Is there a way to mark my reloads ?


March 7, 2010, 03:59 PM
Greetings All,

It's been 20 years since I've reloaded (yep, I was reloading at the tender age of 16!

I've picked it back up because of the exorbitant ammo prices for .40S&W, my primary defensive and plinking cartridge.

I used to shoot where all the brass was mine, because i was the only one there! Now, I shoot at scottsdale gun club where there is brass all over, and it's hard to tell which is yours.

I've put a lot of work into the initial prep on my once-fired cases, and I want a way to identify them. Is there a chemical or something resilient that i can use to mark my reloads ? Something that leaves a red dot on the cartridge face or something; anything distinctive ? Whatever it is, I don't want it to flake off and build up in my action, or rub off and make a mess, or most importantly, compromise the brass integrity.

I shoot it out of a millenium pro which has pretty good case support, so no major worries about bulging. I just need a way to identify my brass so there are no misunderstandings with the other brass chickens, and so I can easily spot brass that I've put through the initial "first prep" to bring it into the fold. I don't want to duplicate any work.

Sorry so long, it's my personality to be a wordy SOB. Any ideas to mark my reloads safely and cleanly (better yet, permanently) would be welcomed!

Thanks :)

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March 7, 2010, 04:03 PM
Clean up the brass before you shoot. Helps the club and you know what brass is yours.

March 7, 2010, 04:08 PM
heya grubby,

That helps, but the amount of lanes makes it fill up right quick, and the RO's are QUICK with the broom! So I really have to be on top of it..... anything for a quick ID after every couple of magazines would help... that's all the time it takes for 30-some lanes spitting brass everywhere to clutter it up right qiuck

March 7, 2010, 04:12 PM
Ya that would make it tougher. Have you tried a permanent marker? I know I have seen already shot casings with red ink on them from something? But not sure what. Sorry, could not be more help.

March 7, 2010, 04:14 PM
I suppose you could use a sharpie pen and mark them with you initials.That or a simpler and faster mark that's yours...

March 7, 2010, 04:15 PM
Sorry Grubby, you must have posted while I was writing the same idea...LOL

March 7, 2010, 04:22 PM
A lot of the Bullseye shooters use Sharpies. Red X, Black X, Single Line, etc. That coupled with some using a single brand, Federal e.g., with a single colored primer, white (CCI) or yellow, makes quick work discerning one from the other.

The marks go away after tumbling.

I run a single black line across my reloads once in the 10x10 box. All Federals with a white primer with a single Black line. Easy to find.

March 7, 2010, 05:13 PM
good deal, I'm going to go ahead with the permanent marker and a mark of my own.

I wasn't sure how well it would adhere (or rub off for that matter) but it sounds like it has enough resilience to get through the gun, back into the range bag and home. That'll do :)

My sellier and bellot brass is the best stuff I've ever loaded, so i'd really like to hold onto as much of that as I can by being able to locate it on the ground. The CCI #500's will give a nice color offset like cavman mentioned also. I can make this work.

Thanks for the help :)


March 7, 2010, 05:17 PM
Use a Magic Marker and color the whole head.

A Sharpie X is hard to see at any distance.


March 7, 2010, 06:06 PM
The Coloring of Brass
by Royce W. Beal
written on 17 March 1995 specifically for the readers
of the rec.guns newsgroup.
questions should be directed to me at SLQZ4~CC.USU.EDU

Read this entire essay before attempting any one
treatment. If you choose to just "cut and paste" part
of this, please make sure you get the safety instructions
and warnings after the recipes. Under no circumstances
do I consider myself liable for any accidents which occur
while using any of these chemicals. Also, I do not consider
myself an expert in this field and am still doing research
for the FAQ. This will be a temporary article. Because I
am still experimenting, I cannot vouch for all of these
Concentrations and conditions Do matter. (Concentration
is more important than actual volume, so if you want to
use less, make sure that you use proportionately less of
each ingredient) If you want good results follow the
recipes closely. Above all it is important that the brass
surfaces be clean. This means an extra hour or so in the
tumbler for the cases and then touch them only sparingly.
I have tried to collate recipes which will require the
acquisition of the more common chemicals. I have also tried
to steer clear of the really hazardous arsenic and cyanide
salts (which you probably can't get anyway) If you feel
that you've been cheated by this, please refer to the
references section of this report and find the books for
yourself in any well stocked library.
It is my understanding that these are all surface
coatings and should not damage or weaken the brass.
obviously you will want to do this treatment with unprimed
brass. Do NoT USE METAL UTENSILS (ok maybe stainless steel)
Glass or Plastic containers are the preference. If you are
really worried about what this is going to do to your brass,
refer again to the reference section below.

Copper Sulfate................. 8 ounces
Ammonium Chloride......... .....4 ounces
Sodium Chloride........... .....4 ounces
Zinc Chloride............. .....l ounce
Acetic Acid............... .....2 ounces
Water..................... .....l gallon

Copper Nitrate................. 16 ounces
Ammonium Chloride.............. 4 ounces
Acetic Acid.................... l quart
Water.......................... l gallon

Iron ( ferric) Nitrate......... 2 ounces ( Fe(III)(No3)3)
Sodium Hyposulphite............ 8 ounces
Water.......................... 1 gallon
(use at boiling temperature, brass can be immersed
or the solution may be "painted" on)

Iron (ferric) Nitrate.......... l ounce (Fe(III)(No3)3)
Sodium Thiosulfate............. 6 ounces
Water.......................... l gallon
(use at 160F)

Iron (ferric) Nitrate.......... 6 ounces (Fe(III)(No3)3)
Sodium hyposulphite............ 6 ounces
(use at 170F will speed up this reaction)

Sodium Hyposulphite............ 8 ounces
Lead Acetate................... 4 ounces
Water.......................... l gallon
(use at boiling temperature)
Lead Acetate................... 2 to 4 ounces
Sodium Thiosulfate............. 8 ounces
Acetic Acid.................... 4 ounces
Water.......................... l gallon
(use at 180F. This color will change if
Take your chances with the color change.)

Copper Carbonate............... 1 pound
Ammonium Hydroxide............. l quart
Water.......................... 3 quarts
(Add the water after the carbonate and hydroxide
have been mixed. There must be excess Copper
Carbonate. Use at 175F. This color can be fixed
(made more permanent) by quickly dipping in a 2.5%
Sodium Hydroxide solution.)

Ammonium Hydrosulfide........... 2.25 ounces
Potassium sulfide............... 1 ounce
Water........................... 1 gallon
(use at room temperature or COOLER for best results)

Potassium Chlorate.............. 5.5 ounces
Nickel Sulfate.................. 2.75 ounces
Copper Sulfate.................. 24 ounces
Water........................... 1 gallon
(use at boiling temperature)

1. NEVER taste any of these chemicals.
2. Keep very far out of the reach of children.
3. Most Nitrates are good oxidizing agents and
should not be stored with anything flammable.
4. Acetic Acid has a VERY strong pungent odor.
Use in well ventilated areas. This acid can
be airborne in vapor form. If you feel that
you have breathed enough of it to feel
uncomfortable, leave the area and drink a
carbonated soft drink. "Have a Coke" Do not
underestimate this chemical.
5. Many of these chemicals may stain your skin or
clothing. Wear rubber gloves and protective
clothing including glasses of some sort.
6. Steam can cause serious burns. Solutions of salts
can actually exceed the boiling point of water.
The steam from these solutions can be very dangerous.
7. Feel free to change concentrations for experimentation
purposes but do not change the ingredients in any
one recipe.
8. Always be fully awake and alert around chemicals.

Ounces are assumably troy ounces, even when dealing
with liquids or solutions. Do not use fluid ounces.
1 ounce = 31.103 grams = 480 grains
1 quart = 0.25 gallon = 946.4 mL
1 gallon = 3.78S L


Meyer, Walter R. title: Plating and Finishing Guidebook
ninth edition - 1940 pp.72-75 (cited)

Metal Finishing Guidebook-twenty-eighth edition - 1960
article by Hall, Nathaniel
Title: Coloring of Metals pp. 477-479 (cited)

Krause, Hugo title: Metal Coloring and Finishing

Hiorns, A. H. title: Metal Coloring

Field, S and Bonney, S.R.
title: Chemical Coloring of Metals (not cited)

March 7, 2010, 06:15 PM
Yep, been using a wide-tipped magic marker over the cartridge head since the 1970s.
If you have time you can also ...

Get a chunk of thick cardboard. Punch holes in it with a sharpened pencil.
Push your loaded ammo into each hole, until the rim stops it or it's flush (for rimless cases).
Now, lightly run some spray paint over it. It doesn't take much, just enough for the paint to enter the lettering stamped in the head. If you can get paint into the lettering, the cases will retain it for a number of polishings.
Did this years ago with some 9mm ammo I'd reloaded. I needed to distinguish it from that of friends (a loose term for them, I later learned) who claimed my brass was theirs.
So, I bought a can of fluorescent pink paint and lightly sprayed my case heads. No arguments after that.
I specify a light spraying, so that you don't run the risk of getting the paint's solvent in and around the primer, and affect or deaden the primer.
If the paint's running on the cardboard, you've used too much!

Those fluorescent pink heads looked marvy! Toodlesssssssssssss!

March 7, 2010, 06:22 PM
Are Sharpies and Magic-Markers considered different from one another? I can't even think of the last time I used a MM. (Sharpies are ubiquitous from work)

March 7, 2010, 06:24 PM
Wow--I'm going to have to try some of those things.

One question is whether it will wear off when tumbling.

I'd tried a method using "Brass Black" Marking Brass--The "Brass Black" experiment ( but it was not clear if it worked. The first time I tried it the mark came off while tumbling, at least it reduced the contrast significantly.

I tried again, buffing the brass w/ a scotchbright pad and with some steel wool, and this time it's worked better.

But the above--having a specific color would be even better, *if* it lasts and doesn't embrittle the metal.

March 7, 2010, 07:00 PM
Get an ink pad and just stamp the base of the brass on it. That should color the whole base quick. I uae sharpies to color the primers during load development to be able to know what that different charges are.

March 7, 2010, 07:53 PM
I like the ink pad idea, Rusty. Do you stamp the cases before or after priming?

March 8, 2010, 04:02 PM
I use some of my wifes discarded nail polish over base of rifle brass - Nuthin like "Cajun Shrimp" to stand out....

Just run the brush over them when you have them in a loading block or box and the base end up.

Any reason why that wouldnt work on pistol brass?

March 8, 2010, 05:32 PM
I know a fellow use to sell the following device to mark the cases with a Mark A Lot marker. I think it is pretty clever. Since it isn't available, I plan to make one for myself out of scrap 2" x 4". I haven't used it so I am not sure how much time it would take to mark rounds, but thought I would mention it.

Hope that helps.

March 8, 2010, 06:33 PM
I like the ink pad idea, Rusty. Do you stamp the cases before or after priming?

I don't stamp mine. I am lucky enough to belong to a private club. Unless I am shooting a match most of the time I am the only one at the indoor or outdoor range. It is easy to just wait and pick it all up after with a few hundred other cases that were left behind by others. I do color the primers but only for load development.

March 14, 2010, 08:33 PM
sharpies can be bought in a pack with numerous colors;not crazy about paint idea for cautions mentioned.


Jim Watson
March 14, 2010, 08:58 PM
It is hard to see color on the case head when the brass is on the ground.
The gadget shown in post 17 puts a band of color around the case wall, readily visible from any angle. The rig on the site is discontinued but a flat board with one or two clothesping screwed to it and a little wooden V block will do the job. That was how the first ones were made.

It does tumble off so you have to remark cases every loading.

March 14, 2010, 09:51 PM
Why not get a 1/8" $8 stamping kit from Harbor Freights and permanently mark your initials (or other marks) next/over the factory head stamp marks?

March 15, 2010, 03:25 AM
Buy a brass catcher so you don't have to worry about the RO sweeping up your brass and you don't have to bend to pick it up...

I use several different color markers and color in the primers when I want to test ammo of different powder charge weights. IMO that's the best way to mark your brass even though you will have to re-mark every time you load. Red and Blue are very visible against CCI primers.

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