electrical detonation of primers...


January 1, 2003, 04:10 PM
I know one rifle out there uses an electric charge to detonate the primer, thus actuating the cartridge.

I know that if you take apart one of those "automatic" barbeque lighters (the ones with about 12-inches of metal between the handle and the flame end, just click and a little flame erupts) you find a small switch that emits a tiny spark when clicked.

Would that spark be enough to serve as a firing pin?

Oh sure, I can hear it now: why don't you try it, cpileri? Just put the 50 BMG between your teeth and let that spart hit the primer...
ha ha

Anyone with 1. more knowledge, 2. bigger brass, or 3. a similar small spark-emitting device; have any thoughts on the subject?

The idea to create (without buying the expensive rifle) a non-firing pin action which is totally portable and reliable.

Why? just to see if we can do it.


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January 1, 2003, 04:24 PM
They say don't carry batteries in your pocket with 22lr because they can go off. Also some cannon are fired electrically. I guess you are looking to design an electrical trigger that would beat anything mechanical. Theory sounds good but what about an electrical storm or static electricity?

Nathaniel Firethorn
January 1, 2003, 05:59 PM
Think about it... if the spark can light butane, it can prolly light a primer.

But in practice, any ammo that could be detonated by a BBQ grill lighter could also be fired by shuffling your feet across the carpet, or petting the cat too vigorously. :eek: So that's probably been designed out of production ammo as much as possible.

Anyway, I doubt that a piezo lighter is automatically going to be more reliable than a mechanical action. Humidity and moisture would be problems.

- pdmoderator

January 1, 2003, 06:01 PM
For a spark, you have to have a voltage high enough to jump to an opposite pole across the dielectric gap. A normal primer has the anvil and hammer electrically connected so there's no way a spark can be generated across the fulminate, hence no ignition.

Another way you could ignite a regular primer besides upsetting it with a blow and by using electricity would be to have a high amperage contact it via an electrically isolated firing pin electrode, which would then act like a spot welder and the heat would ignite the primer, but that's impractical.

The "switch" you're referring to that ignites the gas is a piezo device. When rapidly deformed, it makes an electrical current of high enough voltage to spark.

I've never looked at one, but the primers on the electrically fired rounds you're thinking of undoubtedly have a center electrode isolated from the rest of the cartridge leaving the only problem being delivering a current through an electrically isolated "firing pin" electrode when ignition is to occur. Bottom line: complicated gun and complicated cartridge.

January 1, 2003, 06:02 PM
IMO, the biggest danger with carrying a pocket full of .22 rounds and a battery or two would be squishing a primer against the battery. I used to be really surprised at the damage ball point pens would suffer in my front pocket.... :D

Mike Irwin
January 1, 2003, 08:12 PM
Well, sitting here looking at several electrically primed shells, it looks like the entire primer is the "isolated electrode." But that's just an exterior look. I'm not pulling a 20mm shell apart to try to figure it out.

As for exactly how they work, I don't know.

January 1, 2003, 08:20 PM
The Remington Etron-X rounds. I wonder myself what the voltage across the primer leads is to light them off. Remington put a fairly complicated electronic circuit in the buttstock of the Etron-X rifles to provide the proper pulse.

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