Depending on what type of brass catcher you have, it can actually be one of the hardest firearm accessories or parts to clean – despite the fact that it’s one of the easiest to access.
So let’s take a look at a question that we’ve heard before – can you use rubbing alcohol to scrub fouling off of a brass catcher?
Let’s look at this from two different perspectives: the perspective of someone with one of those mesh bag, wire-frame Pic rail brass catchers, and the perspective of someone that has a hard, molded resin brass trap.
The Mesh Bag Monstrosity
Some popular AR-15 brass catchers are made from nylon mesh bags with zippers at the bottom that are not only effective at preventing hot brass from decorating a shooting area and are easy to empty, thanks to the zipper at the bottom.
They’ve been known to melt or catch fire, but that’s a topic for another article. How about cleaning them?
Well, as you know (especially if you have one) that nylon mesh weave is a magnet for fouling. After a few months of heavy shooting, that olive drab is going to be more like a black drab, from all that fouling.
Do you absolutely need to clean your brass catcher, if it still works? Well, if it’s doing its job, not necessarily. But you still want to keep your brass as clean as possible, especially if you reload – so cleaning can’t hurt.
But on the topic of rubbing alcohol – yes, it is a powerful solvent and it will dissolve most grease and fouling. Unfortunately, rubbing alcohol can substantially weaken nylon fibers, changing their color and causing them to disintegrate.
You might not care about the color shift, but if you use rubbing alcohol frequently to clean your nylon brass trap, sooner or later the fibers will crack or separate and you will be without a brass catcher.
Our vote is – rubbing alcohol is a no-go. Just use warm soapy water.
A Brass Catcher like the Brass Goat
Now, what if you have a hard, molded resin brass catcher like the Brass Goat, which keeps your Picatinny rail clear and will not melt, jam, or catch fire?
If you want to clean your brass trap and think that warm, soapy water is just too much work for such a piece of equipment, you might be thinking that rubbing alcohol is the way to go. Just one pass and it’ll take off most fouling – and it’ll dry quickly, too.
For the most part, you’re not wrong. However, rubbing alcohol can damage ABS resin over time, too, causing discoloration and disintegration. Again, the color shift might not bother you, but a cracked brass catcher might.
Once more, the vote is against rubbing alcohol in favor of warm water and soap. It takes more time to clean, and more time to dry, but it will protect the longevity of your brass catcher.
(And, by the way, the Brass Goat brass catcher is compatible with many different popular cartridges and mounts to mil-spec AR-15 magwells in seconds with no tools – if you want one, you can get it via the previous link).