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10 vs 11 Percussion Caps: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Percussion caps are the tiny explosions that make muzzleloaders go boom. But with 10s and 11s, which size cap reigns supreme? This in-depth guide explores every aspect of #10 and #11 percussion caps so you can decide what’s best for your black powder shooting needs.

Whether you’re a hunter, reenactor, or blinker, we’ll unpack all the nitty-gritty details on cap construction, performance, availability, and more. Time to find out if bigger is better when it comes to 10s and 11s!

10 vs 11 Percussion Caps

Certainly! Here’s a table summarizing the key differences between 10 and 11 percussion caps:

Criteria10 Percussion Caps11 Percussion Caps
SizeSmallerSlightly Larger
Fit on NippleFits 10 NippleFits 11 Nipple
Flame SpreadStandard Flame SpreadWider Flame Spread
AvailabilityWidely AvailableReadily Available
PerformanceConsistent and Efficient IgnitionPotential for More Robust Ignition
Common UseWidely UsedPopular, but Less Common than 10
Specialty ApplicationsGeneral ShootingSpecific Preferences for Scenarios
Compatibility with Musket CapsNot Designed for Musket CapsNot Designed for Musket Caps
Suitable FirearmsVarious MuzzleloadersVarious Muzzleloaders
Historical PreferenceWidely Accepted in Historical ShootingMay Be Chosen for Historical Appeal
10 vs 11 Percussion Caps

Percussion Caps 101 – A Primer on These Explosive Toppers

Before diving into the great 10 vs 11 debate, let’s quickly cover what percussion caps are and how they work.

Percussion caps are tiny metal cups that contain a shock-sensitive explosive compound. When crushed or struck, this compound ignites and produces a flash that travels down the gun’s nipple to ignite the main powder charge. This causes the muzzleloading gun to fire.

Invented in the early 1800s, percussion caps replaced earlier flintlock ignition systems and revolutionized muzzleloaders. They provided superior speed, reliability, and all-weather performance.

While old-time percussion caps had to be placed manually on the gun’s nipple each shot, modern guns use cappers – rotating cylinders that automate re-capping between shots.

Now that you’ve got the basics, let’s examine how #10 and #11 percussion caps differ.

#10 Percussion Caps Overview

Introduced first historically, #10 caps are the smaller of the two popular sizes. Here are the key characteristics:

  • 0.175″ diameter base
  • Shorter 0.2″ height
  • Fit on smaller #10 nipples
  • Originally used on pistols and small rifles
  • Remington brand popular modern option

In the 1800s when percussion ignition debuted, #10s were the go-to choice for handguns and compact rifles. Their petite size paired well with smaller nipple configurations on early pistols and repeating arms.

10 vs 11 Percussion Caps

Over time, #11 caps surpassed them in popularity for hunting firearms. But #10s still work great for replicas of early percussion guns and remain widely available today. Leading modern brand Remington sells popular #10 caps suitable for most small to mid-sized muzzleloaders.

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#11 Percussion Caps Overview

Following the success of #10s, #11 percussion caps soon hit the scene. Details include:

  • 0.210″ diameter base
  • Taller 0.28″ height
  • Fit larger #11 nipples
  • Preferred for rifles, shotguns, muskets
  • CCI and RWS common brands today

With their larger size and increased ignition power, #11 became the top choice for larger guns like muskets and big game hunting rifles which benefitted from stronger cap ignition. They remain the most widely used today across muzzleloading.

CCI and RWS are two major modern brands producing reliable #11 percussion caps suitable for most rifles.

So now that you understand the core differences, let’s dive deeper into comparing #10 and #11 performance.

10 vs 11 Percussion Caps: Bigger Isn't Always Better

#10 vs #11 – Ignition Reliability Compared

A percussion cap’s most important job is providing split-second reliable ignition the moment you pull the trigger. How do #10 and #11 stack up here?

Overall, the extra size and ignition power of #11 caps make them more reliable across a wider range of guns, especially big rifles. The larger #11 flame produces more complete ignition of even heavy powder charges. They work great at all angles, ideal for tilted breech plug configurations common on inlines.

However, on pistols and small rifles designed for #10 caps, the lesser power isn’t detrimental. #10s properly ignite appropriate powder charges on compatible smaller guns.

For big rifles though, a #11’s extra oomph redistributes ignition forces for the best spread and ensures full, uniform combustion. They are less likely to cause hangfires or misfires on large loads.

While #10s are adequate for use in their intended petite pistols, #11s take the reliability crown for full-sized rifles.

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Comparing #10 and #11 Cap Construction

A quality cap needs to crush and ignite consistently without shattering or breaking. How does construction compare?

10 caps have thinner walls that make them more prone to fragmenting when the hammer is struck, which can negatively impact ignition. They work, but the thinner metal is more fragile.

11 caps feature thicker walls and sturdier construction that avoids crushing issues. Their robust build survives heavy striker blows on large rifles without bursting or breaking into pieces. This benefits ignition reliability.

The thicker metal and reinforced top of #11s also make them more water resistant. While no cap can get wet, #11s hold up better in the rain.

Durability again goes to the larger #11 percussion caps. Their brawny build beats the thinner #10s.

Availability – Which Caps Are Easier to Find?

An advantage of a type of percussion cap is moot if you can’t find it! Which size is easier to locate today?

This one goes to the #11 caps. The major retailers like Cabela’s, Bass Pro, and MidwayUSA all stock multiple quality #11 cap options ready to ship. Local gun shops also tend to carry #11s from CCI, RWS, Remington, and Winchester.

#10 caps are bit trickier to source. Remington still makes them, but stocks at retailers can be spottier. Local shops may not carry #10s at all. Specialty online shops catering to replica percussion gun enthusiasts offer a wider selection of #10s.

Due to their widespread use in inlines, shotgun, and rifle ignition systems, #11 caps are hands down the easiest of the two sizes to find both online and locally.

Prices – How Do #10 and #11 Caps Compare Cost Wise?

With availability comes economy of scale. So you may think the widely available #11 caps cost less…but it’s the opposite!

Popular brands like CCI and RWS #11 percussion caps run around $4-6 for boxes of 100.

Remington #10s by contrast can be had for as little as $3 per 100 from online sources since less demand means more competitive pricing.

The niche #10s appeal primarily to replica pistol and gunsmithing markets. So companies discount them to move inventory since demand is lower. #11s serve a broader customer base who will pay the going rate.

Compatibility – Guns That Use #10 vs #11 Caps

For proper function, you need to match the cap size to your gun’s nipple. Here are the firearms compatible with each:

#10 Percussion Caps

  • Early percussion pistols and revolvers
  • Deringer pocket pistols
  • Small percussion rifles
  • Modern black powder revolver replicas
  • Cap and ball revolver replicas

#11 Percussion Caps

  • Full-size percussion rifles and muskets
  • Modern inline muzzleloaders
  • Percussion shotguns
  • Breech-loading rifles with exposed primers
  • Most large revolvers

As a rule, smaller handguns favor #10s while most full-size rifles run best with #11 caps. When in doubt, check your gun manual or manufacturer’s website for recommended cap size. Using the wrong size can cause capping issues. Match cap and nipple size properly.

10s and 11s – Which Are More Accurate?

With proper ignition established, accuracy is the next key performance consideration. Do #11s gain an edge for precision shooting?

Absolute accuracy is quite similar within typical effective ranges when each cap is matched correctly to gun size. However, the burlier #11 ignition gives an advantage at longer distances by ensuring the powder fully lights when the ignition chain has bigger gaps to bridge.

On smaller appropriate guns, #10s and #11s shoot comparably inside 100 yards. But for long-range accuracy approaching 200 yards, a #11’s extra oomph provides a slight accuracy boost by avoiding occasional incomplete ignitions.

So while both can perform very well in intended guns, #11s gain a small accuracy perk past 100 yards.

Will 10 Percussion Caps Fit on 11 Nipples?

One common question that arises is whether number 10 percussion caps can fit on number 11 nipples and vice versa. Generally, it’s recommended to use the corresponding cap for the nipple size to ensure a proper and secure fit. Attempting to force a smaller cap onto a larger nipple or vice versa may result in misfires and compromised safety.

Additional Factors – Rain, Reliability, and Reenacting

A few final considerations:

Wet Weather Performance – As mentioned earlier, #11s are a bit more water resistant thanks to thicker top metal. In damp conditions, bigger #11s hold up better.

Reliability Over Time – #11 caps have thicker sidewalls and less internal air space, allowing them to maintain ignition force longer during extended storage. They stay viable for more years.

Reenacting Use – For Civil War or Revolutionary War reenactment, #10s provide proper historical accuracy to go with period replica pistols and small rifles that used them. #11s work fine too but #10s are ideal for perfectionists.

So there are a few niche factors that can help decide between the two cap sizes in special circumstances like heavy rain or a desire for absolute historical authenticity.

Remington #10 Percussion Caps

A Closer Look at a Trusted Brand

Remington, a well-respected name in firearms and accessories, offers their version of number 10 percussion caps. Known for their quality and reliability, Remington #10 caps are a popular choice among muzzleloader enthusiasts.

Musket Caps

Musket caps have a rich history dating back to the era of muskets and flintlock ignition systems. Before the advent of percussion caps, muskets relied on flintlocks to produce sparks for ignition. The transition to musket caps represented a revolutionary advancement, providing a more reliable and instantaneous means of igniting the black powder charge.

The introduction of musket caps coincided with the evolution of firearms during the 19th century. Their adoption marked a departure from the unpredictability of flintlocks, offering military forces a more dependable ignition system. This innovation significantly influenced the tactics and effectiveness of infantry units on the battlefield.

10 vs 11 Percussion Caps vs Musket Caps

Understanding the distinctions between 10 and 11 percussion caps is crucial, but adding musket caps to the equation brings more complexity. Let’s break down the key differences:

Criteria10 Percussion Caps11 Percussion CapsMusket Caps
SizeSmallerLargerLarger than both 10 and 11 caps
Flame SpreadStandard flame spreadWider flame spreadWider than both 10 and 11 caps
Common UseWidely usedPopular, but less common than 10 capsHistorically used in military muskets
CompatibilityFits most muzzleloadersFits most muzzleloaders, but check sizeRequires musket nipple, not compatible with some
AvailabilityEasily availableReadily availableLess common, may require specialty purchase

The Verdict – #11 Caps Take the Crown!

While both #10 and #11 percussion caps serve their purposes well, #11 caps claim the slight edge overall thanks to:

  • Superior ignition reliability in bigger rifles
  • More robust construction
  • Better availability currently
  • Slight accuracy advantage at long-range
  • Improved water resistance

For small replica pistols and rifles designed for #10s, they work flawlessly. But #11s are the champ across the key performance criteria for real-world hunting and shooting reliability in full-size percussion guns. Their brawny firepower tames huge powder charges.

So while #10s have their loyal fans, #11 caps reign supreme today as the best all-around choice to top off your muzzleloader ignition needs. Let the debate rage on, but bigger #11s are better!

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