How volatile are percussion caps?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder & Musket' started by Carbine, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. Carbine

    Carbine New Member

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    The other day I dropped some #11 percussion caps on the concrete while fumbling with the stupid tin lid that would not come loose very easy.

    Nothing happened, but the thought crossed my mind about having a lot of these caps stored together and the jostling around that sometimes occurs during transport.

    Anybody ever have anything bad happen with caps?
     
  2. rickrem700

    rickrem700 New Member

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    caps

    You have to smack one pretty good to get it to fire, I doubt you could through a whole tin on the concrete as hard as you could and get them to go off, I would be more concerned about static electricity, than impact, and I really don't know if that would do it, BUT just like an unloaded gun treat it as it is, and alway be carefull x10.
     

  3. Carbine

    Carbine New Member

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    Thanks for the reply.

    I guess they should be fairly safe because they truck them all over the world in those little tins. Maybe the tin containers are to provide some protection if one were to pop somehow.
     
  4. BlueXJ

    BlueXJ New Member

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    I use the 209 primers for shotguns and I have never heard of a disasterous situation with one of those. I have smashed one on purpose with a hammer and they don't make much more of a bang than a cap pistol did when I was a child. So I think you have minimal worries there.
     
  5. deerhuntguy

    deerhuntguy New Member

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    I would not want to step on them while bare-foot, might cause a couple round cuts or three :eek: :D
     
  6. RL357Mag

    RL357Mag New Member

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    Some are tougher than others. Remingtons are thicker walled than CCI for example - I generally pinch them to get them to stay on the nipple, and the Rems are hard to pinch. In either case I don't think they are prone to firing without being hit with significant force.
     
  7. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, there is a reason they are not sold in the 5 gal bucket size- by limiting the quantity, they limit the size of a bang if something DOES go wrong. Without being on a nipple, it would take a crushing of the tin to make one pop. Hence the strength of the tin. Beleive it or not, all this stuff- including blasting caps- gets tested for "mass detonation" to be certified as shippable. Have seen some videos from a friend that used to do that testing of the stuff that failed the test (Whoops!) This is also why caps may not be mailed, but must be shipped by UPS GROUND. More than 66 lbs in one shipment, it becomes HAZMAT.
     
  8. marysdad

    marysdad New Member

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    You raise a good question. Primers are always specially-packaged, to keep them separated while in storage and transit. Percussion caps are usually bulk-packaged in 100's, something that has long been a no-no for primers. Hatcher wrote of an incident where an ammunition-plant worker was killed when the quart-sized container of rifle primers he was carrying detonated. The worker was, apparently, swishing the primers around in the metal container, because he liked the sound it produced. This incident provided the rationale for the primer packaging seen today. I don't know why percussion caps are packaged differently.
     
  9. h8dirt

    h8dirt New Member

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    Jostling around is OK. They've been safely jostled around for over a hundred years. Don't store or transport them in close proximity with powder though -- better safe than sorry.
     
  10. Slickrick214

    Slickrick214 New Member

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    I have been doing Civil War re-enacting for about three or four years now and I've done everything to caps. So far nothing bad has ever happened to me. For the most part percussion caps are pretty stable. You have to hit them pretty hard to make them go off. Just dropping a cap or shaking them up isn't going to cause them to explode. I've used different brands but the kind I use the most is RWS Dynamite Nobel.
     
  11. fystan

    fystan New Member

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    I would not want to step on them while bare-foot, might cause a couple round cuts or three
     
  12. Slickrick214

    Slickrick214 New Member

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    Maybe but it would probably just be really painful, like stepping on a rock. You would probably lift your foot in pain before the cap could cut your foot. The wings would be more likely to cut you then the main body itself.
     
  13. Johnny45

    Johnny45 New Member

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    Let's say that the guys in the Civil War never seemed to have much problem running around with pouches of caps hanging off their belts...if all that jostling and bouncing wouldn't do it, then I doubt much will.
    As far as I know, it takes more than simple impact to ignite a properly-made cap. It takes an actual impact and pressure (crushing) to ignite the compound. That's why it's important to have an "anvil" for the hammer to crush it against. You could toss a cap in the air and swing a bat at it, and I doubt it'd go off...the thing just isn't heavy enough. Even a cap not set all the way onto the nipple won't go off reliably, because it's "cushioned" by the extra travel. It needs to have all the force suddenly applied over a fraction of a second to go off.
    Of course, it's good to treat them with care, as they ARE potentially dangerous as any impact-sensitive substance is, but I wouldn't worry to much about it. It's not nitroglycerin.