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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Double D -
I've never used any - I ASSUME they work by pulling something which causes friction which ignites something else which ingnites the powder.

Are they reliable and stable?

Could they be home-made (safely)?

Do they contain stuff that's corrosive (more so than black powder) or dangerous?


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17,215 Posts
The friction fuses I had were copper or brass tubes with a ring on top. You put the tube down the flash hole and pulled the ring with a string.

I bought them at a rendezvous at the Josephine County Sportsmen park in Grants Pass, Oregon. Every Labor day week end they use to have a big event that included a cannon shoot. Some serious iron at that shoot.

The ones I got were pretty big and worked with the Mortar, but they were to big for my little guns. There was a guy at the match with a small gun, and he had some smaller friction fuses. When you pulled the ring you needed resistance to keep from moving the tube.

If anybody knows where I can get these, I sure wish they would share the info.

· Super Moderator
17,215 Posts
Ze Dragon,

Tell us more about friction primers. Why are they better than fuse or snap hammers?

Do you have a website?


I found Cannon Ltd thanks very much, interesting site.

I think I am going to start collecting all these sources and resources into one location and put it up on the board for all to refer to.

Yesterday while cruising the internet looking for fuses I found another interesting site

Cannon-Mania Lots of stuff for cannon folks. Anyone ever do business with them? They have a brass snap hammer that I might try on my mortar.

· Registered
7 Posts
Friction primers...

Hi DD!

Friction primers were the main ignition method for most guns from the mid 19th century right up to the beginning of the 20th where black powder was replaced by smokeless powder and when cartridges became whidespread. Even dome WW1 big guns still used a form of friction primer ignition! The main advantages of the friction primer over the fuse was that is was instantaneous: you pull the wire by means of a long rope and the gun goes off. With a fuse, it has to burn the length of the vent. Plus, fuse (or loose powder down the vent or a quill) has to be lit by a slow match or a portfire... In combat, havind an open flame around a cannon can be dangerous (lots of cannon powder around!) and in adverse conditions (rain!!) it can become difficult to light your fuses! Friction primers are basically waterproof. Cap ignition, with its hammer lock, works fine for small guns but bigger guns have thick chamber walls and the flame from the cap often do not ignite the charge. For small pieces, cap ignition is safe and cheaper the friction primers while offering instant ignition. Today, friction primers are mainly used for safety, convenience and for authenticity by owner of full size replica and original cannons of the Civil War era. I use match myself most of the time with my small scale replicas when I shoot because with light guns, friction primers will disrupt aim when you pull the wire since it takes a good 10 to 15 pounds of traction.

I don't have a web site yet... I'm no computer wizard when it comes to web design! Just drop me a line at [email protected]

There are a couple of other manufacturers of artillery nobody mentionned yet:

South Bend Replicas
61650 Oak Road
South Bend IN
(219) 289-4500

Steen Cannons

IronHorse Cannons

There are a few others but I don't have their coordinates on hand right now. My guns are better anyways :wink:

Have a nice day!

· Super Moderator
17,215 Posts
That's interesting. You have helped me make up my mind on the gun I am working on. It's a mortar. It's heavy. I will do friction fuse for it.

I went through the websites. Ironhorse I have ran across before. 15-16 years ago out in California. Nice people if I remember right.

South Bend probably the most well know of all the Cannon Replicists.

I have added South Bend and IronHorse to the resource list.

I wasn't able to get into the Steen website, my computer locked up. Could be their website is to fancy for my old computer. Until I can get in and see what they have, I won't post them.

How about posting a picture of your favorite gun in the So, what do y'all shoot topic.

· Registered
169 Posts
I have made friction primers from a thin brass tube. Drill a small hole through the tube, near to one end - wide enough to accept the pull string of a "Party Popper". Insert a Party Popper through the bottom end, string first.
Push in until the string appears when you look through the transverse hole you drilled.
Using a toothpick, poke through one side of the tube, and push the end of the string out of the other side.
pull up the Party Popper gently until it reaches the drilled holes.
I improved the reliability by poking a glue-covered wire up the bottom end of the tube and sprinkling some fine black powder into the tube. You then simply tie the end of the string onto a keyring or a curtain ring.
The lanyard has a spring clip on the end of the rope. To use, prick the charge, then place the primer into the vent, then attach the lanyard at the last moment. Stand back, and fire by pulling the lanyard quite smartly, and slightly downwards. The primer goes off with a loud CRACK and is propelled to quite a height by the blast.
They can be picked up and reloaded many times.
The reliability is around 80%........ not as good as igniter fuse or loose powder.
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