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From: gmk@falstaff.MAE.CWRU.EDU (Geoff Kotzar)
Subject: Re: Primers in a tube
Organization: Case Western Reserve University

In article <> (Johnny Zweig) writes:
#I was describing to a buddy of mine how primers come in a box that you dump
#out onto a primer-flipper (I forget the precise name of this device) to get
#them all pointed the same way, then use the primer-muncher (the long tube with
#a plastic nipple on one end to gobble the primers up) to fill a tube which I
#can finally up-end into the reloading primer dispenser today.  He said "why
#the hell don't the primers just come in a cardboard tube that you could pour
#into your reloading press?"
#Good question.  Anyone know?
#-Johnny Primer

People have been killed when primers were stored in bulk containers. If the
container was dropped even a single primer going off would result in the
whole mass exploding like a grenade. The current packaging methods are used
to eliminate the risk of primers going off prematurely during handling. There
have been instances of auto primer feed mechanisms using tubes for storage
malfunctioning and setting the contents off. That is why many of the progres-
sive reloading presses have shields surrounding the storage tubes and why the
better ones have the priming mechanism on the far side of the press away from
the operators face. Also I have recently read recommendations about cleaning
any primer dust from the inside of the tubes periodically. The current primer
packages are obviously more expensive than simpler types of containers but they
are used because some people paid a very dear price learning about the hazards
of reloading components.

geoff kotzar

From: gmk@falstaff.MAE.CWRU.EDU (Geoff Kotzar)
Subject: Re: Primers in a tube
Organization: Case Western Reserve University

In article <> (Dan Sorenson) writes:

#	This talk on exploding primers in tubes brings about an
#interesting point: black powder shooters have carried their primers
#in tubes like this for years, especially those who use revolvers
#and there is limited space for fingers when trying to press a primer
#onto a nipple.  I have yet to hear of a detonation, and I suspect
#that black powder primers (known as percussion caps) are no less
#unstable than their smokeless counterparts.

What you say is true but there is at least one significant difference between
black powder caps and fixed cartridge primers. The percussion caps do not
contain an anvil; the nipple acts as the anvil in black powder arms. A blow
along the axis of symmetry will not detonate the priming mixture until a
considerable amount of plastic deformation to the cup occurs which serves
to cushion the blow and might even result in the priming pellet being frac-
tured and crumbling. A second issue is the sheer numbers of cartridge primers
used compared to blackpowder caps. One hundred caps is a long day of shooting
to the blackpowder user.

geoff kotzar

From: (Kirk Hays)
Newsgroups: rec.guns
Subject: Re: How dangerous are primers?
Date: 1 Aug 1998 10:12:24 -0400

#Primers are sold and shipped in trays to keep them safe from casual
#knocks which might set them off.  NEVER remove primers from their trays
#and store them in a can or jar.  If one primer is set off, it could set
#off ALL OF THEM at once, with enough energy to detonate like a small
#bomb.  These little critters have a lot of power for their size.


I once, as a child, saw a reloading room in a basement that had a full
gallon of loose primers, stored in a pickle jar, EXPLODE!

No one was home when it happened, so it is not clear why they detonated.

The owner had purchased the primers surplus, and kept them in the jar.

The entire basement was wrecked, primer anvils and primer cups
embedded in everything, most of the paint removed from his RCBS A-2
press (placed 10 inches in front of the jar), iron water pipes
shattered, a support beam was cracked, and the floor above the area
was buckled upward.

Anybody in the room would have been killed.

It needs to be repeated:


I'm assuming everyone's heard about the (?Remington?) employee, pre
WWII, who simply vanished when he was carrying two buckets full of
primers, and "jingling" them as he walked?

OTOH, I've seen factory cases of primers (20,000 primers each) that
were in a fire - they cooked off, alright, but not one made it through
the packaging - it's the chain reaction that's dangerous.

Kirk Hays
[I don't speak for Sequent.]

From: Gale McMillan <>
Newsgroups: rec.guns
Subject: Re: Federal primer packaging
Date: 10 Sep 1999 01:08:10 -0400

GaryG wrote:
 > ...

A few  (Quit a few ) years ago Federal had a truck that was carrying
trays of wet newly made primers from the building behind the factory
where they were made to the factory. Some thing made the truck blow up
and the biggest piece of the truck found was half of the ring gear out
of the differential. I would suspect that that is why they are cautious
about packing primers. They use a different compound than other
companies do and it gives much better uniformity in burn rates. For what
it is worth you can test uniformity of primmer burn by firing them in a
case with no powder or bullet in front of a camera set on open bulb in a
dark room.
you can fire 5 on each exposure and see any ununiformity in the height
of the flames. PS  don't use these cases for your ammo as the primmer is
strong enough to drive the case into the chamber shortening it enough to
cause head space problems sometimes. If its a 50 bmg it will scorch the
paint on the ceiling.

From: Louis Boyd <>
Date: 27 Jan 1997
Newsgroups: rec.guns

dhm1@Lehigh.EDU wrote:

#    Just wondering how hard one would have to hit the primer on a centerfire
#cartridge to have the bullet fire.  For instance, if you dropped it a certain
#way, could it go off?

The primer must be dented in such a way that the primer is crushed between the
metal of the primer and the anvil.  Hatcher describes a test used by the
US Army for acceptance of primers.  This was around WWII timeframe but if
anything primers are more uniform now than then.
The primer under test is held in a fixture fitted with a firing pin with
point of standard contour on which a ball is dropped as follows:
Caliber   No. Tested   Weight of Ball      Hight of Drop       Results Required
 .22 rf    50 cartridges  2 oz              21"                All fire
 .22 rf    50 cartridges  2 oz               2"                None fire
  .30      300            4 oz              15"                All fire
  .30      300            4 oz               3"                None fire

The point is that centerfire cartridges are very difficult to set off by
dropping.  It would be possible to get occasional firings by throwing
loaded ammunition at a rough surface, such as rocks, or by dropping them long
distances, like off of a cliff.  The chance of a centerfire cartridge going off
by dropping from shirt pocket level onto a concrete floor is too low to worry
about.  Rimfire cartridges can be made to go off by throwing them on a hard
surface, though not reliably. (standard don't try this at home disclaimer):-)
Also, Hatcher is interesting to read on the subject of cartridges
going off from heat when not confined in a firearm.  Other than chance eye
injuries he is of the opinion that they aren't a significant danger.

From: Gale McMillan <>
Newsgroups: rec.guns
Subject: Re: ****Primer Question****
Date: 3 May 1998 22:27:37 -0400
Message-ID: <6ij92p$>

Robert V. Grizzard wrote:
# In article <6ifc3f$>, says...
# #
# #Robert J. Christman wrote:
# ##
# ## REX wrote:
# ##
# ## # Does anyone know how to make a homemade primer?
# ##
# ##   Unless you want to have a lot of visits from the HazMat folks
# ## in your area I would advise against this.  Primer compounds are
# ## touchy, flammable, explosive, toxic, you name it and they seem to
# ## fit.  Not something for a home project.
# #
# #Correct.  I had a friend that was an armorer in the US military.  They
# #had a a few thousand primers that had gotten damp, so they had to
# #dispose of them.  As an experiment, they put them all in one small box,
# #set it our on the range and fired a singe bullet into the mass.  He said
# #that even grenades never made such a big crater!
# It mighta' been here that I read the excerpt from Hatcher that detailed the
# disappearance of a loader in one of the arsenals.  Seems the fella liked to
# swing his galvanized bucket of primers so he could hear 'em rattle.  One day,
# he -- and the bucket -- disintegrated in a flash and roar as the bucketful of
# primers fired.
# I've never been there or done that, but I have seen standard large rifle
# primers throw fire out the muzzle of a 26" 338 barrel when I put the wrong
# ones in the cases and had to snap them to make sure I didn't fire one at my
# loading bench.  Impressive.

I used to keep primers in a glass large mouthed jar to keep the humidity
out when I went to benchrest matches in the south. This practice got me
one of the worst reamings I ever had from Ray Spear president of Spear
Bullet Co. That ended that practice. A few years ago at Federal Cart Co.
they were bringing a tuck load of primer trays from the primer line to
the plant when it blew up. The largest piece of the truck found was a
piece of the ring gear and pinion from the differential.

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