Introduction: Civil War Reenactment Cartridges for Black Powder Muskets

Every re-enactor of historic battles faces the unique need to fire their rifle or pistol using only the black powder, that is, having no projectiles of any kind. The idea is that a BANG and the smoke is experienced without shooting anyone. An actor may pour into the muzzle a measured amount of powder, find and place a primer, then fire.

Some actors are so advanced in their reenacting that they have made pre-measured powder cartridges in 3 or 4 inch tubes neatly folded over in a convenient pouch and another pouch with primers in a tin. The prices for historically accurate leather pouches make a new re-enactor go "ouch".

I have not quite invested that much yet, so I go with the pre-measured cartridge that also has a primer twisted in the paper. This way, I have powder and primer in an inexpensive cartridge that I can carry in my pockets. These cartridges are also large enough that those of us with finger stiffness can easily work them.

YOU WILL BE WORKING WITH BLACK POWDER, OR PROPELLENT AND EXPLOSIVE PRIMERS ! THESE BURN HOT AND FAST ! IF YOU HAVE NEVER WORKED WITH THESE - STOP NOW ! I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR INCOMPETENT, UNSAFE PEOPLE !

You will need the items shown above.

Paper, I use paper used for packing, newsprint works well

A Sharpie Barrel, or the barrel from another 1/2" diameter OD device that has a hollow inside

A rule, scissors and pen

Powder, here I show RS Pyrodex for rifles

Method of safely measuring powder, I show a brass grain measure

Primers, these may be rifle or pistol, I show a rifle primer

EXTRA: Thread or twine Bore seasoning patch

A little watered down wood glue or wheat glue. I use saliva to wet the paper and it glues itself.

Step 1: Cut the Paper to Size

Cut paper 10" x 5".

Then measure 4" on one long side and 4" on the opposite long side.

Draw a line and it should look like the picture.

Cut the paper along this line. This amount of paper is quite a bit more than necessary, but I have thick, short hands that are stiff early in the morning..

Step 2: Make the Cartridge Around the Pen Barrel

Roll the paper around the pen barrel form as shown. Start the roll at the 6" end.

Add a little thin white glue, wheat glue or saliva along the end. Allow to set for several minutes.

Pull - push the barrel form out to about 3/4 - 1" of the 5" side and twist the paper tight.

Crush the twist knot into the barrel of the form. You may wish to wet the knot with a little thin white glue, wheat glue or saliva. So you now have a paper tube, sealed at one end.

Step 3: Add the Measured Powder SAFETY !

YOU WILL BE WORKING WITH HIGHLY FLAMMABLE AND EXPLOSIVE MATERIALS !

BE SAFE ! NO FIRE OR SPARKS !

IF YOU HAVE NO EXPERIENCE WITH PROPELLANTS AND PRIMERS ~ STOP !

I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR UNSAFE PRACTICES.

Measure out your powder and pour it into the paper tube.

Tamp the paper tube with the twisted end downward to settle the charge into the tube.

Twist the paper tightly to seal off the charge. Do this very tightly. There is plenty of paper to do this.

This is now a charge.

Step 4: Add the Primer to the Charge

The twist over the powder needs to be tight. A good seal.

You may use a thread over the twist over the powder charge. This ensures a good seal.

Place the primer into the cartridge tube compartment sealed above the powder. Fold over or twist the primer into the paper.

The powder must never comes in contact with primer.

This is now a cartridge.

Option: The conditioner wipe may be tied to the outside of the cartridge with the thread.

Step 5: Saliva Vs White Thread Tied Cartridge

This is a thread sealed cartridge(on the right) and a saliva sealed cartridge(left).

The procedure for use:

Tear the paper below the primer and pour the measured powder down the muzzle of the musket.

Then the primer is in the paper - take out the primer and set it on the rifle nipple. Crimp to fit on the nipple.

Place the paper in your pocket,aim anywhere there is nothing living: human or otherwise and fire.

Option: The patch with the bore conditioner may be rammed down the barrel to allow for a quick "clearing" in the foray.

A thorough hot water cleaning/scrub of the firearm after the battle scene is needed. Then followed with a thorough protective lubrication of the weapon. Sitting around the campfire, this is always fun.

Happy reenacting!

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