DIY: Visually Distinct Dummy Rounds

As I’ve ramped up my dry fire over the past six months, one of the things I’ve really come to appreciate are weighted dummy rounds. Even loading mags to 10 rounds for IDPA SSP or USPSA Production, good weighted dummy rounds triple the weight of a magazine. In a division like CDP/Single Stack or Limited where you’re reloading will full magazines, practicing inserting the mag with enough force to depress the fully-loaded magazine spring becomes a key part of practice.

The problem is, you need a lot of them to fill multiple magazines, somewhere between 30 and 50 for IDPA or USPSA to fill everything on your belt, which means making your own. The challenge with that is finding a way to mark your dummy rounds so they are totally unmistakable for your other loaded rounds. Enter a wonderful compound by Birchwood Casey called Brass Black.

Step one is to make some dummy rounds. I recommend using the heaviest bullet you have for your caliber and bonus points for being visually distinct. For this batch, I used some cast lead bullets with a zombie green powder coat. To make the dummies:

  1. Disable the powder measure on your press or remove all the powder from it, so it’ll expand the case mouth but not drop powder.
  2. Take your clean brass and deprime/resize it, and don’t put a new primer in it.
  3. Bell the case mouth with the powder drop. Place your bullet of choice in it and set it to normal length.
  4. Crank down your crimp die a little bit and then crimp the round

Once that’s done, gather your dummy rounds, your bottle of Brass Black, and an empty plastic drink bottle. Pour a little bit (half an inch or so) in the bottle and then dilute with two or three times that. The quantities are a little fuzzy because it’s a rough guess type thing. A little brass black goes a fair ways, and if it stops blackening, you just add more.

Drop your dummy rounds in and just let them sit for a few minutes.

Pour out the Brass Black solution (or pour it in to another bottle for the next batch) and then pour the dummy rounds on to a paper towel. Dry them off and leave them sitting on their base to drip out.

After an hour or so, get another paper towel and rub each one down on it just to get off as much leftover crud off.


I still get a little black stuff on my fingers every time I load them up, but I figure that’s a fine tradeoff for being sure I’m not going to blow a hole in my dry fire backstop. It’d be safe if I did, but I’d rather not ever have to deal with that. I also usually still put an aluminum or plastic snap cap as the first round in the magazine just so I don’t totally beat up the soft lead slug when practicing reloads, especially on steel frame guns like my 1911 or any time I’m fumbling and dropping mags on concrete, which is always.

Concealed and Open Carry Safety – 118

A concealed carry permit holder walking into a Walmart was tackled and stripped of his pistol by someone who saw him putting it on in the parking lot. This video brings up a lot of things that both concealed and open carriers need to be aware of:

Sometimes folks categorize open carry as the “easier” way to carry, since they don’t have to put on an extra layer to cover the pistol, or shop for a comfortable holster, etc. You can open carry just about any pistol in just about any holster, although as I mentioned above, getting some type of quality retention holster is a good idea. Open carry shouldn’t be the easier way to carry, because when your pistol is hanging on your hip, you need to be extra aware of who is around you, who is getting close to your pistol, and be ready to retain it should an attack happen.

Local Shooting Sports News:

Sir Walter USPSA is starting to use Practiscore for their match registration and squadding for the February match. If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here.


I’m soliciting some feedback from those of you who purchased shirts from the last run of green/blue/white shirts.

  • How are they holding up?

  • How was your experience with the vendor that printed and shipped the shirts?

  • Would you buy them again?

  • Anything else I need to know?

Basically, I’ve been a little disappointed with the latest run of shirts, and I’ve caught wind that some others were as well, so I want to get as much feedback on them from those of you who purchased them as I can so I can decide whether or not to use this vendor again in the future. Shoot an email to, or leave a comment below this post.

The News

IDPA has announced that the Compact Carry Pistol division is official. It’s going to be for pistols with a 4.1″ or shorter barrel length, and pistols will be limited to 8+1 capacity. Ben wrote a more in-depth post about it here, and the discussion in the comments is worth a read as well.

“Just the Plug of the Week”

This week we combined the “Just the Tip” and “Plug of the Week” segments into one. The tip part is in regards to this video of a girl being put into the trunk of her car and driven away by a gun wielding assailant. The plug portion goes to friend of the show Andrew Branca (Law of Self Defense) for his comment on the above post. He makes a really good point that I wanted to share:

And don’t ever, ever, ever let the bad guy take you to another location. That new location will NOT be more favorable to your long term survival than wherever you are currently at. I will absolutely let myself be shot before I will let myself be abducted. If they want to drag my 200lb+ carcass around with them, fine. But I will be 100% non-compliant. And perhaps have an opportunity to change the course of events while being non-compliant. This all applies more particularly to women, of course. You’re almost certainly better off taking a bullet on the sidewalk than stepping into that van.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense




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USPSA/Competitive Shooting Primer

I found this video today, thought it did a really good job illustrating some of the basics of competition.

If you want a more in-depth primer, check out my series on getting into competitive shooting here.

I’ve Got Some Work to Do

This morning I’ve been cruising through some old match videos trying to come up with a game plan of things I need to work on in dry fire, and I found something from an old Wake County Action Pistol match that I thought I’d share.

I distinctly remember this stage. It was 3 strings, with a one or two strings starting with the pistol on the table, and the last string starting holstered. Because I started on the table previously, I just put the pistol in the holster and sat down, not thinking again about where the pistol was. Unfortunately seated draws cause my holster to be positioned a bit differently than standing draws, and when I went to grab the pistol, it wasn’t where I expected it to be. I fumbled the draw, and then instead of focusing on my sights, I was thinking about the botched draw stroke so I hesitated and messed up the rest of the stage.

I’ll be putting a folding chair in the garage and working on seated and table draws this week. What are you working on?

Don’t Forget: Your Car is a Great Weapon

A frightening video was released by the Arlington, TX Police department yesterday showing a woman being pulled from her car at an ATM by a subject with a gun, and being forced into the trunk.

I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of the situation by Monday morning quarterbacking it too much, but there are a few lessons from the video that we can all benefit from:

  1. Your car is a great weapon. It’s big and heavy, made of steel, and can move quicker than a person. If your approached at an ATM for any reason, it’s time to leave. Punch the skinny pedal and get out of there, deal with your stolen card and money later. My wife and I are on a cash budget while we are working toward getting debt free, so I find myself at an ATM once a week pulling out cash for us. One thing I’ve gotten into the habit of is always leaving the car in gear while I’m at the ATM. If it’s time to leave, all I have to do is lay on the gas pedal, and I’m out of there.

  2. Don’t go alone. I like to bring my wife with me so she can keep her head on a swivel while I’m fiddling with the ATM. She knows to alert me if there’s anybody on foot in the area approaching the car.

  3. Pull up tight to the ATM. I get close enough that my side mirror just barely misses hitting the ATM when I pull up. An adult would have to squeeze to get between my car and the ATM, and there isn’t enough room to pull my car door open and get me out. If someone were to try and squeeze between my car and the ATM/brick wall of the bank, they’re gonna have a bad time.

  4. Avoid the ATM all together. Seriously, if you don’t have to use an ATM, don’t. Criminals know to target these places and love to rob people when they are using the ATM. If your job requires you to make large deposits, work with your employer to come up with a solution that is safer (guard service pickup, day time deposits instead of night, etc). Making night drops isn’t worth it.

  5. It should go without saying, but be armed! You couldn’t pay me to roll up to an ATM at night without a gun. No way, no how.

Stay frosty.