Though you may nor personally use a brass catcher, you’re probably familiar with them because a lot of shooters do. You’re probably also familiar with what has basically become accepted as the “standard” design, wherein the brass catcher mounts to some section of the rifle’s quad rail, either along the ejection port side or at the top of the Pic rail.
However, some standards are meant to be raised, and standard or not, this is a fallible design. The main issue with Pic rail-mounted brass catchers lies with the fact that they tend to obscure the sight picture. Shooters shooting over open sights are highly sensitive to infractions into the sight picture, especially over the rail or close to the sides of the rifle. Those mesh-bag brass catchers aren’t doing shooters any favors.
Obstructing the sight picture, even if it categorically leaves the sights clear, can still be a distraction and a problem. Those mesh bags can cut back on the time required to acquire the target, even if they don’t actually get in the way of lining up the sights. For competitive shooters that are scored on time, this is a big deal – kind of like how it’s a big deal to swap out mags quickly, which is something with which a magwell can help.
Speaking of magwells, there is a brass catcher known as the Brass Goat which mounts directly to the magwells of Mil-Spec AR 15 lower receivers, without tools, in a matter of seconds. Just like a magwell can save you time swapping out magazines, the Brass Goat is designed to improve the shooting experience of those who have become used to Pic-rail mounted mesh bag brass catchers.
While we understand that the rail is there specifically for accessories, the problems with the mesh bag brass catchers that mount to them goes beyond getting in the way of the sight picture. These brass catchers are flimsy and unreliable at best. They appear to be convenient and easy to use and empty, but in reality, they’re finicky and can even melt or catch fire during intense shooting sessions.
For hunters and others who carry their sporting rifles in the brush, these mesh bag brass catchers are also notorious for being somewhat less than compatible with rough country. They catch on brush, thorns, briars, twigs and everything else in the woods that’s known to hang up on accessories. You’d tuck your bootlaces in to keep yourself from getting bramble-scrambled; why would you leave your mesh brass catcher out in the open to hang up on everything you walk by?
The aforementioned Brass Goat is not only convenient because it mounts easily to AR 15 lower receiver magwells. It is also reliable. Unlike the mesh bag brass catchers, the Brass Goat is made from an extremely durable molded ABS resin. Consequently, no matter how intense your session becomes, it will neither melt nor catch fire.
Its solid design is also a big bonus in the brush, because it will not hang up on the twigs, thorns and brambles that can make such short work of a mesh brass catcher. It will slide through them without a whisper.
Also, since it mounts to your magwell, it’s completely out of the way of your sight picture with its low-profile design. Another nice, added bonus is the fact that it’s compatible with a detachable hopper, so you can easily remove, empty, and replace it much more easily than you can use the zippered bottoms of most mesh brass catchers.
So, to circle back to the question of whether or not a brass catcher should mount to an AR 15 lower receiver or not, we think the argument has been made pretty clearly. You can – but why would you when you can save that rail space for more valuable accessories and mount a better brass catcher elsewhere?
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