can you tell if a cartridge has been reloaded by the primer?


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dbldown
November 16, 2012, 10:45 AM
Just like the title says. Can you tell if a cartridge has been reloaded by looking at the spent primer? I bought a bunch of supplies from a lady whose husband reloaded. Some ammo cans were clearly marked by number of times reloaded but then there was a bucket that wasn't.

Also there is a large number of cases that are not marked by caliber but measure out as 308 and 30-06. Are these suspected military surplus worth anything other than scrap?

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elrowe
November 16, 2012, 10:51 AM
No, you typically won't see a difference in primers if the ammo's been reloaded. There are some subtle things that might, but are not always indicators.

As far as the surplus brass, it's almost always reloadable, particularly in those cartridges. If you don't load your own, you can probably sell it on gunbroker or locally. There may be a need to clean out the primer crimp that is found on most military brass between primer removal and seating the new primer, but that's not a big deal.

evan price
November 16, 2012, 11:05 AM
If the primers are crimped or staked in that military brass, they've never been reloaded.
As long as there's no obvious damage they are worth trying once or selling.

blarby
November 16, 2012, 11:14 AM
can you tell if a cartridge has been reloaded by the primer?

Yup, at least half the time.

Some other things shine through, but the primer is the first test.

In military and Federal centerfire rifle ammo, its an instant dead giveaway.

But, its one of those things you need the experience to look for.


Even if they aren't labeled- size 'em and shoot 'em.

Make 'em yours.

If you load them correctly and don't abuse them, they will split in the neck long before they give you any serious issue.

Watch for other warning signs, for certain- but don't recycle good rifle brass because you don't know its provenance.

JohnM
November 16, 2012, 11:21 AM
? How can you tell if a Federal has been reloaded?
I haven't bought any factory loads for a long time, but I can't remember anything that was special about Federal.

blarby
November 16, 2012, 11:22 AM
Primer sealer.

Same goes for S&B, Black Hills, and a few others. Some LC's have it- but the crimp is a dead give away. Most Eastern blocs have it to- but again, the primer crimp says more than most.

I see occasional lots that don't have it- but not many.

I scrounge thousands and thousands of cases annually, so I get to see quite a few. New and old. By hand. One at a time. Not sweeping them off a firing room floor. In all conditions.

I've gotten pretty good at sorting the good from the bad, the abused from the just used. Often before I even pick it up now, although it all gets picked.

Go pick a few "sand lot" ranges once a month. You'll get the hang for it real, real easy.

On stuff where the primer isn't a dead give-away ( either military, primer sealed, or seated wrong...obvious CCI primer, etc) usually case condition is the next go to. Multiple scratches the length of the case are usually also a dead giveaway. No one loves their brass anymore. It's an easy spot. A few means a few uses. A lot means a lot of uses. I pick some here and there that look like they've been chambered in the same rifle 20-30 times on closer inspection. I get to speak to some of the folks who drop it from time to time. They tell me i'm right. Some can even identify their brass after its been picked and sorted, just by the primer strike:what: Now thats a shooter !

JohnM
November 16, 2012, 11:26 AM
Meaningless; I know a number of reloaders who like to apply a spot of sealer on primers, even on bullets.

blarby
November 16, 2012, 11:37 AM
Meaningless; I know a number of reloaders who like to apply a spot of sealer on primers, even on bullets.

And none of them that apply UV reactive factory sealant, thats applied with a ring sealer, believe me.

But- believe what you want, your choice.

JohnM
November 16, 2012, 11:40 AM
Just sayin'
If someone looks at a loaded round and says it's a factory load because it has some sealant on the primer is is misleading.

dbldown
November 16, 2012, 12:25 PM
I can tell some reloads because he used cci's (silver), but the vast majority has the yellow primer. Thanks regarding the sealants because I felt good about knowing that those most lilely were 1x's.

I take it Federal/Win/Rem primers are or can be yellow? I've always bought cci for some reason.

blarby
November 16, 2012, 12:40 PM
RCModel has a good primer pick he can post here- hopefully he does, that may help.

Federal rifle primers are by and large silver.

Remington and Winchester are by and large gold.

Remington factory primers seem to have a different bevel angle than most reloading component primers.

Winchester primers can usually be identified as factory due to the primer markings. Most of their ammunition presents machine marks on the primers that look "whispy" due to being dragged along in the assembly process. Why theirs have them and others dont, I couldn't tell ya. Some of the older winchester rifle styles have this too, while newer styles do not.

On most of the bucket you can't identify right off, compare the primers to factory loads of the same headstamp if you have them, and examine the cases for parallel sets of case-length "scrapes".
These usually occur more severely when a fresh and warm fired brass case is extracted against a rough steel chamber wall. They occur most often when chambering a round that is not perfectly centered on the bolt, and only finds center after a ride across the breach face, finding home when the round is fully chambered. Theres a litany of other parts that brass can drag across in chambering in different rifles, I cant possibly list them all.

You can also observe extractor dents near the case head on most brass. They will be rotational axis dents, instead of case-length scrapes. These usually present even in moderately well cared for brass, whereas discarded brass thats been cared for very well often does not have case-length evident scratches to an unaided or inexperienced eye.

Multiple sets of scrapes usually indicate multiple chamberings. While not an exact science, you'll quickly get a feel for what looks good, and what has obviously seen substantial use about halfway through the bucket sort.

If you come across pieces that look unusually well cared for ( obviously not factory) and have been "abandoned" while scrounging for brass....put those in the recycling bucket straight away. They are probably there for a reason, as the care required to maintain cases properly is not often freely abandoned until very near the end of the usable life-cycle, if at all.

Miata Mike
November 19, 2012, 01:04 AM
I can tell some reloads because he used cci's (silver), but the vast majority has the yellow primer. Thanks regarding the sealants because I felt good about knowing that those most lilely were 1x's.

I take it Federal/Win/Rem primers are or can be yellow? I've always bought cci for some reason.

I typically use CCI in pistol primers and figure silver color primers are typically reloads. Not fail safe, but usually indicates my empty reloads. ;)

1SOW
November 19, 2012, 02:30 AM
Fed pistol primers are nickel coated brass-silver.

jcwit
November 19, 2012, 08:32 AM
As are the Winchester primers I am currently using.

RustyFN
November 19, 2012, 07:39 PM
No I can't tell by looking at the primer.

Etkini
November 19, 2012, 11:04 PM
JAlso there is a large number of cases that are not marked by caliber but measure out as 308 and 30-06. Are these suspected military surplus worth anything other than scrap?

This goes without saying but make sure they're not berdan primed. I bought a bunch of old military surplus .308 and some of it turned out to be berdan primed. I keep the destroyed decapper\expander assembly as well as the cases in a box as a reminder to check if you're not sure.

RCBS was great and sent me 3 sets of the new parts for free though, so it worked out alright.

CharlieDeltaJuliet
November 20, 2012, 10:36 AM
No, we'll sort of. Some you can, some you can't. I reload a lot of 50 BMG. I recently bought a great deal in some preprimed brass. It has the primer seal exactly like the factory loaded ammo. It is un distinguishable (other than the headstamp) from the milsurp ammo. I am looking at both rounds side by side.

All though I will say, most reloads are easy to spot. Just because most reloaders do not use the primer sealant.

gamestalker
November 20, 2012, 03:36 PM
I agree with Blarby, most of the time a long time and observant reloader can tell if a cartridge has ever been reloaded. And there are multiple tells that are actually easier to identify than a primer unless that primer has obvious differences not consistent with the manufacturer's head stamp.

But the first thing I look at is the case head, it tells a pretty good story. Extractor marks on the case head and marks in the extractor grove will almost always be present, and if there is more than 1 it has deffinitely been through a chamber more than once. Also usually easy to spot are resizing marks just above the web, ream and chamfer signs at the mouth, and so on. And contrary to what some may think, once it's been tumbled some of the indicators will be easier to spot.

GS

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