How Are Percussion Caps Made?

Key Point: Percussion caps are made by forming metal cups through stamping, filling them with a shock-sensitive explosive compound (like fulminate of mercury), sealing to prevent contamination, ensuring quality, and packaging for storage.

This article will examine how percussion caps are made. First, you will see what percussion caps are and how they are made. So, by the time you finish this article, you will know how percussion caps are made step-by-step.

So, let’s see the process by which percussion caps are made, presented in a step-by-step format. Here it is:

The 5-step process to make percussion caps is as follows:

  1. Cut and shape the metal: The metal used to make the cap (such as brass or copper) was cut and shaped into the desired size and shape of the cap.
  2. Load the primer mixture: A small amount of primer mixture, which contains the explosive material, was loaded into the cap.
  3. Crimp the cap closed: The cap was crimped closed, sealing in the primer mixture.
  4. Test the cap: The finished cap was tested for ignition performance and checked for any defects, such as cracks or deformities.
  5. Steps 1-4 were repeated to make a batch of percussion caps, which were then packaged and shipped to customers.

Now, that we have covered the 5 step process of making percussion caps let’s go into a little more detail.

How To Make Percussion Caps?

Percussion Caps

The process of making percussion caps has evolved over the years, yet the basic principles have remained the same. It requires a high degree of precision and quality control, to ensure that the caps perform consistently and reliably in the field. Reliability in part came from the materials that were used. So, let’s examine that part next.

The Materials Used To Make Percussion Caps

Historically, brass and copper have been the most commonly used metals for making percussion caps. More recently, other metals such as steel and aluminum have also been used. The choice of metal will depend on the specific requirements of the caps and the firearms they are intended to be used in.

But why else were the materials that important? Here is why materials used to make Percussion caps mattered.

The metal used to make percussion caps must be able to withstand the high pressure and temperature generated by the ignition of the powder charge. It must also be able to withstand the repeated stress of being struck by the firing mechanism, without deforming or rupturing.

Were Any Other Materials Used?

In addition to the metal, other materials such as primers, wads, and lubes may also be used in the manufacture of percussion caps. These materials serve to enhance the performance of the caps, by improving ignition, reducing friction, and helping to protect the gun barrel.

What Equipment Was Used In The Production Process?

Here is a list of the most common tool used in the production of percussion caps throughout history.

  1. Cutting tools To cut the metal sheets into the desired size and shape, various cutting tools were used such as shears, punch and die sets, and rotary cutters.
  2. Priming tool A specialized tool was used to load the primer mixture into the cap, ensuring consistent and accurate placement of the mixture.
  3. Crimping tool A tool was used to crimp the cap closed, sealing in the primer mixture. This tool was usually a simple hand-held pliers-like device.
  4. Testing equipment To ensure the quality of the finished percussion caps, a testing device was used to check for ignition performance and to inspect the caps for defects.
  5. Production machinery Depending on the size and scale of the operation, some companies may have used production machines such as stamping presses and assembly lines to increase efficiency and speed up the production process.

These are some of the common pieces of equipment and tools that were used in the process of making percussion caps. The exact equipment used may have varied depending on the specific time period and location of production.

Are Percussion Caps Still Made?

Percussion caps are still being made by a few companies in the U.S. They serve the niche market of historical reenactments. Although Percussion caps fell out of wider use relatively fast in the 19th century, recently, history enthusiasts have revived interest in percussion firearms. Hence why to some extent percussion caps are still being made in the U.S.

In Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read this article on how percussion caps were made. I hope you learned a thing or two here. If you wish to continue reading I suggest taking a look at my article on caplock firearms right here.

Take care!