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  1. #1
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    Electrolysis vs Tumblers for Brass Cleaning

    I'm interested in finding out the pros and cons from reloaders out there who are using either electrolysis or tumblers in cleaning their brass. I'm particularly interested in the tumblers using the stainless steel media, water, detergent and/or Lemi Shine. Does the interior of the brass come out as sparkling clean as the some of the advertising sites show?

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    I shoot a lot of black powder in cartridges, not just front stuffers. The cases after firing are really dirty. I have researched different methods of case cleaning and have opinions that might be a lot different than most of the folks here.

    First ask yourself...do I really need the brass to look like unfired factory brass? Probably not as it is only cosmetics, inside or outside. Smokeless powder will only leave a small amount soot like residue on the inside of the case. On my smokeless cleaning all I do is inspect the brass for any defect (like a crack) and then put the cases in my vibration type "tumbler" loaded with lizard litter I buy from a pet supply house. I get a 40# sack for less than $20. It is really crushed walnut shells and a lot cheaper than specific stuff made for case cleaning and does a great job...inside & outside. I inspect the brass again and then it is ready for my reloading process.

    The only difference I do with BP brass is to soak it in a solution of 10% commercial bathroom cleaner and water over night, then in the tumbler it goes after drying.

    For me, I really don't care if my reloaded ammunition looks like it comes out of a factory box. All I want is clean brass that will function thru my bolt action rifles.
    Colorado Cowboy
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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colorado Cowboy View Post
    I shoot a lot of black powder in cartridges, not just front stuffers. The cases after firing are really dirty. I have researched different methods of case cleaning and have opinions that might be a lot different than most of the folks here.

    First ask yourself...do I really need the brass to look like unfired factory brass? Probably not as it is only cosmetics, inside or outside. Smokeless powder will only leave a small amount soot like residue on the inside of the case. On my smokeless cleaning all I do is inspect the brass for any defect (like a crack) and then put the cases in my vibration type "tumbler" loaded with lizard litter I buy from a pet supply house. I get a 40# sack for less than $20. It is really crushed walnut shells and a lot cheaper than specific stuff made for case cleaning and does a great job...inside & outside. I inspect the brass again and then it is ready for my reloading process.

    The only difference I do with BP brass is to soak it in a solution of 10% commercial bathroom cleaner and water over night, then in the tumbler it goes after drying.

    For me, I really don't care if my reloaded ammunition looks like it comes out of a factory box. All I want is clean brass that will function thru my bolt action rifles.
    Thanks for the reply CC! I've been reloading for 30+ yrs. but couldn't figure out the reason for getting the inside of the brass case clean. I've always used the vibratory cleaner with walnut and corncob media to ensure smooth feeding when chambering rounds. Never noticed any change in velocity with brass that was fired multiple times nor change in case capacity because of residue buildup. Guess I'll save my money for powder/primers and continue on as I have been doing.

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    You can get an ultrasonic cleaner for cheap from harbor freight. I got mine for 50$ with a coupon...

    FYI they work great....

    http://www.harborfreight.com/25-lite...ner-95563.html

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  7. #5
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    Not to beat a dead horse, but yesterday I went down to a local gun shop that has a number of Thumler's Tumblers in the display case. I asked the guy behind the counter, "why do I want my fired brass shiny and clean on the inside?". He said, "because your fired brass will be like new." I reminded him that it might look new but it does not make it new. He took me in back and introduced me to his gunsmith. This guy has been a gunsmith since back when Jesus wore knickers. He related to me that smokeless powder residue comes off in flakes after repeated firings and a thought or theory suggests these flakes cause increased throat and barrel erosion. He showed me an article from Brownells and nowhere does it mention this has actually been scientifically proven. The gunsmith said that he actually does tumble with stainless pins, water, and Dawn detergent all of his .223 brass for his AR's, only because he fires 100s of rounds on an outing. Like CC said, he told me I should have no concern with my big game rifles because I'm not firing hundreds of rounds through them at the range. Clean them every 10 -12 rounds and no worries.

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    I use an old Lyman tumbler that I've had for 25 years. Still going strong.
    Colorado Cowboy
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    I believe the liquid tumblers you can't throw the liquid away in the trash, they must go to a haz mat waste facility to be recycled. Double check that fact because the salesmen i bought my tumbler from told me that. I'm happy with my Corn cob cleaner either way!

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  12. #8
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    I clean my brass using a Tumbler before I resize. I don't take any chances, albeit minuscule, to damage my dies.
    Last edited by Mule3006Elk; 03-16-2016 at 12:26 PM.

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    I'm fairly new to reloading for accuracy. What I've found, and read on other forums when asked, is that the stainless steel pins that I had been using and the sonic cleaners can get the brass too clean. What I mean by that is, when brass is cleaned with corn cob/walnut tumblers, there is a fair amount of dust and carbon left in the case neck. This dust acts as a lubricant of sorts. When brass is cleaned with SS pins, it's more of a brass on copper grip. I've started lubing my case necks before seating bullets. It has definitely helped my muzzle velocity averages.

    Here's a link for a better explanation.

    http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/...ullet-seating/

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    I use a Thumlers Tumbler, Ultravibe 10. It's the cat's pajamas if you ask me.

 

 
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