Wet Tumble or Ultrasonic?

Newbie here:

I'm debating on if I should do wet tumble with pins or ultrasonic. I'm leaning towards ultrasonic + lemishine + detergent for cleaning brass since there are no pins to deal with, although it seems like the pins get them the cleanest. Also I can use the ultrasonic for other gun parts...



Ultrasonic have their place I suppose, especially for small or assembled parts. As with all vibrating dependent units, the more weight you want to clean the higher the cost of the machine as they are heavily dependent on staying below a minimum weight or they cannot produce the proper wave form, whereas the tumbler, as long as you can get the motor to turn, it your good to go. Plus the tumbler will also give you a dry option for polishing or texturing should you like.
Make sure what ever you choose will handle the size and weight of what you want to process. If you expect to process anything other than brass in the ultrasonic, some ultrasonic cleaners will not handle a field striped 45 or similar so will need a larger unit..
I have cleaned a bunch of brass in many different ways and have found with the correct tooling, SS pins, wet tumbled works best for me.
It is more time consuming then the ultrasonic cleaner but if you are going to shoot a bunch or want to load a bunch at a time and you want it clean and bright, Wet tumblers work well with steel pins.
From what I have seen in demo's ultra sonic cleaners require the use of chemicals to do the best job. Brass is sensitive to acid based stuff so if you use anything but Dawn, for instance make sure to neutralize it when you are done. Water bath gets most of it but it can turn dark in a short time if not done.
2:1 Simple Green + Ultrasonic cleaner = the simplest, cleanest brass I've ever encountered in my life.

I have not used my tumbler at all since acquiring the ultrasonic cleaner. The tumbler is a massive PITA in comparison.
It's not for sale. I occasionaly use it for deburring parts and surface finishing.
OH Thanks
I used them for everything including getting heavy rust off of screw driver Phillips, torx and straight bits including drivers shanks and the like that got rained on wile contracting. Hand tools such as pliers , wire cutter and the like, once threw in a very rusty folding knife that was left in the boat after a salt water fishing trip, weeks later and it came almost out like new.
Recently I pitched in a third of a large tin can of nuts and bolts full of rust but the grease that was what I was after.
Just dish soap they all came out like new. I have a three gang of twelve pounder's and one single 12 pounder.
Always room for another at the right price.
I've been using an US (Hornady 2L) for about 8 years. What I like is that it is simple, quick and I can use it to clean other things as well.

For brass only, if I was to start over again I would probably go with a tumbler, just so that I can get everything nice and shiny inside and out. :rolleyes:

But it works well enough and I'm too cheap to buy a tumbler at this point.

FWIW - I like to prep my brass in multiple stages which are a quick clean followed by resize/deprime and then a longer clean and dry and then store for later loading. While it is an extra set of steps I have fewer stops or issues to address while loading without needing to resize and also being able to get rid of bad brass before I try to load it.
Wet tumble over ultra sonic for me. I have both, ran both and use my US cleaner for suppressor cleaning duty.

Know stainless media does NOT have to be used. I only use soap and little citric acid for my first cleaning of range brass. Comes out as clean as if I vibratory polished in walnut. I prep all the brass, deprime, resize, under size and roll form. Then it goes back in the wet tumblers with stainless chips, soap and citric acid. What comes out is the cleanest nicest brass that loads, feeds, fires and ejects perfectly.


I guess a lot depends on what sort of volume you need to process. If you do <100 rifle cases once a month, vs being a competition pistol shooter and processing several thousand a month. I have both the Hornady ultrasonic ( 2 liter, I think) and a Lyman wet tumbler. The Lyman easily processes 750-1000 pieces of 9mm at a time, typically running for an hour to an hour and a half. The ultrasonic doesn't hold enough brass to be worth bothering with, for me, but it is great for cleaning guns, although it's a little cramped for length on some larger/longer pistols.

@Helocat, man, I wish I could roll-size my .45 acp! Running it through a bulge buster is aggravating, especially if you have 1k or more to do.

My processing on brass is about the same as Helocat's, less the roll sizer and undersize die. Running processing with lube makes it a lot smoother- easier on the one running the press, and probably on the press, brass, and dies as well. I really like having my brass look like brand new Starline!
Another one for wet tumble who has tried ultrasonic. US works in a pinch, but I don't even start to do brass prep when I don't have time.
I now use mine mostly for cleaning gun and auto parts. 99% of the time, it takes a spot beneath my bench.


I switched from dry tumbling to wet with pins several years ago and glad I did!

Much less hassle, I can tumble inside, reusable media and much shorter time.

I have however started something new which works very well.

After shooting I will 'pre tumble' my brass with dawn, lemon juice but use spent primers as the media. Yep - works well and a never ending supply!

This brass (once dry) goes into storage for eventual sizing and depriming and once that is done a short session with pins, dawn and lemon juice and they are ready for primers, powder and bullets. I spread these tasks out so I always have a supply of brass ready to load and don't feel like I am playing 'catch up' constantly!
After wet tumbleing with pins I don't use the other stuff any more.
I made drying racks to put the brass on after tumbleing.
I can tumble 1,200 to 1,500 pieces of brass a day with the racks I have.
Last week I made more drying racks that will hold another 2,000 pieces of brass.

I pick up a lot of range brass from the gravel pit where I take my grandson to shoot.
I just got rid of over 10,000 pieces of 9mm brass & 10,000 pieces of 223/5.56 brass.

I will be adding another Frankford wet tumbler to the mix here shortly.

After I place the brass on the racks I hit them with the air hose that removes a lot of the eccess water.
I will never do back to the dry tumbler or the ultra sonic.


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