View Full Version : Percussion cap misfires

March 6, 2009, 10:49 PM
I'm not sure what the the appropriate terminology is but when I say "misfires" I'm talking about the situation when the hammer falls on the percussion cap and the cap does not ignite. This thread relates to use of percussion caps in the Ruger Old Army cap-n-ball revolver.

That said I've experienced a number of "misfires" with Winchester #11 magnum percussion caps. It seems that there are times when 5 out of 6 Winchester #11 magnum percussion caps fail to ignite on first impact. If I, without modification, allow the hammer to hit the Winchester cap a second time the cap will fire. I've experimented with inserting the cap with a slight squeeze prior to insertion as well as inserting the cap as is right from the tin. In both scenarios I've experienced problems with cap ignition.

I recently bought some Remington #11 percussion caps. I haven't tried them out yet but it is obvious that the Remington caps are shorter than the Winchester magnum caps. Using digital calipers I note the Winchester magnums have a height of .162 inches on average whereas the Remington caps have a height of .146 inches. The diameter of both caps is similar.

I haven't had a chance to shoot with the Remington caps just yet. However, I'm hopeful that I'll experience fewer misfires. My current theory is that the height of the Winchester caps means that the cap does not seat as far down the nipple as it could because of the added height thus causing misfires. On the misfires the hammer must be forcing the cap on further such that the second time the hammer hits the cap it ignites.

Can anyone give their experience using #11 caps for the Ruger Old Army? I tried to find CCI caps but so far in Orlando I've only come across Winchester and Remington caps.

Fingers McGee
March 6, 2009, 11:43 PM
Sometimes it takes trying a few different brands and sizes to determine what works best on any particular pistol. In my experience; however, the Remington #10 caps are the best all round cap available. While I don't have an ROA, they have worked first time most every time on Uberti, Pietta, Euroarms, ASM, CVA, Palmetto and Colt cap & ball psitols with stock nipples. They also work perfectly on Treso nipples.



March 6, 2009, 11:47 PM
I use Remington #11's on the ROA. I checked the nipples on mine and they are .155 from the top of the hex to the tip of the nipple. Is it possible that the CCI's are not seating firmly on your nipples. The first hammer strike seats your nipple and not enough energy left to ignite it, then the second strike ignites the cap. I recall that happening to me many years ago with the first ROA I bought.

March 6, 2009, 11:47 PM
You've correctly identified the problem; the taller caps will not sit as far down on the nipple cone initially. The first hammer strike simply drives them down to where they fit.

The bad news is that caps are not consistent in size. You'll find over the years that different batches can vary considerably. Here's the results of some measurements I made - at least 20 samples of each brand and size:

Remember, they only cost about 4 cents apiece. You don't get consistent three digit precision for 4 cents apiece.

March 7, 2009, 06:44 PM
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the Remington #11's solve my problem.

On another note I experienced for the first time what I'd call a true misfire. That is the cap went "bang" but the powder didn't ignite. The frustrating thing was this was the first shot of the day with clean nipples. In fact I rotated the cylinder put a new cap on then tried again. Same result. No powder ignition. The third cap the same problem. On the forth cap the powder finally ignited. For caps 2 and 3 I took a nipple cleaning pin and made sure the nipple wasn't clogged somehow. The only thing I can think of was that I didn't pre-fire the nipples with caps before loading the cylinders with powder. It is possible that I had some residue gun oil at the bottom of the cylinders and perhaps this "wetted" the powder at the back of the cylinder. The cylinder wasn't dripping with oil but its possible there was one drop back there. It is hard to believe it took 4 caps to ignite the powder. The powder used was 777, a powder known to be harder to ignite than BP. Thats why I was using magnum caps to begin with. Sheesh, a cap usually puts out a fair amount of fire. Frustrating day. Made me feel like putting in my .45 Colt conversion cylinder and shooting that way...if only I had some .45 Colt on hand.

March 7, 2009, 08:53 PM
All 4 of my ROAs like Remington #10 caps.

I have experimented with all the brands and sizes I could get a hold of, and those were by far the best performers. Plus almost every other gun I have likes them (damn Walker, always has to be a princess about eveything)

March 7, 2009, 08:56 PM
What do you suppose is the difference between using Remington #10 versus Remington #11 caps? I find it odd that Ruger specifies both sizes. Are the #10 hard to put on and are the #11 prone to falling off?

Fingers McGee
March 8, 2009, 12:10 AM
Nipples have a taper to them, the #10s, being taller than the #11s, extend down the taper farther, gripping the nipple.

#10s aren't harder to put on in my experience. All I use is a revolver capper to install & seat the caps. Have never found it necessary to use a push stick.

Since the opening diameter of the cap is larger than the diameter of the nipple at the point where they meet, they have a tendency to be loose and can fall off, or possible not ignite on the first strike.


March 12, 2009, 09:25 PM
The think the issue has been resolved. I went out today and put 60 loads thru the ROA. This time I used #11 Remington caps. Not one mis-fire; the caps always went bang on first impact by the hammer. The one thing I noticed with the #11 Remington caps is that you could feel them cinch right on the nipple whereas the #11 Winchester Magnums never gave that same "feel" like they were on all the way. Also, I didn't seem to have to pinch the #11 Remington caps. Seems like they worked great right out of the tin.

March 12, 2009, 10:13 PM
i use the remington 10s on my uberti remmy so far they fit well and always work

March 13, 2009, 11:29 AM
The caps sold as Winchester are re-packaged CCI's.

March 16, 2009, 04:13 PM
I'm running low on percussion caps so I stopped by Gander Mountain to pick up some more Remington #11's. Dang it if they are still out of them. Haven't restocked them in a couple of months. About a week ago they ran out of #10's but noticed they had a new shipment in today. So I grudgingly picked up a tin of Remington #10's.

I don't know where I read this but someone on some forum (RugerForum.com) had posted that he used Remington #10's in his ROA and everyone he knows uses the Remington #10's in their ROA, exclusively. Well, I took the calipers to the new #10's and it would seem they are about 0.179 in height. Even taller than the Winchester #11 magnums that were giving me a problem! These new Remington #10's definitely look like they are going to be a problem for my ROA. I don't see how some folks are saying the #10's should be used for a ROA. I've seen a few people state that Remington #11's are the way to go.

I'm starting to come to the conclusion that those of us who still have the factory nipples on our ROA's have different height nipples. Perhaps it depends on when our ROA's were manufacture. We do know that nipple size will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. I guess I assumed that all ROA's had the same nipple from the factory but I'm starting to believe this isn't so. Because, how else could some people state, with authority, that Remington #10's are used by everyone who is anyone whereas others are reporting that #11's work the best.

My ROA was manufactured in 1982. Maybe different caps work better on your ROA because it was manufactured in some other year when there was a different supplier for the nipples.

March 16, 2009, 04:41 PM
Don`t knock them untill you try them ...I use Remington #10 on all my cap guns includeing 2 ROA`s ....never a problem and I don`t have to pinch caps ........The Remington #10 will even fire first strike on a old 1851 Navy of mine that the hammer spring is so worn out , it won`t fire any other brand cap I`ve tried ........it fires first time every time with the Remington # 10 caps .

March 16, 2009, 04:52 PM
I'm not knocking them...yet. Since I own a new tin of them I'll give them a try. If nothing else I'll use them to clear the oil out of the nipples before getting on with business. I was merely pointing out that the tall Winchester caps were giving me a problem and these #10's are even taller. Its very doubtful they'll work but I'll give them the ol' college try.

My nipples are 0.155 from tip to hex head on my 1982 ROA and 0.153 on my 2007 ROA. Unless they fill those caps up good with the igniter it doesn't make sense that the tall caps would work well.

March 16, 2009, 05:13 PM
You measured the height of Remington No. 10's at 0.179".

Go back and look at the fourth post in this thread - my measured average height of at least 20 Remington No. 10's was 0.168".

Note my conclusion: you don't get precision for 4 cents apiece.

Do you still think it's the nipples that are varying while the caps are all the same?

March 16, 2009, 06:40 PM
Oh, I agree with you. I never was trying to imply that the nipples are the problem because they greatly vary. I'm just trying to understand how it can be claimed that the Remington #10 or #11 or whatever IS THE cap to use with a ROA...always and forever. Clearly you have to find the caps that work the best for your firearm. My point, perhaps implied, was to show that those who own a ROA can not...or should not make the claim that the Remington #10 or #11 or whatever IS THE cap to use for a ROA. I believe as you do that the caps from the same manufacturer can and probably do vary from run to run. I think we have demonstrated this.

The reason for my post isn't to cause confusion but rather to gather input from others and provide data to address the issue of why percussion caps can "misfire". I've read enough threads since my initial post to make the statement that you just have to try different caps to find the best fit for your ROA. In addition, as you point out, the cap from last year's production that worked perfectly on you ROA last year may not be the proper cap to use from this year's production even though the tin still looks the same and says "Remington #10".

When someone claims they use the Remington #10 or #11 in their ROA and EVERYONE uses that cap because IT WORKS, I know, that you just can't take that statement to the bank.

I'm fairly new to the world of percussion cap revolvers but I post my findings to help my fellow noobs. If they read somewhere that the Remington #10 or #11 or whatever IS THE cap to use they may just end up disappointed when they run out and buy a case of of those caps only to find out that they don't work well as advertised.

March 16, 2009, 07:24 PM
OKOK I get it ...this thread is B/S right ? I measured a few of my Remington # 10 caps I get everything from 0.179 to 0.176 ........could be right ..they are crap caps ...anyone want to trade all their Remington caps for some Good CCI`s ?

March 16, 2009, 08:44 PM
just trying to understand how it can be claimed that the Remington #10 or #11 or whatever IS THE cap to use with a ROA...always and forever.
That's very easy to understand. It's the same way people can claim the only and best way to clean a bp gun is with Windex with vinegar, or WD-40, or Murphy's Oil Soap, or, well, you get the idea. The internet has made the world of logic and exposition implode - the logical fallacy, post hoc ergo proctor hoc, has become the only argument that counts.

I just read, on another forum, two posts just 3 messages apart, almost identically worded. In each the poster claimed that he'd just received a brand new XXXXXXX brand bp revolver and the finish was terrible and nothing fit and it shot way to far up and right he would never, ever buy another XXXXXX brand POS as long as he lived - they were junk. XXXXXX was Pietta in the first post and Uberti in the second.

Thus was my experience, so truth it must be, and the only truth.

March 16, 2009, 09:15 PM
Thought I'd throw my chart into the mix just so that there's a forum record of it.


And a comparative photo:


From left to right: Rem #11, Win #11 Mag, Rem #10

March 16, 2009, 09:48 PM
When in doubt, do as I do and fall back on this:
From an old Colt Industries pamphlet:
"Percussion caps are now made in sizes from nine to thirteen. Ten and eleven are the best numbers for the small and medium-sized arms, and twelve for the larger sizes, although, as different-sized nipples are sometimes met in specimens of the same model, no hard and fast rule can be given. It is better to have caps slightly too large than too small, as large caps can be pinched together at the bottom enough so they will stay on the nipples, but small ones must be driven down on the nipple by the blow of the hammer, and this process frequently cushions the blow to the extent of producing a misfire."

March 18, 2009, 10:47 AM
Those of us around here that shoot a lot, weekly cowboy matches with c & b guns as main match pistols, use #10 Remingtons to the man. We also replace all nipples except Ruger with TRESO nipples before ever firing the guns. This combination will solve most of the cap problems you may encounter. Sometimes, but not always, Ruger nipples will give error free service. If they don't then go to TRESOs and never look back. About 450 shots fired thru my Pietta 1860 Armys since the first of the year without a "misfire" or cap debris problem.

Fingers McGee
March 18, 2009, 11:43 PM
Quote Noz
Those of us around here that shoot a lot, weekly cowboy matches with c & b guns as main match pistols, use #10 Remingtons to the man. We also replace all nipples except Ruger with TRESO nipples before ever firing the guns. This combination will solve most of the cap problems you may encounter. Sometimes, but not always, Ruger nipples will give error free service. If they don't then go to TRESOs and never look back. About 450 shots fired thru my Pietta 1860 Armys since the first of the year without a "misfire" or cap debris problem.



March 19, 2009, 01:51 PM
My final report I filed yesterday on another forum on this topic.

Today I shot 60 rounds of C&B through my ROA. 30 of the rounds were fired using Remington #10 percussion caps. The other 30 rounds were fired using Remington #11 percussion caps. All 60 caps denotated on first impact without problem. The #10 caps slide on easily and could be seen to bottom out at the nipple hex nut. The #11 caps also went on easily and had a slightly better cinching feel to them but stopped short of hitting the hex nut. This of course makes sense since my #11's are shorter than my #10's. Out of the thirty #10's fired I noted there were several instances where these caps had a tendency stay on the nipple after firing rather than completely fall out and as the cylinder rotated they'd sometimes get a little wedged. If I had more consciously held the revolver up and pointing a little to the right as I cocked the hammer they may have fallen out better. I'll try that technique next time. The #11's seemed to fall out on their own without problem and didn't cause any jamming problems. Probably because they are shorter.

Anyhow, in the end it seems that both batches of Remington #10's and #11's work fine. If Gander Mountain has both #10's and #11's in stock I'd give a slight edge to the #11's and go with them. If all they had was #10's I'd buy them with confidence that they'd go "pop" on first impact. With the problems I had with the Winchester #11 Magnum caps I would probably try to avoid them if given the choice.

So it seems that the Ruger Old Army is correct when they say: "The suggested cap size for the Old Army revolver is No. 10 or No. 11 (U.S.) or equivalent."

Page 12: Ruger Old Army Instruction Manual (http://www.ruger.com/Firearms/PDF/InstructionManuals/13.pdf)

March 19, 2009, 02:07 PM
Now thats the way to test caps and come up with a real life conclusion on how they will work....to see if what is said is the truth ...or myth ......put the calibers away and take the caps to the range ....tried and true . Caps not falling of in peices can be a big plus when shooting the Colt type revolvers ..
Ask any Colt shooter that has had a cap fragment ruin his day .

September 26, 2011, 06:52 PM
Wanted to pass along my experience. I have been using Remington number 10 percussion caps on my Ruger old army since I purchased it. Recently I could not find Reming to I purchased CCI number 10 caps. They don't fit! I kind of forced 6 caps on the nipples and against my better judgement started pulling the trigger. I went through all 6 cylinders and none fired. I then continued through the cylinder again and they all fired. It took the first rap with the hammer to seat the caps. After reading posts here I will definately find some Remingtin number 10s - I never had a problem or a misfire with the Remington caps.

September 27, 2011, 10:35 AM
I use a push stick to seat all caps.
Fingers doesn't but he has an unique wrist twist that he does when he seats his caps with his capper.
I have watched him many times and cannot duplicate it, thus the push stick.

October 10, 2011, 06:29 PM
Clembert I have an over supply of Rem #11 since you live in Sc come get them :) [email protected]

October 10, 2011, 09:27 PM
ClemBert-- Drop by Buffalo Bills on Mills/17-92 in Orlando
and speak with Jim. They have your CCI caps plus a bunch
of other stuff. It is pretty much a BP store.

Although, I transfer other guns via their FFL.

They have a web site.

.02 David :)

October 12, 2011, 05:37 PM
Clembert-got storm here and computer might not have sent you my PM email me at [email protected]