Shooting Black Powder – Whada’ U Mean My Nipples Are Too Small! An Education in Percussion Caps and Nipples (Cones)

As I venture further into the domain of shooting black powder percussion firearms, I am receiving quite an education about them.

The CCI #10 percussion cap seems to fit fine on the Traditions “Kentucky” pistol (read my review @:, and I thought about changing the nipple out for a #11 percussion cap, which I did, but a CCI #11 percussion cap is too loose of a fit and the CCI #10 percussion cap was also too loose of a fit.  I reverted back to the original nipple that came with the pistol and, once again, everything is fine. That drove me to start researching about nipples and percussion caps.

Author’s Note: Nipples were called “Cones” back in the day and “Cone” or “Cones” would be the correct terminology for them.

I ran across this post in a forum called “The Open Range” by a forum participant that calls himself “Mako.”  I felt that the information and diagrams that he presented was excellent, and I wanted to share that information on this forum.  Unfortunately, there was no way to contact the author, as the post was back in 2012, is for reference only, and new posts are no longer permitted. But, I wanted to attribute this article to the author, as these are his words and not mine.

I have to agree with the author that percussion cap issues are more prevalent with percussion revolvers more than single-shot percussion firearms, due to the possibility of multiple chambers igniting due to “flash-Over” from ill-fitting percussion caps, which could result in a “Chain-Fire” that is a very undesirable event to happen. This, in effect, is why I am not venturing into percussion revolvers until I become more informed.  This article helps me become more informed and, hopefully, one day I will start shooting percussion revolvers. However, the article helped me to understand what is going on with nipples and percussion caps for the single-shot percussion firearms that I do have and currently shoot.

Percussion cap selection, as with primers when hand loading, is the key that opens the way into igniting the powder that lies within the breach of a barrel or a cylinder in a percussion revolver. Percussion caps and primers are very important components, and taking them for granted is not a good thing.  As with the proper combination of primer, powder, case, and projectile, the combination of powder and percussion caps, and the nipple that is between them, dictates how successfully the projectile leaves the muzzle of a “Cappers” barrel.

I hope that you find it as informative as I do. So, let’s get started.

Author’s Note: All material in the article is sic erat scriptum, “thus was it written.” This means that I have not edited it in any way (with the exception of adding headings) and content are the words of the original author. All illustrations used in the article are the property of the original author.

Click the link below to open the article in Adobe Acrobat Reader (required).

The article is followed by my summary and some resources:

Percussion Caps and Nipples2


I am not into percussion revolvers (yet); however, much of what “Mako” presented also applies to single-shot percussion pistols and rifles.  It takes the proper mating of cones and caps to ensure that the main powder charge ignites and the projectile is sent downrange each and every pull of the trigger.

On my Traditions “Kentucky” and “Trapper” pistols, a #10 CCI percussion cap fits perfectly and I have had no issues with ignition. The Traditions “Plains Hawken Rifle” may be another story, as it is supposed to use #11 percussion caps.  If there are any issues with the Traditions “Plains Hawken Rifle” that will be included in my review of the rifle.


About Taurian

Taurian is a U.S. Army veteran and former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Taurian also has over fifty years of experience as a Technical Writer and Training Program Developer. After leaving home at the age of ten without any shoes, Taurian continues on with many years devoted to the keeping and bearing of arms.

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