How to Recycle Scrap Ammo

As a gun enthusiast, shooting is fun, but it means you have unusable ammo and brass shell casings lying around, which can become a nuisance on our property.

However, while unused ammo is not recyclable because they are explosives, brass shell casings of expended ammo are. Although, being recyclable does not mean scrap ammo is not dangerous. It would be best to treat it with care to avoid causing harm to you or other people.

In this post, you will learn how to recycle Scrap Ammo. But, it is best first to know what Scrap Ammo is made of and why it is essential to recycle it. 

What is Ammo Made of? 


Before you learn about recycling scrap ammo, you may need to know what every round of ammo contains. Ammo is made of the following components:


The projectiles of guns vary according to the type of gun. These projectiles are bullets, slugs, or shots and usually contain lead or steel.

Cartridge Casing

The cartridge casing is made of steel, brass, copper, paper, or plastic and houses all other ammo components.


Gunpowder is the explosive part of ammo, and it is made from a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter.


Primer is the component of ammo that helps the gunpowder to ignite.


The wad only applies to shotguns, with a plastic separating the slug from the powder.

Why Should You Recycle Scrap Ammo?

Instead of having it lie around, scrap ammo is helpful to manufacturers as they can utilize it in manufacturing new products. It helps them spend less on the cost of raw materials and means expending less energy on the manufacturing processes.

Besides profiting manufacturers, recycling scrap ammo helps reduce carbon emissions, water pollution, and other environmental hazards.

How To Safely Recycle Scrap Ammo?

Recycle Scrap Ammo

Call Your Local Police

Recycling scrap ammo is not as easy as recycling plastic or other metals, but there are still ways they can be helpful. Here are some ways to recycle scrap ammo

You may not know what to do with scrap ammo, but your local police do. It is one of the best ways to recycle scrap Ammo since they are an official organization with a better reach than an individual.

You can contact your local police department and ask if they accept scrap ammo; even if they do not, they can suggest a better place to take it to.

Calling your local police for a case like this is not the same as calling 911, and it is best to call their mobile number or visit them in person.

Call A Gun Range

Calling a gun range close to you is another good idea. Some gun ranges accept scrap ammo and unused bullets.

WhereToShoot is an excellent place to find gun ranges close to you. Before you visit a guy range, make sure you call ahead to find out if they accept scrap ammo as some only take small quantities of scrap ammo, while others do not take it at all. You can also try calling gun stores to ask if they accept scrap ammo drop-offs.

Visit An Hazardous Waste Collection Center

Even though they are expended, scrap ammo is regarded as hazardous waste. It is hazardous because it can cause harm to people and the environment when you do not dispose of or recycle it correctly.

Therefore, it is best to dispose of it, and other hazardous waste with a recognized hazardous waste collection centre that will take it to authorized recyclers. RCRAInfo Web is the United States government’s official website where you can find hazardous waste collection centres close to you. The waste collection centres have trained workers who will safely dispose of every hazardous waste. 

Though some hazardous waste collection centres regularly accept scrap ammo, others have schedules when you can make drop-offs. You should ensure you call ahead of time before visiting a hazardous waste collection centre.

Sell Your Scrap Ammo

Scrap Ammo is reusable, and there are not many better ways to recycle it than to give it in exchange for some money. If you want to make extra money and have scrap ammo, you should think more, sell them off and make your money. The more your scrap ammo, the more money you get.

Although you can sell all-brass shell casings anyhow – clean or not – the cleaner ones cost double the number of dirty ones. Therefore, keeping scrap ammo clean before selling them out is worth it.

Action Metals Recyclers is a website where you can get a good deal on scrap ammo, especially if you stay in or around Dallas.


Another way to recycle your scrap ammo is to reload it. Though it is lengthy and could be pretty stressful, reloading is a process that excites gun experts. It is a great way to reuse shell casings and make new bullets. It is an infinite process because you can do it repeatedly for the same shell casing.

Here are some tips to help you reload safely.

  • It is not safe to reload when tired or ill. Develop your reloading routine to avoid mistakes.
  • Always reload at a leisurely place and refrain from being influenced by alcohol or drugs.
  • Always wear proper eye protection. Reloading can be dangerous if you do not do it correctly. Hence, It is risky to reload without safety glasses.
  • Keep powder and primers out of reach of children. 
  • Also, keep them away from heat and open fire.
  • According to the reloading tables, you should follow the given cartridge overall lengths (C.O.L.).
  • The reloading process should include checking the shell casing for defects and cleaning it to remove leftover gunpowder or dirt. 
  • Use a shell loader to determine the specifications of the bullet before it was fired to ensure the shell casing is used correctly.
  • Remove the primer whilst ensuring the casing’s dimensions are correct.
  • Once you have done all these, add a new primer and give yourself a new bullet.

However, beyond the tips above, it is best to learn the craft from experts and read books and manuals on scrap ammo reloading.

Reloading scrap ammo is not only fun but also cost-effective and reduces the number of scrap ammo wastes around us. It also saves you some money and can increase your accuracy.

Get Creative

There are several other creative ways to recycle scrap ammo, and it is getting much more fun from here. Apart from making money from scrap ammo or reloading them to save cost, you can do several other things with them.

Here are some crafty ways to repurpose scrap ammo:

Mini Decoration Candles

You can make decoration candles at home with the shell. If you have a used shotgun shell, you can clean it up and fill it with wax. To complete your mini decoration candle, top it up with a wick.

Bullet Cufflinks

Making bullet cufflinks is very simple but not any less creative.

If you have a clean shell, you can trim off the rest of the body and attach a cufflink blank to the base. You have got yourself a bullet cufflink. 

Shell Casing Necklaces

Making necklaces out of shell casings is another creative idea to recycle scrap ammo.

To make this, you have to ensure the shell casing is clean. After cleaning, find the correct crystal spike size that fits it. Next, drill a hole in the shell casing and fill its edges. Then wire wraps the crystal spike and threads the wire through the shell casing.

Create a loop in the wire and finish it by threading it onto a chain. You have successfully created a beautiful shell casing necklace.

You can also check here for more creative ideas on making necklaces out of shell casings.

Also, there are other creative ideas online, as you will find here, and you can also search for more options.

What You Should Not Do To Scrap Ammo

Do Not Recycle Or Reuse Scrap Ammo Without Cleaning

No matter which way you choose to recycle or reuse scrap ammo, it is essential that you clean the shell casing to remove remnant gunpowder.

To clean shell casings, you can wash thoroughly with vinegar and baking soda. Remember also to rinse away the vinegar and baking soda from the shell casing, completing the cleaning process by wiping with a dry piece of clothing.

Do Not Burn or Bury Scrap Ammo

Among the things you should not do to scrap ammo is burning. Do not Burn scrap ammo; neither should you bury it in the ground because it contains lead, which can get to water sources and pollute them.

Taking lead-polluted water is also dangerous because it can lead to anaemia, brain disorder, and kidney damage.

Do Not Toss Scrap Ammo In Garbage Bins

One of the worst ideas will be to dump scrap ammo in garbage bins. It is hazardous as it may contain some gunpowder that can explode when heated by the sun or in garbage trucks. 


Scrap ammo is recyclable, but taking great caution is advisable.

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