Where Do I Take My Scrap Brass Shells To Be Recycled Safely? [Answered]

Last updated on December 5, 2023

Scrap brass shells can be safely recycled at local metal recycling facilities or scrap yards.

Scrap brass shells, often collected by shooting enthusiasts or found as remnants in renovation projects, can be responsibly recycled to reduce waste and even earn a bit of cash. The best places to take them are recycling centers, scrap metal yards or metal refineries, where they are processed and repurposed using environmentally friendly methods.

In this article, you will find valuable information about these facilities, their locations, operating hours, the recycling process they perform, and how you can prepare your brass shells for recycling. Stay tuned for the comprehensive guide that will ensure your brass shells are recycled safely and successfully.

Key takeaways:

  • Brass shells can be safely recycled at local metal recycling facilities.
  • Recognize brass shells by color, magnetism, headstamp, weight, and size.
  • Brass shell casings have value due to their metallic composition.
  • Clean, separate, and check local regulations before recycling brass shells.
  • Find local recycling centers or scrap metal yards for brass shell recycling.

Identifying Scrap Brass Shells

identifying scrap brass shells

When dealing with spent ammunition, recognizing brass shells is the first crucial step. These casings, often varying from gold to a reddish-brown hue, are highly distinctive. Frequently, they’ll bear a headstamp encoded with essential information such as the manufacturer and calibre, thus aiding identification further.

Here’s how to distinguish a brass shell:

  • 1. Determine the color: Genuine brass shells tend to have a yellowish-gold or reddish-brown color.
  • 2. Check for magnetism: Brass is not magnetic. If a magnet sticks to your shell, it likely contains another metal.
  • 3. Look at the headstamp: Most brass shells will have a manufacturer’s mark here.
  • 4. Assess weight and sound: Brass is heavier than other common metals and makes a distinct ‘clink’ when dropped.
  • 5. Gauge the size: The size can give an indication of the shell’s material, as brass is commonly used for larger calibre ammunition due to its resilience.

Each of these factors can contribute to a correct identification, making it easier for you to effectively glean value from your scrap shells.

Understanding the Value of Brass Shell Casings

understanding the value of brass shell casings

Brass shell casings carry significant worth due to their metallic composition. It’s a sought-after metal by recyclers, and holds an enduring value in marketplaces.

Its resilience and durability, along with the ease to mold it into new forms, make it a prized scrap material. The weight of your brass casings will directly influence the amount you might receive in return from recyclers, as they typically buy by the pound.

A notable aspect of these brass shells is their reusability in reloading ammunition, further enhancing their value. Always clean and separate your brass casings from other metals to optimize the recycling yield and ensure a fair price for your scrap.

Sorting and Preparing Scrap Shells for Recycling

sorting and preparing scrap shells for recycling

Prior to sending your brass shell casings for recycling, ensuring they are appropriately sorted and prepared can dramatically improve the process. Follow these steps:

1. Empty Casings: Double check to verify all shells are empty without any live round.

2. Clean Them: Soak them in a mixture of warm water and vinegar and scrub off any dirt or grime. Dry completely to prevent rust.

3. Separate by Type: Divide the casings based on their metal type. A magnet can be employed to separate brass from other metals.

4. Remove Steel Parts: Those that contain steel, such as clips or links, should be removed as these can lower the value of your brass.

5. Check Local Regulations: Prior to heading to your recycling center, check their specific requirements. Some may ask for further preparation or may have separation requirements.

By taking some time to sort and prepare your brass shell casings properly, you can ensure a smoother recycling process and potentially fetch a greater recycling return. Remember, ethical and responsible recycling is a process that helps contribute to a more eco-friendly and sustainable environment.

Finding Local Recycling Centers

finding local recycling centers

To locate a nearby recycling center, start by doing a simple online search. Many town or city websites contain a recycling section where you’ll find relevant details on the locations, the types of materials they handle, and their operating hours.

Online directories like Earth911 and Recycler’s World are also valuable resources containing comprehensive lists of recycling centers and services across the country.

Alternatively, reach out to your local municipality or waste disposal service. They’re typically knowledgeable about nearby facilities that specialize in brass shell recycling.

When exploring these options, be sure to clarify whether these centers handle ammo shell casings. Not all recycling centers are equipped to process this specific type of scrap brass, so clarifying this ahead of time can save unnecessary trips.

Always abide by local and state laws when recycling ammunition shells. Some municipalities may have strict regulations about transporting and recycling ammo, so it’s worth making sure you’re compliant to avoid possible legal repercussions.

Brass shells can sometimes be considered hazardous waste, meaning they should be treated differently from ordinary recyclables. A local hazardous waste facility might be a better fit for this type of material. Check their waste handling guidelines before you drop off your brass shells.

Contacting Local Scrap Metal Yards

To find your local scrap metal yard, an online search is the most effective way. Input “scrap metal yards near me” into your preferred search engine. You should be able to view a comprehensive list of local options in the results.

Once you have a list, sort through their websites or make a few calls to gather further information about their processes. The important points to find out include:

  • Do they accept brass shells?
  • Is there a minimum weight for scrap brass they will accept?
  • What sort of prices are they offering for scrap brass?
  • Where is the yard located and what are their operating hours?

On initial contact, ensure to let them know clearly that you have scrap brass shells. This will prevent any confusion and they will immediately tell you their policy regarding its acceptance. Some yards may not deal with ammunition scrap, so confirming this can save time and effort.

Remember, safety comes first. When transporting brass shells or any scrap metal, ensure it’s securely packed to prevent any harm or injury.

Inquiring About Ammo Recycling Policies At Local Gun Ranges

When approaching local gun ranges about their recycling policies, it’s essential to remember a few key points. First, clearly communicate your intention to recycle used brass shells safely. It’s a topic that they may not deal with directly, but they should be able to provide guidance.

Next, inquire if the range participates in any ammo recycling programs. Some ranges collect spent cases, and could possibly take yours too. This can be an easy and convenient way to recycle your brass shells.

Finally, ask for any suggestions or references they might have. Even if the range doesn’t recycle ammo, they probably have contacts in the industry who can help. By doing so, you can ensure you become part of the solution for environmentally responsible ammo disposal.

It’s essential to note that live ammunition requires special handling due to its potentially hazardous nature. Thus, never try to disassemble cartridges yourself as it could lead to serious physical harm. Instead, turn over all live rounds to qualified professionals.

1. Consult Authorities: Contact your local police or sheriff’s department. They can often help with the disposal of live ammunition and sometimes provide this service free of charge.

2. Local Gun Shops: Reach out to these businesses, who might be willing to take live ammo off your hands or direct you to expert ammo disposal services.

3. Hazardous Waste Disposal Events: Some cities host disposal events, particularly for items that cannot be tossed in regular waste bins, including live ammunition.

4. Sporting Good Stores: Larger establishments often have procedures for disposing of unusable rounds.

Follow the advice of these experts to ensure that your unused live ammo is disposed of properly. Remember, safety is paramount when dealing with ammunition. Going the extra mile to seek professional advice could save you from potentially dangerous situations.

Understanding the Dos and Don’ts for Disposing Spent Ammo

Safe disposal of spent ammo is a process involving careful considerations, often mandated by law to prevent potential hazards.


  • Always keep your spent shells in a safe, dry location until ready for disposal. Humidity or exposure to water can damage the brass, reducing its recyclability.
  • Ensure the ammunition is entirely spent. Any live rounds should be handled with utmost caution and handed to professionals for disposal.
  • Keep in mind local regulations. Some states and municipalities have specific rules regarding ammunition disposal, including recycling and landfill restrictions.


  • Never throw your spent shells in general household waste. It can pose severe risks, including potential explosions.
  • Refrain from burying spent ammo in your backyard. It could contaminate soil or water resources and is generally illegal.
  • Avoid trying to disassemble live ammo if found alongside spent shells. Such actions pose significant safety concerns and should be left to professionals.

These steps help promote both personal safety and environmental conservation while dealing with spent ammunition.

Taking Safety Precautions While Handling Ammo

During the process of sorting and preparing ammunition for recycling, safety should remain paramount.

1. Personal Protective Equipment(PPE): Always use gloves to guard against sharp edges and possible residue or dirt. For added safety, consider eye protection as well.

2. Secure Storage: Store ammunition in dry and cool locations away from flammable materials or fluids. Containers should provide adequate ventilation.

3. Avoid Disassembling: It’s best to avoid attempting to disassemble cartridges. The powder inside can be hazardous.

4. Dispose Live Ammunition Properly: If live ammunition is encountered, it should never be dismantled. It’s best to contact local law enforcement for guidance on safe disposal.

5. Awareness of Local Laws: Fully comprehend local regulations regarding ammunition handling to maintain compliance.

6. Maintain Distance: During transportation, try to keep the ammunition in the trunk or back of the vehicle, away from passengers.

Remember, always approach this task thoughtfully and prioritize safety above all else.

Learning About the Recycling Process of Brass Shells

Once collected, brass shells undergo a comprehensive procedure before transforming into reusable material. Initial preparation entails removing excess dirt and cleaning to ensure shells are free of impurities. They are then melted in a furnace where any residual elements are eradicated effectively. This molten brass undergoes casting or extrusion into desired shapes and sizes for reuse.

The extraction process for other metals present in the brass occurs under controlled conditions to ensure it remains unharmed and retains its prime qualities. Some of these are preserved separately and can be used independently, contributing to overall waste reduction.

The recycling process not only aids in conserving our environment by optimizing natural resources but also helps in reducing energy consumption, as remanufacturing brass shells uses less energy compared to producing completely new ones.

How to Earn Money By Recycling Brass Shells

Most scrap metal facilities offer payment based on the weight of the brass being recycled, with amounts varying depending on market rates. Before heading to a recycling facility, follow these steps to ensure optimal returns:

1. Clean Your Shells: Remove any dirt or residue to ensure you’re paid for brass weight alone.

2. Separate Your Metals: Brass shells mixed with other metals like steel or aluminum can reduce the overall value of your load. Always separate different metals before visiting the scrap yard.

3. Check Current Market Prices: Scrap brass rates fluctuate. Check the latest rates before selling to guarantee you’re receiving a fair deal. Many websites and apps offer up-to-date metal prices.

4. Shop Around: Don’t settle for the first price. Call multiple local facilities to find the highest offer for your scrap shells.

5. Be Prepared to Wait: Usually, recycling companies will pay on the spot for scrap metal, but at times you might have to wait for payment due to verification processes.

Remember, while earning from scrap shell recycling might not make you a millionaire, it’s income from waste while also contributing to greater environmental sustainability.

Understanding the Environmental Impact of Metal Recycling

Recycling scrap metals, including brass, is vital for our planet – it’s not just about profit from waste material. Here’s why:

1. Conservation of Natural Resources: Mining and refining new brass consumes more resources and energy compared to recycling. Reusing scrap brass reduces the demand for virgin ore, conserving our precious natural resources.

2. Lesser Energy Consumption: The energy required to produce new metal from raw directly materials is significantly higher when compared to recycling. Studies indicate that recycling brass items uses approximately 90% less energy than creating them from raw materials.

3. Reduced Landfill Use: Scrap brass shells that aren’t recycled end up in landfills. This not only takes up a lot of space but also produces harmful chemicals when it rains. Recycling allows us to limit landfill use and curb harmful runoff.

4. Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Extraction and processing of new metals produce a large amount of greenhouse gases. By choosing to recycle, we significantly reduce carbon footprint and combat climate change.

5. Job Creation: Scrap metal recycling industry also generates several jobs, contributing to the economy while serving the environment.

Responsible recycling of scrap brass shells is a step towards a substantial positive ecological impact. Each shell recycled is a step towards a greener, sustainable world.

Why Conservation and Reuse of Ammo Is Important

Conservation and reuse of ammunition, particularly brass shells, are key in the wise use of resources and reduction of environmental impact. Used brass shells, often products of hunting, outdoor shooting activities, or law enforcement, are recyclable, diminishing the need to mine new brass.

One significant advantage of reusing brass shells is cost-effectiveness. The reloading process involves taking the spent shell, cleaning it, removing the old primer, and inserting a new one. This can be more economical compared to purchasing new ammunition.

An increase in used shell recycling correlates with a decrease in waste. Brass shells are non-biodegradable, which means they don’t decompose naturally. By recycling, these can be transformed into new products instead of lingering in the natural environment and contributing to pollution.

Conserving brass ammo also means saving energy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycling metals can save up to 95% of the energy needed to produce new metals. It’s clear that each shell recycled not only adds incremental financial gain but plays a part in preserving our resources and protecting the environment.

The Benefits of Recycling Scrap Brass Shells

Recycling brass shell casings can lead to substantial benefits. Firstly, it conserves natural resources by reducing the need for new material production. The processing of new brass involves mining, smelting, and refining raw materials, which causes considerable harm to the environment.

Secondly, recycling scrap brass shell is economical. The brass shells that are recycled can be purchased by manufacturers at a lower cost than newly processed brass, encouraging cost savings.

Thirdly, recycling promotes the conservation of energy. The process of recycling brass uses less energy compared to producing new brass, which contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Not to mention, reprocessing brass scrap is easier and faster compared to mining and processing raw resources.

Finally, it can create jobs. A thriving recycling industry can provide employment opportunities. The process of collection, sorting, and transporting brass shells to recycling centers requires workforce which supports economy.

Knowing the Dangers of Improper Disposal of Scrap Ammo

Improper disposal of scrap ammunition can lead to a range of environmental and safety risks. Firstly, if not disposed of properly, these may end up in landfills where they can contaminate the soil with lead and other heavy metals. The contaminated soil can then pollute local water sources, impacting both humans and wildlife.

Secondly, discarded ammo, especially if still live, poses a significant hazard. Not only could it cause physical injuries from accidental discharge, but it could also spark fires if stored improperly or thrown in regular trash. Fire departments can face difficulties extinguishing such fires because water and conventional methods might cause the ammo to explode.

Lastly, swimmers and beachgoers can suffer injuries from sea-dumped ammunition. Coastal cleanup teams see an increase in discarded ammo, increasing both their workload and risk level.

Therefore, it’s essential to follow safe and approved disposal measures for your brass ammunition shells.

Recycling Brass Shell Casings With Scrap Metal Companies

Established scrap metal companies are an ideal place for recycling brass shell casings as they usually accept a wide range of metals. Before visiting, separate the casings from other kinds of scrap to speed up the process.

Some companies, however, may ask you to prepare your brass casings in a specific manner. Any remaining gun powder must be removed, as it can pose a safety risk.

When choosing a scrap metal company, opt for those who offer pickup services. This can be a convenient option if you have a substantial amount of casings. Checking online reviews and asking for recommendations can help identify reliable and reputable companies.

Most importantly, make sure to comply with all local laws and regulations concerning ammo disposal before recycling at scrap metal companies.

Lastly, keep in mind that prices for scrap brass fluctuate. It may be worth monitoring the market and waiting for a high point before selling. Not all companies offer the same rates, so be sure to shop around for the best deal.

Selling Brass Shells to Scrap Metal Recyclers

Before heading to your chosen scrap metal recycler, a few things should be kept in mind. First, ensure you have the requisite number of brass shells to sell. Some establishments have minimum weight requirements for purchasing scrap metal. Securing a larger quantity can help you garner a better price per pound, so it might be worth considering saving up until you have a substantial amount.

Next, do some market research. Scrap metal prices have the potential to fluctuate, much like precious metals. If possible, hold onto your shells until prices rise for greater profit. A quick search online or a phone call to the recycler can readily provide this information.

Also, worth noting is that recyclers often prefer to purchase de-primed and cleaned casings. These require less work to process, and so tend to fetch better prices. If you have the time and necessary materials, investing effort into cleaning your brass shells could result in an increased overall yield.

Lastly, safely package your shells for transport to avoid any potential harm. Depending on the amount you plan to sell, a sturdy plastic container or metal drum would be a suitable option.

How to Contact Scrap Metal Recycling Offices

Starting the process is quite straightforward. First, conduct an online search for “scrap metal recycling offices” around your locality. You’ll likely find a multitude of options. Ensure to jot down the contact details of these centers for future reference.

Next up, place a call or send an email to these establishments. When reaching out, remember to inquire about their operating hours, acceptable types of scrap (especially brass shells), pricing, and any prerequisites to selling. Each facility may have distinct policies, so it’s crucial to acquire this information beforehand.

Building a rapport with these centers can result in a smoother recycling process. It’s important to keep these relationships cordial and beneficial. Consequently, ensure to follow their rules and guidelines strictly. When disputes arise, aim for amicable resolution keeping in mind the long-term relationship.

Lastly, stay updated on scrap metal prices. You can check these on various online platforms. Be sure to compare prices among different recycling centers to get the best deal for your brass shells. In this way, not only do you contribute to environmental conservation but also earn a fair amount from your scrap.

Discovering Sites That Collect Hazardous Waste

Reaching out to your local waste facility is a critical step. Many such facilities have specific drop-off times for hazardous waste and can guide you on the best way to handle your brass shells.

Online databases such as Earth911 or RecyclerFinder can be used to locate facilities in your vicinity. Most have procedures in place to ensure that the dangerous elements of discarded ammunition are handled safely to minimize risks.

Always verify individual waste facility policies before disposing of your shells. It’s crucial to remember that not all waste facilities handle hazardous materials, but they can usually refer you to somewhere that does. These procedures protect both you and the environment.

Recognising the Different Components of Ammunition

Ammunition comprises various distinct components, each contributing significantly to its overall function.

1. Case/Shells: Typically, these are constructed from brass, although steel and aluminum are also used. The case protects the other components from damage and stores them until they are ready to be used.

2. Primer: Located at the back of the shell, the primer ignites the powder when struck, which propels the projectile.

3. Gunpowder: This is the propellant found inside the case. It ignites when the primer is struck, causing an explosion that sends the bullet forward.

4. Bullet/Projectile: This is the part that leaves the gun and reaches the target. They are usually made of lead, copper, or a mixture of both.

Understanding these components helps improve safety during their handling, while also providing insights on which parts can be recycled and how. It’s also essential to note that live ammunition and spent casings need to be handled differently, given the inherent dangers of mishandling live rounds. Therefore, always ensure to follow safety guidelines while dealing with ammunition, whether live or spent.


Can brass shells be recycled?

Yes, brass shells can indeed be recycled by delivering them to a scrap metal facility or a metals recycler.

Are empty brass shells worth anything?

Yes, empty brass shells are valuable as they can typically be recycled for over a dollar per pound, depending on current market prices for brass.

Where can I sell my brass bullet shells?

Brass bullet shells can be sold to recycling centers such as Interco, which purchases and recycles scrap brass shells.

Is brass recyclable or not?

Yes, brass is recyclable and can be processed multiple times without losing its chemical or physical properties.

What are the environmental benefits of recycling brass shells?

Recycling brass shells conserves natural resources, decreases greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy usage, and prevents substantial waste in landfills.

How is the recycling process for brass shells accomplished safely?

The recycling process for brass shells is accomplished safely by sorting and cleaning them, melting together at high temperatures, and finally reshaping the molten metal into new products.

Can other materials, apart from brass, be recovered from spent shells during recycling?

Yes, other materials such as steel, copper, and zinc can be recovered from spent shells during recycling.

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