September 22nd, 2019

Power User Tips for Ultrasonic Cleaning Machines

Ultrasonic Cleaning RCBS Ultrasound .308 Winchester 7.62x51 brass casings

Tumblers and walnut/corncob media are old school. These days many shooters prefer processing brass rapidly with an ultrasonic cleaning machine. When used with the proper solution, a good ultrasonic cleaning machine can quickly remove remove dust, carbon, oil, and powder residue from your cartridge brass. The ultrasonic process will clean the inside of the cases, and even the primer pockets. Tumbling works well too, but for really dirty brass, ultrasonic cleaning may be a wise choice.

READ FULL UltimateReloader.com Article on Ultrasonic Case Cleaning.

Our friend Gavin Gear recently put an RCBS Ultrasonic cleaning machine through its paces using RCBS Ultrasonic Case Cleaning Solution (RCBS #87058). To provide a real challenge, Gavin used some very dull and greasy milsurp brass: “I bought a huge lot of military once-fired 7.52x51mm brass (fired in a machine gun) that I’ve been slowly prepping for my DPMS LR-308B AR-10 style rifle. Some of this brass was fully prepped (sized/de-primed, trimmed, case mouths chamfered, primer pockets reamed) but it was gunked up with lube and looking dingy.”

UltimateReloader.com Case Cleaning Video (7.5 minutes):

Gavin describes the cleaning exercise step-by-step on UltimateReloader.com. Read Gavin’s Cartridge Cleaning Article to learn how he mixed the solution, activated the heater, and cycled the machine for 30 minutes. As you can see in the video above, the results were impressive. If you have never cleaned brass with ultrasound before, you should definitely watch Gavin’s 7.5-minute video — it provides many useful tips and shows the cleaning operation in progress from start to finish.


The latest Gen2 RCBS ultrasonic cleaning machine has a large 6.3-quart capacity. That’s nearly 100 percent larger than the first generation machine in Gavin’s video. The Gen2 machine features a second ceramic heater and transducer to better clean brass cases and firearm parts. The LED is easily programmable, and the timer can be set for up to 30 minutes of cleaning. The $380.00 Gen2 RCBS ultrasonic machine qualifies for a $40 RCBS Rebate now through the end of September 2019.

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September 17th, 2016

How It Works: Wet Tumbling Cartridge Brass with Stainless Media

Cleaning brass cartridge cases STM stainless pins media tumbling

On our main Accurateshooter.com website, you’ll find a comprehensive review of the STM system for cleaning cartridge brass with stainless media. To clean brass with stainless media, start with five pounds of small stainless pins sold by StainlessTumblingMedia.com. Place these along with a gallon of water, a little liquid cleaner, and two pounds of cartridge brass in a rotary tumbler, and run the machine for one to four hours.

CLICK HERE for Stainless Media Brass Cleaning System Review

Forum Member Tests STM System
Our reviewer, Forum member Jason Koplin, purchased the STM media and a new Thumler’s Tumbler. He then tested the STM cleaning procedure on his own brass, including some extremely dirty and tarnished “range pick-up” brass. Jason was thoroughly impressed with how well the STM process worked — as you can see from the “before and after” photos below. Brass which looked like it was ready for the scrap heap was restored to “like-new” appearance. The process works equally well on both rifle brass and pistol brass. Jason observed that one surprise benefit of the STM cleaning procedure is a big reduction in noise. Jason said the water-filled rotary tumbler was much quieter than his vibratory tumblers.

stainless tumbling Media review video

stainless tumbling Media review video

You’ll want to read Jason’s full review which shows more before and after images. The full article features a “how-to” video created by Forum member Cory Dickerson, the young man who pioneered the stainless tumbling process and founded STM. The video shows how to load brass, media, and cleaner solutions into the tumbler, and how to separate media from brass once the tumbling is done.

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September 8th, 2015

Tuesday Tumble — How to Make Lake City Brass Shine Again

Dennis Santiago Lake City Gracey Trimmer Case Prep Military Crimp Wilson

“Once-fired, lot-number-traceable Lake City 7.62×51. This has been de-primed, pocket-swaged, small base body die’d, full-length sized, trimmed with a Gracey Trimmer, and tumbled. Now it’s shiny again. It’s like gourmet macaroni for shooters!” — Dennis Santiago

Our friend Dennis Santiago shoots a variety of disciplines, including Vintage Military Rifle. He burns through a lot of brass, some of it run through gas guns, so he often saves money by acquiring once-fired Lake City Arsenal brass. But that stuff is often pretty ugly when it arrives. For his “previously-owned” Lake City Brass, Dennis does a complete case prep operation and a thorough cleaning/tumbling operation. Special attention is paid to the primer pockets — they are swaged to remove the military crimp. The cases are trimmed and chamfered in one operation using a Gracey Powered Case Trimmer.

Dennis likes once-fired Lake City brass for some applications. The price is right, and with proper attention to detail during case prep, Lake City brass can shoot exceptionally well indeed. You may want to sort Lake City brass by weight. To remove the military crimp you have a variety of options — you can swage it out with a special tool like Dennis does, or you can ream out the crimp. For Wilson trimmer owners, Wilson makes a special Primer Pocket Reamer to remove military crimps. It works very well, as shown below:

Military crimp primer pocket reamer salazarMilitary crimp primer pocket reamer salazar

Case Processing with the Gracey Trimmer
Designed by Doyle Gracey 30 years ago, the Gracey machine trims, deburs and chamfers in one operation, indexing off the case shoulder. The manufacturer claims the Gracey will process 20 cases per minute while holding .002″ tolerances on trim length. Two steel cutters are employed — one cutter trims the case to length and puts a chamfer on the inside of the case mouth. The second cutter removes the burr from the outside of the case-mouth. A 1/15 hp motor turns 1550 rpm. Interestingly, a clamped rubber hose serves as the “drive shaft” to turn the cutting head.

Dennis Santiago Lake City Gracey Trimmer Case Prep Military Crimp Wilson

Trey Tuggle, writing in Shooting Sports USA, reviewed the Gracey Trimmer, giving it generally high marks, though it lacks some of the refinements of the more modern Giraud Trimmer:

“This model may have a piece of wood for a base, no on-off swith and a piece of bent sheet metial to contain brass shavings — but it does trim, debur and chamfer with great speed and accuracy at a nice price. The [Gracey] two-bladed cutter requires a little more patience to adjust than the one-piece cutter on the Giraud, but it gets the job done superbly. [The Gracey] does the job for less money, if you’re willing to tinker with the cutter blade adjustment.” Gracey machines are still available new from MatchPrep.com for $335.00 (or $235.00 without motor).

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
August 20th, 2015

How to Clean Brass with an Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine

Ultrasonic Cleaning RCBS Ultrasound .308 Winchester 7.62x51 brass casings

Do you have some old, tired brass that needs a thorough cleaning — inside and out? Consider using an ultrasonic cleaning machine. When used with the proper solution, a good ultrasonic cleaning machine can quickly remove remove dust, carbon, oil, and powder residue from your cartridge brass. The ultrasonic process will clean the inside of the cases, and even the primer pockets. Tumbling works well too, but for really dirty brass, ultrasonic cleaning may be a wise choice.

READ FULL UltimateReloader.com Article on Ultrasonic Case Cleaning.

Our friend Gavin Gear recently put an RCBS Ultrasonic cleaning machine through its paces using RCBS Ultrasonic Case Cleaning Solution (RCBS #87058). To provide a real challenge, Gavin used some very dull and greasy milsurp brass: “I bought a huge lot of military once-fired 7.52x51mm brass (fired in a machine gun) that I’ve been slowly prepping for my DPMS LR-308B AR-10 style rifle. Some of this brass was fully prepped (sized/de-primed, trimmed, case mouths chamfered, primer pockets reamed) but it was gunked up with lube and looking dingy.”

UltimateReloader.com Case Cleaning Video (7.5 minutes):

Gavin describes the cleaning exercise step-by-step on UltimateReloader.com. Read Gavin’s Cartridge Cleaning Article to learn how he mixed the solution, activated the heater, and cycled the machine for 30 minutes. As you can see in the video above, the results were impressive. If you have never cleaned brass with ultrasound before, you should definitely watch Gavin’s 7.5-minute video — it provides many useful tips and shows the cleaning operation in progress from start to finish.


The RCBS ultrasonic cleaning machine features a large 3-liter capacity, 60 watt transducer, and 100 watt ceramic heater. The RCBS ultrasonic machine can be found under $140.00, and this unit qualifies for RCBS Rebates ($10 off $50 purchase or $50 off $300.00 purchase). RCBS also sells 32 oz. bottles of cleaning concentrate that will make up to 10 gallons of Ultrasonic Solution.

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August 4th, 2014

Sinclair Videos Show Cartridge Brass Cleaning Options

Shiny brass — it may not shoot more accurately, but it does make you feel better about your hand-loaded ammo. While it’s not necessary to get brass “bright and shiny” after every firing, it is a good idea to clean powder residue, grime, and grit off your brass before you run cases into sizing dies. There are many ways to clean cartridge cases. A quick wipe with solvent on a patch may suffice for recently-shot cases. Older brass with baked-on carbon may require lengthy tumbling. Ultrasonic cleaning is another popular option that gets your brass clean inside and out.

Sinclair International has a series of helpful videos on brass cleaning. These short “how-to” videos, hosted by Bill Gravatt, Sinclair’s past President, cover the various processes you can use — tumbling, ultrasonic cleaning, chemical cleaning, and cleaning by hand.

Video ONE — Cleaning Brass in Vibratory or Rotary Tumbler

TIP: Brass that has recently been shot will clean more easily than brass that has been sitting many days or weeks. If your tumbling media is fresh the job should be done in an hour or less. It’s your choice whether to tumble with primers removed or with primers still in the cases. If you choose to tumble with primers out, we suggest you deprime with a depriming die, rather that put dirty brass into your sizing die. Some people like to add a teaspoon of liquid polish to the media. This does work, cutting tumble time, and making your brass more shiny. However, if you add liquid polish, do that BEFORE you add the brass and let the tumbler run for a 15 minutes to get the polish completely mixed into the media. Otherwise you can else up with gooey gunk inside your cases — a very bad thing.

Video TWO — Ulstrasonic Case Cleaning

TIP: There are many different types of solutions you can use. Soapy water suffices for some folks, particularly if you add a little Lemi-Shine. The Hornady and Lyman solutions work well, and can be used multiple times, provided you strain the solution to remove dirt and grit after cleaning sessions. Many ultrasonic cleaning machines have timers. Experiment with dwell time to see how long you need to immerse your brass. A very small amount of Ballistol in the solution will help lubricate your necks on the inside. This can make bullet seating go more smoothly, with more consistent neck tension.

Video THREE — Chemical Cleaners (Soaking without Ultrasound)

TIP: After using chemical cleaners, such as the Iosso solution, you need to water-rinse your brass thoroughly. A kitchen strainer helps with this (see video at 0:20). Also, don’t forget your brass in the chemical solution — follow the manufacturers recommendations and don’t exceed the recommended dwell time. Chemical cleaners work surprisingly well to remove grease and grime, and the solution can be re-used multiple times. However, if you want your cases to look bright and shiny (like new brass), you will probably have to tumble.

Video FOUR — Manual Cleaning (By Hand)

TIP: Keep some oversize patches in your range kit. At the end of your shooting sessions, wipe off your fired brass with a patch dampened with a mild, non-corrosive solvent (once again Ballistol works well). Before the carbon sets up on your brass it is very easy to remove. For tougher jobs, you can use 0000 Steel Wool (as Bill recommends in the video). You may find that timely hand-cleaning lets you avoid tumbling altogether — or you may choose to tumble (or ultra-sound) your brass only after a half-dozen or so firings.

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February 8th, 2013

Cleaning Brass with Stainless Tumbling Media

On our main Accurateshooter.com website, you’ll find a comprehensive review of the STM system for cleaning cartridge brass with stainless media. To clean brass with stainless media, start with five pounds of small stainless pins sold by StainlessTumblingMedia.com. Place these along with a gallon of water, a little liquid cleaner, and two pounds of cartridge brass in a rotary tumbler, and run the machine for one to four hours.

CLICK HERE for Stainless Media Brass Cleaning System Review

Forum Member Tests STM System
Our reviewer, Forum member Jason Koplin, purchased the STM media and a new Thumler’s Tumbler. He then tested the STM cleaning procedure on his own brass, including some extremely dirty and tarnished “range pick-up” brass. Jason was thoroughly impressed with how well the STM process worked — as you can see from the “before and after” photos below. Brass which looked like it was ready for the scrap heap was restored to “like-new” appearance. The process works equally well on both rifle brass and pistol brass. Jason observed that one surprise benefit of the STM cleaning procedure is a big reduction in noise. Jason said the water-filled rotary tumbler was much quieter than his vibratory tumblers.

stainless tumbling Media

stainless tumbling Media

Lake City Brass STM Stainless Media

Lake City Brass STM Stainless Media

You’ll want to read Jason’s full review which shows more before and after images. The full article features a “how-to” video created by Forum member Cory Dickerson, the young man who pioneered the stainless tumbling process and founded STM. The video shows how to load brass, media, and cleaner solutions into the tumbler, and how to separate media from brass once the tumbling is done.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review 4 Comments »
October 16th, 2012

Cleaning Cartridge Brass with Stainless Media — Practical Guide

This article originally appeared in Sinclair International’s Blog, The Reloading Press.
In the August 2012 Reloading Press, Bill Gravatt, President of Sinclair International, shared his experience using the Thumler’s Tumbler and stainless steel pin media to clean some .308 brass just before the National Matches. He discovered that combo is really great for cleaning brass.

This month, I want to share the results of a test I performed with stainless steel pin media, and give you some tips on how to best use this media to get cases as clean as you can. I’ve been using tumblers of some sort for more than 30 years. I got started with a sealed rotary tumber that my father and I made out of an old rock polisher we hooked up to a washing machine motor. While not as nice as a new Thumler’s Tumbler, the one-gallon capacity on that old tumbler means it’s still good for cleaning brass.

The Brass: Good, Bad and Downright Ugly
To really test the stainless steel media’s cleaning power, I mixed three kinds of pistol brass that offered different challenges. First was some very old Amron headstamped .357 Magnum brass. The late Ken Lomont of Lomont Precision Bullets gave me the Amron brass as partial payment back when I was still in high school and working for him. I’ve been shooting it for years, so it’s obviously very durable. But it’s also very hard to clean, which made it great for the test.

I threw in some once-fired nickel-plated .357 SIG brass from Federal that had a lot of soot inside. I wanted to see just how well the stainless steel media could handle really grimy jobs. Finally, I added in the worst brass — some very corroded 9mm range pick-up brass with spots of verdigris all over them and dirt down inside them. They were terrible, which made them perfect for the test.

Case Prep For Cleaning
Before I ran the cases through the tumbler, I knocked out all of the fired primers so that the stainless steel media would be able to get into the primer pockets and run through the flash holes. The media that we have at Sinclair is only .040″ in diameter, so it will easily go through the .080″ diameter flash hole on most domestic-produced brass, as well as the smaller .060″ flash holes found on some other cases. Once I knocked out the primers, I poured the brass and the media into the tumbler drum together.

Mixing The Solution
Then I mixed up the cleaning solution. I poured ¾ of a gallon of water into the unit, and then put in four tablespoons of Dawn dishwashing detergent. I also added one teaspoon of lemon juice to keep the brass from spotting when it dried.

With everything ready, I sealed up the drum and started the unit and let it run for three or four hours. When I opened the drum, I could tell the media had done a very good job of removing all of the crud from the brass. The water was black, as you would expect from all the carbon inside the cases. After pouring off the solution, I separated the brass from the stainless media and rinsed it off. It took three rinses in clear water to make sure the brass was free of all the carbon the media scrubbed off.

SS4Then I rinsed the media, too. Rinsing the media is important: if you don’t do it, the media will be dirty when you use it next time. The media is easier to rinse while it’s still damp, and it cleans easily with clear water. As you can see, the brass cleaned up very well and showed no evidence of water spotting because of the lemon juice. The range pick-up brass came out fully usable, showing no signs of corrosion. The nickel brass looked as if it were brand new and unfired. The Amron cases looked the best that I can ever remember seeing them. Some of them still had a light amount of carbon just behind the case mouth, but a quick twist with 0000 steel wool took care of this easily during inspection of these cases before loading. All of the primer pockets were clean and clear of carbon. Impressive!

SS6Based on what I have seen, I will definitely use stainless steel media a whole lot in the future, even though I will still keep some of the treated organic media around for when I want a very bright shine on the brass. Several of the other Sinclair International Reloading Techs plan on trying the stainless media as well, so they might come up with some other tips for you in the future.

As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to call on any of us on the Sinclair Tech staff to assist you.

Bob Blaine, Sinclair International Tech
NRA Certified Reloading Instructor and RSO

TECH TIPS — Avoiding Problems with Stainless Media

Do Not Use Stainless Media Dry — I have had customers call and ask if stainless steel media can be used dry. The answer is that you will not like the results. Everything will go to the media, but it will still leave the brass dirty. If you use stainless steel media dry, you have to run it through a cleaning solution to clean the media. Then, it’s good to go again.

Do NOT Use Stainless Media in a Vibratory Tumbler — When using stainless media, you need a rotary-style, liquid-containing tumbler. You want to use stainless steel media ONLY in a rotary tumbler. Do not use stainless steel media in a vibratory type cleaner.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 3 Comments »
October 23rd, 2011

Review of Stainless Tumbling Media Brass Cleaning System

On our main Accurateshooter.com website, you’ll find a comprehensive review of the STM system for cleaning cartridge brass with stainless media. To clean brass with stainless media, start with five pounds of small stainless pins sold by StainlessTumblingMedia.com. Place these along with a gallon of water, a little liquid cleaner, and two pounds of cartridge brass in a rotary tumbler, and run the machine for one to four hours.

CLICK HERE for Stainless Media Brass Cleaning System Review

YouTube Preview Image

Forum Member Tests STM System
Our reviewer, Forum member Jason Koplin, purchased the STM media and a new Thumler’s Tumbler. He then tested the STM cleaning procedure on his own brass, including some extremely dirty and tarnished “range pick-up” brass. Jason was thoroughly impressed with how well the STM process worked — as you can see from the “before and after” photos below. Brass which looked like it was ready for the scrap heap was restored to “like-new” appearance. The process works equally well on both rifle brass and pistol brass. Jason observed that one surprise benefit of the STM cleaning procedure is a big reduction in noise. Jason said the water-filled rotary tumbler was much quieter than his vibratory tumblers.

stainless tumbling Media

stainless tumbling Media

You’ll want to read Jason’s full review which shows more before and after images. In addition, the full article features a “how-to” video created by Forum member Cory Dickerson, the young man who pioneered the stainless tumbling process and founded STM. The video shows how to load brass, media, and cleaner solutions into the tumbler, and how to separate media from brass once the tumbling is done. The illustration below shows how to access the article from our new home page. Note that you can click on other featured articles as well.

AccurateShooter.com Stainless Media

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 12 Comments »