One of the biggest savings you get as a reloader comes from using and reusing the brass cartridge cases from your bullets. The case is the only part of the bullet that you can reuse, and is also one of the most expensive pieces of the bullet to buy new. You can also buy fired cartridges (they are slightly cheaper than buying new cases), or you can simply pick up the brass cases that shooters leave at your local firing range.
However, you should never pick up a case and reload it straight from the range. Before you can refill the cartridge with the rest of the elements of a bullet, you will need to clean the case. You’d not only want the best way to clean brass for reloading but a fast and efficient way too. That’s where the tumbler comes in.
Before tumblers were invented, reloaders had to wash the brass cases by hand. Some used a mix of water and citric acid, others took a rag and polished each case one by one. You can also use hot water and dish soap, though you can also use laundry detergent or vinegar and salt. In other words, it was a pain in the ass. Then, lo and behold, along came the tumbler.
A tumbler is a machine that is simple to use. You have to purchase a media (such as ground walnut shells or a ground-up mix of corn cobs’ woody rings) and throw it into the tumbler with your brass (around 66%, 34% your brass). The tumbler has a motor that vibrates the main bowl. The vibrations cause the media to rub against the brass, removing mud, scum, and other smaller dirt particles to make your brass clean again. So what is the best reloading tumbler? We have two products in mind for the budget-minded.
The Lyman Pro Sifter (115-Volt)
There is no on/off switch, so, once you plug it in, it is tumbling. The springs at the base of the bowl keep this tumbler from “walking” when it is on, and it is relatively quiet (for being a tumbler).
The Frankford Arsenal Quick-n-EZ Case Tumbler
This tumbler works better than many other brand-name tumblers that are twice the price. Whether you want to just clean your brass, or you also want to polish it, this is a great option.
These tumblers perform exceptionally well for their prices and easily provide the best way to clean brass for reloading. They they are great options for beginning reloaders. If you want cleaner brass, you will need to pay significantly more for better tumblers. This investment of money is not necessary with these tumblers, as they clean your brass well and are entirely affordable.
And if you’d like to learn about other parts of the reloading process—presses, dies, scales, etc.—head on over to our homepage for more great info!