A "Primer" on Primers

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Trez, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. Trez

    Trez Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I always see people asking, what kind of brass to keep or scrap and why cant they reload their foreign surplus brass... One is the type of primer used. Well I happen to be dabbling with the two priming systems at the moment and thought I could help....

    There are two types of primers for modern centerfires, and look identical in a loaded cartridge. The difference can be seen inside a fired cartridge or when the primer has been removed. Theres the Berdan that has Two flash holes, and the Boxer with just one.

    Berdan primers are named after their American inventor, Hiram Berdan of New York who patented his primer in March of 1866.
    Berdan primers are similar to the caps used in the caplock system, being small metal cups with pressure-sensitive explosive in them. Inside the primer pocket is a small bump, the "anvil", with two small holes on either side of the anvil.
    They are reusable, But the used primer must be removed, by hydraulic pressure or something that pierces and pulls the primer out of the bottom.

    The Boxer Primer was developed by Edward M. Boxer in England, patenting it in England on October, 1866, and a U.S. patent in June, 1869.
    Boxer primers are similar to Berdan primers with one major difference, the location of the anvil. In a Boxer primer, the anvil is located inside the primer cup, and theres only one center hole in the primer pocket.
    Boxer primers are easier to reload, using a decapping rod to push the spent primer out of the case. As well the sizes are more "universal", having a large & small size for pistols and rifles. (and magnum primers for all those..)

    Heres some pictures I took.. Ones a Yugoslavian M67 surplus case, and the others a US commercial Winchester one, both are in 7.62x39.
    You can see the difference in the primer pockets...
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Trez

    Trez Well-Known Member

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    Pictures of the primer cups....
    The first is showing both the Berdan and the Boxer with the attached anvil. (Both unfired)
    The second pic is of a fired Boxer primer with the anvil removed....
     

    Attached Files:


  3. anm2_man

    anm2_man Member

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    Good description. I recycle at least 4000 berdan primed cases a year. Its a shame, but decaping them is a real issue.
     
  4. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    By recycle I presume you mean sell for scrap? Dang shame no one has come up with an efficient way of decapping the berdan cases.
     
  5. Chandler51

    Chandler51 New Member

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    How 'bout that! I've often wondered the difference, and while I have encountered people who claimed to know, none of them could articulate properly so that the layman might understand.

    Thanks man.
     
  6. BlueTurf

    BlueTurf New Member

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    I am glad you posted this thread because people are asking about the differences between Berdan and Boxer primers all the time. Good job.

    I recycle lots of spent military surplus brass because I don't want to mess with Berdan primers.
     
  7. MidnightExpress

    MidnightExpress New Member

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    Decapping (uncapping) Spent Berdan Primed Cartridges Still not as quick as decapping boxer primers, but it may be quicker than the RCBS tool with enough practice.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. cottontop

    cottontop Guest

    At the gun show today there was a guy at a table with ton of ammo. I asked if his .223 ammo was boxer primed and he said, "No this all has modern primers."
    You'd think a guy in the business would know a little more about the terminology of the stuff he is selling.
    cottontop
     
  9. Trez

    Trez Well-Known Member

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    Im gonna try to make a hydraulic press that uses water to deprime the Berdan cases.. Ill let you guys know how that goes, I tried the wooden dowel and it almost worked, but the dowel would break or the case would bend...
     
  10. trip286

    trip286 New Member

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    I've heard of a home made hydraulic press using water, it seemed to work pretty well. Check youtube and see if they have any ideas you can use.

    It would really be great if the case can be converted to take boxer after the berdan is removed. Is that possible?
     
  11. MidnightExpress

    MidnightExpress New Member

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    I think the term is hydrodynamic press if you're using water. Hydraulic uses oil.

    Some have hammered or chipped the anvil out of the bredan cases and used boxer primers and some have drilled the center out of the berdan case. It's been said the two small holes won't allow enough of the flash through to ignite the power properly. I can't say one way or the other nor can I confirm if any of these will work. I toss my berdan cases because it's really isn't worth the hassle for common rounds.
     
  12. Trez

    Trez Well-Known Member

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    I heard of people pinging the two holes shut then drilling the middle, but takes alot of work and time.. In addition Berdan primers come in many different sizes, not just small and large like Boxers... The 5.5 is slightly larger than a Lg rifle primer, it will fit but doesnt feel as tight as it should in the Berdan case..

    I normally throw my Berdan cases in to the scrap pile too, but I just happened to come across a box of 250 Berdan primers for the same price as a 100 box of Boxers... I figure it will be a "different" experience, and why not?