Make Money Scraping Brass Shell Casings

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You know, those casings that are left behind after some target practice or military exercises? Turns out, they’re not just scrap metal; they’re actually a valuable resource that can be recycled and reused.

Take the Marine Corps, for example. At their Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, they’ve been doing something awesome with their spent munitions. They collect everything from tank parts to aluminum rounds and, yes, brass casings. These are then sorted, processed, and recycled. In fact, back in 2010, they processed and sold a whopping 450 tons of metal, including brass.

This isn’t just about being eco-friendly; it’s also a smart financial move. The Marine Corps’ Qualified Recycling Program made a cool $2.5 million in profit in just one year. Half of this went back into maintaining and upgrading their recycling program, and the other half supported their Marine Welfare Program.

Brass shell casings, commonly found at shooting ranges and military facilities, are a significant source of recyclable material. Their recycling not only supports sustainability but also contributes to the metal industry’s supply chain. This article delves into the process, benefits, and challenges of recycling brass shell casings.

Anyone who uses brass casings can be part of this cycle. The process usually involves collecting the casings, cleaning them up (getting rid of any gunpowder residue, for example), and then checking for any damage. The good ones get shredded down and melted to create new products. It’s a full-circle moment!

Collection and Sorting

  1. Source Collection: Brass casings are primarily collected from shooting ranges, military training facilities, and law enforcement agencies.
  2. Sorting: Casings are sorted from other materials. This might involve manual sorting or the use of magnetic separators, as brass is non-magnetic.
Video: Manual Sorting of Brass Shells.

Cleaning and Processing

  1. Decontamination: Casings are cleaned to remove gunpowder residues and other contaminants.
  2. Inspection: Each casing is inspected for dents, cracks, or other damages. Damaged casings are set aside, as they can affect the quality of the recycled brass.
  3. Shredding: Intact casings are then shredded into smaller pieces to facilitate melting.

Melting and Refining

  1. Melting: The brass fragments are melted in a furnace at high temperatures.
  2. Impurity Removal: Impurities are skimmed off the top of the molten brass. The refining process might include adding other metals to achieve a specific alloy composition.

Reshaping and Reuse

  1. Casting: The purified molten brass is cast into ingots or billets for easy transportation and use in manufacturing.
  2. Manufacturing New Products: These brass ingots are then utilized to manufacture new products, including new ammunition casings, plumbing fixtures, and decorative items.

Benefits of Recycling Brass Casings

  1. Environmental Conservation: Recycling brass reduces the need for new raw materials, conserving natural resources and reducing environmental impact.
  2. Energy Efficiency: It uses less energy compared to processing new brass from ore, significantly cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Economic Value: Recycled brass has a substantial market value, providing an economic incentive for collection and recycling.

Challenges and Considerations

  1. Contamination Risks: Proper handling is crucial to prevent contamination from lead and other hazardous residues.
  2. Quality Control: Maintaining the quality of recycled brass is essential for its effective reuse, especially in precision products like new ammunition.
  3. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Recycling facilities must comply with regulations regarding the handling of potentially hazardous materials.


The recycling of brass shell casings presents a lucrative and environmentally friendly opportunity. It exemplifies a successful circular economy model in the ammunition and metal industries. As sustainability becomes increasingly important, the practice of recycling brass casings is likely to gain more attention and investment, driving innovation and efficiency in this sector.

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