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Nothing new under the sun What’s the problem with primer-powered pellets?

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On to today’s blog….

by B.B. Pelletier

Okay, you had all weekend to think about this. I said at the end of the Zimmerstutzen post last Friday that there was a big problem that Zimmerstutzens and primer-powered pellet guns brought to the table. Today, I’ll show you what it is. First, let me introduce you to a very different kind of gun!

Rocky Mountain Arms muzzleloader
Several years ago, I was fortunate to acquire a rather rare gun. It doesn’t look like much at first glance, but when the truth of what it can do sinks in, you’ll realize that this is a very pivotal piece of shooting hardware.

Rocky Mountain Arms Corp. made this muzzleloading .22 caliber lead ball shooter. It uses toy caps to ignite a small charge of black powder.

That round block is the breech. When unlocked, it turns toward you so the gunpowder and a lead ball can be inserted. When rotated back into this position, it locks in place and a toy cap is inserted behind the knurled ring at the back of the breech. Then, cock the hammer and fire.

The rifle is an inexpensive little .22 caliber muzzleloader designed for kids. A pivoting breech swings open to the side for the powder and a ball to be inserted. It’s called a muzzleloader because the ball is rammed into the firing chamber from the front – just like loading the cylinder on a cap and ball revolver. After loading, the breech is swung back into alignment with the barrel and locked in place. The final step is to insert a cap from a cap gun in the holder behind the breech. The strike of the hammer sets off the cap, which sets off the black powder charge, propelling the lead ball on its way.

We’ve seen cap-firing BB guns before
Besides the posting on the Convert-A-Pell gizmo, I’ve done two posts on the Wham-O Kruger cap-firing BB guns. They launched a BB or .12-caliber lead shot with the explosive power of a toy cap. Some of you are starting to put the pieces together, aren’t you?

The Kruger ’98 was Wham-O’s idea of
a cheap BB gun. It uses caps to propel a steel BB or a .12 caliber lead ball (No. 6 birdshot).

The rusty breech where the caps went. The BB was loaded at the muzzle.

For anyone who hasn’t caught on yet, this idea is very bad. Children and others with sociopathic minds have access to a gun that can ignite any amount of explosive black powder. What’s to prevent kids from stuffing powder down the muzzle of the plastic Kruger? What’s to prevent them from NOT putting a ball in the breech of the Rocky Mountain rifle and filling the entire breech with black powder? Then they could ram the ball down the muzzle – just like dad!

The last time the American public saw black powder seriously misused, it was on April 19, 1995, to initiate a fertilizer bomb that removed the front of a government building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people! When unsupervised children and miscreants have access to black powder, nothing good can result. By the way, Rocky Mountain also made a .45 caliber version of the gun shown here. It also ran on caps; once junior learned how to work his own gun, there was no stopping him from moving up to some serious firepower!

The Rocky Mountain rifles are very scarce, thank goodness. I’ll bet someone in the company realized they’d let the genie out of the bottle and stopped production right away. Wham-O BB guns are not common, but they are around. I own three and see them all the time at airgun shows. I know of four or five other cap-firing BB guns that have been made. There are probably many more than that.

What’s bad about Zimmerstutzens, guns that use primers to fire pellets and cap-firing BB guns is that they’re firearms by the strictest definition of the term. Anyone with half a brain can make them do things their designers never imagined, nor wanted to do. Let’s stick to air!

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

20 thoughts on “Nothing new under the sun What’s the problem with primer-powered pellets?”

  1. Howdy B.B.,

    It’s fascinating how often there’s a very fine line between a revolutionary new product for youth and a new product which, with a little more foresight, wouldn’t have been marketed at all.

    I bet the inventor of the wire ‘coat hanger’ would be flabbergasted by all the clever, inventive ways his product can be misused, or re-used!


  2. Yeah but wouldn’t it be cool to be able to buy a box of 4.3mm Zimmerstutzen Magnum and have a shoot in your garage, provided they were about the same cost as 22lr (fat chance). IF you used a fixed cartridge then no one could hop it up.


  4. B.B. and C.B. primer powered rounds are still available, and the cost is reasonable for an odd cartridge with almost no demand. And still considered a firearm load, subject to all the laws concerning such. And I have fired them from an old neighbors pistol. But even knowing they can barely break paper at five yards, I would never think to allow my kid acess, or even knowledge of where it was stored.
    I’m still thinking of tinkering one up for s—s and grins. About as dangerous as my steel-tip darts, in my opinion. Just as easy to lock up, too.

  5. remember remember the 5th..
    BTW – as airguns, muzzleloader sale does not requirie background check. i bought CVA Wolf from BassProShop website the same way as “Marksman that one which is copy of Beeman” from Pyramydair.

    this is realy Country Of Free Ppl

    as i know flobert revolvers 4mm can be purchased freely in Ukraine.. (not in russia)

  6. B B Peltier obviously does not understand what is meant by “muzzle.” He describes the act of “breech loading” and says “It’s called a muzzleloader because the ball is rammed into the firing chamber from the front – just like loading the cylinder on a cap and ball revolver.” A cap & ball revolver isn’t a muzzle loader either.

  7. Hondo85,

    A cap and ball revolver is loaded at the front of the chamber. The ball is rammed backwards into the chamber from the front – hence the muzzleloading remark.

    I know what the muzzle of the barrel is, Hondo, however in this case, the LOADING process is from the front of the cylinder.

    You wouldn’t call a cap and ball revolver a breechloader, would you? Not like a Sharps 1863 New Model which really is a breechloader, despite having a separate bullet and powder charge..

    And how would you define a rifle whose loaded cartridge is loaded at the breech but whose bullet is loaded, tail-first, at the muzzle? It’s a muzzleloading breechloader. Harry Pope made them and they sell for a lot of money these days.

    Laugh if you like, but the Kruger cap-firing BB pistol does the same thing.


  8. I used to have a .22 cal smooth bore rolling block type of rifle that was made for .22 birdshot. It had a 6″ long extension that was rifled and screwed to the end of the barrel for rifle shooting. But the real fun was with birdshot w/o the barrel extension. I got much better range (I was told the rifleing in a regular .22 would spread the shot like a cone with a big hole in the middle. When swarms of swallows would come in in the Oklahoma evenings I was the swallow shootin’ champ. I sold it for $10 in 1968. E

  9. Reminds me of another one I had …late 50’s, I think. It was a small model of a blunderbus type pistol. It had 3 hollow, plastic “bullets” taht were fired by a cap in a pan (no frizzen), but cap cover that was struck by the hammer. It would shoot the hollow bullet 3or4 feet. So, I filled the hollow plastic bullets with wax, took a hole punch and carefully cut the centers from a buch of caps, dropped them down the barrel, placed bullet on top, put a cap in the pan and pulled the trigger. It went BOOM and there was actual recoil! Couldn’t find bullet #1, set up #2 and when it went BOOM it came apart and burned my hand. Luckily I still have all my fingers.

  10. Hey, don’t knock black powder for the Oklahoma bombing, please.
    You yourself mentioned fertilizer, no?
    The actual “mixture” was ammonium nitrate, a common fertilizer, which, with some perseverance, can be made to explode/detonate.
    Black powder is Potassium Nitrate (another fertilizer that won’t explode) + carbon + sulfur, mixed in a way too serious for kewl bummers.

  11. THe Rocky Mountain rifle was also made in 36 caliber. The A22w model in 22 is really a pretty accurate little rifle. The ball is actually swaged down as it is fired to almost 20 cal. The company was the starting of North American arms, the makers of the 22 mini revolver & the 454 Casull. It shows the mini revolver & a Dick Casull revolver on the box from my rifle

  12. Chris,

    Thanks for that info. I became aware of the .36 caliber after I wrote this report. A friend has a .45 caliber model, but I haven't run across the .36-caliber gun yet.

    Nice to know about the accuracy. I suppose it depends somewhat on finding caps that give good ignition?

    Any idea what these are worth? I have seen the boxed .22 offered at $300 recently, but I've never seen either of the other two calibers mentioned.


  13. Well i happen to have a 901 powerline it can fire at over charge of 15 pumps at 1000ft/sec however sadly even though i can shoot threw metal plate of a shovel I keep shooting at pesky birds hit them aim is no prob With the scope I can hit a daisy off its stem at 50 yards i have no clue what the problem is are these super birds that are invunerable?

  14. This is an asinine article that comes from all or nothing thinking.
    Are we to assume 100 percent failsafe measures without our lives as well as our children?

    This is the result of a brain dead population who believe that everything that happens on the news is a common occurrence everywhere.
    Those who sacrifice freedom for security will end up with no freedom and no security.

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