Best Brass Tumbler Brands


June 3, 2009, 10:12 PM
Considering only vibratory tumblers....

Another, well used Lyman bit the dust. I need a new one. I'd like a good one. I've had Lyman(s), and have generally happy with them. They've lasted about 5 years of use and abuse.

I'm interested in other brands. I've no experience with Dillon(s), Hornady(s). I've known people with issues on recent RCBS and Frankford Arsenal tumblers, and have ruled them out.

What is are the best value, even if they cost more?

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D. Manley
June 3, 2009, 10:18 PM
IMO, you can't go wrong with a Dillon or Thumblers.

June 3, 2009, 10:29 PM
Cabale's, can't beat their customer satisfaction guarantee. Good forever. And the whole kit with media and polish is only $58.00.

June 3, 2009, 10:33 PM
LOL. 1 vote for each at this point.

June 3, 2009, 10:40 PM
"Another, well used Lyman bit the dust. I need a new one. I'd like a good one. I've had Lyman(s), and have generally happy with them. They've lasted about 5 years of use and abuse."

Curious; how did your Lymans fail? Mine first "failed" after about five years, nearly twenty years ago. The oil dried out in the bronze motor bearings, I put a few drops of good oil on them and all was well for several more years. Each time, the motor didn't start when I switch it on so I turned it off before the motor windings burned out. Then, about ten years ago, it stopped during the night and smoked the motor. I got a new motor, installed it and all has been well since. Meaning, the things do need a few drops of good oil every three or four years!

I have learned to use Automatic Transmission Fluid (from Walmart) as an all around gun and light mechine oil. Works great, drys slowly, non-gumming.

The motors are the same as those used for common bath and kitchen exhausts, get them from most any electical supply store or even Lowes/H'Depot. About $8-9.

I really don't think there is much of a difference in tumblers, they are pretty simple devices and they all use much the same motors.

June 3, 2009, 10:50 PM
My Dillion has been an excellent purchase. Had a second cheapie for walnut media and using corn cob with the Dillion. The FA burned up about a week ago. That was after less than a year of medium use. Would not buy another FA tumbler.

June 3, 2009, 10:51 PM
cabela's makes their own, great price and works great.

June 3, 2009, 11:02 PM
"cabela's makes their own, great price and works great."

Ehh, I'm pretty sure Berry's makes them for Cabela's. They do seem to work fine for me who's ever label is on it. Your also right on the price, I think they are quite a bit cheaper through Cabela's...about the only thing that is cheaper there ;)

June 3, 2009, 11:06 PM
Ranger335v: I haven't taken the last Lyman apart yet (Single working dad and all). It had gotten loud, but was still working and looked OK, but when I came back from running errands, was just humming. Being down now, I'm going to get another before seeing if the old one can be salvaged. It was a good size for small jobs (100 6mm BR cartridges), but a bit small for larger .223 Rem runs. It had taken a lot of abuse.

D. Manley: Thanks for mentioning Thumlers, the UV-18 looks nice. No decision yet.

I had a Lyman 2500 on backorder at Midway, but it always gets pushed out. Been 50-ish days now. Brass is building up. :( That makes me consider something more solid and reliable. The Dillon looks good, but I don't believe they back their tumblers like they do their reloading equipment (which they really stand behind!)

June 3, 2009, 11:11 PM
IMO, the value of a tumbler depends on the longevity of service.
You can justify spending 160 bucks on a tumbler when it's life expectancy is 20 years or more.

OTH, spending $45 for a Frankford Arsenal that might last 3 years is a waste of money.

June 3, 2009, 11:27 PM
Otto: Exactly. I agree.

June 3, 2009, 11:31 PM
i like my rcbs, its been great so far, but i must admit, the only reason i bought it was b/c i got 20 bucks off for buying the rockchucker supreme kit, otherwise i probably would have went with the hornady since it was 20 bucks cheaper

June 3, 2009, 11:43 PM
+1 on Cabela's. $45 minus $15 discount for applying for a Cabela's Visa card plus shipping = delivered to my door for under $40.

ps. it's made and warranted by Berry's

June 3, 2009, 11:44 PM

would you mind going into more detail about the replacement motor and where you oil yours?


evan price
June 4, 2009, 01:51 AM
Joe, if you look at the motor you will see the armature shaft is supported at the top and bottom frame of the open motor by a small bronze bushing at each end. With the tumbler unplugged, clean all the dirt, dust, and crud out of the motor that you can. Compressed air works great for this, or that air-in-a-can stuff they sell for computer keyboards. Once it's clean, apply a couple drops of 3-in-one type oil, gun oil, motor oil, whatever you've got that is like that, to the junction between the bushing and the shaft, while turning the motor shaft (by the fan usually)by hand (to work the oil into the bushing). I had a Midway 1292 that seized up and it was because of dust buildup from running the tumbler when the lid nut had vibrated loose. I flushed the motor out with electric motor spray, then blew it out with air, and relubed it. Has been running fine since then.

Recently my 1292 went down due to dogs pulling it off the table by the cord, and breaking the bowl. While looking for parts (which I found thanks to a THR'er!) I bought a Berry's tumbler used on eBay to replace it, now I run two tumblers.

There's quite a bit of difference between the two models, more than you might think.

The Midway (which is Frankford Arsenal, Harbor Freight, Hornady I think, probably a few more) tends to have a faster vibration, but moves the brass and media less. It seems more to vibrate the brass inside a large quantity of media and use that vibration as a scrubbing action while slowly moving the brass in the media. It cleans really grungy brass better than the Berry's because the vibration is more powerful. The Midway tumbler also seems to hold more media than the Berry's does but cleans the same amount of brass.
The 1292 style tumbler have a more spherically-shaped bowl that you can fit more media inside before it starts to spill out. The center of the bowl is shaped to agitate the brass. The 1292 style uses a wing nut to tighten the bowl lid, and I've stripped out a few of them so far just from use. At least they are cheap to buy at the hardware store.

The Berry's tumbler seems to me to be built better. There is a screen on the bottom to keep your fingers out of the fan if you are in the habit of dumping it while it is still running. The Berry's also uses a heavier, grounded 3-prong plug line cord and a better inline switch. The Berry's tumbler also has a nice big plastic knob to secure the lid instead of a wing nut. The Berry's tumbler looks bigger than the Midway, and is in fact physically quite a bit bigger. However it holds the same amount of brass, and about 2/3 the amount of media as the Midway 1292. The bowl is more "bowl" shaped, like a cereal bowl, and if you put in as much media as you think it needs and start it, it may overflow the sides due to the shape. The Berry's also tends to violently toss the brass around in the tumbler, relying more on agitation of the brass than vibration of the brass in the media to clean.

The Berry's tumbler is quieter than the 1292. I would say the Berry's is a low pitched thrumming noise like an aquarium pump, whereas the 1292 is more of a buzzy rattle.

I would say that if your brass is clean brass that is only dirty from being fired, the Berry's tumbler will do a better job of cleaning quickly.

If your brass is picked out of the mud and gravel or tarnished then the 1292 type of tumbler is better at cleaning it.

Berry's does offer a lifetime warranty on plastic parts.
Most of the 1292 style tumblers do not have much of a warranty.

I started using my 1292 with walnut and NuFinish and my Berry's with corncob to finish polishing. In a pinch I can use both to knock out the brass quickly.

June 4, 2009, 04:03 AM
+1 on Cabela's. $45 minus $15 discount for applying for a Cabela's Visa card plus shipping
Their tumblers are ok, but allowing Cabelas to do a "hard pull" on my credit report isn't worth the $15.

Regarding 1292 tumblers from Midway, if you send your 1292 back to Midway they will replace it under the recall.

June 4, 2009, 07:24 AM
Each year I clean many 5 gallon buckets of brass with my Dillon tumbler I bought used 6 years ago used and still going strong. I know I ABUSE mine so it is cleaned as above and lubed with synthetic oil (2 drops per bearing) three times a year. It's like the Energizer Bunny but is now showing signs of wearing on the bowl. I never asked how old it was when purchased. I also like their media seperater the best of all, large tray no mess.

June 4, 2009, 07:32 AM
Not to confuse the issue, but Midsouth has a tumbler for $31 and change:


I bought one 2 weeks ago. Haven't had a chance to run it, though. Been too busy and haven't even had a chance to run to the PetCo to get media. (Our WMart doesn't carry bird bedding)


June 4, 2009, 07:54 AM

My used 1200 lasted 20 years, and my new one (bigger) is running great and super quit.

Berrys also makes a pretty good tumbler.

Nowhere Man
June 4, 2009, 08:41 AM
Another Cabellas fan here.

I went through two Habor Freight's in short order. I decided to try the one from Cabellas. That's two years now and going strong. (knock on wood)


The Bushmaster
June 4, 2009, 09:14 AM
My Lyman Turbo 1200 has been doing it's job for over 20 years without a problem...

June 4, 2009, 12:03 PM
I run three tumblers almost all the time. Two are Thumbler's UV-18's and one is a Berry's. One of the UV-18's is over 25 years old and on it's second motor. The second UV-18 is one I bought used and I have no idea how old it is, but I've had it for about 5 years. The Berry's is about 8 years old, and running great.

There is a lot of difference in the price of the UV-18 vs. the Berry's. I can heartily recommend both of them, so it depends on how much you want to spend as to which one you want.

Hope this helps.


Howard B
June 4, 2009, 12:09 PM
I have two Dillon vibratory type cleaners and two Thumblers rotary. Both have lasted well beyond my expectations. Dillon has the best customer service I have ever encountered. I recently sent a CV500 back to them I purchased in Dec 95. It had a short in the switch/power cord. I am pretty sure the bowl and lid were the ones I sent to them, but everything else looked new. Cost = whatever fedex charged me to send it to them.

June 4, 2009, 12:10 PM
I've had the Cabela's for about 2 years. I've had the Dillon CV750 less than a week. There is no fair comparison between the 2. The Dillon is built to a higher standard and is priced accordingly. I have not done a side by side comparison of which works better. Both have in line switches.

I have had the lower bearing on the Cabela get dust in it. I did run it a lot in a small enclosure and in the open. I also started using it without the lid. Some new media I got had a lot of dust. I'm going back to using the lid.
The Cabelas ran in 8-12 hour shifts so it has some mileage. For the money, I still think the Cabelas tumbler is good. For a new reloader on a budget it is hard to beat.

The Dillon has a seal on the lid. If it is indoors that is nice. I use a media separator so you still will get dust if you go from tumbler to separator. The Dillon is quieter. The Dillon would be harder to overload of the 2.

In the future the plan is:
The Dillon will run with walnut for case cleaning. The Cabelas will run with corncob for lube removal and final polish.

I am rapidly becoming spoiled by more than one tumbler. I'll be wanting an even bigger tumbler next.

June 4, 2009, 12:18 PM
I have a Thumblers Ultra-Vibe 18 that has been running flawlessly for >20 years. If it does die now I would replace it with another Thumbler.


June 4, 2009, 01:00 PM
I have a 20 year old midway tumbler that still gets the job done.

I also have the Lymann 2500 that I am extremely happy with, Thinking about replacing the old midway tumbler with a Lymann just to have a backup incase one goes down. I cant count the number of buckets of brass that have been cleaned with either of them, and they both run for about a week only stopping for dumping and refilling.

June 4, 2009, 01:34 PM
I can't speak to the longevity of tumblers cause I've only had one for a couple of months now but I'm tickled with it. It is a Lyman 1200 Auto-Flo.

I am a retired machinist and I've used commercial size tumblers for 25+ years. I said that to say this - I got this one with the Auto-Flo feature because I know that the only thing to dislike about tumbling is separating the parts from the media. It is great to just pull the plug and drain out all the media. Then while it is still running I take my hand and stir the brass around a little to get all the media out then you can just pour out the clean brass.

:D That is so nice. :D I'm gonna do my best to never be without that option - well, at least not until something much better comes along.


June 4, 2009, 01:35 PM
You didn't mention the quantities you need to tumble, so my advice may be null and void: I bought a Thumler UV-10 18 months ago. It has performed admirably and quietly. I'm not sure that something made 20 years ago is relevent because many companies "don't make things the way they used to". YMMV

June 4, 2009, 10:27 PM
Thanks much for all the replies. It was a great help. I had to make a decision (local Highpower and Benchrest matchs coming soon), and canceled the oft-postponed backorder on the Lyman 2500 with Midway. That said, I was willing to spend a little extra to get a reliable tumbler, for I use them a lot, and came to appreciate just how important it was when it was down. So I was leaning to the Dillon and the Thumlers. I bought a lot of Dillon stuff in the past, so this was a hard decision. I did choose to buy American.

I went with this:

The UV-18. Thanks to those that reminded me of Thumlers.

The poll will go on, as you'd expect, hopefully helping someone in the future.

On a side note, after placing the order, I got some little award at work that translates on some website to a $150 gift certificate for various websites. I chose Cabelas (the only interesting one). Now, do I get a UV-10 too, or do I get more 175 Gr SMK(s)? ;)

June 5, 2009, 07:22 PM
More shootin' = more fun ------- IN MY BOOK AT LEAST!!

October 26, 2009, 12:25 AM
Hey, dont bash frankford arsenal too much!!!
I bought a frankford tumbler three years ago on sale at midway usa and its still going strong. I use it for a few hours each weekend, so maybe thats not a lot compared to guys using theirs 40 hours a week, but it also cost me half what some of the brands listed here cost....

October 26, 2009, 11:33 AM
Yeah, I've burnt out the motors on two of the big Lyman 2500s. Both of them lasted just a bit past warranty :fire:.

I bought a Berry's tumbler from Grafs, and it's going out - burnt out that one in less than six months. :banghead: but that came with a two year warranty.

I'm running a big Lyman again - bought used at a gun show - until I burn that one out.

Okay, I do load 10-12 thousand rounds a year, and polish 'em overnight in a lot of cases. Maybe I shouldn't expect them to last. :scrutiny:

I'll watch this thread with interest.

October 26, 2009, 01:51 PM
I have the Cabales tumbler which as I understand is just a rebadged Berry's. H run the crap out of it over the past 5 years and its still going strong. Had a thought while reading this thread that came back to life. This is just an assumption based on nothing other than maybe's.

Those that have no problem or have tumblers last and last could it be that they do not load them near as heavy. Lighter loads but run longer. Its a thought.

October 26, 2009, 02:39 PM
I have been using my Midway tumbler for about 10 yrs now. No problems.

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