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Ultrasonic Cleaning Rifle Brass?


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I am thinking about using one of my Ultrasonic cleaning units to clean the insides of my precision rifle brass (308 Lapua thats been worked). I have a unit with a heater on it (liquid gets to about 120degrees F), heat can be turned off.

First off, does anyone use an ultrasonic to clean rifle brass?

Second, if you do use it, then what is your 'secret' formula for cleaning?

Thrid, would you use the heater or no heater? Will 120 F cause any change in the brass (as in softening, I think 120 is low enough to not effect it, but just checking)


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Before I retired, our company made alot of aerospace parts that had to be ultrasonically cleaned before packaging as an order requirement. The brass parts were the worst of the bunch to control as a process.

I also brought brass casings to work and tried it cause it was free. :blink::(:wacko:

Although ultrasonics are about as good as it gets for removing crud and impediments from small contained parts, you are working with an aqueous solution usually with heat. We never really got a good solution for brass that didn't badly discolor over time no matter how good you rinsed. You also have to get rid of the excess moisture by heat or compressed air or both and are still left with water spots (mineral deposits) ect. if you don't use distilled water and change it every batch.

Why go through all the extra work? :wacko:

Tumblers are in the catalogs cause they are easy to use, maintain and they are cheap.

P.S: Let me know if you find a good solution recipe for brass :P:)

Edited by Doggorloader
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Currently all the rage w/ a lot of 'tactical' shooters (for whatever thats worth), and what appears to be a growing number of other competitive shooters.


I'm still not 100% convinced that it's worth it, i.e. never seen a definitive test of conventionally cleaned cases against US cleaned cases showing a positive trend in performance. Even so, I'm somewhat of a gadget freak, so I will probably break down and get one this winter. Especially since someone on another forum recently posted what appears to be a great solution to one of the 'problems' I was thinking of... i.e. doing the whole soak, clean, rinse cycle w/o making a bloody mess everywhere. The 'fix' looks to be getting one of those little glass dip jars like your barber may still use for their scissors & combs.

Dig around on the forums @ 6mmBR.com for lots and lots of info on the subject.

The one big drawback remaining for me is batch size. Most of the affordable Chiwanese units from eBay or Harbor Freight have pretty small tanks... about enough to hold 50 or less .308 Win cases at a whack. Or at least thats the most that I can get anybody to admit doing. The 'good' bigger units go up in price rather quickly. I shudder to think what the one on the submarine I was on cost... about the size of a utility deep sink!

For doing mass quantities of pistol or .223 Rem brass, I'm thinking tumbling or conventional liquid cleaning is probably the way to go. Tumbling is probably less hassle. For small batches of sorted and tediously prepped match brass for long range... the U.S. might be worth it.



Edited by milanuk
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well, as far as size and quality of my US unit, it is not relavent, since we have four of the them and all were pretty expensive (my father and I are jewelers). I tried my 'secret' ultra cheap jewelery cleaning formula earlier this week and it seemed to REALLY clean the brass, as in, when you shine a light in to the case, all you see is shiny brass, NO black what so ever. But the out side of the brass was slightly discolored. The discoloring seemed more obvious when the heater was on, then when the heater was not on...

(my 'secret' jewelery ultrasonic cleaning solution: one part water, one part plain household dollar store ammonia, with NO added detergents, and one part Mr. Clean. My dad has used this solution for over 30years now, and works WONDERS on gold/gemstones. DISCLAIMER: if you cook some of this up at home, don't use it on pearls, opals, amber, coral, ivory or anything else organic)

I have also read that a diluted solution of vinegar works well. I am planning on trying it later. They say that you have to neutralize it after using it with backing soda?

My current thought trend is put the brass in the ultrasonic for about 5-10 minutes, knock out all the crud from inside the cases, rinse them in the sink. Then, just tumble as normal. This will add about 15 minutes total to he whole case prep process, which is a very little condsidering the amount of time I spend on my long range rounds. I will be using the ultrasonic mainly for the primerpocket and inside the case. The tumbler will make them shiney and smooth again (on the outside). The tumbler never seems to do anything to the inside of the cases.

Will report back later with the results.

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If you read the article linked above, they discuss some suggested solutions that worked w/o discoloring the brass... 'cheap-n-clean', 'clean-n-shiny', etc. Later posts in the forum there seem to indicate some people having good results w/ some dedicated chemicals such as Citranox, among others.

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