Why Are Percussion Caps Out of Stock?


Percussion caps are small copper cylinders containing an impact-sensitive detonator such as mercury fulminate that can be used with black powder firearms to ignite their charges.

Contrary to flintlock systems that require separate ignition sources for each shot, the percussion cap system can fire multiple photos with just one blow from its ignition source, making it a more reliable ignition device.

The Ammunition Shortage

Recent ammo shortages have resulted in higher prices and limited availability due to several factors, including increased consumer demand, supply chain disruption, and import restrictions on raw materials.

Ammo manufacturers are working day and night to meet demand, yet their capacity cannot keep pace. People fearful of potential new gun laws or political unrest are driving people to stockpile guns and ammo for protection.

This has led to panic buying and hoarding, exacerbating the situation further. Many retailers are now rationing ammo and reloading components so only specific customers can purchase at one time; although this can be frustrating for customers, it ensures maximum access for as many people as possible.

Percussion caps are one of the more challenging ammo types to source and stock since they’re used primarily for muzzleloaders and require specific black powder in order to work. CCI percussion caps tend to be reliable on the market but may sometimes become unavailable due to various factors.

CCI’s primary challenge has been meeting an unprecedented surge in modern centerfire ammunition demand, draining away their production capacity. Producing one cap takes over an hour with specific tooling and materials needed, costing money in terms of downtime. As a result, production cannot keep pace and cannot produce as many percussion caps each day.

Muzzleloading accounts for only a portion of CCI’s overall business, yet the company strives to produce enough percussion caps to meet hunters’ demands during summer and fall hunting seasons – but such demand can often fluctuate unexpectedly during times of high stress or uncertainty.

Another factor is ongoing tensions in the Middle East and worldwide conflicts, which have driven military ammunition demand up, pushing up prices of raw materials and ammunition and placing strain on supply chains. Vista Outdoor’s decision to sell its ammunition business has only compounded these difficulties and concerns over future ammo prices, which have surfaced as well.

The Percussion Cap Shortage

Percussion caps are small metal cups containing small quantities of explosives used to ignite powder charges in cap-lock muzzleloaders or revolvers. Being short on these explosives has caused considerable concern among shooters of black powder weapons; their shortage has become particularly annoying this year.

Percussion caps don’t make themselves; CCI must first shut down its production line, change out tooling, and order materials before starting production on any hat. This delay costs the company dearly when dealing with the demand for modern centerfire cartridges.

CCI ran out of percussion caps this spring and couldn’t quickly replenish their supply, leading to shortages that had become all too familiar in previous years. Unfortunately, this year was particularly evident.

Traditional muzzleloader shooters have recently discovered that there are very few percussion caps left for sale, and those available are being offered at unreasonably high prices.

There is another solution. While making your percussion caps takes more effort and time than purchasing readymade ones, doing it can actually save money over time – particularly during an ammunition shortage situation.

Start by purchasing a percussion cap maker, such as this one, from a supplier like this one. It comes complete with a machined steel die and punch that you can use by hand on flat surfaces or with the assistance of either wood or synthetic mallets. Furthermore, aluminum cans should also be provided so they can be cut into strips before being thoroughly wiped clean of all remaining liquid.

Once you have both your percussion cap maker and aluminum cans in hand, the next step will be priming them. There are various methods for doing this, but one of the most straightforward solutions may be purchasing a Prim-All kit from your manufacturer that comes equipped with individual inert chemical components as well as measuring scoops necessary to prime roughly 2,000 caps at once.

The Primer Shortage

A percussion cap also referred to as a fulminant or mercuric fulminate, is the explosive charge within a reloading primer that ignites the gunpowder in cartridges so when the firing pin strikes, it can propel bullets to their target distances.

Primers are created using a cup constructed from either copper or brass alloy, equipped with a brass anvil. When hammered together, this makes the primer pocket where an impact-sensitive lead styphnate igniter sits. Finally, all this is secured within a steel stirrup, which prevents it from falling out when the firing pin hits it.

Muzzleloaders require consistent ignition every time, which is why CCI percussion caps have such a good reputation in this arena. CCI has become the go-to choice due to its superior reliability. Unfortunately, due to a limited supply in the United States from only four companies producing significant primer quantities – they prioritize production for military contracts, law enforcement work, and retail sales over civilian reloading markets and competition shooting competition shooters who also need primers.

Many have lost income during this pandemic, and reloading can be done from home and on a budget. Making your percussion caps can save money and become part of muzzleloader culture and tradition.

There are multiple factors contributing to the ammunition and firearms shortage. Consumer demand always plays a role; its fluctuations create unpredictable spikes in purchasing that may be spurred on by things like news articles that portray legislation as potentially harming shooting sports or panic buys occurring when something closes down suddenly.

Hoarders also play a significant role in contributing to ongoing shortages, impacting availability for all consumers – even those not looking to profit from this crisis. Therefore, any opportunity that provides aid (lending equipment, supplies, or knowledge, for example) must be seized upon immediately.

The Black Powder Shortage

As the popularity of reloading, muzzleloading, and historical reenactments rises, demand for genuine black powder also increases. While many alternative brands on the market may look similar, many muzzleloaders prefer using natural powder for various reasons.

Genuine black powder does not rust as its cheaper substitutes do and is also much more reliable; when loaded and fired properly, it will fire every time. This reliability is especially evident with regard to the percussion cap; when not sized appropriately, it could split open, leading to misfires or, worse yet, failing to eject the priming compound and, therefore, misfiring altogether. Lastly, genuine black powder produces higher pressure and heat levels, which can be advantageous with certain muzzleloaders.

Natural black powder can be expensive. Furthermore, its demand is increasing due to an interest in reloading ammunition for target shooting and hunting – creating an increased interest in muzzleloaders who use raw materials such as gunpowder and primers in muzzleloading guns – leading to more people engaging in muzzleloader sport than ever before. While this trend has been beneficial for target shooting enthusiasts and hunters, its growth has led to more reloading businesses selling raw materials like gunpowder and primers being put up against black powder companies selling raw materials like gunpowder or primers.

There’s still a long way to go until there is enough gunpowder available in this country for all those wanting to shoot. Hunters and muzzleloaders alike are stockpiling modern powders in anticipation of when traditional black powder becomes readily available again; until that day comes, it may be possible to purchase substitutes available at stores, though these could prove more costly.

DIY gunpowder production can also be accomplished. Many muzzleloaders have found this challenging yet rewarding. A special grinder may be required, as well as other specialized equipment and ingredients – not for those faint of heart, yet those who embrace the challenge may find their reward is far greater!

As winter nears, it is still uncertain when the Nine O’Clock Gun in Stanley Park will recommence operations. The park board is working towards finding a supplier for its powder, but there can be no guarantees.