Welcome to my new favorite thing: the Hornady Lock-N-Load Hot Tub Sonic Cleaner. I’ve owned a small Hornady sonic cleaner for a while now, and I use it every week. If you reload, there’s just no reason not to have one.
Not only does a sonic cleaner take care of your cases with less work, but it cleans them better than you would by to by hand, as it cleans both the inside and outside of the case. The job it does on a primer pocket is amazing.
But I shoot at least 500 rounds a week, and am less than fastidious about picking up my brass. That means that by the end of the month, I have 2,000 rounds of mixed brass lying in the dirt. Between cleaning brass, and cleaning gun parts, that little 2L cleaner just doesn’t cut it.
Enter the 9L Hot Tub. The larger unit carries a heftier price tag, but is large enough to fit an entire 16″ AR-15 upper, or hundreds or rounds of brass, and anything in between. It’s also packed full of useful features.
And while it does a lot, the instructions are intuitive and easy to use. Seven buttons on the front toggle through the functions on a well laid out display. There were no “I wonder what this light means” moments working the machine.
Along with the large capacity, the Hot Tub helps along the cleaning process with two handy features. First is the degassing feature. For those of you familiar with the sonic cleaners, it’s helpful to run them a cycle or two before you really get going, and the results are noticeable.
The Hot Tub comes with a degassing feature pre-programmed that runs for 90 seconds, then kicks into your regular cleaning cycle. In addition, for many metals things go much faster with heated liquid. That usually means warming up your distilled water and adding it to the machine. The Hot Tub has a built in heater component that lets you choose between 100 and 140 degrees and keep the solution that temperature through 30 minutes of cycle time.
Yet another feature is the solution timer, which allows you to set a total time that one particular batch of solution can be used before notifying you to discard it. I just let it go until it looks cloudy, which isn’t long) but the reminder is helpful.
Particularly useful is the drain hose. When the cleaning solution becomes too fouled (or full of leaves and sticks and rocks like mine was) just turn the knob and drain the fluid into a nearby bucket for easy disposal. If your fluid is still good but you want to shelf the Hot Tub, just drain it into an empty plastic water jug and reuse it later. You may just throw it away though, because that fluid lasts a long time. At a 40:1 water to cleaner ratio, I cleaned several thousand pieces of filthy brass and barely put a dent in the gallon jug.
Another huge plus is something particularly simple, the small parts tank. Using this smaller tank inside the large one can serve two function. Most obviously, it allows you to just use a small amount of fluid and cleaner instead of filling up the whole Hot Tub. Even better, it allows you to use two solutions at once. Put your pistol parts in the small tank with the steel parts cleaner, and put your brass loose in the big tank with the brass cleaner. Ten minutes later they are both clean.
So it’s easy to use and has lots of handy features, but how well does it really work? Exceptionally well.
The Hot Tub allows me to be both lazy and meticulous. After filling buckets full of mixed brass from the ground, I poured a few hundred rounds into the tub. Then simply add distilled water and a little bit of cleaning fluid, toggle to 15 minutes, and walk away.
By the end of the cycle, I wiped leaves, sticks and scum from the bubbles on the top, and pulled out my basket of beautifully clean brass. Normally, you’d remove the primers first to get the pockets, but there’s no way I’m putting muddy and dirty brass into my dies. Instead, I do one run in the Hot Tub, then size and de-prime, and then another run through the Hot-Tub. And why not? It costs next to nothing to run again, and doesn’t take more than 10 minutes. The result is cases that are almost as clean as they were when they were new.
What about gun parts? I’m doing a sight review right now using a GLOCK 19, and like many GLOCK owners, the owner of this gun rarely cleans it. Ten minutes in the cleaner and it emerges pristine. I’d still run a patch down the bore, but really, it’s already cleaner outside than you could get it by hand with a brush. And the bore is cleaner and shiner than any bore snake would get you.
Specifications: Hornady Lock-N-Load Hot Tub Sonic Cleaner
Hot Tub main tank dimensions: (9 Liters / 2.3 Gallons) 25.5″ x 7.0″ x 4″
Internal Divider Tank dimensions: 6.7″ x 4.7″ x 3.2″ (1.6 Liters / 1.7 Quarts)
5 Temperature Settings
Cleans cartridge cases inside and out
Will accommodate a 16″ AR upper
Integrated Drain Pans
MSRP: $625.00 (found more than $200 cheaper online)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Overall * * * * *
I used to like cleaning guns. Then I spent a weekend at a course putting 1,000 rounds through a direct impingement suppressed AR15. That’s no fun to clean at all. With the Hot Tub, it’s a 20 minute bath, towel dry, and lube to get that whole upper as good as new. I’m totally in love with the Hornady Hot Tub. An exceptional time saver that does a great job.