DIY Rifle and Bullet Pin Jewelry




Introduction: DIY Rifle and Bullet Pin Jewelry

Learn how to make simple bullet pins from spent rifle cartridges. I will show how to make three simple desings by simply cutting ammo casing and using a little glue. Consider this as three base starter designs and let your creativity run wild with what you do with the base techniques.

Basic Techniques and Designs

  • Full Cartridge
  • Bullet Slice
  • Half Cartridge

While this Instructable focuses on the reuse of rifle cartridges, the same techniques can be used with pistol rounds as well.

This will be the last of my ammunition jewelry Instructables for now. Time to move on to some other stuff. I have had my mind on some woodworking and light projects.

If you have not already seen them be sure to check out my shotgun shell jewelry Instructables.

Enjoy the Instructable and I hope you find good use for it. If it has value to you Vote!

Step 1: WARNING With Ammunition

When working with ANY ammunition you need to be extra cautious. Even with what you believe to be dead or spent cartridges.

Note the dimple in the primer of the head of the bullet.

Just because a bullet shell is empty does not mean it is dead. There is still a chance that you have a live primer. The primer is what ignites the gunpowder of the bullet after it has been struck with the firing pin of the gun. Check to be sure that there is a dimple in the primer. This shows that it has been struck with a the firing pin. Chances are it is a completely dead round. But, and I emphasize BUT!!! There is still a chance that the primer did not fire after being hit with firing pin. This may be the case if there is a dimple, but not in the center of the primer. So, work on the side of caution when working with ALL ammunition.

I have not come across what I believe is a live primer, but I have fired weapons when the shot did not fire. I would usually try it in another gun before safely discarding.

Step 2: Supplies

You only need a few supplies to get you started in making bullet pins. Again, these are some basic starter supplies. How you add to the design is up to you.

  • Spent pistol or rifle cartridges (check the primers for dimples)
  • Jewelry pins
  • E6000 Jewelers Glue

Step 3: Tools

As mentioned in my other jewelry tutorials, my tool set is limited when it comes to jewelry making. What I used for this project follows.

  • Protective eyewear
  • Dremel rotary tool
    • Rotary tool cutting wheel
    • Rotary tool polishing compound and wheel
    • Rotary tool grinding wheel.
  • Masking tape
  • Vise
  • Couple sets of mini pliers
  • Small fine file

Step 4: Simplest Bullet Pin Ever- Full Cartridge

You just don't get any easier than this. Any beginner can have a try and be happy with their project. You might want to figure out a way to fill the open end of the cartridge with some other items to give this Bling!

  • Polish your cartridge to give it a shine and remove patina.
  • Use two sets of pliers to give the jewelry pin a slight concave bend to form fit around the curve of the bullet side.
  • Add a little E6000 glue to the bullet
  • Set the pin onto the glue.
  • Let dry for 24 hours.
  • DONE!

I told you this one was going to be easy!

The last image shows the difference between an unpolished and polished cartridge. If you are one of natural patina, then don't bother polishing.

Step 5: Bullet Head Slice Pin

For this next technique we will slice the head off the bullet for another pin.

  1. Place your cartridge into a vice. No need to protect the cartridge with masking tape as we will be only want the head of the bullet cartridge.
  2. Use your favorite rotary tool and cutting wheel to slice the head away from the cartridge.
  3. While it might be tempting to cut in that groove, cut just above the groove. This will leave a bit of dimension to your pin.
  4. HOT STUFF! Do not immediately touch the cartridge or the slice when done cutting. It will be hot. Relocate with a pair of pliers to a safe place to cool.

Step 6: Glue Pins to Cartridges

  1. Apply just a dab of your E6000 glue to the cartridge and bullet slice.
  2. Set the pins into place.
  3. Forget the pins for 24 hours

Set It and Forget It!

After 24 hours give the pins a nice polishing.

Done with these. Let's move on to the more challenging of the three techniques and designs.

Step 7: Full Length Half Cartridge Pin

With this technique we will get two pins from one cartridge! How is that for efficient?

These look great on the visor or side of a favorite baseball or hunting hat!

Basically we are going to cut the cartridge length wise and half the shell. Imagine opening a clam or an oyster so that we have two symmetrical halves.

The trick to this technique is being able to cut a straight line with your rotatory tool and cutting wheel. My first attempt was a mess as I thought I could freehand the cut with no guide. Then I had the idea to use the protective masking tape as a straight edge guide. What a great IDEA!

  1. Use masking tape to protect the cartridge from the teeth of the vise AND create a straight line guide
  2. Start your cut at the open end of the cartridge. This is the thinnest and weakest part of the cartridge.
  3. Follow the line of the tape with a STEADY and SLOW hand!
  4. Continue all the way to the head (where the primer is) and score the head.

At the head of the cartridge where the primer is the metal is about an 1/8 inch thick. Here is where you need to really be careful and patient.

Now remove the cartridge from the vise and repeat the steps above being certain that you start with a nice straight tape line.

Step 8: De-Burr the Halves

After you have separated the two halves, clean up the cutting burrs with a grinding wheel or small file. Be sure to dull the edges of the halves as well as they can be razor sharp after a cut.

Metal splinters are very painful and hard to get out of your finger.

The images show a before and after of De-Burring. Is De-burring really a word?

Step 9: Polish?

Totally up to you to polish or not. My recommendation?

Polish them! They sure do look purdy don't they?

Step 10: Glue Pins Inside Cartridge

As noted in a previous step of this Instructable, we need to shape the jewelry pin to fit the cartridge. This time we will bend opposite so that the pin fits inside the cartridge.

Apply some glue to the inside of the cartridge and set the pin.

Set It and Forget It, for 24 hours.

Step 11: 3 Styles of Rifle Cartridge Pins

There you have it! Three styles of pins for making rifle cartridge jewelry. With a little more imagination and creativity you can Bling these up a bit more I am sure. For the purist though... I prefer just a plain bullet. Great for adding to hats and jackets.

If you use any of these techniques please share your work. Would love to see what others can do with this base set up steps.

Keep Making and Vote if you wish.


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    Wizard of Everything


    Smaller bullets would be better pins than large ones.

    but i think i'd rather make flashlights with bullets! Just a suggestion.


    5 years ago

    Reading your (great) instructable, it just came into my mind: Two bullet heads would make great and impressive cufflinks. Perhaps shotgun shells will be to big, but 9mm should be fine. I just have no plan (yet), how to connect them, perhaps soldering would be an idea.


    Reply 5 years ago

    Also, assuming you have a Pro membership, check out the Jewelry class. You might pick up some tips there. I think that is where I learned of the E6000 glue or maybe it was the Glue class?


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thanks for the kind words. Please vote.

    I used solder and glue for shotgun shells and even a nut and bolt fastener. With the right tools and skill set, solder might be the best solution. Check out this tutorial. Sometimes you need to just experiment and use what best works for you.