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Thread: How to discharge/remove unfired primers from brass

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    Default How to discharge/remove unfired primers from brass

    After reading the Re-use pulled bullet thread, it left me wondering how a person would go about safely depriming brass where the primers have not yet been fired. Is that a moot or stupid question? Would there ever be a need to remove unfired primers from brass? What if you made an error somewhere along the line and need to resize your brass after you've primed it?

    Or...let's say you have some 60-year old ammo. The bullets and the brass appear to be in good shape but you don't want to bring these rounds with you on the hunt only to be disappointed when you pull the trigger and hear only a "click....". I have some old bullets and it would be nothing to pull the bullets and put in new primer and fresh powder but I don't know how to safely discharge/remove unfired primers.

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    I don't have a huge amount of experience with this... but can share my own limited experience. I had a batch (I think it was around 20 or so) of 223 cases that were primed, but for whatever reason, the primers did not seat all the way. They were sticking out too far to have been reliably been shot... so I just ran them back through the sizer, and deprimed as normal without issue.

    If you decide to do it, just make sure to keep your strokes slow... and make sure no one in the house is sleeping in case one goes off...lol

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    You can punch them out as normal but I got carried away going fast with a decamping die and set one off, doubt you could go fast enough with a sizing die to detonate one. If you do set one off itís not a big deal other than it will startle the heck out of you. In my case the little booger came out the shoot in my Rockcrusher hitting my leg adding to my excitement, no injury as I think I could chuck it by hand almost as hard as it hit me . . . I suppose if it hit you in the eye it wouldnĎt be good. You can also just fire them in the gun assuming they will chamber for you.


    If you are tossing the brass a drop of light machine oil in each while standing on end will kill the primers making them basically inert or at least so they will only burn slowly and not ignite on their own. You donít want to do this on cases you plan to use because residual oil in the case could kill your new primers also.

    You can safely (or as safely as anything dealing with guns and ammunition) size primed cases (or even loaded rounds assuming the bullet wonĎt contact anything inside your die), the shell holder doesnít contact the primer so itís not goanna set it off any more than closing a bolt on it. However, it could greatly complicate removal of a stuck case should you have one.
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    Another thing that spooks a lot of guys (me included) but seems to work fine is running loaded rounds through a vibrating tumbler. I worry that it could damage the coatings on some powders changing burn rate but is doesnít seem to effect anything . . . just cleans the chalked lead and makes old looking ammo look better.
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    I recently de-primed a few hundred WWII vintage 30-06 cases after pulling the bullets and old powder. No problems other than the Denver arsenal cases which are almost impossible to deprime due to the super crimp they used. I just punched holes right through most of the primers on those cases.

    Not one went off out of 500 cases.

    I pulled the bullets, dumped the old clotted up powder, soaked the cases in coca-cola for a few hours, rinsed with hot water and then de-primed them a few days later after they had dried out next to the wood stove. The coca-cola seems to help eat away the waterproofing stuff they used to seal some of the ammo.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    I recently de-primed a few hundred WWII vintage 30-06 cases after pulling the bullets and old powder. No problems other than the Denver arsenal cases which are almost impossible to deprime due to the super crimp they used. I just punched holes right through most of the primers on those cases.
    Been down that road too with those same cases, poke a hole and it ain't worth fighting with decaping any way we could come up with. My Dad came up with putting a shell holder on, fill with water, insert tight fitting brass rod in neck, and whack with hammer . . . works most of the time. But then they tend to have loose pockets because getting rid of that extreme crimp didnít leave enough meat there at the corner of the pocket where you need it. In an M1 they tended to leave the spent primer behind to jam things up so we gave up. I carted 6 buckets of that 1940s 06 brass down to the scrap yard after Dad died and I was cleaning out his gun room.
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    Thanks a bunch for the feedback, fellas. Also, good to know about the Coca-Cola, the miracle soda.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    If you are tossing the brass a drop of light machine oil in each while standing on end will kill the primers making them basically inert or at least so they will only burn slowly and not ignite on their own. You donít want to do this on cases you plan to use because residual oil in the case could kill your new primers also.
    I once put 30 or so primers in a baby food jar filled with oil. After about a month I put these primers in some cases (no bullets or powder) and about 80% fired with their normal loud pop.

    No reason to be afraid to deprime live primers. Just go slow and wear eye protection.
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    eye protection is a must in any situation believe me I have had more than my share of getting crap dug outa my eyes
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    I once put 30 or so primers in a baby food jar filled with oil. After about a month I put these primers in some cases (no bullets or powder) and about 80% fired with their normal loud pop.

    No reason to be afraid to deprime live primers. Just go slow and wear eye protection.
    Thatís interesting. We were told way back when (1980 I think) by Larry Porterfield, we tested 3-in-1 machine oil and it kills them dead as a doorknob, of a hundred or so we tested not one even sizzled. Also 3-in-1 oil residue in these cases made some of them FTF or hang fire after about a year, even though we thought we cleaned them well.

    Coke is a puzzlement to me, donít understand what about it would kill them. Water wonít kill them (water is used to make them) and I donít see why sugar would . . . maybe the citric acid IĎd guess.

    No reason to fear them, just know you WILL get a thrill if one goes but nothing more.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironartist View Post
    eye protection is a must in any situation believe me I have had more than my share of getting crap dug outa my eyes
    Yea, Iíve had more than my quota of stuff dug out too, 6 rust rings ďdrilledĒ out over the years from grinding steel. Often got in there grinding even though I had glasses so now I use a face shield AND glasses with side guards for grinding. We only get one set of eyes and ears per lifetime . . . PROTECT THEM ALWAYS!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angst View Post
    After reading the Re-use pulled bullet thread, it left me wondering how a person would go about safely depriming brass where the primers have not yet been fired. Is that a moot or stupid question? Would there ever be a need to remove unfired primers from brass? What if you made an error somewhere along the line and need to resize your brass after you've primed it?

    Or...let's say you have some 60-year old ammo. The bullets and the brass appear to be in good shape but you don't want to bring these rounds with you on the hunt only to be disappointed when you pull the trigger and hear only a "click....". I have some old bullets and it would be nothing to pull the bullets and put in new primer and fresh powder but I don't know how to safely discharge/remove unfired primers.
    1. Go outside.
    2. Put empty shell in chamber.
    3. Close bolt.
    4. Pull trigger.
    5. Repeat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitroman View Post
    1. Go outside.
    2. Put empty shell in chamber.
    3. Close bolt.
    4. Pull trigger.
    5. Repeat.
    This would be my suggestion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    Thatís interesting. We were told way back when (1980 I think) by Larry Porterfield, we tested 3-in-1 machine oil and it kills them dead as a doorknob, of a hundred or so we tested not one even sizzled. Also 3-in-1 oil residue in these cases made some of them FTF or hang fire after about a year, even though we thought we cleaned them well.

    No reason to fear them, just know you WILL get a thrill if one goes but nothing more.
    I did a test a few years back, and I think you just didn't wait long enough.

    I oiled some and let them set for days, to dry out. The longer they set, the more likely they would go bang or poof. I had both poofs and bangs.

    IME, oil will usually kill a primer but it's only temporary. Probably, long enough, to keep one from goin off when you decap it right away, but you never know.

    The oil might not get from the case into the primer hole, and different oils/solvents, may not all work the same. Anyway, why bother. Experience the "Thrill", which it WILL be, whether you set one off accidently, or on purpose.

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    Fire or water?

    If you are going to dispose of the brass, I would think tossing into a burn barrel would be pretty reliable at rendering primers safe.

    If you are going to re-use the brass, I don't think chemically "killing" the primers is reliable enough. Decapping (with eye and ear protection and if very cautious, gloves and a blanket or carpet as a "blast shield" would make me feel perfectly safe.

    I have set off primers deliberately (just to see how much explosion they have) in my .357 and it produces a bang as loud or a little louder than a big whack with a hammer and will put a powder burn on anything within a foot or so of the muzzle, it is not overwhelming. Nothing to be trifled with, but no more dangerous than your average pocketknife.

    Look at it this way. If one goes off while you are depriming it, you KNOW that one is now inert. Now you have the problem of disposing of the ones that are out of the cases but still live.

    Your local dump or transfer station very likely has a hazardous waste handling policy. The one in Anchorage on 54th will take all kinds of stuff at no charge (non-commercial quantities) and your problem is solved in a socially responsible way and with a degree of certainty unavailable with Coca-Cola or penetrating oil.

    By the way, carbonated soft drinks have not only citric acid, but phosphoric acid and (I can never remember which) carbonic or carbolic acid. It's the sugar that makes it so lousy for cleaning stuff, otherwise it would be used for all kinds of things. Get a tooth and soak it for 24 hours and see.

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    Itís been about 10 years since I have reloaded anything,(been on the road too much and currently in Afghanistan), and I gotta say I am surprisedthat it seems like no one wears eye pro when loading... I always wore some kindof eye pro when I started out, maybe because I was inexperienced at it, but Ireally think itís because I donít want to blind myself if something shouldhappen.


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    I always have safety glasses on, I need to have glasses anyway so I just get all my glasses with large plastic safety lenses. Stuff gets around them though so for things like grinding I use a set of glasses with side grads over my glasses . . . still stuff gets around that so I also use a full face shield too. For reloading I feel just my every day glasses are plenty . . . we only get one set of eyes and ears so better take care of them appropriately.
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    I've always just run them through a sizing/decapping die slowly. Never had one go off. But the key word is SLOWLY.....
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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    Quote Originally Posted by akula682 View Post
    Itís been about 10 years since I have reloaded anything,(been on the road too much and currently in Afghanistan), and I gotta say I am surprisedthat it seems like no one wears eye pro when loading... I always wore some kindof eye pro when I started out, maybe because I was inexperienced at it, but Ireally think itís because I donít want to blind myself if something shouldhappen.
    I wish you a safe hitch and a safe return home. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angst View Post
    I wish you a safe hitch and a safe return home. Thanks.
    Thanks, Ive been over here for about 10 months now and i should be back to FB for a visit next june, then back here for another 18-24 months. I hope that will be the end of my moving around days... i need to settle down and start hunting and shooting again.
    Josh
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