Brass prep is a critical part of the reloading process, but it can be a huge pain to deal with. I’ve traditionally been a dry tumbler, but I’ve been curious to try some new processes including ultrasonic case cleaning, and stainless media wet tumbling. In this article I’ll give you the low-down on my experience cleaning 7.62x51mm (military 308 Winchester) brass with the RCBS Ultrasonic Cleaner.
A while back, 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 was gunked up with lube and looking dingy. Time to try out the RCBS Ultrasonic Cleaner!
Here’s the brass before ultrasonic cleaning:
In my ultrasonic die cleaning video, I showed the RCBS Weapons Cleaning Solution in action. This time I’ll use a totally different solution, the RCBS Ultrasonic Case Cleaning Solution (RCBS #87058). It’s *very* important that you use the proper cleaning solution for your application- if you use case cleaning solution on guns or other parts, you’ll likely compromise or ruin certain finishes (like blueing). With that in mind, I mixed up a batch of ~2 liters of case cleaning solution at a 30 parts water to 1 part solution ratio.
Here’s a breakdown of the process:
- Drain and clean ultrasonic cleaner (I saved the solution I cleaned dies in because it was still rather clean)
- Fill the ultrasonic cleaner with solution (I just pour in water and solution and mix in the stainless tub)
- Turn on the ultrasonic cleaner, activate the heater, wait for it to come up to temperature
- Set the appropriate time interval for your cleaning (I used 30 minutes)
- Activate the cleaning cycle
- Wait until cleaning cycle is done
- Lift out basket, lightly shake/tip to remove excess solution
- Dry cases (I put them in a tub in the sun, you can also use your oven at low temp)
And here’s a video that walks you through the process from start to finish:
After cleaning, the solution looked pretty dirty, so I threw it out. This solution is biodegradable, which makes disposal much more convenient!
And here’s what the cleaned cases looked like all steamy after being lifted out of the murky solution:
But perhaps this picture tells the story best, before (left) and after (right). What you don’t see here is that the insides are cleaned better than when you dry tumble.
It’s great to have another way to clean cases. Each method has its pros and cons, so having multiple methods gives you great flexibility. Do you have a favorite way to clean cases? Have you home-brewed your own ultrasonic case cleaning solution? Please leave a comment!