A Lighter Out of a 12.7mm Shell Casing

Introduction: A Lighter Out of a 12.7mm Shell Casing

About: A man with a peaceful soul

Hi, I am glad to introduce you to my work.

This compact object will allow you to start a fire in the depths of the wild and to light your way through the darkness. IMPORTANT! I've bought this shell casing at a flea market. I've never worked with live ammunition because it could cost me my life.


If you're using a shell casing with an unpunctured primer pour WD-40 into the shell for at least 5-6 seconds, and then let it stand for 48 hours for the primer compound to dissolve. The final step will be washing it out with detergent and water, before beginning work.

Step 1: Stuff You Will Need

Tools i used:

  • A soldering iron (i used one with a 65 wattage and with a thick tip)
  • A grip
  • A drilling machine
  • A threading tool
  • A hacksaw for metal
  • Some drills for metal (2mm, 4mm and 10mm)

Materials you need:

  • Supplies for the soldering: solder, colophony and soldering acid
  • Sand paper
  • A piece of wire (to tie the parts of the lighter together while soldering)
  • A cheap lighter (we wiil need to take it apart to get the silicon, wheel and spring), you can also buy some additional Zippo silicons
  • A valve for the faucet
  • Bolt M4.0*8 (for tensioning the spring)
  • An expended 12.7mm shell casing without gunpowder and with a discharged primer
  • A stub of the leg of the table (to close the bottom part of the cartridge)
  • Some cotton (to fill the cartridge)
  • A piece of a rope (will serve as a wick)
  • A small piece of steel cable (to push through wick inside of the cartridge)
  • Hepoxilin (to fill the gaps)
  • A steel tube (diameter: 13mm, lehgth: 22mm) + brass tube (length: 19mm) + suitable steel tube for the top hole
  • Fuel for petrol lighters
  • Ship's varnish (optional)
  • To tie a case i used 6 pieces of paracord (5 metres each)

Step 2: Sanding, Soldering, Drilling and Filling

  • Sand your expended shell casing
  • I've decided to paint it with varnish to save the shine (not necessary)
  • Disassemble the valve
  • Secure the valve in the grip and cut off the top part
  • Drill 2mm holes on the both sides of the left top part of the valve
  • Drill 2mm hole for the spring and silicon
  • Using the hacksaw cut off the opposite sides of the valve and assemble the wheel between two parts
  • Seal drilled holes on the parts of the valve
  • Drill 10mm hole on the bottom of the expended shell casing and make threaded connection
  • Make threaded connection on the stub (it must fit the bottom hole of the cartridge)
  • Drill 4mm hole in the steel tube and thread it
  • Solder the valve to the surface of the expended shell casing, put the spring inside of the valve, tighten the spring with a bolt
  • Put the metal tube inside of the top hole and fill the gaps with hepoxilin, attempt to put the wick inside (without filling your cartridge with cotton)
  • Insert piece of brass into another steel tube, sand them together
  • I made notches to prevent the plug from sliding and threaded it from the inside
  • Get the pieces from the steel cable and tie them together, connect the steel wire to the wick
  • Stick out the end of the steel cable and start filling your lighter with cotton
  • Pull the cable out of the bottom hole
  • Close the plug and fill up the lighter with fuel

Step 3: Tying a Case Out of Paracord

  • We will need 6 pieces of paracord, one piece = 5 metres
  • Find the centre of every rope and mark it with a needle
  • The beginning is the same as for the Crown Sinnet Knot, the only difference is that we have 6 cords instead of 4
  • When we form a knot, turn it over and make a loop
  • Put the next cord inside of the loop and tighten it, keep repeating to form a loop and put a cord into it (follow the order of cords and everything will be just fine)
  • When you reach the end of the main weaving, cut and solder the ends, leave 4 cords to make a belt mount
  • Follow the sequence of illustrations to tie the mount
  • Cut the ends and tuck them in

Step 4:

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    1 year ago

    For safety's sake, I should point out that attempting this with a live 12.7mm / .50 BMG cartridge will, with near certainty, result in death or grievous injury. I expect the intent is not to use a cartridge, but an expended shell casing, with (a) no gun powder and (b) a discharged primer.


    Reply 1 year ago

    That's definitely a point I didn't mention, thank you for adding it! I've changed the description in order to clear it out.


    Reply 1 year ago

    It's easy enough to tell whether a cartridge has has powder: If there is a bullet in it, it does and if there is no bullet, then any powder will pour out.

    Even without powder and a bullet, a case alone may have a live primer that itself is quite dangerous. This said, most people don't know what a primer even is, much less what a discharged primer looks like. You should include photos of the base of a cartridge illustrating the primer and how to tell whether it has been fired.

    It's even less well known that WD-40 will dissolve primer compound and render it somewhat inert. So, as a safety step, you also should include an express instruction to spray WD-40 into the shell for a full 5-6 seconds and let it stand for 24-48 hours before washing out with detergent and water, before beginning work.

    You also should remove all use of the word "cartridge," including in the title, because the term means a live round of ammunition.

    Further, you should begin the article with an urgent and stern warning, perhaps IN ALL CAPS, not to alter or manipulate a live round (one with a bullet in it).

    Your photos also display the case with a bullet in it, which is inexplicable if this is intended to be done with the case alone, and suggests that you did work with a live round. You should go to lengths to explain whether that is a bullet, where it came from, warn people not to try pulling a bullet from a live cartridge (or sawing or drilling into one), and if you fabricated a fake bullet to clarify that it is, indeed, fake.

    Sorry to come across as a killjoy, but live military ordnance does find its way off battlefields and gunnery ranges. To be clear, this round will literally vaporize someone's head into a cloud of red mist at 1000m. You can't be too careful.


    Reply 1 year ago

    1. I've bought this shell casing at a flea market and would never use a life round because it's illegal (I didn't say that in advance, so I agree, that's my fault);
    2. Didn't know about this WD-40 tip, thank you;
    3. It's pretty clear that I didn't have an actual bullet to act as a plug - I made it out of brass and steel;
    4. I appreciate your inflexibility towards safety questions, and I agree that it better be safe than sorry.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you, i appreciate it !