Improvised cartridge cases


April 6, 2005, 02:46 AM
Suppose it was a SHTF situation (or just prior to), and you needed to cobble together a reasonably effective fighting weapon with limited tools and materials. A submachine gun can be made from tubing and sheet metal, black powder and priming compounds can be made easily from common chemicals, and projectiles can be made from all sorts of stuff.

But what about the cartridge cases? Is there any way to make improvised cases from scratch?

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April 6, 2005, 06:52 AM
With a lathe you can make any case out of bar stock. It would be a time intensive impractical way, but it could be done.

April 6, 2005, 08:30 AM
Tough cardboard?
It worked for shotgun shells. o_O
Heck, for single shot weapons (which I expect home made in a hurry made weapons to be), would you really need casing?

April 6, 2005, 11:15 AM
There's lots of quarter inch copper pipe to be found in modern houses, and that stuff's easy to work with... Not strong enough to handle much force, though.

April 6, 2005, 11:16 AM
A sub-gun shooting black powder may not fit the criteria for a reasonably effective fighting tool. Particularly a home made one.

Wouldn't it be more practical to have a decent rifle around beforehand? Any decent hunting or surplus bolt gun would be a better tool than a home made gun of any sort, and ammo isn't hard to lay by. Even buying commercial ammo, a box every month or two and you'd be way ahead of trying to cobble up something spur of the moment.

I don't understand trying to make cartridge cases when there are litteraly tons of ready made cases around for cheap. Common caliber rounds are somewhat interchangable as far as re-forming them to another chambering if needed, and a supply of reloading components or a bullet mold can cover that end of it. Not trying to sound negative, just doesn't sound practical to try to make things later that are available now for not much money. It's interesting to try to think of how to improvise, but making a gun or cases from scratch doesn't sound like a good investment of time or energy. If you have to tools to make them, you should be able to afford to buy a rifle beforehand, and ammo will always be floating around, even if only in the form of empty cases laying on the ground from someone else shooting them.

In a worse- case scenario, and supplies of smokeless powder dried up years after the factories shut down, and your own supplies of powder ran out from years of use hunting to feed yourself, then a Winchester in a caliber originally used for black powder, like a 45-70, 38-55 or a 44-40 may be more practical to have around. Good quality powder isn't that easy to make judging from comments of people that have tried it. Tough to get consistant quality and performance, but assuming you could make decent powder, and had some primers left, a black powder cartridge gun would still be pretty effective.

April 6, 2005, 11:18 AM could always make a bow for hunting and keep the guns for two legged foes.

April 6, 2005, 11:20 AM
Was thinking that also. Bow would be more practical to make on short notice, or could be found ready made. Would probably be more reliable and effective than most home made guns.

April 6, 2005, 01:12 PM
For this, I keep a Lyman Great Plains Rifle and an 1860 Army.

El Tejon
April 6, 2005, 01:40 PM
There was a really cool article on improvised cartridges from Australia that ran in the Shotgun News years ago. Are old articles on the net anywhere? :confused:

April 6, 2005, 01:44 PM
I would submit a cap-n-ball pistol and a mizzle-loading rifle are the practical answer to this question - if something more modern is needed, (I.e. post-appoclyptic tyranny imposed by force), just snipe a jack-booted thig from ambush and take HIS gun and cartridges...

April 6, 2005, 01:57 PM
I also thought about the viability of percussion guns if it became impossible to get regular ammunition, I figured that if I could stock up enough percussion caps, then I could stock up enough primers also (and powder), the cases last a long time used with low pressure loads. Now a flintlock would have somewhat of an advantage in that respect, but it's difficult to imagine a real-life scenario that would make it impossible to get powder or primers, or not be able to stock up enough to hunt on for a lifetime. If regulated out of existance, then any shooting you do will draw attention pretty quickly wether it be shooting a cartridge gun or flintlock, and one wouldn't be shooting much if they could help it. A small supply would last a long time if carefully used for meat hunting.

I like the idea of being able to use black powder if needed, but in comparison, a pound of black powder will make about 100 rifle rounds (percussion or 45-70 range of loads) or 200 to 300 pistol rounds. A pound of smokeless will make about 200 rifle loads in 45-70 if loaded similar to black powder loads, (or more depending on the powder), and up to 1000 regular power range 44 spl or 45 Colt loads, or light-medium 44 mag loads. I"d rather rely on some components stocked up, but in a pinch, powder and primers from a diffrent caliber load could be broken down and used for your gun, the bullets melted and re-cast to fit. If not using maximum loads, you probably wouldn't have problems with pressure.

There was guy in Idaho some years ago (early-mid 1970's?) that lived way out, he built his own flintlock hunting guns, rifled the barrles and everything, Think his name was Sylvan Hart, and someone wrote a book about him titled "The Last of the Mountain Men". I believe he made his own powder also, but am not sure on that. It's all rather interesting to think about, but by changing your location and lifestyle you can start off in a better position to survive any perceived EOTW type scenario than living in a populated area and relying on high firepower to somehow fight your way free of the rioting masses, and then try to figure out how to hunt and find a place to live etc. It would take pretty much of a predator mentality to survive in that scenario, stealing or killing anyone that had food or anything else you needed, etc. Not really my idea of a good time. In an oppressive environment, a rural or remote environment would still be better, the population centers would seem to be the main focus of oppressors, the manpower and resources to control a wide geographic area compared to a town would be immense. Maybe I'm trying to rationalize, but I've always liked rural or even semi remote living, not even considering TEOTW type things. As in most hings, the mindset is the most important aspect of survivng anything, but living a semi-self reliant lifestyle in a sparsely populated area in the first place wouldn't hurt either. The guns are only one aspect. Can you build a house or cabin with hand tools, raise a garden, hunt, butcher, and preserve meat without a freezer, trap, handle horses, fix things that break, like a truck or generator, guns, or your roof? Can you run a dog team, safely and efficiently run a canoe, find things to eat in the woods, etc? Can you make a camp and be safe from bad weather without much gear?

Just some thoughts about life after bad things happen. Reading about people in remote areas, like ranchers, trappers, etc during the depression, most of those folks got by. Not much cash money, but they traded and rasied much of their needs, and neighbors helped out when needed. A contrast to the soup lines in the cities.

April 6, 2005, 02:29 PM
On a lark, I bought a book called “Survival Poaching” I don’t remember who wrote it but the book read something like overhearing a know it all drunk talking. In the book he talked about making a single shot shot gun out of steal pipe and a 2x4, you tape the pipe to the 2x4 and fix another pipe with a nail in the cap, that will slide over the breach and fire it by slamming into the shotgun shell. Other than possibly blowing up in your face, I would think that would be the way to go.

You could make something like a match lock muzzle loading assault rifle, if modern materials were not available, using salt peter, charcoal, sulfur, a pipe and a rope to smolder.

April 6, 2005, 06:29 PM

next gun show go get tm31-210

it covers it all and was/is US Army approved for working up improvised weaons/muntions w/out killing yourself

lots of good info

April 6, 2005, 06:38 PM
One could actually have more luck by avoiding a powder burning firearm altogether.

At the very least, you could make a make-shift firearm by using gasoline and touching it off with a BBQ igniter.
Think potato cannon, but with flechettes.

April 6, 2005, 06:49 PM
One could actually have more luck by avoiding a powder burning firearm altogether.

At the very least, you could make a make-shift firearm by using gasoline and touching it off with a BBQ igniter.
Think potato cannon, but with flechettes.

Airguns can be pretty amazingly effective, too. My pneumatic "potato gun" can shoot with around 200 ft-lbs of energy, if pressurized with a bicycle tire pump. And that's with the small (about .80 caliber) barrel. If I use the 1.5" one, 500 ft-lbs is not out of the question. Now if only I had some 40mm sabots...

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