Small pistol primers for C&B


August 22, 2008, 10:41 AM
Hi all.
Has anyone tried converting a C&B revolver nipples to accept small pistol primers?
As I understand most reliability issues come from the caps not firing properly. So if a nipple was made to take regular primers it would alleviate the these problems.
I remember reading a while ago that someone was making such nipples for the Companion NAA revolver. Did anybody here get them, and if they did, how did the nipples perform?

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August 22, 2008, 11:08 AM
I don't think they exist.

August 22, 2008, 11:13 AM
How would you get a primer out if it did exist? The reason a cap does work is it's design over a cone...made to blow off when struck. a Prmer would have to be inserted into a cylinder, naw never happen.
Leave the Original design as was meant to be Cap&Ball...


August 22, 2008, 11:19 AM
I remember one time that there was "probably still is" a kit that you can install on side lock rifles converting the standard percussion nipple to hold a small rifle primer or something like that & a top screwed into place to prevent wet weather from causing the primer from not firing but I don't think it ever caught on, at least I've never seen anyone using one yet but I guess something like that would work on a C&B Revolver but would be a pain to get loaded.

August 22, 2008, 01:21 PM
I've seen the side lock conversions like Voodoo talked about, 11 cap to musket cap. theres some 209 conversions for inlines too.

I haven't had a bum cap in a long long time. IMO gun don't go boom means you didn't clean it right, or left some oil in the cylinder. Not saying you won't get a bad cap every blue moon but for the most part they're pretty reliable.

August 22, 2008, 02:15 PM
Well I guess the main concern is not failed ignition, but the caps that fall off and jam the action. It happens pretty often in my 1851 Navy replica.

I was thinking that one way of converting a revolver would be putting primers in a small sleeve that can be put onto the nipples just like a cap. What do you think?

August 22, 2008, 02:31 PM
I'd suggest getting a tighter fitting cap like maybe #10's or pinching the caps you're using so they fit on the nipples better. Works for me.

August 22, 2008, 02:32 PM
Oh, man, how about just using a .38 S&W conversion cylinder? Not only you won't get caps stuck in the action, but these newfangled "cartridges" as they call 'em are self contained, so no measuring of powder, no problems with humidity.... they're cool :eek:

Seriously, back in the old days, guys often tilted their revolver skyward between shots - like it was a big recoil deal - and this helps the caps to fall away, where they belong.

Do consider cartridges... you can even load 'em with Trail Boss.....

August 22, 2008, 03:38 PM
The Treso nipples I just put on my '51 Pietta have a smaller flash hole and supposedly they'll greatly reduce "cap crap" jams and increase reliability. The claim is that the smaller hole reduces back-pressure from the main charge, thereby reducing attendant cap fragmentation. We'll see. I'd think it would at the same time increase the pressure from cap ignition. I'm taking it out this weekend to test it. They're supposed to work best with Rem #10s, so I had to order 1M caps on-line. No one local sells anything but CCI.

BTW; the Treso nipples are slightly longer than the original Pietta nipples, so if I want to keep them on there I'll shave the hammer to increase "headspace". That is if I determine that all the new nipples are the same length. Have to set up a dial indicator to measure them as installed in the cylinder to really know. I could measure each nipple separately with calipers, but that doesn't prove that the're all even once installed.

August 22, 2008, 04:24 PM
conversion cylinders are awesome. But sticking with original cap and ball. i have found that if i put a small dab of greas on the sides of the nipples it helps on keeping the caps on and making sure the flash does not come out. Kinda a dual purpose. Seems to work pretty good. So load up your cylinders then put a sall dab of grease around the sides of the nipples. then put the caps on. You will see they will stay on and not fall off and will stay in one piece instead of falling apart

Jim K
August 23, 2008, 12:31 AM
FWIW, I have never heard of a revolver conversion to use standard primers. The hammer would have to be converted to use a firing pin, and the gun would have to take the primer complete with anvil. (Trying to remove the anvils would be far too hazardous!)

Not to mention that the internal pressure of a pistol primer is much higher than that of a percussion cap, and I suspect that firing one in a percussion type revolver would result in the primer blowing the hammer back and departing to the rear at high speed.

In short, stick with percussion caps in percussion revolvers.


August 23, 2008, 01:17 AM
FWIW, I have never heard of a revolver conversion to use standard primers. The hammer would have to be converted to use a firing pin

Unless you manufacture your own Rev conversions you need use only the standard C&B hammer that come with the Rev.
Kirst has a single firing pin built into the conversion cylinder and R&D conversions have six firing pins per conversion cylinder. i.e. 45 Colt or 38 Colt Primed cartridges.


August 23, 2008, 07:47 AM
I have had pretty good luck over the years with caps staying on by just crimping them with my finger nail to make a tighter fit. Still from time to time one will split apart when fired and fall in the action. Just part of it. Often wondered why someone did not make an oblong shaped cap that would form itself as it was pushed on. I have only owned 2nd and 3rd Generation Colts - got a number of friends that shoot the Remington replicas and they do not seem to have the same frequency of problem with those models. Anyway, its not frequent enough to be bothered about.

August 24, 2008, 05:05 AM
"I remember reading a while ago that someone was making such nipples for the Companion NAA revolver. Did anybody here get them, and if they did, how did the nipples perform?"

That would be me. Unfortunately, these nipples were a myth that was invented by 'gunsmith imposter' Arthur Rochelle of Bigiron Barrels infamy. :cuss:

He was supposed to make the nipples, fabricate a .22 mag. conversion cylinder, jewel the sides of the frame, and install a forged barrel to replace the extremely cheesey factory cast barrel.

Instead of doing the work, this low-life waited about a year, then tried to sell my Companion on Auction Arms and Gun Broker, along with some of his other customers' guns.

When I caught him, I was able to get the gun back. All he had done was install the barrel, an he did a poor job of that. I had to send it back to NAA to have it fixed so that the cylinder would rotate.

The only alleged reason for making these primer nipples was to more easily ignite smokeless powder. However, I've never had Remington caps fail to ignite whatever powder I was using, whether it was Bullseye, or Triple Seven, or anything else.

Stick with caps.

August 25, 2008, 03:44 PM
What a scumbag! I hope you gave him a good beating when you caught him.

I'm fuming today myself, because someone broke into my car and stole a range bag that contained a bolt for my precious Lee Metford MKII, along with a bolt for an M39. Also took my GPS that was hidden in the glove compartment. I hope the thief chokes and dies in terrible misery.

Well, so much for the "primer nipples". Was a good idea, though.

August 25, 2008, 08:02 PM
If memory serves, the original users of cap and ball revolvers made sure the caps stayed put, and sealed well on the nipple, by using melted wax around them.
Just enough to seal but not to prevent them coming off after firing.

August 25, 2008, 09:17 PM
thats what i heard but i doubt it during the civil war. you did not have time to melt wax. No one did. so thats where i bet grease came in line. it was readily available. they used it on the axles on wagons, canons.

July 29, 2015, 09:28 AM
I drilled through 1/4 long x 12-28 set screws for breech blocks for a .040 [#60 drill] touch hole and made stainless steel cups from .250 rod to a very light press fit inserted into the nipple wells sized to hold small pistol primers. Fired off about 10 primers. They ALL went bang, no mess, no action clogging scrap...but they do expand and get stuck in the cups.
So, I made a punch that will poke them out from the bullet side of the cylinder through the touch hole. A torch tip cleaner works but is sort of flimsy and hard to center.
Installing the set screw breech blocks with the hex side in the chambers apparently didn't allow enough expansion room for the hot primer discharge and I think I was getting high velocity hammer rebound which broke the teeny tiny aft hand link pin to the hammer...had to rotate the cylinder by hand.
When I get the Companion back from NAA, I'll reverse that to use the hex drive well to provide some expansion room to take up the shock vs attempting to run that primer blast immediately through a .040 touch hole.

July 29, 2015, 09:42 AM
I don't think they exist.
You are wrong.
As mentioned there is a device for sidehammers that uses 209 primers. It's called a Mag-Spark. I have one and it works flawlessly.
In the 70s there was a forerunner to it for percussion guns called the Flam-in-go and I believe it used small pistol/rifle primers.

A member of this forum produced capsules for ROA shooters that use small rifle/pistol primers. They will even ignite Blackhorn 209. I am fortunate to have a set. ( (

July 29, 2015, 10:41 AM

Those capsules you show, are those machined metal bits threaded to replace the ROA nipples?

Back when percussion caps became scarce a couple years ago I had some luck on my Pietta 1858 using short pieces of 1/4" aquarium tubing pressed onto the nipples with pistol primers inserted into the end of the plastic tubing Doesn't generally work on Colt repros. YMMV.

July 29, 2015, 12:50 PM
Backi in the late 1970's there were units to convert side lock gun nipples to use primers, both shot gun primers and small centerfire primers. The problem was the cover required to have an interior dimple to discharge the primer. It made the nipples longer. I suppose a shorter one could be turned and machined to fit. An awful lot of trouble to go through because you don't want to get the right size caps. I also saw a conversion nipple that fired 22 rf blanks to ignite the powder. Another useless idea. These were thought up back when percussion caps could be purchased for $11 a thousand. Why not convert them to use electric igniters? I had some of the old Wesley Richard percussion plungers from the 1830's. the idea of a short firing pin to ignite a blank cartridge or primer is just a take off on the idea. Maybe miniaturize a diesel injector to ignite the powder? Maybe just skip the powder and let the exploding diesel fuel propel the ball. A small diesel tank could be built into the butt stock or grip and no more haz mat to ship powder.

July 29, 2015, 02:11 PM
Starting on page 37 of this forum, primer capsules are covered adnauseam.

I'm still makin' 'em. Right now for Pietta 1858's, along w/reworkin' the revolver. Made a 1.1 GB disc of fotos & text covering the process. Disc is available, free, for anyone wanting the info. Send me a shipping address.

I'm way behind on makin' capsules for ROA's.

Thanks for the "toot" Patocazador! Trust all's well?

Kindest Regards,

July 29, 2015, 02:26 PM
Ya'll notice the OP date is 7 years ago?

July 29, 2015, 04:32 PM
2008? Heck, I was a youngster back then.

Never noticed it.

July 29, 2015, 10:38 PM
This sounds like a really good idea....till you think about it.

July 30, 2015, 10:15 AM
"There is often no difference between a good idea and a bad idea, until it works!" :evil:

Pete D.
July 31, 2015, 09:10 PM
I have had a primer adapter for years. I use it on an underhammer pistol. The body screws into the threaded hole which housed the nipple. The adapter has a knurled body with a floating firing pin.
One unscrews the knurled top. Place a small primer into the recess. Screw the knurled half back on. Cock the gun and shoot. Reverse steps to remove and reload. Quite a bit more powerful than a standard #11 cap.

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