Gear Review: Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Brass Tumbler (110V, 7L)

If there’s one thing I always procrastinate about it’s managing my brass. I’m great at policing it! I constantly scramble for mine at the range and even pick up most unclaimed brass I see lying around.

But then the bags, boxes, and tubes fill up, as do the garage and basement shelves. Sorting becomes less of a priority. And one day I realize there’s a quarter-ton of dirty, mixed brass casings that needs immediate attention.

Recently, after picking-up over two-thousand empty brass casings left by the previous days’ shooters, I realized it was time to get to work and at the very least sort and clean roughly ten-thousand brass casings.

Having always used dry media, such as crushed walnut shells, I was curious to try a wet media tumbling method. And given many of the casings were very muddy I was keen on the idea of washing them so I began my research.

I initially looked at STM’s Steel Reloading Kit, but decided against it due to its high price ($299.95 delivered from Amazon), lack of timer and automatic shut-off, and multiple thumb screws on each side of the tumbler, among other things.

Instead, I picked up Frankford Arsenal’s Premier Series Rotary Tumbler Kit for $159.05 delivered (Amazon) because like STM’s model, the drum was rubber-lined and came with 5-pounds of stainless steel tumbling media (which is supposed to last a lifetime). But also because the ports on Franklin’s drum were screw-on (no thumb-screws) with interchangeable sealing and sifting inserts.

In addition, the tumbler’s base features a timer with automatic shut-off and boasts a one-thousand .223 Rem case tumbling capacity.

If Frankford Arsenal sounds familiar, but you can’t quite place them in the industry, you’ve probably been exposed to them because they are part of the Battenfeld Technologies conglomerate of brands which includes Caldwell, Wheeler, Tipton, and the others shown in the above assortment of brand logos.

Frankford offers a variety of reloading products including tumblers, media separators, media and polish, case trimmers and preparation tools, ammo boxes and trays, and other tools like powder scales. Also available are a variety of replacement parts, which is always appreciated.

Frankford Arsenal’s Rotary Tumbler kit comes with everything you need to clean and tumble one group of brass casings (up to 1,000 .223 Rem casings), beginning with a 7-liter tumbling drum.

The drum itself is fairly light weight, but when filled with brass, media, and water it can be come a bit of a load. On either side of Frankford Arsenal’s embossed logo on the drum (above) oval indentations allow for easy one-handed management of the drum and natural sifting.

The Rotary Tumbler’s base has some weight – enough to ground it to a flat surface- but I wouldn’t say its heavy. Its most prominently features include a 3-hour timer and two sets of axels with rubber rollers on each of the four ends.

Like most rotary tumblers, the drum sits on the rollers, which in-turn rotate the drum. The direction of rotation is indicated by the two arrows near the front two rollers (above).

But the real advantage here is the “maintenance free geared drivetrain”. There are no belts to wear-out, break, and replace!

As previously mentioned, the drum is double-walled and rubber coated to reduce noise.

Each end of the drum has a screw-on cap and two cap-ends. One set of caps is clear, allowing the user to visually see the media, brass, and water tumble within the drum. Flat rubber gaskets within the clear caps create a water-tight seal, keeping all liquids within the drum.

The second set of caps are swapped out after tumbling and used to wash the brass and separate it from the media.

The 5-pound bag of 304 stainless steel media pins included with the kit most certainly weighed 5-pounds and the pins were all very clean. The media was double-bagged in thick plastic with resalable tops.

Stainless steel media find advantages over other types of media in that it does not wear out, it typically cleans faster than organic media, and can pass through primer pocket holes to reach the inside of casings and primer pockets (and back out again).

The small pins of stainless steel media can also be managed with the use of a simple magnet, since most casings are non-magnetic.

Lastly, the one-time use 2-fluid ounce sample packet of Frankford Arsenal’s liquid EZ Sonic Brass Cleaning Solution is what makes this kit also one-time-use. After that first use you’ll need to have another bottle of cleaning solution or detergent handy for the following batches of brass.

The package notes that use with distilled water will provide the best results, but that tap water can also be used. I’m a “table water” guy, not a sparkling water guy so my brass sure won’t be getting any distilled water – we’ll save that for the humidor.

Back in the shop I finished decapping roughly five-thousand brass casings. I normally wouldn’t decap my brass for the first wash but I wanted to see how well the wet stainless steel media process cleaned the primer pockets.

I also wanted to allow the media a chance to pass through the primer pocket hole, hopefully increasing the chances of all-around cleaner brass and less media stuck in casings.

Frankford Arsenal’s Rotary Tumbler touts a 1,000-case cleaning capacity (.223 Rem) and I certainly had enough to stuff the drum to capacity.

However, I planned to first wash 9mm casings so I separated out an even one-thousand, and with all the ingredients assembled, I capped-off the drum and began to mix some brass brew.

One-thousand decapped 9mm brass casings…

Five-pounds stainless steel pin media…

One sample packet Frankford Arsenal EZ Sonic Brass Cleaning Solution…

Fill to brim with water, cap the other end, and…

Brass soup!

I set the timer for the full three-hours, built a small cardboard enclosure to further dampen the noise, set the timer on my phone and went about my afternoon.

Three hours later the drum was sitting still so I popped the clear cap and inserted the sifting cap into the frothy concoction and screwed the ring on tight.

The lead-laden waste water was just the disgusting mess I was hoping to see; a good first indicator that the process cleaned the brass well.

Next, several washes of the brass by rinsing with water in a small bucket, “panning” the brass in the trapped water, and shaking the brass within the drum thoroughly cleaned the waste water from the casings.

Simultaneously, the stainless steel media was separated from the brass and flushed out the bottom of the drum and caught in the bucket.

With all the vigorous sifting and washing, one or two casings per batch would make it through the filter and out of the drum. Or simply get wedged between slots.

The filter’s grating is somewhat flexible, which is actually good design when you consider the weight of the brass and water in the drum. A more rigid polymer may crack when this polymer would bend. I’d much rather have to push a piece of brass back through than deal with a broken grate.

After all washings, the clean brass will remain in the drum and the media will be sitting in the bottom of the bucket, ready for the next batch of brass or drying and storage.

Of course, next the brass needs to be dried. An old, five-layer, $30 food dehydrator works perfectly.

The dehydrator’s fruit leather tray was perfect for drying-out the stainless steel pin media.

And throughout the process, there’s no better tool to have by your side than a magnet. No matter how careful you are, those pins end up all over the place.

But back to the brass! After drying the casings looked great. They didn’t have that super-polished look, but rather a nice and even semi-matte textured brass tone.

Compared to a sample I withheld from the batch (above, left), the processed brass is surely on its way to a second life.

Now that’s not to say the Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler and EZ Sonic Brass Cleaning Solution performed perfectly. Indeed, there were more than a few casings with internal residue that remained resident after tumbling and washing.

Then again, I didn’t expect the inside of every single casing to be completely polished-clean.

But I was disappointed with how many primer pockets were left with gunk inside. I know, I know…it’s not a huge deal for the average reloading enthusiast. However all the reviews and marketing materials I read for stainless steel pin media boasted about the media’s ability to clean primer pockets. The experience merely fell short of my expectations.

Although not abundant in occurrence by any means, the pins, if sized just right, can be come lodged in casings. It is important to check the casings as often as possible throughout the cleaning and reloading process to ensure any and all instances are discovered and pin media is removed.

Now, with much, much more brass to clean, and without EZ Sonic Brass Cleaning Solution, I turned to an old favorite; Lemi Shine!

Back on track, I carved away at the pile of 5,000 casings…


I ran 300 rounds of 5.56 NATO / .223 Rem for two hours with Lemi Shine with solid results (above).


Then stepped it up to 500 rounds for three hours and received a similar outcome (above).


Challenging Frankford Arsenal’s Rotary Tumbler, I piled-in 500 rounds of extremely dirty, muddy, and damp 9mm casings that someone had left out in the rain overnight at a local range. The post-tumble results were very good (above).

With consistent results for medium-sized batches of 5.56 and 9mm, I thought about pushing the capacity to the advertised maximum of 1,000 .223 Rem casings, but I held off. Not because I thought the casings would not get clean enough, but because sifting 500 rounds of .223 Rem plus water and steel media in the drum was just about as much as I wanted to get into at one time.


After cleaning over five-thousand brass casings of various calibers over the past several weeks with Frankford Arsenal’s Premier Series Rotary Tumbler Kit, I have to admit the tumbler has earned my trust – and quicker than ever expected. It performed without issue every time I ran it; on several occurrences all day long for days in a row. The tumbler’s base is a workhorse that never sputtered a bit.

Like many things in this industry, it all comes down to preference. There are things I like better in dry media vibration systems, for instance, zero contaminated waste water to deal with, generally less-noisy, and no drying of brass and media after cleaning. Then again, stainless steel media never needs replacing, I can manage the media with a magnet, and washing the brass ensures more removal of dirt, carbon, and debris.

So if your preference is a wet brass case cleaning system, Frankford Arsenal’s Premier Series Rotary Tumbler Kit is easy to set up, operate, clean, and store when not in use. It can consistently clean hundreds of casings at once and the 3-hour timer with auto-off is very convenient. Available at a competitive price, the stainless steel pin media Rotary Tumbler Kit is a great option for the cleaning portion of your case preparation routine.

Specifications: Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler (110V, 7L)

Price as reviewed: $209.99 MSRP (about $159 on Amazon)

Quality: * * * *
The Rotary Tumbler isn’t designed to be fancy; it’s built to be a workhorse. All components are of good quality and fit. The drum’s sealing caps keep liquid contained. The motor is more than adequate for maximum-capacity operation.

Loudness: * * *
The Tumbler’s rubber-lined drum does a good job of limiting the raucous noise of metal mashing metal, but the sound is still too much to bear if you’re in the same room. The clear sealing caps are a great feature, but may be an area where noise could be reduced.

Effectiveness: * * * *
Regardless of which brass cleaning detergent you use, the Rotary Tumbler seems to do its share of the heavy lifting. The stainless steel pin media may not be the best media when it comes to polishing brass or even cleaning primer pockets, but when tumbled with brass it sure cleans it consistently well across the batch.

Overall: * * * *
Frankford Arsenal’s Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler has a seven-liter capacity, enough to tackle one-thousand .223 Rem brass casings in a single 3-hour tumble. Its rubber-lined drum helps reduce noise and the drum’s sifting caps make separating brass from the ever-lasting stainless steel pin media quite easy. The Rotary Tumbler is easy to use, easy to clean, easy to store when not in use, and provides consistent, acceptable results at an affordable price.

comments

  1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Intersting, Thks.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Lemi Shine has for close to three decades been my go to for soaking,washing my BPCR and black powder cartridge cases,because it works so well for that chore smokeless casings shouldn’t be a problem.
      Matter of fact I would just use it instead of of the 2 oz. packets that Larry would like to sell folks.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Frankford Arsenal’s “Brass Cleaning Solution” Beats Lemi-Shine (and most any other product that I’ve tried) like a mouthy stoned, separated from the rest of the pack, ANTIFA baby seal. Early Mike Tyson type beating. Like Chuck Norris.

        1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

          Fine you use your solution and I’ll use what’s been working to clean black powder brass in the era prior to wet pin tumbling.

        2. avatar Joe R. says:

          NO.

          You will use THIS-era’s sh_t, NOWWWW, mister.

          Nah, idc, just trying to help.

          ; )

  2. avatar rocketscientist says:

    Great review, I was also interested in getting into the stainless rod cleaning game but cost always deterred me. Did you find that having to decap (simultaneous desize die?) dirty brass so that the rods would help clean primer pockets resulted in gumming up the die? I am using a Lee re-sizer/decap one step die so I am wondering if that is a bad idea. usually decap/size after cleaning, which leaves me with my least favorite step of manually cleaning primer pockets by hand. end up with raw fingertips after turning that tool a few thousand times. I may have to buy this thing.

    1. avatar George from Alaska says:

      The Dillon swaging (or is it swedging?) tool makes my life easier when it comes to primer pockets.. no more twisting with my getting old wrists. It’s purpose is to remove military crimps and make all primer pockets uniform but in doing that it usually loosens up or crushes some of the gunk in the primer pocket so that it is cleaned well enough in the Rotary Pin Tumbler.
      I’ve cleaned one year old brass that was picked up from the range ground in the winter in Alaska and had some serious water stains and a little green from salt staining. Sometimes I just give the batch another 2-3 hours…. it all works fine.

    2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      If you’re decapping before cleaning, I would recommend a universal decapping die that doesn’t touch the case. Dirt is hard on dies. Yes, this adds another step to the process.

      As for cleaning primer pockets if you decap after cleaning, I bought a cheap drill press from Harbor Freight and put the tip of the pocket cleaning tool in the chuck. It’s set up next to my press and I just let it run while I’m decapping/resizing. Only takes a couple seconds for each case.

  3. avatar Brandon says:

    Mine works fantastic but I do a 2 stage cleaning. I do a quick 1 hour tumble with pins and Dawn soap before I deprime so my press doesnt get filthy. once deprimed I do a 3 hour spin with boiled water, dawn soap, citric acid (cheaper than lemishine and same stuff) and the pins and I get shiny new looking brass with very clean primer pockets. I HIGHLY recommend this tumbler, works amazing.

    1. avatar OODAloop says:

      I second that. 1 hour with Dawn, deprime & size and then 2 hours with hot water, LemiShine and Dawn. Looks like new brass. I’ve ditched my vibratory tumbler completely since picking up this tumbler last year.

  4. avatar Aaron Watson says:

    I’ve just about used up the 55 pounds of media I bought when I got my Franklin Arsenal dry media tumbler, which does not have a timer.

    Instead of getting more of the crushed walnut, I may invest in this wet-based system.

    Fine review, many thanks for it!

    1. avatar Nigel the Expat says:

      I switched some time back from my old vibratory case cleaner (walnut/cobb) to this Franklin unit. I still use the vibratory unit for some applications, but 90% use this rotary tumbler and never going back.

  5. avatar dlj95118 says:

    …so, any restrictions in dumping the “lead-laden waste water”?

    I can’t imagine that “brew” being very good for a residential septic system; not sure about municipal waste treatment systems.

    Thanks for the review. Lotsa pictures, me like.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      Get a 5 gal. bucket and a hand-crank pump from Grainger / Harbor Freight / etc. – pump it through a ‘whole-house-filter’ and dump the water down the toilet. The small brass flakes removed by the steel pins will otherwise accumulate in your sink’s P-trap. Dispose of your filters in the trash.

  6. avatar Joe R. says:

    F R A N K F O R D

    ARSENAL

    AND YES

    THE ONLY PROBLEM I’VE EVER ENCOUNTERED WITH THIS EXQUISITE MACHINE IS THAT IT DOESN’T COME IN A 700L SIZE.

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Maybe you need a brass tumbler like Jerry Miculek uses.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Yep. He’s the man.

    2. avatar Conner W. says:

      Good-ness!! I must’ve auto-changed them all during spell check! Heck of a mistake. We’ll get it corrected. Thanks for pointing it out!

  7. avatar Joe R. says:

    “Loudness: * * *” ? ? ? ?

    WUT ? ? ? That’s like saying the sugar cube Polio vaccine doesn’t melt fast enough to not scratch the roof of your mouth when you suck on it.

    PFFFFFTTT ! ! ! ! GOD I LOVE FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS. THANK YOU JESUS !

    Put a large cardboard box or cheap Styrofoam cooler over it. Sound of the wonderfully operating machine gets muffled quite nicely.

  8. avatar Jr says:

    Ummmm FrankFORD arsenal?

    Funny how the brain works. You can see it written 100 times and still not realize the way you have it in you head is wrong

  9. avatar T bill says:

    A quick de-prime with a de-prime only die. A bath in the FA wet tumbler with Dawn and Lemishine. A little time in the FA dryer, then into a vibratory tumbler with 50/50 corncob and walnut hulls laced with 2 capfuls of Nu Finish car wash. Cleanest, slickest brass you will ever see. So much easier handling when reloading. If stored, doesn’t tarnish near as fast as wet tumbled brass does. When the time comes to start again, I swear brass cleans easier also.

  10. avatar Aaron Watson says:

    Dangit!

    Busted, I wrote Franklin as well.

    It is, indeed, Frankford, I stand duly chastised.

    Carry on…

  11. avatar Joe R. says:

    “If Franklin Arsenal sounds familiar, but you can’t quite place them in the industry, you’ve probably been exposed to . . .”

    I N C O R R E C T

    S P E L L I N G

    Who cares if TTAG got a guest writer, CHANGE THE DARN OP TITLING.

    If this was a paid review, someone’s going to ask for their check back.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      There’s logos right on it, but NOooooooo.

      It’s all, I likey me the Franklloyd Arse-n-all. Yupp-er

  12. avatar Marty says:

    My LGS told me about this tumbler. They showed me a large magnum rifle case which had gone through the tumbler. It was beautiful, including the primer pocket, perfectly cleaned (maybe due to the large primer pocket?). When I’m out of media for my Thumler’s Tumbler, I’m heading over to Amazon.

  13. avatar Don from Ct says:

    Rather than spending money on LemiShine, just buy the same thing in bulk. Its simply powdered citric acid. You can get 5 lb for about $18 on amazon. I have had my Franklin tumbler for 3 years and am still on my first 5 lb bag of citric acid.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Correct and also TSP,tri sodium phosphate.

  14. avatar Sven79 says:

    These are also incredible useful for cleaning suppressor baffles and parts (steel or titanium parts that is, NOT aluminum). I find that suppressor baffles come out about 98% clean most of the time, and if I run it for another half cycle, I can get them like factory new (which isn’t really necessary, but I like it). AR bolts and bolt carriers also come out very clean, just make sure you shake them down when they’re dry, because those tiny stainless steel pins get into every nook and cranny.

  15. avatar rumblestrip says:

    TTAG SOOOOOOOOOOOO missed a great SEO title for this.

    “The Truth About Guns Reviews A FART” Franklin Arsenal Rotary Tumbler

  16. avatar Toni says:

    i have been wanting to get one of these myself. have some very dirty 8x56R brass that needs a really good clean

  17. avatar Scoutino says:

    I switched from Frankford’s dry vibratory cleaner to this one about a year ago. Never going back, the lead infused dust being just one of my reasons. I also use plain citric acid with Dawn. Works like a charm.
    You don’t have to fill the barrel to the brim, just about 3/4 full. It allows the brass and SS pins to move faster over each other speeding up the cleaning process.

    One guy on YouTube recommends washing rifle brass without SS pins, lubing, resizing/decaping and then tumbling it again, this time with the pins to finish inside primer pockets and to clean off the lube. He might have a point there.

    Since I don’t have a dryer or space for one and my wife didn’t like me using the oven, I use old bath towel to shake the water out of the brass. Holding two corners together in each hand, I lift ends of the towel “hammock” alternately. Then I spread the cases and let them air dry. Heat gun helps if I’m in hurry.

    1. avatar Toni says:

      here in centeral australia at least in the summer months if i set them in the sun they would be dry inside an hour.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email