Making Percussion Caps


November 27, 2007, 04:57 PM
I have one of the Forster tools for making percussion caps with a toy cap for the fire. I have tried repeatedly to make this work without success. I suppose the caps aren't hot enough. The tool makes a nice looking cap though.

I would like to use this since the price up #11 caps has gotten so high. Can anyone help?

If you enjoyed reading about "Making Percussion Caps" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
November 27, 2007, 07:31 PM
How many cap gun caps are you putting in the metal caps?

November 27, 2007, 07:44 PM
This thread says to use 3 roll caps from China and not from Taiwan, and others suggest to use the plastic toy caps that work better, or to convert to either regular rifle primers or #209's because they're also much cheaper.

Roswell 1847
November 27, 2007, 07:46 PM
I had a bunch of dead caps once, oil had soaked through a carboard capbox.
I cleaned those caps out carefully and used two toy gun caps cut to size with a leather working hole puncher.
These ignited blackpowder well enough but would not ignite the older formula of pyrodex.

That was many years ago of course.

I also used some of those little plastic percussion caps made for the little revolving cylinder cap guns on a double barreled pocket pistol which had very small nipples. These worked surprizingly well. Didn't melt or anything like that.

November 27, 2007, 07:50 PM
Have you tried a drop of mercury fulminate in the caps?

November 27, 2007, 08:07 PM
I also have a TapOCap. I have tried 2,3 and 4 red paper cap centers in the caps. I have tried putting the cap centers in both ways. I have tried the TapOCaps in several guns. Nothing. They make a nice pop in the house but they do not ignite the powder in the cylinders.
I've heard that the match heads from Strike Anywhere matches will work in place of the red paper cap centers but I can't find those matches.
I also tried the red plastic caps, and, again, they make a nice pop but they do not ignite the powder.

November 27, 2007, 09:35 PM
Doesnt anybody know its techinically legal to make very small amounts of percussive priming agenst as directed in pre 1900 text books for chemistry?

True that stuff is hazardous healthwise sometimes, but it works.

4v50 Gary
November 27, 2007, 09:54 PM
So, Bezoar, do you have a pre Twentieth Century chemistry book that tells you how? I know you dissolve mercury with a nitrate solution and then add ethanol.

November 27, 2007, 11:46 PM
Thanks to everyone who has posted.

I have only used up to three caps. No luck. I thought of the plastic caps but never tried them.

I have an adapter that will let me use standard primers and it works but is hard to unscrew after a few shots.

I have some of the military manuals that mention strike anywhere matches for recharging rifle primers in an emergency situation but have not tried them in the tap o cap. I do have the matches though. Wrapped in suran wrap.

I have 6 pounds of mercury and a formula to make nitric acid for making fulminate of mercury but i think i will save that for really desperate times.

Some one mentioned musket caps. They cost more than #11s and as i have side hammer guns with metric nipples and one T/C with a 1/4 28 thread, i don't think i'll switch nipples as i have spares for #11 caps.

I haven't shot my BP rifles in about 5 years to the best of my memory and was shocked at the price of caps. I have 2000 on hand now but would need another 2000 to set off the amount of powder i have on hand. I think i'll just buy the factory made stuff and forget the tap o cap for now.

Thanks again, Thomas.

November 27, 2007, 11:50 PM
Buy a package of those plastic ring caps. Cut them apart and there you go. They work just fine, but they are corrosive. Since black powder and Pyrodex are corrosive, that shouldn't be a big deal.

November 28, 2007, 12:00 AM
One other thing i thought of regarding the Strike Anywhere matches.

The jails will not give them to inmates because they have used the heads in a home made bomb trying to blow the locks on cell doors. I read of an old man who made a rocket out of the heads in a metal tube for his grandson. When he set it off the explosion killed him with shrapnel.

We used to take sparkplugs and twist out the center electrode and use it for a plunger. You wrap a coat hanger wire around the base of the plug go about 8" make a loop to hold onto then back to the plunger and wrap the wire around the top. Break off up to 3 match heads (or less) and insert the electrode and strike the cement. It makes a hell of a bang. Everytime i have used 4 heads it blew the porcelin off of the plug. I have been cut on the hand from this. The best plugs don't have the screw on cap.

The above is for educational use only and the managment does not endorse or condon the making of spark plug poppers. Ha Ha.

November 28, 2007, 04:03 AM
My Tap-o-Cap is on order, when it arrives I shall try the technique described by a local gunsmith who says he uses them successfully. What he does is put a small pinch of fine black powder in the cap and then a cut-to-size paper cap to hold the powder in.

He emphasis a "small" pinch and said that I should experiment to find the amount that works best.

November 28, 2007, 07:41 AM
I also tried these plastic caps, and they did not ignite the powder in any gun, though they did make a nice loud pop. I bought them at Walmart for $.96. Check this website, though. Add the cost of shipping and it's not worth even trying.

November 28, 2007, 12:52 PM
I've written on another thread about converting my long guns over to musket caps. I did this mainly for hunting purposes due to the large physical size of the musket cap and the hotter surer ignition. I, like you, have a large supply of #11 caps so I switch back to the smaller nipples when I go to the range and really burn up the powder. The conversions are available for all metric and U.S. fine thread guns. I bought mine at Gander mountain.

November 28, 2007, 01:05 PM
I might add to my previous post that I'm probably chicken but I wouldn't have the confidence in my own home made caps when looking down my sights at a really nice buck or a really fat doe. I believe that the magic of muzzleloading includes making for yourself whatever you can such as pouring your own bullets and making your own powder horn and possibles bag etc. but I personally would draw the line at making my own caps. I doubt if the old timers did it and the cost of caps to them was probably really expensive. Thats probably why flint ignition lasted well into the percussion period.

November 28, 2007, 01:20 PM
Well Pancho i just replied to your other post on the solvent. I will have to see if i can find a musket size nipple for my T/C 50 cal Hawken. They used to have them at the local Walmart of all places along with musket caps when they sold BP guns.

I just got back from my locol gun dealer. He had 1200 caps and i got those for $32.00 out the door. That gives me 3200 total so i'm good for now.

I agree about using a questionable cap for hunting. At this point it is a non issue since i have never set the gun off with one anyway. I may have to be on the lookout for a flinter. Have you seen how much flints cost? I guess there is a shortage of rocks now to go along with a shortage of brass and lead.

Must be the war in Iraq.

November 28, 2007, 02:55 PM
Ratshooter the TC is a no brainer it's 1/4-28 and readily available at Dick's, Gander mountain, Cabela's. I went to it mainly because during our Ohio's deer season it can be cold and fiddling with #11 caps just drove me nuts. I dropped more than I used. We also hunt mostly by drives and that means decapping a lot to load men and guns into trucks to get to the next drive. The tophat style musket cap is a lot easier to decap.

November 28, 2007, 03:41 PM
Pancho i work one exit from the new Cabelas in Ft Worth. I'l have to look next time i'm there. I know what you mean about the cold and numb fingers. One time i was hunting here in Texas and it got so cold i had to wear long pants and a flannel shirt.

Just kidding. Most of the time its pretty warm here and we worry about meat spoiling in the heat. Seems like our coldest months are march and febuary long after season is closed. But ever once in a while it does get cold. Not for long though, thank goodness since i work outside.

November 28, 2007, 04:54 PM
I looked into all this once too.
Toy caps have a mixture of Potassium chlorate, Sulfur and Red Phosphorous and powdered glass. It's similar to what's called "Armstrongs mix" and may be one of the most sensitive explosives in existence.
They're loaded wet because they're extremely sensitive to small amounts of impact and friction. Many have died playing with that stuff!
Because it has a chlorate, it makes chloric acid and is very corrosive. That's the issue with Pyrodex too, it's made with Perchlorate and I'd prefer not to breathe the smoke from it!!! Most BP substitutes use perchlorate as the oxidizer: ( look up perchlorate poisoning) Pyrodex has less fouling than most BP, but is much more corrosive!
Strike anywhere matches have all the same ingredients, chlorate, a phosphorous compound and sulfur.
I'd like to know what is is modern percussion caps, I think they're no longer Mercury Fulminate. Anyone know? If you could mix a small amount wet and load a few hundred caps safely, I'd be interested in looking into it again.

November 28, 2007, 05:59 PM
Ratshooter, this is getting off the thread and I'll drop it from here but we had a really warm deer season one year and had to go to the nearest store (not all that near) and buy bags of ice and tie them into the hanging deer to keep them somewhat cool.

November 28, 2007, 07:36 PM
Well i have a new filler to try for tap o caps.

I looked up strike anywhere matches on google and on the second page there was a link to metacafe which is like you tube except educational.

There is a video titled "make your own strike anywhere matches". The person who made the video used 2 drops of ketchup, a pinch of flour and a drop of Jack Danials whiskey. Mix with a toothpick, then mixture was left to stand for about 3 hours. Then a round toothpick with the end cut off was stuck in the mixture for 3 hours. The maker then lit the match on the side of a TV remote.

Of coarse i have to try this. Now i have to go to the liquor store and buy whiskey. I guess if it doesn't work i'll be forced to drink the left over whiskey. Drat!!!

November 28, 2007, 11:37 PM
Interesting formula I've got all of the ingredients including a couple of drops of my favorite burbon, I think I can spare it.

November 29, 2007, 12:18 AM
I hope you're joking. There's nothing in that mix that'll ignite. Once the alcohol evaporates out of the whiskey, the water/vinegar out of the're left with flour, tomato, salt and coloring. There's no oxidizer or fuel!
There's thousands of videos like that, metacafe pays the posters based on amount of views, so if you post " make matches out of ketchup..." you'll get alot of views!

Roswell 1847
November 29, 2007, 12:57 AM
Tomatoes are loaded with Tannic Acid. Flour burns and can even explode.
Always a possibility that theres some chemical reaction there which changes the molecules.
Picric acid is made from Hair and leather scraps, the Japanese loaded their cartridges with it. If it crystalyses it can detonate like nitroglycerine.

Your can make a high explosive using "Light salt", and rocket motors can be made with sugar.

I think that Metal Azides like Lead Azide are used as primer compound in rimfire cartridges, also in explosive bullets like the one Hinkley shot Reagan with.
I've used Mercury Fulminate Caps before. They will cause rust to form within hours if the gun isn't cleaned throughly.
Also Mercury causes brass cases to become brittle. Black powder fouling reduced this problem but Smokeless powder cartridges could become too brittle to reload after even one firing.

November 29, 2007, 01:58 AM
I just watched that vid....It's fake, even the person who made the vid tagged it under "jokes, tricks". How could you think ketchup, flour and whiskey would make a friction sensitive mixture? I'm sure there's at least a few foods that use the 3 together.
Most explosives are fuel/oxidizer mixes. Fuels need oxidizers. Sugar rockets and charcoal need Potassium nitrate. Flour won't burn unless mixed well with air or another oxidizer.
People just post anything to try for alot of views, which they make money from on metacafe!

November 29, 2007, 11:23 AM
I think maybe folks are pretending to take that vid seriously just to get a rise outta ya. :)

November 29, 2007, 12:31 PM
Sugar will greatly enhance any explosive and you can take plain ol' aspirin tablets and make all the Picric Acid your little heart desires. One drop of mercury fulminate sealed up inside of the 'case' make's a damn fine percussion cap...Okay...

November 29, 2007, 04:31 PM
ZXCVBOB, there is a reason i didn't waste whiskey or flour or ketchup actually trying this myself. You gotta' figure out whos spoofing who here.

November 29, 2007, 04:45 PM
3 roll cap centers are MORE reliable for me on my Old Army and .31 Remington replicas than Fiocchi No. 11s. However, there just ain't enough fire to turn the corner in my Hawken. It seems to be quite a HOT fire, just not a very long flame front. I think an inline percussion would be a way different story. I had thought about just drilling a number 11 nipple out a little so that I could prime it with powder, but haven't done that to test. If the powder is close enough to the nipple, I've found the roll caps very reliable, though, more reliable than store bought.

Another percussion explosive, antimony pentasulfide. I tried cutting the heads off matches, but could never get it to work.

November 29, 2007, 04:49 PM
Think I`ll sip my wiskey and buy my caps

November 30, 2007, 11:18 AM
Sundance, I think you have a good idea there..

rusty bubbles
December 1, 2007, 04:40 AM
Potassium chorate- if I remember - in a twist of paper, will explode, if struck with a hammer.I do remember that mxed with sulphur and a little charcoal -ala gunpowder,It really explodes when struck- I still have a scar on my left hand to prove it! I have used red match heads, live;cut down, empty .22 cases; and the plastic ring caps for toy guns. all worked for me-

December 2, 2007, 01:02 AM
Relevant but not BP.

I'm puzzled by your not finding strike-anywhere matches. They're available around here in the picnic section of every supermarket I've been in.

Just for the sake of doing it, many years ago I re-loaded large pistol primers with matchheads. I popped them out of the cases, cleaned them up, made a punch to flatten them out, and annealed them by quenching from red heat. Some of the anvils were distorted, and were not used. I tried this experiment out with pistol primers since they do not distort much from internal pressures when fired. The primers had the three-legged anvil.

I was very careful about not getting match heads together when removing the percussive tips of the matches. I'd cut one off carefully (had about 20% ignite during this operation), and put it in a small pile about four feet away. When I got ten or twelve of them, I'd put them in a plastic vial, only ten or so per vial. I also had a big fire extinguisher handy.

When ready, I took a matchead, placed it on a damp paper towel for a couple of minutes, placed it in the primer, pressed it down with the same punch I used to flatted the ding out of the primer, and set the anvil back in. Some of the anvils were a little loose, so I would remove it and try another. This anvil-setting operation was kind of tricky, since you've got to let the anvil protrude slightly.

You will notice that commercial primers are made so that the anvil sticks out slightly, and on the act of repriming the cartridge, the protruding anvil legs press the anvil head into the pellet of priming compound so the pellet is sort of pre-stressed. This enhances the sensitivity and reliability. I had been concerned that the priming operation would break up the dry matchhead pellet on loading them into cases, but this "prestressing" seemed to have little effect --but see note below about the two light loads.

I then let them dry, keeping them a safe distance apart, and loaded them into resized .45 ACP Cases.

I chose to do this with the .45 because it is easy to clean the corrosives out of it, and I could replace the NM barrel with the original barrel for the test, so I wouldn't screw up the NM barrel.

I re-loaded, if I recall correctly, something like 4 grains of Unique into the case and seated 230 grain bullets on top of them.

I had no misfires in ten rounds that I loaded, but the light-ish load of Unique failed to cycle the slide twice. I do not know if this was due to poor ignition or just a lighter individual load (the former is more likely.) None stuck in the barrel, as one might expect from light loads.

This is a delicate and touchy operation, but since I had had extensive training in chemistry, I knew what to do to prevent injury -- gloves, welder's face maske, glasses under that, etc. I also was prudent about keeping one match head away from the others until I put them in the plastic vials.

After firing the ten I'd loaded, I decided this was a reasonably viable technique for re-manufacturing primers, but subject to considerable enhancement, and not suitable for a "home production line."

I destroyed all the other matchheads by the simple expedient of soaking them in water and flushing them down the john.

I only did it because I am a firm believer that firearms technology should not reside solely in the hands of the government and the police.

I would suggest, however, that this not be attempted by anyone. I am reporting it to deter experimentation on the theory that since I did it, you don't have to.

Besides, this was all done many decades ago when I was young and foolish and immortal... whereas now I am old and foolish and not so immortal anymore.


Hatcher (Hatcher's Notebook, no page reference available) reports an incident where a young man was carrying a bucket of loose primers from the drying house to the ammunition assembly area at one of the arsenals, shaking it in time with his walking. The bucket exploded, killing the boy instantly.

The moral of the story is to never let primers get together in bulk, although as packed in the grooved containers you buy them in they are almost perfectly safe from mass detonation, even from fires.

Roswell 1847
December 5, 2007, 03:50 PM
Fulminate of Mercury is pretty easy to make if you have Mercury and Nitric Acid and Pure grain alcohol to precipitate the flakes. Its safe to handle until the flakes dry out and crystalyse.

Personally I would not try it unless I had some dippers with very long handles, like long enough to reach into the next room.

December 6, 2007, 07:43 AM
Mr. Roswell, I meant making and using it just as an emergency situation. Like the Picric Acid, (usually the compound found inside of a blasting cap and highly sensitive) just in a bad emergency where you were out of everything and had to do something..

December 6, 2007, 08:20 AM
Maybe these will work...

Roswell 1847
December 7, 2007, 10:29 AM
The following ideas are Perhaps not useful in an unmodified weapon, but they are doable.
First off, the rapid compression of air produces heat, and this principle has already been used by the Daisy caseless .22 rifle.
A powerful spring powered piston drives forwards heating the air which ignites the propellent.

Then we have electric ignition.
A casing could be modified to allow current to run to a swatch of steel wool in the bottom of the case , the steel wool heats rapidly and ignites the charge.
An insulated electrode could emerge from the primer pocket to touch a contact in the bolt face while the brass casing itself grounds to the chamber wall or a copper insert in the chamber wall. Battery packs could be held in the stock.

Sugar and bird droppings, when soaked with gasoline ignite within ten seconds. Its a Special Forces technique for time delay incendiary devices.

December 7, 2007, 11:49 AM
I got no problem with making my own caps if necessity demands. Hell, I'll buy the equipment and make my own powder if forced to. The gov'ment has hinted at limiting ammo AND primers before. I've considered a flint lock as an alternative survival tool and those new electric ignition guns have merit for such. But, a simple, cheap inline with percussion caps made with roll cap centers or perhaps something else is also very appealing for such and I know it works.

No, it takes time to make caps and most times I'd rather just buy a few tins. However, it's a good tool to have in case of what I consider the inevitable, the second amendment gets trashed and we go under a dictatorial form of government. Between the Obamas and the Clintons and the Osamas and the Amadenajads out there, I don't know that freedom will last forever, let alone just the second amendment. Our society is increasingly urban which means the dumbing down and socialization of society IMHO. People more removed from reality easily fall prey to socialist utopian thought. Besides, most people are too lazy and selfish to stick up for an esoteric ideal like "freedom". :rolleyes: It's always good to think of the unthinkable IMHO, because it more than likely will come true. Hate to be a doomsayer and I tend to be an optimist when I can, but things are lookin' bleak I'm afraid.

December 7, 2007, 07:13 PM
All the Walmarts around here (Oklahoma) have remington #11 caps for $2.50
a tin.They are closing them out.

December 7, 2007, 07:30 PM
What do you guys think of those reloadable primers. There is a kit the cabelas sells. Where you can reload blackpowder primers using small pistol primers.

December 8, 2007, 01:06 AM
Sugar and bird droppings, when soaked with gasoline ignite within ten seconds. Its a Special Forces technique for time delay incendiary devices.

I hope this ain't a joke cause its one of those things i've gotta try.

If you can get #11 caps for $2.50 a tin i would buy every one they had if it were me.

December 8, 2007, 05:53 PM
If they were #10's I would.I hate having to pinch the #11's to get em to stay on.

December 9, 2007, 11:06 AM
I can tell you something else that's not a joke. The white part of a bird dropping is the best tooth ache medicine in the world. Just take some of the white part and put it on the sore tooth. It will instantly (INSTANTLY) stop hurting. That's the truth according to Uncle Sam. (I'vd never tried it)
I realize this has nothing to do with a firearm, but it crossed my mind and I wanted to get it in there...Okay...

December 9, 2007, 11:16 AM
Is there any trick to pinching the #11's? I'vd never tried it and I don't want set it off and tear up my fingers. I finger push my caps if that make's any sort of difference here. Thanks...Okay...
P.S. And I just thought,..I don't want to break the seal inside of the cap either...Okay...

December 9, 2007, 12:58 PM
I've never heard of anyone setting off a percussion cap by pinching it on a nipple. They require an impact load (ie, shock load, defined as a load time history with a fast rise to it's maximum value) to detonate, and you cannot (as in physically impossible) deliver an impact load with your fingers.

Pinching is used to set a cap that is slightly too large for the nipple. If the cap is slightly too small a wooden dowel is helpful; use it to push the cap further onto the nipple. Tapping the cap with the dowel is not recommended...

December 9, 2007, 01:21 PM
I don't have any experience with making percusion caps, but i would be very careful with making them. I would also advise not using mercury fulminate because it is very sensitive and toxic. I would try something else like lead Azide.

December 9, 2007, 03:59 PM
Mr. MyKeal, thanks.
Yeah, I can see where tapping on it would not be recommended!!
What is lead azide? Do you have time to tell me about it?...Okay...
Or Red Lion you could tell me to. Thanks...Okay...
Never mind I'm gonna look it up on the computer. I don't care anything about it, I just want to see what it is.

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