Loose primer pockets - Dangerous?


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horseman1
September 18, 2013, 05:40 PM
Hi,

I acquired some "once fired" 223/5.56 brass and IMHO, some of it appears to have been reloaded before. Mixed head stamps.

Some of the Federal (FC) that had the crimp already removed (or wasnt there to begin with) had quite loose primer pockets. The ones that offered no resistance when seating the primer were scrapped and the primer reclaimed.

Some of the others seated easily. Maybe too easily. I have these separated out and am wondering if you could tell me if these cases where the primers that went in "too easy" are a danger to use in reloading and whether I should just pitch them as well.

Safety is my number one concern. I just would like to understand if this is a safety concern and why.

Thanks again

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jr45
September 18, 2013, 09:23 PM
If you feel they seta too easily, i would not use them. No telling what caused them to become loose (reloaded too many times, too hot, bad reaming, etc.). You can get gas blow by or primers falling out, and more, if you use them.

Laphroaig
September 18, 2013, 09:50 PM
I've had similar problems with Federal 223 brass, and have heard other shooters complain about the same. If shooting them in an AR be prepared for primers to fall into your trigger mechanism.

Interestingly I've never had that problem, or heard of it either, in FC brass in other calibers.

Laphroaig

GaryL
September 18, 2013, 10:41 PM
I've had similar problems with Federal 223 brass, and have heard other shooters complain about the same. If shooting them in an AR be prepared for primers to fall into your trigger mechanism.
Yup, and they jam the mechanism and shorten the range session considerably.

Best to scrap the brass. It's not worth the trouble. Unless you want to try something I've considered but not yet tried. Loctite makes a product for "locking" a loose interference fit. I'm not sure if the primers could be removed later to reuse the brass.


http://www.loctitesolutions.com/index.php?FOLDERID=28475

Walkalong
September 19, 2013, 07:46 AM
Primer parts in the AR trigger area are a real pain and will cause failures to fire, but are not overly hard to get out. They do hide in there well though.

The only real way to know if primer is seating is too easily is experience. When one seats pretty easily for me I do not worry about it in a slightly less than full pressure plinker load, but would never use it for a full power load, but even then, it depends on how easily it seats.

stubbicatt
September 19, 2013, 08:06 AM
This is one of those topics which sort of grips at my spleen. It is difficult to resist free money, and free brass on the ground.

As a rule I purchase new, quality, brass. If not, I will use .mil brass where I can visibly see that the primer crimp is intact, as I know for sure they are once fired only. Else I only pick up brass I know has been ejected from my gun.

Anything else is a crap shoot. And we are talking serious safety issues here...

wgaynor
September 19, 2013, 09:08 AM
Wow Stubbicat, you are truly missing out on some usable brass.

By examining the brass and using your noggin, it is fairly easy to weed out the ones that shouldn't be used.

SlamFire1
September 19, 2013, 09:43 AM
Federal 223 brass has proven to be a disappointment to me. I was able to pick up coffee cans worth of the stuff shooting with service rifle teams at Camp Perry. But, the primer pockets on this Gold Medal Match open up in a couple of reloads.

I remember one year, pulling a target next to an AMU shooter, and I made comments on how AMU ammunition was beyond hot, it was insanely hot.

This gentlemen said that the AMU long range ammunition had been toned down and he was unhappy, he wanted more velocity.

When we got at 600 yards, he was shooting while I was scoring, and a primer popped out of the pocket during his 20 shot string for record with this "lower pressure" AMU ammunition. I guess it was not lower pressure by much. He had been doing well up to then, nice cadence, shooting ten’s and X’s when the wind was right. The loose primer fell into the trigger mechanism and jammed up his rifle. I saw him with the lower in his hand, beating it on the ground, trying to dislodge the primer. When primers or anvils get down inside the trigger well sometimes you have to knock the trigger pins and remove everything to get them out. Anyway, the pounding dislodged the primer, he got his rifle reassembled, the wind and his position changed, and his next shot was an eight. Bummer, at his level, eights knock you out of consideration for anything.

Outside of malfunctions I don’t know if loose primers will leak more than tight ones. CCI says the most common cause for a primer misfire is a primer not firmly seated. The anvil has to be firmly seated and the primer cake pushed into the anvil. If those conditions are not met then the likely hood of a misfire is high. While I consider any incidental contact with a primer risky, because you just don’t know if it will go off, even when “theoretically” it should not, having a primer move up and down in the pocket during feed is a risk I don’t want to take.

AMERC pistol brass was consistently bad stuff, and a problem I frequently encountered with the 45 ACP brass was loose primer pockets. Since I reload 45 ACP on a progressive I had no idea the pockets were loose. I would only find out the primer fell out when dipping into my ammunition can at the range. I would find these AMERC cases without primers, and I would fish around, find a primer in the mix, push the primer in the pocket, load the case in the chamber, muzzle down, drop the slide and fire the round. Sometimes just the vibration due to slide release was enough to bounce a primer out of the pocket. I shot those rounds, after all, they had powder and bullet, and tossed the ejected case in the trash.

horseman1
September 19, 2013, 11:11 AM
Thanks for all the responses. So, it would seem that the weaker pockets are not really dangerous by themselves, but more of a nuisance (primers falling out). However, there may be other problems with the brass as well.

My current plan is to throw out them out, even if they are not actually a proven safety issue. I want good trouble free ammunition for our trips to the range. I'll be watching for this more closely in the future and in particular with brass of unknown origin.

Hondo 60
September 19, 2013, 07:52 PM
The local scrap yard will probably buy any brass you won't use.
Around my parts its running just under $2.00/lb

FROGO207
September 19, 2013, 09:27 PM
My scrap it criteria is when I find a loose primer pocket I put the primed brass aside. If I can push the primer out by hand using a punch that fits in the flash hole against a flat surface with an appropriately sized hole in it it is scrap. If it holds the primer I mark it with a red marker to be scrapped after the next firing. This has worked well so far.

BTW I use a Lee hand primer to prime all my brass.

gamestalker
September 19, 2013, 09:51 PM
It's always best to error on the side of caution in this hobby. However, it is also easy to mis judge what would be considered a loose pocket due to the leverage of a press or tool, as it diminshes the amount of resistance we feel. I can clearly feel the difference on brass that has been reloaded vs that of once fired or new brass. But to date, I have not had a primer leak or blow out with brass that has been loaded 8 or more times with full tilt charges of slow burning powders, including high powered rifle brass.

Something that might give you an adea of how much resistence is actually present, would be to see if you can seat a primer by hand without the use of a tool or press in suspect brass. As always, wear eye protection and don't use needle nose pliers or anything that could inadvertantly detonate a primer when doing this.

GS

witchhunter
September 19, 2013, 10:18 PM
I'd toss em, they're not awesome...

GaryL
September 19, 2013, 11:52 PM
Primer parts in the AR trigger area are a real pain and will cause failures to fire, but are not overly hard to get out. They do hide in there well though.In my case the anvil popped out of the primer and wedged itself into a spot that required disassemble to remove. Very annoying. And that was after I had spent a few minutes struggling to get the cup out from under the trigger.

lightman
September 20, 2013, 08:07 PM
I just picked up a bunch of FC brass at the range. It has crimped primers. It went into the scrap bucket, as it looks to have been shot in an M-16 with headspace issues. Lots of them were partly separated, and a few were completely separated. I even found one loaded round jammed into a case neck from another cartridge! Lightman

homatok
September 21, 2013, 11:47 AM
If I encounter a primer that seems to seat too easily I hold the cartridge at an angle and rap the rim sharply on the loading bench two or three times. If the primer does not show any indication of backing out of it's pocket, I load it up but mark that case for disposal after I fire it. Any cases that I chuck out are squashed first so that no one will get them and reload a case that may be dangerous.

Casefull
September 21, 2013, 12:03 PM
I load it up but mark that case for disposal after I fire it. Any cases that I chuck out are squashed first so that no one will get them and reload a case that may be dangerous. I mark my loose ones like you do and throw them away. If I have some that I think are getting loose I will set a primer upside down on the pocket and if it goes in more than halfway with a little finger push then I throw it. Keeps me from wasting the primers as I am a cheapskate.

119er
September 21, 2013, 11:24 PM
I have loaded loose pocket brass in several calibers but have decided that if they seat with absolutely no resistance they are pretty much toast. I've had some leak and some not but never any that have fallen out. Commercial .30-06 brass in my M1 gets loaded 4 times then its done. Latest was Winchester brass leaked on the 5th firing.

Be careful with judging once fired by looking at crimps. When I swage primer pockets it still looks like the crimp is intact. With the primer removed it is easier to see it has been swaged. Obviously the cut crimps are readily noticeable.

Good luck, proceed with caution and you'll get the feel!

horseman1
September 30, 2013, 11:00 AM
What if I were to load them up one last time and use the wife's fingernail polish around the pocket after seating the primer to keep them in place?

We often name our reloads, so I would call this one "Mrs. Wiggins".

(Younger Reloaders: see The Carol Bernett show).

:).

howlnmad
September 30, 2013, 01:14 PM
What if I were to load them up one last time and use the wife's fingernail polish around the pocket after seating the primer to keep them in place?

We often name our reloads, so I would call this one "Mrs. Wiggins".

(Younger Reloaders: see The Carol Bernett show).

:).
Try it. Pretty much of 3 things could happen: you get blow by that etches the bolt face, primer pops out dropping into your action ruining your day or you get poor accuracy.

X-Rap
September 30, 2013, 01:30 PM
I throw all my 223 into the tumbler for a half hour after loading and any loose primers usually fall out then. It is rare but occasionally there are some that blow when firing but it is very rare.
There is definitely a benefit in quality when priming by hand.

horseman1
September 30, 2013, 07:55 PM
All in good fun. Brass is already pitched out. Just thought I would mention old Mrs. Wiggins :).

Bad Flynch
September 30, 2013, 08:01 PM
Years ago, when it was still possible to get some of the really old, odd caliber rifles and ammo, I had a friend whose hobby it was to buy and shoot these relics. You know, 88 Mausers, 11mm Mausers, Dutch Beaumonts and the like.

During those days, it was necessary to order ammo and components through a dealer, so I ended up ordering all of his stuff for him and that, from really odd-ball places.

Even if we could find primers that would fit, the pockets would eventually open up. His solution was to glue the primers in with Duco Cement and, for the most part, it worked in those old low pressure cartridges. He had some funny smudges on the case heads, though.

.223 is a little intense for that fix, I think.

horseman1
September 30, 2013, 08:13 PM
Yeah, This last bit was all in good fun. I should have started a thread "Do you name your reloads". We do, so they are easy to remember but well documented. In this case, it was just joke for the old geezers like me, who remember Tim Conway as Mr. Tudball :)

Hondo 60
September 30, 2013, 10:23 PM
This is one of those topics which sort of grips at my spleen. It is difficult to resist free money, and free brass on the ground.

I hear ya, but if the primer pocket's too loose, then scrap it.
The salvage yard pays for used brass.

gamestalker
October 1, 2013, 01:04 AM
The easiest way to determine if the pockets have expanded beyond use is to measure them as you inspect them for other issues. However, resistance isn't the only factor to judge, as leaks can contribute to a total blow out. It doesn't take long to measure a pocket, and considering the risk involved by using those with dangerous issues, one would want to incorporate such steps into their reloading process as a matter of safety protocol.

Also, because of the leverage produced by presses and priming tools, it is easy to misjudge just how loose they may actually be. Obviously, if you can seat a primer with your thumb, they are no doubt unusable. Additionally, if you seat a primer .004" .006" below the case head, and it then springs back or simply won't stay put, it's obvious that brass is done. But there is the problem with pockets that are damaged or out of round that have created a risk of leaking too. I'll address that in more detail below.

In this respect, I load for a few high pressure cartridges, like .357 mag, 44 mag, 7mm RM, .270 win and so on. Anyway, back in my earlier years of reloading, I often had difficulty judging just how much pressure was considered as good or bad pockets, so I consulted a friend of mine who had created a tool to measure the actual pressure that was being exerted on the primer during seating. As it turned out, and I don't recall the actual foot pounds, but it was clear that what I thought of as loose, was in fact more than sufficient to seal under full pressure loads. That questionable brass back then that I had resistance measured on, included 44 mag, .357 mag ( H110 ( 296 loads) and 270 win., all were full tilt loads. The questionable bottle necks lived to see several more loadings before developing incipient head separations, the pockets never failed. As for the magnum pistol brass, it went on to live for many more runs before developing mouth splits, not pocket failure, before being retired. I have since developed a better feel for pocket resistance, and have really never experienced a pocket failure per say. The closest thing to a pocket failure I've ever experienced to date has been so minimal, that it required extremely close inspection to spot the leakage, and nothing was visible on the bolt faces. But even a small leak can lead to catastrophic primer failures, thus damaging the firearm and more importantly, the risk of serious injury.

For those who care to take the time, it is quite simple to test how much pressure the pocket and seated primer will hold. First it is necessary to determine what PSI represents a good pocket. This test is performed when the case is secured in the shell holder, and while in the press to prevent primers from becoming projectiles if they blow out. Once this has been done and assuming the primer stayed put, then just put some baby powder around the rim of the seated primer and watch for obvious leaks. Although I've never taken it this extreme, I have heard of it being done before. I stick to the feel I've developed for good and bad pockets, too much trouble for me. But for anyone interested, I'll talk to my friend and find out what he has determined to be the magic number.

I am a major stickler for safety, and even a bit OCD according to some who have talked shop with me. So I assure you I would never use brass that is of questionable integrity, ever.

GS

horseman1
October 1, 2013, 11:04 AM
As a newer reloader , I have just been throwing them out if they seat with little or no resistance since reading this thread. I'm very glad I asked the question here. So far, I've thrown about 35 away out of 1200 and all have been Federal. Over time, I may develop the knack for determining the minimum pressure allowed to seat the primer. Until then, in the trash it goes.

It seems to me, there should be a precision device for deciding if a pocket is no longer viable. As simple as a "go" "no go" gauge.

If the precision ground "no go" rod fits into the pocket, its too big.

Maybe it isnt that easy, but it seems like it should be doable.

horseman1
October 1, 2013, 11:16 AM
Hey, there is one.. I did a few searches and found this.

http://ballistictools.com/store/swage-gage-small-primer-pocket

Just what I was thinking about.. Anyone ever used it?

howlnmad
October 1, 2013, 05:55 PM
That tool doesn't tell you if the pockets are to loose. It tells you if you've swaged crimped pockets enough.

horseman1
October 2, 2013, 12:07 AM
"That tool doesn't tell you if the pockets are to loose. It tells you if you've swaged crimped pockets enough."

Thanks for the response. Your statement appears to be contrary to their claim from the web site:

"One side of this gauge is the "go" side which quickly tells you the depth of a primer pocket, whether any crimp is properly removed, and whether the primer pocket is loose.

If it feels loose on the "go" side, use the other end of the tool, the "no go" side, to test to see if the primer pocket is too loose to hold a primer. If the no-go slides into the pocket, then you know to junk that brass before it creates the mess that a missing primer can cause."

Do you believe this isnt true or they are not clear in their description? I would like to know before I order one! I almost ordered one this evening.

Thanks, I appreciate it

Bad Flynch
October 2, 2013, 08:34 AM
Somewhere on the web, I have seen a primer pocket swedge that actually tightens the pockets. Can't remember where, though.

howlnmad
October 3, 2013, 12:26 PM
"That tool doesn't tell you if the pockets are to loose. It tells you if you've swaged crimped pockets enough."

Thanks for the response. Your statement appears to be contrary to their claim from the web site:

"One side of this gauge is the "go" side which quickly tells you the depth of a primer pocket, whether any crimp is properly removed, and whether the primer pocket is loose.

If it feels loose on the "go" side, use the other end of the tool, the "no go" side, to test to see if the primer pocket is too loose to hold a primer. If the no-go slides into the pocket, then you know to junk that brass before it creates the mess that a missing primer can cause."

Do you believe this isnt true or they are not clear in their description? I would like to know before I order one! I almost ordered one this evening.

Thanks, I appreciate it
Thats not exactly the one that I have but for the $10, I'm considering buying one to compare to the one I have. If they say say it'll determine a loose pocket, then why not.

horseman1
October 3, 2013, 03:03 PM
Tell you what, I'll order one up and provide a review for the forum. I have learned a ton here and have yet to contribute much of anything useful :). I just ran into another Federal case that had a loose pocket. I have some that need to have the crimp removed, and some pockets that are just like new. I can let you all know if it works for me or not.

I may be finally fixin to earn my keep :)

horseman1
October 3, 2013, 03:21 PM
Warning: $10.99 to ship that little thing... Ordered it anyway. Not very happy and I haven't even got it yet :).

horseman1
October 11, 2013, 01:45 PM
I ordered this tool from Ballistic Tools.

http://ballistictools.com/store/swage-gage-small-primer-pocket

I spent about $10.00 + $10.00 shipping.

The machine work, workmanship and material of this tool appears to me to be excellent. Click the link above for a picture and description of the tool.

It arrived via UPS and was packaged in a well prepared box, full of newspaper and the tool, along with a business card from Ballistic tools.

The primers being used to determine that the primer pockets would seat were Remington 7.5 SRP in .223/5.56 brass of various manufacture. Primers were seated with a Hornady hand priming tool.

I had a chance to use it today after decapping and resizing some cases and thought I would provide a thread with some of my experience with it.

First, I used the gauge on a Federal case that IMHO has an enlarged primer pocket. This is only my opinion, but I was concerned when seating primers in this case as I felt nearly no resistance when seating. The "Go" side of the tool slid right into the pocket as expected. It was a noticeably lose fit. The "No Go" side of the tool slid about 1/2 way into the pocket and caused enough friction to easily turn it upside down and it would not come out. I expected it to go all the way in. It was easily removed with a very minor tug.

The next case was also a Federal and a known good case that the primer had a good feel to it and was also known to be fired only one time previously. Again, the "Go" side slid in fine with no friction. It had slightly less slop that the previous case. The "No GO" would not go into the pocket any appreciable amount.

The next case was a Lake City 5.56 with the crimp still in tact. The "Go" gauge went into the pocket not unlike the previous case. Maybe a little friction detected. This was not as expected. The "No Go" gauge had no hope of sliding in.

The last case tested was a once fired Lake City 5.56 with the crimp removed using a Lyman hand reaming tool. The case behaved exactly like the good Federal case with the "Go" gauge going in and the "No Go" not going in.

Conclusion: This tool works for what I wanted, to detect cases with lose primer pockets. Maybe not exactly as I expected, but it will work fine. It is possible that my requirements are somewhat more stringent compared to the tools measurements. In a blind test, I took a hand full of known good brass and the one Federal case and I could pick the bad case out of the rest in less than a minute.

However, IMHO it does little to help detect whether a crimp has been completely removed. Maybe I will be able to use it for this purpose after more experience. My review of this tool may change as I get more experience using the tool. As it turns out, I have a primer pocket uniforming tool to detect when more work needs to be done to remove the crimp.

This tool will be used to keep me from fooling around with brass that has lose primer pockets.

Hope this is useful.

Potatohead
October 11, 2013, 07:32 PM
Hey,
Thanks for trying to earn your keep. I need to do that also. It's hard around here though, these guys really know their stuff..PH

horseman1
October 12, 2013, 12:07 AM
you got that right PH! I'm doing my best to keep up.....

IM391
February 15, 2014, 12:26 PM
you can over pressure cartridges real easy in .223 because its a little different from 5.56 without blowing you self up. scrap the brass and buy some virgin cases.

Potatohead
February 15, 2014, 12:55 PM
As a newer reloader , I have just been throwing them out if they seat with little or no resistance since reading this thread. I'm very glad I asked the question here. So far, I've thrown about 35 away out of 1200 and all have been Federal. Over time, I may develop the knack for determining the minimum pressure allowed to seat the primer. Until then, in the trash it goes.

It seems to me, there should be a precision device for deciding if a pocket is no longer viable. As simple as a "go" "no go" gauge.

If the precision ground "no go" rod fits into the pocket, its too big.

Maybe it isnt that easy, but it seems like it should be doable.
Hey,
Do you guys that chunk the ones that seat to easily just throw out the brand new shiny primer also?

You do know it's possible to deprime a live primer right? I don't know if it's a no no but Ive had to do it a few times. I cant throw away a good primer. (that's pretty stupid I know, risking my eyesight for half a cent)

horseman1
February 15, 2014, 03:44 PM
Hey PH,

Being tighter than a fiddler's fart, I pop the primer out and reuse it! I have a decapping only die that I use for such penny pinching operations.

Walkalong
February 15, 2014, 08:46 PM
I don't know that I would describe myself in that way, but I reuse them as well. :)

coondog_28
February 16, 2014, 12:39 AM
If there is any doubt that the primer can fall out SCRAP THE CASE!

If the primer falls into any working mechanism within the firearm (any firearm) and that mechanism moves it can and will go off with potentially catastrophic results.

I speak from experience. I had a primer fall out into the mechanism of a pump shotgun. As is was pumping the gun to figure out why it was "sticky" the primer went off sending pieces of the stock between my legs. :eek: A compressed primer does have power.

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