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Makarov brass: Boxer, or Berdan primed?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by yhtomit, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. yhtomit

    yhtomit Well-Known Member

    Hi there!

    I picked up some once-fired Makarov brass at the range a few weeks ago, because of a) brass-picking OCD 2) curiosity value -- a neat historical artifact of the Cold War and 3) with all the rabid fandom that Makarovs draw, I certainly might one day be sucked into buying one :) I'm sure there are some people who can pass a pile of brass on the ground and say "Never mind, I don't shoot that caliber," but I am not so blessed. I say instead "Say, I have an empty peanut butter jar those could sit it until I get a chance to do more with them ..."

    However, from posts elsewhere on THR (in the handguns section) I have come to the understanding that most (all?) Makarov brass is Berdan rather than boxer primed. Please forgive the newbie level of my related questions springing from this, which I'll try to put in logical order so that earlier questions may answer later ones:

    - Is the primer pocket itself the same shape and size? That is, does the brass arrive the same way to the factory spot at which primers are snapped in, and a boxer primer or a Berdan primer could have each just as easily been snapped into the same case? Or is the brass itself different in some way to accommodate the different primer types?

    - If the brass *is* the same initially, is it in any way rendered useless for the other type once the initial priming has been done?

    - If the brass is salvageable, and has Berdan primers, how to remove them? From what I've read (but have never actually dealt with Berdan primed cases), they must be pried out somehow rather than popped out the way I can pop primers out of .45ACP cases with my Lee turret press.

    So, for anyone out there who reloads Makarov, I hope you can shed a little light. I'm at school right now, and the cases I got are not, so I can't examine and answer questions about 'em until next week, but would appreciate any tips.

    These cases sure cleaned up (and shined up) nicely, too, so it would be nice if they could at least potentially one day be useful as reloads :) But I don't want to be tempted by a good deal on a die set should I encounter one unless I know I'm not dealing with unusable cases in the first place.


  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    If you look down the end of the empty case and see two off-center holes, it is Berdan primed and cannot be easily reloaded.

    If it has one hole in the middle, it is Boxer primed, and if the case is brass, not steel, it is easily reloaded with standard small pistol primers.

    The primer anvil is part of the case with Berdan priming.
    The primer anvil is part of the primer with Boxer priming.

    While it is not technically impossible to reload steel Berdan primed cases, it really isn't worth the trouble, or wear & tear on your reloading dies.

    (Unless you simply can't get Boxer primed brass cases in that caliber)

  3. yhtomit

    yhtomit Well-Known Member


    I will inspect them next week for their holiness - thanks.

    They are brass, though, and truly once-fired. The guys who were shooting the Makarov were at the range next to me; I asked them -- they seemed friendly enough -- "Hey, are you guys picking up your brass?" One of them answered "Yeah, we'll pick 'em up, when we're done." Fair enough.

    And they did -- but I think they had misread my question at first as carping on them for "littering," rather than wondering if they were keeping the shells, because after carefully picking up brass, I saw them walking over to toss 'em in the trashbin. Conversation ensued, understanding grew, and I ended up with about 100 cases :) (Also, this was just after a snow-storm: it's a lot like digging for clams to grab shells out of snow -- just look for the little breathing holes!)

    I do hope they're reloadable, though, not just because of gen-yew-wine Makarovs, but because of the very sweet-feeling Cz-(82? or is it Vz-82? Too lazy to check right now.)

    Appreciate it!

  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    If you plucked them out of a snow drift, make sure you spread them out and dry them as soon as possible.

    If you leave them wet in a baggy, can, or something they are sure to start corroding very quickly.

  5. yhtomit

    yhtomit Well-Known Member

    rcmodel -- Oh, they were washed, dried and tumbled just a few hours later. They're in a jar looking shiny right now ;) Great thing about snow -- it hadn't had a chance to become mud yet.

  6. esq_stu

    esq_stu Well-Known Member

    Some S&B and the Hornady XTP are boxer primed. I buy the S&B so I can reload them. The Chinese and Russian stuff is Berdan. Downside is that my Bulgie throws the cases very far.
  7. lee n. field

    lee n. field Well-Known Member

    Unless it's Hornady or Starline (others? S&B?) it's berdan primed.

    Not worth it, IMHO.
  8. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

    I am soooo the same OCD way. I've got a stack of little plastic containers with a few each of each caliber brass I find. Talk about historical value, I was at the range and a guy hands me one round of 8mm Lebel which is what I was shooting. The round was original probably from WWI around the early to mid 1900's. Since I had never fired a "factory" 8mm lebel round before, I had to start reloading mine from scratch, I went ahead and popped it off to see how it compared. It went click.............bang! Compared about the same as my reloads, except for the delay.

    Dang, I really wished I would have saved that round though.

    And in agreement, the Berdan primed stuff just isn't worth it.
  9. bluetopper

    bluetopper Well-Known Member

    If it's brass, not steel, I'm sure it's boxer primed.

    I think most 9x18 reloaders just trim their 9mm Luger cases.
  10. Marlin 45 carbine

    Marlin 45 carbine Well-Known Member

    it's worth hanging onto new hulls are available from Strarline but relatively pricey. and premium Mak ammo is expensive.
  11. yhtomit

    yhtomit Well-Known Member

    Huh -- this information is a bit disappointing, but very interesting -- thanks.

    It's Russian (at least, it has a Cyrillic on the headstamp!), but definitely brass. (Unless there is some other yellow metal which feels just like brass out of which cases are made -- but I don't know of any.)

    So, I'm at least possibly hopeful, but it seems like there are two schools of thought and the majority points toward Berdan primed. I'll look at the cases next week and really know.


  12. FieroCDSP

    FieroCDSP Well-Known Member

    Hmm... IF it's Eastern European, it's probably Berdan primed. I have heard of some cases being washed in copper or brass, so you should take a magnet to the cases. If the magnet sticks, it's washed steel. If it doesn't, it's brass.

    At the worst, if it's berdan brass, store it until you can haul a large bucket of brass to the scrap-yard for money. Some say it's not worth it, but it depends on how miuch you get and how often. I pick up almost everything I find, including a lot of 22lr, just for scrap.

    You can make Mak brass from 9mm luger cases. You simply have to trim them down to the proper length and fire-form them. You also need to mark them so you don't mix them up with the regular 9mm.
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Russian "Bi-Metallic" is Berdan primed, steel case with a brass wash to prevent corrosion.


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