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Old 07-20-2011, 11:41 PM
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Percussion questions

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Hi all,

Newbee questions:

1) When pressing a cap onto a nipple, isn't there a risk that the cap will go off? can that be harmfull to the finger?

2) During firing, there is a GREAT pressure in the barrel, and subsequently inside the nipple. Does that pressure push the hammer back, and/or eject the cap?

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Old 07-21-2011, 01:46 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 556
Welcome to the Forum

To answer your questions; number #1 yes there is some danger. A small device called a capper is often used to place percussion caps on the nipple. Answer to question #2, the hammer should stay down and the cap should remain in place. If the hammer comes back or the cap is ejected, the load may be too hot. Hope this helps. Take care...
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Old 07-21-2011, 04:07 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Alabama
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1: It takes the hammer striking the cap on the nipple to explode the priming mixture inside the cap. Normal finger pressure does not have enough force. I've been shooting muzzle loaders for over 30 years and still have all ten fingers.

2: One possibility is a hot load, as mentioned. Check the manufacturer's load recommendations. If your load is in the normal range, the likely problem is the nipple. Over time, a nipple will erode on the inside. This will allow excess gas back through the nipple, which will blow your hammer back. This is a very simple fix, replace your nipple with a new one.
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Old 07-21-2011, 08:12 AM
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I would GUESS there is little to no danger in putting the cap on the nipple. I base this on even a bad hammer strike will often times not ignite the cap. This means the chemical inside the cap needs a good sharp pressure spike... like a flint and steel to make it ignite. But I guess all things in a not so perfect world.. yes you might be able to slam a cap hard enough with a finger to ignite it.

As for re cocking the hammer.. this can be caused by a number of reasons. One a weak hammer spring. With age and abuse also, the hammer spring can weaken and this will allow the back pressure to cock the hammer again when fired. Another thing to check is the nipple. When they get worn, the edge where the cap fits gets damaged with age, and these little specks of damage will allow back pressure to slip past and cock the hammer.

Sometimes the kind of powder and the amount of powder you shoot will cause this to happen.

Another thing happened with some powders is blow back. This blow back will accumulate in the drum/bolster and this narrows the fire channel. As we all know.. narrow something and the pressure increases. So the back pressure increases from the main charge and this can cause it to half cock. The fix.. use a nipple pick and pick the throat of the nipple.

The reason some caps open or disintegrate all together is on the nose of the hammer, there is a V cut in them. This V allows the cap room to split with the back pressure. Sometimes the cap will just open. Other times it will blow the cap to pieces. All of this is normal by the way.
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Old 07-21-2011, 08:17 AM
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Listen to Cowpoke.
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.
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Old 07-22-2011, 02:07 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 19
Thanks for all the replies.

Just to make things clear - It's NOT that I have a problem with a self cocking hammer. It's that I plan on building a percussion pistol from scratch, and I"m now considering the issues of hammer geometry and weigth, spring power and the nipple configuration.

Naturaly, I could copy/buy existing parts. But I intend to have a completely modernized LOOK, with the classic mechanics.

BTW, when I say I make things from scratch, it goes as far as making the cap composition, and the charcoal for the black powder. It's a combination of preference and necessity.
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