October 12 2021 – Kara Schott
Obviously, an AR-15 shell catcher can be a very valuable asset to your platform. Naturally, a shell catcher will help keep you compliant with specific range rules, ensure you fall in line with any environmental orders that deal with leaving behind waste and make it easier for you to clean up after time at the range or in the field.
With the rising prices of ammo and the downright scarcity of popular cartridges which has resulted in this recent, nationwide run, you might very well be interested in keeping your brass till the storm blows over. Maybe you’ve even developed a sudden interest in reloading to ensure you don’t run out of rounds. These initiatives make a brass catcher look a lot more attractive as well.
It might not be the most interesting accessory on your sporting rifle. We can’t argue that. There are some downright cool reflex sights, high-tech scopes with low-light optics, tactical lights, grip-activated center mass laser sights, saddle mounts and so much more. They steal the show, and a brass catcher rarely does.
That being said, an AR-15 brass catcher can pay for itself after you spend as little as a single mag into it, but not all brass catchers are created equal. After much trial and error, here’s what we’ve decided are some of the best attributes of a high-quality, reliable brass catcher.
- Low profile
No one wants a brass catcher that gets in the way, period. Worst of all, there are lots of ways that a brass catcher can get in the way. Those mesh bag brass catchers move around, especially when they’re full of brass, and when you’re animated all of that momentum can throw off your ability to balance your weapon and acquire a target.
They can also hang up on environmental impediments like twigs and branches. Even hard-shell brass catchers that protrude obnoxiously away from the ejection port can extend the silhouette of the rifle unnecessarily, disrupting the balance and maneuverability of the firearm.
The long and short of it is that one of the most important attributes of an AR-15 brass catcher is that it should be a low profile design that neither sticks up too high over the top of the rifle nor too far to the side away from the ejection port. Smaller is better, with the ultimate aim that you can “forget” that the brass catcher is even there.
- Easy to attach, with no tools
Another value-enhancing attribute of a brass catcher for a sporting rifle relates to how easily you can detach or detach it from the rifle itself. Some brass catchers can be affixed or adjusted via hook and loop closures. Most of them have hardware that is intended to be mounted to a Pic rail or some section of the M-lok or KeyMod handguard. Generally speaking, most of these types of brass catchers require the use of tools to attach, adjust or detach them.
In all seriousness, this isn’t a huge deal. Once you attach a brass catcher, you probably won’t ever need to remove it or manipulate it again, unless you need to do so to empty it, which is a separate, equally confounding issue.
However, depending on how and where you use your rifle, the ability to quickly and easily attach or detach a brass catcher can be a big issue. Perhaps you use a brass catcher in competition, or not at the range. Maybe the brass catcher gets in the way when you’re hog hunting or engaged in vermin control.
The point is, ease of attaching and detaching could be matters of contention for some shooters, so when we developed the Brass Goat, we were sure to design it so that it easily attached and detached to your firearm without the use of tools. It affixes in seconds and mounts directly to the Magwells of certain sporting rifles (hence the name, Magwell Mounts).
The fact that it mounts to lower receiver Magwells is another big bonus of this unique AR brass catcher - see below.
- Stays out of the way of your sight picture, and off your Pic rail
There is another reason that we have designed the Brass Goat to mount to the Magwells of sporting rifles instead of to the Pic rail over the receiver or on the side of the quad rail in front of the ejection port. Some of those brass catchers that mount to the top of a receiver get in the way of a shooter’s sight picture, which is a significant problem, and oversight of design.
Shooters that use their iron sights often find themselves frustrated by the intrusion of a brass catcher bag into their sight catcher. Even low-profile mounts that obstruct the sights or muddy the picture can be problematic. That’s one issue, but there is another.
Even if the brass catcher itself does not obstruct the sight picture, the mounts can get in the way of attaching other optics or accessories over the receiver. For example, even a brass catcher that stays out of the way will present an issue if the mounting points get in the way of the rail space you would otherwise use for a scope or reflex sight. With the Brass Goat, this will never be an issue - consider your rail space clear.
- Won’t jam
If a brass catcher truly is a low-profile design, like the Brass Goat, there is always the risk that it can cause jams. Insufficient clearance from the ejection port may cause some longer cartridges to “stovepipe” out the side if they come into contact with the side of the brass catcher before they are free. It’s not necessarily a common problem, but if it happens at all it needs to be addressed.
As for brass catcher bags, these haphazardly catch the falling brass and don’t organize it at all. Capacities are more suggested than calculated, and when the bag fills up you need to empty it. Both of these situations present roadblocks to an enjoyable, effective shooting experience, and we solved them both with the design and development of the Brass Goat.
The Brass Goat has been carefully designed and developed so as not to jam, provided it is only used with cartridges it is designed to accept and contain. It’s also compatible with a hopper that has been specifically designed to carry a specific number of those cartridges (in the case of .223 Remington, up to 30) before it needs to be emptied.
That is to say, the Brass Goat won’t jam or cause jams, provided it is used correctly.
- Made from “tough stuff”
For any of you that have actually used AR-15 shell catchers in the past and had problems with low-quality materials melting, deforming, shearing, breaking, or even catching fire, allow a solution like the Brass Goat to allay your misgivings.
Hard plastic brass catchers can become brittle in the cold, causing them to break or shear when under stress. The same hard plastic catchers can become “plastic” in the heat, which can be caused by both the environment and by the hot brass itself. This can cause similar mechanical problems, even failures.
As for brass catcher bags, despite the fact that many of them are advertised as heat-resistant, when the brass is too hot (as it often is) these can melt or even catch fire. That’s a catastrophic failure that will necessitate replacement as repair is often an issue. Let’s not mention what melted nylon can do to the works of a bolt carrier group if, by some misfortune, it comes in contact with them. It’s a situation best avoided.
The Brass Goat, by comparison, has been carefully crafted from molded ABS resin that eliminates all of these aforementioned problems.
- Won’t hang up on branches, twigs or foliage
For those of you that leave the range and the competitive field to get out into the actual field, you’ll also be pleased to know that our design throws a wrench (a good wrench) into the design of brass catcher bags that make a labyrinthine venture out of hunting.
Unless you’re posted up and calling (and who does that with a sporter?) you’re going to be moving through the brush, and some of the thickest brush, at that. You might even be doing so at night since feral hogs are some of the most popular species that hunters pursue with semi-automatic platforms like ARs.
At night, it’s hard to keep your bearings down to the level of “where exactly is my brass catcher bag right now?” In other words, some brass catchers take hold of brambles, briars, sedges, twigs, branches and other similar impediments in the field. Briars hold on aggressively enough to pants and sleeves; they’re not coming out of a nylon bag anytime soon.
Of course, the hard molded resin of the Brass Goat will glide through even the thickest, closest country with ease, like an ice cube over a hot tile floor. Now all you need to do is make sure those holes and ridges on your handguard are covered up!
- Will “go the distance,” so to speak
Another highly valuable attribute of a brass catcher is durability, and if we haven’t made that point clear, the tough, molded ABS resin of the Brass Goat is built to last. Some of those other brass catcher bags are pretty tough, for what they’re worth, but there just isn’t a comparison between a light nylon weave and a bombproof ABS plastic shell, especially one that is solid. Maybe a solid nylon catcher would make a better case.
Eventually, other brass catchers will wear down or tear, but the way we see it, this is the kind of accessory that you should only have to purchase once in your life. Take care of it and it will take care of you - and the Brass Goat is tough enough to deliver.
- Has a decent capacity
It’s also important to choose a brass catcher if you’re going to use one, which has a decent capacity. Some brass catcher bags don’t hold as much as they advertise, especially when the casings fall haphazardly into the bottom. The Bras Goat has been designed to hold up to 30 rounds of .223 Remington and can be easily and expediently emptied, which is great for competitive shooters, target shooters, and even hunters.
- Accepts a detachable hopper (there’s a good reason for this!)
A detachable hopper might not be a common attribute of an AR-15 shell catcher, but we’ve found that it adds a surprising amount of value. Being able to detach the hopper means that, for one thing, you can easily empty it, and very quickly, before replacing it. But there is an even better reason that a detachable hopper is so valuable.
Here’s what it comes down to: if you can detach the compatible hopper (as you can do with the Brass Goat) it also means that you can keep a spare empty in reserve. Therefore, you don’t need to fumble around with the full hopper before you can get back to shooting. Just place it aside or in your vest, attach a new hopper, and continue on your way.
- Compatible with a wide range of firearms and cartridges
An AR-15 brass catcher that only works with one type of cartridge, or with a small subset of them, has limited viability. Admittedly, the only thing that really matters is that it’s compatible with your firearm and with the cartridges that you use, but we recognize that not every AR shoots .223 or 5.56. You can see a full list of cartridge and firearm compatibility, and of course, you can contact us at 1-833-MAGWELL or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let Us Know Your Experience with AR-15 Shell Catchers
We made the Brass Goat using the insight we gained from real-world experience. Get in touch with us to let us know what your experience has been with brass catchers that you’ve used in the past. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Brass Goat solved them all.