Choose Your Heat

Hot brass comes in many flavors. The .22 LR casings are only warmish, while 9mm and .45 ACP tend toward hot and can leave a mark if held stationary against the skin for several seconds. However, the temperature of rifle brass generally starts at “Aaarrrrgggg!” and ends somewhere above the melting point of a diamond — the .223 is the absolute tops in this regard. As any regular carbine shooter will attest, .223 brass hits skin and can actually stick, causing significant 2nd- and 3rd-degree burns in the process.

The AR-platform carbines are notorious in this regard. The guns tend to fire a considerable number of rounds in each session and rapidly heat up. They also eject brass quite vigorously, something launching it into low earth orbit. If you are training as part of a group, it’s very common for the white-hot casings to be flying over, under, around — and unfortunately — onto your body.

Of the countless episodes in my own training book, I’ll share a prototypical and highly memorable incident at a carbine training class with the late Pat Rogers. Pat’s classes were known for high round-counts and we spent the week shooting and loading as fast as our chapped little fingers could fly.

At the time I was on a SWAT Team so I was wearing all the requisite “cool-guy” gear — fatigues, body armor/load-bearing vest, gun belt and thigh holster, knee and elbow pads, sunglasses, radio gear with headset and a nice, salty-looking “boonie” hat. Of course, I had a camo bandana around my neck because, well, it looked neat and I knew the critical ABCs: “Always Be Cool.”