Do I Need To Purchase A Tumbling Machine To Clean Range Brass

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by flyingtiger85, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. flyingtiger85

    flyingtiger85 Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2010
    I have had an interest in reloading all my 9mm empty caseings and I recently won the 9mm dies donated by Brisk44.When I go shooting at a range or in the desert I usually pick up all my brass and it's a little dirty.I do this mostly to keep the areas I shoot in clean and someday taking the brass I wouldn't use to recycle for cash maybe in the future.Soon I will be ordering a press,bullets,primers etc.Do I need a tumbler also, is this a must? I'm new to this but anxious to get started soon.Here is an example of brass left behind all over the ground in the Desert where I shoot alot.


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  2. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    Looking at the ground where you're shooting, I'd definitely tumble that stuff to clean it up before I ever ran it through a press.
    There's all sorts of powdery grit that will scratch the snot out of your dies and the brass. Just a quick wipe down or water wash probably won't get all that sand grit off of em.

  3. flyingtiger85

    flyingtiger85 Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2010
    Well,I guess that answers my question.I'll have to pick one up before I start.I was hoping I didn't need one.Thanks for responding to my question.
  4. JohnTheCalifornian

    JohnTheCalifornian Member

    Jun 12, 2009
    You dont have to buy one of those expensive name brand tumblers. I bought a Frankford Arsenal Tumbelr kit years ago and it still works fine. You can get them at Midway for a decent price. Although, rescently, I have noticed the prices coming down on the tumblers. So, you should have a few more options available to use.

    The 2 main types of media that are used in tumblers are crushed walnut and crushed corncob.

    The walnut is best used for cleaning and the corncob is best used as a polishing (although it too will clean, it just takes longer)

    You can buy a polishing compound that you put into the media so your brass comes out nice and shiny. Really your choice on if you want that or not, it wont hurt one way or the other.

    Some people go to pet shops and buy the walnut there, as it is sold as lizard bedding or something. Even Harbor Freight has it too, just look in thier sand blasting area.(Shoot, they even have tumblers there as well!)

    To cut down on the dust, people cut up dryer sheets and place them inside with the media.

    Be careful with the dust though, dont breather it in if possible, it may contain lead particles and such from the primers. I know that was a concern a while ago, but maybe today it isnt. Either way, I try not to breathe it in.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  5. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    A tumbler is definitely a must. I recommend a vibratory tumbler and some walnut or corn cobb media. Tumble cleaning brass before processing it is crucial to the life of your dies.
  6. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    Oh, BTW, Cabelas has a 50 dollar vibratory tumbler kit that comes with a tumbler, sifter bowl, 6# of cobb and some brass polish. I bought it 6 years ago and its still goin strong.
  7. gun-nut

    gun-nut Member

    Jan 15, 2011
    Thats one of them items thats a must to reload. IMO! I do know that if it is not cleaned well enough the dirt can imbed its self in the chamber and cause problems with extraction. I had to fix a friend of mines gun because he thought that the brass he had was clean enough. Put the round in the gun and when he fired it the partical imbeded itself in to the chamber wall. The case had to be pushed out with a rod. It took me about an hour to find the partical and to remove then polish the chamber wall. This is after he said i thought my brass was clean enough. and thought the die would push the dirt off the brass.He thought that the dies cleaned the brass because the brass was shine from the die resizing it. Just to sum it up he is one of them that jumps before thinking or asking questions.
  8. ryan42

    ryan42 New Member

    Jan 28, 2012
    marion indiana
  9. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

    Oct 2, 2008
    West Virginia
    Plus it's a large capacity. I bought one five years ago and it's been a great tumbler.
  10. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    I bought an El CheapO 20 years ago, and it's still chugging away! But ya gotta have one. As JLA stated, "it is crucial to the life of your dies"!
  11. Orin

    Orin Member

    Jan 23, 2011
    Florida, USA
    Try the walnut or pecan cuz cobs just barely polish & yer brass will likely have some pronounced gunk to get rid of.
  12. Little Rooster

    Little Rooster New Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    Old Dominion
  13. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    Nah. I use cobb exclusively and it highly polishes brass. gotta run it overnight, but I usually do anyway. And the gunk only builds up on the inside of the bowl. Not the brass.
  14. cranky cj

    cranky cj New Member

    Jan 23, 2009
    Northern Colorado
    After a year of reloading i went and got a tumbler to get my -several times shot brass- cleaned up to inspect it better. once its cleaned up you can get a better look at it when you inspect it. besides, I find it easier to work with clean brass. wish i'd have gotten one last year. corn cob works well and after 2 or 3 hours, its nice and clean.
  15. bntyhntr6975

    bntyhntr6975 Member

    May 5, 2009
    Wichita, Ks.
    I have used a couple of the other cleaning methods before, Iosso (not sure if thats right) was one of them. Wasn't real impressed. I bought a Cabela's brand tumbler 12 years ago and still use it every few days. (The lid broke years ago but I just made one to use. Cableas said to bring in the whole thing and they'd replace the entire tumbler....) I use the green treated cob mostly and works great, tumbling time gets longer as it wears down but the reactivator stuff for it works too. I can't imagine trying to get by without one anymore.
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