The Top 10 Best Brass Tumblers – Reviewed (2019 Edition)
If you do a lot of hunting or target practice and you like to reload your ammunition, a brass tumbler can be one of your best tools. This device will clean and polish your casings, and it will remove any sizing lubrication that has remained behind. A clean casing can help prevent misfires, help your bullets fire straight, and make your reloads look more professional.
If you do not use bullets, a tumbler can be an excellent tool for polishing some types of jewelry, flatware, nuts and bolts, washers, and even rocks. Many plumbing parts use small brass fittings that will clean up very nicely in a brass tumbler.
In this article, we are going to look at ten of the best tumblers available right now. This list includes wet, dry, rotary, vibratory, and even a sonic tumbler to help you make the best choice for your needs and budget.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- 1 Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler 7L
- 2 Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ
- 3 Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler Lite
- 4 Hornady 050202 M-1 Case Tumbler
- 5 Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler
- 6 Lyman Pro Magnum Tumbler
- 7 Hornady 050220 Rotary Brass Tumbler
- 8 Hornady 043320 Lock-N-Load Sonic Cleaner II
- 9 Extreme Tumblers Rebel 17 Ammo Reloading Tumbler
- 10 Tru-square Metal Products Heavy Duty Rotary Tumbler
- 11 What is a Brass Tumbler?
- 12 What is the Best Brass Cleaning Media?
- 13 How Long Does Walnut Media Last?
- 14 How Long Does Corn Cob Media Last?
- 15 Can You Use Stainless Steel Media in a Vibratory Tumbler?
- 16 Can I Clean Coins in a Brass Tumbler?
- 17 How Can You Tell if Something is Real Brass?
- 18 How Can You Tell if Brass is Lacquered?
- 19 Can I Use a Stainless-Steel Cleaner on Brass?
- 20 What is the Best Cleaner for Brass?
The Frankford Arsenal is a professional grade tumbler that uses stainless steel media and a liquid bath to provide you with a cleaner finished product than you can get from dry media tumblers. Small stainless-steel pins can penetrate inside the cases and other hard to reach spots to deliver excellent cleaning without dust, and its 17lb weight will keep the unit from moving around.
A seven-liter capacity can hold and clean up to one thousand shells at once. A maintenance-free drive-train means you will never need to replace any belts, and it also features an onboard timer for set-and-forget operation.
Operation of this unit is nearly silent due to its dual-layer drum that contains a noise dampening rubber lining which works to eliminate noise while it’s running.
The Quick-N-EZ Case Tumbler does what its name says it does, provides you with a fast and inexpensive way to clean your bullet cases without a lot of fuss. You can use walnut or corn cob media to remove any dirt and oxidation from your spent casings before reloading, and it can hold up to six hundred 9mm cases at one time.
The Quick-N-EZ stands less than a foot tall and weighs only 5.6lbs and features an easy to use on-off switch built into the power chord. A transparent lid helps the user monitor the tumbling action of the unique bowl design, which increases agitation for fast and aggressive cleaning.
The Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler Lite is a smaller version of the mighty seven-liter Arsenal Platinum that we already have on this list. You get the same superior wet cleaning using stainless steel pins that you get from the larger model in a smaller package.
This smaller model only holds about six hundred 9mm shells instead of two thousand, but that is still being plenty big enough for most reloading needs. The dimensions of the machine are also quite a bit smaller, but the smaller size is less cumbersome and fits nicely on your workbench.
The Platinum Lite features a very sturdy build with one-button operation and a clear viewing window so you can watch the action happen. A leakproof seal keeps all of the cleaning liquids inside the machine and allows for a mess-free cleanup.
The machine weighs eight pounds and features a traditional grey color scheme that will look good in any shop.
The Hornady 050202 M-1 Case Tumbler is the only model on this list that uses both cyclonic and vibratory action at the same time to clean brass to a brilliant shine quickly and efficiently. The M-1 Case Tumbler is easy to use and features single-button operation. It stands one foot tall and weighs just 5.8lbs.
The M-1 is a dry media tumbler, which means you can use crushed walnut or corn cob for cleaning and polishing. It comes with a media sifter to separate media from the polished brass once the brass is polished, and it features a clear lid so that you can see how clean your brass casings are without stopping the machine.
The M-1 Case Tumbler is easy to put together, and it will hold approximately four hundred Thirty-Eight Special cases per cycle.
The Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler is a professional grade brass tumbler equipped with many of the high-quality features any professional reloader will need. It features a sturdy and durable build that is very stable.
This dry-tumbler features a thermally insulated motor to help keep temperatures down and the unit running. A rubber wingnut will help keep the lid tight and keep it from vibrating loose. Rubber feet will help the machine in place during extended operation.
The Pro 1200 utilizes one of the most powerful motors in its class, and an advanced bowl design allows the media to continually swirl around fully immersed cases to reduce the amount of time needed to polish and clean even when the machine is at full capacity.
The Pro 1200 is capable of holding up to two pounds of media at a time which can clean up to three hundred and fifty cases per cycle. A handy lid sifter makes for quick separation of media and brass once the brass is clean.
If you are a reloader looking for a machine designed for high volume, the Lyman Pro Magnum Tumbler is a great place to start. The Pro Magnum is one of the largest dry-tumblers on this list. It features a two-gallon capacity bowl that is capable of polishing up to one thousand Thirty-Eight Special cases at a time.
The Pro Magnum uses a quiet, heavy-duty motor and an advanced drive train system that will help keep this unit running well into the future.
The Pro Magnum stands one foot tall, weighs eight pounds, and has a firm base to reduce movement during operation. Easy cleanup and one on-off switch mean you don’t have to spend a lot of time hovering over the machine.
The Hornady 050220 Rotary Brass Tumbler is specially designed for cleaning and polishing large amounts of brass casings quickly and efficiently. This pro-grade tumbler features a six-quart rubber lined drum with a quick seal compression lid. The Hornady 050220 is capable of holding five pounds of media and polishing up to five pounds of brass per cycle.
The 050220 is a wet-tumbler that uses stainless steel pins for superior cleaning without the harmful dust particles associated with dry-tumblers. A digital timer allows for up to eight hours of hands-free run time set in half-hour increments.
A powerful fan cooled motor powers the unit and its attractive ergonomic design will look great in any shop.
The Hornady 043320 Lock-N-Load Sonic Cleaner II is the first and only sonic cleaner on our list, and it can do a lot more than just polish brass, it can also clean eyeglasses, jewelry, small handguns, and many other things. The Hornady 043320 is also the only tumbler on this list recommended for cleaning valuable coins.
The Lock-N-Load features a two-liter stainless steel tank that is capable of holding up to three-hundred 223 cases. Instead of using vibration, the Lock-N-Load uses microjet technology and a unique cleaning solution to clean internal and external surfaces. An 80-watt ceramic heater warms the solution for intensified cleaning that is especially helpful for cleaning gun parts. An onboard timer ranges from five to thirty minutes and allows for set-and-forget operation.
This machine weighs a little over eight pounds and features a bright, easy to read digital display.
The Extreme Tumblers Rebel 17 Ammo Reloading Tumbler is a new type of very-heavy-duty tumbler that is specifically designed to use stainless steel media for cleaning and polishing.
Built to last, the Rebel 17 features a thick rubber-lined tumbler drum, heavy-duty ball bearings, and a long-lasting drive belt.
The total capacity of the Extreme Tumbler is 17 pounds, and its powerful three thousand rpm motor cleans brass in no time. The unit is designed for silent operation and features a sturdy base to keep it in place.
The black powder finish looks professional and will prevent scratches and rust for years.
The Tru-square Metal Products Heavy Duty Rotary Tumbler, also known as The “Thumblers Tumbler,” is a professional grade rotary tumbler that features a fifteen-pound maximum capacity steel hexagon barrel.
Capable of polishing more than one hundred and fifty 44 Magnum casings at once, this heavy-duty tumbler uses stainless steel pins and a polishing solution to do the work. It features a tight-fitting lid that will not leak, and a removable rubber liner makes cleanup a breeze.
Polish rocks, brass, and other metals quickly with its powerful fan cooled heavy-duty motor equipped overload protection. A visible drive-belt allows you to see any wear that develops over time, and belt maintenance performed without removing a lot of parts.
The Thumblers Tumbler weighs fifteen pounds empty, and its bright red case with yellow writing is sure to make it stand out in any workshop.
What is a Brass Tumbler?
A brass tumbler is a machine that is used to clean and polish brass and other soft metals. This type of device is most often used to clean spent bullet casings so they can be reloaded and used again, but they can be used to clean other things like jewelry and even rocks.
There are two main types of tumblers, a wet, and a dry. The wet type uses a liquid solution to clean and polish, and it can sometimes incorporate small stainless-steel pins to help deep clean and bring out the shine of your metal. The dry type uses crushed walnuts, or corn cob, to polish the brass slowly.
There are also two styles of tumblers, a rotary and a vibratory. The rotary type spins much like a wheel, and the rolling action gently cleans and polishes. These devices are usually bigger, and more expensive than the vibratory kind, but they are capable of cleaning more brass at once, and they typically do a better job.
The vibratory tumbler uses vibration to shake the brass clean. The shaking motion causes the media to rub and polish the brass in a slow process over time. These devices are usually smaller, less expensive, and much noisier than the rotary type, but they are generally more than good enough for personal use.
What is the Best Brass Cleaning Media?
A wet tumbler using stainless steel pins is the best way to get a deep clean with a shiny finish that will have your brass looking better than brand new. Wet rotary tumblers can use steel pins.
If you cannot use stainless steel pins in your tumbler, the next best cleaner is going to be crushed walnuts. Crushed walnuts can be used in rotary and vibratory tumblers without worry and will give you a clean metal with plenty of shine.
If you have brass that is relatively new and still pretty clean, you can use corn cob to restore it to its original condition. If there is a heavy tarnish on the brass, corn cob is not the right choice.
How Long Does Walnut Media Last?
The lifespan Crushed Walnut will depend on how dirty the brass is, but for the most part, it is proven to last for fifteen to twenty cycles before it needs recharging. Recharge your crushed walnut by adding new polish or small amounts of fresh media.
When the Crushed Walnuts do begin to fail you will notice a large increase in the amount of time it takes to polish a cycle of brass casings.
How Long Does Corn Cob Media Last?
The lifespan of Corn Cob media is much shorter than that of Crushed Walnuts which can be recharged. Corn Cob media is only expected to last for ten to fifteen cycles before it needs to be completely replaced. Dryer sheets are said to extend the life of the corn cob media by collecting dust and dirt, but the result is still a shorter lifespan than crushed walnuts.
Can You Use Stainless Steel Media in a Vibratory Tumbler?
Unfortunately, you will not be able to use stainless steel pins in a vibratory tumbler because there will not be enough action in the bowl for them to do their job. Wet rotary tumblers are the only type meant for stainless steel pins. The best choice for a vibratory tumbler is crushed walnuts.
Can I Clean Coins in a Brass Tumbler?
The only coins you might put in a tumbler are pennies. Brass tumblers can be great for cleaning many types of soft metals, and some will do a beautiful job polishing rocks, but you should never use these devices to clean your valuable coin collection. A brass tumbler will most likely be too abrasive, and the rubbing can cause irreparable damage.
How Can You Tell if Something is Real Brass?
The best way to tell if something is real brass or brass plated is to use an ordinary magnet. Brass is not a magnetic metal, so if the magnet sticks to the material it is a good indicator that the item is brass plated.
How Can You Tell if Brass is Lacquered?
Brass tarnishes very quickly, and any brass that is older than a few years but still has a brilliant shine is likely to be lacquered. Sometimes the lacquer itself can break down over time and leave black spots on the metal, which is another good indicator the brass has been polished.
Can I Use a Stainless-Steel Cleaner on Brass?
If you want to clean brass and you cannot use a brass tumbler you can apply a small amount of linseed oil or mineral oil and rub it with a very soft cloth to help prevent tarnishing.
A Lacquer coating protects many brass objects, and only soap and water can clean these items without doing damage.
What is the Best Cleaner for Brass?
Several brass polishers on the market will do an excellent job cleaning and polishing brass objects, and there are several ways to clean brass with items around your house. You need to be sure that the brass you are cleaning does not have a lacquer coating on it or you could ruin the finish.
If there is no lacquer present, you can try a bit of ketchup and rub it over the surface to bring out the shine. A teaspoon of salt, a half cup of vinegar, and enough flour to make a paste will also make an excellent brass polish, apply it and leave for several minutes before wiping off. Lemon juice and salt on a soft towel are also known to produce satisfying results.