Primers, Gun or ?


April 24, 2007, 08:55 PM
I reloaded my first batch of .38's a few weeks ago. Win cases, and small Win pistol primers, 130 gr lead bullets with 2.8 g of Bullseye. Shot them out of a 2 1/4" Ruger Sp101 at 25 yards and they all went bang but were shooting real low. I shot some jacketed commercial ammo to verify.

The next batch I raised it to 3 g of Bullseye and used a 4" S&W 686. They were hitting point of aim (not necessarily where I wanted them- but that's another problem). About 7 out of 120 failed to fire. Most, but not all, would fire if I tried them again.

All shots were single-action. I had replaced the Ruger hammer spring with a lower-powered one years ago.

So - Is it the difference in the guns, my loading technique or hard primers or who knows what with the limited info I've provided?

p.s. The dowel trick to remove a bullet stuck in the forcing cone and cylinder if you somehow ended up with no powder in the case works well. Don't ask me how I know this.

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April 24, 2007, 09:05 PM

This is hard to diagnosis without seeing the shell. Did you try firing them again? Since you said you changed the hammer spring it is possible that the the strike is too light for the primers you had. If you didn't try to fire them again do so and see if they go off, if so you need to increase your hammer spring. I had the same issue on my H&K when I tried to lighten up the DA. However, it could also be that you may have contaminated the primers or primer pockets or it is even possible that you had a bad batch of primers. If you were very careful handling the primers I would look and see how strong the firing pin impression is on the primers; different primers have different hardness.

April 24, 2007, 09:14 PM
Hey Mike, Yes your spring could be too weak and get light hits to the primer. What brand of primer are you using? I recommend Federals for all revolvers. They tend to go bang every time, winchesters 85 out of 100, cci 50 out of 100. You get the picture. Good luck Mac

April 24, 2007, 09:20 PM
I've always used Winchester primers and have been very satisfied with them. No duds, ever.

Again, hard to tell what's going on without actually seeing the cartridges you loaded, but is it possible that the primers were not seated all the way? If this is the case, when you tried to shoot them, the primer would have moved deeper into the primer pocket and failed to fire due to a light strike.

I replaced the springs in a Ruger similar to your's with a Wolff spring kit and never had any problems.

Navy Vet & SWIFT Boat OIC

April 24, 2007, 09:21 PM

Thanks for the reply. I was able to re-fire most of them and the hammer spring was changed long before I fired any of my reloads. All I shot before that was commercial ammo. I probably shouldn't have mentioned that since it may have confused the situation. I only mentioned it so that the Ruger with a lighter than factory spring ignited while the S&W with the standard spring failed occasionally.

The primers were from the same batch. It is possible that some were contaminated but not that many.

April 24, 2007, 09:26 PM

You may be on to something. I had one raised primer. I never considered your analysis. But then again I don't know much about reloading - so why would I?

As I mentioned earlier the spring replacement took place years and many rounds ago and I had no problems with the Ruger.

Thanks All

The Bushmaster
April 24, 2007, 09:46 PM
Bad or weak hammer spring and/or primers not seated all the way...Oh rats...Someone already said that...

April 24, 2007, 10:45 PM
Just what kind of handling would contaminate your primers? I remember hearing about carefully handling them years ago.

Then years back i tried to deactivate some primers, and after soaking them in penetrating oil for several days they still went bang??

I was making dud Tround rou... trounds.

April 24, 2007, 11:04 PM
First of all, make sure your primers are seated all the way, as mentioned. They should be below flush with the base of the case.

Second, take the grips off your S&W and make sure the strain screw is tightened all the way. That's the screw at the base of the grip, facing forward. Sometimes this screw will work loose if not tightened all the way, but it's more often from someone doing a poorman's trigger job by unscrewing it a couple of turns.

Hope this helps.


April 25, 2007, 12:32 AM
Differences in revolvers, differences in powder charge. What I've done with Rugers over the years to get a better trigger is to install a lighter trigger spring, but a slightly heavier hammer spring. Different point of impact is not that unusual when shooting the same load in a Ruger and then in a Smith. Wolff springs have been smoother than Ruger factory springs in my guns, so I get a better overall trigger even though I go heavier on the hammer spring. When you have a raised primer, part of the hammer energy is being used to set the primer deeper upon hammer strike. primers should be slightly below the case rim and the depth as I learned it and has never failed me is .006" below the rim. You can confirm this mostly by feel. Your dial caliper also works as a depth gauge. Due to variations in primer pockets, some primers will seat slightly deeper, or not as deep, but you never want them above the case rim and myself, I want them a little deeper than flush.;)

April 25, 2007, 07:51 AM
I was watching one of those shows, probably the American Shooter and they showed how they make primers. The final stage is to coat them with a lacquer type material, so they are safe to handle without contaminating them.

I'm still voting that some were not seated all the way.

Navy Vet & SWIFT Boat OIC

The Bushmaster
April 25, 2007, 10:38 AM
He was able to double tap them and set them off...That is not a bad primer...That is a primer not seated all the way...

April 25, 2007, 10:48 AM
He was able to double tap them and set them off...That is not a bad primer...That is a primer not seated all the way...

. . . or a weak hammer spring.

Some guns just don't strike the primer hard enough I had to increase the hammer spring on my HK USP because it would occasional not dent the CCI primers hard enough but was fine with factory loads.

April 25, 2007, 10:53 AM
I will have to go with The Bushmaster on this one. Primer not seated all the way. :)

April 25, 2007, 06:12 PM
Thanks again for the replies. I'm voting for improperly seated primers. I inspected what was left of that batch and found two cartridges with the primers slightly raised. The next time I'm at the range, which probably won't be for a week or two, I'll load them and see if they ignite.

Another item to add to the checklist. On the first batch I checked them with a straight edge.

April 25, 2007, 06:16 PM

Please do post whether the raised primers fired or not. I am skeptical at to whether that is the problem or not since I never seen or heard of it before, but if it is I will keep it for future reference.. Thanks

April 26, 2007, 09:17 AM
Mike: in the case of your 7 misfires, high primers are almost certain to be the case, especially if the rounds were fired single action in the 686. The double action hammer strike will be slightly lighter and had you been firing DA you probably would have had a higher incidence of failures to ignite on the first strike.;)

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