Dirty Hulls

Dear Technoid,

I love my jamamatic but dislike the dirty hulls….dust & dirt from the ground. What is the best/easiest way to rid my hulls of this static/dust/dirt?


“clean” Ken

Dear Ken,

There are several approaches to clean hulls, none are 100%.

First, you can get a $10 T&S shell catcher from Brownells, http://www.brownells.com. If you are a skeet or trap shooter, that will save your singles. It won’t save either hull when shooting two shots. They are made for Beretta and Remington autos and some others, but not all.

Secondly, you will just have to clean the hulls that hit the ground if they are dirty. I’ve tried everything from simply a quick wipe with a rag to running hulls through the clothes washer. If you wash the hulls, don’t dry them in a hot dryer or some will separate the brass and plastic. Trust me on that one. They also make the most amazing racket spin-drying. Just shake the hulls in a basket with drain holes to get rid of the water and set them in a warm place until they are dry.

Washing hulls is a real pain and I don’t recommend it. If your wife catches you doing it, you will understand what I mean by real pain. Washing doesn’t seem to do anything for the burnt-on carbon, but it will handle the dust and grit from the ground.

One of my hull sources is from hulls raked up from a gravel-covered ground. They get dusty and often have a pebbles inside. I pour the hulls into an old plastic milk box, the kind that would hold a dozen half gallons. The box has a lattice-work construction with holes just small enough not to let 28s, 20s and 12s out. I’ve seen similar ones sold at stores sold for storage. I put the hulls in the box and shake like crazy. All the pebbles, sticks and twigs come out, so I only have to deal with dusty hulls, not dusty hulls with rocks in them.

I then tap each hull nose down on the bench and wipe the outside off with a towel moistened with “End Dust” (a household dusting spray) before they go in the reloader. It’s a pain in the neck. It’s time consuming, but I haven’t found a better way to deal with dusty hulls. Of course, you could just use the dusty hulls in your auto and tell yourself that the extra abrasive will slick the gun up over time. Well, you could.

Obviously, the best way to get clean “grounded” hulls is to get them from fields that are grass or macadam, not dirt or gravel. There are all sorts of deals you can make. If you have friends who shoot O/Us and don’t keep hulls, make an arrangement with them. I’ve even seen people at private clubs put “private” hull baskets in front of the shooting positions for those who wished to dispose of their hulls and then retrieve everything after the shooting is over.

You might also make a deal with the range management. Many ranges sell the once-fired hulls, but they almost always throw out the twice-fired ones. You might be able to make an arrangement to get those if they hulls are falling on clean ground. In order to get the once-fired, everything else has to be sorted out, so try to get the everything else before it is thrown away if it is clean enough.

I realize that I’ve gotten away from clean hulls to just getting hulls, but if one club has cleaner ground than another, it would make sense to source you hulls from the cleaner club even if you don’t shoot there often.

Gas gun owners who reload have to be a clever lot to get a source of good, clean hulls. There no easy answers that I know of, but we’ll see what the readers say. Maybe someone out there has the answer. I haven’t found it, that’s for sure.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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2 Responses to Dirty Hulls

  1. Dale W. Key says:

    I still find it less expensive to re-load my 12’s for skeet, Yes if I charged for my labor it wouldn’t be cost effective at some of todays deals. However if shot shells go as have rifle and pistol shell prices, it will become viable again to reload. I have the equipment, I have the know how and I can still put my load together the way I like.

    In the winter when it’s -25, snowing like heck and I’m tired of just watching that boob tube, I can pass many hours listening to good talk radio and loading 2- 300 shells an hour in my old Posness-Warren reloader. I love to hear it dumping out shells into the bucket under my bench.

    I also collect brass from our little range near Gilchrest, Oregon, I take a big dustpan and broom with me and shovel them into a big plastic bag, all those 22’s I pick up go to the brass smelter and I get paid enough to buy a lot of my supplies. I’m retired and the effort keeps me in good shape, besides what else would I be doing that’s fun?


  2. Bill says:

    After 4+ decades of reloading, I have concluded that reloading 12 and 20 gauge makes no sense anymore. The price of components make the differance between new and reloads practially non-existant if one just shops around some. However, reloading 28 gauge and .410 are a very worthwhile practice as those are priced exorbitantly high. Finding many if any, usable 28 gauge and .410 hulls to reload laying around is not going to be easy, so Technoids advice to make some “arrangement” with a club or fellow shooter strikes me as the only realistic approach. Sometimes after a big shoot you can get a person who works at a club to pick up a good supply of once fired hulls, but again it requires one of those “arrangements”. Good luck!


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