Reloading berdan primed brass


June 14, 2007, 11:25 PM
I know the military crimp is a booger to get out, but when ammo is expensive and hard to find, I don't really care how hard it is.

So, what do I need to do to reload a berdan primed casing? I know the crimp has to be removed, but what does this involve? Are there any additional measures to reprime to casing, or is it just like a boxer primed?


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Jim Watson
June 14, 2007, 11:42 PM
Crimping isn't the main thing. A Berdan primed case has the anvil formed as part of the case and usually two but sometimes one or three flashholes offcenter around it. So you can't decap with a conventional decapping pin. The fired primer has to be dug out with a hook-like implement, pried out with an awl at risk of damage to the anvil, or blown out with hydraulic pressure.

There were some patent decappers about 20 years ago, most from England, but I doubt there is the British customer base to support them any more.

Then you have to have the right size Berdan primer (not common) and the right size priming punch (special order) to seat them with.

I worked with a friend to keep his .450 Express shooting until he could find some Boxer primed brass and it is not something I want to tackle on a large scale for something I can get Boxer brass for at all.

June 14, 2007, 11:46 PM
So basically, spend more now, minimize headaches later?

June 15, 2007, 12:32 AM
But if you want to experiment . Get a wooden dowel that will just fit in your berdan case, fill the case with water, place the case over a nut or hole on a hard surface , then protecting your eyes HIT THE DOWEL WITH A BIG HAMMER . The hydrualic pressure should drive the primer out. Sometimes it takes a few hard hits, topping up the water each time. But once you have the primer out you can measure hole diameter, and depth. Ye old ammo scrounger or what ever his name is , sometimes has berdan primers. If it is a rare and unavailable case it is sometimes worth the effort, but usually there is a source of Boxer primed cases somewhere, you just have to find it. has just about anything you could want ,in the way of cases and bullets.

Matt Dillon
June 15, 2007, 07:56 AM
I just deprimed over 300 Berdan-primed GP11 cases (7.5 Swiss) yesterday, so my advice for you is buy boxer-primed brass if at all possible. I use a 5/1 6" bolt which I have polished well, then cut off the threads, and chamfered the end of the bolt a bit. I squirt some water into each case, then put the head of the case inside a 9/16" socket (in order to give somewhere for the primer to go), then insert the bolt and whack it with a hammer. Works pretty well, but it is messy and much more time consuming compared to good Boxer brass.:D

Jim Watson
June 15, 2007, 08:57 AM
I think so, eastwood. I would not handle Berdans unless it was the ONLY way to shoot the gun.
What caliber has got you thinking about it?

Hydraulic decapping like the guys describe is a mess. I read of one failed try; the primers were crimped or corroded in and enough pressure to decap bulged the brass badly. I have seen plans for a balanced pressure hydraulic decapper that would prevent that, but even messier.

Wamadet made the Hydro Punch that put a nozzle down inside the case over the flashholes and you whacked the piston with a hammer to apply hydraulic pressure only to the primer. Claimed to decap with two drops of water per case. No mess but you still had to dry the brass.

Prime made a floating decapping pin to use in a sizing die in the loading press, almost like Boxer. The pin was offset and very thin, the stem floated with some play. You raised the ram slowly and felt the pin into one of the flashholes and then raised the ram to decap. Better have a lot of spares of the little pins.

Then there was the Power Punch. It positioned a common Boxer primer, anvil down over the Berdan flashholes inside the case. Then fired it, blowing out the Berdan primer with its flash. Expend a primer to decap a primer. Kind of expensive, noisy, too; but simple and dry.

June 15, 2007, 10:42 AM
What caliber are we talking about?

June 15, 2007, 12:31 PM
I believe that RCBS still makes a Berdan decapping tool.

June 15, 2007, 01:39 PM
Reloading berdan primed brass is more trouble than it's worth. Just finding the primers can be a nuisance. Plus you have to find the right size for the cartridge you want to load. They're not like boxer primers, LR, SR, SP, LP. Magtech sells them, but only in one size.
RCBS does make a decapping tool, but it's a hand operation only that pries them out. $52.99 from Midway.
"...7.5 Swiss..." New 7.5 Swiss brass is readily available.

Jim Watson
June 15, 2007, 01:43 PM
Yes, it is kind of a bottle opener pry tool. Gotta be careful adjusting the point that pierces and pries out the primer so you don't gouge the anvil.

When I was doing it with said .450 BPE shooter, we just screwed the sizing die into the press frame upside down, dropped the case into it, and tapped the point of an awl into the indent, angled to miss the anvil. Then pried on the handle. The primers popped right out. We seated new primers by setting one on a flat plate and pressing the case down over it for flush seating; the primers were of larger diameter than Boxer large rifle and the regular punch would not handle them. Kind of tedious, but he only had nine Kynoch cases that came with the gun to start with.

June 15, 2007, 01:55 PM
Was looking at 7.5 Swiss and 8x56R.

Jim Watson
June 15, 2007, 02:12 PM
Well, Matt Dillon is doing 7.5 Swiss, but you can now get Boxer brass.

8x56R is a different matter, might be worth the trouble if you can get the primers.
Lo and behold, Hornady is now doing 8x56R; $38 a hundred from Buffalo Arms.

I cannot google a source for Berdan primers. Maybe somebody will put in more search time for you

June 15, 2007, 02:19 PM
$38 a hundred for unprimed brass, I take it?

June 15, 2007, 02:41 PM
36.99 from for 8x56R unprimed brass. They only charge I think $3.95 flat insurance fee per order, no shipping. Same price for the 7.5mmx55 Swiss brass. I think by the time you paid the extra price for Berdan primers and the decapping tool (or the pain of not using the decapping tool) you would be ahead just to buy the boxer brass. Those prices are per 100.

Grafs is a good company, ship the same day and they don't mess around with shipping charges.

June 15, 2007, 03:02 PM
Here's another alternative I read about on another board for the 7.5 Swiss:
7.5 Swiss brass can be made from Boxer primed 284 winchester cases just by running them through a full-length die with a good tapered neck expander like the Lee dies have. Use Imperial sizing die wax on both the case and the case neck.

The 284 case is 2.170 and the 7.5 Swiss is 2.185 so the reformed cases witll have a slightly shorter neck by less than 1/16th of an inch. The rim will also be slightly smaller but it will work.

June 15, 2007, 09:07 PM
I've used .284 brass in my K31 for quite a while, works great. I've also messed with berdan primers in the past, definitely not worth it if you can get boxer cases. I also bought some of those 8x56r cases from Buffalo a while back. Still haven't loaded them but they look good.

It sure is good to see brass available for some of these old calibers available now. I also bought 100 6.5 Jap cases for $29. Back in the old days the only option was Norma.

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