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What is a Shell catcher?

What is a shell catcher?

What can be more thrilling than the sight of a rifle shot and shell catcher? It is the shell catcher that ensures that the spent shells are caught safely for further use.

Nothing dries up the fun of an afternoon at the shooting range like having to clean up empty brass casings. Some are squashed in the dirt, deep in the muck better than you’ve ever seen them during shooting sessions. And picking them up will actually cost you more time and money than if you had just purchased one last tactical item for your guns; a shell catcher.

But Do You Need To Go Picking Up Your Spent Casings?

But Do You Need To Go Picking Up Your Spent Casings

Of course, the majority of range operators won’t demand that you police your spent casings, but if you like reloading, like most other guys, then you know that retrieving spent cartridge cases is a significant element of the shooting scenario.

After all, given the time and money people spend customizing their firearms, something as basic as a brass catcher that catches your casings before they reach the ground will keep your casings clean and ensure you spend more time getting lead downrange than tracking down cold brass.

So if you’re not ready to dish out the back half of your day picking up spent brass casings, a brass catcher can be an excellent piece of gear for a day on the range. This article will provide more information on what a shell catcher is and how it is used in the firearm industry. Read on.

So What Exactly is a Shell Catcher?

So What Exactly is a Shell Catcher

With the term “Shell Catcher”, a shell is simply what it implies (a bullet case). Since a bullet is propelled out of the bowels of a gun when it is fired, shells are the cases that are left behind when the bullet has left the barrel. Any part of the gun that can catch a “shell” will do in a pinch. However, a shell catcher is closely associated with the internal workings of a gun.

Put simply, a shell catcher or brass catcher is a device that is used on the rear of a shotgun or rifle to catch the shells and prevent them from dropping to the ground. These are often used by shooters who are using firearms that eject spent shells in an area where it is not safe or convenient to do so. You can use it to make your shotgun or rifle look and work better.

Shell catchers are also used by hunters when they are hunting in remote places or when they do not have the time to pick up the shells or they do not have enough space to keep them. And they can also be used to keep track of the number of shells that have been fired from a particular firearm.

How Are Shell Catchers Used In the Firearm Industry?

How Are Shell Catchers Used In the Firearm Industry

As stated, a shell catcher or a brass catcher (sometimes referred to as a brass trap) is a type of device that is used to catch shells that are ejected from a firearm.

They are basically designed to catch cartridge casings, which are mostly made of brass, as they are fired from a gun. They come in different designs that use a bag, net, pouch, or box to trap the casings.

Some shell catchers may be attached directly to the gun, whether multi-purpose or designed for a particular type of firearm. Larger and free-standing shell catchers may be attached to the side of the gun. They’re available in many sizes, shapes, and materials, and the price varies too.

You can get cheap shell catchers for around $8.50 or so, but expensive ones can cost as much as $80.But generally speaking, brass catchers are simply a mechanism to collect the fired shell casings.

Some of the most common ones utilize a mesh bag with a hook that can be attached to the rifle’s top-mounted Picatinny rail. Another common type, which is attached to the ejection port on the man’s rifle, is a metallic net that comes in the form of a cylinder.

There are also plastic ones designed to fit firearms such as the Ruger Mini 14. Still, there are some more expensive shell catchers that come with their own frame and stand. That means they can easily be placed on the shooter’s side and don’t need to be attached to the firearm.

What’s the Purpose of a Shell Catcher?

What's the Purpose of a Shell Catcher

So what does a brass catcher do, exactly? Well, they are actually quite useful to have in a shooting range for the following reasons:

First off, shooting is a great outdoor activity, shooters will have to clean up the spent brass afterward. After all, conscientious shooters don’t intend to harm the environment by discharging their empties all over. And on that note, cleaning up will be completed much more quickly if these cases are automatically collected; thus the need for brass catchers.

Secondly, some guns are designed to eject empty cartridge cases up to 3-4 meters (10-15 feet or so). So if there’re many shooters in the range, the hot cartridge cases from one shooter’s gun may end up getting ejected over the face of the next shooter, interrupting their focus and creating an unsafe situation.

This is especially the case if there are no panels between the shooters and there are numerous shooters at the firing line at once. But with a brass catcher, the hot shell casings won’t fly out and strike the person next to you.

Third, if the shooting range is composed of a hard material, such as concrete or rock, spent cartridge cases may strike this hard surface and sustain other types of damage like denting and dinging. Besides, damaged shell cases cannot be reused for those who like reloading ammo.

Reloading cartridges is one way for shooters to reduce their expenditures, especially for those who enjoy shooting big volumes of ammo, given the rising costs of brass and ammunition these days.

Of course, using shell catchers or brass catchers comes with caution. When a shell catcher starts to fill up with more brass or spent cartridge cases, it can somewhat change the balance of a weapon (at least for those options that require to be attached to firearms). For that reason, It is recommended to periodically empty the shell catcher after one magazine or two.

How Does a Brass Catcher Work?

How Does a Brass Catcher Work

Well, it works as it sounds; catching shells. When the trigger is released, the gun fires a cartridge, and the ejected case subsequently shoots out of the ejection port.

The cartridge case falls into a brass catcher that is placed/attached to the ejection port; the brass catcher can then be removed and emptied afterward. Note that the brass catcher does not obstruct or interfere with the firearm’s operation as long as it is properly placed.

On an autoloader, the brass catcher or rather brass trap is only effective when firing a single round, as in the case of a singles trap. What the shell catcher basically does is to lessen the amount of time the fired shell hangs up in the ejection port.

This process is done as quickly as possible so that the shooter can continue firing their weapon, and is particularly necessary if the shooter is using a semi-automatic weapon.

It’s important to be prepared for the release of shell casings and have a shell catcher nearby. Without one, it’s possible for the shooter or others nearby to be injured from the release of these shell casings.

It’s also good to note that the brass catcher would not work for shooting doubles in trap or sporting clays because it would trap the first shell in the ejection port and cause a mess when the gun attempt to bring the second round into place.

The Point in Recycling Brass

The Point in Recycling Brass

There are a few reasons why many shooters like to recycle their ammo. For instance, some calibers such as the .458 SOCOM or 6.5 Grendel can be quite expensive and rather hard to get. Plus, when shooting or hunting out in the woods, it can be difficult to keep track of every ejected cartridge. A high-quality brass catcher, however, effectively addresses this issue.

This, in turn, helps to keep the shooting area tidy and allows you to focus on the sport, especially where it is required that you pick up the casings after yourself.

In fact, some ranges may even ask you to prove that the brass you collect is yours. The catcher effectively resolves that. And if you don’t like reloading, you can sell your brass to someone who does.

That said, however, recycling brass has its share of downsides. They aren’t many, but in some terrain such as bush, or dense forest, the catcher may catch “on” other elements and obstruct your ability to maneuver.

In such cases, it is best to consider your best choice based on the intended use. Otherwise, catchers may be more useful in some situations than others depending on the main function and your shooting requirements.

Another thing is that catchers are quite light when empty. Once loaded with brass, the uneven side weight can lead your rifle to become slightly unbalanced.

You might need to modify your shooting stance to account for this. Of course, you can avoid this with a tripod, but single sticks and other common options are still susceptible to it.

The best part is that all of these problems can be solved with a little practice or by routinely emptying your catcher.

DIY Brass Catchers

DIY Brass Catchers

Would you make your own catcher? Well, if you already have any used fishing nets, magnets, nylon bags, etc. lying around, then you might be happy to know that DIY brass catchers are actually fairly popular and may save you some money.

We’re not so sure if it is absolutely necessary to manufacture your own brass catchers given how inexpensive they are, but maybe for the satisfaction of giving your gun a personal touch.

How to Shop For a Shell Catcher

How to Shop For a Shell Catcher

Where do you start? Well, obviously, choosing the style you want to work with when purchasing a brass catcher is the best place to start. There’s a whole range of brass catchers out there!

Consider All of Your Options

Most of these products are designed based on some kind of weapon attachment and a containment system to capture and hold the used brass. Some are meant to be placed on the ground to catch the discharged brass, but they are not always effective. Some guns periodically eject used brass, therefore using a stationary brass catcher will be a hit or miss.

Remote Catchers

Generally speaking, brass catchers are available in two main variations. The first kind is the remote brass catcher. You can think of these as tactical buckets that are only meant to trap hot steamy shells when making shots from a fixed shooting position.

In fact, they are often used when a shooter is shooting from a single location at a stationary target. Remote brass catchers do not attach to the gun; instead, they are designed to be set aside where the spent cartridges are ejecting to. Just place it on the tripod or bench next to you and leave it there. When you’re done, all of your casings will be tidy and collected.

Attached Brass catchers

The next type is the attached brass catcher. Although this approach is a little more intrusive, it is probably the most effective. These types of brass catchers are designed to fit snugly over the gun’s ejecting port, making sure that all empty casings are directed into the enclosure.

No matter what angle or direction you’re shooting in (as long as it’s a safe one) you can make shots down right to your clays knowing that the ejected casings will be clean and collected.

Hard-Sided Brass Catchers

Some shell traps catch and hold the expelled brass in a hard plastic casing. These catchers work properly in most cases. Depending on the version you want, the hard-sided brass catcher may be available in clear plastic and opaque black or colored cases.

Soft Brass Catchers

Most brass catchers on the market now are probably of this type. These brass traps typically consist of a mounting bracket that fastens to the firearm, supporting a metal or plastic frame over the ejection port. As the brass is ejected from the ejection port, it is captured in a mesh bag/net catcher that is mounted on the frame.

Make Sure It Fits Your Firearm

Well, you’ll need to think about the relationship between your gun, the brass catcher, and the shooting ground. The gun and the brass catcher should get along because they will probably be used together for a long time.

So make sure the brass trap you choose will attach to your gun and provide a tight seal around the ejection port. Note that there while some bras catchers are designed for specific firearms, others are made to be multipurpose or generically adaptable.

Whichever you choose, just make sure it fits well and matches your needs for effective shooting. You can achieve this by reading up on it or seeking help from your local gun store.

Design and Quality Options

You might think that there’s really no difference between a simple box brass catcher and a bag with some kind of velcro strap that attaches to your rifle, but you’d be very mistaken.

Look, when it comes to quality and appearance, there are many options available, and many of your favorite manufacturers of firearm accessories can have their own vision of what a brass catcher should look like.

Whatever you choose, make sure your brass catching materials are highly heat resistant as a general rule. Here are a few options that you might want to check out:

  • Net catchers
  • Nylon/mesh bag enclosures
  • Magnetic mounting
  • Release systems
  • Strap mounting
  • Forearm collar mounting
  • Picatinny rail mounting
  • ABS plastic container

Capacity and Weapon System

The important thing to understand here is that with a higher capacity, you won’t need to dump your used casings as frequently, but a smaller one will be lighter and more elegant.

Another aspect to consider is the weapon system you are planning to use with the brass catcher. While some brass options are designed to fit a variety of rifle models universally, you can always get one that is tailored to your particular weapon system.

Consider Your Budget

As already said, you can think of brass catchers as an investment. The majority of other accessories will simply be a financial burden and never truly bring you any real benefit, but not your brass catcher. Used brass casings can be sold to other ammo reloaders, bought for scrap metal value, or even used again when you want to load your own cartridges.

Whatever you want to do with your spent casings, keep your budget in mind when shopping around. Brass catchers are basically meant for the same function, and there isn’t much functional value above the available cheap selections.

Perhaps the only difference between inexpensive solutions and their more expensive counterparts is their appearance and robustness due to features such as an internal wire frame. As such, investing in a brass catcher that will last a long time might be more cost-effective.

You may find that low-quality plastic catchers are likely to break if dropped or subjected to repeated use, and inexpensive mesh bags have a propensity to split and tear, which could end up dumping your casings all over the ground.

When it comes to price range, it is important to consider the durability of each component and the amount of stress you intend to put on your weaponry. It could be wiser to get a more expensive brass trap upfront rather than having to blow through numerous intense sessions.

Shell Catchers: Frequently Asked Questions

Shell Catchers Frequently Asked Questions

Brass Catchers: Are they legal?

The legality of Brass Catcher varies between different states in the US. They may be permitted in some states but prohibited in others. To be on the safe side, it is advised that you research the relevant state laws.

How is a Brass Catcher Attached to the Rifle?

Most bras traps will come with a top rail that should be mounted on a slide-in base and then secure or lock the brass catcher over the ejection port of the rifle. This makes them easy to attach to different firearm platforms.

What Purpose Does A Brass Catcher Serve?

Brass traps are great for trapping or collecting expended casings as they are fired from the rifle, saving you the trouble of picking them up after your session at the range. Additionally, they help to keep brass clean, which is beneficial for reloading purposes.

So brass catchers can be used by shooters to catch the shells that fly out when the gun is fired. This makes it simple for them to remove and collect the shells while also preventing the shell from careening erratically into dangerously close proximity to anyone who is not in the clear.

What Makes a Good Shell Catcher?

A good brass catcher is typically composed of material that is strong enough to contain the shells while allowing easier removal once the shells have been collected. It can be made of plastic or netting.

To make sure it doesn’t interfere with your firing sequence, a good brass catcher should be simple to use (whether it is push-style, mountable, or trap-style). It should be sturdy, and lightweight. As long as the brass catcher is fitted to your rifle, you don’t need to make up for it.

Final Words

Final Words

The first time you use your new catcher, you’ll feel relief from not having to hunt down and collect all those used casings. It will save you all the trouble. And even if you don’t reload, it’s still good for the environment that shooters should efficiently collect all their brass.

The catcher is suitable for your gun and doesn’t interfere with other operations. We sincerely hope that a brass catcher is now on your wish list if it wasn’t before reading this guide.

With each several thousand bullets fired, you can save some time and win a free tank of gas. Of course, there are options not covered in this piece that may still be feasible, so be sure to do a little search and choose what suits you best!

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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