The AR-15 platform allows for endless combinations of accessories and parts to help you achieve the perfect shooting experience. From the exotic to the mundane, the accessories you can buy for your gun differ widely in function and usage.
One of the popular accessories for certain AR-15 owners is the brass catcher, a kind of bag or other container that fits on to the weapon and catches and stores spent ammo. It keeps things clean and saves you from the back-breaking work of bending over to pick up your casings.
Let’s learn more about how brass catchers work, what to look for and some reviews.
Quick Comparison Chart of the Best Brass Catchers for the AR-15
Caldwell Shooting Supplies
3 Bucc Inc. AR-15/M16 Brass-Savr
Tacstar Brass Catcher
E&L Manufacturing, Inc. - Brass Catcher
A brass catcher can be about more than just convenience. Some shooting ranges require you to pick up any brass, and it is also a courtesy to your fellow shooters. Hot brass ejected with force from the gun can strike people standing beside you; a brass catcher can prevent that from happening. For military and tactical users, firing from enclosed places like vehicles and aircraft can make flying brass a hazard.
Rather than picking up after yourself, a brass catcher does the work for you. Gun owners who like to reload will love brass catchers as they will never lose brass again. Hunters know from experience that it is virtually impossible to find spent brass at night in the undergrowth, so a brass catcher will be very convenient. Brass can also be recycled and you can get paid for collecting and selling brass to recyclers.
What to Look for in a Brass Catcher for the AR-15
When you’re looking for a good brass catcher to purchase, the key factors to take into account are installation, reliability, non-interference and price. Let’s break these down a bit further.
The catcher should be easy to put on and remove, both for stowing your gun and to make it convenient to use when at the range or in the field.
Small Attachment Points
The less space the catcher takes up, the less it will interfere with your other accessories and be more natural to use.
On a hot day, and firing for an extended period, the brass gets hot enough to melt nylon mesh and less-durable containers. Avoid such materials when you’re looking a brass catcher.
A good catcher will be designed to avoid bounce-backs and clogs in the ejection path.
Non-interference with Operation
The catcher needs to stay out of our way while manipulating the weapon.
Finally, the price should give you real value when compared to other brands out there.
Review of the Best Brass Catchers for the AR-15
Let’s look at some of the best AR-15 brass catchers out there based on the factors we outlined above. These catchers will not just fit your gun perfectly, they’ll also perform their function flawlessly and prevent jams during ejection. Most importantly they’ll stay out of your way while you’re shooting.
This brass catcher can be fitted onto your AR-15’s Picatinny rail, with cases being ejected straight into a collection bag for disposal or reloading. The catcher is made of heat-resistant mesh and holds up to 100 .223 cases. A zipper at the bottom of the mesh bag makes emptying quick and easy.
The AR-15 Pic Rail Brass Catcher has an aluminum clamp and steel wire frame that are fully adjustable to work with almost any rail and optic configuration. The bag will not interfere with bolt function or cycling. It is also compatible with most .308 AR-pattern rifles
Its lightweight quality construction makes it a great option. However, if you’re going through the woods or in tight spaces, it can be difficult to handle because the bag doesn’t collapse.
This catcher consists of a cotton-poly bag, supported by a steel frame. It has a capacity of 70 rounds of .223 brass and has an easy-open bottom to unload quickly. It comes in separate models to fit carry handle and flattop AR-style rifles. The polymer mount comes in black with a matte finish. The catcher is 4¼" (10.8cm) wide, 3½" (9cm) long, and 7¼" (18.4cm) deep.
A good value, this bag is easy to install, safe and tough. However, some shooters have had problems with it overheating since it allows for little ventilation.
The TacStar AR-15 Brass Catcher is made from heat-resistant Nylon and holds up to 120 .223 Rem cases. It can be attached to the rifle using a Picatinny-rail mounting apparatus that works on any flattop AR-15 and it won’t interfere with optics or other accessories.
After shooting, the bag can be removed from the mount without undoing the rail assembly, enabling easy cleanup. It will work with nearly any AR-15 on the market, regardless of caliber or setup.
This brass catcher from E&L is made from polymer and uses a snap-on technique to fit on your AR-15’s receiver. It has a capacity of a minimum of 60 expended rounds. This catcher won’t interfere with any moving parts on the firearm.
The strong points of this catcher are that it’s a lightweight, quality construction that’s easy to adjust and won’t jam your gun. However, it may take some modification to your scope mount to install it. And if you’re a left-handed shooter, you’re out of luck, since it’s not reversible. It’s also smaller than other catchers.
Pros and Cons of Brass Catchers
Every addition to your weapon has some pros and cons associated with it. Here, we’ll take a look at some of those associated with brass catchers
Many people like to reload their ammunition rather than buying new ones, especially for calibers which are expensive and difficult to find (6.5 Grendel, .458 SOCOM, etc.) If you are hunting in the woods or shooting in an open field, you know how difficult it is to keep track of every spent cartridge. A brass catcher makes it easy to collect spent cases without any effort, whatsoever.
Some ranges require you to pick up spent cases. Plus, littering cases after you’re done shooting is not a good idea. Morally or logically. So a brass catcher lets you keep the shooting space clean.
Reduces Imminent Accidents
Flying brass can be a problem for people standing beside you. Since it is hot and flies at a good velocity, it has the potential of injuring anyone nearby. Plus, if there’s some piece of machinery or equipment with crevices and openings, it can catch these cases and result in accidents. A brass catcher eliminates all such possibilities.
Easy to Use
A brass catcher is the easiest and most intelligent method of collecting spent cases. These catchers are lightweight and easy to carry, store, and use. Installing a brass catcher takes less than 10 seconds.
A brass catcher is lightweight, but it still adds some weight to your rifle. Plus, with every round shot, it increases in weight. So that is a possible disadvantage of using a brass catcher.
Intrusion in Operation
As a brass catcher collects casings and increases its weight, it results in a slight shifting of balance to the port side, so you have to maintain equilibrium. Plus, it will require some practice to use a catcher since it interferes with your shooting stance.
Picking Up the Brass
Even if you’re not using a brass catcher, it is still a good habit to pick up your spent cases that reach the ground so that you are not littering. Even if you’re not reloading or recycling, it is the environmentally-friendly thing to pick up after yourself if you’re outdoors or hunting.
At some ranges, you may not be allowed to pick up brass that is not marked as your own, so do check the policies of your shooting club. If you find that it’s too much trouble bending over to pick up your spent brass, check out the Caldwell Shooting Supplies Brass Retriever.
If you’ve ever tried collecting your spent casings by hand after a day of practice shooting, you may be surprised what a difference a good brass catcher can make.
Cleaning up after yourself is a good habit for a shooter, and there are ways to recycle or reload your cases and save a few dollars. Keep in mind the qualities of a good brass catcher when purchasing and you’ll be all set.