primer recovery


January 14, 2007, 03:00 PM
recently while reloading i had some brass cartridges collapse..found i had something in the seating / crimping i am about to remove the bullet to recover it and the powder...

question is: is it possible to remove the primer and re seat it into a new cartridge or is it not safe or worth the risk?


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January 14, 2007, 03:34 PM
Why take the time to try and recycle something that costs at most $.02 (2 cents) and risk it not working or even becoming dangerous?

January 14, 2007, 03:39 PM
I'm with 20yearvet, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DECAP LIVE PRIMERS. It ain't worth the time, trouble and potetially dangerous situation. Just chunk em as experience. Mac

January 14, 2007, 05:19 PM
This thread should go 2 pages before dying out. Decapping live primers can be safely done.:uhoh: There I said it!:what:

Now a disclaimer; IF you do it gently with either a decapper die or your FL die. And they can be re-used!:scrutiny: Horrors! Those in the crowd that are afraid of their own shadow, should not do it, may require panic attack medicine?;)

Now I may require you all to think for a moment. Put down the beer, or cigarette and consider something. What does it take to set off a primer? A HARD sudden blow with a pointed steel firing pin! All the while the primer is held solid in a shell, in a chamber, tight in the primer pocket! Where do those conditions exist in a shell in a die with the primer free to be moved by a decapping rod??? If primers were that sensitive, they would be packaged in shock proof containers, instead of hard plastic trays. Again, if they were that sensitive, they would pop when two shells bounce together in someones pocket!

We see threads all the time on here and other forums about cleaning primer pockets, and to be sure NOT to have high primers. Because, so the theory goes, the firing pin may have to seat the primer to the bottom of the pocket to fire it! Sometimes when it doesn't, we get a FTF,(failure To Fire ).

I suppose it's remotely possible to set one off doing a decap of a live primer. Pulling the handle sharply, or in the case of decapping live crimped-in-primers. Since it's a no-brainer to always wear safety glasses while loading, the added presence of gloves while doing it might be a good idea.

I've done it numerous times, then reused the decapped primers. But only in range practice ammo, not for hunting or serious competition.

January 14, 2007, 05:38 PM
don't usually bother with it - the 2cents thing. But, I have done it with no problem

January 14, 2007, 06:59 PM
+1 for what Snuffy said . .I don't ever tend to reuse them, but I do decap them so that there aren't any live primers in my recycle bucket.

Just my .02


January 14, 2007, 07:39 PM
I'm sure you could de-cap a live primer, but why, to what end? If you do and it goes off though, it's not too tragic but can be the cause of another type of discharge which may require you to change your shorts!

I run a woodshop and I am Mr. Safety. My ten fingers and two eyes are a testimony to not taking chances with what we cannot get back. I found a quarter in the range parking lot today and that more than covers the number of primers I have had to throw away over the years.

I'm sure you can afford to toss out a primer or two once in awhile. As far as going for it, well there is nothing heroic, courageous or wise in taking unnecessary risks when dealing with firearms. But, you could be adventurous and primer fire it in your gun just for giggles. That is the safest way to remove a primer!

January 14, 2007, 07:52 PM
"Hey, watch this, I'm gonna deprime this here..." BOOM:eek:

January 14, 2007, 07:59 PM
Take the necessary precautions and try it.

I've decapped live ones...I've reseated 'em. I've even decapped them and put them back in the box for later use. All of them fired and I still have all my fingers and toes.


Phillip Allen
January 14, 2007, 08:12 PM
decapping live primers is very likely to crack the priming pellet...or re-seat the anvil...neither is good for dependability or accuracy

January 14, 2007, 08:44 PM

BS. Can be easily and safely done, have done hundreds of them over the years. Of course, wear safety glasses as you should be doing anyways and gently push the primer out.


January 15, 2007, 09:31 AM
Has any one had a primer go off during primer seating or.....decapping? How large is the explosion? Does the primer blow out or does most of the explosive force go out the case mouth?

A few nights ago I "deactivated" a primer that had been deformed during seating by firing the empty primed case in my pistol. It was dark out in my backyard and I must say the flash was more than I expected it to be.

January 15, 2007, 09:37 AM
I've decapped live primers before...never had a problem. That being said, it's probably not the smartest thing to do.

January 15, 2007, 09:46 AM
recently while reloading i had some brass cartridges collapse..found i had something in the seating / crimping i am about to remove the bullet to recover it and the powder...

question is: is it possible to remove the primer and re seat it into a new cartridge or is it not safe or worth the risk?

I think it is not as unsafe as some might suggest, but not safe enough that I would do it myself, certainly not to recover a single primer of dubious value. Primers are cheap. I'd be inclined to just remove the bullet and powder and be done with it. Squirt a little oil in on the primer and that should deactivate it so you can dispose of it, or just shoot off the blank, if you can get it to chamber.

The Bushmaster
January 15, 2007, 10:11 AM
I was going to be the first one to respond to quiknot, but, alas, my net provider went down for the count and it took a half a day and a night for them to get back up. As everyone has pretty much covered this subject I will only respond by saying. I'm with snuffy. There is no real problem decapping live primers from cases. As you are already wearing safety glasses in the first place and your fingers are not in an exposed location when extracting live primers No problem. Reusing them...Yessss and Nooo...Only if you are in a pinch or you are using them in practice rounds at the range where you don't have a ready supply of new fresh ones. Well said snuffy....:)

January 15, 2007, 10:16 AM
"Has any one had a primer go off during primer seating or.....decapping? How large is the explosion? Does the primer blow out or does most of the explosive force go out the case mouth? "

pretty loud. The primer is usually sitting in a shell holder and doens't leave the pocket. The old lee loader set had a priming setup that had you sticking a rod into the case and then placing the case over a primer in a depression in the tool. You tapped the rod to drive the case down on top the primer. Fairly regularly, this would set the primer off with the blast going over your fingers. Hot but no injury. It was loud enough that ear protection was needed.

Steve C
January 15, 2007, 10:43 AM
You tapped the rod to drive the case down on top the primer. Fairly regularly, this would set the primer off with the blast going over your fingers. Hot but no injury.

Had one go off on me when I first started reloading with the very same Lee "classic" reloading tool. It sent the rod into the air about 3'. Not really dangerous but as always when reloading, eye protection is a must.

January 15, 2007, 10:51 AM
Impressive. Mine were small pistol primers and didn't break my grip on the rod.

Mal H
January 15, 2007, 11:02 AM
My experience with the Lee Loader was much like mec's, many primers went off, but none caused any problem. The seating rod never budged, and I never got burned. They were loud enough that my wife would call down from 2 floors away and say, "set off another one, eh?" I always wore eye protection, but never had an occurrence where it actually was needed. Mine were mostly CCI large rifle, both regular and magnum. Since those are about as powerful as primers come, I've got to question the rod going 3' in the air especially since the primer always goes off when the hammer is putting force on the rod on its down swing.

Steve C, was there a special circumstance when that one happened?

I'll also weigh in on decapping live primers - it's safe as long as you go slow and wear eye protection. Personally, I would also wear ear protection for that operation on a just-in-case basis. However, I would never even think of keeping a live primer recovered in that manner. Too high a probablility that the compound pellet was cracked or the anvil was deformed.

If the brass is unusable as the OP suggested, I would just toss the whole thing in the trash. And, no, there's no danger in doing that either.

January 15, 2007, 11:13 AM
All this trouble and possible danger to save a few cents.


Not to mention the time spent.


I just don't understand "Why?"

January 15, 2007, 11:28 AM
I have deprimed live primers (10 or less). I did it because I didn't want to take the brass with live primers to the recycler. I didn't discover the brass was bad until after I had primed them.:cuss: Go slow and use steady force and of course eye and ear protection.

The Bushmaster
January 15, 2007, 11:54 AM
Because it's a hobby, Primerinmyshoe. And with all hobbies, time is unimportant...:D And we all reload to save money (a fallacy) and make better ammunition (also a possible fallacy). :D

January 15, 2007, 11:57 AM
most vacuum cleaners don't do this but my mother's did. suck up a primer and " tick, tick, tick BLAMMMM!"
After a while, she got used to it.

January 15, 2007, 12:41 PM
OK Bushmaster, I guess I get it. I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I reload to shoot. The process of reloading is a necessary thing I must do in order to shoot. Don't get me wrong, I take reloading very seriously, and have learned a lot about the process. For me it's the guns and what makes them tick, and being able to use them to the best of my ability that occupies my thoughts. When I reload I crank out 500 to 1000 at a time. Not worrying about a few components that don't make the grade. That's why I can't see myself worring about a few primers or cases. But, as it's said - to each his own.

The Bushmaster
January 15, 2007, 12:44 PM
L M A O...My wife told me if she sucked one more of those primers in her vacuum cleaner she would have my head on a plater. Guess it scares the HE-double-tooth-picks out of her.:evil:

Primerinmyshoe...Understand. I, on the other hand, load to shoot,to load, to shoot. But I'm not that carried away to have some fun in between. I enjoy both.

January 15, 2007, 01:33 PM
My mom vacuumed up a live 22 LR round once. Just made a lot of noise, but no damage to the vacuum cleaner. Rattled the nerves of the operator of said cleaner. She was not pleased with my dad...

If I was going to deprime live primers, I'd do it with either an oversized sizing die (one for a larger diameter cartridge) or a universal depriming die. That way if the primer does go off, it has room to vent out around the outside of the shell. And I wouldn't risk my best sizing die, or a carbide sizing die on it either.

Beware that soaking in oil is not a reliable way of making a primer inert. I don't know that there is a proven, reliable way to do it. Funny how we take all kinds of extremes to make sure primers go bang when we want it too, but there's almost nothing that will guarantee it doesn't go bang when we don't want it to...


January 15, 2007, 04:35 PM
Primers are expensive and I am cheap. I had about 300 or 500 match rifle cases season crack at the neck due to deteriorating mil surplus powder. Each of those cases had a CCI #34 primer in it . Those are not cheap. I de primed each and every case being very gentle on the downstroke. And primed a bunch of 308 cases with the stuff, loaded a 168 Sierra with 42.0 grains IMR 4064 and shot the stuff. It shot MOA. It did not cluster as well as new primer brass shot that day during load testing. But it shot well enough for offhand ammo, maybe I will give it a try out to 300 yards.

I was also given a 5lb dishwashing detergent bucket full of primed WWII 30-06. The owner had pulled the bullets and dumped the powder, and was too chicken to knock the primers out. Well fools will run where angles fear to tread!. I de primed all of that stuff. Except for the one in twenty or one in thirty primer that pierced, or went off. The primer crimp around the primer just would not release some primers. You could actually see the cup being distorated, and at some point, the cup would be pierced or it would go bang!. The blasted stuff never blew the primer out, instead I would get a pierced primer with a lot of primer smoke going up the decapping die. On primers that pierced but did not go off, I tried removing the primer with a Berdan primer removal tool or a sharp tool. That was guaranteed to ignite the primer. Of course wondering if I would have fingers in the morning always made the job more enjoyable. A laugh a minute you might say. I finally chucked all the pierced primer cases. I could not get the primer cup out one way or another.

And I decrimped, sized, and trimmed all of those WWII cases and I will get around to loading and shooting them in the next millennium.

January 16, 2007, 01:29 AM
A friend was a partner on a subcontract from
to demil over 13 million rounds of 30 Carbine. Due to restrictions in Talon's contracts to demil US Army small caliber ammunition the work had to be done in West Virgina with workers referred by the state unemployment office. It was a federal/state "workfare" program.
So they used Rock Chucker reloading presses,bullet pulling dies,and depriming dies. They ran two shifts to demil the ammo. Once the bullets and powder had been removed they started working on depriming the cases. The first day they had two primers go off and two ladies quit working for them. But after the second talk with all employees explaining how that you can't "slap" the handle of the press. But once you feel the depriming pin touch the primer to use a steady even pressure to push the primer out of the case. After this second talk they didn't have a single primer go off depriming the rest of the 13 million+ rounds.
Less than 1 out of every 1000 primers would be damaged during removal from the cases. Which resulted in the anvil falling out of the primer. In testing the primers several thousand rounds were loaded using the dimilled componets with every round firing without a single dud.

January 16, 2007, 01:39 AM
A few years back my boss gave me the "opportunity" to remove 2,000 primers from new .45 Magnum cases that were to be shipped by mail to England.
There were no exciting moments in the experience. I still have those Win mag large pistol primers that I use for plinking, fireforming and such. None has ever failed me. I just can't throw away $45.ºº worth of primers that do not seem to present a hazard.
I used a .33 Winchester or a .348 Winchester sizing die to decap on an RCBS Rockchucker, thought he Bonanza Coax would have been better at collecting the primers.
With suitable care, paranoia is not required.
Cheers from Darkest California,

January 16, 2007, 03:59 AM
Over the past 46 years of reloading, I have never detonated a primer in a press. I have put them in backwards, sideway, and deformed some horribly, but no kabooms. I have deprimed many hundreds of live primers over the years, and reused them without deterioration of accuracy. I used the majority of them for fowling shots. When I deprime live primers, I always put a 3/4 “ piece of plywood between the press and my body, just for safety.

Now :evil: for that “it’s only a couple of pennies” crowd, I’m willing to bet you are the same guys who will:

spend 3 hours searching for those last two wayward 45 cases (they’re only a penny a piece);

split out your $40 genes picking up range brass (but its only a penny a piece for the brass);

sprint 50 yards across live fire to claim that box of once fired brass that some guy just abandoned (but they’re only a penny a piece);

casually mention to your shooting buddy, so everyone within earshot will hear, that you shot the last guy that tried to pick up your brass (but its only a penny a piece for the brass);

get into a fist fight with your shooting buddy over the rights to go thru the last trash barrel at the range (but its only a penny a piece for the brass);

Thats my 2 cents.:p :D

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