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Ever detonated a primer when priming?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by labnoti, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    There's another thread recently about hand-priming tools. I have several and they all involve handling the cases with my fingers. I try to keep my fingers and hand away from the open end of the case when I squeeze, but I'm also trying to move fast -- I prime hundreds and thousands of cases. I'm concerned about the safety of priming this way. I wonder what the prevalence of detonations is.

    I understand things like unswaged, crimped primer pockets can cause detonations. I don't have or use that kind of brass. So my concern is about other causes or preventative measures.

    There are photos of primer-caused hand injuries available via internet search. A primer lacerating my fingers or hand is not the gravest concern among the risks that people who handle firearms are confronted with, but it's not something I want to suffer.

    There are a few ways I can think of to manage the risk:

    1. ) Prime on press. I use a progressive with a case feeder and I can load up the hopper and prime away. Except the Lee Safety Prime is pretty lousy. When I did this is the past, I resorted to loading the primers in the cup by hand with a nitrile glove.

    2.) Isolate the shell from my hand before squeezing the primer in. This is just a matter of moving one of my hands farther away from the other before I squeeze. One of the reasons I don't do this is because I insert the shell in the shell holder, and then, before I let go of it, I begin to squeeze with the other hand to put pressure on the case to hold it in the shell holder before I take my fingers away. Then I complete the squeeze with my hand clear of the shell. When I release pressure, the primed shell falls into a container and my other hand is usually there with several shells in it. I hook one with the shell holder and start to squeeze to hold it before I move my hand away.

    3.) Wear a protective glove. I would need to answer what balance of protection and dexterity give the desired result.
     
  2. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    No.

    I prime on press, LNL-AP and Redding Boss II with the primer feed. I've mangled a few primers in the LNL-AP till I got every thing adjusted right, but it never set one off. Haven't mangled or damaged any primers since.

    In your case I would just make a habit of having your fingers to the side of the cartridge and not over the mouth. This way if it does go off it will not get your fingers. Ears and eye protection should be used. But I don't wear hearing protection while loading. For I want to hear things that are not normal.
     
  3. GW Staar

    GW Staar Member

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    I think it's less common than you think. One of the worst destructions on a hand was done my a member or previous member of THR. But he wasn't priming, he was carrying a tube of primers across a nylon carpeted floor....and the tube went off in his hand. That was not a primer going off, that was a tube of primers going off at once, with no protective sleeve around it.

    I always was aware of primer tube dangers....or way worse, I saw a picture of a glass jar full of primers who's owner poured them in it, instead of storing them in original containers! Yet, the danger of stacked primers in a tube was one of the reasons I started progressive loading on a machine that used APS strips......primers are separated and pretty darned safe. But even with that there was a case of one guy forcing things on his press and blowing up a primer and the one on each side of it in a strip. Startling, but not like a whole tube going off. The important word....forcing.

    I've never had a primer accident. Not with 35 years of loading with a Rock Chucker priming tube or with Lee's hand primers or anything since. But that doesn't mean I think they are safe. After all that's why I took the tube down off my Rock Chucker and started using Lees hand primer, many years ago. (due to a bad unshielded tube experience I read about, in Handloader Magazine in the 70's ). I like my APS hand primer too....but mostly I prime on my progressives....even the ugh tube primer on my PC7....but I'm super careful with that.

    Where primers are concerned, you need your brain, clear and uncluttered, combined with a dash of common sense......and the #1 rule is to NEVER force a primer to go where it doesn't want to slide right in with a little light push. While using a progressive that rule should slow you down.....it's already fast....don't try for world records, that's nuts.

    And if you swage pockets, same rule applies....if the swage isn't enough, you can "bump" the edge on a military reamer just a touch.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
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  4. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    Not in the last 50 years which is when I started reloading.
     
  5. wbbh
    • Contributing Member

    wbbh Contributing Member

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    Not in forty years and that includes punching out a few live primers as well as smashing a live primer into a piece of brass that had a spent primer cup installed backwards, it did not go off. The empty primer cup found it way into the brass while wet tumbling.
     
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  6. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

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    Only once, when using a Whack-a-Mole style Lee Loader ~50 years ago. :)

    =========

    EDIT:

    2v2EuEPuNxAW38L.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
  7. Scooter22

    Scooter22 Member

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    Nope not while reloading. I've used the priming arms on RCBS and Lee presses. Plus a first generation Lee hand primer. I've been reloading since 1975 or so. But we detonated plenty as kids. My friends dad reloaded shot shells. He'd steal some and whack em with a hammer. We were lucky we never got hit by pieces.
     
  8. 375supermag

    375supermag Member

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    Hi...
    Hasn't happened to me... yet.
    My son loads on my Hornady LnLs and is working on setting up to load on a Dillon 550. My son uses the prime on press feature on his RockChucker Supreme using the tube fed system. He hasn't detonated a primer either...yet.
    I don't like priming on my RockChucker so I use a RCBS APS bench mounted unit.
     
  9. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I have been fortunate that I have not had a primer explosion in my reloading tools, but I am not going to be denier and say they don't happen. Of course they do

    8MozVI4.jpg

    RB2czqd.jpg

    I don't remember any first person accounts of primer explosions in the Lee Auto Prime tool, but it is obvious that they have occurred. What was a simple and straight forward tool has been ECP'd to a maddeningly complex and unreliable item. There have been at least two revisions of the Lee Auto Prime, the first elevated the feed primer so if it went off, the blast would vent through a cage and not set off the rest of the primers. It did not feed reliably and the cage broke. The next version has a spring loaded gate that jams easily, and creates a primer spill when clearing the jam.

    While the first picture is of a Federal primers and a 9mm, the most primer explosions I have heard of are due to 45 ACP small primer brass. A bud who was sent a picture of a Dillion press that exploded after small primer 45 ACP brass appeared in the first station told me that he could not believe the damage that was done. He never forwarded the picture. I can attest that occasional small primer 45 ACP appears in the mix of my range pickups, even though I have been careful to sort the stuff. Sometimes inspected twice. I have also found large primer 45 ACP brass in my sorted 45 ACP small primer brass. And I sorted that stuff also. The greatest risk is when small primer brass appears above a large pistol primer. And there will be more progressive presses blowing up due to this.

    If I had any good advice it is to wear safety glasses when reloading. It may save your eyes if the primer column explodes in front of your face. And, never say never. Just because you have not died yet, that does not make you immortal, even though you think you are.

    sgapm7G.jpg

    What I continually see on the web, is that reloaders have become complacent with primers and powders. These are very powerful items and have, and will hurt people. Hopefully the pictures show a bit of the power of primers.
     
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  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    I never have, but it has obviously happened. Always use care handling primers. It is usually hard to set them off without hitting them, but things happen.
     
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  11. newfalguy101

    newfalguy101 Member

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    Nope not yet anyway
     
  12. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Yes. On a Dillon 650. Primers are loud! Crap happens.
     
  13. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    I have, twice. It was on a motor operated AmmoLoad machine when I was rangemaster for our department in the late 1970's. I loaded an average of about 60,000 rounds of .38 Special ammunition per year on that machine. The first time was a full tube of primers, and I think the follower rod is still up there somewhere in orbit. The second time was an almost empty primer tube.

    The first one bulged the blast shield, which is simply a round metal tube that surrounds the primer tube, and ripped open the primer tube. The follower, with the brass knob on top of it, went through the ceiling of the range house, and is probably still there in the attic. The damage to the machine meant that several parts had to be replaced, and was caused by an accumulation of priming compound and a jammed primer in the slide. The machine was controlled by a foot pedal so your hands were free.

    The second explosion wasn't nearly as powerful, since there were only about 10 primers in the tube and I was getting ready to stop the machine and refill the primer tube. That bent the follower rod when it bounced off the ceiling, but other than that, there wasn't any real damage, other than my nerves.

    Reloaders forget that the priming compound is an actual explosive, and the primer cup produces shrapnel in an unconstrained explosion. Like they used to say on Hillstreet Blues, "be careful out there".

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
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  14. GW Staar

    GW Staar Member

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    How long did it take to get your hearing back?! :)
     
  15. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Speak louder. I can't hear you.
     
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  16. GW Staar

    GW Staar Member

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    My wife would be so pissed if I ever did that! Not about the hearing......already can't hear......but about the hole in the Master Bedroom floor above my reloading room!;)
     
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  17. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    No, apparently it is not easy to do.
    My wife has had a few detonate in the vacuum cleaner.
     
  18. lightman

    lightman Member

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    This was my one and only experience also. I've never had a problem when using several different hand primers, a couple of bench mounted primers or with several different presses.

    I've seen some pretty mangled up primers from being seated crooked or even sideways. And I have deprimed lots of live primers.

    Care should be taken and they should be respected.
     
  19. Jeff Flannery

    Jeff Flannery Member

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    I've removed live primers on a press also. Never had one go off. I've even seen the lodged in the primer hole sideways. I've been reloading for about 50 years and so far no bang
     
  20. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Yep, but it is only a matter of time before one goes bang.
    Primers Mashed.JPG Brass Hammer, Base, & Decapper Pic 2 @ 85%.JPG
     
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  21. MI2600

    MI2600 Member

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    I use a basic Lee hand-priming tool which satisfies the amount of reloading I need. As noted above, nothing is foolproof. I have inserted primers sideways and reversed and had to slowly and very gently push them out with a sizing die. Never say never.
     
  22. Skeptic13

    Skeptic13 Member

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    I have not had that happen to me. At least not yet.
     
  23. Mal H

    Mal H Administrator Staff Member

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    That was exactly how I set off a few and about that long ago also ('69 to '70). Maybe 4 or 5 went off over the course of a couple of years using a .22-250 Lee Loader. They were loud, but not dangerous since they were already partially in the shell and covered with a fairly thick steel ram. I always wore safety glasses, always. And I started wearing ear protection after the first one.

    I have never had a primer go off using a hand primer, a press primer, or a hand bullet puller (the hammer type).
     
  24. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I have never set off a primer when loading. I have crushed a handful over time but they didn't go bang either.
     
  25. LaneP

    LaneP Member

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    Maybe I'm one of the lucky ones but I've hand primed many thousands of cases over the years with a Lee Ram Prime and RCBS APS priming system and have never set off a primer.

    OTOH when I first started loading I used one of the basic Lee Loader's that require you to tap the case onto the primer, and with that system I would set off about 1 in a 100 primers. (Tip: wear a glove on your supporting hand if you are forced to prime with that system :))
     
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