A Cautionary Tale Of The Hot Brass Dance

Just this past weekend, a father took his 14 year old son out to an indoor range in Sarasota Florida to celebrate Independence Day early.  You can read about it here. They were using the far right hand lane. The father was shooting a handgun when the brass ejected and hit the wall. It bounced off and went inside his shirt. Nothing out of the ordinary there. What happens next is the problem. The father reaches back with his right hand to pull his shirt so he can get the hot brass out. The handgun was still in his right hand. He had a negligent discharge and his son was shot. I am sad to say that son died due to his injuries.

There are plenty of hilarious videos of the “Hot Brass Dance”. I am sure some of us have experienced it as well.

I cannot fathom killing my own child. The loss is too great. However use this as a lesson of what not to do. Brass down a shirt is not a life threatening crisis. Composure is critical when utilizing firearms responsibly. Try not to be complacent. This can be applied to any endeavor where a mistake can take the life of someone. If there is an issue, compose yourself. Stop what you are doing. Put the gun down safely and deal with the brass.

There have been success stories as well.

Back in 2008 I took my friend to an indoor range in Dallas Tx. We were shooting another friend’s FNX 45 tactical. We were positioned in the right hand lane and a similar situation happened. Brass ejected and bounced off the wall. Instead of going into my friend’s shirt, it fell in between his glasses and eye brow. It hurt but he stayed calm and put the gun down.

A recently read about a woman who had a round detonate and blow a hole in her hand. She remained facing down range with her injured her hand raised in the air waiting for the RO to come and make the gun safe.

Strive to be better shooters and safer shooters every day. My condolences to the Brumby family for their loss.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


  • datimes

    I have seen a lot of hot brass go down the front of women’s shirts and blouses. Rather amusing to see the result but it was quite painful for them.

  • Also hot shells can hit a persons foot and you will see a person bring flip flops or other open shoes so they get a shell down in their toes.

    • Edeco

      I floperate, but I’m conditioned not to flinch, dance etc. Used to work in tight spaces, just know on a visceral level that flinching does no good.

  • nova3930

    Yeah it hurts but it’s one of those instances where you’ve got to have the and control to suck it up, grit your teeth and maintain your composure.
    When using a table saw, you don’t start waving your arms around to the point you lose a digit cuz you caught a big splinter, don’t do the same with a gun and shoot yourself or others. Tools that can maim and kills require higher levels of self control….

  • 12judges

    I have a p229 in .357sig that for some reason ejects very high and right. So high that it lobs the casings like mortar rounds into any shooting lane right of me if the partitions are too low.

    Unfortunately, I found out about this only when this guy in the lane next to me got hit by 10-12 cases in rapid succession…one landing in the crook in his right arm and burning him:(

    Amazingly, he was really cool about it and calmly asked if I’d adjust my position. I apologized profusely and he inquired about my gun, and I said he was welcome to run through a few mags…

    I learned something about my gun, we resolved a situation civilly surrounded by guns, I made a new friend, and he liked my guns so much, he said he wanted to pick one up.

    Hot brass burns like hell, but keep your cool and keep your head and all will be well.

    • Big Daddy

      I have some burn marks on my right forearm from hot brass. The 357 SIG seems to me to be the hottest brass from a handgun I ever got burnt by.

      • rooftopvoter

        50 BMG brass is not exactly ice cold. On the shooting bench, I stack two 6 x 6 timbers on top of each other near the ejection port so the brass bounces off of them rather than fly into the next stall. Yeah, once in awhile they bounce right onto my arm. Gets your attention real quick.

  • John

    I look at hot brass as a training tool, when I get a case down the shirt I try to remain as calm as possible and imagine that someone or something is trying to break my concentration. I focus intently on not allowing the pain to change my actions, this way, in the event I am truly injured while shooting I already understand not to stop what I am doing.

    That being said, I applaud people getting into the shooting sport but I try to recommend safety classed to all new people. I have taken lots of them over the years for different reasons and the safety points that are driven home, mainly “finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire” has helped to keep me and those around me safe.

    • xebat

      Train as you fight, fight as you train !

  • Phil Hirons Jr

    I had a .45 brass go up and over my safety glasses landing on my eyelid and trapped there by the glasses. Ouch! My friend still tells the tale that I cleared my pistol and placed it on the shelf in front of me before reaching for my face. I credit the hours of safety training I’ve had and given (NRA Instructor / Coach) for my actions. But it’s also a state of mind. I made the decision years ago that if I eat while driving the food has to go (wherever it may land) if the SHTF.

    • Anonymoose

      A friend of mine got brass from an M&P45 stuck up his nose once. That thing was ejecting over the stall wall every time.

  • Brian

    The day before I was married, I went out with friends to the range. Hot brass (thankfully only from a .380) lodged between my brow and safety glasses. I didn’t rush since A) I had a gun and B) it was “only” a .380. Wife was not too happy to see a faint burn mark on my face on our big day.

  • OJS

    Revolvers FTW!

    • Steve Skubinna

      Or single shots. Or muzzle loaders.

      • OJS

        Nah, revolvers are the “semi-auto with manners”, doesn’t spit on the floor.

  • WFDT

    I took my wife to the range once and a spent .22LR casing bounced off the partition and went down her low-cut blouse like it had eyes. She did the dance, but first put the pistol down with the muzzle downrange. The next time we went shooting she wore a long-sleeved turtleneck.

  • MrFN

    I wear glasses, and I suppose we all do if we’re wearing safety glasses, and my 3rd or 4th range trip landed a .44 case in between my left eye and the lens. Kept my hand on the pistol, muzzle down(range), closed my eye, and let it slide down my face. I thought I was a rare case of When Brass Attacks. Considering the above, I got lucky I was smart. My condolences.

    • Big Daddy

      Same here with a 5.56mm round, I just put the rifle down and removed my glasses as my eyelid was burning. It’s discipline to remain clam and follow a procedure. it hurt and left a mark, it was swollen for about a week or so.

  • Big Daddy

    This is actually a pet peeve of mine with shooters. I mention to all new shooters about the hot brass, put the gun down first. Especially women who feel the need to come to the range to show off their assets. I usually say not if but when one goes down your cleavage, put the gun down before you dance.

  • Xtorin O’hern

    my home down is showing up in a negative light a bit more then i like recently

  • Roy G Bunting

    Re:brass between glasses and face.

    This is why I recommend a baseball cap for all shooters.

    Hot brass is also why I prefer to start new shooters on bolt actions and revolvers where possible. But you can’t account for the other people at the range.

  • DW

    I once shot a semi-auto VZ61 using the “stock”. The thing ejected into the back of my neck and boy does that thing burn. But instead of doing the dance right away, I put the weapon on safe, put the thing down, and then proceeded to do the dance.

    Moral of story: Don’t use the stock on the VZ61, Don’t even try to SBR it.

  • Jeff Smith

    My father’s Sig P228 once ejected brass straight up into my eye while I was shooting it. I was about 11 or 12 and, luckily, kept the gun pointed in the right direction and handed to my father.

  • Nashvone

    While it’s entertaining to watch the Floperators do their hot brass dance, it’s also important for me to remember that I can end up with hot brass where I least expect it. Last winter, I had a 9mm case find its way down my back, inside the tee-shirt and hoodie I was wearing, past my belt, inside my boxers and snuggled up in the top of the crack of my butt. Between clearing my pistol and unfastening my pants, it seemed as if that case was there for about 10 minutes.

  • Peterson Dan

    My worst experience was when I was shooting my left hand ejection ar15 indoor. The steel casing bounce on the wall and landed on the inside my glasses on the left. Luckily I kept calm and let go my shooting hand and held the barrel downrange with my other hand while i removed my glasses that was holding the case. I now have a burn scar to the left of my eye

  • Fruitbat44

    It’s the sort of tale which is usually good for a few giggles, but this time had a very sad ending. 🙁
    Very impressed with the lady in the last story though.

  • 40mmCattleDog

    Wow what a horrible story, my condolences to the father. I had a piece of hot brass get lodged between by range borrowed shooting glasses and my eye lid in my early shooting days, left me a nasty scar and hurt like hell but I was able to put the gun down and rectify the situation without having a heart attack. Lesson learned: buy shooting glasses that fit your face and wear a ballcap.

  • Lowe0

    I freeze up every time, gun still pointed downrange, until my brain kicks back in. It’s not the most graceful reaction, but I’m fortunate that it’s at least a safe one.

  • Cesare Renzi

    This is why I wear closed collar shirts at the range. I’m seriously considering wraparound glasses for the same reason.

  • nigray

    Recently, I experienced a one in a million incident. A .45 ACP case ejected straight back from my gun, glanced off my forehead and bounced straight down between my shooting glasses and right eye, stopped just under my eye and sizzled there. Amazingly, I was able to put down my firearm safely and then proceeded to tear off my glasses and sqeal like a little girl.

    Take away…my regularly weekly training had just taught me a new bad thing that can happen and I needed to rethink my eye protection. I ended up with a nasty 2nd degree burn under my eye, but no-one got hurt (except me).

    I also recognized the value of regular practice and training because wierd stuff can happen and you’re better off figuring it out in a controlled environment than on the street. That being said, even practice environments can be dangerous and the father who accidentally shot his son must be in personal hell…I’m very sorry for his loss and may his son rest in peace.

  • A Curmudgeon

    I have had e-mail and PM correspondence with a person who quite convincingly maintains that the rearward vector of brass ejection on the entire M16/AR15 series is a design defect. For exactly the reason shown in the shipboard video. Uncle Sam has had to pay DEATH benefits several times over the decades to families of those on the line when someone’s untrained/uncorrected reflexes kicked in upon application of hot brass to bare skin. We’re all naked underneath our clothes, you know.

    Regardless of design factors for straight firing line settings, many posting above wisely note that muzzle awareness training and habits MUST include the mindset to overcome hot brass distractions. As well as horse fly, ricochet debris from [often idiot] other shooters, and even getting shot by someone else, friend or foe. We ARE all responsible for everything in the path of our muzzles.

  • DanGoodShot

    As a father of 4 kids that I absolutely adore. I f@cking HATE hearing (or reading) this shiot. Period.

  • Z

    I know this is a little late, but I think it was the ricochet from the ceiling that killed the child. Many might think that as long as they’re not waving the firearm backwards or something it can be any less live-endangering.

  • JP Merlano

    Very sad story.. What are the odds of a timeline like that.. Angels die at a young age; “old saying in my country..”

  • Tallahassee

    Have a nice scar on the left side my lower neck from hot brass out of M16. Brass down my shirt was extremely hot. Continued firing down range until empty, grounded weapon, and slowly backed out of lane before doing the hot brass dance. Learned to keep top button of my shirt buttoned…. Pity this poor man and his family.

  • Reverend_Satan

    I was at the range with a buddy of mine who had just become a sheriff’s deputy, when he offered to let me fire his service pistol. It was a Springfield X- something, and, though we’re both in our mid-20’s, I disliked polymer pistols, growing up with 1911s and large bore revolvers all my life before joining the military, which taught me to love 240s and GMLRS.

    While firing, Murphy took the reigns and decided the best place for hot brass was over the top rim of my shooting glasses, and under my right eye. Fortunately, amidst a slurry of words that would’a made Dice Clay blush, I managed to keep the barrel pointed down-range, took my finger off the trigger, and scooped out the errant brass with my left hand.

    My buddy, admitting after 10k+ rounds, had never seen that happen, thought it was the funniest thing he’d seen. I’m sticking with 1911s from now on.

  • Matt Wilder

    This story made me think to one of my first safety lessons.
    My old man, when he was qualifying on the M60, had a pile of brass built so high that by the end of the qualification on the last few targets, he leaned into the pile of brass by accident, and was branded with a 7.62 casing outline on his forearm. He calls it, “better than any tattoo I could have gotten, courteous of Uncle Sam.” It also illustrated to us kids growing up that no matter what, or how much it hurts, don’t lose your concentration on the task and mission at hand because it could very well get you or someone else killed.
    My brother and I did understand such tales in a metaphorical sense; yes, we did get such concepts then (well, I’m only 31, and he’s 27, so I guess we’re still kids to some), and I’d like to think some kids do now, even though many talk and teach “dumbed down” for their supposed benefit. He also would end the story by saying, “the enemy wouldn’t have given a damn had I called for a time out because of burning hot brass, so I kept shooting.” The old man qualified Expert too, go figure.
    In my shooting time since, I’ve also had several hot brass instances. Some of my favorite involve shooting my P-38, and having the shells land in my hat brim, and subsequently roll off onto my neck or back when they build up enough. The damn things eject spent shells straight up, so it’s no wonder we won the war. The German officers must have been too busy tending to P38 brass burns to lead their soldiers.