How to Dispose of Bullets and Recycle Brass Shell Casings

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

How to dispose of ammunition

Use this guide to ensure you're safely disposing of (or recycling) bullets and bullet casings. Got questions? Talk with ammunition reloading experts.

Keyword(s): bullet casing, recycle scrap ammo


Author - anonymous.

The state of Florida could not be more hyped about firearms right now, boasting the second-highest gun sales in the country. People are using more bullets than ever, and people need to know what to do with every bullet casing they collect. Are you in this situation, and do you need to know how to dispose of, or recycle, your brass?

Below, we offer information to help you understand what to do with your old ammo. By the end of the article, you should understand how we can help you with this process should none of the other options work for you.

Recycling Brass Casings

There are many possible reasons why you might choose to recycle scrap ammo casings. It might be you want to put them back into future ammunition, or you might see fit to offer them to another industry as scrap metal. You might even have an interest in contributing to a sustainable environment by reusing metal instead of discarding it.

Whatever the reason, the following are some of the places you can take once-fired brass (OFB) to ensure it sees more use.


US Reloading Supply

Probably the easiest way to recycle your unwanted once fired brass casings is to sell them to US Reloading Supply. They buy it dirty, and unsorted. From individuals or from shooting ranges, and offer fair market price. They also handle the transportation from anywhere in the US.

They'll probably ask you a few questions about the brass, and send you an offer based on the information collected. If you accept the offer, you follow some simple packing instructions, and report how many boxes you have to them. They send you the prepaid shipping labels needed via email, you just print them out, fix them to the boxes, and take the box(es) to the post office. Contact US Reloading Supply via email, or by phone 941-451-7357 for more information.

Local Recycling Center

Recycling at a local center can both put your metal back into circulation and help reduce your environmental impact. If this is something you care about, this is a strong option.

Taking shell casings to a recycling center is often the most accessible option, both due to how common they are and their opening time. These locations will take many different types of metal, including brass, so each one is well-placed to put the metal in your OFBs back into use.

Before you can hand the center the casings, you may need to separate them out by material, caliber, or one of any number of categories. As such, talk to the individual recycling center before you take your scrap metal recycling to them.

Scrap Metal Buyer

These people often buy brass casings from individuals in order to sell them as raw metal to someone else afterward. Not only can this help you get rid of the casings, but you might sometimes get a little money at the same time too.

Before you pass along the OFBs, though, you should ensure they are ready to offer. This means cleaning them, sorting them, and ensuring they are easy to transport. Giving the buyer an easy time handling your casings may even increase the price they are willing to pay, so ask them what their needs are beforehand.

If you choose to go with this option, be aware that some methods of buying or selling scrap metal have restrictions. Check the appropriate regulations for the state of Florida to find out if they apply to you.

Ammunition Manufacturers or Sellers

Sometimes, ammo manufacturers or ammo sellers might have their own recycling program. Check their website to see if they are able to take in brass OFBs, and they will often have information on what they can and cannot accept. If they sell reloadable ammunition, the chances are high that they are willing to take your casings in, but if the site does not mention it, give them a call.

Shooting Ranges

Some shooting ranges might have a recycling program you can take advantage of. They often collect spent OFBs on the range itself, or ask people to pick them up and place them in a central bin for collection. Some may even donate them to local enthusiasts who use them to produce more ammunition for the range.

If you talk to the specific range, you can ask them about what their policies are and what they do when it comes to OFB recycling. They may be able to tell you how to get involved, or if they do not, they are likely to have information on other things you can do in the area.

Preparing Your Casings for Recycling

It is responsible and respectful to both clean and organize your casings before you pass them on to anyone else. Not only will it endear these groups to you, but some locations will not accept the OFBs without you taking steps to prepare them for donation.

Cleaning Material

US Reloading Supply has a couple great articles about brass cleaning, with proven results. Check them out here:

- Part 1

- Part 2

The first thing you need to do is to collect a set of materials to clean the casings. This can be as simple as:

  • Plastic container
  • Mild soap or detergent
  • Stiff-bristled brush
  • Towels or rags

Or you can also pick up more specialized firearm or ammunition-cleaning equipment.

Sort By Caliber

Sort each of the casings into a different container. When you pass them on to someone else, they will need to know what each casing is, and this saves them a lot of time. Refraining from doing this is not likely to endear you to the collector.

Inspect and Soak

Take a look at each of the casings one by one to find any dirt or debris you will need to remove. Make sure to take out any foreign objects that may be inside the OFB, as these could interfere with cleaning.

Brush the Casings and Rinse

Fill your plastic container with warm water and detergent or soap. You should then place the casings in this water, one container at a time, and let them soak for around 20 minutes. Doing this should help dissolve and loosen up any debris, oil, or other unwanted buildup of material.

After this, use the stiff-bristled brush to scrub each OFB. Pay extra attention to the inside of each casing, though do not neglect other areas. If you have a cleaning rod with a bore brush, this may help you reach the back of the case's interior.

Leave to Dry

After you have scrubbed each casing, rinse it under running water and then place it on towels or rags to dry. You can use compressed air to clean out the inside and remove excess water but do not use hot air such as a hairdryer. This could warp the metal and damage the casings.

Alternative: Use a Tumbler

Another option of how to clean the casings is to use a special cleaning device called a tumbler. This will both clean and polish each OFB.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions on your specific tumbler for more information on the steps you should take.

Disposing of Bullets and Ammunition

Once in a while, you might have some unused ammo left over you do not intend to shoot. These might be because of damaged bullets, or it might be that you no longer have a use for them. For example, if you have recently sold a firearm that uses that caliber of bullet and do not intend to buy another.

Responsible ammo disposal helps to ensure people handle your old ammo safely and legally so no accidents occur.

Check the Legality

The first thing you should do is check both Florida law as well as federal law regarding passing ammunition onto other people. For example, the legality related to passing on bullets is different from that of donating whole rounds of ammunition.

Inspect the Bullets First

Ammo can sometimes go bad. Therefore, no matter if it is new or old, you should check the bullet itself for damage or corrosion. You may also find defects, such as dents that will limit your options for disposal.

Donating the Bullets at a Range

The easiest legal way to dispose of ammunition is to make sure someone shoots them. You can always take them to a local range to ensure this happens. The range may have rules on donating ammo that might suit your needs, so make sure to check their site or talk to their staff for more information. 

Trading Them In

Some retailers will offer a trade-in or buyback program for unused ammunition or components such as bullets to reload them. Whether for cash or store credit, this might appeal to you if you want to pick up something new there.

Disassembling and Recycling

Retailers and ammo manufacturers often take in their separate components, such as the bullets. If you want to keep hold of the casings, have experience in disassembly, and feel safe doing so, you may want to take this route.

Taking Them to the Authorities

While rarely taken, depending on your circumstances this is sometimes the most sensible thing you can do. For example, if the ammunition is unstable or damaged, the trained professionals at a police station might be able to handle it for you. Make sure to call them beforehand to check their ammo drop-off process.

Bullet Casing Disposal Professionals

Every bullet casing and bullet you keep hold of has the potential of re-use so long as it is not damaged or corroded. Still, knowing the difference between good and bad components can be hard. We can help you learn how to sort through your used OFB and take the ones you don't need off your hands.

At US Reloading Supply, they can offer expert advice, including how to reload old ammo. So, visit the website, get in contact, or stop by their store on Saturdays to find out more.

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