If you are a passionate gun lover who spends inordinate amounts of time at the range, then reloading your cartridges is something that you either already do or have thought about doing.
Well, as you may or may not know, it is essential to ensure your cases are clean using a quality brass tumbler. Only then should you begin priming with an effective priming tool and continue the handloading process.
In this article, we’ll review some of the best brass tumblers available on the market today so you can make an informed decision about which is most suitable for your needs.
What is a Brass Tumbler?
Case cleaning is a fundamental part of handloading/reloading where dirt, grime, and oxidation are cleansed from brass cartridge cases to make them ready for being reloaded with new primer, powder, and bullet. The ultimate goal is to have your spent cases completely clean of all residue so they can be reused without any issues.
As you can imagine, cleaning each cartridge by hand simply isn’t a practical solution, and it’s a downright nonsensical proposition for any reloader who needs to clean a large number of brass cartridges quickly and effectively.
That’s why people use an extremely useful tool called a case tumbler.
A case tumbler is a type of brass tumbler that is specifically designed to clean and polish brass cartridge cases used in firearms. It consists of a drum or container that holds the brass cases and a motor that rotates or vibrates the drum.
For cleaning or polishing brass cases, the drum is filled with media such as crushed walnut shells, corn cob, or a liquid cleaning solution. After that, it’s set in motion, either by vibrating or rotating for a designated amount of time to achieve optimal results.
This powerful process agitates the cleaning media and brass cases within, forcing the media to remove dirt, grime, and oxidation from each brass case.
Types of Case Tumblers
A rotary case tumbler uses a rotating drum-shaped container made of long-lasting plastic or metal and a powerful motor.
Wet tumbling, using a liquid cleaning solution, is typically the method by which rotary tumblers clean brass cases.
When reloaders need to clean a large number of brass cartridge cases at once, rotary case tumblers are typically their go-to choice. They are generally slower than vibratory tumblers but can handle a larger capacity and provide more effective cleaning action in all areas of a brass case.
Unlike a rotary tumbler that utilizes a rotating drum to wet-tumble items, vibratory tumblers rely on vibration to dry-tumble the cleaning media and metal objects inside.
Those wishing to clean a considerable amount of brass cartridge cases in a hurry often turn to vibratory case tumblers, which are preferred for their speed and convenience.
The Best Brass Tumblers Available on the Internet Today
Let’s take a look at the highest-rated options for each of the main types of brass case tumblers – rotary and vibratory:
Hornady M-1 Case Tumbler
Hornady is a well-respected, leading provider of handloading equipment in the industry, and reloaders are familiar with their top-notch products like the hand priming tool.
The Hornady M-1 Case Tumbler comes with a sifting lid that makes it easy to separate the media from the cleaned cases. This feature is particularly helpful for reloaders who need to sort the brass cases by headstamp or caliber.
The tumbler also features a clear lid that allows you to monitor the cleaning process and see when the cases are clean and polished. The lid is removable, making it easy to add or remove cases from the drum.
You simply have to admire the outstanding brass capacity of this unit. It’s quite fast, taking only three hours or less to clean up to four hundred .38 Special cases. Its high-volume cleaning capability makes it a perfect choice for busy reloaders and professionals.
We chose to include the vibratory version over the rotary for its excellent return on investment and capability of handling high volumes.
Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ 110V Vibratory Case Tumbler
This case tumbler offers exceptional performance at an affordable price. It can’t handle high-volume reloading tasks as expected for such a low price tag, but it is still suitable for casual or hobbyist reloaders who don’t plan on doing large volumes of reloads.
In our opinion, this is a great choice if you’re a beginner.
The bowl capacity of this tumbler is good, with the ability to store up to 600 9mm cases and 350 .223 cases. This should be fine for most casual reloaders; however, it may be insufficient for those wishing to use this product in a professional setting.
The Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ 110V Vibratory Case Tumbler comes with a sifting lid that makes it easy to separate the cleaning media from the cases. The lid is designed with a special lip that allows you to pour the media out while retaining the cases inside the bowl.
The tumbler is also equipped with an in-line on/off switch for easy operation and a clear lid that provides a clear view of the cleaning process. The tumbler’s compact size and sturdy construction make it easy to transport and store when not in use.
Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler
The Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler is a brass tumbler that also uses a vibration design to clean and polish brass cases. It has a good capacity, with an advanced bowl design that can handle up to 350 38spl. cases and 2 pounds of media per cycle.
One of the advantages of the Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler is its affordability, as it is priced similarly to other budget tumblers like the Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ.
However, unlike other budget case tumblers in its class, the Pro 1200 Tumbler stands out with a built-in sifter lid for easier case separation and an electric motor that is thermally protected. This means the device will not overheat or overload during use.
The Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler is constructed with sturdy plastic and can withstand the test of time, although it may not be as hard-wearing as metal tumblers. It does make some noise during operation like most vibration tumblers, but this should not affect its performance.
Overall, the Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler is an excellent choice for those in search of a reasonably priced brass cleaner and polisher that still offers noteworthy performance features. Though it may not be the most advanced tumbler available today, its dependability allows the casual or hobbyist user to clean cases with ease.
Extreme Tumblers Rebel 17 Ammo Reloading Tumbler
The Rebel 17 catches our eye due to its finishing touches (e.g., mild powder-coated steel) and easy assembly. After our shooting crew purchased this particular unit, they discovered that it was sturdier than anticipated with a motor and belt complementing one another perfectly.
Having said that, the Extreme Tumblers Rebel 17 Ammo Reloading Tumbler has a few features that set it apart from other case tumblers. One of these features includes large, easy-to-grip nylon lid knobs that make opening and closing the tumbler a breeze. It also has a drum powder coating, which gives it a durable finish that can withstand heavy use.
The Rebel 17 has a thick rubber lining that is heavy-duty and easy to remove for cleaning. Moreover, the motor and belt on the Rebel 17 have been tailored to perfectly integrate, providing an unbelievably smooth operation. The rollers also spin effortlessly so that cases are effectively sanitized.
Lyman 7631550 Cyclone Rotary Tumbler
The Cyclone Rotary Tumbler has a large capacity, capable of holding up to 1000 .223 Remington cases or 350 .308 Winchester cases at a time. This brass tumbler features a sifter lid that allows you to separate the brass from cleaning media as well as an observation window for monitoring. Plus, it’s powered by a strong and dependable high-torque motor for consistent performance every time.
Furthermore, the Cyclone Rotary Tumbler is crafted with a reinforced and simple-to-maintain injection-molded polymer drum. Its ingenious twofold design additionally allows for straightforward maintenance of both its motor and drive system.
The Lyman 7631550 Cyclone Rotary Tumbler is a highly efficient and user-friendly tumbler that provides top-notch cleaning power with its large capacity. This product stands out from the crowd thanks to its rotary design and robust high-torque motor, making it an ideal choice for reloaders who need a fast and reliable way of cleaning massive amounts of brass.
Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler
With its 7-liter capacity, this model is capable of accommodating 1,000 .223 cases or 3,000 9mm cases in a single cycle.
The tumbler utilizes a twofold drum with specifically crafted tumbling media to remove dirt, impurities, and any other residue from brass cases. Its rotary motion guarantees that each case is thoroughly cleaned and polished for an even, top-tier result.
This tumbler is remarkable for its durable build. Crafted from only the finest materials, it can hold up to extended use without fail. Moreover, a leak-proof seal ensures that any dust or media stays within during operation.
It also features a built-in timer, which allows users to set the desired cleaning time for each cycle. This feature ensures that each batch of cases is cleaned for the appropriate amount of time for optimal results.
Overall, the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler is a reliable and efficient tool for anyone looking to clean and polish their brass casings. If you’re a devoted reloader in need of rapidly and efficiently processing sizable amounts of brass, this product is a great choice for you.
Commonly Asked Questions
What does a brass tumbler do?
A brass tumbler is a device used to clean and polish brass casings from firearms. Brass casings are tumbled together with cleaning media such as crushed walnut shells or steel pins in an enclosed bowl. This motion combined with the abrasive material efficiently removes dirt, grime, and residue from the brass.
What is the best brass tumbler media?
Depending on your individual preference and the kind of brass you are trying to clean, there is a range of tumbler media that would be best. However, some commonly used media for brass tumbling include crushed walnut shells, corn cob, stainless steel pins, and ceramic media.
What is the difference between a wet and dry brass tumbler?
Dry brass tumblers utilize a dried medium such as walnut shells or corn cob while wet tumblers use liquid cleaners along with stainless steel pins. Wet tumbling is frequently considered better for getting rid of dirt, debris, and corrosion from brass, yet takes more energy and time.
Brass tumblers are important for reloading ammunition, as clean and polished brass casings provide better accuracy and reliability when fired. Brass tumblers can also save time and effort compared to hand-cleaning each casing individually.
With all of the options that are available these days, it can be tough to narrow down the choice in brass tumblers. After reading this article, we hope you were better equipped to make an informed decision on which is the best for you and your reloading needs.
With a quality brass tumbler, you’ll have no problem ensuring that your cases are clean and ready for reloading.