If you are a gun enthusiast, you’ll most likely agree that using and reusing cases can be a cost-effective way of utilizing cartridges. For those who are not yet aware, the case can be the most expensive piece in around. The reloading process can be relatively easy with the use of a press kit. However, before a cartridge can be loaded again, you have to clean it off dirt and residues to make it look new again. To achieve that, you’ll need a brass tumbler. But for best results and to keep up with your case cleaning needs, you’ll need tips and guide on which is the best brass tumbler to choose.

Consider Your Budget

Before you decide to buy a certain product (brass tumblers included), you need to make your purchase well within your allotted budget. A good course of action is to consider several factors and tips, such as the ones mentioned earlier, and include your level of specialization on your gun hobby before you prepare your budget. This way, you can choose the best brass tumbler and you work out on having a sufficient budget to buy the one you consider as the best. Steel brass tumbler models are more expensive than plastic models, but you can rely on them staying functional for a number of years. You may spend more at first, but you are saving yourself from spending more in the years to come by choosing a hardy and reliable tumbler. If you’re pressed for time, but on a limited budget, choose a tumbler that can still incorporate the basic qualities that you need.

Choose Between Vibratory or Rotary

Brass tumblers are generally classified into two types: vibrating or rotary. Here’s how each type generally works:

  • Vibratory tumblers – this type usually works with dry media such as corn cobs and crushed walnut shells. It operates through vibrating motion inside the tumbler that allows the media to scrub the cartridges. The cleaning process usually takes a couple of hours to achieve a good result.

  • Rotary tumblers – this type works with wet and dry media and functions by rotating the tumbler with the media and cartridges inside. When working with wet media, you will need water, solution and some detergent (an optional addition). Like vibratory types, the cleaning time would depend on how dirty the cartridges are.

Choose an Efficient-Working Tumbler

The device works simply when it comes to cleaning brass cases. You just need to mix in the cleaning media and the used brass cases inside the machine. Inside the tumbler, a motor vibrates or rotates a bowl that rubs the media against the brass, removing impurities from the case in the process. Always make it a point to have the product tested to see if it’s working efficiently. Be keen on listening to whirs and clanks in order to make sure that the tumbler is in good working condition.

Choose a Tumbler with High Holding Capacity

If you want to get more work done and finish cleaning many cartridges in a single session, choose one that can hold as many cartridges and media. Brett Gordon from Top Rate Ten emphasizes that the best type should clean more than 1000 shells at once. When you have more cartridges cleaned and polished at a single time, you are not only saving money, you are also getting yourself more involved as a gun enthusiast or hobbyist. Having many rounds recycled can convert into fresh and customized bullets, which can be done several times over. With more ammo to reload, you are making another hobby within a hobby - aside from collecting or customizing guns, you also get to reload bullets.

Consider a Tumbler’s Compatibility

Most tumblers have the capability to handle every type of case, but certain models can handle a specific type of case better than other cases. Some models, for example, can hold 1000 9mm cases, but may not hold the same number of 223 cartridges. If you are working on a specific caliber, you need to read the product specifications and choose the one that is compatible with your caliber’s case. If you have more than one type of caliber handled, it is recommended that you go for a tumbler that can hold more cases of the largest or highest caliber.

Include Durability as a Priority

It’s important to have a tough and reliable product no matter what function it may serve. Brass tumblers are no exception. Most of the common tumbler models are made from unbreakable steel or plastic. While steel tumblers are generally considered more durable than those made of plastic, the technology behind plastic products has progressed so far that its durability can nearly match with that of steel.

Take Media into Account

The polishing media is another thing you need to also consider. You may already know that there are two types of brass tumblers: dry and wet tumblers.  Although most dry brass tumblers can hold different media such as corn cob and walnut shell, there are also tumblers that specialize on a specific medium. Wet tumblers use one specific type of media – stainless steel pins. We’ll discuss the common media in further detail below.

  • Corn cob – this type of media is mild and the least aggressive of the three common media commonly used for cleaning cases. Although quite expensive, this media is best for fired rounds and does not hurt the cartridges in the process. Corn cob can also be used for both vibratory and rotary tumblers.


  • Walnut shell – this media type is more aggressive and thorough when it comes to cleaning cartridges. This is the more affordable option than corn cob, and is best used for heavily used cartridges or those that are left unpolished after many reloading. It can also be used for both vibratory and rotary tumblers, but it works best with the former.


  • Stainless steel pins -  this is a well-known brass cleaning media in the market. Stainless steel pins require water (adding detergent is optional) to work and will clean every inch of the brass casing. You need to dry the cartridges quickly and you can blow dry them and let them dry under the sun. The result is a thoroughly cleaned and polished cartridge.

If you are considering reusing and reloading your ammo, give yourself a pat on the back and start to plan to buy a brass tumbler. There can be many factors to consider as to which is the best, but you also need to factor in your own specific needs as a firearm enthusiast or hobbyist. Making purchase decisions may not be an easy task, even in deciding which is the best brass tumbler. But tips and guides can make your decision worthwhile.


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