Tumblers or sonic cleaners

This is a discussion on Tumblers or sonic cleaners within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Anyone here that reloads. Do you use the tumblers or the new sonic electronic cleaners for your brass. Ive been thinking about both styles. Are ...

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Thread: Tumblers or sonic cleaners

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    VIP Member Array sixgun's Avatar
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    Tumblers or sonic cleaners

    Anyone here that reloads. Do you use the tumblers or the new sonic electronic cleaners for your brass. Ive been thinking about both styles. Are there any pros and cons to either unit. Ive been reloading for a while and want to get some sort of case cleaner. Thanks for the input.

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    Depends if you want to mess with wet or dry cases.

    I tumble, always have and always will. I don't deprime first as I've never had a misfire due to a dirty primer pocket. Each firing tends to clean out any old residue. I don't want cleaning cases to be any more of a chore than it already is. I tumble only to clean the cases; if they happen to come out bright and shiney, so be it. I mainly want the dirt and grit removed. I can't see paying the expense of a sonic cleaner and the constant need of cleaning solvents to do what a few minutes tumbling in some el cheapo lizard cage bedding does for less. But there are those who will insist only surgically clean cases are essential to shooting, so now it's their turn.
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    Ultrasonic cleaners are great for detailed parts, but vast overkill for brass. Depending on what you're shooting and how dirty your fired cartridges are, even tumbling may not be worth the effort. I just shot about 100 of my .38 reloads recently, and they were clean enough I didn't even bother putting them into the "to be tumbled" box.

    I've been reloading less than a year so far, but I've probably cleaned about 3-4000 rounds (mostly handgun brass, a few hundred rife cases) in my Hornady tumbler. It's quiet enough with the lid on and its capacity is fine for my purposes.

    For the sake of comparison, I ran a couple hundred .45 cases through the dishwasher (in a lingerie bag) recently. They came out about as clean as the tumbled cases, but shaking them all out was more of a nuisance (to me) then sifting polishing media, and there were a few cases that had some dishwasher soap reside left on them. Overall, the cleanliness was on a par with the tumbled cases, though.
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    VIP Member Array Rob99VMI04's Avatar
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    I have both prefer tumble
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    I have used a variety of tumblers, ultra-sonic cleaners, and various dishwasher methods. All work. I ended up using my Dillon vibratory tumbler exclusively as it works as well as the other method and it is the lowest hassle to use (for me, your mileage may vary). I clean everything from 9mm to .300 Win Mag and .45-70, and just about everything else inbetween, both handgun and rifle.

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    VIP Member Array sixgun's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input everyone. I think ill go tumbler. A few places have them on sale cheaper than the sonic ones.
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    Cleaning query

    Quote Originally Posted by marcclarke View Post
    I have used a variety of tumblers, ultra-sonic cleaners, and various dishwasher methods. All work. I ended up using my Dillon vibratory tumbler exclusively as it works as well as the other method and it is the lowest hassle to use (for me, your mileage may vary). I clean everything from 9mm to .300 Win Mag and .45-70, and just about everything else inbetween, both handgun and rifle.

    Dumb questions but I have to ask as I am exploring all the components of loading. I'm just starting in the process, haven't made any purchases yet, just reading and researching.

    How do you dry your casings once you have completed the process?
    How does the dishwasher method compare to a tumbler? (guess the dishwasher does the drying for you?)
    Have you ever had a failure to discharge a round because the case was not properly cleaned?
    How much of a negative effect do you think you would have on performance if you did not clean the case, perhaps only cleaning the primer area?

    Thank you in advance.

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    If you dry tumble (or vibrate), there's no drying involved. Gun powder and primer residue have no effect on cartridge performance. You need to "clean" cases before running them through the dies. While it's doubtful it would damage the carbide ring, it can cut/scratch the brass, thus weakening it. Polishing only makes the brass "look" nicer and has no effect on function.

    I tumble with crushed walnut and never clean the primer pockets. I've never had a bad round doing this. The only two bad rounds I've ever had since I started in 1975 were simply dud primers, and that was back in my meticulus cleaning/polishing days. Nowadays my brass only comes out shiny when I forget to turn the tumbler off and it runs all night. The tumbling removes nearly all powder residue.

    If you want your reloads to look "factory new" then polish to your heart's content. But it's not necessary. Clean the dirt and grit off and reload away.
    TX expat likes this.
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    Ex Member Array hartlathers's Avatar
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    I use a franklin tumbler. works great for cleaning brass

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    VIP Member Array SmokinFool's Avatar
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    Tumbler for me. It's worked for me for many years. No reason to change.

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    Tumbler for me. I change the kitty litter when it gets real dark. Has worked for me for many years with no issues.
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    New Member Array marchboom's Avatar
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    Unless you have brass that has been sitting outside for a few years and is REALLY badly tarnished, just use a vibratory tumbler. A sonic cleaner will remove the bad tarnish and ALLOW the media to get to the brass surface and polish it. I just use a tumbler and it works fine.

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    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    Tumbler for me. Can't see the need to mess with wet brass when you are going to be using powder and primers afterwards. I do not deprime before tumbling either. Too much of a pain in the rear to get the tiny pieces of media out of the primer pocket, or hole.

    One trick is to put an old dryer sheet or maybe two, depending on the size of your tumbler, to soak up if you will all the dirt and crap that gets the media dirty. A white dryer sheet will come out black by the end of the cycle.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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    Distinguished Member Array sniper58's Avatar
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    Thanks for the dryer sheet tip! I'll try that before replacing the media.
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    Dryer Sheets?

    I just got into reloading about two years ago. I had inherited my dads equipment And decided to start reloading 45s. Got two tumblers and use exclusively. Love the shiny. I have never heard of putting a dryer sheet in the tumbler. Does it affect the longevity of the media? I also use a liquid additive to aid polishing. I also do not de-prime. Talked to a long range shooter, who builds his own rifles and reload. He does not clean primer hole.Tumbles with spent primers. I have not have any problems with reprimering or having a misfire

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