Making Snap Caps
or Dummy Cartridges
or Dummy Cartridges
As we are constantly expanding the parameters of what we do here at the Chronicles, I thought we should have a new series that covered projects and ideas, hence "Chronicles Projects."
As Holly at NorCalCazadora has a new .270 and is bereft of any snap caps or dummy cartridges to practice with, the opportunity arises to make some for her!
You'll need a sharp drill around 3/16th of an inch in diameter. I'm using a brad point metal cutting drill bit. The small diameter brad point doesn't slide around on the curvature of the case, it just digs right in as long as you are near the center of the cartridge case.
I'm using a drill press to make my life easy, but you can do it with a hand drill if you can maintain a steady grip on the hand drill.
I wrapped a piece of fabric around the cartridge case so the jaws of the vise would not mar the brass. You want the vise to hold the case firmly enough so that it doesn't move.
Now before we get started, have you taken a moment to put on some personal protective equipment?
Before we start drilling, it is a good idea to get a bit of cutting oil. It probably isn't necessary when drilling through brass, but it is a good habit to get into if you cut a lot of metal. It extends the life of your drill bits, and keeps the metal you are cutting cooler. If you are drilling once in a blue moon, use some 3 in 1, or even lard.
Myself, I prefer the rich, full bodied, and somewhat petro-chemical yet peppery scent of the dark cutting oil. Call me untutored, but there is something about that sulphurized, superior lubricity with anti-weld properties, that I think makes it a perfect combination with brass, bronze and anything else I happen to be cutting into.
Get a little oil on the drill bit, and just touch it to the case. That will cut a small divot in the case, then give it another drop of oil. That will be enough to do the job.
Now shake the powder out of the case. Please dispose of it properly. Small children will find it, make powder trains like on Pirate's of the Caribbean, and start fires in the garage. I should know...
Now we need to debur the holes we drilled in the cartridge cases. As I am fond of saying use what you got!
That's it. Spin it around a few times until you get any burrs out of the hole we drilled. If you used s twist drill that was a little dull, you might get some particularly difficult burs that may need a bit of wet-or-dry sandpaper
Now let's deactivate the primer. Shoot some WD-40 in the case and let it sit 24 hours. This will penetrate the lacquer that protects the primer and prevent the primer charge from firing properly.
Now pop it into the rifle and fire it. I have done this many times and I have only had a couple of complete deactivations. Most of the time you get a little "FFiiiizzt," and that's that.
You now have a fully functional snapcap to practice with. Keep them clean, and use them to practice your sight picture, action manipulation, firing technique, etc.; the uses are limited to the imagination.
The following technique for making homemade snap caps requires either a drill press, or lathe. I'll revisit this particular method in the future when I pick up a few more snap caps.
The following is a set of 458 Winchester Magnum cases that I made for my Ruger #1.
After following the previous set of instructions, you have to remove the primers.
Safety Warning: You must have safety glasses on! The primer may go off and spit out hot pieces of metal savings!
A primer is made of a soft brass cup with a steel insert that acts as an anvil. Between the firing pin and the anvil lies the primer compound. When drilling through the primer you will go through the cup and hit the anvil. You are better off using an awl to pry out the anvil once you cut through the cup.
Once you have the primer out, you can bore through the cartridge head. Use a drill the closely matches the diameter of the snap caps you are using. A-Zoom makes them as small as a 25 auto cartridge.
Epoxy the snap cap in place by carefully inserting them in the bored out hole most of the way. Then finish pushing it down in place on a flat, hard, immovable surface.
When you're all done you will have an excellent set of caps. I used them to learn how to cycle my #1 until I could do it faster than my bolt action rifle.
This is the first of many projects that I hope to put together for everyone. Some will be more complicated than others, while some you can pull off with what you might have on hand.
Next project might be the Scary Sharp Axe! That's always fun.
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...