is there a way to turn brass black?


January 3, 2007, 01:06 AM
I am reloading some reduced .233 loads and want to separate my brass, I was wanting to change the color of my brass to distinguish these. I have heard of black brass but do not know how this is accomplished. Has anyone tried this? Oh, I do not want to do this if it makes the brass unsafe or brittle.

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January 3, 2007, 01:09 AM
sharpie marker. the black will rub off but they will stay black long enough to know which ones they are. the sharpie will wash off with alcohol. or hoppes.

January 3, 2007, 02:17 AM

Father Knows Best
January 3, 2007, 09:38 AM
sharpie marker.
+1. I load both smokeless and black powder for cowboy action shooting. The rounds loaded with black powder get a stripe across the base with a sharpie. It stays on them just fine until they are fired and tossed in the vibratory cleaner with some crushed walnut hulls.

I know lots of guys who do the same thing. Some have more elaborate marking schemes. For example, one guy I know marks his cartridges bases with an X pattern, or one or two stripes, to distinguish particular loads.

January 4, 2007, 12:20 PM
Hi all,

With all the buzz surrounding tacticool pistols, I imagine one could sell boxes of black brass-ed ammo as Ninja ammo.

$20 per box? :)


January 4, 2007, 03:23 PM
Blueing works on brass.

January 4, 2007, 09:37 PM
What about spray painting case heads while they are held in a loading block?

Would paint cause any trouble when the ammo is fired? If one can do this it would be a great way to distinguish your brass from those of your shooting buddy's at the range. No more arguments about who's brass is being picked up :)

January 4, 2007, 10:25 PM
I got 7,000 rounds [5 gallons] of fired .223 brass, and one of them is black.

a black sheep.

cracked butt
January 4, 2007, 10:34 PM
Take a file and put a tiny groove on the rim of the brass to mark them. Luckily for me, my garand puts its own special markings on the brass fired in it:p

January 5, 2007, 07:19 AM
One of the things you can do is use packaging to with labels on it to distinguish your loads. I save old boxes along with scrounging them at the range to save my loaded cartridges in. When I reload, I put the cartridges in the boxes and put a sticker with the load of the cartrdiges on the box.

At the range, when I use the box, I save the brass in a ziploc freezer bag marked with the load on it. When I get home, I dump the brass into plastic bins with lids I bought at the dollar store. The plastic bins are marked as to what's in them with taped on removeable 3 X 5 cards.

This simple has helped me to keep up with my various brass cases (and I have quite a bit of brass, as I hand load for 30 plus weapons) for many years.

BTW, the sharpie marker is really a good way to go along with a system similar to what I've described. If you're of the age to have small children and your wife and friends use baby wipes on the children, those make good storage bins as well for your brass. Buddy of mine uses those.

Hope this helps,


January 5, 2007, 07:54 AM
The birchwood casey bluing compound works to turn brass black, It tends to rub off pretty easily though.

You can also use ammonium persulfate (diluted) to turn them blue-black, but this will likely damage your cases.

Here's another one taken from "The Chemical Formulary":

1 LB copper carbonate (Can be bought as a glaze pigment from art stores)
1 qt Ammonia
2.5 qt Water
Temp: 175F


The copper and ammonia must be thoroughly mixed before adding water. An excess of copper must be present. The color which is a blue-black may be fixed using a 2.5% solution of Sodium Hydroxide.

I've used this on brass parts in the past and had good luck with it. I might suggest simply coloring half the case (top half) so as not to leave any traces which may interfere with the priming compound. Just have the stuff heated up, then dip the cases in and then toss them in a bucket of 2.5% NaOH. Rinse with water... done!

You could also soak the cases in a solution of hydrogen peroxide for a few days, that would turn them black.

January 5, 2007, 09:21 AM
It's not very practical, but if you live in north central TX ("black land" soil) spread your brass in the dirt and let it rain on them once. No amount of tumbling seems to clear the stains off.

January 7, 2007, 11:11 PM
Doesn't turn them black, but they are sure different. Tumble them in kiddy litter. They come out like they have had a trip to the eastern bloc with that dull greenish lacquer look. Dry in the oven on low then tumble the clay pellets alone a little first, then screen out the fines as these have a habit of jamming up inside the cases if there is any dampness to them.

January 7, 2007, 11:49 PM
Exposing brass to ammonia can cause Stress Corosion Cracking. This is very well documented phenomenon (do a search on Google). While I have argued a number of times that the effect of this is negligible in the horological arena, I don't think exposing ammunition brass to ammoniated solutions is a very good idea.

January 8, 2007, 06:16 AM

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