Gear Review: RCBS Ultrasonic Case Cleaner 2 offers bigger, better cleaner for shooters, reloaders
Before and after two cycles for this stubbornly dirty and corroded .223 brass. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
Whether you’re a handloader cleaning brass or a serious shooter scrubbing guns, nothing makes the job easier than an ultrasonic cleaner. If you’ve never tried one, now is the time — RCBS, an industry leader in loading gear and supplies, now offers a bigger, better machine than ever before.
RCBS Ultrasonic Case Cleaner 2
RCBS is proof that sometimes bigger really is better, at least when it comes to ultrasonic cleaners. The new-for-2017 Ultrasonic Case Cleaner-2 makes significant changes from the previous model, with a 100 percent larger capacity. With a 6.3 quart unit, the Case Cleaner-2 is indeed twice as big as its predecessor, but that’s not the only change. This new version is built with a second ceramic heater and transducer to clean both brass cases and gun parts quicker and more thoroughly.
The control panel on the RCBS version 2 is easy to use, and best of all, because the panel is flat, easy to clean off the grubby wet fingerprints. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
The LED display features touch buttons and is easily programmable with a timer that can be set for up to 30 minutes of continuous cleaning. There are two models, with the only difference being in the power system: a 120 VAC model with an MSRP of $399.95 or an international-friendly 240 VAC version that is EU/UK/AUS compliant and wears a slightly higher $429.95 tag.
If you’re shopping online, MidwayUSA is currently running the Ultrasonic 2 on sale for $249, a cool savings of $100. Priced by capacity makes RCBS one of the most affordable big guys on the market.
One quart of the concentrated solution makes 10 gallons of cleaning mix, and the plastic bottle has a built-in measure. Their formulation cleans brass cases inside and outside. If you take time to deprime your rounds prior to cleaning (a word to the wise), the ultrasonic hot tub tidies up stubborn primer pockets as well. The case-specific solutions are intended to remove tarnish, carbon buildup, and metal oxides from the brass. Best of all, the solution is neither corrosive nor combustible.
Handsome RCBS lineup on my reloading bench. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
We threw in some of the nastiest brass we could find laying in the dirt, snow, and gravel at local ranges and in short order, it came out bright and clean, save whatever little dings it might have acquired from cycling in semi-autos. For what it’s worth, the Lyman-brand case cleaner performs just as well in the RCBS unit and many folks have their own homemade concoctions as well.
Best of all, ultrasonics like the RCBS, marketed as case cleaners, do so much more. I use mine more often for cleaning firearm parts than I do brass prep and this is where the RCBS Case Cleaner 2 earns its keep — the capacious size makes it ideal for gun parts and frames.
For instance, tear down a gummed-up semi-auto handgun and throw it into the cleaner. With the substantial increase in size, the machine will accept full-sized pistol frames with room to spare. Within a cycle or two of run time, either with very minor scrubbing or sometimes none at all, it turns out a clean part that just needs to be dried and oiled.
The RCBS Case Cleaner 2 has molded in handles for easy maneuvering of the setup, and an included drain hose makes emtying the tank a breeze. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
Though case cleaning solutions may work, when running heavily gunked and neglected gun parts, OTC degreasers diluted with water work just as well in the tank and for much less money per mix. As with all sonic cleaners, make sure both your cases and gun parts are dried completely after their bubbly bath time.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a whole procession of sonic cleaners, starting with an el cheapo Harbor Freight special for under $20, graduating to the original RCBS Case Cleaner, then Lyman’s Turbo Sonic 2500, and now the higher capacity, more powerful RCBS 2.0. The changes are worth the upgrade if you do significant cleaning of either brass or gun parts.
The new RCBS unit is nearly silent, whereas others generate obnoxious sounds. Controls are easy to use and quite self-explanatory, though the included manual is clear in how-to advice. The gray and green exterior of the unit is classy, practical, and looks good on the bench. Molded side handles make moving the full tank easy and neat. The tank, parts basket and additional pan are stainless, so durability is a given. A section of clear hose is included, with a drain port at the lower front of the unit for easy emptying of used cleaner fluids. In another nice move from the earlier model, the version 2 has a lift-free lid with rear-mounted lid holders, allowing full access to the tank.
The included stainless basket can hold plenty of brass, shown here with range-scrounged 5.56 ready for the hot liquid bath. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
With the addition of a second heating unit, the RCBS 2 heats very quickly and, after running several cycles, metal gun parts and brass come out almost too hot to handle. The heat increases the cleaning potential by melting off oil and grime. In the end, the tank is easy to clean out by draining fluids with the included hose and wiping out with paper towels.
After six months of especially heavy-duty use — daring the unit to fail — the Case Cleaner 2 has not missed a beat. It comes with a one year warranty, which is just okay, but I’ve yet to have any of my mechanized RCBS equipment fail, even after many years of use.
A Glock 23 set inside the tank shows the large capacity. Full size pistol frames are no problem, as are most common gun parts. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
Though the price seems steep, the RCBS Case Cleaner-2 is worth the investment for high volume shooters and reloaders. The additional space and improvements to the drain, lid, and controls make this one of the best on the market. Faster and more efficient cleanup of both brass and gun parts means more time for reloading and shooting. And who doesn’t want that?