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Had my first primer detonation

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by maxxhavoc, Sep 30, 2017.

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  1. maxxhavoc

    maxxhavoc Member

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    I was using my Lee Pro 1000, the same one I have been using for about 25 years. Not that it is the fault of the equipment, especially since I was using Federal primers, which are known to be temperamental, and Lee specifically says not to use them.

    With that said, I was burning off the last of them from when I bought them during the primer shortage a few years back. Federals were all I could get at the time, and I already loaded the other 5500 without incident.

    I just wanted to share what was happening, what caused it, and the damage to the press for general information.

    I was using mixed brass, the round in question was a lightly crimped Winchester. It looks like the primer caught on the ridge in the pocket and allowed the primer to seat except for the side that caught on the ridge. It required slightly more force to "seat" but not much more than a tight primer pocket would. It detonated under slow progressive pressure, not an abrupt impact...which I found as a surprise since a couple were crushed sideways earlier in the day without any excitement.

    Two other primers had a sympathetic detonation. The primer chute was shredded, but the primer cups fell directly down. The primer tray was full, it looks like the plastic giving way prevented additional explosions. I did have to pick up several unexploded primers. The hopper just fell straight down.

    Here is what is left of the trough, along with the culprit and empty primer cups.
    IMG_20170930_132219.jpg

    I was wearing glasses, but didn't get hit with any flying debris. Most of that went backwards, I have no idea where the anvils went, but they should have went straight up, because they were horizontal when they went bang. It was loud, obviously.

    Total damage will be a new chute, which will be $4+ shipping. I got lucky, but it also looks like the design was well thought out. If that primer chute had been metal, I think I would have had a lot more drama. The plastic shattered and sent all shrapnel (except presumably the anvils) away from me.

    So wear your glasses, and consider following the directions if the manufacturer says to only use certain primers. (Currently CCI and Remington, my old manuals say Winchester and CCI.) I have only heard about Federals going bang in Pro 1000s.

    And of course now I can't say that I have been using Federal primers for 20+ years without a problem.
     
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  2. drband

    drband Member

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    Thanks for posting. Primers are the most volatile reloading component for sure!
    Good reminder.
     
  3. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Member

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    Mr. Lee has since admitted that he said not to use Federal primers because Federal would not provide primers free of charge for use in his testing for the reloading manual. This is a hot topic here. Hopefully someone remembers where to find the article.
     
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  4. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    That's why I always hand prime.
     
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  5. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Contributing Member

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    Primers are just one of those things that do not always behave the way we expect them to. Glad you weren't hurt.

    Ron
     
  6. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I always hand prime or use a ram prime. I use the older Lee round hand primer. To lessen the risk I have always put 20 primers in the tray at a time. Might be a little over cautious on my part but to date never had a primer go off while priming a brass. I will endeavor to keep it that way in the future.
     
  7. bds

    bds Member

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    I have loaded several hundred thousand rounds on several Pro 1000s over the decades and never experienced a primer detonation using CCI, Fiocchi, Magtech, PMC, S&B, Tula, Winchester and Wolf primers. I was given a brick of Federal primers during the component shortage for providing a reloader with none obtainium powders and after much consideration, decided not to use them in Pro 1000s and "paid it forward" to someone who wanted them.

    maxxhavoc, good thing you were wearing eye protection and glad you did not get hurt. Could you inspect the primer chute surface more closely to see if there was any wear, burr or indentations that could have contributed primer not smoothly sliding into station #2 and not lining up with primer pocket? I also found debri under the priming rod prevents top of rod from dropping flush with the chute surface and often causes the primer to tip/tilt and enter the primer pocket at an angle as shown in picture below - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...lutions-no-bashing.507454/page-3#post-7877744

    [​IMG]

    So before you insert the new primer attachment, check the area below the priming rod to ensure there's no debri at the bottom. Once the priming rod is allowed to drop free, top should be flush with the chute surface to allow primers to slide smoothly to line up with the primer pocket.

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. maxxhavoc

    maxxhavoc Member

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    All that was good. I was on the 6th box of primers in the session, so 500+ primers seated smoothly and flush. None of the preceding primers had the trademark "one edge rounded off" of the primers that says that they were slightly tipped...I am sure you know what I am talking about. After removing the primer, there was a crescent of brass on the edge of the primer pocket on the brass making the primer pocket slightly out of round. Federal primer cups are soft enough that they can deform almost as easily as they seat. And they are more sensitive, so...

    I am very happy with how the Pro 1000 handled the explosion. The popped primers cut the primer chute in half, scattering primers away from each other and kept the hopper from chainfiring. The only ones that blew were horizontal. However, there was debris under the shellplate that took out the ratchet gear also. I should have cleaned it.

    Either way, I pulled the chute from the 45 Colt kit and a ratchet gear from spare and am good to go again. I have to get the last of the 45 ACP loaded so I can shelve the press, pull out Pro 1000 #3 and get a couple hundred .357s loaded before a range trip Wednesday.
     
  9. Zendude
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    Zendude Contributing Member

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    I had one detonation on my Lee 1000. Fortunately the primer was already partially seated in the case and no damage done. It made me double check to make sure I am wearing safety glasses when loading.
     
  10. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Thanks for the report. I'm surprised it popped under slow, steady pressure. Glad you weren't hurt.
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I have popped two over the past four decades. As best I can tell, they fired because they were sheared by primer feed slide and seating punch. I have squashed some with no discharge.
     
  12. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    I set off a primer one time trying to squeeze a large primer into a small pocket. Not even sure how it got there. I sell brass but I always keep my "personal" brass away from my "business" brass. I'm guessing somehow I must have had a SPP brass in my pocket from my shop and it somehow got into my stuff. Didn't hurt my loadmaster at all, can't say the same for my underwear.
     
  13. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    A web search shows more frequent primer detonations with progressive presses, Lee Auto Prime II, and on press priming than with the hand prime tool but, a poster says here that he had a "I had a Lee Hand Prime II blow up in my right hand when priming some 45 ACP"

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/archive/index.php/t-69232.html

    I don't think it an accident that Lee has redesigned their hand prime tool several times. The earliest version, if the primer being seated went off the blast went directly into the tray with the rest of the primers. The second version, which is a jam o matic, the tray is below the seated primer. Obviously they did that to prevent propagation. The latest version I don't have.

    One of these days I will rehost a picture of a Hornady LNL primer tube stuck in a ceiling panel. It was a combination of a sensitive primer, jammed primer, and a little force.

    Primers are tricky things. Don't take them for granted.

    I am going to pontificate here, but prior to the internet, in print Gun Magazines would not acknowledge primer sensitivity or priming accidents. It did not benefit their bottom line and it would upset advertisers. I am certain hundreds of not thousands of letters to the editor describing the dangers of priming mechanisms went in the trash can. I found one post, by Mike Irwin:

    https://thefiringline.com/forums/archive/index.php?t-466436.html

    I knew a man back home who had a full tube go off in his press, an older one without any sort of blast shield or reinforced tube.

    Almost killed him. He ended up losing sight in one eye and had a bunch of other injuries.

    Friends of mine laugh when I tell them that I never put more than 30 to 40 primers in the priming system at one time (Lee Safety Prime or my Lee Hand Primer), and I frequently wash the tray and other components to remove any primer dust that might have accumulated.

    This accident never made it into the main stream media and would never had made it into the mainstream media. Yet, it is a good example of why we need to remind each other about these incidents, tell each other when they occur, so we won't take primers for granted.
     
  14. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    With AP press it always recommend to stop when ever something does not feel right. It's when you start forcing things when bad things happen. The Dillon 650 has a long background of setting of the primers. It was back int the 70's that I ran into this at a local sporting goods store that carried all the name brand of equipment and supplies. All due to a worn cheap piece of plastic used in the feed system. Again nothing goes wrong if every thing is right, it always when something gets out of adj. So keep a good concentration on whats happening with your equipment.

    Be safe, We as hand loaders are making controlled explosions, so high caution is needed.
     
  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Always a mystery to me. The D650 has that elaborate rotary primer feed that is supposed to prevent gang firing the primer magazine, but they have more reported launches of the primer feed than any of the other models, maybe more than all the other models with simple sliding bars.
     
  16. RainDodger

    RainDodger Member

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    I have numerous progressive presses or presses with feed tubes for primers. I don't use any of them. I haven't for years. Even with my Dillon Square Deal, I do not use the priming function. Obviously, I'm not in a hurry when hand loading. I process my brass fully, right up to the point of priming, which I do individually, one by one. It actually makes it very fast when using the progressive press, as I'm putting in an already-primed case and not messing with the added complexity, hassle, and danger of the priming process, especially when loading them into a tube where they are all in contact with one another.

    Over the years I've tried just about every method there is for individually seating primers. I've settled on the Lee Ram Prime "dies".... they take ALL of the subjectivity out of priming. You don't have to "feel" the primer seating. You set the primer depth with the "die" and then simply run the cases through your single stage press. I've done it this way for years - tens of thousands of cases and primers with no problem. In addition, it gives you that additional chance to take a quick look at the brass as you're priming it. It's another chance to cull out the brass that might have a slight crack or whatever. Since you're seating them individually, it's also easy to sense a primer pocket that's grown a bit too large - in that case I either toss it in the recycle bucket, or mark the case so I don't save it after shooting one last time.That's my two cents.
     
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