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Thread: Reloading a fired primer

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Reloading a fired primer

    There have been discussions in the past about reloading fired primers. Some have suggested using roll caps made for children's cap guns and some have suggested using the white tips of 'strike anywhere' kitchen matches. I conducted my own testing on both methods and found the caps to be far superior to the match tips.

    I developed a procedure for recharging fired primers. The procedure is easy and can be accomplished with innocuous materials that are easily obtained. The procedure successfully produces a primer that will ignite modern smokeless powders, especially the faster types that are typical to handgun cartridges.

    TOOLS REQUIRED:

    Electric drill
    3" section of steel rod at least .200" diameter
    Fine cut machinist's file
    Ice pick or facsimile
    Small anvil or facsimile
    Small hammer

    With an ice pick or finely pointed tool, carefully remove the anvil from the inside of the primer cup.


    Keep the anvil! The primer cup is useless without it.


    A punch must be made to very closely fit the inside of the primer cup. If you intend to recharge large and small primers, you will need two different sizes.

    Chuck the steel rod in the electric drill. If you have a vise, gently clamp the drill in the vise. If not, you may need someone to hold the drill steady for you. If you are working alone with the drill in a vise, lock or tie down the trigger on the drill. With the file, carefully square off the end of the rod to flat. Then begin to turn the diameter of the rod by applying the file to the rod as it is spinning in the drill. This cut can be straight or a long taper. Be very careful to leave the end of the rod squared. A rounded end will not work.

    Check the diameter of your cut as you go. It is important that the end of the rod just barely fit in the primer cup. Once your punch is done, you're ready as there are no other parts to make.

    Place the primer cup, open end up, on your work anvil. Any item of thick steel can be used as a make shift anvil. I used a female threaded ball hitch on my work bench. Insert the machined end of the punch in the primer cup and strike it ONE TIME with the hammer. Usually, one strike is enough.



    The object is to flatten the dimple caused by the firing pin in the previous firing.


    Open your box of roll caps and remove one roll from the bundle. Tear off a few caps from the roll. It's much easier to work with a short section than the entire roll.



    Place the button of the cap over the cup of the primer. It is critical that the cap button be centered over the primer cup. VERY GENTLY push down on the punch to cut the button out into the primer cup.


    Repeat this step. It is neccessary to have two cap buttons to get enough flash to make the powder ignite.



    Carefully replace the anvil back in the primer cup, concave side up, as you found it. If the anvil will not fully seat in the cup, it will when you seat the primer in the cartridge case.



    When you seat the recharged primer, do so GENTLY! The compound in the caps is sensitve and can be ignited with a very light strike. If you 'bump' the primer into the case, it is very likely that the cap buttons will 'pop'.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Jim,

    Boy does that bring back memories. When I was a little younger, like fifty some years ago, I used to do the same thing, using both caps and match heads, as primers were the hard thing for us kids to get as we didn't have any hard cash most of the time. I loaded and fired quite a few rounds of 32 S&W that way using shotshell powder and 00 buck taken from old shotshells.
    BIG OR SMALL I LIKE THEM ALL, 577 TO 22 HORNET.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Given how a cap fired toy gun would rust terribly in a few days, it might be advisable to get the barrel and chamber of a gun fired with cap gun primers the hot water and soap treatment for cleaning rather than a nitro solvent.

  4. #4
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    Good writeup and pics, Jim!

    One thing I remember from a somewhat recent thread here was someone did some informal strike testing of reloaded primers using match head tips and toy caps, and drew some interesting conclusions about sensitivity. The upshot was that both types of reloaded primers are MUCH more sensitive than factory primers, and that extreme caution should be used in handling, and that multiple rounds should never be used in magazine guns or revolvers due to the possibility of chain discharge from the recoil impulse or other source of normal handling shock.

    Gear

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by geargnasher View Post
    Good writeup and pics, Jim!

    One thing I remember from a somewhat recent thread here was someone did some informal strike testing of reloaded primers using match head tips and toy caps, and drew some interesting conclusions about sensitivity. The upshot was that both types of reloaded primers are MUCH more sensitive than factory primers, and that extreme caution should be used in handling, and that multiple rounds should never be used in magazine guns or revolvers due to the possibility of chain discharge from the recoil impulse or other source of normal handling shock.

    Gear
    Excellent point, Gear. Thanks for bringing that up!

    I have submitted the thread for 'sticky' status and hope it will be moved to that section.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for the informative write up. I've never attempted to recycle old primers but that seems to be a viable plan.
    "Investment" is the new "Throw money at it!"

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  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Thanks for the thread. The only thing in reloading I find more interesting than DIY primers is DIY smokeless powder.

    If they make it a "sticky" and it's ok with the "powers that be" I'll post some DIY mixes I've tested somewhat that are the same as some of the old commercial mixes. These are of the corrosive type.

    Also, from time to time I could post the results of pressure testing/fps testing of DIY vs factory. And some simple non-corrosive mixes that I can't currently test. And maybe some non-corrosive mixes that I can test that aren't of a commercial value or the patent has expired.

    IMO, if one is going to do much of this they should make a primer plate. Basically just a 0.1 inch thick piece of metal with a hole drilled into the that is about 0.001 larger in diameter than the cup.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    FWIW and I got this from another forum member. When using some brands of toy caps, you may have better result by adding a little power(BP for example) to the cup when using a hard to ignite powder(etc).

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy Bulltipper's Avatar
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    Nice to know! Good show with the pic's and instructions!!
    "These are not hi-capacity magazines, these are standard capacity magazines. High capacity is belt fed from the can."

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Thanks for the compliments, fellas.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Where the heck can you buy roll caps these days ? I haven't seen 'em in many, many years.
    Eleutheromaniac

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by uscra112 View Post
    Where the heck can you buy roll caps these days ? I haven't seen 'em in many, many years.
    That's what I was thinking...

    We used to take whole boxes of them and smash them with a bowling ball size rock. They made quite a boom, and would often catch fire!

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    Worked this out myself many years ago. A few differences are that I cut the caps out with scissors, I too use two caps. I also take the anvil and flatten it between two flat surfaces with a controlled distance between them to get a accurate and repeatable anvil leg diameter. This make the anvil a press fit when placed back into the cup, again using two set distance flat surfaces, fillthe cup,with anvil already replaced, with firecracker powder. To prevent the powder from coming out of the cup into the case I use a paper hole punch to cut out discs from bread bags. These discs are then placed in the bottom of the primer pocket and the assembled primer is seated. I have not found that reloaded primers are any more sensitive than regular primers.
    They are corrosive and should be treated as such when cleaning the gun. I only fired them in my stainless 44mags after seeing what they did to my blued 357 BH.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crawfobj View Post
    That's what I was thinking...

    We used to take whole boxes of them and smash them with a bowling ball size rock. They made quite a boom, and would often catch fire!
    This nagged me for a while, so late last night I did an online search for "roll caps" and found several sources. Glory be !

    Now it is possible for front-loader fans to make the "everlasting percussion cap". Or maybe somebody can start building new Maynard Tape Primer locks, which is after all where we got roll caps from in the first place.
    Eleutheromaniac

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Roll caps have been on the shelves of stores that sell toys since my Daddy was buyin' 'em for me in the fifties.

  16. #16
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    Jim: This is right down the Survivalist's alley... And I could see using matchheads that are probably easier to find than caps.

    I have some questions?

    What do the primers have in them in the first place?

    Is there a formula that could be made at home with readily available chemicals?

    It seems like if you are going to go to all the trouble of reloading primers that making the priming compound wouldn't be that much more work, unless the mixture is too complicated or required some super duper process to complete.

    A nice new modern Black Powder Rifle like a TC Encore in Stainless would be at the top of my list. You can make black powder, and Boolits, but the caps would be more of a challenge, and there aren't any Flintlock TC Encores. So reloading the caps would be nice to be able to do.

    I always look at what we would do if we were thrown into an apocalyptic situation. Weapons would always be on the top of the list as needed items, and a Black powder rifle would be the easiest to keep running over the long haul. (100+ years) or until you got the infrastructure to make new guns and ammo up and running. If you are thrown into a place where there are resources but no technology, then being able to make the components easily is key.

    I have enough ammo to last me for the rest of my life unless we get into a shootin war, however if we were able to fold time back into the past like on the "Terra Nova" show on Fox and get cut off from the future then the knowledge to make something out of nothing would come in handy. MIght be a good idea to take up archery as will.

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    As a kid, used to take a sewing needle, a roll of caps, and carefully thread them back and forth, thru the needle. Then a wrap of friction tape ('member that??) around the caps. Pull the needle out slow and careful. Take a piece of string, dried after being wet with the powder dregs from the caps. place on the end, then another wrap of friction tape around the ends.
    Voila! Poor kids firecracker. Of course some times the needle set off the whole roll while doing this (ouch) and of course sometimes the "fuse" burnt a little too quick. (ouch)
    Been paddlin' upstream all my life, don't see no reason to turn around now.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Rangefinder's Avatar
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    I did pretty much this same thing to shoot a cap lock pistol when I was a kid except what I found was that instead of using two or three caps in the cup I used a couple flakes of powder from a shotgun shell under the cap--it gave reliable ignition on FFg and would probably do really well on any pistol powder. Might have to revisit that experiment.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by W.R.Buchanan View Post
    Jim: This is right down the Survivalist's alley... And I could see using matchheads that are probably easier to find than caps.

    Actually, I think that has swapped ends. I live in Floyd, VA, a small town in the mountains. The local hardware store is the only business in the entire county that carries the old fashioned 'strike anywhere' matches. Roll caps are on the shelf in the toy section of Wally World.

    I have some questions?

    What do the primers have in them in the first place?

    I don't know, but I do know it's classified as a high explosive.

    Is there a formula that could be made at home with readily available chemicals?

    Yeah, but I ain't touchin' that with a ten foot fiberglass pole.

    It seems like if you are going to go to all the trouble of reloading primers that making the priming compound wouldn't be that much more work, unless the mixture is too complicated or required some super duper process to complete.

    Making the compound is not difficult, it's as dangerous as playin' with nitro.

    A nice new modern Black Powder Rifle like a TC Encore in Stainless would be at the top of my list. You can make black powder, and Boolits, but the caps would be more of a challenge, and there aren't any Flintlock TC Encores. So reloading the caps would be nice to be able to do.

    I always look at what we would do if we were thrown into an apocalyptic situation. Weapons would always be on the top of the list as needed items, and a Black powder rifle would be the easiest to keep running over the long haul. (100+ years) or until you got the infrastructure to make new guns and ammo up and running. If you are thrown into a place where there are resources but no technology, then being able to make the components easily is key.

    I have enough ammo to last me for the rest of my life unless we get into a shootin war, however if we were able to fold time back into the past like on the "Terra Nova" show on Fox and get cut off from the future then the knowledge to make something out of nothing would come in handy. MIght be a good idea to take up archery as will.

    Randy
    Your last two paragraphs are pretty much 'SHTF' scenario oriented. I did not write the article toward that. I wrote it simply because someone might be interested in the procedure.

  20. #20
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    Primers contain Lead styphnate which is very simple to make IF you can find the 2 main chemicals needed which are Lead oxide and Styphnic Acid and then methanol is used in the process. This is a DANGEROUS explosive and highly sensitive so it isnt for someone with no experience to work with.
    Here is a link...http://www.ehow.com/how_12134344_make-boxer-primer.html
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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