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One day I hope to be a full time author and possibly start a small publishing company of my own. One way or another, I will use my gift that God has given me to His glory. Homemade Ammo provides all the technical know-how you need to manufacture your own rifle, pistol or SMG ammo from scratch. Includes chapters on primers, powders, brass, bullets, cleaning, caching and Almost any handyman with a drill can produce a gun in a few weeks, but the same is not true for ammo. Includes chapters on primers, powders, brass, bullets, cleaning, caching and more.

If you manufacture your own powder by following the steps below, remember that some types of powder that deteriorate may also generate enough heat to create spontaneous combustion. For this reason, you should store the powder in an area away from your house, check it from time to time, and dispose of any that is no longer good by scattering it over the ground in an open area where it can decompose and act as a good fertilizer in the process.

It's possible to bum old powder, but the fumes can be toxic and the process is almost guaranteed to attract unwanted attention. There are a number of powders that can be manufactured for cartridges. All are dangerous to varying degrees; the greatest room for disaster lies, however, in manufacturing modern powders. One mistake with these and you can create a serious explosion, fire, or acid spill. Making powder is extremely dangerous, even more so than making primers. You'll also face a lot of unknowns if you're making your own powder.

Although small grain sizes are ideal for pistol ammunition and larger grains for larger rifle ammunition, sizing is relative and varies greatly from one cartridge to another. Too, shotgun ammunition tends to vary greatly, with slower burning powders being used for large bores and faster powders for the. Because some powders are inherently faster burning than others, regardless of the size, figuring the best size for any given gun is tricky and requires a lot of cautious experimentation. All of this necessitates an overly cautious and conservative approach if you are to survive the process.

Some of the more common propellants you might use in a firearm are black powder, ammonpulver, cordite, guncotton, and potassium nitrate mixtures. Often, combinations of these are found in commercial powders, but it is generally wise not to experiment with mixtures too much since you may create a dangerous powder in the process. Storage of do-it-yourself powders is even more of a problem than with commercial powders because most described below are hygroscopic to some extent may decompose more quickly than commercial powder, and some — especially black powder — are more akin to explosives than propellants.

Care should be taken to keep your powder in a cool place and in a tightly sealed container designed to rupture if exposed to a fire to prevent the container from becoming a bomb! You can't be too careful in making, storing, and using gunpowder or smokeless powders. The most common is created by mixing potassium nitrate with sugar; the best ratio is 7 parts by measure of potassium nitrate to 6 parts of sugar.

This potassium nitrate powder works well with rifles. It doesn't work well in shorter barrels like those found on most pistols or submachine guns, but does work in long-barreled carbines that employ pistol cartridges. Droppings from bats, birds, or the like, as well as manure from barnyards or even human latrines, are potential sources of potassium nitrate. However, for decomposition to take place. Thus, natural sources of potassium nitrate are relatively rare and are usually restricted to caves or islands in warm climates.

A more roundabout route can hurry the process by using calcium to chemically bind the nitrate in excrement and then exchange potassium for the calcium in a second step. To achieve this end, lime is first placed on a stable floor, outhouse pit, manure pile, or old burial grounds for the stout of heart , and the area can be used for some time. Months or even years later, the pit can then be "mined, " arid the earth-excrement-lime mixed in water so that calcium nitrate is dissolved from the mix.

When the water is removed from the material that settles to the bottom of the mixture, the calcium nitrate is dissolved in it; boiling the water leaves behind the calcium nitrate mixed with salts. Wood ash which contains potassium carbonate is added to water, and the calcium nitrate crystals dissolved into the solution.

The potassium and calcium exchange places, creating calcium carbonate slaked lime and potassium nitrate. The water solution is fitered to remove the calcium carbonate, which is more or less solid; the potassium nitrate is dissolved in the water so it will pass through a fine filter. You can create a filter from paper, laboratory filter paper, coffee filters, or similar products.

Since these fine filters tend to clog, you should also create a "prefilter" of coarser material.


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Prefilters of choice in the s were made of straw, which still works well. Cloth or other material may give better results, and your best results come if you filter the water a number of times to get rid of as many impurities as is practical. To retrieve the potassium nitrate, boil the water until it's nearly all gone.

Before the water is totally evaporated, remove the heat source and allow the water to evaporate by leaving it exposed to the air otherwise you may damage the crystals. The crystals left behind will be primarily potassium nitrate. Here's a step-by-step procedure that begins with the creation of a filter to contain the earth and nitrate: Get a bucket and punch holes in its bottom.

Place a cloth over the bottom of the bucket and then stack straw over it and another layer of cloth. Next, place a layer of straw over the cloth and add a third layer of cloth, topping it with about an inch of wood ash. Place a large container under the bucket, 4. Fill the bucket with your source of nitrate and earth. Pour boiling water through the soil and let it drip into the container below the bucket.

Pour the water very slowly and use only 1 part water for every 2 parts earth mix. Allow the water to stand for a number of hours and then drain the water off and discard any sediment that may have gotten through the filter. Boil the water for two hours. While the water is boiling, small crystals of salts will form on the bottom of the container; remove these and discard them. When half the water has boiled from the solution, let it cool for 30 minutes. Add alcohol to the solution 1 part alcohol to I part solution and pput the mixture through a filter made of a paper towel.

Crystals of potassium nitrate will be left in the filter. To purify the potassium nitrate, redissolve it in clean water and boil the water for two hours. While the water is boiling, small crystals of salts will form on the bottom of the container; remove these and discard. Again add alcohol to the solution 1 part alcohol to 1 part solution and put the mixture through a filter made of paper towel. Allow the crystals to air dry and then seal them in a waterproof container until needed. Once an ample supply of potassium nitrate has been created, it's necessary to mix it with sugar to create the actual powder.

Here's how to do that: Mix by volume 56 parts of potassium nitrate with 48 parts sugar in 84 parts of water. Up to 3 parts ferric oxide — rust — is sometimes added to increase the burning rate of the powder. Boil the mix over a small flame while stirring it. Both the potassium nitrate and sugar will dissolve in the water. Boil the water down to one-fourth its original volume.

This should create a thick "fudge. Pour the mixture onto a flat surface and allow it to dry in the sun, if possible. Scoring deep furrows in it will speed the drying process. When the mix is moist to the touch but no longer sticky, granulate it by pushing it--a little at a time — through a mesh or screen. Allow the particles created to dry in the sun. The size of the granules will be determined by the size of the screen. Ideally, you should use a fine window screen for this process.

If you have a mechanical bent, you can devise a press similar to that used on pasta machines and to extrude the moist mix through small holes to create long threads that can be broken after the mix has dried.


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  7. This would give you very precise control of the burning rate of your powder, permitting you to increase the diameter of the strands to slow down the burning rate or decrease the diameter to speed it up. Your "powder" is ready to load once it has dried. If you store it, put it in an airtight container. Don't store the powder in glass because it will deteriorate more quickly if you do. After you load cartridges with this powder, carefully seal the cartridges with lacquer as discussed elsewhere since the mixture is highly hygroscopic. Like black powder, potassium chlorate is highly corrosive and dangerously explosive.

    That means that if you use it in a firearm, it's essential that you clean it within a few hours of firing, or you're likely to see some serious rust form on your firearm. And you must use a minimal amount of this powder to avoid blowing up a firearm. When potassium chlorate is used for making powder, it must be mixed with sugar to down its burning rate.

    The mixture can then be substituted for gunpowder with slightly less of the potassium chlorate being loaded than for the same charge of black powder. In a bind, this material can also be substituted for "smokeless" powder in cartridges, but may not create enough energy to cycle the bolt of semi-auto weapons. Again, to avoid excessive chamber pressures, take great pains to not use too much powder.

    Potassium chlorate is found in most match heads. Safety matches are almost pure potassium chlorate; if you are using strike-anywhere matches, be sure to remove the tip of the match. Failure to remove the striking tip could create excessive chamber pressures. You'll need a candy thermometer or similar device to keep track of the temperature of this mix.

    Here's the procedure to create the gun powder substitute: Mix I part table sugar with just enough water to dissolve it into a slush and heat it slowly to degrees Fahrenheit until the sugar melts. Take care not to let the sugar turn brown carmelize from excessive heat. Remove the sugar from the fire and stir it as the temperature drops. When the sugar has dropped to degrees Fahrenheit, add 1 part potassium chlorate to the "fudge" a little at a time as you mix it into the sugar. When the mix has dried to the consistency of fudge, granulate it by pushing it through a mesh or screen.

    If the mixture is hard, too much heat was applied to the sugar; if the mixture is gooey, too little heat was used.

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    In either case, discard the mix and start over, paying careful attention to the temperature. The size of the granules determines the burning rate of this mixture. Small granules should be used for pistols or shotguns, whereas larger sizes are suitable for muzzle-loading rifles. As noted above, you might also fashion a mechanism to create small strands of this powder for more precise control of burning rates. Your "powder" is now ready; place it in a sealed container or load it into cartridges. Be sure to seal the cartridges carefully because the mixture is highly hygroscopic.

    And don't forget to clean your firearm after using this powder. That means that unlike modern smokeless powder that just smolders if lit, a scoop of black powder left on a workbench or on the floor becomes a potential firebomb that can be set off by a static electricity spark or even by friction. Always store black powder in small containers of a pound or less capacity and that are kept separate from each other. Because water neutralizes black powder, you can wash down an area where black powder has been spilled to make it safe to clean up.

    At first glance, sulfur would appear to be unnecessary for the manufacture of black powder. But, in fact, sulfur is needed to lower the ignition temperature of black powder so that it will ignite more readily. Sulfur also improves the consistency of black powder which is a mix of chemicals and not an actual chemical compound.

    If you have trouble securing sulfur, then you may wish to try making brown powder, discussed below, since it requires only a very small amount of this chemical. Or you might want to simply mix potassium nitrate with sugar to create the powder described above which is basically black powder with the sulfur left out.

    The exact proportions of chemicals in black powder vary from one country to the next. In the United States, it tends to be 74 percent potassium nitrate, It's also possible to create another version of black powder by substituting and reducing the amount of sodium nitrate for potassium nitrate. However, this type of black powder is deliquescent and especially hard to store in areas with high humidity.

    Manufacturers used to coat the grains of black powder with graphite. This was achieved by tumbling it in the final stages of manufacturer. You can do this, too, but should take great care that this is done in a "sparkless" container with no potential for causing an accidental ignition of the powder or containing pressure. This technique can also be used with other of the powders listed in this section. Black powder does have some important pluses. First of all, in black-powder arms it can be used by volume, making it easy to recharge a weapon without having to do a lot of careful measuring.

    This is an important plus that is somewhat offset by the slow-to-reload designs of most black-powder guns. Another big plus with black powder is that it actually becomes better with age. Provided that it's kept free of moisture, it will not deteriorate with time or when stored in a warm environment. That means that if you have made some black powder or purchased some beforehand , it will be better than new when you need to use it if you've kept it in an airtight container.

    After firing a weapon charged with black powder, it's necessary to clean it and the brass cartridges if any thoroughly in order to keep them from corroding. Failure to do this will quickly ruin your firearm. To make black powder: Obtain potassium nitrate see above and carefully grind it into a very, very fine powder.

    Get some charcoal and grind it to very fine powder. Evergreen charcoal is all but unusable. Dogwood, willow, and alder — in that order — are the charcoals of choice, and they must be thoroughly charred, all aromatics driven off, and free of ash. Grind sulfur into powder. Mix the three powdered chemicals in the following amounts by weight: Place water into the powder and mix it together thoroughly. As long as the mixture is wet, it will not explode. Allow the mixture to dry into a cake after compacting it. Air drying will not work if the humidity is very high; in humid areas, place the mix over a very low heat, without exposing it to a flame.

    Keep in mind that excessive heat will create an explosion. Once the cake is thoroughly dry, carefully break it into chunks with a plastic or wooden tool. Work only with small amounts at a time, with no containers of the material nearby. Extreme care must be exercised because once it is dry, black powder is highly flammable.

    Grind the chunks up, one at a time. Although the majority of the powder and the chunks are protected from ignition, take extra precautions to protect yourself, since you could ignite it accidentally during grinding. A screen or sieve is ideal for the grinding process. Fine powder is suitable for pistols; coarser grains should be used for rifles. Experiment with light loads to determine what degree of coarseness or fineness of granules works best. Technically, brown powder is a form of black powder that was developed for long-barreled, rifled artillery pieces. It was usually called "cocoa powder," due to its color and the fact that it was made in flat wafers that looked like chocolate candy.

    It's stretching things to say it was close to smokeless powder in effectiveness — it came and went pretty fast. Its salient feature was that it was slow to ignite, which gave a more gradual push to a cannon projectile, of benefit in a long- barreled artillery piece. It gave higher velocities only in very long-barreled weapons. It can be used as a substitute for smokeless powder, but it is far from perfect in small arms. It does raise a cloud of smoke when it is fired, just as black powder does.

    Consequently, it came in second in the contest with smokeless powders and was soon discontinued, with manufacturers continuing to make the widely accepted black powder for use in the antique arms that shooters continued to use. Brown powder has many of the pluses of black powder, including the ability to be stored for long periods without deteriorating.

    Its additional bonus is that it offers a higher velocity and can be used as a substitute for smokeless powder. The principal change in the composition of brown powder is that it employs under-burned brown rather than black charcoal and a greatly reduced amount of sulfur. The proportions of brown powder aren't as firmly established as those of black powder, but it would appear that a Traditionally, incompletely charred rye straw was used for the charcoal because this type of charcoal acted as a colliding agent, which allowed the shaped pellets of cannon powder to be more densely formed, thus making it a slow-starting powder and better for long-barreled cannon.

    Because brown powder is a mix like black powder rather than a chemical combination, the steps in combining the ingredients and creating grains from a cake of the material as given above for black powder should be used in the manufacture of brown powder. This chemical is most commonly found in home garden and agricultural fertilizers and is readily available in most areas.

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    Wood alcohol is also needed to process the fertilizer, and charcoal is mixed with the chemical to create the proper burning rate. Ammonpulver had a spate of success as a military powder for use in cannons about the time of World War II and was a close second to smokeless powder in power. It had an Achilles' heel, however: In its powdered state, it ignited so fast that the pressure would build up and the guns artillery blow up. This makes it less than ideal except in the direst extreme. Because many fertilizers have calcium coatings on the particles or are mixed with agricultural chemicals, you must exercise a little care in the selection of the fertilizer to be used in manufacturing powder.

    The best way of determining what you have is to check the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash in the mixture; this ratio will be clearly marked on the bag. The proper ratio for making ammonpulver is Be sure the fertilizer gets all its nitrogen from ammonium nitrate and has no urea added. Also check to be sure that calcium hasn't been added to coat the mixture. If you can find only a fertilizer with calcium, crush it to expose the inside of the prills, and it will work just fine. You should manufacture your powder immediately after opening fertilizer: For this reason, you should be careful to purchase new fertilizer that is still sealed in its bag.

    When you're ready to start, do the following: Place the fertilizer in a pan and pour methanol alcohol wood alcohol over it until the fertilizer is completely covered. The mix should be warm, but do not apply heat to it i. Stir the mix until most of the fertilizer is dissolved into the alcohol. If there is any calcium coating on the fertilizer, this may take some time.

    Pour off the alcohol and save it, discard the sludge left behind. Cool the alcohol by placing its container into an ice bath or, better yet, into a second container of dry ice. This will cause crystals of pure ammonium nitrate to form in the container. Run the alcohol and crystals through a filter. The alcohol can be recycled to retrieve more ammonium nitrate from another load of fertilizer. Place the crystals in the sunlight and allow them to dry. If the crystals are not small enough, use extreme caution in grinding them since they can explode.

    Mix the crystals at a rate of 8 to 9 parts crystals with 1 to 2 parts charcoal. This mixture is highly hygroscopic and should be kept in sealed containers, and the ammunition should be sealed as well. Always clean firearms after shooting this ammunition to prevent corrosion of the barrel and other parts. In fact, when this material was created in the mids, experimentation was suspended for some time because the results were always the same: You can't make any mistakes with this material, or you'll be maimed or dead.

    Making smokeless gunpowder is a fairly complicated business. Whether you end up with a propellant or an explosive depends on very subtle nuances in the manufacturing protocol, materials, density, and treatment of the final product and myriad additives designed to stabilize or modify burning characteristics. Such things as extruding techniques, solvents, final solvent content a function of drying protocols , temperatures, final density, additives, coatings, and make a drastic difference in the final burning characteristics. There have been thousands of smokeless powders made in the past hundred years — and they're all different.

    The differences are as much a result of manufacturing technique as they are of chemical variations. Relatively subtle differences can result in a blank or very fast pistol powder, or a slow rifle powder. And a fast pistol powder will likely blow up a rifle. Do not attempt to make smokeless powder unless you are qualified to do so. To carry out these operations, both sulfuric and nitric acids are needed. Both are highly corrosive, and only their containment in glass prevents dangerous reactions. They are hard to neutralize. Gloves, safety goggles, lab apron, and hooded ventilation systems are essential for this work.

    In addition to sulfuric and nitric acids, you'll also need a very pure source of cellulose for making nitrocellulose. The best source is probably cotton. Wood pulp is a fine source of cellulose, and it makes good nitrocellulose. The Brits and Europeans tended to favor cotton; Americans preferred wood cellulose. But for the sake of simplicity, use surgical cotton making sure it really is cotton, because many of the cotton balls used for removing cosmetics are now made from synthetics.

    Because of the danger presented by these materials, make only small amounts of this powder at a time and store it well away from the working area. Since you may not be able to find nitric acid, we'll take a look at how to create it with sulfuric acid. If you have both chemicals, then skip the next section. Diluted sulfuric acid is commonly found in vehicle batteries. To concentrate it, boil it until white fumes appear. These fumes are dangerous, so adequate ventilation is essential.

    When the fumes start, lower the heat as the acid is ready.


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    To make nitric acid, follow these steps: Prepare dry potassium nitrate using the method given above. Place 2 parts of the potassium nitrate crystals into a lab bottle with a stopper with one hole. Place a piece of glass tubing with rubber tubing attached to it in the hole. Don't fill the bottle more than one-fourth full of the crystals.

    Add 1 part sulfuric acid to the bottle and mix with a glass rod until the crystals form a paste. Run the rubber tubing through an ice-water "bath" and into a second open bottle. Place the stopper in the bottle with the potassium nitrate-sulfuric acid paste in it. Place the paste bottle over a gentle heat. This will create brown nitrogen dioxide and water vapor fumes that will be condensed back into a liquid when they go through the bath. The nitric acid will then drip into the second bottle. Take extreme care not to breathe the caustic fumes that do not condense in the bath and be sure that you have adequate ventilation.

    Extreme caution must be exercised in making nitrocellulose. Do not attempt this if you lack proper equipment or knowledge. The procedure is as follows: Immerse the cotton in a mixture of 1 part sulfuric acid and I part nitric acid. Allow the cotton to become saturated and then remove it and store it in a sealed container for 2. Prepare the acid mixture by slowly pouring the sulfuric acid into the nitric, while constantly stirring. This will create an exotherm, and the acid mixture must be allowed to cool to room temperature before proceeding.

    Specific gravity of the nitric should be equal to or less than 1. Specific gravity of the sulfuric mix should be equal to or less than 1. This is important because varying the strength of the acids, temperature, time of reaction, or acid-cellulose ratio will create widely different products.

    Caution must be exercised here. Carefully rinse the cotton in pure water until it has a neutral reading with litmus paper or pHydrion paper. If the cotton is the least bit acidic, rinse it again. In the past, protocols varied with different powder makers, but a typical way was to boil the cotton for days with several changes of water, then chop it finely and boil it again with sodium carbonate and several more changes of water.

    Or it might have been left for days in a running stream of clean water. Dry the cotton which is now nitrocellulose. Take extreme care to keep the temperature of the nitrocellulose below degrees Fahrenheit. Once dry, the nitrocellulose must be stored at a cool temperature and kept away from sunlight Low-grade low nitrogen content nitrocellulose, not suitable for guncotton, readily dissolves in a mix of alcohol and ether.

    High-grade high nitrogen content nitrocellulose dissolves best in acetone. If what you now have dissolves readily and completely in the alcohol- ether mix, then it isn't suitable for this process. At this point, you may process the nitrocellulose for powder by using acetone to dissolve it into a gelatinous blob.

    The addition of barium and potassium nitrate will increase the material that is burned, reducing fouling in the process. The slurry should be rolled into sheets and cut to the proper size and then redried. It is also possible to mold the material through a pasta extrusion device to create fibers that can be dried into powder. As with other powders, smaller particles are used for pistol ammunition and larger for rifles or shotguns. Working on Teflon surfaces simplifies matters. To control burning rate and reduce barrel erosion, modern powders have deterrent coatings applied to them.

    One common coating for nitrocellulose is dibutylphthalate. Graphite coatings also are generally found as a glazing on ball powders; this glazing makes up 1 percent of the weight of powder and appears to have a slight deterrent effect. The graphite also reduces the amount of static electricity generated when grains of powder flow through powder measures and the like. Diphenylamine used to be added to powders as a stabilizer and is ideal for use in homemade powders. Dinitrotoluene DNT is also used as a coating on powders. This chemical can reduce the initial burning rate and thereby reduce chamber pressures, making it ideal for many cartridges.

    The addition of potassium sulfate will often help reduce muzzle flash. Consequently, you shouldn't even try the following manufacturing techniques unless you are a trained lab technician and equipped with modern lab equipment. Modern double-based powder is made from nitroglycerine; do not attempt to manufacture smokeless powder unless you are in a position where the risks involved in not having ammunition makes the danger acceptable.

    Even then, extreme care must be taken; the desired results will not "happen" if you don't have access to a well-equipped workspace. This powder is created from nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine. For making nitroglycerine, you'll need glycerine as well as the nitrocellulose, sulfuric acid, and nitric acid. If you are equipped to create a modern smokeless powder, your first step is to create nitrocellulose as outlined above.

    That done, you'll continue as explained below. But remember that these procedures are extremely dangerous because sulfuric and nitric acids are used. Both are highly caustic and can be contained only in glass without creating dangerous reactions. They are hard to neutralize; a spill will call for a lot of water and a strong base to clean things up. Gloves, safety goggles, lab apron, and hooded ventilation systems are required for this work. The next steps will result in the creation of nitroglycerine, which is an extremely explosive material.

    Make only small amounts and do not shake the mixture or allow its temperature to rise above 86 degrees Fahrenheit or else an extremely large explosion will likely result. Further, the mixture creates its own heat, so simply keeping it in an environment with below degrees Fahrenheit temperatures does not guarantee safety. Note on materials for making nitro: All materials used in bench-making nitro must be reagent grade and free of water.

    Traces of acid or impurities in the final product make it unstable and sensitive. Lab hygiene, care, and precision are very important. After making nitrocellulose as just described , the procedure for making smokeless powder is as follows: Mix parts of nitric acid with parts of sulfuric acid in a water bath so that the containers will remain below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. These acids create heat when agitated so take extreme care to maintain the mixture's temperature. Both the nitric and sulfuric must be close to percent. To concentrate the nitric, slowly boil water off until you get brown fumes of nitrogen dioxide.

    To concentrate the sulfuric, boil it until you get clouds of dense white fumes and the acid is a deep reddish brown. After the acids are mixed as described, let them cool. When the temperature of the acids has stabilized, very slowly add 38 parts of glycerine. If at all possible, allow the glycerine to trickle down the glass tube rather than dropping it down into the mixture which could cause a violent, explosive reaction. A flat bath works fine, and a good technique for adding the glycerine is to use a spray atomizer.

    Stirring the acids does not create heat — the creation of nitroglycerine is itself exothermic. Consequently, it is very important to closely monitor the temperature of the acid bath as you slowly add the glycerine; the faster you add glycerine, the faster the bath will heat. However, there is a point of no return, where, if you add glycerine too rapidly, the mixture will heat too fast and will explode. Very slowly stir the mixture with a glass rod for 10 seconds.

    Stirring can create heat, so make sure the temperature is kept below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, or else a violent explosion may result. Gently pour parts of water into the mixture very, very slowly. Carefully remove the nitroglycerine from the solution, taking extreme care to keep it below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and to not shake or drop it.

    Very gently wash the nitroglycerine several times with water and use sodium bicarbonate or lime to neutralize any acid in the nitroglycerine. Failure to neutralize or remove the acid will cause the powder to have a very short shelf life. Keep the temperature of the nitroglycerine very low. Nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine are now dissolved in a solvent and extruded or molded into the correct size to burn properly and create the correct pressure curve for the firearm used.

    One good mix is 58 parts nitroglycerine, 37 parts nitrocellulose, and 20 parts acetone. While wearing rubber gloves, gently knead the chemicals until they are well mixed. At this point, 5 parts petroleum jelly may be added — to reduce barrel erosion. If available, carbazole also known as diphenylene amide or diphenylamine can also he added to the powder mixture to help stabilize it.

    Extrude the mix through a sieve, screen, or pasta press so that it forms threads. The smaller the strands, the faster the powder will burn. Large-size threads are suitable for rifle ammunition, and smaller threads for pistols and shotguns. Extruding thin threads of this is pretty hard to do without making some equipment, though some people have had good results using a garlic press. Early cordite was made in sheets and then cut into squares: To slow the powder's burning rate further, it was rolled in graphite.

    Allow the threads to dry at a very low heat and then break then into very short lengths. To control burning rate and reduce barrel erosion, modern powders have deterrent coatings added to them. One common deterrent used with smokeless powder is Centralite I diethyldiphenylurea. Graphite coatings also are commonly found; these reduce the amount of static electricity generated when grains of powder flow through various metering machinery and therefore aren't essential to powder manufacture.

    Best of all, they slow the burning rate for added barrel life. Once made, smokeless powder is relatively safe to handle but will be sensitive to heat and light. Powder should be kept in sealed metal containers and stored at cool temperatures. Chapter 3 Top Brass Unless you're using muzzle-loading firearms which is an option you might consider , you'll need brass cartridges to reload ammunition.

    If you're firing a bolt-action gun or a revolver, this isn't much of a problem because it's easy to keep the empties. And, by exercising care, this brass can be reloaded up to 10 or more times, provided you avoid maximum loads, trim the cartridge to length, and thin down the neck of the case if required.

    With selective-fire and semiautomatic weapons, a good brass catcher makes sense, though it can increase jamming and therefore isn't always suitable for combat but, arguably, its suitability increases as your reloadable brass decreases. If you're in an area where soldiers, rebels, or criminals are active, you might also be able to scrounge ammunition left behind after gun battles.

    However, you need to be cautious because these areas may be under surveillance as one side tries to ambush the other. And you might also be removing evidence if the police are going to investigate such a shoot-out. So be wary before scampering in to collect brass. When scrounging empties, you need to remember that others may be reloading rounds with such materials as with mercury fulminate, making the rounds dangerous to reload. You should also avoid aluminum-cased empties for the same reason. Steel-cased pistol ammo can be reloaded, but it's hard on your reloading equipment.

    Don't try to reload it. If you're forced to reload cartridges with black powder, brown powder, or any of the hygroscopic powders mentioned above, then you should take pains to wash the cartridges as soon as possible. This will not only clear out the fouling in them, but will also prevent corrosion that will eventually ruin the brass if it is left dirty.

    Hot, soapy water and a small brush are the best bets to get the residue off cartridges. Some reloaders report good results after placing cartridges in a tray and running them through a dishwasher. The only caution here is that the high heat many dishwashers use during their drying cycle could cause the brass head to lose its proper tempering.

    Therefore, caution should be exercised with any approach that exposes the cartridge to extreme heat. Even after being carefully cleaned, brass used with black powder will turn very dark because the sulfur in the powder discolors the metal. This black coloration is merely cosmetic, and the cartridges should remain strong if they don't become corroded and haven't been used with mercuric primers. A common trick on the battlefield is to booby-trap gear, and even bodies, so an enemy will be injured when inspecting them.

    This may become a common tactic if law and order really break down in our country. In such a situation, a case of ammunition or other goodies where they don't seem to belong should be left alone or you're likely to blow off an arm — if you're lucky. About the only way to ensure that loaded rounds you find in the field are safe is to actually strip them from a recently captured or killed criminal, soldier, or enemy.

    If you don't see the guy up and running before he's aced, don't be tempted to remove ammunition or weapons from his body, because they might be booby-trapped. Cartridges should be carefully cleaned to keep grit out of your reloading dies. Failure to do this will create small scratches on the die and greatly shorten its life, as well as increase the likelihood of stuck cases.

    The best way to clean cartridges is with a vibrating cleaner. But if you don't have one of these, you can often improvise a "tumbler" with a small motor.

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    I've seen improvised tumblers that use a waterwheel powered by a stream, as well as a container of brass connected to a windmill. Whatever method of tumbling brass you employ, the shells should be placed in some sort of medium that will absorb the dirt and grit. Traditionally, walnut shells and hulls have been used for this; some reloaders also report good results with corncob grindings.

    It's also possible to chuck a cartridge into a drill press or lathe and clean it with a piece of steel wool. This gives the brass a like-new finish but is very time consuming you might want to consider relegating this job to an assistant if you have one. You can also clean cartridges with some common cleansers. Diaper Wipes, sold in grocery stores or drug-stores, work well for this task, as does rubbing alcohol or even soapy water. Just be sure the brass is dry before attempting to reload it.

    Avoid chemicals formulated for cleaning brass; these concoctions contain an agent that makes brass brittle — a potential disaster when it happens to a cartridge case. Reload brass with lighter loads rather than maximum amounts of powder to prolong the life of the cartridge. In addition to their being kinder to the bolt of the firearm, minimum loads will give you a lot more reloads with each brass cartridge since it will stretch less.

    If you have a semi-auto or automatic firearm, creating minimum loads can be tricky; but even with these guns you can [9. Careful cleaning of the barrel, gas piston, and bolt is necessary when firing such a gun with corrosive ammunition. When brass has been fired and reshaped in the dies a number of times, it becomes somewhat brittle and may crack or split when fired.

    To get the brass flexible again, it's possible to anneal the brass neck to extend the life of the case. The catch is, that annealing must be done carefully, and the head of the case cannot be softened or it will become dangerous. To anneal just the neck, you should first clean the cases so you can gauge the temperature by color change. Once this has been accomplished, you should darken the light in the work area and place the cartridges in a pan of water with the water up to each case's shoulder. Each cartridge neck is then heated with a blow torch or similar device until the brass starts to darken.

    The case should not turn cherry red; continue to beat the neck just three seconds or so after the case becomes dark. When this time has elapsed, knock the cartridge over so that the mouth is cooled by the watery this gives it the proper hardness for reloading. Take your time heating each case and try to spend the same amount of time on each one so that they'll all have similar softness. The beauty of this system is that the water keeps the case's head from becoming too soft. Again, you should be sure the cases are dry before reloading any ammunition.

    If you have a large number of cases to anneal and have a lead-melting pot with a control to regulate the temperature of the metal, there's a better way to anneal the brass. Turn the temperature control on the pot to give a reading between degrees and degrees Fahrenheit and allow the lead in the pot to melt. Give each brass case a light coat of oil and then — while holding the head in your bare fingers — dip the neck of each cartridge into the lead up to the shoulder area. When the brass starts to feel warm, toss the cartridge into a container filled with water.

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    Avoid high-tin lead alloys such as linotype or Ludlow metals, wheel weights, or solder because they are more apt to solder to the brass cases. Once your cases have been annealed and cooled, wash them with detergent to get the oil off the cases and then set them aside to dry. Generally, you'll be able to anneal cartridges about two times before you start running into problems. These will give you a large number of reloads if you are careful to use light loads in them. Don't try to dry cartridges in an oven; the temperature settings on ovens aren't overly accurate and permit the temperatures to rise high enough to ruin the cartridge's head strength — a situation that can occur at temperatures as low as degrees Fahrenheit.

    After brass has been reloaded a maximum number of times, it can usually be safely fired as squib loads practice loads firing very low-velocity projectiles. With care, brass can be reloaded an amazing number of times. The only time this isn't possible is with mercuric primers since they will cause brass to become brittle with time after being fired. If you're really desperate for ammunition, it's possible to alter some ammunition to work in other chamberings. With a lot of work, you can even whittle a. If a little careful bashing is done on a semi-auto cartridge's rim, it is possible to peen the metal enough to create a rim.

    This makes it possible to cut and peen the. It's important to remember with any modification of rifle ammunition into pistol brass that it is a very crude adaptation at best. Further, the thicker brass of the cases requires that they not be loaded anywhere near the maximum capacity for standard cases: Consequently, you should employ such brass to low powder specifications, especially the first time it is used so that the firing will "fire-form" the brass to the chamber's dimensions. To make the rim of the altered case fit the extractor of the firearm, it may be necessary to place the brass in a lathe or drill and file it into shape being careful not to weaken the case too much.

    An appropriate-sized E-clip snapped into the extractor groove of a rimless case might make a suitable rim. Cutting the brass down to a shorter length is easily accomplished with a plumber's tubing cutter; a file and a brass trimmer will finish the work. When adapting the brass to a slightly larger size, it may also be necessary to make an expanding rod as will be the case when going from. Lubricate the cartridge carefully and send it into a resizing die on a press very slowly so as to give the brass time to expand without splitting.

    None of the pistol brass created from larger cartridges will be overly reliable f especially in semi-auto actions , nor will it be percent safe, so you should try these procedures only ill an emergency. Always use the proper brass whenever possible. A few substitutions can also be made if cartridges in some chamberings are in short supply.

    The oldest standby is a. With some guns, it is also possible to place a. However, if forced to choose between ruining the gun and possibly injuring yourself or dying at the hands of a hoodlum, you might opt to go out in a blaze of glory — and this just might be one way of doing that.

    Of course if you're reloading, you can cut. This will give you a round that will be both safe and effective in the. You could also reload. This is potentially dangerous because the ammunition will fit in guns not capable of withstanding such pressures. So think long and hard before embarking on such a project.

    It should be noted that the. So it is best to back off on charges if you're uncertain how tough the gun is that the round will be fired in. Although it is fairly rare, the. And these older cartridges might escape the notice of those who would ban more common rounds since they are old and not very efficient ballistically. For those with a. The round probably won't cycle a semi-auto action, so be prepared to do this manually.

    In addition to reloading cartridges, it is also possible to pull the bullet, remove the powder, retrim the case length, replace only some of the powder, and then reseat the bullet. This could be used to transform a. Just be careful to get the powder reduced properly or you'll be building a bomb rather than a cartridge. Rimfire guns have the best interchangeability. About the only problem these substitutions will create is a lack of cycling in semi-auto guns.

    Extended shooting of shorter rounds in a. None of these cartridges can be safely fired in a. If you're willing to go to a lot of work, it is possible to wrap these cartridges in tape or paper to "jam fit" them into a chamber of a gun, turning it into a one-shot firearm until you can send a cleaning rod down the barrel to poke out the empty--a last-ditch situation at best. There are some really dangerous substitutions that can be made from one type of chambering to the next, but these will often result in a ruptured case and escaped gas.

    These should be tried only if you will get killed without firing the round in the weapon. Firing a round in a different chambering is very dangerous at best. Although this could save your life if you need to fire the rifle in a combat situation, you should weigh the risks carefully before shooting. One such example is the.

    But this isn't overly safe to fire since the bullet diameter will create excessive pressure. Other such combinations are the. The brass in either of these make-do situations will be ruined and likely jam in the chamber to boot. Most likely, it will send a stream of high-pressure gas into the action of the rifle — and your face. You might take the risk hoping for one good shot if you find your back against a wall and not firing means death. Those who ' ve mixed. The key factor is whether or not the 9mm pistol's extractor will lock onto the rim of the.

    If the extractor claw does latch onto the rim during chambering, it will hold the cartridge in place for the firing pin to reach the primer, firing the round. The bullet will exit the gun with a good velocity, though it is likely there will be extraction problems or jamming in the process. Because of the longer length of the 9mm cartridge, it can't be fired in a. Those who use a 9mm Luger revolver like those offered by Ruger in its SP models might also make the. In this case, all five rounds will probably fire, though the chances of extraction problems are great.

    And, obviously, a steady diet of such cartridges in the gun is likely to create chamber erosion. Again, this is only a last-ditch resort. With shotguns, things are more limited when it comes to substitutions. Of course, accuracy suffers with bullets fired from the smooth bore of the shotgun because the bullet tends to tumble rather than spin perhaps a plus in terms of wounding potential.

    In the case of the magnum loads, it's wise to pull the bullet and reduce the powder charge to avoid damage to the gun and shooter. Of course, one could argue that really smart people would avoid these substitutions altogether unless there is no other choice. The gauge shotgun, like other rimmed cartridges, headspaces on the rim. This same feature could also be used to make more compact shells — if you want to go to all this work.

    Depending on the reloading mechanism on the particular gun, you should anticipate failures to feed if you shorten the case too much: If you have access to a drill press or a lathe, you can create metal sub-caliber devices from brass or aluminum that will accommodate a pistol cartridge, centering it in an adapter that has the outer dimensions of a shotgun shell. Of course, the pistol bullet will have a pretty low velocity when it leaves the shotgun since the barrel won't contain the gases behind the bullet. For this reason the "barrel" of the insert should be as long as is practical and exactly the same diameter as the bullet.

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    A gauge shell can also be made to fit in the 12 gauge by wrapping the smaller 16 gauge with tape or paper, this is not safe, however, and gauge shells are usually less common than 12 gauge, making this a doubtful proposition at best. Wrapping a gauge shell and jamming it into a gauge barrel's chamber might work, but it is also dicey. I've heard stories about people who claim to have fired. Though this would likely produce spectacular muzzle blasts, the velocity would have to be rather low, with more bark than bite, as the bullet and top of the brass cartridge rattle down the bore.

    Probably a better bet would be to pull the bullet from a. A serious word of caution: Don't try anything with the. Even then, you should realize that using this combination will most likely destroy your firearm and injure or kill you. Loading the cartridge with a 0. Obviously, you'd want a very soft-lead bullet if you had any choke on the shotgun barrel — the less the better with this or other slug loads.