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homemade primers

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by taliv, Dec 1, 2004.

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  1. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    i've long thought that i could recreate just about any part of a cartridge myself, with the exception of primers. i mentioned this to my grandfather and was very surprised when he explained how they used to reload primers. (take the anvil out, clean, put new compound in it, which they made from the white parts of match heads, and then reseat the anvil)

    has anyone ever reloaded primers? how did you do it?

    as a practical matter, primers are so cheap, that even if components were free, it wouldn't be worth my time to reload them. but it's still an interesting subject.
     
  2. Mal H

    Mal H Administrator

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    "as a practical matter, primers are so cheap, that even if components were free, it wouldn't be worth my time to reload them. but it's still an interesting subject."

    I agree on both parts - not worth it and interesting. Heck, I've done a lot of things that aren't worth it in the past - that never stopped me.

    Unfortunately, the type of matches (strike anywhere) with the white phosphorus tips are hard to find these days. I was able to buy some at a gun show a few months ago, but they aren't generally available in stores.

    If you do come across some of those matches, the primers you made with them wouldn't be anywhere near the consistent quality you get from any manufacturer. The risk of fire working with the phosphorus is much higher than working with standard primers.

    For those reasons, I really don't think it's worth the try. Although it's still an interesting project.

    (Ask me about my bomb made from matches when I was 12 - another time. Many of us would be labeled terrorists today! It was only in the interest of science. Honest!)
     
  3. griz

    griz Member

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    I've wondered the same thing. I've never tried that, but I know if I did I would take a lot of precautions in case of an unexpected flare up. Kind of like when black powder was all there was. It was easy to make so most every place used to have somebody who made it, but they had a lot of turnover because of fatal accidents. :uhoh:
     
  4. goon

    goon Member

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    It is an interesting idea. I found strike anywhere matches at K-mart but I don't think I would want to try your idea. YMMV.

    I also did things when I was a kid that would have me in jail already today. What was once simple fun would bring the entire bolivian army down on you today.

    The last "experiment" I had was about a month ago. I was recycling some handloads when I accidentally mixed IMR 4320 with Win 748. It resulted in about a half a pound of useless mixed powder.

    There I am...
    Half a pound of powder that I can't use for anything...
    A box of strike anywhere matches...

    For about 40 seconds, it looked like a jet engine was burning in my yard. :D
     
  5. Navy joe

    Navy joe Member

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    Yes, i've done this for science, I found it much easier with a Berdan primer, I popped the cup hydraulically, beat out the divot with a flat punch, annealed the cup by heating it with a lighter and dropping it in water and then packed it with tightly tamped matchhead powder. Reseating was easy and it fired too. Probably would work best with blackpowder. So, if I am ever too dumb to stockpile much ammo, I can, with a bullet mould and raw materials thoughtfully stockpiled ;} or found make blackpowder, the bullets, and go shoot my K-31. Interesting to know, maybe i'll make a batch and chrono them.
     
  6. pumpgunn

    pumpgunn Member

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    If you were into percussion cap black powder guns there was a die to form your own caps. "Tap-a-Cap" used soda/beer cans to form the cup then you placed
    cap gun caps into the formed metal cup to ignite the blackpowder charge. Had to experiment with the
    number of caps to place into the formed cup.

    Cap gun caps would be easier to use the cutting up
    matches. Don't know how they would work in primer cups. :scrutiny:
     
  7. Reed1911

    Reed1911 Member

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    Mal H, that science project wouldn't have included a tennis ball would it :what: Been there done that.
     
  8. Kamicosmos

    Kamicosmos Member

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    I am envisioning the world's tiniest Dent Remover to pull out the firing pin dent.
    :)


    On a somewhat serious tone....what would you do about the dent? Flatten it out with a tiny little dowel or something?
     
  9. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    offhand, i'd think that one of the punches and little ball-hammers that are commonly found in gunsmithing kits would work just fine. shouldn't be hard to find a punch that fits inside the primer cup.

    if i lost my mind and planned to make thousands of them, i'd probably try to take one of those old paper-hole-puncher things that we used in school back in tha day, and marry it up with some parts from a primer pocket swaging tool.

    or, buy a pair of needle-nosed pliers and bend the tip of one towards the other and then beat on it with a hammer til it was mostly round, and file the end flat. then just put your primer in it and squeeze
     
  10. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Had to do it the once just to prove it worked.!

    Took old primer (out of the collection of 1,000's in the tub next to load bench!) - using a mini anvil set it in place and whacked it internally with a suitable size punch - after removing the anvil with tweezers. This removed pin dent.

    Mixed up a stiff paste from strike-anywhere match heads ... applied thin layer of paste to inside and allowed to dry overnight. Next day - set anvil in until seated firmly but left some of it proud so seating in a case did the rest. Actually did a batch of several.

    Loaded some test 38 spl rounds and fired them off very successfully. I assumed tho that the combustion products of primers made this way would be corrosive and so after use, cleaned the gun (my old snub) as per post-corrosive.

    So yeah - it can be done and works ... but PITA and slow!!
     
  11. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    sweet! thanks a bunch for trying that!

    out of curiosity, what did you add to the match heads to make the paste?
     
  12. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Haha .... honest to goodness -- water!!! That was after crushing of course ... very carefully with a pestle and mortar .. you could tho just scrape of the chunks and then carefully use the back of a spoon against a surface like glass, whatever.

    I haven't tried but I guess it might be possible to use alcohol ... and so speed up the drying process.
     
  13. griz

    griz Member

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    Thanks P95 for doing the research for us :)
    I've always wondered if it would work, but I guess I was waiting to run out of primers first. :eek:
     
  14. gdragon34

    gdragon34 Member

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    Alcohol and Strike-Anywhere matches would be a great thing to add a lot of friction to.
     
  15. c_yeager

    c_yeager Member

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    Good thinking. This is how I learned how to make blackpowder (in the Cub Scouts believe it or not). I never even thought of making primers like this though. It's a good thing to know just in case one over has to manufacture their own ammunition completely independant of civilization.

    On a side note, those same strike anywhere matches fit nicely into the chamber of a .177 cal BB/Pellet gun and make a nifty POP when they hit something solid.
     
  16. al391-dan

    al391-dan Member

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    i had some innocent fun when i was around 13-14 had plastic juice bottle , paper towels, rubber cement and match, Created a homemade flame thrower. I was tryin to smoke out those darn moles as when i stepped on the bottle the air being forced out created a thrust of 7 foot flame. Man good times.
     
  17. hotwheelz

    hotwheelz Member

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    OK after 40min of looking here is the info I was looking for thanks guys I know this is an old thread but good info.
     
  18. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    while i don't think you'll blow up your house playing with a match tip, mal's safety warning is probably worth repeating. if you try this, make sure you reduce your loads to starting levels, as there's really no way to compare these to factory primers.

    i've never actually experienced on of those "hang fires" that take 30 seconds to go off, that i keep reading about in the safety briefings, but putting too much homemade primer compound in there seems like a good way to induce one. and pressures could be significantly higher.
     
  19. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Member

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    Old technology

    This is why flintlocks were used by the "mountain men" who wandered the Rockies, until long after the percussion firearms became common.

    Out in the middle of nowhere, it's hard to buy a couple hundred more percussion caps, but as long as you have gunpowder, you can melt/reuse the bullets, and find the right kind of rock, and be in business.

    In a real TEOTWAWKI situation, we'd all go to flintlocks fairly quickly.
     
  20. GaryL

    GaryL Member

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    I've had hang fires that take a good 5 seconds to go off. That's a very long time. I still have some of that ammo (from the 1920's). If you have an Arg mauser, and want to give it a try.....
     
  21. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    heh, i'll bet that 5 seconds feels like a lifetime
     
  22. bobaloo

    bobaloo Member

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    Just read an article in an old Handloader magazine written by a guy who was in Manchuria long ago describing how they reloaded. They reloaded primers by using "caps" from cap guns which amazing enough were available and made powder by melting down nitrocellulose movie film, treating it with some chems and using a cheese grater to powder it. He did mention a number of exploding ovens and so forth, but it kept them shooting.
     
  23. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    There's a thing called the "Tap-o-Cap" that lets you make your own percussion caps out of toy gun caps and aluminum cans.

    I imagine toy gun caps would probably work in centerfire primers as well, as long as you pack a bit of BP at the bottom of the cartridge, to ensure ignition.
     
  24. MagnumDweeb

    MagnumDweeb Member

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    Looking at the toy cap gun bits I've been seeing in the posts. What's to stop one from taking a bunch of these old toy cap gun bits we still see at toy stores, grounding up the insides, and either crushing or mixing up the mixture into something you can put in a primer.
     
  25. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Match tips are indeed dangerous if you are not careful. I have played around with match heads in my youth. :rolleyes:

    Most solvents will work to make a paste which can be manipulated easily. While wet it is pretty safe.
     
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