Reloading .30 Cupfire in the 21st Century

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  • The Saint

    Black Powder Nerd/Resident Junk Collector
    Dec 10, 2021
    Baltimore County
    So yeah...I've officially reached the point of where .30 Cupfire has become a pet project. There is literally NOTHING on the entirety of the internet on these guns outside of 19th Century lookbacks of why they exist. So in steps me...a guy who owns an Eagle Arms (Plant) Pocket in .30 Cupfire and wanted to shoot it. Yeah, you can spend $15/rd on originals that may or may not even fire due to age...but I wanted something I could source. I'm proud to say that my literal first attempt was a success and went off with a BANG, and that this is way easier than I ever thought. Good science is proven and repeatable, and this proved true here too. While this is still a "beta" stage, and many improvements are to be had going's how I got there:

    Things you'll need:
    -A cupfire revolver, obviously
    -A paper source for a cartridge body and knowhow on making paper cartridge tubes (anyone who makes or has made BP paper cartridges can do this out of really ANY paper; I literally used a USPS receipt for the template in the pic)
    -A mandrel in the right diameter or .30 cupfire source cartridge as a reference for OAL and diameters neded (I'm working on a mandrel next, but the original cartridge proved great reference...this is a paper cartridge being made and does NOT have to be perfect)
    -209 shotshell primers of your choice for ignition
    -A coarse file and a steady hand to reduce the rim of the tiny 209 primer a few thousandths (mandatory in my gun, but might not be in yours, and primer brand may vary and make this step change) [HINT: Try not to slip and have your knuckles bleed on your bench]
    -Glue might help to secure your primer and paper tube together, but I used scotch tape all the same and the primer was a tight friction fit in my test round
    -Tape as a stabilizer to give rigidity to your tube and help it not burn up on ignition all the same

    How to do it:
    Create your paper cartridge tube with your mandrel and 209 primer so they are snug but close in diameter to clear in and out of your gun chamber as needed, trim to size prior or after. Adding tape around the outside can help the rigidity, it's easy too.
    2. Once your tube is made, test your 209 fit in the cylinder of the gun, if it's too tight or snagging...file the rim down until it is smooth(ish) and can reach the cylinder rear as needed
    3. Attach your 209 primer and tube with glue or friction, or just slide them together and down (it doesn't need to be tight unless you want them to retain on their own, but this is almost a single shot method here
    4. With the power of a 209 primer, powder is not necessary...but you can add if if you wish. (BP or substitute only, of course). These guns are coming up on 160 yrs old and have nothing left to prove, why not save yourself the corrosive cleanup.
    5. Put your #2 (.270) or #2.5 (.290) buck round ball in the case and crimp the top over with your fingers to give it some compression. (If using no powder, add some simple wadding over primer/under ball.)
    6. Insert cartridge into cylinder, aim, and fire.
    7. Extract blown case, discard...or shorten and replace primer and use again. OAL is meaningless here almost.

    It sounds simple, and that's because it is. If it wasn't for the primer rim filing, this would be extremely quick and even easier. I'm still learning, but here's a few dummy samples...going to get more pics and such as I go...but this works and it allows a cupfire gun thought "unusable" to actually be fired with some semblance of accuracy at intended distance. I'll get some videos posted as I source more buck and have an actual range day that isn't in my attic into a rimfire trap...Cheers. More to come...and if anyone has any #2 or 2.5 buck, let me know...I don't need 5 lbs of it but a few unwanted shells worth would last me a while!

    A few pics of the blanks vs real cupfire cartridge + the gun:


    Last edited:

    The Saint

    Black Powder Nerd/Resident Junk Collector
    Dec 10, 2021
    Baltimore County
    Wow, brother... I thought I had an obsolete ammo problem. I doff my cap to you, sir! I eagerly await your experimentation with teat-fire!!

    Ha! I'd need a gun chambered for it first! Wouldn't be too hard I don't think...percussion cap could probably emulate the "teat" rather well with fitting.

    The Saint

    Black Powder Nerd/Resident Junk Collector
    Dec 10, 2021
    Baltimore County
    What about using a power drill as a lathe to turn down the primer rims rather than filing by hand?

    Someone else recommended that, and I'm going to try it when I get the chance, for hand SUCKS. Like I said, still in "beta" mode here. Going to be trying to use aluminum and others to make cartridges too.


    Active Member
    MDS Supporter
    Jan 15, 2022
    This is really cool. Looking forward to the progress out of beta stage and the shooting video.


    Ultimate Member
    MDS Supporter
    Nov 14, 2012
    Saint, what is the OD and length of a cartridge? If you are interested in machining some metallic cases send me a PM.


    Grumpy Old Man
    Jun 22, 2012
    Yes What OD are you looking for ? Using copper tubing you could probably get something a bit oversize and draw it to the correct diameter just like drawing wire to a smaller diameter.

    The Saint

    Black Powder Nerd/Resident Junk Collector
    Dec 10, 2021
    Baltimore County
    Successful and accurate! Here's a short video and to refine. Shot in video hit dead center at 5 yards holding 6 oclock on target. 5/6 shots taken on target today, 5th skimmed the top...dialed it in as I went to figure my hold. Last 2 are basically touching. The shot in the video is the big circle next to the bulls in the 10 ring.



    The Saint

    Black Powder Nerd/Resident Junk Collector
    Dec 10, 2021
    Baltimore County
    You gotta realy like guns to play with that stuff.

    Me, I'm just here for the chicks...

    There's just a special feeling bringing a cartridge that hasn't been commercially available since the 1870s back from the's way too much fun, even if it is a mouse fart reload.

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