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Thread: Flattened Primers

  1. #1
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    Flattened Primers

    Yup, yet another question from "moi".

    The SHORT version: Can hard crimp cause flattened primers?

    The Full version:

    Yesterday I went to the range and fired a couple hundred reloaded cases, .357 Mag. There was neither any unusual recoil, nor problem with extraction or anything like that. (shot from a revolver). Actually, I felt hose were my best rounds yet, as far as performance, uniformity, and appearance.

    I just took my brass out of the tumbler and started sorting it out by manufacturer and primer used, and noticed that one batch had flattened primers on majority of the cases. I used Winchester Small Pistol Magnum primers on that particular round. Primer pockets were cleaned before seating (I am making that a habit). The charge was 8.9 grain Unique behind 125 grain copper plated FP. The max charge per manufacturer is 9.0, but I found some Lee data for lead bullet of same type that uses more powder, and plenty jacketed data that use even more. I made the OAL 1.580 instead of the 1.570 which should have, if anything, decreased pressure.

    The strange thing is that I made the same round, but with 8.5 gr Unique, using CCI Small pistol primers, and those are nice and round, not flat at all.

    OAL and crimp (Lee seating die) were exactly the same on both charges.

    So, since I know it is not the powder charge or the seating depth, I am questioning whether I crimped too much. I might have gone too hard on the crimp, but I wanted to use these rounds in my Marlin lever and did not want them to move under recoil. The bullets have no crimp groove.

    I set my Lee die screwing it in all the way on an empty case at full stop, until it touches the case, then turn in extra 1/2 turn. Too much?

    Thank you,

    Henry

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    Were the primers just flattened leaving the radius around the primer pocket or were they pancaked, flowing into and filling out the the PP radius?
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  3. #3
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    I guess picture is worth a thousand words, right.

    I took a pic of the entire batch, as there is a great inconsistency in what the primers look like.

    The Blazer is the one I mentioned earlier. The Independence is a different load, not even remotely hot. The crimp and seating depth were the same on all rounds. Powder measured with Perfect Powder Measure, first throws weighted and then every fifth throw weighted to insure accurate dispensing.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I only see one primer - in a Blazer case near the middle of the righthand box - that is appreciably flattened, and that not bad. The rest are very irregular.

    I wonder about hard crimps on plated bullets and the uniformity of measuring Unique's big flakes.
    I have a few facts and a lot of opinions.

  5. #5
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    I only see one primer - in a Blazer case near the middle of the righthand box - that is appreciably flattened, and that not bad. The rest are very irregular.
    There are a few of them like that. I have almost no reloading experience so I figured I'd rather ask than blow something up. So, it is not bad? What would "bad" look like then?

    I wonder about hard crimps on plated bullets and the uniformity of measuring Unique's big flakes.
    That is why I measure and weigh the first ten (or more) throws, and once it comes back the same, I weigh every fifth one. There is a little variation, but never more than 0.1 grain. Actually, when I move the weights on the scale, it is more of a less than 0.1 grain, like a 0.05 grain. (guessing, since the scale is in 0.1 increments and if I move it from 8.9 to 9.0 it is already too much to balance)


    Here is a closeup of a primer:
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    The *I* brass was loaded over maximum pressures. The Blazer is OK. Remember, anytime you change components, pressure can change. Not all brass is exactly the same. A 1/2 gr of powder can make a BIG difference when working with small amount of fast burning powder. First time i have seen photos that can be inlarged on site, by just clicking on them. How did you do that?
    Last edited by 243winxb; May 11th, 2009 at 10:51 AM.

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    Alliant Unique will vary as much as .3gr or more, because of its large flakes. Because of the size, there is alway a possibility that the powder can bridge in your powder measure, IF EVERYTHING IS NOT CORRECT. Know your equipment, how accurate is it? I have Never had Unique bridge. But i have had problems with 800X and Bluedot.

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    The *I* brass was loaded over maximum pressures.
    The "I" brass was loaded at 7 grains Unique under 158Grain FP. The bullet manufacturer gave me a range of 6.9-7.5 grains Unique. I started the load on the low end, or so I thought. Could it be because I used standard Small Pistol primers instead of Small Pistol Magnum? Most Lee recipes call for small pistol in magnum loads.

    First time i have seen photos that can be inlarged on site, by just clicking on them. How did you do that?
    I attach pics as jpeg file. These are normal digital cam pics that I have to downsize since they are in the 4mb range. I make them smaller and decrease the quality, then attach through "manage attachment" option on the post. I don't have website where I store them, so I cannot attach a web photo.

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    Alliant Unique will vary as much as .3gr or more, because of its large flakes. Because of the size, there is alway a possibility that the powder can bridge in your powder measure, IF EVERYTHING IS NOT CORRECT. Know your equipment, how accurate is it? I have Never had Unique bridge. But i have had problems with 800X and Bluedot.
    Unique is the only one I use at the moment and so far, in the 800 rounds I loaded over the past two weeks (yup, a newbie) I took care to tap on the powder measure each time I rotate it and each time I empty it into the case. Without tapping I had larger variance when I was gauging the throws, but since I started tapping it (one or two taps with a finger), the loads have been very consistent. Lee Perfect Powder Measure. Still, I don't rely on it too much. When setting the amount, I find the spot, then run twenty throws without weighing it and dump the powder back in. Then I weigh the first 10 throws and it is very consistent. I am not (to my knowledge) going near the "max" load, so even a little variance shouldn't do this to the primers. I am thinking it is the crimp (too much) and perhaps the 25 year old primers.

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    The "I" brass was loaded at 7 grains Unique under 158Grain FP. The bullet manufacturer gave me a range of 6.9-7.5 grains Unique. I started the load on the low end, or so I thought. Could it be because I used standard Small Pistol primers instead of Small Pistol Magnum? Most Lee recipes call for small pistol in magnum loads.
    There is no depth perception in the photo. Hard to tell if the primer is an innie or outie. They do look different when compared to the Blazers.

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    your doing the powder just fine

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    None of them are protruding out above the case, as in I can still stand the case without any wobble. Some, however, are pushed flat with the case whereas when I seated them, they were below flush. Now they look pressed flat with the case around the firing pin indentation.

    Some of the "I" brass have much larger indentations than others, as well. Why is that?

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    After downloading you pic, the *I* is ok, this is from lighter loads not slamming the primer/case back into the recoil plate hard enough to flatten them. Your OK.

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    Some of the "I" brass have much larger indentations than others, as well. Why is that?
    lighter loads not slamming the primer/case back into the recoil plate hard enough to flatten them around the firing pin.

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    The single flattened primer in the Blazer brass (right side middle of the picture) looks to be the only flattened primer. Again it doesn't look to be that bad and I would say you are okay. I have seen factory .357 cartridges with worse flattening. Keep in mind that the pressure signs in bottleneck cartridges won't always translate to straight wall stuff. I have seen examples in the Hornady manual of well over pressure straight wall cartridges that showed no signs of over pressure. With that said the flattened primers in the .357 mag case are still probably a sign of it being slightly hot.

    Two things however, careful not to cut through the plating with a roll crimp. Its hard to describe how much is too much, it is a, "you'll know it when you see it" type of thing. Also when using unique, magnum primers are not necessary. Switching to a regular primer may result in fewer/no flattened primers.

    Other than that it sounds like you are taking all the necessary care and doing a good job, well done.

  16. #16
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    Thank you.

    As far as primers go, I have only a couple hundred magnum primers left and a couple hundred small pistol left. Nothing to be found around here at all. The pistol CCI I found was from a store clerk who gave me 350 of his own, very old stash.

    I found a 1k small rifle primers but so far have been concerned with using them. I think I'll be okay with light loads, but thus far, neither CCI nor Alliant returned my request for info no this.

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    Using rifle primers in the 357? They are harder with thicker cups and more difficult to ignite. A tad hotter also most times so the powder charge would need adjusted accordingly.

    The pics of fired cases.....did you fire them all SA or DA or a mix? Might have something to do with the different primer dents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by henrymartin
    What would "bad" look like then?
    Here's an example of cratered primers (no, not mine) - see how there's a raised ring around the firing-pin dimple, just like a crater on the moon? That's getting a bit heavy... not good, and I've even seen a cratered primer being the cause of a revolver locking-up at the range - the cylinder just wouldn't rotate.



    More than that and the primers start getting pierced... very not good, so to speak.

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    Using rifle primers in the 357? They are harder with thicker cups and more difficult to ignite. A tad hotter also most times so the powder charge would need adjusted accordingly.

    The pics of fired cases.....did you fire them all SA or DA or a mix? Might have something to do with the different primer dents.
    It was a SA and DA mix, so that could be it. Never thought of that as a possible cause.

    I don't think either the GP or Speed Six, or 1894 Marlin would have problems igniting a rifle primer. All springs are stock and strong as a mule. I thought if I had to use them, start at min charge minus 1 grain, then work back up at 0.5 grain increments. Any data out there to compare how much "hotter" they are when compared to the Magnum primers? I tried Google but most just results in user saying they have done it. Some even use it in a 9mm. I would thing the primer alone could push the bullet out before the powder even starts to burn in such a short case.

    That's getting a bit heavy... not good, and I've even seen a cratered primer being the cause of a revolver locking-up at the range - the cylinder just wouldn't rotate.
    No, no problems like that. Cylinder moved freely and opened smooth, no binding. Cartridges just fell out when I tipped the barrel up -- I didn't even have to use the extractor.

    The locking thing happened to me when I seated a primer wrong (two got stuck in an Auto Prime and one pushed on the other and bent a side of the first one in line. It seated okay, but I din';t wanted to play it safe so I fired it off without any powder. Needless to say, I won't do that again in a revolver. Took me a lot of cussing and jiggling to open the cylinder.

  20. #20
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    I personally do not see anything overly unusual about your cases, except that some of the primers appear to be more concave around the pin strike rather than flat with a nice dimple.

    As to pressure issues, most if not all of the ones I have had with my GP's or Redhawks have had an appearance of being ironed flat across the base of the case, with little to no rounded edges on the corners of the primers. I had these show up in some mixed cases I got from a friend. All were from the same manufacturer, but several years worth. Turned out some had less capacity than others when measured, and all were loaded with the exact loads below max.

    Another thing you might watch, is when using the faster powders in cases with a small volume, is that you might want to work up in .02 or so grain increases rather than .5, as pressure increases can really rise quickly. Your crimp may also play some into what your seeing as well. The internal volume of the cases might also be slightly different as well, which could also raise pressures quicker. Primer pockets from one brand to the other might be slightly tighter or looser which sometimes will also play into seeing signs of pressure, these can easily be found by using a hand priming tool and comparing between new or non issue cases verses suspect cases. The feel of the seat is easily distinguishable.

    A lot of folks get caught up in just what a "heavy" crimp is supposed to be. If your using bullets with no grove, you should be using a taper crimp rather than a roll crimp. Even with these it is better to start with a little and gradually work into it rather than simply squeezing the daylights out of the bullets. If you start light and using your revolvers as a guide, shoot three from a cylinder full, then measure the last three. IF you see no differences in the OAL from the remaining loads, you should be fine to try them in your rifle. Do the same with it, and adjust slowly if necessary. An 1/8" turn on your die will make a big difference sometimes in just how much pressure you are putting into the crimp, especially on a non grooved bullet. After playing with it you will also see it will make a difference in your groups as well.

    IF your loading grooved or cannalured bullets, then you simply need enough of a roll crimp to roll the edge of the case into the grove with a nice smooth radius. I usually seat them till the case mouth is just over the groove enough to allow it to catch the bottom lip of the groove, and the crimp will roll into it enough to hold the bullet in place. These two groups from my 41mag are equal in everything except the crimp and were shot at 40yds offhand,


    The left side group was crimped tighter than the right as an example to a friend. Under most conditions the three shots on the right are the norm but the flyers were due to shooting through a chrono and I was trying to watch both the target and the chrono at the same time. Heck with my eyes the way they are the sights alone are sometimes more than enough to concentrate on.

    Hope this helps and doesn't throw you into a total state of confusion. The above is simply some of the issues I have learned through years of loading for revolvers of several calibers. I hunt with them all and strive for accuracy and performance from most of my loads. When they start to shoot one hole groups at 50yds from a rest they are generally good to go.

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    Thanks 41Mag .

    I'll play with the crimp on my next session.

    I am only using the Lee seating/crimping die. That works well with my revolvers and the Marlin, although the tubular mag in the Marlin likes the crimp on the heavier side.

    I will move the die in 1/8 turn this time and see how it works. On the plus side, although the crimp was heavier then needed (I guess), it resulted in zero unburned powder. (unlike the first loads where I didn't crimp enough)

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    These two groups from my 41mag are equal in everything except the crimp and were shot at 40yds offhand,
    When you were shooting them did you know which were which or did someone else load for you? I've found that I can subconsciously affect the results to favor the round I think will be better when shooting freehand.
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    When you were shooting them did you know which were which or did someone else load for you? I've found that I can subconsciously affect the results to favor the round I think will be better when shooting freehand.
    I shot both groups. Never had that experience with one over the other like you mention. They were both shot from my Redhawk which has the sights replaced with the tiny gold bead target front and rear V notch. I simply settle the bead in the notch over the bull and shoot. I do my best to do the same thing ever time.

    Never noticed the differences in the crimps until about 8 or so years back. I was working up some for a handgun hunt in WI and was shooting both the 41 and 44 from a rest. I had a load in the 44 which with a 4x scope would shoot around 2" at 100 very consistantly, but for some reason had gone to pot on me. During a cease fire I noticed the differences in the crimps from the 41's which were shoot awesome at 50 with open sights, to the 44's which even at 50 were shooting around 4-6" at the best. Backed the crimp off a little at a time and the groups went into basically one hole.

    After that day,I went back and re-evaluated some of the other loads I had which shot well and all of them had basically the same type crimp. Not so much that they actually looked smashed into the bullet but simply enough to hold it in place firmly. Since then, it has been my experience that many folks actually over crimp their loads. All guns are different, but it is easier on the cases, and the bullets to find a happy medium.

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    They were both shot from my Redhawk which has the sights replaced with the tiny gold bead target front and rear V notch.
    I put the same sights on my Redhawk. Those have to be the best accessory Ruger sells!
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