Safety and Training

Do the Hot Brass Boogie

Three reasons why not to wear a tank top at the range.

You know that brass can land just about anywhere. I have found casings in my purse, stuck in my boots, in my gun case, and in the car. If you have not already gotten a hot brass burn, then I am betting your time is getting close. Bringing home the brass is not limited to close quarters shooting ranges either, where brass has plenty of chances to bounce off things. I have seen hot brass hit people out at the deer lease. My favorite hot brass burn people story involves my female best friend, and an old boyfriend of mine. We were out at my best friend’s deer lease shooting a 9mm semi-auto pistol. It was in the middle of summer in Texas and we were dressed more for a day of fishing rather than shooting. My best friend, in a tank top (no bra) got hot brass down the front of her shirt and immediately just ripped it right off over her head. I am pretty sure the boy got an eyeful and the bestie was beyond embarrassed!

Three reasons why not to wear a tank top at the range.
Three reasons why not to wear a tank top at the range.

It is instinctive to immediately try to remove the OUCH! We’ve all done the hot brass boogie, trying to wiggle the offending thing out of our shirt, or out of our pants, but remember to be safe at all times. It is important to discipline yourself in always keeping your gun pointed in a safe direction. Before removing the hot brass, put your gun down! Defined in degrees, we label burns in order of severity as fist, second, and third. Third being the most severe. I have never seen, nor heard of, a hot brass burn being a third degree burn. Most are minor, first degree burns.

First degree burns will hurt right away and show reddening and possible blistering of the skin. A second-degree burn will hurt and turn skin moist, red, and might “weep.” The area might also swell. The second-degree burn may cause damage to sweat glands and hair follicles. It can even change the color of the skin, so the burn may look ivory or whitish. A third degree burn burns the skin all the way to the fatty tissue level. The skin will look charred, leathery, red, waxy white, tan, or brown. There will be no blistering in a third degree burn. These types of burn may produce zero pain because the amount of nerve damage they cause.

What appears to be a minor, first-degree burn could turn into worse. You know how sunburns are worse the next day. Therefore, when burned by hot brass, you need to treat it right away.


Rinse the spot with cold water until the pain has subsided. You can apply burn cream or aloe Vera and taking an over the counter painkiller will help ease the discomfort. If you believe the burn is more than minor, treat it as a second-degree burn. Like a first-degree burn, run cool water over the burn and remove any jewelry if it is obstructing the area just in case the burn swells. For either type of burn, you can wrap it loosely with sterile gauze or cover it with a bandage. If you think the burn gets worse, seek medical attention.

It is a good idea to keep some burn ointment or aloe and band-aids in your range bag so you can treat the burn as soon as it happens.

Wearing the proper attire at the range can help prevent hot brass burning your more sensitive areas. I recommend a full-collared shirt, no v-necks or tank tops, closed toed shoes like running shoes or boots, a baseball cap, and well-fitted, wraparound shooting glasses.

Remember to keep safe and always, always have control over your gun–muzzle pointed down range in a safe direction. If hot brass burns you, put your weapon on safe and lay it down before trying to get rid of the hot little sucker. Keep your cool; everyone at the range will be sympathetic. Last time flying brass went down the back of my shirt the guy behind me chuckled and said, “They sure are hot, aren’t they?” Obviously, I had been doing the hot brass boogie. He wasn’t laughing at me–he was laughing with me.

Have you been bit by hot brass yet? What is your favorite hot brass story? While you are thinking about it, watch my favorite YouTube of the hot brass boogie.

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Comments (6)

  1. Just happened to me about an hour ago. Shooting a .22 lr while wearing shoes but no socks because it’s laundry day and they’re all in the wash. Decided to go to range today and ended up with piping hot casings in not just one but both shoes. Learned today that shaking your foot does nothing to get it out. Only caused the little guys to shimmy further down along the top of my feet. Hello Vera. I mean hello aloe vera.

  2. M-16 on F/A against a wall simulating a barricade with my BDU shirt open… About 10 cases went down my shirt and I was clearing that rifle so fast and dropping the mag I burnt through my nylon shirt and it stuck to my skin….2nd degree burns all over.. Totally my fault…

  3. I was at the range shooting my .40 Smith & Wesson when a hot one richocheted off the barrier between the lanes and right into my sneaker. Talk about a “Hot Foot.” Note to self, wear boots next time.

  4. On the firing range in Germany. Shooting prone. On my right was a left-hander using an adapter to throw the brass away from her face. Right down the front of my shirt. All I could do was freeze and think “don’t move. don’t move” till the pain stopped.

  5. At the range at Camp Pendleton for qualifying, the guy next to me sent an M-16 casing that stuck on my ear like a pencil! I called that flyer!!

  6. Blackwater. Training with Todd Jarret, sharing the range with such greats as Tam, Caleb, and Say Uncle. I had my regular sunglasses because they were impact resistant glass, who needs wrap around protection?

    That’s when a .45 case decided to wedge itself between my cheek and frames.

    For those who don’t know this little bit of trivia, brass from a .45 ACP is roughly the surface temperature of the sun. I think 1° hotter and it would have begun fusion. At least it felt that way when it stuck to my skin.

    Ended up borrowing a better set of eye-pro from Tam, and to this day, I won’t wear safety glasses that don’t wrap around my face.

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