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Step #1- If you are using fired casings, size and de-prime the casings as you would if you were going to reload them. If you don’t reload shame on you but de-priming the brass can be accomplished with a 1/16” pin punch, a hammer, and a block of wood with a ¼” hole drilled in it.
First, align the case to be de-primed squarely on the block of wood with the base of the case against the wood and the primer located over the hole.
Next, insert the pin-punch into the mouth of the case putting the pin through the flash-hole.
Then, remove the spent primer by tapping on the punch with the hammer; this shouldn’t take much force.
Step#2- Fill the primer pocket with a small dab of caulk; smooth the caulk with your finger so it is preferably flush with the base of the case; slightly mounded is Okay. Allow the caulk to thoroughly dry with the case oriented mouth down; this usually takes about 48 hours for the caulk to fully cure. Done.
How to make your own snap-caps
By Tim Siewert
Practice, practice, and practice some more! Practice makes perfect. These sayings and more are very applicable to the use of guns regardless of the application; among other things. Yet, to effectively practice and maintain a degree of proficiency with firearms, one must expend significant quantities of ammunition. This does become quite costly. But be of good cheer, like I am fond of saying, “there are no problems; only undiscovered solutions.”
The solution to this dilemma is referred to by Marines as “dry firing”; also referred to as “dry practice” by others. Dry firing is practicing, going through all the motions of shooting, with no ammunition in your gun. Whenever handling firearms, all four safety rules should be strictly adhered to (see “Defensive Handgun 101” part #1).
But, like many things in life, there is a caveat. Repeatedly dry-firing any weapon on an empty chamber is not advisable. The number one casualty of this practice is broken firing pins. To mitigate this eventual possibility, all one needs to do is use what are referred to as “snap-caps” instead of live ammunition. Snap-caps are made of plastic; are the exact same size as live ammunition; and have a spring-loaded, hard-plastic button where the primer would be. This button is designed to absorb the blow from the firing-pin strike which eliminates the over-travel of the firing pin; this over-travel of the firing pin is the cause of broken firing pins due to repeated dry firing. Use of snap-caps during dry firing also eliminates another condition which may occur; excessive enlargement of the firing pin hole in the bolt face.
Snap-caps aren’t very expensive but they aren’t free either; about ten dollars for a pair. Unless you are practicing with a revolver, a pair is sufficient. Unfortunately, snap-caps are only available in the most common of calibers. If you own a gun in a caliber other than one of these, and you want to dry-fire practice with that particular gun, you are back to the original dilemma. Once again, there is a solution; make your own snap-caps. This solution is also for those who are really cheap; like me.
One only needs a few things to make your own snap-caps in any caliber imaginable. First, you need some empty brass casings; fired will do but you can also use new. Next, you need some caulk; rubber butyl or 100% silicon works the best because of their greater elasticity and adhesive properties. If you don’t plan on making a great quantity of snap-caps or using a lot of caulk period, very small tubes are available; this will decrease the cost of your home-made snap-caps. Possibly some of your friends may want some as well.
If you are using fired cases and you don’t reload, sizing is not mandatory. Sizing the cases for this only aids extraction of your homemade snap-cap. Extraction of your home-made snap-caps may be difficult if the brass you are using was not fired in the gun you will be using the snap-caps in. Whether you reload or not, I do recommend using clean cases for your snap-caps. Dirt and powder fouling on the outside of the cases will score the chamber of your firearm.
If you do reload and want to go all-out, seat a bullet in the case as well; this is called a “dummy” round. Again, this is not necessary but if you plan on using these to practice functioning out of a magazine, they will chamber much easier.
So, there you have it, your own home-made practice snap-caps. Practice on Garth!
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