How to make your own primers

I received a link to Homemade Primer Course via email from Rolf. I put a copy on my server as well.

This is the description of the document and author:

This document describes how to make homemade ammunition primers. Approaches to make corrosive and noncorrosive primers are covered.

W. Marshall Thompson PhD

Revision Date: June 28, 2019

I found it fascinating reading. It starts with how primers work and the history of primers, then tells how to make primers that are extremely simple and safe to make but are somewhat less reliable and powerful than commercial grade primers, and concludes with how to make commercial grade primers and even “green” (lead free) state of the art primers. It’s amazing!

Thank you Rolf.


8 thoughts on “How to make your own primers

  1. Nice. I’m part way through it. There’s a lot of excellent detail there.

    Curious that primer manufacturing still involves some manual labor. It would make so much sense to do it all by machine.

    I wonder if there are analogous guides for the making of smokeless powder.

    • Nitric acid- with small amounts of sulfuric acid. On purified cotton for about 24 hrs., under temperature control. Yields nitro-cellulous. or a simple form of gun-cotton. For years the size of the grain controls the burn rate. From flaky Bullseye,(fast).To large grains for 7828,(slow). These days they have certain “fire dampeners”, chemically infused into the grain to control the burn speed. Or something like calcium carbonate on the outside.
      I wouldn’t try it at home.
      This comment is for information only. Seriously.
      Thanks Rolf and Joe!

      • Yes, I remember that procedure. And I know there are various recipes for turning the fibrous nitrocellulose into a more gel-like substance.
        I’ve been imagining making the raw material, then running it through a pasta maker. Home made cordite, yeah…

        • BTW, speaking of grain size: I once read that cordite is made in several sizes, with the larger ones (ziti-shaped?) for use in artillery where you want extra slow burn for the extra long barrels.

  2. I knew about the primer caps, but not the others. Nice info and the detailed how-to is good.

    Thanks Rolf.

  3. While reading it, I had a thought. I actually HAVE been saving my used primers while reloading, mostly waiting until I have an entire powder-bottle entirely full of them. But I have not been separating them between large and small, rifle and pistol. Separating based on size would be tedious but simple. Separating rifle from pistol would be, well, it is mostly pistol, I know, but…… not so sure. Hopefully I never have to do so, I can just buy more.

    • Right? Downloaded a copy just for the Info.

      I don’t believe I’ll ever use it, but hey – Knowledge is power.

  4. One of the primer compounds is described as containing “powdered nitrocellulose” and the author comments that this is strange because smokeless gunpowder is a rubbery or paste-like consistency that doesn’t like to be ground into a powder.
    That’s true given the plasticizers that are part of the ingredients, but is it true for plain nitrocellulose? I thought it isn’t. I wonder if that’s what was intended and he missed that possibility — and perhaps ended up with a preparation that exhibits surprising partial burning because of it.
    I’d send him a note but I don’t know any contact information.

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