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David Hines [userpic]

hardcore reloading: make your own primers

June 13th, 2009 (06:01 pm)

There's a scene in the Batman NO MAN'S LAND arc that always annoyed me. The premise is that Gotham has been declared verboten, outside of all law, following a calamitous earthquake that largely destroys the city. Naturally, the folks who stay in town (most of our principals) find themselves in a dog-eat-dog situation where survival of the toughest is the order of the day. Because trade between Gotham and the outside world is so restricted, the street punks find themselves running out of ammo. So they break into the morgue to recover bullets from the bodies of their dead chums.

This scene got points for creepiness and atmospherics, but for a gun nut it was pretty annoying. Bullets aren't hard; a lot of people cast theirs, and you don't need to re-use old bullets. Back in the day, you'd see the gun nuts hitting up their friendly neighborhood mechanics for discarded lead wheel weights. Melt 'em down, cast 'em, by god you've got cheap bullets. I knew one guy who did a lot of re-enactment stuff who would use old roof flashings; apparently they used to use lead for that. Anyway, the catch is the other stuff: primers and powder. I figured the biggest problem would be the primers; reloaders buy those intact, so how would you make your own?

Well, with the recent extraordinary rush on all manner of ammunition and related materials, some folks on the gun boards have started talking about that very thing. It seems that you can take the primer apart, fix it up, and re-prime it using powdered strike-anywhere matches. I even found one enterprising guy who is *firing his guns* using match-head primers *and powder.* The match-head powder is corrosive, so you have to wash the gun with water and clean it well after shooting, and the ammunition is underpowered; he says that it makes a .357 Magnum shoot like a .38 S&W, though he could probably get it up to .38 Special. But it is physically possible (YouTube instructional link).

Incidentally, if strike-anywhere matches are too hard for you to get ahold of -- I didn't know this, but apparently they're restricted some places -- you can make your own from regular matches.

Useful gimmicks for anybody who might wind up writing post-apocalyptic stories, or freedom novels.


Posted by: Jayman (smjayman)
Posted at: June 14th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)

Comic book writers and artists are notoriously bad about firearms accuracy, I let it slide for the most part. I mean, it's guys in tights and shit, so you have to suspend some disbelief, you know? Logistics and other concerns are things that those guys typically don't worry about.

As far as the match stick primers, I hope I never end up there, but if I do, at least I know how. I'm a much bigger fan of buying those components in bulk. Especially when it comes to pistol, 8 # of powder will generate a whole lot of ammo. And I never order less than 10,000 primers at a shot anymore. (Especially after the recent shortages!)

Posted by: mendori (mendori)
Posted at: June 14th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)

Dude. That is hard core.

-quickly hides this from ANYONE else in the house she lives in-

Posted by: beamjockey (beamjockey)
Posted at: June 14th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC)

Useful gimmicks for anybody who might wind up writing post-apocalyptic stories, or freedom novels.

I know what the first is, but not the second. Googling fails to enlighten me. Pray elucidate.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: June 14th, 2009 06:34 am (UTC)

Libertarian-to-conservative ideological fiction, typically but not always vanity-published or small-press.

Posted by: Kevin L (cikevin)
Posted at: June 16th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
lame and proud

I am totally going to keep this in mind for the future.

I have to imagine that after an apocalypse, people would be pretty protective of their matches, though. I certainly like having access to fire, and I imagine I'd get more use out of many cooking fires than a few rounds of ammo. (Of course, I say that now...)

This reminds me of my biggest problem with the eminently stupid film The Legend of Zorro. The bad guys' plan revolves around importing huge piles of glycerin-based soap to make nitroglycerine, and they didn't mention the little part about getting the nitric acid and sulfuric acid to go with it, which I imagine should have been much more technically challenging at the time. (Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on that, but that's my limited understanding of 19th century chemistry.)

The match-based ammo does make sense in a freedom novel scenario in which primers are restricted by a dictatorship but matches are still commercially available. Now to run a game in a freedom-novel setting...

Edited at 2009-06-16 01:03 am (UTC)

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