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Thread: Using small metal detector to find lost brass

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Using small metal detector to find lost brass

    Has anybody used one of the small one handed metal detectors to find lost brass? And does it work on brass in grass?

    I am referring to the things they use on us at airports etc, on-line price $30 or so.

    I know we probably won't save enough brass to pay for a detector, but the annoyance of losing fire formed brass can be worth avoiding, and the detector might also be useful for other stuff.

    I am referring to brass loss in the course of hunting, notably for multi-shot encounters. Being better able to find brass afterwards might allow a less inhibited approach to mob opportunities (pigs).

    I have also been playing with shell catchers, but so far not satisfied.
    It'll be handy if I never need it.

    Experience is what you get when you don't read the instructions

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    CastingFool's Avatar
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    I have a "pro-pointer" while it is very sensitive, I wouldn't use it to locate brass. The range of detection is very limited

  3. #3
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    M-Tecs's Avatar
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    A prairie dog shooting buddy tried a larger actual metal detector for a while. It was more hassle than it was worth. As to the small ones just looking for one or two pieces of brass I can not answer.

    For AR based rifles the higher end brass catchers work very well. What firearm are you using?
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  4. #4
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    For the common, easily available calibers I shoot, it isn't worth the trouble.

    When we had a place out in the country, I'd mow with a tractor, and spread a tarp out on the ground if
    we were going to shoot a bunch of semi-auto or Class III stuff.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by M-Tecs View Post
    A prairie dog shooting buddy tried a larger actual metal detector for a while. It was more hassle than it was worth. As to the small ones just looking for one or two pieces of brass I can not answer.

    For AR based rifles the higher end brass catchers work very well. What firearm are you using?
    Thanks to all.

    Rifle is Savage 99 .30-30 (no semi-autos here). We're talking hunting. Usually I shoot carefully and catch the empties as they come out of the rifle, but the temptation remains to get stuck into it when the opportunity presents, or when it looks like a position has to be defended. If I can do it all from one spot and there's no ground cover I usually find most of my dropped brass. But it really annoys me when I do lose cases.
    It'll be handy if I never need it.

    Experience is what you get when you don't read the instructions

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I have been using a metal detector to locate brass for several years now. It works quite well, and WILL find what is hiding in the grass. Mine came with a small, handheld detector also. The handheld unit also works quite well but is not as handy as the big unit.

    Maybe investing in a metal detector to find lost 9mm brass seems rather foolish, but I would rather NOT find that brass with my lawnmower.

    A metal detector will also find spent lead.

  7. #7
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    I feel your pain on loosing brass. I am usually not happy unless I find more than I actually shot up. I just got done making about 400 pcs of 300 BO brass and they will be looked for when I shoot them. Fortunately the range is paved so brass is easy to find, consequently everyone finds theirs before I get a chance at it.
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  8. #8
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    I use a regular metal detector for finding brass when shooting in the yard, but tall grass makes it useless. Can't sweep an area well and the detector false beeps when you bump a clump of grass. Just my experience with a fairly basic detector.
    "In God we trust, in all others, check the manual!"

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcren View Post
    I use a regular metal detector for finding brass when shooting in the yard, but tall grass makes it useless. Can't sweep an area well and the detector false beeps when you bump a clump of grass. Just my experience with a fairly basic detector.
    My shooting range is basically a part of my lawn, so the grass is mowed short.

  10. #10
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    Someone makes small canvas bags that attach to some semiautomatic rifles to catch the brass.

    I once bought a large size detector to look for a diamond earring my wife lost. We knew exactly where is was, but never found it. What we did find were tons of old pieces of metal, horseshoes down to staple size pieces. I was on an old road that had been traveled for hundreds of years.

  11. #11
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    I have considered a metal detector for collecting brass. But I collect range brass from my guns and any other brass I find. As for once fired, I only focus on once fired from my guns in my rifles, but I also collect and resize range brass for my rifles too. I have only lost one or two rifle cases of my own, but I find enough of the range brass it makes up for it.
    This is not the end. This not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning! Winston Churchill, Nov. 1942

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregLaROCHE View Post
    Someone makes small canvas bags that attach to some semiautomatic rifles to catch the brass.

    I once bought a large size detector to look for a diamond earring my wife lost. We knew exactly where is was, but never found it. What we did find were tons of old pieces of metal, horseshoes down to staple size pieces. I was on an old road that had been traveled for hundreds of years.
    Again, thanks to everyone for the helpful advice. If I went down the metal detector track it would need to be small, belt carried, and non-short grass (or leaves) is precisely the environment where it would be most needed.

    The alternative is to try again on a catcher for the rifle. A Savage 99 is a bit shy on anchor points for a catcher, so a couple of magnetic strips might do to attach a cloth bag, or even a smallish square cross section PET plastic honey bottle with an elongated hole in the side to receive the empties. This would be my Mk 4 catcher. The others have involved plastic bottles, ice cream containers and cloth bags, and all were somehow tied to the rifle, or at least to the scope. They all worked but were cumbersome in various ways. I'm not sure if there's a downside to having magnets on the receiver, but a magnet mounted catcher would be a whole lot quicker to get on and off.

    Cases for this rifle are blown out to headspace on the shoulder, and I hate losing them. Ejection distance is four paces.
    It'll be handy if I never need it.

    Experience is what you get when you don't read the instructions

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy

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    This won't work on the Savage but it's the best I have found for the AR.

    https://brassgoat.com/products/brass...rd-size-hopper

  14. #14
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    If the brass is lying on top or almost on top of the grass , it's easy to spot and usable ...
    Once it get's buried in the dirt ... corrosion sets in and they quickly turn dark and green oxide starts to form inside the case ... If buried , they usually aren't wort the trouble to get clean and some will have holes or weak spots eaten into them ... and the ones with weak spots are not safe .

    My advice is to just pick up what you can see ... if deeply buried ... let it lay .
    Gary
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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Why not die your brass pink? Should be easy to see.
    Aaron

  16. #16
    I've had really good luck finding brass with a metal detector. The metal detector I used is one I borrowed from my uncle and is the cheapest one I think you can buy, most likely one that came from the back pages of a magazine. Here is a caveat, I was searching in mowed grass. I was still able to find buried brass.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dswancutt View Post
    I've had really good luck finding brass with a metal detector. The metal detector I used is one I borrowed from my uncle and is the cheapest one I think you can buy, most likely one that came from the back pages of a magazine. Here is a caveat, I was searching in mowed grass. I was still able to find buried brass.
    A pocket/belt sized detector or a big one? This has to be about as portable as a pocket knife. It doesn't take much grass to hide an empty case.
    It'll be handy if I never need it.

    Experience is what you get when you don't read the instructions

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    I used one to find broadheads and blades. Had a dog find the mail and he just had to open it. Handheld and just bigger than a flyswatter, like seen at clubs. I am still amazed those loose blades did no damage to my dog.
    Most of the tanks are gone and the windows don't rattle anymore. I won't be able to sleep now.

  19. #19
    Full size, but it weighed maybe 5 lbs, collapsed it was maybe 30" long. Basically about a half step up from one you would have built from a kit in the late 60's or early 70's.

  20. #20
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    "Rifle is Savage 99 .30-30 (no semi-autos here). We're talking hunting. Usually I shoot carefully and catch the empties as they come out of the rifle, but the temptation remains to get stuck into it when the opportunity presents, or when it looks like a position has to be defended. If I can do it all from one spot and there's no ground cover I usually find most of my dropped brass. But it really annoys me when I do lose cases. "

    I hear you loud and clear, with one of my neurosis (?) is shooting relatively hard to replace calibres: Notably the Remington .30, .32, and .35's plus .25wcf, .30wcf, .38wcf, .38-55, etc. It always seem "the ground" forever seems to swallow at least one or two cases which I, too, find troubling enough to put quite the damper on a range trip!

    So much I purchased a garage-sale Garret metal detector -- happy I didn't spend big bucks on either a new or more costly model. My three disappointments using this to find brass included: 1/so much old (mostly rimfire) brass half-buried through area, too difficult to distinguish sound/meter from my lost brass; 2/too much time to do a "real search" as a reasonable range time IS afforded to change targets and pick-up brass -- but not enough for me using detector; and, 3/others at range would (always at least one! person) wish to borrow it for their spent case search, and would both share same disappointment as I had AND change the settings which were optimal for me to ????.

    A senior fellow, many years back, brought a pair of moccasins with him to range, and after shooting did a slow drag-foot over area with the soft bottomed moccasins on. By gum & golly -- IT WORKS!!! I "replaced" the range-taken Garrett with a pair of Cabela slippers...
    geo

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