Making homemade percussion caps


June 10, 2013, 11:31 PM
Does anyone make their own caps, and if so what method and tools do you use?

I bought a cap and ball revolver tonight and have my eye on a rifle to match.

Being able to make everything needed to be able to shoot is appealing to me and may someday come in handy:)

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June 10, 2013, 11:44 PM
One word of advice.


Even in the 1700's people didn't make their own percussion caps.
They had to have all their fingers to plow fields, fight injuns, kill bars, and fight the British.

Any chemical mix sensitive enough & powerful enough to work as a primer or percussion cap?
Is sensitive & powerful enough to blow your house off it's foundation while you are mixing it up in the basement.

In the grand scheme of things.

Store bought percussion caps are WAY cheaper then glass eyes or prosthetic limbs.


June 11, 2013, 12:14 AM
Do a search on this forum for tap a cap, or something similar. There was a long thread about this a couple of years ago. Any the tap a cap was a tool that punched out percussion caps from soda pop cans. You then put toy caps in the cup.

I would advise against making mercury fulminate or lead styphnate, that could be extremely dangereous.

June 11, 2013, 02:59 AM
rcmodel, please read up on your history. Percussion caps were post 1800 inventions and when we fought the British in 1775 and 1812 it was with flintlocks.

Archaic Weapon
June 11, 2013, 03:27 AM
I'd fight the British any time. Who puts milk in perfectly good tea, I ask you?!

Carl N. Brown
June 11, 2013, 06:00 AM
Dixie Gun Works in the 1960s sold a number of the kits for punching percussion cups out of cans; you then installed a toy gun paper cap in the aluminum cup. That is a fairly safe activity, if you pay attention.

Making percussion cap chemicals at home is more hazardous than making your own black powder. Making black powder can be hazardous but with safety precautions in small batches can be done. Percussion chemical (classic mercury fulminate for example) is hazardous in any batch size and not worth the danger.

The toy cap gun percussion explosive is very corrosive in my experience, more so than commercial CCI or Remington percussion caps. The paper toy gun caps can plug your nipple's vent hole with paper debris.

Loyalist Dave
June 11, 2013, 06:40 AM
As a matter of fact the percussion cap came about after the Forstyth Scent Bottle Percussion Lock ( Problem was the use of the mercury fulminates, and folks prior to putting it into caps, and at locations that made caps when caps were invented, tended to blow themselves up. :eek:


4v50 Gary
June 11, 2013, 07:08 AM
Tap O' Cap has been out of production for years. You'll have to make the Tap O' Cap on your own.

I didn't have time last semester, but I'd like to do one for musket caps.

June 11, 2013, 07:12 AM
I've been making my own caps but I wouldnt put into words on how to make them the way I do, because of the safety factor.The best and safe way is to just use paper roll caps,you can punch them out with a paper hole punch, and if you know how to make the cap itself,then your good to go. If one cap doesnt work try two etc. You don,t want to mess with things your not very familiar with,such as the compounds found in percussion caps.Good luck and be SAFE :D

Dave Markowitz
June 11, 2013, 08:52 AM
Side note: I've found that the plastic ring caps sold for toy guys work ok on percussion revolvers, after you cut the caps off the ring with a pair of dykes. They are on the weak side, however. I don't know how they'd work on a conventional sidelock but they would probably work ok on an underhammer.

June 11, 2013, 11:38 AM
I make 'em with a tap-o-cap. They work fine in my ROA, but not so much in my Piettas. I could drill out the nipples, I guess, but I hesitate to do so. What I DO, though, is use the home made caps to clear the nipples on my cylinders. That saves the store bought stuff for actual shooting. Funny that I can see fire come out of the barrel on the Piettas when I'm clearing the nipples, but yet, they don't fire the charge. Weird. But, they work pretty well on the ROA. They do NOT have enough fire for a sidelock rifle, though.

The ring caps, same for me, work on my ROA, but not on my Piettas and not on my side locks. They are a cheap way to clear nipples, too, but you need a pick to get the plastic off 'em when done, kind of a pain, but saves the good caps. :D

June 11, 2013, 11:55 AM
If you find a Tap O Cap, be prepared to pay over $60 for one. The last time I looked up prices on them I decided to just use my brothers. I think he payed around $19 when he bought his new.

Plenty of info on making caps using a Tap O Cap on the internet and this forum.

June 11, 2013, 03:55 PM
I have found that the Chinese roll caps and red ring caps are worthless. I don't think roll caps like some of us used in the 50's are made in the US now. The German made toy roll caps, I get are better than the Chinese ones. They also make some percussion cap style cap gun caps in a blue plastic which seem to be better than the red ring caps. If you want more oompf cut a few of the German roll caps using an 1/8" ticket puncher and put them in the plastic cap and seat them with a 1/8" dowel. They still tend to jam plastic into the nipple, but that's why we all wear a nipple pick on a chain around our neck, verdad?

Luckily, my local source had a shipment of #10 caps come in and I bought all they would let me. So when I run oun out of these I will be back to toy caps. In the mean time I search every day for a complete Tap O Cap kit.

June 11, 2013, 10:51 PM
I often read of people popping a cap to ensure the nipple(s) are clear. I have had 1 problem in my sidelock, but none in my pistol. Is this really a big concern? Seems like a waste of caps. Maybe not when hunting, but otherwise...

June 12, 2013, 11:34 AM
A tiny trace of oil in the throat of a nipple can cause a misfire.
I always snap caps before loading on the first stage of any match.
Cheap insurance.

Jim K
June 12, 2013, 12:54 PM
IF you make your own caps (which I do not recommend for the reasons mentioned above), be sure you handle the priming compound wet, seal it into the cap using a paper disc, then let it dry.

IME, toy caps are not powerful enough for sure ignition.

As for popping a cap to make sure the nipple is clear, I strongly recommend it; many people who hunt with caplocks have tried clicking a deer to death because they cleaned the gun and didn't make sure the nipple was clear. It is also a good idea to make sure a flintlock touchhole is clear by firing a priming charge and watching for smoke at the muzzle before loading the regular powder and ball.


June 12, 2013, 01:05 PM
I'd be scared of an accidental discharge when putting homemade caps into place on the nipple.

This should last me a year or two. Anybody know how long they'll keep if I get more? Are some brands better than others for long-term storage?

June 12, 2013, 01:10 PM
Popping a cap on an empty chamber is cheap insurance. The only time I haven't ,is when I have used alcohol to swab out the nipple and chamber/s. Even then I have a hard time not snapping at least one cap on a single shot rifle or pistol and one on each chamber of a revolver. Old tried and true habits die hard.

June 12, 2013, 01:12 PM
The more you get the more you shoot. I bet you find you won't have a problem with them 5 years from now if you keep them dry.

June 12, 2013, 07:25 PM
I'd fight the British any time. Who puts milk in perfectly good tea, I ask you?!
No, who puts tea in perfectly good milk??? (I kid, I can at least say that tea and milk aren't a bad combo. Not that I would drink it everyday...)

As to caps, I am making no recommendation for others to do thusly, but cartridge primers without anvils can serve the purpose. The tricky part is finding the right size so that they will fit on the nipple.

44 Dave
June 12, 2013, 08:32 PM
I am too cheep to waste caps on an empty cylinder, but I do blow the nipples out with a compressor and hold it up to light to see if clear.

June 12, 2013, 08:58 PM
clicking a deer to death
Now THAT's funny!

Vermonter: percussion caps should last indefinitely.

June 12, 2013, 09:35 PM

June 12, 2013, 09:42 PM
I'm sorry but I have been following your post for a couple of days & just had to ask ..why would you waste time trying to make something that is cheap & easily found ??...not being a smartazz but I can't imagine having that much spare 65 I work [2] full time jobs & take care of a totaly handicapped wife ...any time that I have I spend shooting on my range ...go buy another gun, cast some bullets do anything your time is worth more than a .04 cap...take care
Today 05:58 PM

Uhhhh..... you wouldn't waste time making a 4-cent cap, but you would take time to cast an 8-cent bullet?

June 13, 2013, 07:13 AM

June 13, 2013, 07:45 AM
just convert back to flintlock, problem solved. ten minutes walking down a gravel road will supply you with plenty of spares

June 13, 2013, 08:53 AM
I've been looking for a Tap-o-Cap for over 10 years.
Haven't found one yet.
Wouldn't be interested a $60 either.

I think the lure of owning one is the knowledge that you COULD produce your own caps if necessary.

Willie Sutton
June 13, 2013, 08:58 AM
^^^ what he said, plus there's just the fun of doing it.

You can make a Tap-a-Cap clone in about ten minutes on a lathe, BTW.



June 13, 2013, 11:20 AM
just convert back to flintlock, problem solved. ten minutes walking down a gravel road will supply you with plenty of spares

Hmm, can you tell me where I can find a good flintlock revolver? :rolleyes: I kinda like my '58 and my ROA. :D Besides, to shoot a flinter you need black powder which is as scarce around here as .22LR and I ain't paying 40 bucks for the privilege of ordering it online.

June 13, 2013, 11:30 AM
I don't make ball or caps ..just can't get my head around someone having that much spare time...when you could be out shooting ..just a thought

Well, I'm retired and I shoot right out my back door on my own range. I have the time and the gumption. :D I have handloaded my cartridge ammo and cast bullets for said ammo for 40 years plus, though, and handloaded rifle ammo for 50 years (started with my grandpa at age 10). Sure, it's time consuming, but I save money and get MUCH better ammo in the deal. :D

I don't spend a lot of time making caps as I have store bought. I just use 'em for clearing the nipples on the first load after cleaning. They do work in my ROA, though, if I get to the point that I cannot get caps for shooting. I've been backordered on ball lately, so I bought a mold. I had a conical mold for my ROA (shoots great), actually 2, a round nose and a hollow point, and I have a .454 conical, but my '58 prefers round ball. It doesn't take long at all to turn out 100 RB from a double cavity mold and a 6 cavity mold would be even faster. Cap making is time consuming, but something to do when I'm sitting around wondering what I wanna do, and I can do it inside in the AC. :D

A question to YOU. Why do you bother shooting cap and ball? Takes a lot of time to load the things, then clean 'em up after. You should just go buy 9mm ammo and shoot your autopistols. It's a lot quicker and you could be shooting, not reloading that cap and ball gun. Just a thought.

June 13, 2013, 12:03 PM
I would do the things mentioned so when I can't purchase these items I can continue to shoot while those that don't are whining cause they can't.

I have a do for myself attitude and won't rely on others .

June 13, 2013, 12:09 PM
I have a do for myself attitude and won't rely on others .

Amen. This is one of the aspects of BP shooting I like, the self sufficiency. I really need to get off my duff and order the chemicals to get into making my own black powder. THEN, once I learn to make good BP, I'll play with finding some willow to make my own charcoal. :D This is part of the fun of BP, the do it yourself aspect of it, IMHO. I'm surprised more folks don't feel this way. You don't shoot BP because it is faster or less time consuming. :rolleyes:

June 13, 2013, 12:25 PM
Something to do on those rainy days or blistering hot maybe freezing cold days. Don't know anyone who shoots 365. In one non shooting day you can make up a supply of balls,conicals,caps or load up some cartridges for your other shooters or conversions.

Can't tell me it is perfect weather for shooting everyday

June 13, 2013, 12:59 PM
You can make a Tap-a-Cap clone in about ten minutes on a lathe, BTW.


Perhaps you'd care to share your technique. I'm particularly interested in how you'd machine the double rows of offset teeth on the lathe, the spacing and the angle, both of which are critical in "pulling" the aluminum over the mandrel. Thanks in advance.

June 13, 2013, 02:12 PM
Can't tell me it is perfect weather for shooting everyday

Yeah, and I tried to shoot my ROA in an indoor range, once....was summarily asked to leave the facilities. :D

June 13, 2013, 05:35 PM
MCgunner ,:what:

I have heard stories of BP igniting unburnt powder on the floor of an indoor range and causing extensive damage

June 13, 2013, 08:07 PM
I think it's very time consuming to make the percussion caps that I've learned to make.I make about 50 to 100 at a time and make them just because I like the Idea of making things.I make good black powder,my own "Hot" percussion caps and have not payed a nickel for lead to cast my bullets/round ball ammo.I guess you could say that I really like bp shooting.I buy em too,but if I cant get any caps,powder,ammo, or even a bp gun then, I have the ability to make everything myself.I think it's good to be self sufficient ;)

June 13, 2013, 08:10 PM
Yeah, and I tried to shoot my ROA in an indoor range, once....was summarily asked to leave the facilities. :D I think there should be a bp revolver/rifle range in every county across the US ! :p

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