How to Make a Ramrod


Junior Doughty

My little .32 caliber Traditions Crockett rifle is the rifle I would keep if I could only keep one. But as much as I like the little rifle, the ramrod isn't so hot:

  1. It is made of wood.
  2. Neither end is drilled and tapped.

Sooner or later I was destined to:

  1. Break that wooden ramrod while hastily trying to reload after missing a squirrel.
  2. Need to remove a stuck ball because I forgot to drop powder in the barrel while hastily trying to reload after missing a squirrel.

The wooden, un-threaded ramrod had to go. I decided to build a fiberglass ramrod. Since .32 caliber ramrod accessories are hard to find, especially with the correct thread size for the ramrod or cleaning rod, my new ramrod would be drilled and tapped for 8-32 threads on one end and 10-32 threads on the other end.

After a couple of days of perusing the 2001 Dixie Gun Works catalog, I phoned in a credit card order. I called it in on a Monday morning, and the UPS man delivered it on the following Wednesday afternoon. Among some other cool stuff, it consisted of:

Page Product number Description Price



5/16" 32 caliber fiberglass ramrod




5/16" 32 caliber brass rod tip 10-32




5/16" 36 caliber tip & jag combo 8-32


Total =


Dixie Gun Works, probably the largest supplier of them all, didn't have a .32 caliber tip & jag combination for a 5/16" ramrod. Their .32 caliber combo tip fit a 1/4" ramrod. So I ordered the .36 caliber version and, using a grinding wheel on my Dremel® tool, ground the first 1/2" from its original diameter of .330" to a new diameter of .300".

NOTE: If you intend to use the jag tip with a cleaning patch, grind the first 1/2" of the tip to a new diameter of .290" and use a round cleaning patch. A round cleaning patch for .22 - .270 calibers works perfectly in my bore.

I also used two solid brass 5/8" x 18 escutcheon pins to pin the brass tips to the fiberglass ramrod. You can order a package of 70 from Dixie Gun Works for $4.95 (page 209, # MI0205), but I suggest you visit your local Ace Hardware and buy a box of 200 for $1.69 (Ace # 5061445).

If you trust your epoxy, you can skip the escutcheon pins step and save time and labor. But pulling a ball is hard on ramrod tips, so if your tip comes off in a stuck ball in your barrel while a shot-at squirrel skips through the tree tops, don't cuss me or the squirrel. Cuss your own lazy ass.

Speaking of epoxy: make sure yours will bond to both fiberglass and metal. Spend $1.97 at Walmart as I did, and be sure.

In addition to the Dixie Gun Works supplies and the two brass escutcheon pins and the epoxy, you will need the following tools:

  • A Dremel® tool or a file
  • Wire cutters to nip off the tips of the escutcheon pins
  • Emery cloth
  • A sharp knife
  • A hacksaw

If you have a bench vise, that's good. If you don't that's also good. I built my new ramrod in my kitchen and used a sturdy corner of the stove as a work bench.

Step #1 Start by very carefully filing or grinding an end of the fiberglass ramrod so that it fits snugly inside the open end of the brass ramrod tip. If it's tight, you won't have room for epoxy. If it's loose, you'll have hell getting the brass tip exactly perpendicular to the ramrod.

With no epoxy on either tip, slide the brass tip over the ramrod tip and align them against a straight-edge, such as the dull edge of a knife. Hold the tip, ramrod, and the straight-edge against a strong light and check for perpendicularity.

About the top 1/3 of the brass tip is solid except for the threaded hole down through the middle. You don't want the fiberglass to touch the base of the solid part of the brass tip. One, you might get epoxy in the threads, and, two, if you have an attachment with a long shank you want to leave room for that shank inside the brass tip. Notice that my fiberglass tip will go less than half way inside the brass tip. Hindsight being 20-20, I should have ground more on the rod so it would have gone a little more than half way inside the brass tip. But the brass escutcheon pin I installed later will prevent any slippage.

I wiped a light coat of epoxy inside the brass tip and on the ramrod tip. Then I slid them together, turning them maybe 1/4 turn to spread the epoxy evenly. With a paper towel, I then wiped the excess epoxy from the joint. After re-checking the brass tip for perpendicularity to the ramrod, I placed it on a piece of waxed paper in the floor and let it rest there until the next day.

Step #2 The next morning I used a sharp knife and removed the excess epoxy from the ramrod and the new tip.

NOTE: Slice the knife from fiberglass to brass. Slicing the other direction, brass to fiberglass, will remove slivers of fiberglass from your ramrod.

The excess epoxy removed, I ran the ramrod brass-tip-first through the rifle's thimbles. When the brass tip bottomed into its slot inside the wooden stock, I carefully positioned the tip & jag combo beside the ramrod. I then made a black mark where I wanted to cut the ramrod. As you can see from the location of the black mark, this tip of the ramrod will go almost all the way to the top of the big end of the brass tip & jag combo.

After cutting at the mark with a hacksaw, I then ground and epoxied and checked for perpendicularity, all like I did with the other end. It went in the floor on top of waxed paper. The next morning I started installing the escutcheon pins.

NOTE: Don't try the following with an ordinary hand-held drill. If you don't have a Dremel® tool or a drill press, go somewhere that does.

I installed a 3/64" bit in my Dremel® tool and drilled a hole through each tip just above the base of each tip. I held the Dremel® tool in my hand, close to my body, and I held the ramrod steady against the edge of my stove. Neither hole was perfectly centered in the brass tips, but that didn't matter.

Step #3 Since the pins measured .049" in diameter and the bit measured about .047" in diameter, I had to ream the two holes slightly so the pins would traverse the tips/rod with slight thumb pressure. The pins finally fitting to my satisfaction, I removed them. I then stuck the end of a toothpick in epoxy and pushed the epoxy into a hole. Using an up and down pumping motion, I kept pushing tiny bits of epoxy into the tiny hole until epoxy oozed out on the other side. Then I coated a escutcheon pin with epoxy and gently pushed it through the hole. The pin in its final position, I used the toothpick and made a little pile of epoxy around the pin at both its entry and exit point. Then I repeated the process on the other end of the ramrod.

In the picture on the right taken after the epoxy dried, notice the ridge of epoxy at the tip/rod junction and notice the hill of epoxy around the pin.

I used wire snippers and clipped off the protruding pins. Then I used a grinding wheel in my Dremel® tool and ground the pins level with the brass ramrod tips. A few minutes work with a sharp knife removed the excess epoxy.

I tightly wrapped a small piece of emery cloth around each brass tip and spun the rod in the abrasive cloth until each tip was shiny and free of epoxy specks and grinder marks. They looked beautiful. I had to hunt the ends of the pins. They were almost invisible.

Finished! On the right, see the final results. The new ramrod is installed in the thimbles and ready for the squirrel woods. There's two things I like about my new ramrod—in addition to the fact that it's virtually unbreakable and threaded 10-32 on one end and 8-32 on the other end:

  • It's stiff, much more so than the old wooden ramrod. Loading a patched ball will be a breeze.

  • It's cupped on both ends. In the haste of reloading after missing a squirrel, I won't have to worry about which end of my ramrod is up and which end is down. It doesn't matter now. Just ram the ball home with whichever end is closest to the muzzle.

  • Well, there's another thing I like about it: I made it!

It was also cheap to make. Here's the approximate cost:

Dixie Gun Works =   $5.70
Ace Hardware =   $0.02
Wal-Mart epoxy =   $0.10
Total =   $5.82

Ain't muzzleloading fun?

The observant reader will notice that each time I glued something with epoxy, I let it dry overnight. It has been my bought experience that even though the epoxy directions claim "workable" hardness after two hours, they are lying like a dog. Allow six hours drying time in warm weather and twelve hours drying time in cool weather.


Copyright 2001 by Junior Doughty

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