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Loose primer pockets... how loose is too loose?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Rmeju, May 27, 2012.

  1. Rmeju

    Rmeju Well-Known Member

    I was pushing out some primers today in a batch of ammo I made a boo boo on. Some of the primers pushed out more easily than others, some fit real tight. I separated out the loose ones, and I'm trying to decide if they're scrap or not.

    I've never had a primer come out on me in any gun, rifle or pistol. Is there any rule of thumb for telling when the pocket gets too loose? If a primer does come out, is it a tough fix, or just one of those things that you don't want to have to deal with in the middle of a match, but no big deal on a lazy day at the range?
  2. Martel

    Martel Active Member

    Beginner here...

    I just started reloading last year but here's my opinion:

    Test out your loads. If you start having problems with primers coming loose after shooting a round, then you need to be more picky.

    I've never had a problem with loose primers and I've got tons of .45 acp brass from the 60s and 70s....some all the way back to '43.

    And I think you're right about the "no big deal at the range but embarrassing in a match" deal. If a primer get's loose it can, repeat, can jam up the action of a semi-auto (just chalk up another point on the scoreboard of the revolvers and bolt guns...:rolleyes:), although again, I've never had this problem, nor have any of the several reloaders I know.

    You might look up some videos on Youtube....there might be someone who has actually figured this out and posted some examples. I usually lose my pistol brass before I wear it out, and actually I've got so much .223 (the only rifle caliber I reload) brass that I haven't worn any out yet.
  3. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    Loose Primer Pockets

    Scrap the brass if gas leaks past the primer on firing. A test would be, place a primer on the reloading bench. Take the brass in you hand and try to seat the primer with hand pressure. This will give you an idea if pocket is too loose. A reloading press with leverage makes it a lot easer to seat primers. If the primer pocket becomes enlarged/expanded from an over pressure loading or to many loadings, its scrap. Some military brass with expanded web area is roll sized to bring this area back into specification (5.56mm)
    Last edited: May 27, 2012
  4. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Well-Known Member

    I use a hand primer (RCBS) for any rounds that matter ... noting ruins an HP match quicker than a primer dropping into the trigger mechanism on an AR - it can be a real pain to dig those out.

    Some brands are more prone to it as well - in rifle, Federal cases have long been known to develop soft pockets earlier than other brands. I've never had the issue in any pistol caliber with any brand.

  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    Good advice.

    If you are reloading for semi autos you do not want the primer falling out due to inertia. It will cause a malfunction.

    When a primer falls out of a case by itself that is bad.

    I pick up range brass and I picked up a handful of 45 ACP AMERC cases. These turned out to the worst made brass I have ever owned.

    I load on a Dillon 550B and it is difficult to determine primer seating pressure unless the primer is grossly over sized.

    So I would go to the range and load up my magazines with my reloads and every so often I would find an AMERC case with no primer. Digging through the ammo can I would find the primer and some spilled powder. The powder was coming out through the exposed primer hole.

    On a number of these cases I decided to see what would happen if I pushed the primer in with my thumb, put the case in the chamber and fired it.

    I did not get primer leaks but you have to understand that the powder charge had decreased by some unknown quantity, and 45 ACP’s are not high pressure at all.

    I had primers come out of AMERC cases during feed, the pistol would go click, extract the case, no primer. Once I found the primer at my feet.

    Overall I consider it poor practice to have primers that fall out and it is possible that loose primers in high pressure ammunition could leak and etch your bolt face.

    These are pictures of AMU and USMC rifle team brass. Stuff I picked up at the 600 yard line at Camp Perry from the AMU and USMC shooters I was with.

    This is over pressure, as you can see from the gas leaks. Some of this brass, if you turned it base down, the primer would fall out.

    I would not reuse this brass, it is fit only for scrap.



  6. mdi

    mdi Well-Known Member

    I tried to attach a drawing I found on line of SAAMI primer and primer pocket dimensions. Personally, I'd label them and put them away for future consideration (I don't like to throw anything away) or dump them. Most brass is easy to get and less expensive than my guns, so I rather spend money on good brass and not on repairing my gun. Just for my own info. ('cause a few pieces of brass prolly aren't worth a lot of trouble), I would use pin gauges to measure the pocket to see if they were in tolerance (or Cerrosafe or a slug or something similar). But like I said, a lot of trouble for a few cases...

    Attached Files:

  7. dprice3844444

    dprice3844444 member

    dillion pocket swager
  8. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Well-Known Member

    Really? Have you a model that shrinks pockets?
  9. ljnowell

    ljnowell Well-Known Member

    Didnt you know that dillon fixes everything?
  10. T Bran

    T Bran Well-Known Member

    I have seen primers fall out of even staked military ball ammo so anything can happen.
    The old corrosive 30-06 ammo is what I'm refering to and it was unfired to boot. I was given a couple hundred and leery of its age I pulled the bullets with a kinetic hammer replaced the powder and bullets then put them in a plastic box. Later at the range there was powder on the bench [or should I say tailgate] upon inspection one round was missing a primer. No big deal but it surprised the heck out of me.
    I am now in the process of breaking the rest down and removing the old corrosive primers. After I ream the pockets I'll see if there are any more loose ones.
  11. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    I hand prime with a Lee hand primer as a separate operation and can feel a loose one easily. I put them aside as I find them. When I finish the batch I take a spare depriming pin/rod from a lee handgun die (no expanding ring) and holding the brass in one hand try to push the primer out with the rod in the other. You could use any type of narrow or tapered punch but the decapping rod is easier IMHO. If the primer moves or comes out I recycle the brass or use them to make dummy rounds to check feeding of firearms if needed. If not I use a wide Magic Marker to swipe the base to mark it as discard after the next firing. NOTE I can sometimes get another reloading out of loose pocket brass using Tula/Wolf primers as they are slightly larger than the US brands that are available. If finding leaking pockets, especially on a high pressure round (usually rifle) the brass is no good to reload at that point anyway. This method has worked for many years without any problems. YMMV
  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    When seating a primer, if you say to yourself, dang...that one was sure easy, it is too loose.

    I feel your pain. Did that a couple of times lately with over pressure loads. One primer in all these years, and then 4 or 5 in a week. Sloppy, sloppy.
  13. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    Sometimes just a change of primers will help loose pockets.

    Tula or Tulammo primers are notoriously over sized.
  14. coalman

    coalman Well-Known Member

    If it falls out it's too loose. Those are the obvious ones. The higher pressure the load the more chance to stretch the pocker and the higher power the gun the more chance a loose primer could walk out. I do not worry much in the service handgun calibers I reload and I keep a closer eye on things in 9mm vs. .45acp. Regardless, primer fit can vary by brass, primer as well as worn brass. Press leverage/design can change feel when seating as well. Many variables. Primers will expand to seal the pocket with proper pressure loads. I just mark the brass I feel is questionable in black marker, shoot it and do not reload it again.
  15. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    If the primer simply falls out, the pressure is too high. You have to expand the whole case head to lose a primer. That is dangerous. The structure of the case head remaining intact and still attached to the rest of the case is what stands between you and hot, high pressure gases in your face. Very bad Mojo if it lets loose.
  16. homatok

    homatok Well-Known Member

    If a primer feels loose as it is seated (Lee hand tool) I take the round, hold it on a steep angle and rap the edge of the base sharply against the bench top. If the primer shows any sign of backing out I mark that case and crush it after the next firing! If the primer backs out significantly I remove it and crush the case right now.
  17. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    ^ So far this has worked for me. I find it hard to imagine how a primer would fall out in the gun, if you can't get it to back out in this test. The other thing I do is toss cases where the spent primer falls out while in the tumbler.
  18. velocette

    velocette Well-Known Member

    I've heard much talk about Federal brass being softer and quickly getting loose primer pockets.
    That may be true. However it is worthy of note that Federal brass (with .308 & 30-06) is also the heaviest brass, heavier even than Mil-spec brass.
    This means that its internal capacity is probably less than Mil-spec and definitely less than other commercial brass. This should mean that Fed brass should be loaded with smaller powder charges just like you would with GI brass. If you don't, you can and will get higher pressures & loose primers.
    Take a look at Sierra's load data. They use Federal brass & their powder charges are all lower than other companies data for what they claim are comparable velocitys.

  19. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Your going to feel variations in primer pockets from one to the next. As long as they aren't leaking, and aren't falling out the result of recoil or after being discharged, you are OK.

    I load a lot of high powered rifle and handgun, and honestly I have never had one leak or fall out at any time. Some are going in real easy too. Just keep an eye for leakage would be my recomendation.

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