Shotgun Shell Upcycle

One of my hobbies is to go clay shooting with my friends. I started shooting at a young age with my dad being in law enforcement. When I left for college my dad gifted me his old shotgun as a going away present. When the weather is good, me and my friends enjoy a short trip into the mountains to some isolated and beautiful offroading spots which also allow for legal target shooting. I just went shooting during one of the recent warm weekends and decided why not use the empty 12 gauge shells to create something. I have seen some creative uses for shells but usually people just keep them to refill them rather than buy new ammo. This upcycle project will be the perfect time for me to try something new and hopefully something that functions as well as serves as an artistic piece.

Step 1: Fire off a bunch of rounds and gather the empty shells.


Here is a picture of one of my favorite shooting spots 30 mins from Boulder just after a round of shooting clays with some buddies.


Step 2: Think of a creative idea to use the shells for

My initial ideal was to create a simple piece of art using the shells such as some I’ve seen before.


These are amazing pieces of work and have a unique connection between the shells and the purpose they are used for (in this instance duck hunting). But I want to make something more functional and to serve a purpose so I will continue to explore other options and start experimenting with other uses for the empty shells.


Step 3: The build

I have yet to start building due to lack of combining materials (glue, soldering, welding, etc.) but plan to complete this process this weekend. I am starting to lean towards making a car cup holder, table coaster for drinks, or an American Flag using different colored shells for the red white and blue sections. I will decide this weekend once I have all my final material available and can figure out how to put it all together. Stay tuned!

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • I love the irony of the duck head made out of shotgun shells, too funny. Kind of short notice since these projects need to be finished up this week, but if you need more shells, I’m always up to go shooting! Best of luck with creating your art, stoked to see the final product.

  • Elizabeth Whitman
    January 31, 2016 12:20 pm

    I am excited to see your finished product! I like your ideas of making something functional like a cup holder or coaster. I actually have some jewelry that is made of recycled gun shells. Necklaces that are made out of old gun shells with stones held in them are popular right now.

  • Chad, I think its a great idea to use these shells specially that you have to pick them up after shooting. I also like the idea of drawing a duck face with its shells. However, it would be great if you can shape the shells somehow to make your design 3D. Like instead of making a 2D shape you can easily making it 3D by bending some of the shells if feasible and then gluing it from the inside. Great idea and good Luck!


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