Making guns/ammo


The Viking
August 16, 2005, 02:19 PM
I just finished reading this thread (, and so I wondered: Is it possible to make ammo from scratch, with home workshop machinery, with no brass, or primers commercially availible? Bullets and gunpowder are not a major problem. But what about the brass and primers? Or is cap and ball the way to go if the blissninnys were to get their wishes fulfilled?
I'm quite sure I could make a firearm, should the need arise. But I have often wondered about making ammo...

If you enjoyed reading about "Making guns/ammo" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
August 16, 2005, 02:36 PM
Good question. I think cases could be made at home from steel/bronze/brass if need be, but it would be a pretty time consuming process involving a lathe unless some kind of mold or press were built.

If it ever came down to it, ammo would probably be smuggled in from mexico though. A lot of 7.62x39 can fit in a door panel. :)

Primers would be the hard part to make domestically...

The Viking
August 16, 2005, 02:58 PM
some kind of mold or press were built.
Which makes me wonder about more things: What temperatures do you need to melt steel/brass/bronze? I know bronze must have the lowest melting point (It could be done 3000-4000 years ago).
And how much pressure would one need to stamp out cartridges?:eek:
Primers would be the hard part to make domestically...
Figures. I dont even know what they use in them.

August 16, 2005, 03:08 PM
it's way past time for us to be using caseless ammo anyway

August 16, 2005, 03:21 PM
The manufacture of firearms and ammunitionare entirely feasable at home with small equipment.
Cartridge cases are easier to turn on a lathe than to stamp. The drawing dies alone would be a major undertaking, whereas turning brass cases on a lathe is easy. Could even be done with an electric drill and files, just a lot slower.

Primers are a little harder as the cups would have to be drawn but that could be done by hand dies and a hammer. Easier to flatten out old cups and refill with appropriate compound. Used to do it as a kid with a pin punch and roll caps.

Manufacturing methods for powder, both black and smokeless are well published, dangerous but doable with care. Base materials are widly distributed in commerce and many can be found in the home. Even scratch manufacture is possible in the home with an evenings reading.
The same with the initiating explosives required for primers. They are in fact by-products in ordinary chemical lab work, you have to take precautions to prevent making them accidently in the ptrap of your sink.

All of this is pretty far fetched in any case. Should the people of a nation that truely wants to be armed decide to be armed they will do so. They need only make or acquire 1 firearm and 1 cartridge (or a pretty girl and good sharp knife), which properly mated will breed exponentially. If a people desire to be enslaved that too may come to pass.

The real survivors firearm is a flinter, capable of total self sufficiency. Could be made at home from scratch if need be.


August 16, 2005, 03:26 PM
I'd go with the flintlock myself. But, if you are maching guns, I don't see why you couldn't machine cartridges.

Either that, or do something like the old paper shotgun shells. Less metalwork required.

Red Dragon
August 16, 2005, 03:59 PM
Found this searching the net. Full article can be found here.

"Priming formulations are mixtures of initiators, fuels, oxidizers and sometimes, sensitizers, frictionators and heat increasers. The initiator is the chemical most often used to describe a primer. The other materials are used to adjust sensitivity, flame output and duration.

Mercury fulminate was the predominant percussion priming chemical for many years. It was first described by the Swedish-German Alchemist Baron Johan Kunkel von Lowenstern (1630-1703). It was suitable for priming, but it was more than 100 years until LePage of France actually tried it in a priming mix. It was then forgotten until Edward Howard rediscovered it around 1799. The Rev. Alexander Forsyth, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, patented mercury fulminate as a percussion initiator in 1807.

Mercury fulminate was later used with the addition of potassium chlorate, antimony sulfide, various fuels, oxidizers, powdered glass and glue to improve storage stability, sensitivity and ignition power. Stronger primers were required as smokeless powder began to replace blackpowder in the late 1880s. By 1910, nearly all straight mercury fulminate primers had been replaced by fulminatechlorate mixes. These mixes were good initiators and were used to load some commercial ammunition into the 1940s. Some military match ammunition was loaded at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant with these formulations as late as the mid 1960s. Nonetheless, mercury fulminate had several disadvantages. It was costly to make, rapidly decomposed into a non-explosive solid which caused misfires unless stored in a very cool place, and formed an amalgam, or alloy, with brass that would weaken and cause cartridge case failures. ...

Mercury fulminate compositions had been replaced since 1930 by lead styphnate, lead azide, and DDNP (Diazodinitrophenol) mixtures. This occurred first in Germany, then throughout Europe, and finally in the United States.
Initiators start the lead styphnate primer mix going upon firing pin impact. Fuels burn up to generate heat, gases, and incandescent (glowing) particles. Oxidizers provide the oxygen to burn the fuel and other combustibles. Frictionators increase sensitivity of the mix by providing sharp particles for concentrating firing pin energy-most common to rimfire mixes. Binders hold the mix together in the primer. Other materials such as TNT, PETN, DDNP (Diazodinitophenol), powdered aluminum, powdered magnesium and nitrocellulose or guncotton are often employed to increase flame temperature, hot particles or flame duration. "

August 16, 2005, 07:03 PM
If by chance I should run out of ammo (very unlikely!), I also have one of the Pedersoli Flintlock pistols (Harpers Ferry model).

Pretty fun to shoot anyway and they're relatively inexpensive. Best of all is they can be shipped directly to your front door with no FFL/paperwork required.

Just make sure you really read up on using black's a whole 'nother ball game and demands your full attention.

I sure wish I could keep my eyes open long enough to see where the .58 cal ball hits though... :D

August 16, 2005, 10:45 PM
Sam is right, you can make most of the chemical ingrediants at home. When I was a kid my freinds and I liked to blow things up, nothing big, of course, just model airplanes and the like. When our supplies of firecrackers ran out, we got a college chemistry book and made out own explosives. I think one of them was pressure sensitive. It may have been silver nitride or something like that. You could use that for a primer compound. Making ammo from scratch would be touhg, but perfectly doable.

Texian Pistolero
August 17, 2005, 01:42 PM
For INFORMATION puposes only!

For decades there have been some simple plans for a home workshop submachinegun, floating about.

I think the magazines and the ammo would be a lot tougher.

This is, of course, illegal without right paperwork.

The Viking
August 18, 2005, 11:33 AM
For INFORMATION puposes only! For decades there have been some simple plans for a home workshop submachinegun, floating about. I think the magazines and the ammo would be a lot tougher. This is, of course, illegal without right paperwork.
I know about that.:cool: I've read Lutys books, and it seems simple enough that even I could do it. He had plans for magazines too, single stack 16-rounders. Ammo would be the major problem for me IF I were to build a SMG... (which I would never do of course, unless the zombies are walking around or something, and the law isn't enforced)

The Viking
August 18, 2005, 11:42 AM
Cacique500: That is a BEAUTIFUL weapon. Unfortunatly blackpowder weapons are regulated here :cuss: :fire: :banghead: , unless made before 1890. However, not all european countries regulate them... :D
And, a little message to the Swedish government: :neener: If I want firearms, I'll get 'em. Gotta look for pre-1890 weaponry. No controls whatsoever...
:evil: :D :p

August 18, 2005, 02:13 PM
I also have one of the Pedersoli Flintlock pistols (Harpers Ferry model).Where would one look to see about acquiring one of those...

August 18, 2005, 03:48 PM
Dixie Gun Works. Availible on line.

August 18, 2005, 08:32 PM
How many remember hitting the tips of the common kitchen match with a hammer?
Not far to a cup primer.

August 18, 2005, 08:49 PM
I wonder if there's a way to make "caseless" ammo using standard powder and bullets...

The match-head idea for the primer.

Using thin paper (like cigarette paper) instead of brass

Compacting or using a binder in the powder itself so that it fits its intended chambering

Probably be best used in revolvers and single-shot rifles until the technique gets refined enough for autoloader, pump, and bolt use. :)

August 18, 2005, 09:29 PM
OK, I could have sworn electronic ignition has been mentioned on this thread. Where is it?

I like that idea. Much easier than percussion caps, although you would have to make sure the spark or heat was enough to instantly ignite the powder.

cracked butt
August 18, 2005, 10:02 PM
I wouldn't worry about manufacturing cases.

All you need is a pipe, some homemade black powder, an ignition source (I would bet an electric model rocket igniter would work great), and a handfull of nails/ballbearings/ or slug cast from wheelweights. A bullet mould can easily be made using a product called "water putty" and a little creativity (I've made fishing jig moulds with it before).
If you happen to find a 12 guage cartridge, life gets even easier- you only need 2 pieces of pipe, one roughly having the I.D. of the brass base of the shell, and one having an I.D. slightly bigger than the rim of the shell to make a single use shotgun. 3/4" and 1" ID pipe seems to ring a bell to me

You use it once in a very carefully picked circumstance and you will be able to ugrade your gear substantially.

August 19, 2005, 11:32 AM
S.M. Sterling's "Nantucket" series of SF books roughly describes the process his characters use.

Over a few years they "gear up" from making auto leaf-spring crossbows to flintlocks to percussion to cartridge based single shot rifles. Since they were fielding a marine corps and arming allies they were focused on mass production. Supplies, logistics, and competing priorities came into play. It was interesting to see the choices made.

Eric Flint's "1632" SF series has folks going through a similar process. He also has a pretty dedicated group of fans that have a forum where they play out lots of scenarios including things like what sort of chemical industrial base you need to make things like TNT...

Taurus 66
August 19, 2005, 12:05 PM
Yes, you can make casings with steel or any other non-malleable metals. Just make sure your casing meets the inner breech wall or else the explosion will cause the cartridge to fill the breech, rendering it non-reusable.

Primers would be a bit more difficult. One of the easiest to make is known as ammonium triodide -

*This is for informational purposes only.*

I'd type more, but I gotta go to work.

August 19, 2005, 12:12 PM
Yes, it can be done. This wouldn't have even been a serious question until the government propaganda about needing someone to wipe our nose became commonplace. :cuss:

We are an ingenious people and culture, we're just trying real hard to suppress it--but it's still there. Of course, in a "serious" situation, I'd "make" a beeline to get an M-16 from the Guard Armory.

August 19, 2005, 01:34 PM
for this particular reason?

edit: crystals that is...

If you enjoyed reading about "Making guns/ammo" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!