Reloading Berdan Brass


James Ridings
November 16, 2009, 02:40 AM
I know that there is a tool designed and available to lever out the berdan primers.

Is it possible to take the used hull and convert it to boxer design brass by taking a micro bit (say .010") and a machinist vice with wooden yaws set up to hold the hulls primer up. By using the spent primer as the desired drill center point. Can a reloader drill out the primer and the brass hull making the boxer center port at the same time?

After the drilling is complete then take a small gimlet (I think that is its name) which is a Tee handled sheet metal threaded tool to screw into the drilled Primer but not into the brass.

At that point pull the primer out of the pocket. This will leave the smaller - off center berdan primer vents and the newly drilled vent for Boxer spark activity and allowing later extraction of the boxer primer again and again.

This may require using the deburring tool to clean up any chips from the drillingprocess.

Will this work? Your thoughts.

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November 16, 2009, 03:58 AM

It's a lot of work, but it is doable.

November 16, 2009, 12:02 PM
Doable, but not practical if there is any other way to make or buy boxer primed cases.

Part of the problem is, many Berdan primers are already larger them Lg rifle Boxer primers to start with, (.217" .250" and .254") so the primer pocket is too big, and there is nothing much you can do about it without a lot of extra work bushing the primer pocket down.

Boxer primers are either Small (.175" diameter) and Large (.210").


November 17, 2009, 08:50 AM
The only way I can possibly see this as being worth the effort is if you are trying to reload some obscure, hard to get, caliber for which boxer-primed cases aren't readilly available or easilly formed. As mentioned earlier, berdan primers come in various sizes, the 5.5mm is fairly close to a Large Rifle primer in diameter, but not exact.

Marlin 45 carbine
November 17, 2009, 10:10 AM
interesting post, since the primers can be removed w/out lots of difficulty is there a supplier of replacement primers?
just press a new primer into place?

November 17, 2009, 12:26 PM
Berdan primers are available, but hard to find sometimes. Another problem is that the shells may not be resizeable. Steel cases cant be resized of course, but I am wondering if a lot of the "bi-metal" berdan shells that look like pot-metal can be resized with no problem.

November 17, 2009, 12:43 PM
You happen to have hit upon a subject we have discussed dozens of times.

The bottom line: Yes, it can be done by those with lots of time, tools, resources, desire, hunger, and obsolete metallic cartridges on their hands. Most folks talk about it for years, but never actually get around to it.

One cost effective idea: If you have a bunch of Berdan cases, you can sell them to a metal recycler and use the money to buy boxer brass. Unless, of course, you have a very obscure obsolete cartridge.

Explore the search function and see what else you can find. Hope you stick around, James.

November 17, 2009, 04:02 PM
"bi-metal" berdan shellsBi-Metal cases are nothing more then plain steel cases with a brass or zink wash (thin plating) over the steel to keep them from rusting.

They are no different then any other steel berdan case when it comes to reloading them, or not.

BTW: PMC used to import Berdan primers.
Graf & Sons, Huntingtons, and Old western Scrounger used to sell Berdan primers, with the "used too" being the opertave words.

Right now today, I know of no Berdan primers being imported into the U.S. or sold by anyone.


November 17, 2009, 04:53 PM
Isnt there some foreign ammo that has brass cases that are berdan primed?

November 17, 2009, 05:11 PM
Yes, lots of it. A great deal of foreign military surplus ammo is brass / Berdan.

But you still can't reload it if you can't buy Berdan primers in the U.S.A.

And as far as I know right now, you can't.


David Wile
November 17, 2009, 06:00 PM
Hey folks,

Like RC mentioned, Berdan primers are virtually nil and have been for some time. Some years ago when you could buy them, they were very expensive. Every time I had a reason to think about reloading Berdan primed brass, I was able to find Boxer primed ammo (brass) which I shot and then used to do my reloading. The whole Berdan thing is a tough way to go.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

November 17, 2009, 06:34 PM
I've been reloading berdan cases for a couple years now.
I do it because I have;

1. A large supply of berdan primers. They haven't been available anywere that I know of for about the last two years or so, I search often.

2. RCBS berdan decapper ( hydraulic method would take to long )

3. Homemade berdan decapping pins to fit RCBS berdan decapper (replacement pins are spendy)

4. Altered RCBS bench primer and custom primer pick up tube to accept .217 diameter primers.

5. Large amounts of 7.62X51, 7.5X55, 7.62 x 63, 7.62x39 quality .217 berdan primed brass, that are relatively easily to decap, some headstamps are damn near impossible. A steady local supply.

5. A system that only adds a hour and a half per 1000 to process the brass.

If your missing anything from the above list, it's not worth the time.

Altering berdan brass to accept boxer primers looks like a disaster waiting to happen. I would only attempt it after TEOTWAWKI:D

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