Ammo de-activation help


I have several requests from Europe to send de-activated ammo. I’ve never done this before (yes, it is my first time). I just got an inertia hammer (if that is the right term). Are there any tricks to it? Is there a good web site describing the correct way of using it?


Hi sksvlad,

I assume that you would like to inert small arms ammunition only?

If yes, there is nothing very special about that, just use common sense.
If you have a plastic inertia hammer, take care not to blow it on a too hard surface like tiled floors or concrete. The head of the hammer might get broken if you do that. Any hard floor with a layer of thin plastic carpet (like linoleum, etc.) will do.

Depending on the type of small arms ammo, you have to blow the hammer really hard. Large caliber rifle ammo will get unloaded easily, while the small calibers and pistol cartridges will unload very difficult.

About shipping things overseas to Europe, the customs of every European country almost always inspects the packets. A good idea is to fire all primers and to send items (cases and bullets) separated. An assembled but unloaded cartridge may cause confusion to an ignorant customs officer and in term may cause troubles for your customers. A good idea is also a “To whom it may concern” note inside the packet that explains the contence as unusable and inert.

Hope this helped!


“Snapping” hits onto a hard surface. It’s a change in speed, not the amount of arm that gets the job done. With military ammo, seating the bullet slightly deeper first helps to break the seal. Placing a wad of tissue in the bottom will help prevent damage to soft point bullets.

I’ll leave primer deactivation methiods for someone else to answer.


I use a piece of 4 X 4 post, about 4" long, for a pounding block. Also, I use a pencil eraser, the kind you use after you wear out the OEM one, to trap the projectile. Make sure the hole end is up to catch the bullet. Then a good soaking of the primer with a light oil. Singer sewing machine, BB gun or any other very thin, clear oil seems to work faster than 3-in-1. It all works to deactivate the primer. Fill the bottom of the case and let it soak overnight.
I have disassembled thousands of rounds and never had an issue with a tracer element or API going active. Still, protective eyewear is a must.



Pulling bullets with an inertia puller is pretty straightforward. I use a large anvil to tap on. There’s no give to it all which means you don’t have to hammer quite as hard. With modern ammo I simply pull the bullet with pliars and include a new one in its place. Live Boxer primers can be pushed out but Berdans will have to be deactivated some other way.

I am assuming you know that different countries have different rules as to what “inert” means. Some require that the primer pocket be drilled out. Some may require that the bullet be loose or even in a seperate bag or box. I believe the UK does not permit soft point or hollow point bullets. Right now I can’t get a straight answer from anyone about shipping to Canada from the USA. It’s always a good idea to get the latest regulations before shipping. And I always include a note in the package describing the contents.



If you’re sending military ammo you will have to be careful what types you send to some countries - and you’ll be at fault if you get it wrong! Certainly here in the UK it is illegal to possess armour piercing or incendiary bullets - even in inerted cases - unless you hold the required firearms certificate. Hollow point/expanding pistol-type cartridges are also subject to control here so be very careful. Having said that I’d be very interested to know what you have available.


Pardon me if I missed it, but no one seems to have addressed one issue.

[color=red]BE AWARE OF THE TYPE OF AMMO FROM WHICH YOU ARE PULLING BULLETS with a inertia bullet puller. If you don’t know what the cartridge is, don’t do it! Certain types of ammo are extremely dangerous to attempt pulling bullets by inertia. These include things like the flat point Japanese explosive rounds of WWII (7.7, 7.9 x 57, etc.). It also includes firing pin-activated incendiary rounds like the German Beobachtungpatrone (B-Patrone). USE CAUTION.[/color]



You’re right John. I think we all assumed that Vlad was experienced and knew what he was doing, which he is, but assumptions can get people hurt.

Add rim-fires and incendiary to the list.



This may be self evident. An inertia bullet puller is generally the best way to pull bullets without marking them. The alternate is using a (RCBS, Lyman) style collet bullet puller.

I carefully put a strip of “duck tape” around the lower exposed portion of the bullet and (sometimes) use the collet type puller. If carefully done there is generally no marks left on the bullet/cartridge. It’s actually eaiser to do than it sounds.

There is no “slamming” the bullets this way. Of course measure the total length of the round before pulling, so that you can replace it correctly. Pure lead bullets can be easily damaged using this method.

If you’re not a reloader, this method is costly if you don’t already have the correct equiptment.

Again, this is not the best method, but it does have it’s applications. If you’re pulling bullets for reloading (shooting), this is the quickest method to use.