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Old August 6, 2012, 01:22 PM   #1
titanicslim
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Dummy Primers?

A re-enactor buddy has asked me to make up some .45/70 dummy rounds to wear in his bandolier. I got some brass and bullets but I really don't want to leave the primer pockets empty. I also don't want to stick live primers into a dummy.

I've considered sticking some primers to a rod and dragging them past a Bernz-O-Matic... Is there another way to clear the primer cup without upsetting the neighborhood cats? Some other way to simulate a new primer?

This is Mickey Mouse project, I know, but realism is important to these guys and I recall someone saying that "empty pockets don't ever make the grade."

What is usually done in this situation?

Dave
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Old August 6, 2012, 02:01 PM   #2
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People will use a variety of materials that can be either be melted, or cut and fit and insert them into primer pockets - as an example, red pencil erasers work well for shotgun hulls;others will melt a little wax, or use a glue
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Old August 6, 2012, 02:06 PM   #3
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Is there some reason you can't use expended primers? I doubt anyone would be looking for the little dent. Also, it would be clear they weren't live rounds for safety purposes.
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Old August 6, 2012, 02:21 PM   #4
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Why not take some spent primers, flick-out the anvils with a needle, and then use a suitably sized nail with the end ground flat as a punch to flatten the firing pin dent in the cup from the inside against an anvil of some sort?

That should make a primer that looks good at first glance but that can still be seen to have been fired on close inspection.

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Old August 6, 2012, 02:25 PM   #5
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Got to be a way other than oil contamination

Quote:
Is there some reason you can't use expended primers?
I had a freind of mine, make up a dozen 45/70's as a training aid to help me show the evolution from the Civil war M/L's, to the trapdoors. I had him use spent primers as a marker and load course black pepper so I could shake it and hear what would be inside. I then blued the brass case to make it darker and stand out as a "Dummy". ....

I have also made #10, 11 and musket caps, inert but have never done so for a centerfire primer. Will have to try that soon .....

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Old August 6, 2012, 02:51 PM   #6
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I still reccomend you use spent primers

Well, that didn't take too much effort as I just made a large rifle primer, inert. Pretty much went like the others.

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Old August 6, 2012, 03:47 PM   #7
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I made a dummy 45/70 to hold a file epoxied into it for cleaning up case heads. I wanted a live looking primer so I popped the anvil out and very carefully scraped out the mixture dry. It sparked twice on me but I managed to accomplish it without injury or fire.

I don't think I'll try that again. I like the idea of using a spent primer and flattening it out with a punch like was suggested.
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Old August 6, 2012, 06:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
I then blued the brass case to make it darker and stand out as a "Dummy".
With regular cold-blue like Oxpho-blue? I've never tried to see what effect it has on brass, might have to tinker there and see what happens. Does it just turn a little brownish?
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Old August 6, 2012, 06:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
With regular cold-blue like Oxpho-blue?
Gees, don't even have to waste that good stuff on brass. Make sure you clean or even buff the brass with 0000 steel wool. You can apply as many coats as you wish and it's more of a dark redish brown. Note that it lasts about as long as a cold blue works on steel. Eventually it will wear off. I do some restoratin work on old ramrods and if I have to put new tips on old sidelocks, I do the brass this way. Just came to mind that perhaps the better the bluing, the deeper the color. .....

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If you choose to, do as Edward429451 has listed but put a drop of oil, in the cup and let it soak a little. This will reduce any sparking and just "pick" out the mud. .....



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Old August 6, 2012, 07:36 PM   #10
titanicslim
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Many thanks to everyone for their great comments and suggestions!

I think the suggestion about hammering out a dimpled cup sounds good- a nice solution that solves the problem of authenticity and safety.

I'll give it a shot (as well as a few others) and see how that goes.

Thanks again!
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Old August 6, 2012, 08:48 PM   #11
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Of course, you could always just buy some AZOOM dummy rounds - that way there is NO way to accidentally mix a live and dummy round up
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Old August 7, 2012, 01:51 AM   #12
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I have noticed a certain percentage of the spent primers I have after a loading session already have the dimple pressed out from the depriming operation. Just sort through the pile and find them.

Why use pepper? Use sand, clean kitty litter or used-up tumbling media.

You are a good friend.

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Old August 7, 2012, 06:16 AM   #13
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I'm one of those who recommend against using old/spent primers for perceptual*/safety reasons,
and instead use something like rubber cement dabbed into primer pocket then a piece of tape over the
base as the case sits upright to dry flat. It dried subdued, and scrapes out easily if/when desired.

* I, for one, do want any live round to stand out "a bit" from dud ones so there can never be cause
for error with even a quick glance across such a bandolier.
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Old August 7, 2012, 10:03 AM   #14
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Safety first !!

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Why use pepper? Use sand, clean kitty litter or used-up tumbling media.
Only because one of the rounds, I pull apart and pour out the powder as a demo, for the students. Prior to this, I show the separate shot-string components for the M/L, we are shooting. At that time, I waste a little real powder. Some of the students have never seen gun powder. ...

Of course, 1st. safety rule is; "The smoking lamp is out"

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Old August 7, 2012, 10:54 AM   #15
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The original loads were compressed BP, so a shaking sound shouldn't be present. You could better achieve the appearance and weight of black powder by tumbling granulated activated charcoal in graphite powder to glaze it a little.

For the primer I think I'd consider just forcing a 7/32" soft wood dowel into the primer pocket then trimming it with a flush cut saw and using a brush to paint it with copper paint. The old ammo didn't have nickel plating on the primers that I've seen. Just copper color IIRC. The wood will look realistic until you get very close, but is more readily identifiable as a dummy when you do.

You might also want to note that some really early .45-70 was rimfire, like this carbine cartridge, in which case you might actually want to fill the primer pocket with conductive epoxy (available for circuit board repair), then plate the whole thing with copper.
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Old August 7, 2012, 12:26 PM   #16
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He is doing Span-Am War w/ a Trapdoor Springfield- would that be copper colored primers?
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Old August 7, 2012, 04:57 PM   #17
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Use spent primers. I have made a lot of dummy rounds for friends using them. Unless you look super close you can not tell they were fired. The decapping pin pushes the firing pin mark back out.
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Old August 7, 2012, 05:34 PM   #18
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No one seems to mention that it is a bad idea to take a torch to a primer. I got the briliant idea to put a primed case in my vice and hit it with a torch to get rid of the primer. It is still buried in the sheet rock of my garage. Since then I have had great respect for primers.
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Old August 7, 2012, 06:43 PM   #19
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Let common sense prevail !!!

Quote:
No one seems to mention that it is a bad idea to take a torch to a primer.
Ah, who said it was a good idea? Some things would be pretty much understood, but I'm glad you brought it up. ...


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Old August 8, 2012, 01:07 PM   #20
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From a safety standpoint I think it critical that the Dummy rounds be easily identifiable as dummy. Otherwise a live round will sneak into the bunch and serious problems can arise. I think drilling a hole through the case were it is covered by the Bandoleer would be a good solution. The cartridge is readily identifiable but not visible when carried.

My EOD team was tasked with clearing a reenact er unit in preparation for a Presidential visit. Of the 120 weapons we inspected we found 5 which were loaded. The Georgia boys used their Civil War weapons for deer hunting in the Piney woods.

After that experience I all ways carried a box of caps whenever I was tasked to clear muzzle loading weapons. I would place the unit in single file and approach the inspection point. They would cap the weapon and fire it into a berm. After the initial incident we never encountered a loaded weapon. Apparently the Secret Service put the word out and the Units cleared their weapons in advance.
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Old August 8, 2012, 01:52 PM   #21
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Titanicslim,

I've never seen a nickel plated military primer in anything, including modern ammo. It's all copper or brass. I expect yours will be copper, but you should check with an ammo collector to be sure.
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Old August 8, 2012, 02:19 PM   #22
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Winchester Dummys

Not sure if they are still available, but Winchester use to make them in various calibers for pistol and rifle. They use a regular case with an empty primer pocket. The vent was not drilled. On rimfires, they driiles a small hole at the center of the base. Then they apply a chemical that gives them a dark chocolate brown color to the outside of the case. You can clearly tell that they are dummy rounds by the color. Perhaps you can do the same by bluing the cases, in addition to using spent primers. I also know that Birchwood Casey makes a Brass darkener. .....


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Old August 8, 2012, 03:27 PM   #23
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I agree with LTC444 and others, that a dummy should be visibly identifiable. That might have saved Bruce Lee, depending on what had to be visible in the scene.

At A-Zoom's site, item 12231 is their .45-70 snap cap, pack of two retails for 9.98.
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Old August 8, 2012, 06:01 PM   #24
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Unclenick, nickel primers were used in .30 carbine ammo by at least Winchester and I think Lake City. I have several sealed cans of Winnie carbine ammo that are nickeled, all are in cartons. I also have a few loose rounds of LC that I'm sure are original and they are nickeled.

I also have a few rounds of .45 1911 ball that have nickeled primers. Most of these are in 20 round cartons back from the 30's, Frankford Arsenal if I recall.

But not very much military had nickel primers, you're right about that.
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Old August 9, 2012, 09:07 AM   #25
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Thanks for that reminder. My old club had a number of carbines for small juniors and I do recall the ammo having nickel plated primers now that you've jogged my memory. I'd never heard of the .45 being issued that way, though I know there was a lot of experimentation between the wars with different primer compositions and plating seems like a logical way to distinguish a particular kind.
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