Home / DIY / DIY: Visually Distinct Dummy Rounds

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.

About Ben

Blog contributor. Active in IDPA and USPSA, and he won't flinch if you call him a rules lawyer. Ben is a beard wearing, bacon eating, whiskey drinking, motorcycle riding, coder.

One comment

  1. The only problem with dummy rounds with no primer is, when you (dry) fire a 1911 style gun and the firing pin sticks in the flash hole. Then you try to rack the slide and end up with a bent firing pin. I found this out the hard way, and confirmed it on the always reliable internet.

    You can avoid this by never chambering one of the dummy rounds with no primer.

    Maybe it wasn’t the round that was the dummy after all…..

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