Fact Check

DoD Suspension of Brass Cartridge Casing Sales

Has the Department of Defense cut off sales of spent cartridge cases to U.S. ammunition manufacturers?

Published Apr 19, 2009

Claim:   The Department of Defense has cut off sales of spent cartridge cases to U.S. ammunition manufacturers.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2009]

Georgia Arms is the 5th largest retailer of .223 Ammo in America. (they sell 9 mm, .45, etc ammo)

They normally buy spent brass from the US Dept of Defense - 'one time used' shell casings by our Military - from training on Military bases, etc. They buy the brass and then re-load for resale to Law Enforcement, Gun Shops, Gun Clubs, Wal-Mart, and etc.

They normally buy 30,000 lbs of spent brass at a time.

This week the DoD wrote a letter to the owner of Georgia Arms and said that from now on the DoD will be destroying the brass - shredding it. It is no longer available to the Ammo makers - unless they just buy it in a scrap shredded condition (which they have No use for). The shredded brass is NOW going to be sold by the DoD to China as scrap metal.... after the DoD pays for it to be shredded. The DoD is selling the brass to China for less money than Ammo manufacturers have been paying... plus the DoD has to pay to have the brass shredded and do all the accounting paperwork. That sure helps the US economy now, doesn't it? Sell cheaper to China - and do not sell shells at all to a proven US business. Any agenda working here???? Obama going after our ammunition!!!!!

The Georgia Arms owner even related a story that one of his competitors had already purchased a load of brass last week - and the DoD contacted him this week and said they were sending someone over to make sure it was destroyed. Shell Casings he had already bought! THE BRASS HAS NO VALUE TO THE AMMO MAKER IF IT IS DESTROYED/SHREDDED/MELTED. THE AMMO MANUFACTURER ONLY USES THE EMPTY BRASS SHELLS TO RELOAD DIFFERENT CALIBERS - MAINLY .223 BULLETS.

Georgia Arms owner says that he will have to lay off at least Half of his 60 workers, within 2 - 3 months if the DoD no longer sells their spent brass to him. He has 2 - 3 months inventory of shells to use. By summer - he's out. If he has to buy new manufactured brass shells, then the cost of ammunitioin to the buyer will double and triple.


Origins:   The Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS), which is part of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which in turn is part of the Department of Defense (DoD), is the service "responsible for the disposition of excess and surplus DoD property" and is tasked with "protecting national security by ensuring property is properly identified for reutilization and disposition and not released for public sale when to do so would jeopardize national security."

In March 2009, while reviewing a policy change issued by the DoD the previous year, the DLA halted or reclassified the sale of a broad category of items, a

category which included spent cartridge cases. This event caused consternation among manufacturers and purchasers of ammunition because it cut off some ammunition manufacturers from their largest supply of brass casings, as U.S. senators Max Baucas and Jon Tester noted in a letter on the subject to the DLA: "This reclassification has an impact on small businesses who sell reloaded ammunition utilizing these fired casings, and upon individual gun owners who purchase spent military brass at considerable cost savings for their personal use."

The issue was quickly resolved, however: a week later the DLA issued a press release announcing that upon completion of their review, they had determined that cartridge cases "could be appropriately placed in a category of government property allowing for their release for sale":

Small arms cartridge cases are identified as a sensitive Munitions List item and were held pending review of the policy relating to the category of items in which cartridge cases were included. Upon review, the Defense Logistics Agency has determined the cartridge cases could be appropriately placed in a category of government property allowing for their release for sale.

The DRMS sales contractor has been notified of this decision and has begun the process of reoffering the cases that have been held pending completion of the policy review.

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) also issued a statement on 18 March 2009 which noted (in part):

[T]he Department of Defense informed NRA-ILA that fired military small arms cartridge cases are once again eligible for sale, following a temporary suspension in such sales instituted last week. NRA-ILA began discussions with DoD shortly after the suspension took effect, and we were assured from the beginning that efforts were underway to resolve the issue favorably.

In announcing that the suspension has been lifted, DoD also made clear that no cartridge cases that, in the absence of the suspension, would have been sold for reloading purposes were destroyed while the suspension was in effect. Such cases were instead protected by DoD during the suspension, and are again eligible for sale. With ammunition currently in short supply, that was welcome news, to be sure.

DLA also put to rest various theories and rumors that were circulated on the internet concerning the reason for the suspension. As DLA explained to Senators Baucus and Tester, and to NRA-ILA, DoD officials responsible for the demilitarization of military property temporarily halted the release of the cartridge cases last week pending review of a policy change issued last year by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which, in the interest of national security, halted the sale of items within a broad category of government property including, but not limited to, surplus small arms cartridge cases.

To make cartridge cases eligible for sale once again, DoD demilitarization officials verified that the cases could be appropriately placed in a category of government property allowing for their release for use within the United States, and then executed the recategorization. Whereas during the brief suspension, fired cartridge cases would have been releaseable only if the purchaser crushed or smelted them, now the cases may be sold as before, intact and reloadable.

Last updated:   19 April 2009


    Cox, Chris W.   "Military Surplus Cartridge Case Issue Resolved."

    National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action.   18 March 2009.

    Gonsalves, Chris.   "Feds Lift Rule That Threatened Ammo Shortages."

    Newsmax.   19 March 2009.

    Johnson, Tonya.   "Small Arms Cartridge Case Policy Revised."

    Defense Logistics Agency   20 March 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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