Are there any berdan primed 223 out there?


April 27, 2009, 02:07 AM
Not steel or plastic or whatever, but brass 223/5.56?

Just wondering for scrounging purposes when I go to the range. I know that there is quite a bit of 308 berdan primed (7.62x51 nato).

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April 27, 2009, 04:35 AM
Yes, indeed, there's quite a bit of foreign surplus ammo in 5.56 which is loaded with Berdan primers.

You are wise to raise the question, because (as you're undoubtedly aware) a single undetected Berdan-style case can bring one's reloading to a screeching halt until that bent or broken decapping stem can be replaced.

I've taken to keeping one or two spare RCBS .22 decapping stems on hand just for such occasions.

Be very suspicious of any unfamiliar headstamps, and (of course) throw away all those which prove to have the Berdan pockets. Once a given headstamp has been proven to indicate Berdan priming, it's easy to sort 'em out. Identifying the FIRST one can be touchy, given the difficulty of peering into that teeny casemouth. Bright sunlight helps!

Mal H
April 27, 2009, 11:44 AM
Tons of it - and as BruceB said, the headstamp is the key.

If you have one, the small diameter depriming rod from an old Lee Classic Loader is a great Berdan detector. Push it in to the bottom and the flash hole is easily detected if the case is Boxer primed. If you don't have one of the rods, I'm sure a suitable substitute could be made with a small diameter dowel with a pin stuck in the end and the head clipped off. Take it to the range with and when you find an unknown headstamp check it on-site. You can leave them all where they lie instead of schlepping them home.

April 27, 2009, 12:19 PM
Well thanks for he info. I have about 1000 pieces of 223 that I need to check then.

Does anyone know the common headstamps for berdan primed brass?

May 18, 2009, 08:47 AM
I was unaware such an animal existed until this past Saturday, when I picked up a handful of .223 brass after a CMP match. Some of the cases had a headstamp I didn't recognize, plus they appeared to have crimped in primers. I carefully ran one into my Universal Decapping Die & met some resistance.....thinking it was the crimp that was doing it I persisted & broke the decapping pin (I keep a bag of spares on hand!). I shone a light down the case mouth &, sure enough, berdan primed. The headstamp on the cases I have are two sets of numbers, one at 12 o'clock, & the other at 6 o'clock. The numbers are 86 at the top & 13 at the bottom.....I have no idea as to origin.

Dark Skies
May 18, 2009, 08:59 AM
Is there a gadget available for removing Berdan primers so the cases can be re-used? I've literally thousands of 303 Berdan cases kicking around in a bucket in my shed.

May 18, 2009, 09:23 AM
also watch out for brass plated steel cases such as from Golden Bear.

May 18, 2009, 10:15 AM
Is there a gadget available for removing Berdan primers so the cases can be re-used?
RCBS makes, or did make one.

You can also use the old water trick. Fill the case with water. Use a rod that just does fit in the neck. Give it a good tap. The water pressure pushes out the primer. So I have read anyway. Slow and messy is the only complaint I have heard about that method.

May 18, 2009, 10:23 AM
Along a similar line, would it be possible to just drill out the flash hole to accept boxer primers and aid decapping in the future? Or would the resulting opening (flash hole) be too large or cause any other problems?

Jim Watson
May 18, 2009, 10:33 AM
It isn't getting the fired Berdan primer out, it is finding fresh Berdan primers to recap with. If anybody knows of a source, I have not seen it in print or www, and there are a lot of people wondering about keeping their funny furrin guns shooting after the Slobbovian surplus dries up.

It is possible to convert SOME Berdan cases to Boxer. If the primer pocket is smaller than .210", it is just a lot of work. There are a lot of .217" Berdans out there that I have READ can be used by hammering the anvil flat, which mostly fills the dual flashholes, milling the pocket flat, drilling a central flashhole, and crimping the rim of the pocket to hold a .210" Boxer in place.

May 18, 2009, 10:40 AM
Guys, I've been holding onto all fired cases, Berdan primers might become common some day. I hope.......

May 18, 2009, 02:22 PM
I stand all my cases up then shine a light in each one checking flash holes. One is good, more goes into the scrap pucket. Simple and helps find rocks or any other objects too. sure it takes a few minutes, but look at the time it can save you. :rolleyes:

May 18, 2009, 03:22 PM
And yes Bobotech, there is a ton of berdan primed South African 5.56 out there.

May 18, 2009, 04:24 PM
Bonza, (Nice Floor)
I think it is Chinese/Tiwanese. I don't remember. I'm at the point that I know it is berdan & that is all I need to know.

The other thing is I have found some .223 that is boxer with an undersized flash hole. German head stamp - can't recall at the moment. Rare but hard to deal with.
.308 seems to have more berdan brass range pickup, but that is probably because I'm not counting the steel cases in .223.

I don't think converting Berdan to Boxer is feasible. Even if it is I would say there are better uses of your resources. I have also read there are multiple sizes of berdan priimers

May 18, 2009, 05:09 PM
DarkSkies asked: Is there a gadget available for removing Berdan primers so the cases can be re-used? I've literally thousands of 303 Berdan cases kicking around in a bucket in my shed.

I have one of the RCBS tools that Walkalong mentioned. I use it pretty regular to reload a bunch of Jugoslavian & South African berdan-primed .303 British cases. On the initial deprime I find I lose perhaps 5% of the cases due to the primer-crimp, but depriming the reloaded cases is a relative breeze. I prime the cases using the Lee Auto Prime, as I've found the 5.5mm berdan primers work almost as well as the standard Large Rifle boxer ones through it. The tool works by inserting a rod in the case mouth, whilst also piercing the primer, at an angle, with another tool that hooks over the case rim. You then remove the old primer by pushing down on both the rod & tool at the same time. The tool is adjustable to fit various diameter cases as well as both rimmed & rimless designs.
As mentioned above, finding berdan primers is the main problem here in the U.S. I bought a couple of thousand about three years ago & I figure they'll last me a while. Hopefully more will turn up before I run out, if not I also have a good supply of boxer-primed .303 British brass waiting in the wings!

evan price
May 19, 2009, 03:37 AM
Most (not all) Berdan primed .223 that I have encountered had a three-point crimp on the primer. I am automatically suspicious of any .223 with a 3-point crimp until I look in the case!

I also remember another one, can't remember the headstamp except it was just a few numbers, the distinguishing feature to denote Berdan to me was the primer was slathered with a gloppy yellowish sealer that wouldn't come off even in the tumbler- it just picked up dirt from the media and turned brown/black. Also seen this with .30 carbine from the same manufacturer.

May 19, 2009, 06:33 AM
The biggest problem you'll have with reloading .223 or .303 Berdan primed brass is the lack of the primers.

A little SA and FN .303 uses .217" primers, the rest use .250" primers. While .217" are hard to find, .250" are impossible to find.

For .223, they use a smaller Berdan primer. I probably have some, but the RCBS tool would probably not work well on that small a case.

May 19, 2009, 08:27 AM
A little SA and FN .303 uses .217" primers,

Also the Jugoslav.

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