Ultrasonic case cleaners, like those made by Hornady and Lyman, clean your cartridge or brass cases in 15-20 minutes.
Unlike standard case tumblers that take hours to clean your dirty brass, ultrasonic cleaning uses ultrasound (20-400 kHz) instead and a special liquid solution to remove dirt, carbon and other gun residue from the cartridge case.
Another advantage of ultrasonic cleaning is that your cases will be thoroughly cleaned inside and out (i.e. the primer pocket area and inside the case). Here are 3 tips before buying an ultrasonic case cleaning unit.
Tip 1 – Ultrasonic Case Cleaning Unit – What Size To Buy?
Depends on how many cases you need to clean and how often you shoot them. Obviously a smaller unit will be perfect for small batches of case cleaning, such as 20-40 Magnum sized cases.
So, for example, the Hornady Lock-N-Load ultrasonic case cleaner can easily fit 100 .308 Winchester cases or up to 200 .223 Remington cases. For most shooters/handloaders this size unit is ideal. Tank dimensions are 9.4″ x 5.5″ x 3.9″ and it holds 3 liters (3.2 quarts).
For cleaning handgun cases like 9mm, 32 ACP’s, etc or any other small items, make sure the Ultrasonic cleaner you buy includes a fine mesh basket to hold such small items.
Tip 2- Use Commercial Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions
There are dozens of different liquid solutions on the market to use with your ultrasonic case cleaner. There are also plenty of home made recipes floating around the Internet.
Our advice is to buy the commercial cleaning solutions, such as the Hornady One Shot™ Sonic Clean™ Solution (cartridge case formula that is citric-based so it won’t harm your cases like other solutions).
These solutions have been specially formulated to clean cartridge brass in the minimum amount of time. Best of all, such commercial cleaners will last you a very long time and are economical. The Hornady solution uses a 40:1 ratio – 40 parts water to one part cleaning solution.
Tip 3 – Ultrasonic Cleaner Timer settings, Digital Controls, Transducers, etc
Higher end well designed ultrasonic cleaners allow you precise control with the cleaning cycles.
For example, the Hornady Lock-N-Load Magnum Sonic Cleaner features advanced digital controls so you can set the cleaning cycle from 90 seconds to 8 minutes.
Most Ultrasonic cleaners you buy today feature only one transducer. The Hornady Sonic Cleaner has 2 transducers. This results in faster and superior cleaning of your cartridge cases.
Another important feature is heat control.
Most units only have a basic on/off switch for heat. This means you’ll need to monitor the cleaner so it does not overheat and damage the unit.
The Hornady Sonic cleaner, using digital controls and an adjustable heating element, makes it easy to dial in the correct temperature. And getting the temperature correct will help maximize cleaning efficiency.