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Thread: Odd primer indentations in .44 Mag reloads

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    Default Odd primer indentations in .44 Mag reloads

    I was looking at some empty cases from my .44 reloads and noticed that some of the primer indentations - i.e. strike from the hammer - were quite odd.

    Instead of the nice rounded indentation of normal depth some of the primers looked like they had almost no indentation at all - just a very slight crater like the pocket had been ironed out from the inside somehow. The primers weren't flattened out and showerd normal pressure for a .44 Mag. - I would say a medium load.

    Cases were Star Line and appeared to be quite normal. The primers were some old CCI LP magnum primers of a lot I've been using for years with no issues. The gun was my trusty S&W 629-2 and light hammer strikes was obviously not the problem- the remaining indenation is too shallow to have ignited the primer.

    The load was 14 gr. of Alliant STEEL powder behind a 310 gr. bullet. A similar load with the same components other than the powder was 19 gr. of H110. The H110 fired cases looked perfectly normal as did the loads with STEEL powder other than the odd primer strikes.

    Any thoughts or guesses on this one? I'll try to post some pictures but a close up enough to show the details is tough with my camera.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    I was looking at some empty cases from my .44 reloads and noticed that some of the primer indentations - i.e. strike from the hammer - were quite odd.

    Instead of the nice rounded indentation of normal depth some of the primers looked like they had almost no indentation at all - just a very slight crater like the pocket had been ironed out from the inside somehow. The primers weren't flattened out and showerd normal pressure for a .44 Mag. - I would say a medium load.

    Cases were Star Line and appeared to be quite normal. The primers were some old CCI LP magnum primers of a lot I've been using for years with no issues. The gun was my trusty S&W 629-2 and light hammer strikes was obviously not the problem- the remaining indenation is too shallow to have ignited the primer.

    The load was 14 gr. of Alliant STEEL powder behind a 310 gr. bullet. A similar load with the same components other than the powder was 19 gr. of H110. The H110 fired cases looked perfectly normal as did the loads with STEEL powder other than the odd primer strikes.

    Any thoughts or guesses on this one? I'll try to post some pictures but a close up enough to show the details is tough with my camera.
    I had light primer indentations, on some of my 357 hand loads a few years ago. This was with my Ruger Blackhawk, New Model.

    I figgered the firing pin didn't hit them hard enough, so I had the hammer spring replaced. After that I noticed it could happen again. I didn't know what to do, so I didn't do nuthin.

    I haven't checked on that lately, and I've never had a round FAIL to go off, with that gun, but I'm thinking it's possible, that could happen.

    One theory I have, is that if the primer wasn't seated all the way, some of the firing pin blow, could be absorbed. This seems unlikely in my case, because I seat primers hard.

    I'm thinking also, that the primer cups on the ones with the light lookin strikes, may be thicker than the norm.

    Would somebody please clue me on this?

    Thanks.
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    Good question and I ainít got the answer. I do suspect it has to do with head space and primer cup hardness though, put a slightly harder primer in a case with a slightly thinner rim and Iíd bet you get a smaller dent.
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    The very first thing that comes to mind when looking at a primer indentation that seems shallow, is firing pin protrusion. Take some factory loads with you to the range, and see if they, too, show this anomaly. If so, replace the hammer spring, and or hammer, as your FP may be worn, or the hammer spring just doesn't have enough gas to do the job anymore.

    If the factory loads aren't showing this problem, then its a problem with your reloads. Having the primer indentation move back is an early sign of pressure; it is usually followed by flattening of the primer edges.

    A load worked up and observed for pressure during one weather extreme (winter) may show different pressure signs during the opposite extreme (summer). Some of the newer powders mitigate this effect, but it is still something one should be aware of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    .......... I would say a medium load.

    Cases were Star Line and appeared to be quite normal. The primers were some old CCI LP magnum primers of a lot I've been using for years with no issues. The gun was my trusty S&W 629-2 and light hammer strikes was obviously not the problem- the remaining indenation is too shallow to have ignited the primer.

    The load was 14 gr. of Alliant STEEL powder behind a 310 gr. bullet. A similar load with the same components other than the powder was 19 gr. of H110. The H110 fired cases looked perfectly normal as did the loads with STEEL powder other than the odd primer strikes.

    Any thoughts or guesses on this one? I'll try to post some pictures but a close up enough to show the details is tough with my camera.
    I shoot a lot of S&W's and the older (nicer) models with the hammer mounted firing pin do leave odd strike marks at times. Of course all my guns are somewhat lighter in trigger pull and hammer strike but no to the point of being unreliable. One of the reasons I like the hammer mounted pins is a lighter, yet positive hammer fall can be used. No reason to hit the primer harder than needed.

    Differences in cup hardness and alignment of cartridge in relationship to firing pin make for odd strike marks. The cartridge is centered but the firing pin floats around some and moves (up and down) during recoil and makes an oval indention sometimes and lighter (under max) loads and lighter main springs do seem to do more of this.
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    I'm convinced that my issue was a function of my handloads.

    BTW, I use CCI, but Federals are reportedly softer. ?????

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I'm convinced that my issue was a function of my handloads.

    BTW, I use CCI, but Federals are reportedly softer. ?????

    Smitty of the North
    That's always a possibility. Failure to full seat the primer causing it to walk at striker fall will leave funny tracks. Take note of striker marks on the striker fired autos. (Glock, Kahr, etc) The striker stays in contact with the primer while the barrel moves down to unlock and leaves the tell tail Glock tracks on a primer. Seating primers slightly cocked where one side bottoms out the other doesn't or not fully seating to push the anvil into the mix will cause different striker marks on the same gun.....Then you know its the way it was seated. Forensic analysis of fired cases (including striker marks) allow tracing a particular fired case to the gun from which it was fired....don't leave brass at the scene. (The reason for the required fired case with handguns from the manufacturer for tyrannical states that require registration of that gun to it's owner and its brass.) Beware.
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    This is just a wild guess but I'm wondering if the powder is the culprit. If the powder builds pressure slowly or ignition is delayed, the firing pin may be rebounding slightly before pressure pushes the primer back. If the pin were retracted some the pressure could iron the primer partially back depending on how far the pin retracted before pressure was high enough. I found some 22/250 brass at the range the other day that looked like the primer had been partially pushed back flat from the inside. They were really strange looking and I was thinking the firing pin would have to be out of the way for that to happen.

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    rbuck may be onto something: hammer rebound during peak pressure...which might cause some of the primer indentation to "back out". (if the hammer was in the process of bouncing at the time...just a theory) I have seen some odd indentations from a model 29 I once owned also...never could figure out what caused it. My Ruger RH 44mag never did it, with same loads, so it must be something about the firearm.
    If you want to check firing pin function ONLY: fire an empty case...no bullet or powder...then examine the primer. (be mindful where you do this: it is louder than you would think)

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    I've got another CrackPot Theory.

    I've had this problem only with revolvers. SOOO, What IF, there were enough back play, between the cylinder, and the back plate, AND the round wasn't seated all the way forward?

    The firing pin strike would therefore push the case forward to stop on the rim, conceivably, absorbing some of the blow, creating a light indentation on the primer.

    This would be a matter of timing, of course, with other factors contributing.

    It may be a little far-fetched, but I always consider it when I have this problem. I've had it other revolvers besides, my 357, and always ended up contributing it to other factors.

    But, who knows? "There are Strange Things Done under the Midnight Sun."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I've got another CrackPot Theory.

    I've had this problem only with revolvers. SOOO, What IF, there were enough back play, between the cylinder, and the back plate, AND the round wasn't seated all the way forward?

    The firing pin strike would therefore push the case forward to stop on the rim, conceivably, absorbing some of the blow, creating a light indentation on the primer.

    This would be a matter of timing, of course, with other factors contributing.

    It may be a little far-fetched, but I always consider it when I have this problem. I've had it other revolvers besides, my 357, and always ended up contributing it to other factors.

    But, who knows? "There are Strange Things Done under the Midnight Sun."

    Smitty of the North
    Tis zactley what I meant by head space. Wherever the reason for the extra head space it would do just as you say if the case isnít all the way forward with the harder primers that are less likely to give to the strike before the whole round gets moving forward. Things move around under recoil and gravity, you rise the gun to target on first shot, lower from recoil for next . . . then hang it down as ya squint at target to see where the heck that one went before ya go fer another try . . . so, some rounds would be back and some not.

    Least wize, thatís what I long believed is doing it, but I been wrong once before . . . err, uh, well maybe twice but the wife hasnít proved that othern to me yet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    Tis zactley what I meant by head space. Wherever the reason for the extra head space it would do just as you say if the case isnít all the way forward with the harder primers that are less likely to give to the strike before the whole round gets moving forward. Things move around under recoil and gravity, you rise the gun to target on first shot, lower from recoil for next . . . then hang it down as ya squint at target to see where the heck that one went before ya go fer another try . . . so, some rounds would be back and some not.

    Least wize, thatís what I long believed is doing it, but I been wrong once before . . . err, uh, well maybe twice but the wife hasnít proved that othern to me yet.
    Hmm, maybe I AM right. (Or we're BOTH crackpots.)

    You can tell your wife, I SAID, you are Right, and a "knower of many things".

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    Tis zactley what I meant by head space. Wherever the reason for the extra head space it would do just as you say if the case isnít all the way forward with the harder primers that are less likely to give to the strike before the whole round gets moving forward. Things move around under recoil and gravity, you rise the gun to target on first shot, lower from recoil for next . . . then hang it down as ya squint at target to see where the heck that one went before ya go fer another try . . . so, some rounds would be back and some not.

    Least wize, thatís what I long believed is doing it, but I been wrong once before . . . err, uh, well maybe twice but the wife hasnít proved that othern to me yet.
    end-shake washers can easily correct headspace issues with revolvers...but perhaps testing other ammunition will show that it is not a problem. sometimes ( as earlier stated ) primer seating depth will be the culprit. always check the simple stuff first! good luck.
    happy trails.
    jh

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    Default other possibilites

    The oddity of of the primer indentations on the rounds is that most of the other primers from the same load looked perfectly normal with a deep strike. I was using the same cases and primers for all of the loads so there weren't any obvious variables in the loads.

    The only thing I can imagine is that the bullets in the last rounds when I fired a cylinder full may have became slightly uncrimped and produced less pressure than the first. The bullets couldn't have moved far out of the case however as they were seated almost to the end of the cylinder already - another 1/8" or so would have bound up the cylinder. The bullets were the Lee 315 gr. and I had them crimped in the bottom groove giving the maximum length.

    Wish I had a macro lenses on my camera so I could show the actual primers.


    Quote Originally Posted by pinehavensredrocket View Post
    end-shake washers can easily correct headspace issues with revolvers...but perhaps testing other ammunition will show that it is not a problem. sometimes ( as earlier stated ) primer seating depth will be the culprit. always check the simple stuff first! good luck.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    Wish I had a macro lenses on my camera so I could show the actual primers.
    If you have a combo printer/scanner attached to your computer, you might try scanning the primers, to see if a decent pic can be obtained that way. I'd just set a handful of cases upright on the glass and see what happens...
    "I love my country...it's the government I'm scared of"

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    Smitty

    Yes primer seating depth can be an issue here but in the particular revolver he's shooting, that's one of a few guns that rest the firing pin on the primer during the full recoil cycle. You must release the trigger to pulle the hammer back to the safety bar. Newer S&Ws aren't that way. Also that hammer mounted firing pin walks during recoil. I think that makes the marks oval and shallow. Higher pressure loads flatten the marks out around the pin.

    I shoot those ok'd S&Ws a lot. I see the same marks and I do seat my primers to the bottom.
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    OK, Murphy, Thanks.

    Smitty of the North
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    If I'm accurately picturing what's happening, I'll pose another possibility based on my own shooting. Depending on the powder and lube if you're shooting cast bullets, and how many shots have been previously fired, curious things start to happen once you get the cylinders really crudded up with powder/lube residue. On firing the case walls grab the cylinder walls quicker or more firmly is all I can guess, so the cases don't set back as far or as soon or whatever. And each cylinder can get crudded up at a different rate, so it's kinda progressive.

    If what I'm seeing is not what you're describing, I'll fold my tent on this point. But as an experiment, next time you see the condition developing try running a dry bore brush through the cylinders a few times to clean them up a little. It cleans up my set of symptoms right away, at least till the cylinder walls get good and crudded up again.

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