Are lead-free primers available as components?


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1KPerDay
September 6, 2011, 07:53 PM
I've run a couple of searches and have inconclusive info... please bear with me.

I realize several companies make 'NT' or lead-free primers, but from what I've been able to determine, they aren't available for component sale because they're too hygroscopic. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I now have the opportunity to shoot in an indoor range (ventilated, but still...) and would certainly prefer to load non-toxic if it's possible. I figure plated bullets without exposed lead bases would be a good idea, and of course lead-free primers if possible.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

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res45
September 6, 2011, 08:56 PM
PMC makes a SP and SRM primer but I haven't seen any of those around in some time,the only ones I know of for sale are the Fiocchi SP primers,somebody else may have a source.

http://www.natchezss.com/Category.cfm?contentID=productDetail&brand=XN&prodID=XN445SMZP&prodTitle=Fiocchi%20Zero%20Pollution%20Small%20Pistol%20Primers%201500/box

Good article
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_5_51/ai_n13469620/

ReloaderFred
September 6, 2011, 08:56 PM
The only non-toxic primers for reloading that I'm aware of was from the old PMC company, before they closed their doors in Boulder City, NV, and sold to the Korean company that now owns it. Their NT primers were made in Russia and came in green packaging. They didn't sell well at the time, and that was several years ago.

Hope this helps.

Fred

I see that Natchez is now handling the Fiocchi primers, so I stand corrected.

res45
September 6, 2011, 09:25 PM
I don't see what the problem is getting non-toxic primer for any use in any caliber http://www.flame.murom.ru/en/default.htm makes standard and non toxic primer in both Berdan and Boxer for about any cartridge. They make the Wolf/Tula standard primer. Could be some technical/safety issues using the E primer in standard cartridge cases.

ReloaderFred
September 6, 2011, 10:14 PM
The problem loading NT primers is the same one the major manufacturers ran into when they first started loading them in factory ammunition. The brisance of the NT explosive is so much faster than that of the older lead styphnate compound. This causes strange things to happen when they ignite. The primer backs out of the primer pocket much faster than lead styphnate primers so it has a chance to flatten and flow outwards before the pressure from the burning powder has a chance to drive the case back onto the primer and seat it once again. That's why NT primers scare people with their flattened primer appearance, which they misinterpret as high pressure.

The higher brisance is why you see enlarged flash holes in brass, to relieve the pressure. This is also why .45 acp brass is being made with small pistol primers, both in NT and standard priming. It cuts down on the amount of priming compound in the NT primers and that pretty much took care of the backed out primer problem. It's also never really been necessary to use a large pistol primer in the .45 acp, but "we've always done it that way", so it continued on, until now.

There are several threads on the subject.

Hope this helps.

Fred

1KPerDay
September 7, 2011, 01:02 AM
Thanks... So, Fred, would using NT primers in standard, small-primer hole brass be unwise?

ReloaderFred
September 7, 2011, 01:27 AM
1KPerDay,

If they're using the same formulation as the major American ammunition manufacturers in their NT primers, then I'd think it would be problematic.

I'll be the first to admit I've never tried them myself, but I've talked to the reps from Speer, Federal and Winchester at several different SHOT Shows about NT primers and they all related the same problems in the transition to them. I was told by one of the Federal reps at this year's show that he didn't think it would be too long before all factory ammunition is loaded with NT primers, since they're getting a lot of pressure from governmental agencies, both regulatory and as consumers. He didn't give a timeline, though, and I got the impression he was just repeating what he had heard in company meetings, but no formal policy had been handed down as of yet.

If you do buy some of the NT primers, work your loads up from the very beginning. Don't just substitute them for your regular lead styphnate primers with the loads you're using now. You also can't use primer flattening as an indication of high pressure.

When the U.S. Coast Guard first went to the .40 S&W Sig pistols, they were shooting Winchester NT ammunition on our range. Each and every primer looked like an overpressure load, to the point the primers were flowing. I asked the Winchester reps at the SHOT Show about this and showed them some of the brass and recovered bullets. They all said the primers were normal for Non-Toxic primers and explained why. The bullets recovered from our berms were frangible and they don't break up when they hit sand or dirt. We were having a terrible time with ricochets with that ammunition and they said they weren't designed to break up unless they hit something solid like steel or concrete. They told me the Coast Guard shouldn't have been using them on an outdoor range with dirt berms, as that wasn't what the ammunition was designed for. They now use military Federal .40 S&W ammunition, with the FC 08 headstamp.

The bottom line is I haven't tried loading the NT primers, so I can only base my information on what the company reps have passed on to me, and I'm passing on to you.

Hope this helps.

Fred

1KPerDay
September 7, 2011, 03:29 AM
Thank you.

res45
September 7, 2011, 08:17 AM
ReloaderFred,during your conversations did the subject of primer lifespan ever come up. I have read on some forums and in several gun rags that due to the removal of the lead in the primer mixture that the NT primer become less sensitive over time but that takes about ten years.

ranger335v
September 7, 2011, 11:58 AM
The whole issue of 'toxic lead' in primers is a farce on the level of man-made global warming. There is precious little lead in any primer and all indoor ranges have requirements to be properly vented. If we don't lick the residue out of our fired cases all will be well.

ReloaderFred
September 7, 2011, 12:59 PM
res45,

The subject of shelf life didn't come up, but if I can remember to ask in January at the next show, I'll see if they have any information. It's only been a few years that they've been using the NT primers, so they may not know yet.

ranger335v,

Lead exposure and global warming are two different issues. Lead exposure is real, while the other issue is mostly hype and money. All that's really needed as far as lead exposure is a proper cleaniness routine, i.e.; wash your hands, don't smoke or eat while shooting, etc.

The NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation), which puts on the SHOT Show, and I'm a member of, has done extensive study work on the lead issue and has printed several manuals on the subject. The biggest problem is indoor ranges where they don't do the proper house cleaning. Some don't have adaquate ventilation and they still use a broom to clean the floors. A broom is probably one of the worst things that can be used on an indoor range, since it just stirs up the accumulation of both lead residue and unburned powder in front of the firing line. Indoor ranges need to be wet mopped and a vacuum with hepa filter used. There shouldn't be any carpet anywhere on the range, especially on the shooting benches, as carpet has been found to retain more lead than just about anything else and it can't be properly cleaned.

I agree that the whole lead issue has been overblown, led by California's Proposition 65, which declared lead a "hazardous material". It's a naturally occuring substance, and the hype isn't warranted. There does need to be caution taken with children, since they have been proven to retain higher levels of lead in their blood than adults exposed to the very same amounts. Most of these cases are from shooting .22's on indoor ranges, with the most recent case in Vancouver, WA, where the county Health Dept. got involved and tested all participants in the .22 matches. Some of the kids tested really high, and the tragic part is they got Child Welfare involved, claiming that if the parents didn't do something to solve the blood lead levels of the kids, they would remove them from their parents' custody. Now that's getting serious! And there is no need to debate whether or not they had the right to get involved, since we can't solve that issue, and it's already happened, and out of the purview of this forum.

The range completely changed their maintenance routine and got rid of all the carpeting, etc. They had a couple of couches in the area behind the shooting line that had been there for years. When they tested the cloth of the couches, they found extremely high levels of lead in both of them, so they were removed, too. They now wet mop their range and shooting benches, and have purchased a hepa vacuum. In their last test, the lead levels were way down on all surfaces and the kids' blood levels are coming back down with treatment.

So the issue is real, but like I said, in most cases it's overblown. Simple hygiene will take care of most of it. There is no need to wear masks or rubber gloves when reloading or shooting, etc.

I've gone on too long in this post, so I'll just end it here.

Hope this helps.

Fred

armoredman
September 7, 2011, 03:29 PM
Yikes.

ranger335v
September 7, 2011, 09:43 PM
"ranger335v,... All that's really needed as far as lead exposure is a proper cleaniness routine, i.e.; wash your hands, don't smoke or eat while shooting, etc."

I thought that was clearly my point... "If we don't lick the residue out of our fired cases" but I suppose not. ??

heydawg
September 7, 2011, 09:49 PM
I too was shopping for lead free primers to reduce exposure to lead compounds, which despite andecotal stories ("I've been shooting for x years and I never got lead poisoning!") does pose a clear health risk if treated casually or ignored.

There's significant scientific evidence based on analysis of spent primers, brass, firearms, and indoor ranges to suggest that these activities increase ones risk of elevated lead. Part of the problem is that exposure is cumulative, slow to leave the body, and nearly invisible. Especially the minute particulate and residues.

Wideners (www.wideners.com) had at one time recently PMC small pistol primers that were lead free. They were $36/1000. Compared to normal primers, the cost was appx 30% more.

Fred, your comments on the subject ring true and provide some sensible and real world commentary. Unfortunately, it is a total misunderstanding and deliberate apathy to the dangers of lead handling that contribute to overbearing public policy. When there is no self-policing, well-intentioned laws and regulations come into existence that carry with them a plethora of unintended and far reaching consequences. Few ranges in my area follow the best practices for cleaning. Despite claims to the contrary, I highly doubt adequate air exchange happens. They use brooms not mops to clean the floor.

It is for this reason I like to shoot at an outdoor range and wear gloves when handling spent brass. I also remove clothing worn to the range and launder it before doing things around the house. Usually, given the heat, it has a powerful stink to it anyway from sweat.

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