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Success! Converted Berdan Primed 8x57 to Boxer!

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Twmaster, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. Twmaster

    Twmaster Well-Known Member

    I have about 125 Yugo surplus berdan primed fired cases. I really hated to see this nice brass get wasted.

    No worries about 8x57 brass now!

    Simple procedure when you have the tools.


    Primer Pocket Swager. (RCBS or Dillon) (I have the RCBS tool)
    3/8" ball bearing.
    BFH (Big Freaking Hammer, I used a 2 pound ball peen)
    Strong press
    Pointy punch
    Loading press
    .080-.090" drill bit
    5/16" long shank punch or drill rod


    Use very pointy punch to pierce fired berdan primer. Lever primer out of pocket once pierced.

    Place ball bearing on a hard surface. Preferably with a divot to hold bearing from running away.

    Place case with the primer pocket centered on the ball. Place the 5/16 punch or rod into the case till it bottoms.

    Take BFH and whack rod as hard as you can multiple times. The idea is to collapse the rim around the pocket. The large rifle Berdan primers are .217" The standard Boxer large rifle is .210" in size. Only need to take up 7 thousandths of an inch.

    Take that pointy punch and feel for a lip at the opening of the primer pocket. This is the brass that will be swaged back to form the correct size pocket.

    Once you are satisfied with the lip run the case through your pocket swage tool. It should be on the tip of
    the tool tightly when done pressing. You may have to keep adjusting your tool until it bottoms in the pocket.

    Drill out center of the pocket for flash/decapping hole. Don't worry about the two little holes left in the pocket.

    Resize the case per normal operation.

    Check case for length, Trim if needed, deburr mouth of case.

    Seat new primer. It should go in snugly just like a normal boxer primed case. If not carefully push the primer out and beat on the pocket some more. Repeat above steps if needed.

    Done. Load it. Shoot it.

  2. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

    I admire your tenacity.
  3. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    American ingenuity never ceases to amaze me. Very neat idea, after all these years a solution.

    Ball Bearing? Who'd had thought. HA
  4. ljnowell

    ljnowell Well-Known Member

    Very interesting. I would love to see a video of this. Have you ever made a vid and posted on youtube before? This would be a great one.
  5. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    I seem to remember, back in the late 50s - early 60s, when there was tons of old surplus Berdan primed stuff around, there was a tool made to do that.
    But, my memory is getting pretty bad and can't remember much about it.
  6. Twmaster

    Twmaster Well-Known Member

    Thanks folks. I cannot take full credit for this. I've just collected and put together a few ideas from others as found on the 'Net and through a fellow I swap gun stuff with. Just put them together in a way that I can do in my limited shop.

    I did use my metal lathe to drill the flash hole. (almost sounds like cheating!) ;)

    This would be a bit easier if you had either a really stout reloading press or a small hydraulic press to peen over the lip of the pocket.

    Sorry folks I have no way to make videos. If I have some time this week I'll see if I can take some step by step photos.
  7. steveno

    steveno Well-Known Member

    I believe it was RCBS or Huntington that made the Berdan depriming tool. I was also very glad when I could afford to buy a couple of boxes of boxer primed 303 British so I didn't have to deal with the Berdan primed brass ever again. I wouldn't have cared less how good the Berdan brass was as it was going to be thrown away. good riddance
  8. Ian Sean

    Ian Sean Well-Known Member

    Would something like Dillons primer pocket swager work?
  9. Twmaster

    Twmaster Well-Known Member

    You could use the Dillon swager to reset the pocket size.

    I do not know if it would work for the hard part of squishing the pocket initially.

    When I said a more stout press I was referring to using the press with a ball bearing on the ram to squish the pocket initially. You'd need a die in the the press like the one used in the RCBS kit. Or you'd have to make a die with a rod inside to be the anvil the ball presses the case against.

    My reloading press is a Lee Challenger with an aluminum 'O' frame. I'm afraid to try this light duty press for the initial swaging as I don't want to wreck it and be without a press for any time.
  10. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Well-Known Member


    Ingenious. Neat. American ingenuity at work. Nice brass. Glad you're happy.

    BUT (There always is that darn "but"...)

    It still seems to me like an awful lot of effort to get some brass when there is plenty of that cartridge available.

    To each his own. Glad you're happy.
  11. Twmaster

    Twmaster Well-Known Member

    True, however, I have no money. Time is an easy trade.

    Also consider this. Some cartridges are very hard to come by. This procedure works with those as well.
  12. Nullcone

    Nullcone Well-Known Member


    Here's what I'd have done:

    Thrown away/recycled the brass; what is it like $20 worth?


    Purchased some correct for the case Berdan primers.

    I have this agreement with my face, particularly my eyes... I don't cheap out on things that keep 50 KPsi gas out of them and they continue to keep working.
  13. Twmaster

    Twmaster Well-Known Member

    A: I don't have $20 to spend.


    B: Good luck finding primers.
  14. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Twmaster, thanks for sharing. I'm slightly surprised it took this long for the na sayers to emerge.

    This should be a great help to those who wish reload 7.62 x 39.
  15. barnetmill

    barnetmill Well-Known Member

    I have thought of suing the ball bearing trick myself. I wonder if it will work with steel cases. Other thing is if the pounding weakens the case head.
  16. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Personnally I think taking this to steel cases is going to far.
  17. barnetmill

    barnetmill Well-Known Member

    20 brass cases at midway $15.49
    Cheaper than dirt: 8mm Mauser Unprimed Brass 50 per Bag
    (no reviews)
    Our Low Price: $26.46 All plus shipping so say about $70 for 125 of these.
    PS Saturday I picked up WWII Turkish surplus 350 rounds for $80 at a local gun show.
  18. Nullcone

    Nullcone Well-Known Member

    I stand corrected both on the cost of (new, boxer primed) 8x57 brass and the availability of berdan primers... but I'm still keeping my face away from such shenanigans.

  19. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    I will be trying this with the 7.62X54R berdan primed brass casings I have saved (2K+). I used to buy the 330 round tins of it for about $20 not that long ago.:mad: Yes I am sure they are solid brass, I saved them in hopes of getting berdan primers some day. I have all the stuff to do this on hand already and I will have some spare time over the winter so this will be a fun adventure. +1 on the 7.62X39, 8MM, and surplus 303BR also. Guess I am just cheap by nature but time I would otherwise just be watching the TV or on the net that I could be spending working on ammo reloading is a win in my book.
  20. EMC45

    EMC45 Well-Known Member

    This idea will work well with GP11 brass for the K31. It is match grade brass BTW. Shame it gets tossed after firing. Good idea for the surplus crowd! I think I saw something similiar on surplusrifles.com or something like that.

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