Brass Cleaning Ripoffs

Brass Cleaning Ripoffs

If you’re a reloader, chances are one of your biggest goals is to save money and shoot more for less.  While most of us have analyzed the price of equipment and components, have you ever stopped to think about the materials you use?

The firearms industry is famous for taking everyday products and re-branding them as being specially made for guns, typically at a hefty (and often unjustifiable) price increase.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the biggest ripoffs in common case cleaning media and chemicals, and how you can avoid paying ridiculous markups for them by using identical (or nearly identical) alternatives.

Vibratory Tumbling Media

Beginning with vibratory tumbling media, the two most common types are crushed corn cob and ground walnut.  Both can be found in your local gun store in various sizes and brands.  The RCBS corn cob media shown in the video above is fairly ‘cheap’ at $23/4lbs, or about $5.75/lb.  What you may not realize is this is just re-branded pet bedding.  No, really.  The exact same product can be found in just about any pet store that sells bird or reptile bedding for a fraction of the cost.

Not convinced?  Take a a look at the Vitakraft corn cob bedding shown above; it works out to $2/lb in an 8lb package.  If you buy it in bulk, you get 50lbs for about $61, or $1.22/lb.  Compare that to the cob bedding shown in the same video, which I purchased several years ago for $25.  I use it mainly on large diameter casings or to tumble cast roundballs and shot.

Ground walnut, which is often marketed as being a superior tumbling media due to it’s finer size, is even cheaper.  The 4lb container of RangeMaxx walnut tumbling media shown in the video above costs $20, or about $4/lb.  Once again, a visit to your local pet store will likely turn up a much cheaper alternative in the form of ground walnut pet bedding.  In the same video you’ll see a 50lb bag for $60, or about $1.20/lb which probably sounds like a pretty good deal, right?  Not really.  You see, ground walnut is so cheap to produce it’s actually even used as a sandblasting media.  Any automotive or farm supply store will stock it in huge, generic bags.  Shown above you’ll see a 50lb bag found at Princess Auto for $40, or about $0.80 cents a pound!  Once again, in the same video you’ll see a bag I bought years ago and just like the corn cob media, it never goes bad, so I can just take what I need when I want to tumble some pistol or rifle casings.


For all the wet tumblers out there, let’s talk about the scam that is Lemishine.  Touted by reloaders the world over as the be-all and end-all of wet tumbling additives; you won’t believe how much you’re overpaying for it.  As of the publication date of this article, a normal bottle runs you about $6/lb.  That’s not too bad considering you only use a couple spoonfuls at a time, but if you clean a lot of brass, or you’re a bullet swager, it still adds up.  What most people don’t realize is Lemishine is really nothing more than citric acid powder and a bit of lemon scent.  If you’ve ever been down the baking aisle at your grocery store, you already know you can buy citric acid pretty cheap, but here’s a tip for you; citric acid is also used to make candles.  If you really want to save on Lemishine, visit any candle-making supply shop and you’ll be amazed to discover you can buy the generic stuff for around $1.76/lb.  If you buy it in bulk, that drops as low as $1.52/lb.  Once again, in the video above you’ll see a huge 55lb bag I bought several years back.  As with the corn cob and walnut media, it never goes bad.  As an added bonus, if you have hard water where you live, 1/4 cup of this stuff will make your dishwasher and everything else in it look like new.


Hopefully these tips will help you shave a few bucks off your reloading costs.  One thing I learned early on as a reloader is a little bit of comparison shopping goes a long way in getting the most bang for your buck.

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