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Call it what you will, a brass catcher, brass trap, bullet shell catcher, casing catcher - it’s a useful tool, and our Brass Goat is one of the best.
But it won’t just keep the area around your bench at the range free and clear of wasted brass, or keep you compliant with brass-catching regulations. It has more value than that, especially in the current atmosphere.
A bullet shell catcher, if you will, can help save you money and get you into the hobby - the art - of reloading. All that spent brass has to go somewhere, and you might as well turn it into something as useful as it was the first time you shot it: more rounds. The brass catcher is just the primer that collects all the brass for you.
Why reload - there are so many great answers to that. Reload because it will get you closer to and more involved in the sport you love so much, whether it’s hunting or competition shooting.
Reload because it is interesting, because it is difficult, and because it is a new skill to learn. Reload because it makes you slightly less dependent on ammo manufacturers. Reload because each and every single load is a custom project.
Much like with a muzzleloader, every hand loadedifwireframe cartridge exhibits customized, personalized ballistic performance. A grain or two, one way or the other, in terms of propellant charge or projectile weight, can have a significant impact on accuracy.
Most importantly, reload because we are currently experiencing an ammo crisis that has cleared out the shelves in gun shops, large and small, across the country. It’s hard now even to find cartridges that were ubiquitous before, like 12 gauge target loads.
Reloading will require you to become familiar with the performance of a wide range of propellants and primers, as well as specific formulas for loading.
It will also require you to get familiar with cleaning spent brass, which to some, might seem like an extra task. But it isn’t - let’s take a closer look.
Why Clean Spent Brass Before Reloading?
When you pull the trigger, your primer ignites; then your propellant charge ignites, sending your bullet down the barrel and downrange.
Not all of the primer and propellant chemically convert to gas and energy. Some of it is left behind in fouling, in the bore, the chamber, and in and around the cartridge.
Modern primers tend to be free of corrosives, and modern propellants burn much more cleanly than propellants of the past. However, fouling is still a fact of life.
It is nasty, gritty, and destroys the components of your firearm over time. Unchecked, fouling can corrode and pit the bore of your barrel, clog up the moving parts of your rifle (such as the gas system and trigger group), and degrade your BCG and its gas rings.
Fouling is not quite as nasty when it comes to brass. In fact, we use brass for cartridge casings because, on the whole, it exhibits excellent chemical and corrosion resistance.
Some might think you can just reload brass without cleaning it - but this is never a good idea. You can reload dirty brass, but here’s why cleaning is an imperative step in successful reloading.
First, fouling is potentially hygroscopic and the presence of fouling in a brass casing can potentially affect the propellant charge if the casing is reloaded without being cleaned first. A half a grain of charge can make a difference in accuracy, especially at long ranges.
It is also potentially possible for fouling to partially obstruct the primer. It is unlikely that fouling would cause a hangfire or prevent the ignition of the main charge, but it could adversely affect the ignition of the primer or deflagration of the propellant charge.
Secondly, the presence of fouling inside of the cartridge casings will be inconsistent on a casing by casing basis. This can make it difficult to reload the cartridges effectively.
Fouling on the outside of the cartridge casing is also a problem for several reasons. One is that, after cleaning the chamber of a firearm, you don’t want to feed dirty ammo in. Fouling-coated brass can potentially abrade a chamber, ruining its polish. It is also possible that dirty cartridges will not eject properly, which can result in jams and other complications. Clean ammo cycles much more fluidly and it is safer to use - and more reliable.
If you reload using dirty, fouling smeared brass, you also risk damaging your dies and other equipment. They ensure precision sizing and tolerances, and requiring them to accommodate fouling can potentially damage them.
Cleaning the fouling off the cases before reloading them also enables you to inspect them more carefully for issues such as cracking that could become a problem later at the range. A broken shell can ruin a trip to the range - but not if you caught it before it became a problem.
Finally, fouling accumulates over time. At a certain point, you just wouldn’t be able to reload the brass effectively anymore, but once you got to that point it would be very difficult to bring the brass back to pristine condition.
Just imagine it this way - it’s the same as swabbing out a muzzleloader between each shot. It’s safer, allows better consistency, and makes it a lot easier to load the barrel.
How a Bullet Shell Catcher Helps
Hopefully, that cleared up some of your questions on just why, exactly, everyone cleans brass before reloading, because they do.
For our part, we can feed your passion for reloading with our Brass Goat bullet shell catcher, a brass catcher that attaches directly to lower receiver magwells (without tools) instead of to Picatinny rails or the rifle’s handguard.
It’s also made from hard, durable, molded ABS resin, so it’s much more heat resistant and far more sturdy than those wireframe, mesh bag brass catchers that have been known to melt and catch fire.
Kill two birds with one stone - prevent hot brass from scattering around you at the range, get into reloading - with a Brass Goat bullet shell catcher.