Primers pushing out? What would cause this?

A TUAK reader sent me some .44 Spl brass he’d sized and reprimed years ago with the warning that he thought most of the primers were bad. (Thanks, BTW) Rather than take the chance of loading a bunch of duds I decided to snap the primers in my revolver before processing the brass for reloading.

The first primer snapped just fine, and then either bulged or backed out of the pocket and bound up the action. I got it clear, closed the cylinder and snapped the next one. Which did the same thing.

I dug up a .44 insert for a 12-gauge that’s been lying around and snapped all the rest. And every one of the primers fired, and every one bulged enough to have locked up a revolver’s action.

I’m not a big reloading expert but have handloaded for pistols off and on for decades and have never seen this. But then I haven’t wasted many primers in this fashion, so maybe it’s common for some reason and I just never noticed. Any ideas what would have caused it? I can’t believe all fifty primer pockets are oversized…

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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7 Responses to Primers pushing out? What would cause this?

  1. czechsix says:

    Headspace, soft primer cases, OS pockets…are about all I can come up with. When you reprime them you’ll feel whether they’re loose or not. I’ll bet the pockets are too big. Don’t suppose you have a ring crimper? Crimping them back in would work, if so. I’d be curious to hear what you find out about them.

  2. Hal O. Ween says:

    Well, I don’t know if this would do what you describe, but maybe, just maybe, somebody mixed up rifle primers with pistol primers.

    Rifle primers are a few thousandths taller than pistol primers, and hotter charged, so maybe between those two factors, it could back them out enough to bind up. You can measure the difference on unfired primers – I don’t know if you still could now that they are fired.

    Or maybe all fifty primer pockets are over-sized from excessive loads, and the “gift” is of negative value – you know, the kind of gift where you were better off before you received it.

    I would sit down with a once fired case (or virgin brass – even better) and a pair of calipers, and measure every dimension I could think of, compare it to four or five of the gift cases, and see what was what.

    I would also look at the brass with a magnifying glass and check to see how many times it had been fired – faint marks from the extractor, lengthwise scratches from extraction, just whatever you can see.

  3. D.O.M. says:

    It’s normal. Same thing happened to me w/ .357 mag. I ended up depriming the “live” primers. No big deal.

  4. Graystone says:


    I would have expected you to CAREFULLY deprime your gift brass – as mentioned, no big deal- and then reprime with fresh primers. Anytime you fire a primed empty case of any caliber you’ll have primers backing out.

    Got a kick out of all the “experts” chiming in, though. For the record: No, the pockets were not oversized. No, rifle primers were not mixed up with pistol primers. No, excessive loads were not fired in this brass. I guess my favorite one was that you should “check for extractor marks” on .44Spl brass “to see how many times they were fired”. Yeah, sure. Got a good laugh from that one.

    Anyway, glad you could use them.


  5. Keith says:

    When you fire a loaded case, firing pin shoves the case forward, then the pressure of the primer firing, backs the primer out until the breech face stops it going any further.

    The pressure caused by the powder burning in the case would normally shove the case head back over the primer, until the breech face stopped it getting any further too.

    Varming Al (Al Haral) did some finite element modeling of rifle cases doing just that. He still has some exaggerated animations if you scroll down here

    How long had the cases been primed? I’m very curious about how long primers last for in different climates – especially after Ian posting the guy’s video of a 100 year old load being fired.

  6. toiletlicker says:

    The same thing happens with “gluelits”, bullets made out of a hot glue gun that uses just the primer for propulsion, if you do not drill out the primer hole. There is not enough pressure to push the primer back into the pocket without gunpowder and a projectile in the case.

    If you have not heard of gluelits, look it up at castboolits. They are a hoot when it is too cold and snowy outside.

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