Nothing takes the enjoyment of an afternoon at the firing range like having to police up spent brass casings. Now, I know that most range operators don’t require you to police your own brass. However, if you are like me and reload, retrieving that spent brass is a huge part of the shooting situation.
It is almost impossible to use a pistol brass catcher so we are still at the point of picking up possibly hundreds of rounds of brass after a training session. If you are shooting a rifle then things are much different. This is especially true if your rifle is an AR-style platform. There are many different styles of ar-15 brass catchers available on the market.
Recovering brass from a bolt action rifle is rarely an issue. However, magazine-fed semi-automatic rifles can disgorge massive amounts of expended brass in very short order. Some sort of attached brass catcher is often the simplest method of catching expended brass quickly and easily. Finding the best brass catchers is our goal in this article.
Where to Start?
The obvious best place to start when buying a brass catcher is to decide which style you want to use. There are several types of brass catchers on the market. Most of them depend on some sort of attachment to your weapon and a containment arrangement to trap and hold the expended brass. A few can be positioned on the ground to catch the ejected brass but, by and large, they are not very effective. Few rifles eject spent brass consistently so a stationary brass catcher is a hit-or-miss proposition.
Soft Brass Catchers
This type of brass catcher is probably the most popular of any that are sold. Typically, these brass traps consist of a mount that attaches to your AR-15 and holds a frame of either metal or plastic over the ejection port. The frame holds a mesh net catcher that contains the ejected brass as it leaves the ejection port.
Hard-Sided Brass Catchers
Some brass traps employ a hard plastic case to trap and hold the ejected brass. These types of catchers perform well under most circumstances. There are versions of the hard-sided brass catcher that use a clear plastic material and others use an opaque black or colored case.
Remote Brass Catchers
As you might expect, remote brass catchers typically sit on the ground near your shooting position. As the ejected brass is launched from the ejection port, it flies toward the net catchers and is held there. If your shooting position is on a range bench, the consistency of the trap may vary greatly. From a prone shooting position, where you can place the remote brass catcher close to the ejection port, these types of brass traps can work.
My Choices for the Best Brass Catchers for an AR-15
A brass catcher is a convenience accessory. I don’t believe that anyone would head to the woods on a deer hunt with a brass catcher attached to their rifle. The location and attachment of most brass catchers make them a huge problem when brush, branches and other obstructions can easily snag on these devices.
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I looked at the available brass catcher offerings from several manufacturers to make this list. You should understand that I recommend that any brass catcher only be used when on the range for convenience’s sake.
My Pic for the Best Range Brass Catcher for an AR-15 – Caldwell AR Pic Rail Brass Catcher
When I am using a brass trap with one of my AR rifles at the range, the most important factor I want is convenience. I don’t want to take 30 minutes to get the catcher attached. I also don’t want to be hassled with repeated cycling problems caused by the brass catcher.
The Caldwell Pic Rail catcher meets these requirements in a package that is relatively inexpensive.
Often the best feature of an accessory is the lack of features. A device that does exactly what it is supposed to do without any frills or added parts or functions to create problems is the best option. In this case, the Caldwell Brass Catcher does what you expect without trying to be many other things. The features it has are exactly what you would expect to be included.
Easy Mounting Bracket
The Caldwell brass catcher attaches to either a top Picatinny rail or a fore-end rail using a quick detent locking mount on the Picatinny rail. You can mount and dismount the catcher quickly when necessary and the detent lock holds the bag assembly securely in place.
If your rifle is equipped with a top Picatinny rail you can easily mount this brass catcher. The Caldwell brass trap is compatible with almost all AR-style rifle platforms including those chambered for pistol calibers.
Dealing with just fired brass ejected from a rifle at high speed can be a problem. With the Caldwell brass catcher, you needn’t worry about these problems. The brass catcher is constructed of high-impact glass-reinforced plastic with a metal frame. The collection bag is a heat-resistant mesh bag with a zippered bottom for easy brass removal.
If you are shooting .223/5.56 NATO ammunition, you can expect your Caldwell brass catcher to hold at least 100 rounds during a firing session. If you run the catcher to capacity, care should be taken when the rifle is in a safe condition to prevent expended brass from spilling back into the chamber of the rifle. The bag will hold many smaller caliber rounds. If you are shooting .308, the expected capacity is considerably less.
Pros and Cons of the Caldwell Pic Rail Brass Catcher
- Durable construction and high-quality materials
- The quick detach mechanism makes mounting and dismounting fast
- The internal wire frame keeps the bag from sagging out of shape
- Holds up to 100 .223/5.56 NATO cases
- Although Caldwell advertises the mesh bag won’t melt, some shooters report differently
My Recommendations About the Caldwell Pic Rail Brass Catcher
This is the brass catcher I routinely use at the range. That is the best recommendation I can make. The Caldwell Pic Rail unit is lightweight, packs down compactly, and is easy to mount and dismount from my rifles. It does everything I want in a brass catcher. It catches and holds the expended brass without causing any difficulties in the function of my rifle.
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Runnerup For Best AR Brass Catcher – Feyachi Brass Catcher
The Feyachi brass catcher is a very close competitor on my list to the Caldwell product. In fact, in one detail, the Feyachi catcher may be slightly superior to the Caldwell. The two units look and perform similarly. One factor that may affect many shooters is the cost. The Feyachi catcher is a bit cheaper than the Caldwell product.
One of the outstanding key features of the Feyachi catcher is the mounting system. The spring-loaded detent has four positions to allow you to fully fit the brass catcher to your AR. This isn’t the only feature that makes this a great brass catcher for the price.
The Picatinny rail mounting bracket has four detent spaces for mounting the Feyachi brass trap. This allows you to mount the frame and mesh bag at the best separation from your receiver for proper operation.
This brass catcher is designed to have a minimum profile when attached to your AR. The mounting bracket fits easily on a Picatinny rail and under most scopes. The design of the bag and frame keep the profile close to the rifle.
Construction and Materials
Feyachi has redesigned the mesh bag on their brass trap. The upgraded design uses a heavier mesh bag and heavier solid material at the major wear points. This makes the whole mesh bag and frame unit more robust. It also makes the unit slightly heavier than competitive units. The mesh bag is advertised to be meltproof.
Feyachi ensures trouble-free operation with an enlarged bag opening. The 5″ x 2.75″ opening is large enough to handle .308 brass. The mesh bag includes a zipper closure that allows quick and efficient removal of brass without dismounting the brass catcher. The bag can hold 100 .223/5,56 NATO brass cases.
Pros and Cons of the Feyachi Brass Catcher
- The Feyachi brass catcher includes two Picatinny rail mount units to make using the brass trap on more than one rifle.
- Upgraded material is more durable but is also slightly heavier than other brass catchers.
- More adjustable than some other brass catchers which make the Feyachi more versatile on some rifles.
- Easy assembly and installation on almost any AR platform rifle.
- The net mesh used on the bag may snag brass as it enters the catch area.
My Recommendations about the Feyachi Brass Catcher
All in all, this is a good budget brass catcher. The adjustable mount is a great feature as is the heavier mesh on the collection bag. On the other hand, this brass catcher is slightly heavier than most. If you are not shooting from a bench rest or prone, the extra weight on the side of your rifle may be a problem.
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Best Hard Side AR Brass Catcher – Brass Goat Brass Catcher
If the thought of a nylon mesh bag flopping around on the side of your AR, then the Brass Goat Brass Catcher may be of interest. This unique design attaches to the mag well of your AR and uses a plastic deflection hood to capture the ejected brass from your rifle. This design fits closer to your rifle than other types of brass catchers. The capture bin is also contoured to match the curve of an AR magazine so it is almost invisible on your rifle.
Solid style brass catchers are usually bulky and hard to attach to your rifle. Not so with the Brass Goat brass catcher. This accessory attaches easily with a spring clip to the mag well of your AR and the capture hood is free and clear of the rifle. The polymer construction is lightweight and extremely durable.
The Brass Goat design puts the brass catcher as close as possible to your rifle. This design creates a very small profile against your rifle making this one of the best brass catchers for fieldwork or when shooting freehand.
Jam Free Operation
The unique design of the Brass Goat is all about reliability. The collection port on this brass catcher ensures that the collected brass is placed in the hopper without jams or overruns that can cause problems.
Easy To Use
The two-piece construction of the Brass Goat means emptying the spent brass from the collection hopper is as easy as changing magazines on your rifle. Release the latch and slide the hopper out of the collection port, empty the brass, and return the collection hopper to its proper place.
The two-piece construction of the Brass Goat allows you to use the collection port as a brass deflector without the collection bin. Simply remove the collection bin and the collection port will direct your brass straight down.
Pros and Cons of the Brass Goat
- Polymer glass-reinforced materials are strong and durable. The Brass Goat is lighter than many comparable brass catchers.
- Quick detach and attach clip works on the mag well of the receiver of your AR for fast and efficient mounting of the brass catcher
- Low profile design fits close to your AR receiver to minimize side loads and snag hazards
- The two-piece design allows spent casings to be removed without detaching the system from your rifle or using the collection port as a deflector to send spent brass straight down
- It may not attach well to some custom lower receiver designs
My Thoughts About the Brass Goat Brass Catcher
My biggest problem with most hard brass catchers that mount on an AR is the bulk and weight they add to the rifle. The Brass Goat solves these issues with its innovative design that hugs your AR and follows the contours of the magazine. This gives a relatively low profile to your gun and brass catcher. The two-piece construction is welcome when you don’t necessarily want to catch brass but deflecting it downward rather than launching it toward your range mates is a great feature.
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Best Remote Brass Catcher – Caldwell Brass Trap with Tripod Mount
Sometimes using a rifle-mounted brass trap just isn’t an option. In these cases, employing a remote brass catcher can save you a lot of time when policing brass at the range.
These types of brass catchers are very effective when shooting prone and can easily collect brass from your AR. A remote brass catcher eliminates the weight and bulk of a brass trap attached to your rifle and allows a more natural feel when shooting.
A remote catcher is especially effective when it can be set up within a few feet of your firing position. The empty cartridges fly into the trap as they are ejected and instead of spreading over the firing range, they end up in the burn-resistant mesh net for easy retrieval. These remote traps are very efficient at the range during target shooting.
The Caldwell remote brass catcher features heat-resistant mesh with a sturdy wireframe that can be easily disassembled for storage and transport. This brass catcher is independent of the firearm and can be considered a universal brass catcher that will work with almost any firearm. The base includes a threaded attachment point for mounting on a standard tripod.
The wireframe is sturdy and durable to provide years of service. The mesh catch net is made of heat-resistant materials to prevent hot ejected brass from melting holes in the mesh.
Ease of Use
The catch net of the Caldwell remote brass catcher is equipped with a heavy-duty zipper to facilitate removing expended brass. A remote brass catcher is a perfect solution for firing from a fixed position or when shooting multiple firearms during a range session.
You can catch brass from pistols, rifles, or shotguns when this brass catcher is properly deployed. This gives you a few options tool when you are shooting at a range. If you save empty cartridges for reloading, this can be a true time-saver at the range
A Better Alternative
In many ways, a remote brass catcher is a better alternative to a firearm-mounted brass trap. Getting the weight off of the rifle gives you better control and a less cumbersome weapon. A wider range of firearms can be used without changing mounts or moving accessories. Empty cartridges can be collected from multiple guns without any hassles.
For pistol shooters, the ability to mount the Caldwell remote brass catcher on a tripod is one of the key features of having a remote brass trap. With a tripod, you can place the caldwell unit at the right height and distance no matter what kind of pistol you shoot.
The Pros and Cons of the Caldwell Remote Brass Catcher
- The large opening is approximately 17 inches by 16.5 inches for maximum efficiency when collecting brass of any caliber.
- Easy to assemble but folds small enough to fit in most range bags easily
- The open mesh of the collection bag allows wind to flow freely through the bag without causing sway or toppling a tripod-mounted unit.
- Effective with any caliber ammunition
- A tripod is not included.
My Thoughts About the Caldwell Remote Brass Catcher
Personally, while I have several mountable brass catchers in my range kit, I seldom use them. I don’t like having the extra bulk or weight on my rifle. If I am at the range, where I use a brass catcher most often, a remote brass catcher is much more to my liking. The Caldwell brass trap works well for me when combined with a sturdy tripod that allows me to position the catcher as needed.
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In Conclusion – Find What’s Best for You
There are many different brass catchers on the market. My advice is to avoid those that use hook and loop webbing to attach to your AR. Invariably, the hook and loop loosens and slips causing problems with the operation of the brass catcher or your AR.
Any of the brass catchers in my list will work as advertised if you take the time to install them properly. The decision is what style of brass catcher you prefer when shooting.