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How I Create Boxed Sets of Hand-Painted Bullet Casings

Here's what it looks like when I paint handgun and rifle casings. Because I travel across the country to photograph on location, I use casings instead of live ammunition for safety reasons. Plus the casings have a history to them that I like. Each one is individual -- they have dings and dents that tell a story.

First I collect brass from the firing range. This bucket has more than 800 casings in it. About half are 223 Remingtons and 5.56 mm NATO casings used in the AR-15, America's sporting rifle.

Each casing is hand-painted. I start with a coat of metal primer. After that has completely dried, each casing is painted with 2 or 3 coats of color. Then I spray two coats of heavy-duty clear epoxy protectant to help keep them from getting scratched and chipped. They still chip a little, but that gives them even more character.

The casings need to dry in between each coat, so they rest in the sun on a plastic stick. It takes about eight hours, including dry time, to paint a set of casings.

I have more than 40 colors of casings. I paint the rim and the inside for better coverage and because they photograph better that way. The casings are spent, so they each have their own character. Most have little dents and dings, adding interest to their appearance. I store the casings in plastic ammo boxes so they don't get damaged when I travel to locations for photoshoots.

The final product. These are 223 Remingtons and 5.56 mm NATO casings in the colors of the American flag. Seven casings fit into the black tin case. You can purchase tins of hand-painted casings in my shop.

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