How to Make Primers for Cartridges

How to Make Primers for Cartridges

Explore America's Campgrounds

You can make your own primer to refill handgun cartridges. However, according to the folks at, it is recommended that you only do so as a last resort when necessary in a survival situation. Due to the nature of the materials being used, handle them with extreme caution. Wear safety goggles, and work a safe distance away from other flammable materials.

Items you will need

  • Arbor press

  • Multipurpose tool

  • Large tweezers

  • Metal pick

  • Strike-anywhere white tip (not blue tip) matches

  • Star driving bit

  • Flat-tipped screwdriver

  • Plastic mallet

  • Box-cutting knife

  • Folded index card

  • Safety goggles

Extract the anvil out of the fired primer. Using the multipurpose tool, gently hold the primer cup and carefully pull out any old primer with a metal pick. Place the primer cup on a hard, flat surface. Examine the case carefully to ensure there are no defects. For safety's sake, defective cups must be discarded. Keep the anvil with the cup.

Insert the point of the star-tipped driver into the primer cup and tap very gently with the plastic mallet to remove the slight protrusion inside. Insert the flat-tipped screwdriver into the primer cup to clean out any remains of the previously used primer material. To minimize any undesirable results, get the cup as clean as possible.

Using the box cutter, gently scrape off the white tip portion only of the match onto the folded index card. The white tip is a chlorinated compound that serves as the "ignitor" for the primer. You'll need about 10 to 12 matches for each primer. Avoid scraping off the sulphur portion of the match.

Roll the plastic mallet across the scrapings, being careful to "crush" rather than rub the material. Place the primer cup on a flat surface and, using the crease in the index card, pour the match scrapings into the cap until it is full. Use the bottom of a matchstick to gently tap down the primer.

Use the large tweezers to carefully set the primer cup into your machine press, being careful not to spill any of the primer material. Place the anvil into the primer, point down, to seat. Raise the ram of the press up and seal the primer into the shell casing. Keep your face a safe distance away while you're doing this step, as the primer material may pop.


  • Wear safety goggles when doing this project.
  • You can reload primer, but keep in mind that the results are unpredictable. Caution must be used at all times.
  • This information should only be used as a last resort for handgun cartridges. Due to the extreme pressure experienced, it is not recommended for rifle cartridges.
Gone Outdoors