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Thread: Request Your Opinion on Primers

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    Member jrt34's Avatar
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    Default Request Your Opinion on Primers

    I recently worked up my first batches of hand-loads. I loaded 44 specials into once fired brass with 200 grain jacketed hollow points and 5.6 grains of Bullseye powder and CCI No. 300 primers. Rounds were fired through a S&W 629 44 mag.

    Approximately 20% of the rounds failed to ignite and the indentation on the primers looks pretty insignificant compared to the rounds that did fire. I was thinking perhaps I seated these primers too deep but an experienced hand-loader that I work with says the CCI primers I'm using are too hard and that I should switch to Winchester primers.

    Does this seem like sound advice? Does anyone have any thoughts or similar experiences?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrt34 View Post
    I recently worked up my first batches of hand-loads. I loaded 44 specials into once fired brass with 200 grain jacketed hollow points and 5.6 grains of Bullseye powder and CCI No. 300 primers. Rounds were fired through a S&W 629 44 mag.

    Approximately 20% of the rounds failed to ignite and the indentation on the primers looks pretty insignificant compared to the rounds that did fire. I was thinking perhaps I seated these primers too deep but an experienced hand-loader that I work with says the CCI primers I'm using are too hard and that I should switch to Winchester primers.

    Does this seem like sound advice? Does anyone have any thoughts or similar experiences?
    Well, no it doesn't sound like sound advice. I don't think there is enough difference between the primer cups of Win primer and a CCI primer to make a difference. The CCI primers may just be a bad batch. Also Federal primers are the primer with the soft cup.

    IF you gun shoots factory ammo without a hitch....and

    IF you did not contaminate the primer when you seated it...(sorry, but this is the most likely culprit)....and

    IF your 629 hasn't been tweeked for Federal primers only.....then

    The primers are bad.

    I have used about 42,000 primers in the past two years and none of them failed to fire. I think my last failed primer was two decades ago. Point being, there are very few bad primers out there.
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  3. #3

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    The only time I have encountered anything similar, the gun had been monkeyed with. And it only happened in double action firing rather than single action. Does your gun qualify on those counts?

    If a spring kit has been recently installed; if the tension screw on the main spring was recently adjusted; or, if you put on new composite grips recently, I'd examine for a gun malfunction in addition to primer issues. In the last case, I've heard but not seen that it's possible for extra rubber inside the grip to interfere with the spring.

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    I just noticed your comment about "I was thinking perhaps I seated these primers too deep but...." More than likely you did not seat them deep enough. They cant really be seated too deep, they stop at the bottom of the primer pocket, and that's where we want them. If not at the bottom of the pocket, they can move deeper at the hammer impact and not be hit hard enough.

    There was a similar complaint on here some time back and CCI primers were to blame then as well. I have talked to two handloaders here locally that have had this problem and both lived in a rather damp area and had kept ther primers in their damp basement. This high humidity environment proved to be the culprit.

    We really need more info here to determine the fault. Is this a new gun or used but new to you? Have you fired it without this problem? Is this your first handloads through it? etc.
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    Take off the grips and see if there is a screw you can adjust on the grip frame. The screw will press against the spring. I am betting someone changed something.
    Tennessee

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    Default Not sure what the deal is...

    The 629 was purchased brand new about a year and a half ago and I've never had a problem firing factory loads. It's never been tweaked by anyone. I never considered the difference between firing single action and double action (I usually mix it up about 50-50 and didnt even think to note the mode of fire during failure).

    These were my first handloads through it and I was pretty nervous about having high-primers but perhaps they werent deep enough? Are these primers super easy to contaminate? I used bare hands that I washed prior to priming but maybe I still had some lube on the case, which got on my hands etc..

    I sure appreciate the feedback from everbody.

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    jrt,

    Lube will do it but if your hands weren't sticky with the lube that probably isn't it. If the primers were slightly raised that is most likely. They should be slightly recessed below flush, with the case head. What do you use to seat primers?
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    Default Press Mounted Ram

    Murphey,

    I used the ram on my Rock-Chucker press. I've been told to get a hand priming tool? Is that sound advice?

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    Default priming

    jrt34,
    Not Murphy but have a fair to middlin amount of reloading experience. Who knows the cause of so many fail-to-fire primers? Seems most of the possibilities have been well covered already. In my experience, the two causes most likely in your case would be either primer contamination or improper seating. But as unlikely as it is it's still possible the gun is somehow not right... hammer/firing pin interference, weak spring, incorrect headspace or incorrect clearance between cartridge and recoil shield. But these are very unlikely with a new gun. So, I tend to agree with Murphy about maybe not seating the primers deep enough. But, seat too deep with too much force and the anvil within the primer may crack the priming mixture within the primer.... not good. Seat with too little pressure or not deep enough and all the energy of the pin fall is used up in seating the primer the rest of the way into the pocket... also not good. So primer seating "feel" is important. You want the primer seated deep enough to JUST begin to compress the bottom part of the anvil onto the bottom of the primer pocket. Also, to eliminate one other possiblility... buy a new 100 ct box of primers before proceeding.

    The LEAST amount of primer seating "feel" is with the priming arm on a press. The BEST feel is with a hand priming tool. And, there are all varieties of bench mounted and hand priming and ram priming tools out there. Of the hand priming types the most common are the Lee at about 10.00 and the RCBS starting at about 27.00. But, if you want the best that will last a life time and can afford it- the Sinclair is likely the best at about 110.00. The Sinclair tool uses Lee Auto Prime shellholders for about 2.80 ea. You'll never have to buy another priming tool... unless of course you get into loading in bulk where one of the auto-progressive loaders would be in order... but that's a different ball game. Good luck!

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    Default

    Given all the good suggestions that you have received so far, I suspect that you are using too much force when seating (thus smashing) your primers, which is easy to do when using your loading press for primer seating. When I first started handloading, I smashed a few primers with the exact same caliber you're using...resulting in a click with no boom. If you have any loaded/unfired cases from the same bunch, look to see if you have an indentation from the primer seating pedestal, which could be a clue. Also, is it possible that you are using the wrong sized seating pedestal, i.e., are you using the one for small primers rather than for large primers?

    When you find yourself with some extra money, buy a hand priming tool. They really are worth it. Good luck.

    Doc

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrt34 View Post
    These were my first handloads through it and I was pretty nervous about having high-primers but perhaps they werent deep enough? Are these primers super easy to contaminate? I used bare hands that I washed prior to priming but maybe I still had some lube on the case, which got on my hands etc..

    I sure appreciate the feedback from everbody.
    jrt34:
    I think you're right to be concerned about high primers. If you get a Primer Pocket Uniformer from Sinclair, you won't have to worry about high primers. It squares the bottom of the primer pocket, and will insure that a fully seated primer is well below the case head.

    I like to use the primer arms found on a press. I've never used a hand primer seater, and I seat primers VERY hard. I've never had one fail in a rifle. I have had the problem with a couple of revolvers. In one case I increased the hammer spring tension, and the other, I got the spring replaced. When you have the problem it can be too intermittent to determine the cause with enough certainty to blame the ammo.

    This is somewhat speculative, but I think you can get a light primer indentation in a revolver when the cartridge is resting all the way to the rear. The case moves forward on firing, and some of the firing pins impact could be absorbed.

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    Default Try and Try again

    Well I dropped the $30 for a hand priming tool only to have my #6 shell holder not fit in the tool with the small primer feed. Perplexed, I disassembled the tool and placed my No.18 shell holder on the large primer feed and assembled the tool and the unit worked fine. I assumed that I must have inherited a very old No. 6 shell holder and that maybe the dimensions of these holders have changed in the last 30 yrs. So... I went out and bought another shell holder (**** this reloading is an expensive hobby!). No dice, that one dosent fit either.

    Anyway, I'm determined to figure this whole reloading business out. Today will find me dragging my priming tool and shell holders around to various shops here in Anc untill someone gets me on the right track. Ill have a full report once I get this all straightned out!

    Thanks for all of the comments and advice.

  13. #13

    Default My opinion

    Sound advise, all. My personal opinion, not having first-hand knowledge of the reloads or the gun itself, would suggest contaminated primers. Yes, the oil on an average person's hand can cause a misfire. I agree with Murphy that this should be your first concern. If you load DRY primers and it still won't fire some, either contaminated batch or a bad batch of primers. Very rare. I would try different types and even a new box of the same type to see if it just wasn't a fluke with that box.

    BTW, I have reloaded 10's of thousands of rounds over the years, and had only a very few misfires, mostly shotgun loads. Every one of the 5 or so I have had were because either I or someone helping me seat the primers handled them with sweaty or dirty hands. Since I went to a hand primer tool for most of my handgun and rifle loads not loaded on my Dillon, I have had absolutely no misfires in nearly 20 years. Adding a primer feed to my different shotgun reloaders also solved that problem with shotgun loads. I still load my hunting rifle loads one at a time on my RockChucker press, and handle the primers like they were razor blades. I use a primer feed here, too, and use the ram to seat them. You can feel when it bottoms out.
    Never touch the anvil and ALWAYS ensure your hands are clean and DRY and you should never have this problem. BTW, the 629 is an outstanding medium strength weapon, and it should not be the problem if it is that new and unused. If it is, I would send it back to S&W to have it quality checked and ask for a replacement. Your life may depend on it, and if it isn't functional as designed, you are screwed........ This is why I stick to Rugers for heavy hunting. They are bulletproof.
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

  14. #14

    Default Type of priming tool

    Curious what type of priming tool did you get? I have had issues with some Lee products. I tried to save money there, but ended up going back to RCBS or Dillon for their quality. Will save you money in the long run. The demensions of a shell holder won't change, but the shank on different holders are different. For example, most Redding products will not fit most common presses.....

    As far as the Lee products go, the only ones left on my reloading bench is 24 of their reloading die sets. Not only are they cheaper, but are just as good as RCBS, Dillon, Hornady, etc. All but 2 of my dies for my Dillon 550 press are RCBS, though, for their superior carbide dies. I have 2 Dillon die sets, but prefer RCBS.
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

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    Default Progress! Sort of....

    Well, after much head scratching and an hour of what amounted to a game of componet musical chairs with a gentleman from GNG, we determined that RCBS is distributing hand primers that do not work with RCBS # 6 shell holders. So I ended up with a hand primer from Hornady. Works like a charm ( it should for $40!)

    On Sat, I loaded up a box of 38 spcl, 125 grain Gold Dot hollow points with 4.5 grns of Bullseye and CCI 500 primers. None failed to fire and as a matter of fact, the load was pretty accurate in both my Smith model 19 and model 65 .357's.

    Feeling pleased with this progress I decided to try my hand with the 357 mag. On Sunday, I proceeded to load the same bullet, 125 grain Gold Dot hollow point, with 8.6 grains of Unique and the same CCI 500 primers. None of these failed to fire either! Thats the good news. The bad news is that my model 19 was shaving copper off of the bullet on its way out of the chamber. I only fired two rounds through it before I decided to retire that revolver for the day. The model 65 did not shave any bullets but approx. 3 in ten rounds were difficult to eject from the cylinder after firing. Thinking this might be a sign of excessive pressure (this was the minimum load listed in the manual??) I called it a day. I'm thinking Ill pull the remaining bullets, dump the powder, and continue searching for a .357 load that dosent leave me so uncomfortable at the end of the day.

    Any thoughts on the Model 19 shaving the bullets?

  16. #16
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    Default S&W 19 shaving

    jrt34,
    If the Model 19 is in relatively good shape and has a factory barrel on it, it would seem very unlikely that the gun itself would be shaving jacket material off the bullets. The forcing cone in those factory guns is like a fairly large funnel so shaving would be hard to imagine. Even if it were a little out of time the worst thing would be some inaccuracy.

    Without knowing exactly what you mean by "shaving" my guess would be the problem is happening during the reloading process. You can either do a little experiment or try to go straight to a possible solution...??? The experiment would be to load a couple of rounds with the same specs as the others you are trying but don't crimp them. On these be sure to lightly chamfer the inside of the mouths before seating the bullets. Single shoot them thru the gun and see if the "shaving" is still happening.

    The direct try at a solution would be to take an unprimed case ready to load, put it in the press, undo the lock ring on the bullet seating die and loosen it up a few turns, turn the seating stem up a few turns, run the case up into the die to full up position, turn the die down until you feel the crimping ring in the die make contact with the case mouth, back the case down out of the die. At this point- turn the die body down no more than 1/8th turn. Run the case back up into the die and you should feel a slight amount of contact as the mouth is roll crimped inward. Inspect the case. You want just a small amount of roll crimp visible. If you are satisfied with the amount of crimp... this may take some fine tuning...set the lock ring on the die body at this point. Next- resize the case and place a bullet in the mouth and run the case up into the die and begin setting the seating depth. Keep turning the seating stem down in very small increments until the case mouth is seated near the FRONT edge of the cannelure in the bullet. Of course each time you run the case and bullet up into the die it will attemp to roll crimp the case. You may have to try a few times to get the right amount of crimp at the right place on the bullet.

    The problem with the ONE step to do TWO different things with many of the bullet seating dies is that the die is trying to crimp the case mouth onto the bullet while still moving the bullet to depth. IF you have a square, sharp-edged case mouth being crimped while the bullet is still being seated to depth there is a good possibility that the case mouth is "shaving" some bullet jacket material. An excess amount of roll crimp, sharp case mouth edge or crimping in the wrong place will exaggerate this shaving problem. The jacket shavings are sometimes not easy to see and will be bunched up around the bullet in the area around cannelure. By crimping near the front end of the cannelure it gives the most leeway for the crimping process to not shave off an excess amount of jacket and gives the best purchase on the bullet with the minimum amount of crimp.

    Sorry about this tedious attempt at explaining this possibility for the shaved jacket material but seems the most likely to me and the loading techniques are, by nature, slow and tedious until you get the dies set just right. If this turns out to be the problem.... another solution would be to set the bullet seating die out a turn or so and not use it as a crimping die. Then use another crimping die as a final step. Also, even with jacketed bullets, sometimes a properly adjusted Lyman M die will help with these problems. Just some ideas to consider- Good luck!

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