Top 7 Best Brass Tumblers Of 2022 (Ultimate Buying Guide)
So, you are through with the day’s shooting at the range, and you went through a decent amount of rounds. If you’re someone anywhere near being a gun enthusiast, you know how expensive this hobby (or profession, depending on what you do) can get.
Among the core parts of a gun’s projectile, we have the primer, the powder, the bullet, and the brass cartridge. Unsurprisingly, the casing/cartridge is one of the most expensive parts of the rounds. And that cost can add up to a large sum.
What you need is the best brass tumbler to help you cut down that cost. And it doesn’t just cut down on the expenses; it is something that many enthusiasts enjoy doing, which might be applicable for you. After shooting, the cartridge is usually quite dirty and scuffed up.
A brass tumbler will take that scratched up piece of brass, do its thing for a while, and give you clean and shiny ones in return. This article will provide you with some of the top options when it comes to buying a brass tumbler.
We have included products from various price ranges and styles to cater to everyone’s needs.
What Is A Brass Tumbler?
The basic principle of a brass tumbler is cleaning up the brass cartridge of your ammunition. When you shoot a bullet, the cartridge faces a lot of force and resistance from the target. This bit gets the casing scuffed up and sometimes makes it almost impossible to reload without any fixing and cleaning. And as you probably realize, having a clean casing is crucial for how everything looks, and it also ensures a well-functioning weapon in the long run.
Therefore, the brass tumbler does that job without any manual interruptions. You can mainly find rotary and vibratory tumblers in the market. Whichever you choose, try to ensure that they have sufficient capacity for your loads. Moreover, check out which cleaning media it uses, as that can make a difference.
Furthermore, vibratory tumblers generally don’t work with wet media. In contrast, rotary tumblers can support both dry and wet options. Regardless of the method, see to it that the process is efficient and provides a decent result.
What To Know Before Purchasing The Right Brass Tumbler?
Brass is an excellent material, especially for casings because it performs effectively with the gun system. While it's a very durable material, you should always clean your brass casing to ensure longevity and good performance.
Brass tumblers are the most common device for cleaning brass. Brass casings require regular dusting and cleaning to maintain their shine and avoid any buildup of dirt. It also prevents the brass from tarnishing or corrosion.
Purchasing the best brass tumbler doesn't have to be complicated, here are the things you should look for before buying a brass tumbler.
Always take into consideration your purpose for buying the brass tumbler. Ask yourself what sizes of cases you want to clean, and the type of cleaning they require or you prefer. These pieces of information can help you determine the brass tumbler size, cleaning type, and other features of the brass cleaner that you need.
By identifying your purpose, you can decide more objectively and choose the best brass tumbler for you.
02. Types of Brass Tumbler
A rotary tumbler is good for all-around use as it is compatible with both wet and dry media. It works by rotating the tumbler with the media and the cartridges inside. To use this, you will be needing water, solution, and detergent.
A vibratory tumbler typically works best with dry media only. It functions by using vibration inside the tumbler. The vibration allows the media to clean the cartridges.
03. Types of Tumbling Cleaning
A. Wet cleaning
From the name itself, wet cleaning requires using liquid. Wet cleaning or tumbling can clean materials other than brass like plastic, ceramic, porcelain, and more. Wet cleaning is best for polishing and removing all types of dirt buildups. It also doesn't cause severe damage to the media.
B. Dry cleaning
Dry cleaning typically works through vibration. The vibration causes the media and the brass casings to cycle around and rotate. As the items inside the tumbler hit or rub against each other, micro sanding happens which allows the brass to have a polished finish. On the downside, it can't clean as thoroughly as wet cleaning.
Most brass tumblers are made of plastic. While plastic is deemed durable nowadays, always check the plastic quality before purchasing. Make sure that it is thick.
There are also brass tumblers made of steel. These tumblers are more durable and can last longer. If you have the budget, I recommend steel brass tumblers over the plastic ones.
The capacity of the brass tumbler you will be choosing should depend on your needs. Medium-sized tumblers can hold multiple ammo while high holding capacity brass tumblers can hold up to thousands of ammo at one time.
High-capacity brass tumblers usually cost more and consume more energy.
Durability is an important factor to consider. Durable brass tumblers can deliver high performance and last long so you can have more value for your money. If you purchase a durable brass tumbler, you can avoid spending money on repair costs or early replacement.
To see if the product is durable, make sure that it is built with high-quality steel or plastic materials. It would also help if you can examine or test the brass tumbler in person to check its durability.
The brass tumbler motor should be able to rotate the drum at a speed of up to 100 RPM. The high speed can clean your casings and other brass items more thoroughly.
While high speed is good for cleaning, remember that high speed is not always the best as too much speed can damage the motor and your brass items. That's why it's better to opt for a brass tumbler that has an adjustable speed feature as well. The adjustable speed feature allows you to set the right speed for the size and amount of items you want to clean inside the brass tumbler.
Most brass tumblers are compatible with all types of cases. However, there are still instances that they do not work well with other cases or cartridges. If you are working on many calibers, always check if the brass tumbler is compatible with them.
09. Types of Tumbling Media
The corncob media type is the least damaging media among the brass tumbler media types. They can be expensive but they will not cause any harm to your brass cases. They can also be used for both rotary and vibratory brass tumblers.
B. Walnut Shell
The walnut shell media type isn't as gentle as the corncob but can guarantee more thorough cleaning. It is more budget-friendly and most compatible to use for heavily used brass casings or cartridges. It can also be used for both rotary and vibratory crass tumblers. However, rotary brass tumblers are considered more compatible with this media.
C. Stainless Steel Pins
The stainless steel pins are quite known for brass cleaning. They need water and some cleaning agents to clean brass. They can clean effectively all brass casings and guarantee good results for every use. However, you will need to dry the cartridges by blow-drying or letting them sit under the sun.
Oftentimes, the price is an indicator of quality. Cheap brass cleaners may only work for a short amount of time while expensive ones can last long.
While expensive ones are more ideal to purchase, choosing a mid-priced brass cleaner of about $100 can still deliver similar results. Apart from the price, make sure to also check the materials, features and if there is any warranty available.
Choosing a brass tumbler for yourself might not be very easy with all the different methods and solutions. Below are the top tumblers for you.
01. Frankford Arsenal Vibratory Case Tumbler
On our quest for the best tumbler for brass, we have a vibratory product for you. Having a decent capacity to hold a decent amount of casings is crucial for most users. That way, you can get a large number of cases cleaned up at a time.
This tumbler can hold up to 600 9mm or 350 .223 casings at a time. Moreover, the bowl capacity is 13.25 liters. This product is relatively easy to use for most users.
Ease of Usage
It features a transparent lid that allows you to monitor the process without having to take it off. Moreover, it comes with a cord-mount switch for simpler powering on and off.
As this is a vibratory tumbler, you need to use dry media with it. You can also use corn cob or walnut options (which you can get from this manufacturer). These are quite reliable and last for a long time.
The bowl design of this tumbler is unique. Once you have put the casings in, this bowl increases the brass agitation. And that mechanism results in a quicker cleaning, which also makes things easy on reloading dies.
- Unique bowl design that increases brass agitation for fast and efficient cleaning
- Convenient on/off switch for safety and ease of use
- Removes lube and oxidation quickly and conveniently from brass
- Holds and cleans up to 600 9 or 350 .223 cases per cycle
- Works great with both walnut and corn cob media
- Cost-efficient solution
- It removes oxidation and fouling
- Up to 600 9mm casings
- 13.25 liters bowl capacity
- Cord-mount on and off switch
- Taking the bowl off is tricky
- Durability needs work
02. Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler
If you want the best wet tumbler for brass (which also supports dry media), then our second pick should do wonders for you. The issue of noise is a common one in mediocre tumblers with little quality control.
However, in this case, the product comes with a dual-layer drum, which allows less noise out. Moreover, there is a dampening rubber lining throughout the sides.
It might be crucial for you that the product you choose is able to clean up a large number of casings. And to our pleasure, this one can contain up to 1000 .223 brass cases at a time, which is very impressive.
We think this tumbler has done an impressive job of ensuring an excellent user experience. Firstly, the maintenance-free drive train ensures that you don’t need to replace a belt. Moreover, there is a built-in automatic timer for up to three hours.
Wet or Dry?
As this is a rotary tumbler, you can use it with both dry and wet media without any issues. You could use stainless media pins for a dry option. Furthermore, it’s alright if you use a liquid brass cleaning solution.
- Large 7-liter capacity
- Cleans up to 1,000 cases of .223 brass per cycle
- Maintenance-free drive train
- Built-in timer in the base that can be set to run up to 3 hours
- Automatic power off
- Noise dampening rubber lining
- Clear end caps to allow visibility of the tumbling action
- Includes a set of sifting end caps that helps filter the stainless media
- Low noise level
- Up to 1000 .223 casings
- Built-in automatic timer
- Maintenance-free drive train
- Decent quality drum
- Slightly more costly
- Some users reported leaking
03. Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler Lite
At this point, we have another pick from Frankford Arsenal as a worthy option for the best brass tumbler. If you haven’t guessed by the name yet, this product is a more compact and lightweight version of its bigger brother.
Therefore, the drum capacity stands at a smaller 3.3L here, with a cleaning capacity of up to 300 .223 casings. As with most tumblers from this manufacturer, the user experience is quite reliable.
The strategically designed on/off switch and the transparent clear viewing window with its simple easy-twist cap both play a significant role in ensuring that.
This product is a rotary tumbler. And regardless of its size, it packs all the necessary features of the higher-end ones. You can use both dry cleaning media like stainless steel media pins or liquid solutions. The leak-free drum keeps everything safe.
As this is a lite version, the dimensions are probably quite important to the user. You get 12.75” (L) x 12.5” (W) x 9.5” (D) in terms of the measurements. This size makes it easy to store and carry, improving user’s convenience.
- 3.3 Liter capacity
- Compact size helps save space and allows portability
- Allows cleaning of up to 300 cases of .223 brass per cycle
- Leakproof and easy twist cap
- Supports wet and dry media
- Features a clear window to see the tumbling action
- Convenient on/off switch for safety and efficient usage
- Compact and lightweight
- Leak-proof design
- Works well with stainless steel pins
- Easy-twist cap
- Support for wet and dry media
- The build could be sturdier
- It cannot handle larger batches
04. Lyman Pro 1200 Tumbler
It’s time for another affordable vibratory tumbler – a suitable choice as the best brass tumbler for the money. First off, this is a vibratory tumbler.
Therefore, it can only use dry media when tumbling. But if you don’t need wet cleaning, it’s more than sufficient. Moreover, it does an excellent job when it comes to removing oxidation, old lube, and typical brass fouling.
Since this one is a mid-sized tumbler, its capacity reflects that as well. You can pour in around 2 pounds of dry media at a time. And in terms of the casing, this product can hold up to 350 38spl cases per cycle, which should be enough.
Types of Media
The obvious bit is that it only supports the usage of dry media, but which ones? In that aspect, this product is quite traditional. You can easily use things like corn cob or nutshell. Plus, it’s okay if you add in some polishing materials.
This bit is an issue with many tumblers, as they sort of put everything together in a mess and make media separation quite annoying. Thankfully, this tumbler has a built-in sifter lid, which allows for easier separation.
- Holds and cleans up to 2 lbs. of media
- Features a built-in sifter lid for fast and easy media separation
- Cleans up to 350 38spl. cases at a time
- Works well with both corncob and nutshell media
- Features a combination of rubber feet and rubber lid nut that dampens machine noise
- Thermally protected electric motor which reduces the risk of overheating
- 2 pounds of media
- Sifter lid
- It is reasonably priced
- Works well with most dry media
- A powerful motor
- Quality control could be better
- The sifter lid leaks some dust
05. Hornady Rotary Brass Tumbler
At number 5, we have the 050220 from Hornady – a great option as the best tumbler for cleaning brass. The dimensions and capacity are some of the most impressive things about this product.
It has a drum with a total capacity of ten pounds, half of which is for the media. That means you can have five pounds of media and five pounds of brass cleaned at a time.
The materials in the tumbler must be durable and prevent any leaking. Hence, the drum comes with a rubber lining to ensure a tight seal. However, some users have reported slight leakage, although it’s not frequent.
This tumbler supports both wet and dry media, making it extremely versatile. But what makes it an even better value is that it comes with stainless steel media pin out of the box. You can use traditional elements like corn cobs too.
Some of the features here deserve extra attention. For instance, there is a digital timer for easy automation for up to eight hours. Furthermore, the motor is powerful and cooled by a fan to achieve high efficiency.
- Comes with stainless steel pin tumbling media
- Large 6-liter rubber-lined drum
- Holds up to 17 lbs. of media and water weight per cycle
- Digital timer that allows tumbler to operate for up to 8 hours
- Time-saving cartridge case care
- Suitable for both dry or wet tumbling
- Tightly sealed compression lid
- Superb user experience
- Built-in digital timer
- Stainless steel media pins included
- 5 lb. media capacity
- Lightweight design
- Occasional leakage for a few users
- Slight heating after extended use
06. Lyman Cyclone Rotary Tumbler
When looking for the best brass tumbler for reloading, the 7631550 from Lyman is a name worth mentioning. An efficient and powerful motor is a must-have feature in a tumbler.
This product comes with a robust belt-driven electric motor that operates silently and efficiently. It also plays a part in ensuring the impressive tumbling capacity. The capacity of this tumbler is more than sufficient for almost all of us.
You can clean up to 1000 pieces of .223 brass cases at a time with it. And it will have enough room for the media even after that many casings.
The user experience is pretty smooth. All you need to do is get the media and brass in and ensure a tight seal, and the tumbler should do the rest. There is a timer for up to three hours, and you get five lb. stainless steel tumbling media in the box.
Something that impressed us is the dual sifter system that this tumbler features. Unlike most products, it only takes you a little while to get rid of all the media from the cases.
- Can contain and clean up to 1000 pieces of .223 brass per cycle
- Noise-reducing rubber lining that also protects brass
- Built-in timer in the base can operate from 0 to 3 hours
- Powerful belt-driven electric motor
- Easy maintenance
- Includes 5 lbs. of stainless steel media
- Features a dual sifter system that is composed of two pans allowing you to separate cases from the pins and separate the media pins from the cleaning solution simultaneously
- 5lb. of stainless steel media included
- Powerful belt-driven motor
- 1000 .223 casings at a time
- Built-in timer
- Low noise levels
- The timer maxes at three hours
- Occasional leaking reports
07. Lyman Pro Magnum Tumbler
As our last option for the best brass case tumbler, we have another product from Lyman.
This tumbler provides a remarkable capacity even with its compact size. Firstly, the capacity of the bowl is two gallons (7.57 liters).
Therefore, you can tumble up to a large total of 1000 .38 special brass casings at a time. The motor is another one of the strengths of this product.
You get a heavy-duty motor that operates through an advanced drive system. It allows for quick cleaning with higher efficiency and plays a role in the capacity.
Value for Money
This product uses dry media for tumbling. And given that it can tumble hundreds of cases without an issue, this product screams value. There is a slight heating issue with the motor, but that isn’t significant.
Noise and Materials
To our surprise, this tumbler operates with a low amount of noise, even with a large amount of media and brass. In terms of the materials, the casing is made with plastic, but the quality is decent.
- Features a two-gallon capacity bowl that delivers powerful and reliable cleaning action
- Heavy-duty motor that allows effective cleaning action all the time
- Holds and cleans 1000 .38 special cases per cycle
- Features an advanced drive system that allows fast cleaning and longevity of the machine
- Low noise operation even at full capacity
- Low noise level
- Up to 1000 .38 casings at a time
- Quick cleaning time
- An advanced drive motor
- Decent build quality
- It vibrates quite strongly
- Occasional heating issues
FAQs Regarding The Brass Tumblers
Q. Do you need to wash brass after tumbling?
This question mostly comes from people that notice a coat of dust after tumbling their brass cartridges with dry media such as corn cob. And washing brass after using wet media does not make much sense, as it uses a liquid cleaning solution anyway.
So, if you’re wondering if you should wash your brass, the answer is that it’s not necessary. Although the brass would be okay even if you wash it, it’s not an essential step. You could wipe the dust off of the cases if it bothers you too much as well.
Q. Is cleaning brass cases necessary?
This question is something many gun enthusiasts have in their minds, and with good reasons. It is not mandatory to tumble your brass cases, per se. But multiple rational reasons make it worthy of your time.
Firstly, there’s the most obvious one – the cartridges look all neat and shiny. But it’s not only for cosmetic reasons, though. Clean cases are better for reloading and better for your gun. Besides, it’s not wise to hand-wipe hundreds of rounds, eh?
Q. How many times can you reload brass?
There are various calibers, amount of powder, design differences when it comes to cartridges or rounds. Moreover, not all of them go through the same amount of resistance or pressure. Therefore, there is no absolute number.
However, you need to keep your eye on a few things to figure things out. The essential part to notice is whether the casing has suffered any physical damage that can end up hurting the round’s accuracy or harm the weapon in any way.
Q. Can you use toothpaste to clean brass?
While it’s not popular with bullet cartridges, toothpaste is a popular cleaning element when it comes to cleaning brass (not the gels). It is theoretically possible to use it as it does not harm the brass and many people use it.
However, it would be time-consuming to clean each casing with toothpaste and ensure that there is no residue, and so on. That probably isn’t worth the hassle for most people.
Q. How do you keep brass shiny?
We cannot avoid the brass losing its shine over time. However, we can certainly slow it down. And this part is something that a brass tumbler excels in, with various options at hand. The first one is using a vibratory dry media tumbler.
These products are affordable and keep the brass clean and shiny for a long time. Among other solutions, you can use ultrasonic cleaners that do a superb cleaning job. However, these tumblers generally cost most compared to vibratory ones.
There are also rotary tumblers available, which support both dry and wet media. Moreover, you can mix your preferred polishing solution with the media to enhance the tumbler’s effectiveness by a decent margin.
Brass casings are undoubtedly one of the expensive parts of a gun’s projectiles, and the cost adds up pretty quickly. Therefore, having a brass tumbler at hand can come in quite handy to keep that cost in check and keep your casings neat and polished.
Our reviews above should help you find the best brass tumbler for yourself. There are various options belonging to different price segments and cleaning styles, so choose one that suits you well, and have fun tumbling.