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Thread: Good mail-order source for 4 wing “musket” percussion caps? I am hoping that a N-SSA

  1. #1
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Good mail-order source for 4 wing “musket” percussion caps? I am hoping that a N-SSA

    I am hoping that a N-SSA or rifled musket/carbine shooter on here can direct me to a good mail order source where I can purchase 4 wing musket percussion caps.

    Long story short – we live in Michigan but winter in Arizona. I recently had to have emergency surgery on my left foot and ankle and the surgeon basically “rebuild it” due to Sharko ankle and foot due to 53 years of diabetes and neuropathy – recovery is projected to be 15- to 20 weeks before I will be able to walk on the foot again. Due to this and the virus issues back in MI, we have decided to stay in AZ and will not be back to MI until a year from now. Prior to the foot issues, I purchased a Smith carbine and I am trying to get everything I need to shoot it while I am laid up. Unfortunately, my stash of winged musket caps, left over from my N-SSA days, are back in Michigan.

    I have looked at Midway and others – some show 10, 11 and 12 percussion caps but no winged musket caps. Graf and Son does show two brands – CCI 4 wing “for reenactors” (which I assume is a “marketing hype”) and “Schuetn” brand 4 wing musket caps. I am looking to buy 5,000 to have on hand.

    Graf’s prices –

    CCI 4 wing musket caps for reenactors - $315.99 / 5,000 plus haz mat shipping

    Schuetzen 4 wing musket caps - $289.99 / 5,000 plus haz mat shipping

    I know nothing about “Shuetzem” brand caps – looks like they are packaged like primers instead of in tins. Anyone familiar with them?

    Over the past 50 + years, I have used Alcan (in the 1960’s – not the best), Navy Arms and several German brands but can’t remember the brands. Due to my circumstances, ordering by mail is the best way for me. I used to buy in quantity when I was at the Nationals twice a year at Winchester but that was years ago.

    Can someone recommend a good brand that will work well on the Smith carbine and where I can order them from? Also, if anyone has used the “Schuetzen” brand 4 wing musket caps – your opinion of them and are they decent and reliable?

    Many thanks. Jim

  2. #2
    Boolit Bub
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    Pqwder inc might have some. Maine powder house.

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    Boolit Master
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    Boolit Buddy
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    Try Back Creek gun shop in Winchester Va. He had different brands of tophat musket
    caps. I only bought when I was in Va. Give him a call, maybe he can help you.
    Don't know if he ships, but it can't hurt to ask.
    Back Creek Gun Shop, John Vengkoske, E-mail bcgsi@hughes,net
    863 Chestnut Grove Rd. ph 540-888-3349
    Winchester Va, 22603

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    BigAlofPa.'s Avatar
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    I deal with these folks for muzzleloading supplies.
    https://www.muzzle-loaders.com/accessories.html
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  6. #6
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    Last I bought was 5000 of the CCI from graff , that was in 2009 when they were about half of that . I still have Alcan Waterproof as well as a couple of rolls of the Eley caps marked "Made For Her Majesty's Service In India" procured years ago from Bannermans and Kirk-White . Not familiar at all with the reenactor designation as regards to caps , did know they make reenactor grade powder but still don't know the difference. RWS caps are really good when you can find them, Turner used to carry them at Dixie but I have not seen them in a few years , very hot caps . Dixie was the cheapest at one time but since Turner died seems like they have tried their best to be the most expensive .
    Grumpy Old Man With A Gun....... Do Not Touch !!

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    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Thanks all - appreciate any info you have to offer.

    Eddie Southgate - I well remember when Turner Kirkland was around - met him once at Friendship - quite a fellow! I didn't check Dixie but agree with your remarks wholeheartedly. IIRC, when I first got started and about the only thing I could get at the time were the Alcans, I had about 5 to 10$ of a tin that would not go off - may have been the individual batch they came from and even changing nipples didn't help. I still have a couple of the empty tins. I always had good luck with the others though - Navy Arms, German brands, etc. but they seemed a higher quality of cap.

    As far as the CCI musket caps - I can't imagine why a company would make different "grades" of caps so dam thinking the "reenact" caps are not much more than marketing hype - if they will set off a "blank charge" they should also set off a charge with a projectile as well. I remember reading a short article on the "reenactor blackpowder" and I believe it was basically what I would call "floor sweepings" for want of a better word - i.e. granualtion size could vary and even be a combination of say 1F, 2F, 3F - all of which would work fine for reenactors for blank charges - would go bang and make smoke. If I am wrong on that, I stand corrected.

    I will continue to search and see if I can find sources for other brands besides the CCI and Schuetzen brands. A lot of "so called black powder/muzzleloading suppliers" do not offer percussion caps - and probably due to the hassles of shipping haz mat, etc. I thought certainly Track of the Wolf would offer a good selection of numbered and musket size caps but they do not - they were the first place I checked as a start. The still sell Goes and Swiss but only in minimum size amounts of 25 pounds - which you can combine a mixture of granulations to make up the minimum quantity.

    Prices? Yea . . . a little jarring, especially to an old guy who hasn't purchased musket caps in a number of years, but then, what hasn't gone up in price. I figure that the prices will always go up but not down so I might as well bite the bullet and order 5,000 which will last me a long time. I haven't shot rifled musket in a few years and once I get back to MI in a year, I'm going to bring one (probably my 1855 Model with the ladder sight) out here to shoot in AZ as where we shoot out in the desert, I can play with it out to about 230 yards.

    I will continue to search to see if I can find some reviews on the Schuetzen brand musket caps that Graf carries and if I fine anything on them, will post it here.

    Thanks again everybody and hopefully others will post with sources for different brands of musket caps - I'll check over on the N-SSA site as well and see what I can find for sources there.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
    Eddie Southgate's Avatar
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    Billy ,

    Must have been a bad batch . Mine are probably 50 years old and if one has failed to fire I can't remember it . I use them and the Eley caps for hunting because they never fail . I wouldn't mind having some of the no wing musket caps that CCI was making . I got some 1/4-28 nipples for musket caps but the hammer nose on most non musket locks do not like the wings . Good luck , keep looking and you will find what you want .
    Grumpy Old Man With A Gun....... Do Not Touch !!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master



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    https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.c...0-count-sleeve

    Or any supplier of RWS musket caps.

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedbugbilly View Post
    I always had good luck with the others though - Navy Arms, German brands, etc. but they seemed a higher quality of cap...........

    As far as the CCI musket caps - I can't imagine why a company would make different "grades" of caps so dam thinking the "reenact" caps are not much more than marketing hype - if they will set off a "blank charge" they should also set off a charge with a projectile as well. I remember reading a short article on the "reenactor blackpowder" and I believe it was basically what I would call "floor sweepings" for want of a better word - i.e. granualtion size could vary and even be a combination of say 1F, 2F, 3F - all of which would work fine for reenactors for blank charges - would go bang and make smoke. If I am wrong on that, I stand corrected.........

    I will continue to search to see if I can find some reviews on the Schuetzen brand musket caps that Graf carries and if I fine anything on them, will post it here.

    Thanks again everybody and hopefully others will post with sources for different brands of musket caps - I'll check over on the N-SSA site as well and see what I can find for sources there.
    I'm an N-SSA member as is Carbine.

    German caps- RWS- are great and very consistent. Schutzen aren't bad either. The difference is the material used in making the cap. My observation- RWS are more "reliable" since they are made from a bit softer material so a mismatch to the nipple won't result in a potential misfire. Schutzen can sometimes do that. The gun will fire on the second strike. Accuracy is pretty much the same with both. First preference is RWS, Schutzen ok if no RWS available.

    CCI Reenactor caps are garbage for accuracy. Don't care what gets said here on the net, if you do head to head accuracy testing, you'll see it as with "reenactor" grade powder. They're fine for blanks, but not much else. "They should also set off a charge with a projectile as well" Yes, they will, but accuracy will suffer. If all you want to do is send lead downrange with no regard for hitting what you're shooting at, then choose how accurate you want to be. In a match environment, CCI is awful. In a mock battle reenactment, they're fine. The old CCI 6 wings were great but they don't make them anymore. That's not hype, it's just fact. Unless or Until CCI gets the lawyers out the way and start making the old 6 wings again, I won't even think of using CCI. If a CCI rep reads this, then good. Maybe we'll have a quality domestically produced cap again.

    It's been pointed out before and I'll reiterate. For caps and black powder, I use one source-

    http://www.blackpowderva.com/
    Back Creek Gun Shop
    863 Chestnut Grove Road
    Winchester, VA 22603
    PHONE: (540) 888 3349 -
    E-MAIL: bcgsi@hughes.net

    John is a long time N-SSA competitor and he knows what works. I can't say that with confidence about the other places and I'm prone to support my fellow competition shooters with my money.
    A man cannot have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedbugbilly View Post

    Can someone recommend a good brand that will work well on the Smith carbine and where I can order them from? Also, if anyone has used the “Schuetzen” brand 4 wing musket caps – your opinion of them and are they decent and reliable?

    Many thanks. Jim
    You haven't specified what problems you're having with a Smith. I shoot one as a backup to my Sharps. I use RWS first and Schutzen second if no RWS in stock.

    The Smith can have some weird issues and most are related to the fire channel and how the ammo is assembled.
    A man cannot have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master

    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    I shoot a percussion Sharps replica, Gallagher replica, an original Maynard and a Parker-Hale Volunteer. The Sharps is especially critical, as the cap flash has to go through two right angles and penetrate the back of a paper cartridge to fire.

    I scrounge RWS, Navy Arms (which seem to be RWS relabeled) and CCI 300s. Replica Arms “English Musket Caps” don’t seem to have the necessary flame intensity and there was a long discussion on the general uselessness of anybody’s “Re-Enactor” caps for anything but blank charges for skirmishes on the N-SSA web site.

    Seems the Re-Enactors were complaining that any musket caps capable of setting off real ammunition were also capable of breaking off metal bits and throwing sparks which would sometimes impinge on the anatomy of the shooter. Apparently, this Re-Enactor market must be enormous, since CCI dropped production of the annoyingly adequate 300s and went to the exclusive manufacture these wimp “Re-Enactor” caps.

    There’s been a lot of dismal discussion on what the current generation would do if faced with the challenges of the Greatest Generation. Heaven help them if they had to refight the Civil War; I imagine the New York Draft Riots would then be about the musket caps being too powerful.

    If you want to lay in a big stock, I would recommend RWS.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    O.K. . . . . I went back and did a bunch of digging and reading, price comparisons, etc.

    I fully agree with all that has been said and quickly chalked off the CCI "re-enactor caps". Bent Ramrod - your comments are well taken and IMHO, pretty realistic as to what present day things are like.

    As I pointed out in my original post - I do have a number of caps back at our place in MI but due to circumstances, we won't be back there until a year from now. I know I have 1K of RWS caps back there but that doesn't do me much good here in AZ.

    I will start off by saying that I was quite surprised when I got deeper into the search, how much the cap prices varied from dealer to dealer for the exact same thing - some variation is to be expected but in a few cases - their profit margins were excessive when compared to what some were offering.

    I have no issues with the RWS caps - have always liked them and they are reliable. But, sometimes there are "new boys on the block" which will work just as fine but at a better price.

    I knew nothing about the Schuetzen brand caps so tried to dig up some reviews - not a whole lot of luck. I did find a 2015 thread on the N-SSA site and gathered some info from it. At that time, the Schuetzen caps were evidently becoming available. Most posts from those that had used them were very positive - they seemed to work well, were hot and worked fine on the Sharps, Smith, rifled musket, etc. One post mentioned that they were supposed to ben made in Spain - yes or no, I'm not sure as I found no other references to that. One post pointed out the difference between the Schuetzen brand and RWS. The Shuetaen brand evidently is made from sheet iron/steel material and coated. One post said he had discovered that they could be picked up with a magnet which would verify the material - he was mentioning how easy it would be to retrieve them if spilled on the ground, in the shooting box, on the floor, etc. with a magnet - another mentioned that spent caps of that material would eventually rust away on the ground over the copper ones which we all know are still being retrieved by treasure hunters at Civil War sites. One mentioned that the outside diameter of the wings was a tad smaller than the usual copper caps but that it was to a negative and actually fit better on one of his carbines. The information on the plated material that the Schuetzen caps are made of being "harder" seems to be backed up by a number of comments in regards to that - but they also mention that they seem to work just fine and were very close to the performance of RWS caps.

    Based on what I found, I placed an order for 5,000 of the Schuetzen 4 wing musket caps from Graf - their price seemed to be the best even with the Haz Mat shipping. I'm sure that they will work fine with my Smith and my various rifled muskets.

    dave951 -

    I am not having any issues with my Smith as I have not had the opportunity to shoot it before I had to have surgery. I am however, fully away of some fo the issues of the Smith and their fire channel. I bough the Smith from a member here - a Pietta - and he took very good care of it and it is like new. I have a good supply of tubes for it and I also just ordered some fo the pliable tubes with the brass winged ignition hole for "YORE" in Houghton, Michigan to try. One of the special run Lee 6 cavity Smith molds that Track of the Wolf sells came with the carbine as well as a heavier Lee mold that will work - however - I have one of the Eras Gone molds that casts the original style Smith slug that I plan on using. I haven't measured the bore yet but the previous owner was sizing .515 with good results so I will probably start there since I have a push through sizer in that size.

    A little of my history for you . . . . I have been shooting BP for over 55 years now. I had a number of different N-SSA shooters in the area where I lived who "took me under their wing" and go the started out in N-SSA. In those days, about the only repro rifled musket was the Remington Zouave so many of us shot original rifled musket. Over the years, I have owned and shot many. The first Smith that I ever sot was an original that belonged to a friend of mine who was also shooting N-SSA - that was a real thrill for me at the time. We had a mutual friend, Mike Yack. Mike was a great guy - his business was in Dundee, MI and eventually Mike purchased property near Somerset, MI and established the "Heritage Range" where many of our regional shoots were held. The original Smith carbine that my friend owned and I shot was one of them used by Mike when he set up to manufacture reproduction Smiths. I don't remember how many he ended up making but for many years, a "Yack Smith" was a highly prized item for any N-SSA shooter to own. Years later, after Mike's death, all of the machinery that he had designed and built to reproduce the Smith Carbines was sold by his family to Pietta. So some 55 plus years later, the Pietta carbine that I bought sort of has special meaning to me.

    I drifted away from the N-SSA for a time after I graduated from college, got married and "life got in the way". I later went back to it in the 80s and shot with a group of great guys. We also competed with two full size 10 pound Parrot Rifles - took 1at and 2nd a number of times at the Nationals. Twice a year we made the trip to Winchester and always had a great time - a lot of good memories. When my Dad developed cancer, I dropped out and after his death, just never went back to shooting N-SSA as some of the fellows on the team died, moved on, etc. I have always continued to enjoy the rifled musket shooting but got interested in round ball as well - made trips to Friendship twice a year and built percussion and flintlock rifles from scratch as well. I still play with a French fusil-de-chasse flintlock trade gun once in a while.

    I'm looking forward to shooting the Smith quite a bit - I got acquainted with a couple of young guys here where we are in AZ and we have shot a few times out in the desert. Things got put on hold due to the surgery I needed but once I have recovered from that and am on my feet again, we will probably be getting together often to go shooting. The Smith will be new to them as they are of the younger AR flavor but they also like historical firearms. When we finally do get back to MI, I will bring my 1855 rifled musket back to AZ with me and play with it at longer range targets. So . . . the Schuetzen musket caps will be put to good use!

    Another carbine that is on my bucket list is one of the repro Spencer carbines. I enjoy loading and shooting the 45 Colt and Schofield for revolver so will get the Spencer in that cartridge for my purposes.

    Thanks to all for the info - greatly appreciated!

    Jim

  14. #14
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    fouronesix - I ordered 5,000 of the Schuetzen musket caps from Grafs shortly after I posted this and was surprised how soon I got them as so many things are taking longer to get during all of this mess.

    As one fellow posted on the N-SSA site, the diameter of the outside of the wings is smaller than one is accustomed to with the various brands that many of us have been accustomed to over the years, but it really is not an issue as far as I am concerned. I have been laid up recovering from some major surgery so I haven't had the opportunity to stay them out yet. On my Smith, I'm going to crack it open and fire a cap off and have my wife video it with her cell phone so I can see what the cap flame flow is through the flame channel in the breech - but I fully expect the caps to be fine as I have seen some other good reviews of them since I first posted this thread.

    I would say that the caps are probably "harder"" than copper caps as they are some sort of plated steel/iron since they are magnetic - that shouldn't be an issue with good nipple and hammer cup contact. It's a bit odd to see musket caps come in trays of 100 like primers but that's not really and issue as the boxes will be just as easy to store in a waterproof ammo can the same way as caps in a tin - and I'll just empty some trays into an old cap tin and good to go.

    I agree with you on the prices - I did some extensive searching for caps and the prices varied quit a bit between those that actually had them - but all were higher priced than I expected. It is what it is though as like anything when there is a shortage, prices rise. I need to get some #10 and #11s as well but they also provide "sticker shock" and so many list them as out of stock.

    When I'm able to get back to shooting this fall - after my recovery fin the surgery and when the fire danger lowers here in AZ, I hope to be putting the Schuetzen caps to good use for the Smith and I am also looking for a decent rifled musket - a "shooter" as mine are back in Michigan and we won't be back there for a year so that I can bring one back.

    I just bought a .50 caliber Lyman Trade Rifle and am going to be setting it up for target shooting and playing with some hollow base mini balls at longer distances. I just got some new musket cap nipples for it and it appears that they will/should work fine so if they do, I'll be using the Schuetzen caps on that as well.

    As I stated before . . . when you look at the construction of a primer with an anvil and the construction of a musket cap . . . I have a hard time swallowing as to why the price of a musket cap is twice that of a primer. But . . supply and demand like anything else.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master



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    Bedbug why harp on this You were given a supply source for RWS.

    Slow shipping? Welcome to the new age called Covid.

    Don't care of your history, there were given a source on line as asked Gheesh!

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy arcticap's Avatar
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    I saw a test of different 209 primers with inlines where a ramrod was placed in the barrel and the distance of how far each exited the barrel was measured as a comparison.
    On another note, musket cap strength is supposed to be relatively standardized as far as how many cc's of gas are produced, and the temperature of the heat.
    There's bound to be some gas escaping from under the hammer due to the shape of the cap and how well it fits the nipple.
    While priming compounds are very similar, there must still be some formula differences based on corporate secrets.
    And each lot of caps can be different too.
    Last edited by arcticap; 06-24-2020 at 02:30 AM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy arcticap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fouronesix View Post
    Yes, I considered the possibility of lot to lot variation. Possible but not likely, plus my test was not sensitive enough to detect those type small variations as would be expected lot to lot.

    The result that is conflicting though is the report itself (the relative loudness). The CCI 4 Wing Re-enactor was very consistent in producing much less report. The CCI 6 Wing was consistently much louder and similar to the RWS and Schuetzen. Seems, as you state, the best possibility is the CCI 6 Wing is indeed "stronger" than the CCI 4 Wing and comparable to RWS and Schuetzen. But because of the basic frangible design of the cup, the CCI 6 Wing allows much more gas escapement from around the hammer nose-to-nipple interface during ignition.... precisely because it has more explosive compound. Contrasted to the CCI 4 Wing which is much "weaker" with less compound. Therefore, the CCI 4 Wing cup remains more completely intact during detonation, sealing the hammer-to-nipple interface thus a much higher percentage of gas is expended into the nipple and on out the bore to the muzzle. The most likely possibility but beyond the capabilities of my simple equipment to quantify.
    On page 83 of Dave Ehrig's book "Muzzleloading for Deer & Turkey", he lists some information on percussion caps and primers.

    #11 standard cap - 6.53 cc of gas at 3,024 degrees F when fired.
    #11 magnum cap - 7.59 cc of gas at 3,717 degrees F when fired.
    U.S. #2 musket cap - 14.36 cc of gas at 3,717 degrees F when fired.
    #209 shotgun primer - 21.98 cc of gas at 3,024 degrees F when fired.
    #200 rifle primer - 11.68 cc of gas at 3,024 degrees F when fired.


    Other considerations why the cap strength may not be getting measured fairly in your test.

    14.36 cc = 0.87630097 US fluid oz. = 2.9134171 US teaspoons = 0.97113873 US tablespoons

    That's a small amount of hot gas which is expanding to fill the bore.
    What is also exiting the bore is air that is being pushed out by the hot air created by the cap being fired.
    If the barrel didn't have equalized air after some test fires, then there may have not been enough air, or an equal amount of air of an equal temperature to be pushed out of the barrel as a fair test.

    What's just as important is the temperature of the existing air in the bore after each test fire.
    If bore air temp was still hot or warm, then that air would be thinner or less dense than if that air were cooler.
    And there would be less air to be pushed out than if the air in the bore were cooler.
    And the warmer air would not provide as much resistance to the cap gas as when the air in the bore is cooler.
    So if the barrel temp. and air temp. inside the bore are not equal for the test, then the test may not be objective from the beginning.
    And if the barrel wasn't given time to replenish the air that had just exited the bore from the previous test fire, then that created a different environment and set of gases inside the bore.
    The gas produced by the cap is not oxygen and nitrogen, or the same air that we breath.
    I don't know what it is, but the gases inside the bore takes time to equalize.

    It's only about a tablespoon of hot gas that is quickly expanding to fill up the space in the bore, and trying to push out other air in the bore that it's running into.
    In baseball, it's harder to hit home runs when the air is colder.
    And it's easier where the air is thinner such as in higher elevations.
    And who knows what gas is left in the bore and its temperature after each test fire.
    That can create very unequal conditions for each test fire if the bore conditions are not controlled.
    Last edited by arcticap; 06-25-2020 at 10:09 PM.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy

    FLYCUTTER's Avatar
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    Powder Valley has every thing you need. The best place for primers and powder and all your muzzle loading needs

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy arcticap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fouronesix View Post
    Who knows. I seriously doubt all the "what ifs" .....
    Well, maybe you did indeed discover that your test results were correct....that the CCI 6 wingers are weaker.

    On another day, or with another batch of caps, or testing with another gun, the results could be different or they could be the same.
    That's what testing is all about, repeatable results.
    If you have a strong hunch about the validity of your results then you're better off than not having done any testing at all.

    Another step might be to see which caps seem to perform best when shooting test targets.
    It would be interesting to see if the brand of caps makes any difference.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    fouronesix - great target! I imagine you can clear a pigeon board in no time!

    Interesting result on the testing.

    I've never had any experience with the 209 primer ignition but know a lot of folks love them.

    Geezer in NH - Don't know what your problem is and don't really care. I don't think I was harping on anything. As far as slow delivery for anything - I don't really think I was complain about that issue - I'm very aware o Covid and we all have to live with it and the effect that it has had on everything. I was sur[rosed that Grafs was able to ship as quickly as they did. If you don't like what anyone has written on this thread - the answer is simple - don't read it.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check