Is this really a common problem?


January 25, 2005, 03:51 AM
I have been noticing an increase in threads discussing primer detonations, especially in progressive presses.

Is this really all that common?

Having personally loaded well over a two million (yes 2,000,000) rounds of ammo over 30+ years i have never had it happen.

I have crushed a few, loaded several sideways and seated about a dozen upside down. But I have never had, nor personally known of anyone who had, one actually detonate during priming?

So my question is have you, (not your brother-in-laws-sisters-ex-husbands-third-wifes-last boyfriends-uncles-grandfather) but YOU personally ever had a primer go boom in the press during loading?

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Peter M. Eick
January 25, 2005, 06:44 AM
Never one on my pro-2000 progressive. I have blasted a few using a lee handloader though. Tap, Tap, Tap, BOOOM!

Steve in PA
January 25, 2005, 08:15 AM
Never, ever had it happen in my almost 15 years of reloading. I use an RCBS single-stage.

Mal H
January 25, 2005, 11:09 AM
Never in a press of any type.

However, like Peter, I had more than a few of them go off when using the Lee Loader in the field (both 22-250 and 30-30). All noise and no damage.

January 25, 2005, 11:36 AM
i've had it happen more than 6 times in my dillon 1050 and once in my single stage.

on the single stage, it was actually not in a press per se, but in the forster primer seater tool. the forster primer "tube" has the primers in sideways, so they don't have the same sort of theoretical problem the dillon primer tubes have where all the primers are stacked on top of each other. however, it has another design problem that makes it fairly easy to drop two primers into the hole, which is what i did. only one of the primers detonated, and it was the one in the primer pocket (unfired lapua 308 brass). when it exploded 100% of the blast went through the case and out the neck. unfortunately, the 3rd finger on my right hand was about 1 inch from the case mouth (you hold the case with your hand while priming) and caught the brunt of the blast, leaving lots of specks of black embedded in the first two layers of skin. it was numb for 30 seconds or so. kind like setting off a firecracker in your hand. i suspect that if my finger had been covering the case mouth under pressure, i would have been seriously injured. i'm a lot more careful about making sure none of my fingers are in the way when i prime now.

on the 1050, i bought about 5000 never-fired lake city 223 cases that had been pulled, emptied and had the primers made "chemically inert". whatever chemical they used to kill the primers weaked them and also made them stick to the sides of the primer pocket (corrosion, i believe)

anyway, in about 1 out of 100 of these cases, the decapping pin would rip the top of the primer off, and leave the sides of the primer stuck in the primer pocket. the swaging station would compress it, but not enough. and most of the time, i'd crush a primer in there, which would lock up the machine and i'd have to disassemble the entire primer assembly to fix it. but occasionally, it would detonate the primer.

offhand, i'd say somewhere between 10 and 20 of them blew up. other than making my ears ring for a minute, i never considered it dangerous at all. the 1050 directs the blast up through a well-designed hole in the toolhead. so no problems.

to be clear, this was an unusual set of extraordinarily crappy brass. i don't blame the press.

January 25, 2005, 12:07 PM
I've loaded a few thousand rounds in the 5+ years I've been reloading. All of that on a Lee Turret press. I've crushed, loaded sideways, loaded backwards, and even managed to load correctly primers and not one has detonated.

I load for 38/357, 32acp, and 6.5x55.


January 25, 2005, 12:46 PM
I too have crushed a lot of primers in my Dillon 550 without ever setting one off.

With that said ,I did set one Federal LP primer off while seating. It turned out that the batch of 5,000 primers I bought was in a batch recalled for sensitivty
problems. That was the only one of that lot I had that went bang when seating :uhoh: The rest worked just fine,shot all the loads without a problem.

Moral of the story is, you can be doing everything right,but still pop a cap.
Don't load without safety glasses.


January 25, 2005, 08:28 PM
None yet in a Lee "O" frame press or RCBS AmmoMaster progressive press.

January 25, 2005, 09:29 PM
I have a couple Dillon 550s, a Rockchucker, a Lyman Turret Press, and a Lee Auto Prime. Never had a primer go off in the press and have seated them sideways, upside down, etc.
And, like everyone else, I have had a few go off when using a Lee Loader. Actually, all the ones that went off with the Lee Loader were when I was using S&B brass.

Art Eatman
January 25, 2005, 09:30 PM
Not my father, my uncle nor I. My uncle got me started reloading in 1950. I've never had any friend mention a problem--FWIW.

I've gotten a few primers seated sideways/crushed, and upside down, through the years. Nothing happened.


January 25, 2005, 09:48 PM
None on multiple single stage presses.

None on a Dillon 450/550 either.

January 25, 2005, 10:00 PM
I'm treating my turret press as single stage here .. never - not one. Crushes yes. Qty loaded over the years? heck - difficult. I'll guess at 200,000, ball park... most of that handgun stuff.

January 25, 2005, 10:14 PM
Never on either 550B or on my single stage Lee. The only one I did detonate was while dragging a workbench out of the way of the new one going in - dragged it over a primer and Bang! Sounded just like a gunshot. :)

January 25, 2005, 10:32 PM
I asked the old man, who's been reloading some 30 odd years, he's never had it happen, it's never happened to me....

January 25, 2005, 10:42 PM
I started handloading with my dad, using Lee Loaders, in the late 1970's. Now I have a couple Dillon progressives, a Hornady O-Frame, RCBS Jr, and a Lee hand press. I've smushed primers sideways in the Dillon 550 and Square Deal B, and flattened more than a few in military brass that wasn't properly pocket reamed. But I've never detonated one yet. I don't put a lot of speed on the primer seating stroke, maybe that's what's saved me to date? Time will tell, I've maybe 20K reloaded rounds under my belt. ;)

January 26, 2005, 04:50 PM
Nearly half a century and thousands of loads, and never a pop on the press, hand and bench priming tools or Lee hammer tool. I, too have crushed, seated sideways and upside down without a pop.
Additionally I have deprimed over 2,000 live primers without a pop, and I still use them for plinking and fireforming.
I must be too cautious.
Cheers from Darkest California,

Black Snowman
January 26, 2005, 06:08 PM
Only once on my Load Master with Federal primers (which they specificly mention to avoid in the manual) when I missed the fact that the decapping pin didn't deprime a round and which trying to determine where what function started when I was feeling the extra resistance I go my answer in the from of a loud pop. Ears rang and 1 primer was a complete loss. No other damage.

Primers don't seem to like being seated in primer pockets that already have one. Hasn't happens since and I am now familar enough with the press that I can feel in the stroke when it's seating too deep or one is sideways and gets crushed.

Never had a problem in priming in a single stage press other than frequently dropping primers when I try to get them on that darn little cup.

About 15,000 rounds through the Load Master now. Maybe 1000 or 2000 on single stages. Hard to say.

January 26, 2005, 06:24 PM
I was just thinking of starting a similar thread myself. I had responded to the other thread you were referring to...

one of the replies was "you're lucky you've never had a primer detonation"

now, I'm experienced enough to know I haven't had every experience, but some of the primers I've seen mangled had every right in the world to go off and haven't

I'm thinkin' that some guys are wailing pretty hard on their presses...of course, I've seen guys that could tear up an anvil with a rubber mallet..dunno. I do think that, if you can fold a primer in half and not have it go off, somebody's doing something "unusual"

but the responses so far back up what I've seen. As for me, I appreciate the input

January 26, 2005, 09:36 PM
i'm not sure exactly how to say this because i didn't study each of the primers i set off, but i have crushed a large number of them, and set off quite a few too, and i don't recall any of the ones i set off being very crushed. i don't think it's the act of crushing that sets them off.

for example, many of the ones i crushed were because i didn't sufficiently remove the military crimp and the primer just got squished in sideways etc. other times, something else would stop me from completing the stroke, and on the upstroke, the half-seated primer would get sheered a bit or crushed. none of these set off the primers.

the only detonations i recall having were because something else was still in the primer pocket when i tried to seat it. e.g. a small portion of the spent primer that didn't come out from the decapping station.

so, the results of the poll don't surprise me a bit, as it would be rare for most people to encounter foreign objects in their primer pockets.

lee n. field
January 26, 2005, 10:30 PM
None in the press. Two in a Lee Loader, both on the same case (which I discarded).

January 28, 2005, 01:36 PM
I have never had the experience and I am figuring 200,000 primers being seated. And, like someone else, I have done some de-priming of live primers from a case.
I'm thinkin' that some guys are wailing pretty hard on their presses...
The question and the poll was directed at us personally. Remembering that I want to bring up I do have a friend who had a couple of Federal pistol primers go off in a Lee Pro-1000 (only the one went off each time) so after the 3rd occurance he quit using them. But, I noticed that he was pretty aggressive when he loaded and he did tend to pound the unit when he raised and lowered the handle.

It is the impact of the firing pin hitting that causes the primer to go off so a steady pressure should do nothing more than crush that little puppy if it was applied long enough.

January 28, 2005, 02:03 PM
Never had a primer go off in My PRO 1000 or my LNL AP (knock on wood). I've loaded 9K in the PRO 1000 and only 500 in the LNL.


January 30, 2005, 09:30 AM
None yet. I use Fed, Win, CCI, doesn't matter. My machine is a LeePro1K. I have 12000 rds worth of "notches" on the lever.

Like most respondents I've inserted primers incorrectly a few times.

January 30, 2005, 10:26 AM
I am a newbie to reloading, but with the 500 or so i have loaded on my RCBS single stage, not one detonation so far, and being very new, I am taking it very slow and easy doing this....

Mr. Chitlin
January 31, 2005, 07:26 PM
Well, I had never had this happen to me until yesterday. I was loading 9mm, and must have gotten a case with a crimp. It got a little tight, I pushed a little harder and it popped. This is using a Dillon 650. No damage, just kinda caught me off guard. I have been loading for around 25 years, and loaded many 10's of thousands of rounds on single stage and progressive presses.

January 31, 2005, 10:42 PM
Although if I had it wouldn't have been in a press. For many many years I have primed as a separate operation.

The Bushmaster
February 1, 2005, 01:30 AM
My Lee turret, Auto-Prime and I have put them in upside down, crosswise, sideways and any number of different ways. So far I haven't detenated any primers. I even crunched one bad enough that the priming compound sprinckled out. I will put it to luck and luck only. Like many of you, I have primed thousands of pistol, revolver and rifle cases. My turn will come. Of that I am certain. POP!! ;)

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