Stainless Steel Media


June 3, 2011, 11:22 AM
I've heard lots of talk about this lately, but what exactly do you guys use? I'm just not sure what to buy. What are the pro's and con's to it?

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June 3, 2011, 01:27 PM
Cons ...
- takes just a little care to avoid pins going down the sink when you drain (BTW, the media is magnetic so I use a media separator rotary basket set inside one of those huge, cheap plastic storage bins ... then scavenge the pins with a magnet)
- have to dry the cases or wait for them to air dry

Pros ...
- media lasts forever
- no more smelly dust / lead residue
- no more pocket cleaning - they come out great

I still use a vibratory but only for finished lead pistol rounds for a quick cleanup.

The recommended pins are .041 * .250. Several places (and a mystery poster on the Sniper's Hide) sell 5#s of them for around $50 - cheapest ($25 / 5#s) and excellent service is from Pellets LLC

They're used to dealing with reloaders and will suggest the size above. A few of us bought 25#s (5#s each for the usual Thumler's B model) and had them in 3 days for $10.70 shipping.

BTW, Cabela's has the high-speed Model B for the best price I could find it around the web (179.95) and if you pick it up at the store, no shipping (balance sales tax vs s/h from an internet source - just be sure you're getting the high-speed Model B - the old and new models look identical ... have to look at the motor plate to ID - Cabela's only carries the high-speed).

Pics and description of process (I go with 3/4 gal of H2O, Real Lemon juice instead of Lemishine and get more brass in - same results as shown below) ...


June 4, 2011, 08:09 AM
The high cost +- $50 for the media didn't bother me as it will last forever. Using a rotary tumbler would have added a few hundred as my current tumblers are vibratory. The need to dry the cases didn't really turn me on. What finally turned me off was the small batches. If the media itself is 5#'s you can't add much brass.

Here is how it works.

5#'s of media
1 gallon of water (with what ever soap you want) 8#'s
Now add up to 2#'s of brass

That is 230 9mm cases or 180 45 cases.

Even if I didn't have to dry for one second (and it takes a lot longer than that) I would still have to run the machine over 6 times (3-4 hours each time) to clean the same amount that I can do in one batch with my Dillon.

June 4, 2011, 08:28 AM

Notice. It takes a few times to get the media broke in. The media is dirty from manufacturing process and has a few burs. Media does not work in a vibratory cleaner
1. Add 5 Lbs (2.27 kg) of SS media into the drum
2. Next fill with 1 gallon (3.78 Liters) of cold water. (One gallon)=8 Lbs/3.63 kg
3. Add your brass into the drum (2 Lbs/907g of brass)
4. Then add dish soap. 1 -2 Tbs (15-30 mL) of either Dawn, Ivory, or Joy dish soap
(if there are no soap bubbles in the water after you tumble, you need more soap)
5. Add 1/4 Tsp. (1.25 mL) of Lemishine. This is the key to the shine. (Not too much)
6. Tumble 3-4 hours with the Model B High Speed Thumler’s Tumbler, 4-6 hours Normal Speed Tumbler.
7. Pour out as much water as you can without losing any brass or pins*
(The more you rinse the brass and pins the better your results will be next time)
8. Fill drum back up with water, and either separate brass by hand while holding it underwater. Or use a media separator
9. Rinse your brass off really good with some warm water. (Not getting a good rinse can leave water spots on the brass)
10. Dump brass onto a towel and let dry. If any pins get stuck in the neck of the brass throw those pins away
11. Store Stainless Steel Media either wet or dry in drum

I currently...
1. Add 13 #'s of brass.
2. Then one cap full of polish.
3. Next tumble 3-4 hours.
4. Dump in separator.

June 4, 2011, 09:08 AM
As with everything, recipes and preferences vary.

As noted above, 3/4 gal of water is plenty and I usually let it go 3 hours. Obviously, more space for brass.

Real Lemon does a better job than Lemishine and is cheaper.

The pins are $25 as posted above.

The difference in the primer pocket cleaning is what makes it for me - YMMV.


June 4, 2011, 09:14 AM
I got my 5# of SS Media from Pellets, LLC ( for $30 shipped. I also bought my tumbler from Cabela's and used my Cabela's points to get the price even lower. I did ship to store as I have a Cabela's 20 mins from my house and it is on the way to the range. LemiShine can be found at Walmart so easy access to the key ingredient. Get the Frankford Arsenal media separator. Does a GREAT job of separating the media. Takes me about 5 turns and the media is in the water and separated from the brass.

I agree with the pros up above. It takes me 15 minutes to rinse the brass, dry and place on cookie sheets to finish drying in the garage. 5 minutes to get the next batch ready and running.

I use 5# each of Water, Media & Brass. 4 hours gets them perfect including Primer Pockets. I use a 40 S&W case full of LemiShine & a squirt of Dawn Dishsoap. Instructions vary on how much brass to process. Some say 2# (2# of brass, 8# of water, & 5# of media). 5# of brass works well for me so I'm definitely not going to change it.

I've left some brass for as long as 8 hours with no ill effects. My buddy has some 10mm brass that had tarnish and after 24 hours in walnut & 24 hours in corn cob still had some tarnish and the insides / primer pocket were still dirty. 4 hours in SS Media and they were great inside and out and the primer pockets were spotless.

Yes I still have one vibratory tumbler to clean processed rifle brass of lube. It only takes about 15 minutes to get rid of the lube so this sees very little use anymore.

June 4, 2011, 10:26 AM
Slight side track: Please describe the differences between the regular speed Thumler's model B motor and the high speed one. Curious if I can speed up the operation of mine by making it go faster

June 4, 2011, 12:28 PM
Exactly the same AFAIK except the motor - 3000 rpm on the higher speed model.

June 4, 2011, 04:34 PM
i am currently in the market for a tumbler, as my frankford arsenal recently gave up the ghost. until i read this thread, and its posts, i had not even given this a thought. dry time is not a consideration for me, as i usually wash all my brass after tumbling anyway. i have been using red rouge in the media, along with regular polish additive and nu-finish car wax. i just do not think any of the residue will help the performance of my rounds, so i wash it out. many, many years ago, i had a thumblers that i bought used at a garage sale. the drum was pretty wipped out, and sometimes, i had to tape the lid to keep it on even when tumbling dry. i guess i have had read about using stainless steel pins for tumbling before. i am curious as how this method compares to the hornady ultrasonic cleaner. has anyone done a side by side comparison between the two of them?

June 4, 2011, 04:54 PM
I decided US was going to be a pain - they all have short timers you have to keep resetting. With any reasonable liquid formula, I think the throughput of the SS tumbling is better, not counting dry time - - I could be wrong on that but I recall seeing a lot of people complaining about the number of cycles the US required to do a decent job.

I know you can't do better with primer pockets than the SS output - quicker with US, dunno...? The durability of the Thumler is also appealing - the suggested duty cycle for rocks was something like 3 straight weeks with only stops for 2 media changes, then 3, 5 day cycles for polishing w various abrasives ... something like that - it'll take me a while to get that number of hours on it doing brass!

BTW, you can order just a barrel or lid from Thumlers.

June 4, 2011, 05:16 PM
I got an email flyer from Sinclair a couple of days ago and they now have a.....

Thumbler Tumbler Stainless Steel Tumbling Kit (

Although it does appear to be out of stock at the moment.



June 4, 2011, 06:14 PM
Sinclair = great products, not always the best deal by a longshot though.

June 5, 2011, 03:04 AM
I use the Walnut media and paper towel strips in the vibrator to clean off some dirt before I put the brass in with the water and the stainless steel media in the tumbler.
The stainless steel media will get the inside of the necks clean like new, and may also require neck chamfering, like new.

I don't clean brass with the ultrasonic any more. I do clean bore brushes with it.

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