
Wet tumbling with stainless steel media basically uses an actual tumbler (similar to one designed for polishing rocks).
This tumbler usually consists of a watertight drum, frame that comes with rollers, and a motor for rotating the drum. Drum when placed on the rollers get rotated via motor at around 40-60 RPM to get the brass cases cleansed.
How long do you leave brass in a tumbler?
While cleaning brass cartridge cases in a tumbler make sure that you do not soak and tumble them for too long. While its not damaging to the non-plated brass, it can negatively affect the nickle plated brass and media if you tumble for long.
Can you use stainless steel pins in a vibratory tumbler?
If you are using a vibratory type cleaner, make sure that you do not use stainless steel media. Use the stainless-steel pins only in a rotary tumbler where you need to run it through a cleaning solution.
In the end, if you still have a question in mind about who makes the best brass tumbler, I can clearly say that go and pick the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series.
It offers some of the best features for the money you spend.
However, since it is not the cheapest option out there, you can go with Lyman Pro Tumbler if you have a slightly low budget.
No doubt, this can be really a good option for beginners who still want to try hands-on some basic stuff.