obscure desire: inert primers


July 3, 2007, 12:23 AM
In building a (planned) display of ammo types -- nothing huge, just cases I encounter -- I am considering the idea of creating dummy cartridges from each case, rather than just keeping the cases polished and empty.

However, if I were to make a dummy cartridge, I'd also want to have a dummy primer in there :)

Surely there are people on here who have created display only cartridges -- what do you do? Or do you just plug up the bottom some other way, and display in a way that this doesn't matter?


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July 3, 2007, 02:09 AM
I either use a new primer and no powder, or just leave the expended primer in place and seat a new bullet on top of it, again without powder.

Hope this helps.


July 3, 2007, 05:59 AM
soak a working primer in water for over night. then, very gently, use a bullnose tweezer or fine needle nose pliers to remove the anvil and priming compound. what you are left with is an empty brass cup. seat empty primer as normal and mark the case to display its inertness. remember that safety glasses are your friend (and thick gloves wouldn't hurt either) just in case :)

July 3, 2007, 08:47 AM
No offence JR, but I wouldn't try that. It might work fine, but even with glasses my face would be too close to a fair amount of energy while trying to clean out the priming compound. Just my two cents.

What I have done is put a primer on the heating element of the stove, cover with a cardboard box or inverted pot, turn the heat on, and wait for the bang. Wear hearing protection. The pieces are contained and you will find the primer cup inert and un dented.

July 3, 2007, 09:22 AM
Why not fill the case with something inert like rice before seating the bullet and just using a live primer. Rounds are very hard to detonate accidentally to begin with, and even if the somehow the primer did go off I don't think much damage would be done.

July 3, 2007, 10:59 AM
griz, no offense taken:) you would be surprised at how easy the anvil and priming compound come out. i just use a 8" long fine needle nose pliers to pull mine out so i don't have to put my face anywhere near the primer. i guess that may not work if your nearsighted though :uhoh:

July 3, 2007, 01:59 PM
Just put a drop of oil down inside the case and hand spin it to force it into the flash hole. Oil deactivates the primer mixture without destroying the cup.

Id also reload the dummy rounds with something (like the rice idea above) to give them an authentic rattle.

I certainly would not disassemble the primer.....

The Bushmaster
July 3, 2007, 02:31 PM
Oil? Don't count on it. Tests by members of this web site have conducted extensive tests on primers using water, WD-40, oil and other methods to deactivate primers and have been unsuccessful. Primers will, for the most part, still go BANG...

July 3, 2007, 04:33 PM
Soak in water with a little liquid soap added for a day or two.
Carefully pull the anvil out as described above.
As long as the compound is wet it is safe.
Priming compound is metered into the cups wet and then dried when they are manufactured.

The Bushmaster
July 3, 2007, 04:50 PM
The modern primers (at least most) are coated with a water proof coating...So don't depend on that either. Just be careful. I would recommend that you not worry about it and seat live primers and forget it. As was said above. It's hard to accidently set a primer off. You have to want to set one off and then without a firearm it isn't that easy...

July 3, 2007, 04:58 PM
Pull the anvil out and then pick out the compound wafer with a wooden toothpick.

July 3, 2007, 05:47 PM
Oil is the way to go....

Recommended method by Dillon

.....and RCBS

Tactical people know of the perils of oil and primers (see Ammunition section)

Commercial Ammo operations

That's what the industry uses to deactivate priming compound.... ...OIL

The Bushmaster
July 4, 2007, 12:58 PM
Aah yes...The blue cool aid....

July 4, 2007, 01:37 PM
Save the used primer, remove the guts, and use a punch on the primer cup to form back. Seat primer and be done.

July 4, 2007, 01:42 PM
Heh, there are good suggestions flying here :) Thanks.

If this *wasn't* such an obscure desire, I'd like to have 'em in some distinctive color (anodized green or blue, perhaps) just to emphasize that "This kind could (or might) go bang if struck just so," vs. "This kind is purely for demonstration purposes."


July 6, 2007, 09:26 AM
The Bushmaster is correct. Oil, water , wd40 will NOT keep a primer from firiing.

July 6, 2007, 11:13 AM
Wouldn't you also want to drill a hole in the case to show it's an inert round? Just to be sure it wouldn't get confused with a live one.

July 6, 2007, 11:29 AM
gwalchmai wrote:

Wouldn't you also want to drill a hole in the case to show it's an inert round? Just to be sure it wouldn't get confused with a live one.

Hmm, that sounds like a good idea. Hadn't thought of that before, but layered signals would be good. Not kidding, I would really like to have bright-green primers, and though plastic bullets would be a bit tacky, perhaps anodized or similarly colored bullets. Ideally, I'd like each one to look unmistakably like the round that it is, and just as unmistakably inert.


July 6, 2007, 11:40 AM
Doesn't the military have standards for inert rounds? That's where I say the holes in cases, I think.

July 6, 2007, 12:06 PM
The ones we were using at the Master At Arms school for Weapons Week were crimped in on four sides of the cases in a very ugly and very obvious fashion. I don't think you would want to do that if you were wanting to put them on display. I think you want some kind of appeal of the original round remaining intact. I would say make them look as original as you want and put them behind glass in a shadow box where your not going to mistake them for real ammunition to begin with because they aren't going to be anywhere near any real ammunition.

July 6, 2007, 12:06 PM
They might -- good question, and another one I'd not though to ask. OTOH, since these aren't really for *handling* (except perhaps occasionally by an interested guest), I have dual goals ;) Maybe I could try to make them look "real" when viewed from the front (as in a display case), with the back dipped in a rustoleum bath or something!


July 6, 2007, 12:14 PM
You could also do what we do to make our own snap caps. Leave the primer out and fill the primer pocket with silicone or Shoe Goo. Shave it off even with a razor blade and when it hardens, you've got a round that looks good. You could even use the high temperature silicone and have red primers.

Hope this helps.


July 6, 2007, 12:20 PM
IMHO dummy rounds should be clearly visibly identified , best done by leaving the primer out alltogeather .

Koos Custodiet
July 6, 2007, 12:34 PM
Around here, a primed case is regarded (by our new law) as a live round. And you're not allowed to have ammo for a firearm you don't have a licence for. I could go to jail for having a primed 45 Auto case.

So I took a primer, put it in a tin, put the tin on the fire, waited for the bang. Retrieved the cup from the tin, primed the case (go lightly, 'cos the empty cup dents easily).

Carl N. Brown
July 6, 2007, 02:18 PM
Julian S. Hatcher warned that priming compound is powerful
enough to drive the avil of the primer through your eye and
possibly into the optic nerve.

I make snap caps by punching out a piece of plastic
shotgun wad with a fired .17 HMR casing (fits small pistol, small
rifle primer pocket) and seating the plastic wad in place of
a primer. (the local range has plenty of .17 HMR casings on
the ground)

I have made dummy primer by using a fired primer cup saved from
a reloading session and flattening the firing pin indent with
a narrow, flat punch. (The concentric ring left in the primer cup
is a visible signal that it is a dummy primer).

Disassembly of a live primer is risky. there are safe alternates.

My experiments with wd40 show it may kill a primer, or
weaken it, or have no effect. It depends on how "waterproof"
the priming compound in the primer cup.

July 6, 2007, 02:26 PM
I like Freds idea. :)

July 6, 2007, 04:18 PM
A couple of years back I was at the DU outdoor festival here in Oshkosh. RCBS had a booth set up for demonstrating rifle reloading. They completely processed a nickel plated 30-06 shell from fired to reloaded, minus a live primer and powder. There was a "special" primer used, the booth operator said they were inactive primers, no primer pellet. They also had a hole drilled in the side of the casing, and one in the bullet for a key ring. After watching the demmo, you got to keep the results.:D

You might want to ask your question in an e-mail to speer/blount, or whoever owns RCBS NOW. They might be kind enough to supply some of those enert primers.

July 6, 2007, 07:32 PM
Why not just take a fired primer and pull the anvil. Then take a punch and knock out the firing pin impression from the inside of the primer cup. No loss of eyesight (even though I wouldn't worry about it) and no problems with live primers.


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