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Author Topic: homemade primers, powder and bullets  (Read 16049 times)

wyatt

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homemade primers, powder and bullets
« on: May 07, 2009, 05:47:52 AM »
I've read that it's possible to reload primers, make your own powder and cast bullets...probably i read it in the backwoodsman magazine years ago...not that it's practical or cost effective right now or ever....mostly i'm just curious, being a sort of do it yourself old man with plenty of time will do that to you...does anybody have any real world knowledge or experience? If nothing else this might make for an interesting discussion.


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xsquidgator

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2009, 06:23:30 AM »
Homemade blackpowder is doable.  I don't remember all of the ingredients but it's basically charcoal, sulfur and one or two other things combined and processed.  The charcoal can be homemade too, it just needs to be ground up, mixed, and then dried with the other ingredients.  I've not done it yet but have thought of trying sometime just to make sure i could do it if ever some need to came up.  There are a number of internet articles available on this, oddly enough one of the better ones I read was written by a fellow in the UK who was exploring it as a means of being able to make some sort of defensive blackpowder firearm in case TEOTWAWKI came up.

Casting bullets is also straightforward.  It's really easy to make some sort of projectile if you have a melting pot, moulds, and either lead or alloy to melt.  There are other threads here with the finer details of casting.  To "do it right" and get the most out of it, casting can be a hobby in itself just as reloading is.  But to get something workable, especially at the lower pressures found in blackpowder shooting, isn't too hard.

Primers and percussion caps are the trickiest part.  In theory there are supposed to be some easily made contact explosives someone with a high school knowledge of chemistry could make.  At least, I've heard stories from people claiming their high school chem teachers did that as a demo back in the old days.  That's the weak link in trying to be able to "do it yourself blackpowder guns", I think.  Even this could be gotten around though by just going primitive enough with your blackpowder gun, though.  Just go back beyond percussion cap guns, beyond flintlocks, and go back to matchlock guns!

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2009, 07:24:42 AM »
Black powder is easily made, it's just saltpeter, charcoal, and sulfur, mixed in certain proportions, then ground to a specific granular size.  As already noted, casting is easily accomplished with a minimum of equipment.

Primers now-  Personally, no thanks.  Doable? Yes.  Can it be done with enough consistency by a guy in a garage to be reliable and provide consistent ignition?  Maybe.
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only1asterisk

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2009, 12:22:04 PM »
Personally, I think I'd go with electric ignition if primers weren't available.  Black is so much easier to ignite than smokeless.

Vern357

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2009, 02:01:08 PM »
Easy pease lemon squezy.  Use the flash from a disposable camera for a sure fire BP ignition source :)
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JesseL

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2009, 02:49:02 PM »
Easy pease lemon squezy.  Use the flash from a disposable camera for a sure fire BP ignition source :)

Building an oscillator and feeding it to a charge pump or step up transformer is easy. Building an insulated electrode that can withstand the heat, pressure, and shock of igniting the charge is much trickier.
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only1asterisk

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2009, 02:55:26 PM »
Building an oscillator and feeding it to a charge pump or step up transformer is easy. Building an insulated electrode that can withstand the heat, pressure, and shock of igniting the charge is much trickier.

Spark plugs.  I'm more concerned with fouling than the heat and pressure. 


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JesseL

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2009, 03:00:46 PM »
Spark plugs.  I'm more concerned with fouling than the heat and pressure. 

First off with the electric ignition thing, are we talking metallic cartridges or muzzleloader (or non-cartridge breech loading like the Harper's Ferry rifle)?
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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2009, 03:33:57 PM »
First off with the electric ignition thing, are we talking metallic cartridges or muzzleloader (or non-cartridge breech loading like the Harper's Ferry rifle)?


It would have to be muzzle loading.  I'm trying to figure out how a revolver would work (like a reverse nagant?) but I'm not there yet.

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2009, 04:48:49 PM »
Combustible cartridge.  Thin cardboard, like a firecracker, but it's doped with nitrates or something, so it burns up like the old flash paper.  I suppose it would work with plain cardboard, but having it burn up would be nice.  The bottom is crimped like a shotgun shell, and the top rolled down onto the bullet, with a bit of wax for waterproofing.  Just like the picture, except I don't know a good way to show the crimp, and I'm not really good at drawing at this point anyway.

To fire, the hammer hits a piezoelectric crystal, which sends a jolt down the firing pin at the same time it's punching through the wax at the center of the crimp far enough for the spark to get to the powder.  Powder goes off, out goes the bullet.  Ideally you use the flash paper, so that you just open your cylinder and stuff in a few new rounds.  The ignitor might be gotten from an electric cigarette lighter.  Those use just this system, you depress a spring which pops up and hits a piezoelectric crystal, making enough electricity to create a spark.  Black powder might need a bigger jolt, but ganging a few together might work. 

These cartridges will probably not be strong enough for a semi, but will be made fairly easily.  You might even later make combustible plastic cartridges that will be strong enough to cycle in a semi, instead of a punching in, the firing pin hits a spot in the back that's been doped with another chemical to make it a "primer" that will go off with the spark.
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only1asterisk

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2009, 06:35:59 PM »
Combustible cartridge.  Thin cardboard, like a firecracker, but it's doped with nitrates or something, so it burns up like the old flash paper.  I suppose it would work with plain cardboard, but having it burn up would be nice.  The bottom is crimped like a shotgun shell, and the top rolled down onto the bullet, with a bit of wax for waterproofing.  Just like the picture, except I don't know a good way to show the crimp, and I'm not really good at drawing at this point anyway.

To fire, the hammer hits a piezoelectric crystal, which sends a jolt down the firing pin at the same time it's punching through the wax at the center of the crimp far enough for the spark to get to the powder.  Powder goes off, out goes the bullet.  Ideally you use the flash paper, so that you just open your cylinder and stuff in a few new rounds.  The ignitor might be gotten from an electric cigarette lighter.  Those use just this system, you depress a spring which pops up and hits a piezoelectric crystal, making enough electricity to create a spark.  Black powder might need a bigger jolt, but ganging a few together might work. 

These cartridges will probably not be strong enough for a semi, but will be made fairly easily.  You might even later make combustible plastic cartridges that will be strong enough to cycle in a semi, instead of a punching in, the firing pin hits a spot in the back that's been doped with another chemical to make it a "primer" that will go off with the spark.

The only problem with this system is that any little unburned scrap of the paper case could tie up the mechanism tight.

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2009, 06:43:25 PM »
The only problem with this system is that any little unburned scrap of the paper case could tie up the mechanism tight.

Eh? The basics of the paper cartridge revolver system have been working in cap and ball revolvers for some time now.

Personally, I'd just skip the whole thing with having the electrode pierce the cartridges at the moment of firing and just have a dedicated spark plug on each chamber. Maybe have the piezo crystal mounted directly on the hammer and strike directly against the spark plugs.

I've got doubts though about how hot a spark you can get from a reasonably sized crystal. They have trouble sometimes igniting butane, how well are they going to do with black powder?
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only1asterisk

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2009, 07:06:17 PM »
Eh? The basics of the paper cartridge revolver system have been working in cap and ball revolvers for some time now.

Personally, I'd just skip the whole thing with having the electrode pierce the cartridges at the moment of firing and just have a dedicated spark plug on each chamber. Maybe have the piezo crystal mounted directly on the hammer and strike directly against the spark plugs.

I've got doubts though about how hot a spark you can get from a reasonably sized crystal. They have trouble sometimes igniting butane, how well are they going to do with black powder?

Part of the problem of the butane is air/fuel mixture.  BP isn't going to have that problem.

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2009, 11:47:14 PM »
The paper cartridges were made of a material called flash paper that is well known to burn completely.  It was soaked in a nitrate solution or something.  Some artillery uses a plastic material for cases that burns clean enough, it's used in the M1 Abrams' main gun for one.
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only1asterisk

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2009, 11:58:19 PM »
The paper cartridges were made of a material called flash paper that is well known to burn completely.  It was soaked in a nitrate solution or something.  Some artillery uses a plastic material for cases that burns clean enough, it's used in the M1 Abrams' main gun for one.

I understand the concept, but having actually made and used paper cartridges I don't find that they always work as intended.  Your results may vary, but I can only say what I seen.

g.willikers

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2009, 05:17:19 PM »
What advantage would all this homemade stuff have over a bow and arrow or crossbow?
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kunkmiester

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2009, 06:32:00 PM »
Mostly:
-a pistol is easier to conceal, and use at close range

-it's easier to learn to shoot a rifle than a bow, and a gun shoots faster than a crossbow

-with the right loads and bullets, you get much more power, range and stopping power
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IMerrell

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2009, 06:47:50 PM »
I think that would just be cool to make your own primers, scary, but if you could do it right... I dont know how you would reuse primers, I think once they were hit with the firing pin and had the dent... Dont know how that would work.
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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2009, 07:14:52 PM »
I think that would just be cool to make your own primers, scary, but if you could do it right... I dont know how you would reuse primers, I think once they were hit with the firing pin and had the dent... Dont know how that would work.

I've heard of people taking decapped primers, popping the anvil out, punching out the dent, refilling them with whatever compound worked (heard about making something from strike-anywhere matches), and reseating the anvil.

I fooled around enough with nitrogen triiodide crystals (:o) as a kid to pretty thoroughly relieve any lingering urges to play with touch sensitive explosives.
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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2009, 09:04:27 PM »
Lead styphnate is easy to make, sure, but likes to blow up easily.

I wouldn't do it.  If I were in a situation where I needed home-made primers, I could do it, but I would probably use my time to do something else.
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wyatt

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2009, 11:14:54 AM »
 Is anyone familiar with using Armstrong's Mixture as a primer chemical?

only1asterisk

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2009, 03:11:24 PM »
I think an electric or mechanical ignition system could be fit into the base of a turned brass shotshell, but I lack the skill to do it. 

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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2009, 03:56:16 PM »
Is anyone familiar with using Armstrong's Mixture as a primer chemical?


I've heard of paper caps (which of course are made with Armstrong's Mixture) being used in percussion caps with the Forster Tap-O-Cap. I suppose it should be possible to come up with something similar for primers, though I'd stick with low pressure loads and easily ignited powders.
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Re: homemade primers, powder and bullets
« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2009, 04:23:22 PM »
Mechanical and electrical systems would be complicated and difficult.  Provided you get it right, it would be much more practical to put the mechanism in the gun, and leave the shell as simple as possible.
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