December 3rd, 2016 by Sam Morstan

The Operator Model tactical brass recovery system from TBR really works.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY FRANK JARDIM 

The hinged anodized aluminum frame provides a rigid mounting point to attach the unit to the rifle and support the bag.

The hinged anodized aluminum frame provides a rigid mounting point to attach the unit to the rifle and support the bag.

Lew Grasser is a Marine Corps veteran who owns and operates Tactical Brass Recovery (TBR) in New Salisbury, Ind. He’s spent a lot of time watching spent cases eject from AR-platform rifles, AK-47s, SCARs and even TAVOR bullpups and tactical shotguns. He has tested scores of rifles and ammunition types and recorded the results, noting what is consistent, what is variable and what is bizarrely rare. He’s even made high-speed video recordings of ejecting cases so he can study their movements in slow motion.

Lew Grasser tested scores of rifles and ammunition types before he developed the Tactical Brass Catcher.

Lew Grasser tested scores of rifles and ammunition types before he developed the Tactical Brass Catcher.

He’s done all this research to design and build the brass catcher he wished he had during his active-duty days. The TBR Operator Model is the culmination of years of research and experimentation, and is far and away the best designed and most practical brass catcher I have ever seen.

The Operator Model retails for $220, which may seem like a lot of money. However, in testing I found its features were exceptional. For one thing, it actually catches the brass. I don’t mean some of the brass. I mean it catches all of the brass, and not just a magazine’s worth. The bag capacity is 150 5.56mm cases or 75 7.62x51mm cases. In addition, it not only catches the spent cases, but also holds them captive in the lower part of the bag, keeping them out of the action where they could cause a jam. The top of the catcher is designed with enough depth to prevent the newly ejected case from bouncing right back into the rifle’s action. It also has an inner fabric curtain that effectively prevents the brass in the bag from slipping out the way it came in, even if the rifle is tilted or manipulated on the run.

AS THE NAME SUGGESTS, military and law enforcement applications were foremost in Grasser’s mind during product development. The unit is light but exceptionally rugged. The hinged, ⅛-inch-thick anodized aluminum frame serves as the rigid mounting point to attach the unit to the rifle and support the bag. The bag itself is made of heavy canvas that won’t melt like nylon bags. It has a zipper in the bottom to empty it.

The unit mounts to the front handguard on the right Picatinny rail section via an American Defense-made quick-release throw-lever.

The unit mounts to the front handguard on the right Picatinny rail section via an American Defense-made quick-release throw-lever.

The bag comes in 16 colors, including most common modern camouflage schemes. Laser-cut ABS plastic parts support and reinforce the bag and mate it closely to the receiver. The fit is close, but it doesn’t come in contact with your rifle’s receiver very much, and the ABS plastic is much less likely to damage the finish where it does. The whole device is rigid, yet flexible. If you were to fall and mash this catcher between your rifle and a hard place, there’s enough give in the aluminum and plastic components that isn’t likely to damage, or even scratch, anything. The unit is assembled with 18-8 stainless-steel button head screws and nyloc locking nuts. It weighs only 12 ounces.

It mounts to the front handguard on the right Picatinny rail section via an American Defense-made quick-release throw-lever. It locks securely and won’t come loose unless you press the release bar in the lever and rotate it 180 degrees. You can take it on and off in less than a second. Once on, the catcher is held in place with a five-position, tensioned, ball-detent locking hinge of Grasser’s own design. This might seem like overkill, but it conveniently allows for a choice of positions to facilitate storage of the weapons equipped with the bag in vehicles, racks or cabinets.

The honeycomb pattern atop the unit provides strength and rigidity while allowing a clear view of the action and chamber at all times.

The honeycomb pattern atop the unit provides strength and rigidity while allowing a clear view of the action and chamber at all times.

TO USE THE BAG, you pivot it against the receiver and fold up the plastic top of the bag so the scissor arms on each side are fully extended. The tension on the elbow of the scissor arms comes from a nyloc nut. I expect that as the joint wears, it would be a simple thing to tighten it up with a partial twist of that nut. It is elegant in its simplicity. I was able to keep my ejection port cover closed with the Operator Model attached; but whether you can or can’t do the same will depend on your handguard.

Bag capacity is 150 5.56mm cases or 75 7.62x51mm cases.

Bag capacity is 150 5.56mm cases or 75 7.62x51mm cases.

The ABS plastic top of the brass catcher is cut with a honeycomb pattern to provide strength and rigidity while allowing the shooter (or range officer) a clear view of the action and chamber at all times while the catcher is in place. An important added benefit of this honeycombed lid is that gases from firing are continuously vented up and out of the bag. A solid bag or box would capture the gases and force them to vent back into the action and along the side of the receiver where they could get into the shooter’s face and optics.

The virtue of a product that actually delivers on its promises should appeal to you, whether you are a Special Response Team officer who doesn’t want his team members falling on his fired cases during a hot building entry, a competitive shooter, or a reloader who simply wants to recover all your brass.

For more information, you can visit the TBR website at TacticalBrassRecovery.com, e-mail contact_us@tacticalbrassrecovery.com or call (502) 716-8405. ASJ

Bag capacity is 150 5.56mm cases or 75 7.62x51mm cases.

Bag capacity is 150 5.56mm cases or 75 7.62x51mm cases.

 

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