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lee hand primer & exploding federal primers?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by 1858rem, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. 1858rem

    1858rem Well-Known Member

    in the instructions for my hand primer it states not to use federal primers because they will explode and frag the cover
    1. why do they do this
    2. how can it be avoided (i bought 400 primers before i read this:banghead:)
    3. i loaded 50+ shells before i saw the warning:eek:
    4. is it that the cups are too soft and the primer seating rod will set them off
    5. are the anvils too sensitive an go off if they bump the lid
    6. does this have something to do with why federal primers are stored on there side in the package and not face down like cci and winchester?
    7. has anyone here had a federal primer actually go off in there hand primer?:scrutiny:
  2. shinz

    shinz Well-Known Member

    I asked the same question of myself after I had bought Lee Auto Prime. After reading a heap of pages via Google, as best I could figure out, if a Federal primer tips in the feed shute to the ram & you then try to seat it, the priming compund is more liable to ignite than others that Lee say are OK, from memory, CCI, Winchester & Remiington. Having said that, if you check the orientation of each & every primer before you insert the case to be primed & wear safety specs at all times (a good idea anyway) you should be OK, BUT, I'm not saying as a practice this is OK, its your call. I'd recommend doing what I did & searching Google, & probably this site to get your own take on this. Try key words like lee autoprime federal primer for starters.
  3. qajaq59

    qajaq59 Well-Known Member

    My guess is that if you do a search here in the forum you'll likely find something on it as well.
  4. paperpuncher49

    paperpuncher49 Well-Known Member

    I've read several posts on this topic, here and elsewhere. Except for Lee's warning, I have personally never read of anyone having a problem using Federal primers in a Lee tool. Interestingly enough, RCBS does not advise against the use of Federal Primers in their hand priming tool. Then again, I don't believe a lot of what anyone associated with Lee professes. Mr. Lee's Reloading Manual is the most self-glorifying book I have ever read. After reading it, I had to come to terms with my own stupidity for buying products from Redding, RCBS, Forster, etc. when everything Lee manufactures is "just perfect" or has the other manufacturers "running scared."

    As was stated in a previous post, use normal caution, a minimum of primers on the tray, and wear safety glasses and you should be OK. I do not usually use Federal primers, but I have used them many times in an Autoprime with absolutely no catastrophic results. I've also (slowly and carefully) deprimed live primers with a sizing die and never had one go off, and how many times has you read that doing so is unsafe. Incidentally, I have been reloading since the mid-70s and I still have all of my fingers, my eyesight, and my hearing.
  5. cobra2411

    cobra2411 Well-Known Member

    Will all reloading you should practice safe procedures, with that said I think Lee's warning is a CYA statement. Federals are more likely to be set off and if they're in a tube it'll blow the whole column.

    As others have said, keep a minimum # of primers in and work slowly and methodically and you shouldn't have any problems.

    In the end it's your call and you should do more research till you either feel comfortable or you decided not to use them...

    BTW I use CCI because when I started that's what Alliant recommended for their Unique powder. I've since bought a ton at a gun show for a good price....
  6. gandog56

    gandog56 Well-Known Member

    I have used Federals a couple of times with no problems.
  7. gandydancertoo

    gandydancertoo New Member

    no trouble here.

    I have been using the Lee hand primer from the time it came on the market and federal primers are all i use with out any trouble I have loaded 10's of thousand of rounds being an old bullseye shooter & for the last 10 yrs a benchrest shooter & now a BPCS & Federal primers all the way with the lee primeing tool.
  8. ants

    ants Well-Known Member

    I've never seen a published account of a bonafide claim, just people talking...

    ...so we may never know why the warning is printed.

    Very often, warnings on consumer packaging are related to one of two things:
    The government required it.
    Someone's lawyer made a claim.

    So, whether the warning is useful or not, it now gets printed on every package or instruction manual so manufacturers can cover both cheeks with both hands, yet still produce the product. And I don't blame them. Reluctantly, I'm sure I would do exactly the same.

    [Kinda like the sticky titled "Required Read..." the top of this Reloading forum where the THR staff asks us to include a disclaimer when we offer heavy load data to each other.]
  9. cliffy

    cliffy member

    I use all Lee Products, so . . .

    I avoid Federal Primers. What makes Federal primers so dangerous in Lee loading equipment eludes me, but better safe than sorry since LEE says "don't use Federal primers." Once I crushed a CCI primer sideways in a Lee hand-crimper with no ill-side effects. T'was my bad, because I didn't bother to look before seating a sideways-positioned primer. CCI makes a great primer, so why experiment with "iffy primers." cliffy
  10. rbernie

    rbernie Well-Known Member

    Federal primers are, by reputation, the most sensitive of the primers. CCI are, by reputation, one of the least sensitive. For this reason, I use Federal primers for my handgun loads (where I need 100% hit reliability even with soft hammer springs) and CCI primers for my rifles (where many of my rifles have floating firing pins).

    I have seen Dillon presses that had a Fed primer go off and make a mess of the primer tube. But I have put, literally, tens and tens of thousands of Federal primers thru my Lee hand primer with ZERO issue. Never had one go off. Had a few get stuck sideways in the primer pocket due to my inattention and despite being crushed sideways, they did not pop. Ever.






  11. NC-Mike

    NC-Mike Well-Known Member

    I just primed my first 15 cases ever!

    I used the Lee auto-prime and Federal Primers!

    Ok... the first ten I fed in one at a time but I soon became bold and loaded 5 in the tray. No mishaps, I think its going to be OK. :evil:
  12. Ol` Joe

    Ol` Joe Well-Known Member

    I`ve done lots of Federal primers over the years in a Lee hand tool. I`ve never had a problem, but my dad once set one of some forgotten brand off in a Lee thumb tool.
    The Federal uses a different priming mixture then the other makers and it`s more sensitive. Shooters often go to federal when they have a problem with light primer strikes failing to set primers off reliably. They often blame the cup material as being softer, but it`s the mixture.


    There is a reason Lee warns against useing Federals, but with a little caution....:rolleyes::rolleyes:
  13. 1858rem

    1858rem Well-Known Member

    great job ncmike! i had done about 300+ with a mallet and steel rod with the lee classic loader, then got the lee hand prime, bought all 800 win lp the store had, then bought their last brick of 1000 cc1 lp primers, then i saw about 6 packs of fed for 2.99 each and after reading reviews of them got 4 packs, as i was changing out the shell holder i saw the warning under the pack saying no fed's! so now i just rais the prim up near to the mouth seeing it is upright and level, then slide the shell in and seat a new primer. worked ok for 99 rounds, still have one left in the tray, guess i lost a piece of brass:banghead:(45 colt aint easy to get free roun' here apparently)
  14. .38 Special

    .38 Special Well-Known Member

    Don't use Lee, would be my suggestion. :D
  15. Otto

    Otto Well-Known Member

    Lee's warnings also place limits on how many primers are allowed in the tray...

    Winchester sm. pistol 100
    Winchester sm. mag pistol 20
    Winchester lg. pistol 20
    Winchester lg. mag rifle 20
    Winchester lg. rifle 10
    CCI all primers 100
    Remington sm. & lg. pistol 100

    Richard Lee also considers case tumblers and primer tube systems unsafe and does not manufacture them.
  16. 1858rem

    1858rem Well-Known Member

    ridicules! i think case tumblers are wonderful ways to clean brass, partly cause i still use steel wool on mine and i have to lock each one in the shell holder which is chucked into the drill lol.... i have used the rock tumbler and(fresh) cat litter as media, worked ok but took quite a while
  17. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    I have been priming with winchester, CCI, Remington and I have never rationed the amount of primers in the tray. I use a Lee Auto Prime II and have not had a primer go off on me in 22 years of reloading. And that's how old this Auto Prime II is...I just pour them in, shake'em and place the tray and shute on the priming die and go for it...

    And as far as tumbling my cases I also have a 22 year old Lyman Turbo 1200 tumbler too...I like shinny cases.:D
  18. ants

    ants Well-Known Member

    Ol Joe, I've tried to tell reloaders that same thing for decades, but the concept of 'softer' brass cups is just too entrained into the lore of reloading. I guess it really doesn't matter. People don't know how their automobiles work, but most of them learn to drive safely anyway. If reloaders learn the craft safely, it doesn't matter if we don't fully understand all of it. A little knowledge surely would help, though.

    Good post, friend.
  19. interlock

    interlock Well-Known Member

    we have done this one a couple of times before. we have to remember that all of these big companies are in bed with each other. maybe federal is not owned by the same manufacturing company or they have not done some special backroom deal to be recomended in lees books? i have noticed that some reloading data sources is squed quite heavily in favour of particular powders and bullets. when you do the research it turns out that they are owned by the same firm.

  20. Sport45

    Sport45 Well-Known Member

    I've had exactly one primer go off in my Lee Autoprime. That was a Winchester LR that popped because I missed a crimped pocket and thought I'd be able to shove it in anyway. It jumped the crimp and slammed home with enough impact to go off. It was louder than I expected and the flame from the case mouth was impressive.

    I think the warning is there due to fear of sympathetic detonation of the rest of the primers in the tray. The Federal primers I've bought were packed with a lot more separation than the Winchester, Remington, ot CCI primers I've had so maybe there's something to that.

    When I have used my Autoprime with Federals I would start the primer and then turn it over so the rest would fall further away when I pressed it home.

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