May 24, 2011
By Scott E. Mayer
Q: I'm retired and on a fixed income. I handload not only because I like to, but also for the economy of it. To that end, I'm always looking for less expensive ways to do things. One I'm considering is using kitty litter as the media in my brass tumbler instead of walnut hulls or corncob media. I can get a 25 pound bag of litter for $2, while corncob media is about a buck a pound. Have you ever used kitty litter in a tumbler, and if so, how did it work? — Norman L.
A: Your question is asked so much that the other day I went ahead and gave kitty litter a try in my Frankford Arsenal vibratory tumbler. The question arises always as a matter of economy, so I used the cheapest clay kitty litter I could find. I can now say without reservation to never use kitty litter to tumble cases — -it was a disaster. Kitty litter is very abrasive and left the brass with a dull, worn-away appearance. Further, the litter grinds against itself, creating a clay dust that is so fine that is leaks out of the tumbler while it's running and gets all over your loading room. The dust also easily goes airborne and is breathed in which may be hazardous. Spend the extra couple of bucks on the proper media. Media doesn't wear out, but does become loaded. You can revitalize media some by adding ammonia-free brass polish to it. Also, as your media gets loaded and you change it, keep it. Use the old, dirty media as a first step on very dirty cases.--sem