The Situation: So, you get to the range and you’re having a good time.
Four hours later.
Oh no… it’s time for the dreaded shooters cleanup and there is spent brass that has seemingly run amuck in every direction. This will take you a while to clean up, and you’re wondering… Is it even possible to find them all?
Some are buried in the dirt, covered in mud, and hiding better than you ever have during archery season. This is the worst part of any range day, and as a matter of fact, will cost you more money and time than if you had bought one last tactical piece of gear for your firearms.
Of course, we’re talking about good ol’ trusty brass catchers, otherwise known as brass traps. These bad boys will save you boat loads of time, so you can spend every last second punching holes in paper instead of using precious range time on brass cleanup.
Check out this video of a guy utilizing an AR-15 brass catcher and some other catchers. Time Saver: Skip to 0:35 in the video.
Pistol fans relax, y’all get brass catchers too. I have a lot of solutions for you on this list as well. Yeah, you can probably guess that it doesn’t actually work very well, but there are options nonetheless! I’ll also show you a good alternative to a pistol brass catcher most people haven’t thought of.
If you shoot often, you know how expensive this hobby can be. Investing in a brass catcher really streamlines cleanup but also saves you a ton of money. Typically, brass catchers run in the range of $8 to $80 while a thousand rounds of spent .556 may get you $20-$50. With that math, you can see it won’t take long for your investment on a brass catcher to mature. $20 may not be worth hours of your time plucking them off the ground and cleaning the muck off each and every one but implementing these handy tools may just be the game changer you need to start collecting all of that spent brass.
Without further ado, let’s discuss what to look for when shopping for the best brass catcher for AR-15s, pistols, and various other platforms. Then, we will dive into my favorite brass catchers.
- Here is a List of the Best Brass Catchers in 2019
- 1. Cladwell AR-15 Brass Catcher
- 2. Cladwell Brass Trap (Non-Attached)
- 3. Graco Model Mark 2 for Pistols
- 4. Durable Tarp (Alternative for Pistols)
- 5. Cyberone AR-15 Brass Net
- 6. No-M.A.R Brass Shell Catcher (Best Design)
- 7. Flyland AR-15 Brass Catcher (Cheap)
- 8. Gloryfire Picatinny Mounted Brass Net
- 9. TacStar with Picatinny Mount
- 10. Graco Models Mark 1 Handheld Catcher
- 11. E and L Polymer Shell Catcher
6 Tips to When Shopping for a Brass Catcher
1. Evaluate all your options.
Generally speaking, you’ll find two primary versions of a brass catcher.
Remote Brass Catchers: Think of these as tacticool buckets with the sole purpose of catching that hot steamy brass when laying down fire from a fixed position. These are typically deployed when a shooter is firing at a stationary target from one single position. The remote brass catcher does not attach to your firearm but more so is used to be set aside where your casings are ejecting to. Set it up on the bench or tripod next to you and forget about it. All your brass casings will be clean and collected when you’re done.
Attached Brass Catchers: These catchers are a bit more invasive approach but certainly the most effective as well. They attach to the ejecting port of your firearm and hold snug, ensuring all spent casings fall directly into the enclosure. No matter where you go, what direction you’re firing in (hopefully a safe one), or what angle you’re taking, you can rain fire down on your targets knowing your spent casings will be safe and clean no matter the situation.
2. The relationship between your firearm, the situation, and the brass catcher.
Your firearm and the brass catching device must get along, as they’ll likely be married together for a very long period of time. Ensure the brass catcher you purchase will fit onto your firearm and offer a good seal around the ejection port. Some brass catchers will be made specifically for each firearm, but you’ll also find some brass catchers to be coined as multi-use or universally adaptable. No matter which you choose, do a little reading to ensure it fits or ask your local gun shop for advice.
3. Situational awareness of your finances.
As mentioned, brass catchers can certainly be viewed as an investment piece. Most other attachments will only cost you money and never really return anything of financial gain, but not your brass catcher. Spent brass casings can either be reused when you wish to load your own cartridges, sold to other ammo reloaders, or pawned off for scrap metal value.
No matter what you choose to do with these spent casings, you’ll first need to consider your initial budget when shopping around. Most brass catchers generally do the same job and there is very little exemplified functional value above your budget options. The main difference in low-cost solutions and their higher priced equivalents will be styling and durability. You’ll find that cheap mesh bags have a tendency to rip and tear, spilling your casings all over the ground and low-quality plastic catchers can break if dropped or put through intensive use.
My advice for choosing a price range is to evaluate the strain you plan on putting your firearms through and consider the durability of each piece. It may be better to buy a more expensive brass catcher upfront than to blow through several via intense training sessions.
4. Quality and design options.
You may think a shell catcher is something that cannot deviate much from a simple box or bag that attaches to your gun, but you’d be terribly wrong. There are numerous options when it comes to quality and design and many of your favorite firearm accessory brands may have their own idea of what a brass catcher should look like. As a general rule of thumb, ensure your brass catching materials are high heat resistant.
A few options you may be interested in include:
- Mesh / nylon bag enclosures
- Net catchers
- ABS Plastic container
- Picatinny rail mounting
- Forearm collar mounting
- Strap mounting
- Magnetic mounting and release systems
5. Implementing child labor.
Possibly the most economically friendly approach to brass catching is having your kids do it! Okay, maybe they’ll throw a fit, maybe they’ll require an ice cream cone as payment, or maybe they’ll want to shoot your “nobody shoots my” special rifle. Either way, my father always had me out there, rain or shine, plucking those darned brass casings after a day at the shooting range. I used to be mad, but if I ever have kid’s they’ll be doing the exact same thing.
I think there’s a valuable lesson here. If the design you choose in tip #4 doesn’t coincide with your financial situation in #3, you can always abuse #5 for the chance of appeasing all three! Two birds, one… errr 3 tips, 10000 casings? Is that how the saying goes? You be the judge.
6. Be a man and make your own!
DIY brass catchers are actually quite popular and may save you some money if you already have some old fishing nets, nylon bags, magnets, etc laying around. With how cheap brass catchers are, I’m not entirely sure it’s absolutely necessary to make your own other than the satisfaction of adding your own ingenuity to your firearm.
Here’s a homemade brass catcher creation YouTube video I found encompassing a salsa bottle and some duct tape. Maybe a little crazy. This is certainly not recommended
Here is a List of the Best Brass Catchers in 2019
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty and talk about a few options you have today. These are some of the highest rated brass catchers available today. These listings are in no particular order as there are a few different options and styles of catchers. Which one you choose will largely depend on your specific needs and shooting scenarios.
1. Cladwell AR-15 Brass Catcher
Platform: Ar-15 or any extendable magazine type rifle with a flat top or Picatinny rail hand guard.
Type: Fully adjustable Picatinny mount.
Material: Heat resistant mesh.
The General Brass Catcher from Caldwell is a very popular go to for most rifle platform owners. It seems to have high durability and comes with heat resistant materials. The largest drawback to this mesh bag is that despite the heat resistant nylon, a small number of users report their AR-15s still manage to melt holes in the bag.
The problem comes from the fact that the ejection method used on specific rifles sometimes rotates the casing as it is ejected, causing the initial point of contact with the nylon to be with the nose or the casing. The nose of the casing is typically both the hottest portion and also the sharpest, making for the perfect combination in damaging the bag.
That said, Caldwell brass catchers are pretty much the gold standard in the industry, and this is without a doubt one of the best brass catchers out there. The vast majority of users never have any issues with it.
2. Cladwell Brass Trap (Non-Attached)
Platform: Since this is a stationary brass trap, you can use virtually any firearm with any caliber and this should catch most, if not all, of the brass ejected.
Type: Stationary brass catching usage or tripod mounting.
Material: Heat resistant nylon mesh with an internal metal wire frame.
This seems to be one of your best options if you either aren’t using a rifle that can easily be paired with a brass catcher or you’re using some other type of firearm that doesn’t have brass catching options available. Simply throw this thing on the ground next to you and it’ll catch most of the brass you fire. Obviously is it isn’t going to walk with you, so this is really only helpful if you’re firing from a fixed position on a flat surface. Tripod doesn’t come included but if you already have one, you can mount it to increase its height and stability. There are some complaints regarding low quality and damage occurring after light use. This catcher will do it’s job but it needs to be treated with care.
3. Graco Model Mark 2 for Pistols
Unfortunately, this seems to be the only viable pistol brass catcher. What my family does is we just lay down a tarp and then collect the brass afterwards. The Graco Mounted Brass Case Catcher mounts on the bottom front end of the pistol if/where a Picatinny rail is located. It can easily contain more rounds than the average pistol magazine contains. The actual catcher is a solid black bag that seems to have no problem handling hot pistol caliber casings.
Platform: It will technically fit any firearm with a Picatinny mounting rail, however it is primarily designed for pistols.
Type: Pistol attached brass catcher.
Material: Heat resistant nylon bag with a wire frame and polymer plastic mount.
Cost: Around or under 25 dollars.
4. Durable Tarp (Alternative for Pistols)
Platform: Pistols, Ar15, AK47 and other rifles
Type: Tarp (Remote Catcher)
Material: Heavy duty and thick
Cost: Under 20 dollars
This might sound stupid, but if you’re tired of looking for brass in the grass or your brass getting covered in junk, a tarp is a simple solution. Once you’re done you can just lift the sides up and all the brass will aggregate in the center of the tarp, making it super easy to pick up. So, if you’re looking for a simple alternative pistol brass catcher a tarp is the answer!
5. Cyberone AR-15 Brass Net
Type: Attachable mesh bag via Velcro strap.
Material: High density nylon and wire frame.
Cost: Under $10
This is probably your best under $10 option out there. It has a basic and universal loop attachment that works by implementing Velcro technology. Slap it around your barrel, line up your ejection port to the bag, and let it fulfill its hot metal casing catching purposes. It doesn’t come with heat resistant nylon, only extra thick nylon so I wouldn’t expect this to last under intense usage. This would probably best suit a hunter that may only release a few rounds a day.
6. No-M.A.R Brass Shell Catcher (Best Design)
Platform: AR15, AR10, and most rifles that have a flat top and Picatinny rail.
Type: Adjustable Picatinny mount.
Cost: Under 50 dollars.
By far one of the most visually appealing options in my opinion, the NO-M.A.R Brass Shark is a beast of a brass catcher. It’s a bit more expensive then some other popular options but you really do receive something interesting and useful to mount on your picatinny rail. The first thing you’ll notice is the see-through polycarbonate construction. This is shatter proof and heat proof, making this one of the most durable designed brass catchers on the market. It is fully adjustable and allows the accumulation of more than 100 rounds. This seems to be the best option when stepping up from a mesh bag configuration.
7. Flyland AR-15 Brass Catcher (Cheap)
Platform: Compatible with nearly all standard AR15 style rifles.
Type: Attachable shell catching bag with adjustable hook and loop barrel strap.
Material: Wireframe and heat resistant mesh.
Cost: Under 10 Dollars
This is the absolute cheapest attachable casing catcher I could find that wasn’t a complete waste of time and money. It’s easy to install on most rifles using a loop and hook Velcro style attachment. This can either be used on the barrel or the handguard. It does come with heat resistant nylon; however, it is cheap and probably not suitable for long term brutality.
8. Gloryfire Picatinny Mounted Brass Net
Platform: Compatible rifles that utilize a Picatinny rail mounting system
Type: Side mounted net that opens via zipper from the bottom
Material: Wireframe and heat resistant nylon mesh.
Cost: Under 30 Dollars
The brass catcher offering from Gloryfire is a very attractive choice because of its price point and low profile design. To make things quick, this is a pretty traditional bag style brass catcher that attaches to your rifle via the Picatinny rail system. It’s adjustable in multiple ways, making it a great multi-gun option and has an easy to access zipper system at the bottom to make dumping those casings out a breeze. The mesh is heat resistant and the wireframe is bendable, making it easy to modify a bit for a good fit.
9. TacStar with Picatinny Mount
Type: Attachable Enclosed bag design with Picatinny mounting system.
Material: 100 percent heat resistant proprietary shell bag. (probably some type of premium nylon).
Cost: Under 75 Dollars
This casing catcher seems to be one of the best bag mounts available. It is a fully enclosed bag that is completely heat resistant. This attachment offers a viewport on the top and attaches via Picatinny rail mounts. It’s known to be sturdy and durable, but the mount is proprietary thus making use with multiple firearms a bit difficult. It will mount to any rifle with a flat top Picatinny rail system.
10. Graco Models Mark 1 Handheld Catcher
Platform: Since it’s handheld, the opportunities are endless. Having a friend at your disposal allows this brass catcher to be used with pretty much any firearm.
Type: Handheld bag style brass catcher.
Material: Heat resistant nylon bag with a steel wire frame and elastic band.
This is a great option for those who have a friend willing to stand and hold a brass catcher next to your firearms ejection port. You can also operate this in the same hand like a pistol. Equipped is an elastic band allowing it to be secured to your hand. It will not catch 100% of pistol rounds but it will catch most of them.
11. E and L Polymer Shell Catcher
Type: Hard polymer snap on.
Material: ABS Polymer.
The best option for ditching those flimsy brass catching nets, bags, and mesh setups. The polymer E&L brass catcher is designed to be durable and simple. You’re essentially attaching a plastic box to the side of your rifle. It won’t look great, be the lightest option, or offer the most features but it will perform above the rest.
If a brass catcher wasn’t on your wish list before reading this article I certainly hope there is one now. Save yourself some time and earn yourself a free tank of gas with every couple thousand rounds spent. This guide does not contain every viable option known to man, so make sure to do a little digging and find the brass catcher that is right for you!
Wikipedia: Brass catcher
The YouTube videos linked above.
Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines. As an outdoor enthusiast, he has been testing outdoor and tactical style gear for over 20 years. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. On this website, we only write about things within our range of expertise like tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. Check out the “About Us” tab to meet the team.