Primer Pockets, How loose is too loose?

Primer Pockets, How loose is too loose?

This is a discussion on Primer Pockets, How loose is too loose? within the Reloading forums, part of the Sniping Related category; I have completed load development on my .223 and settled on a load I want to use for matches. I threw all the brass I ...

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Thread: Primer Pockets, How loose is too loose?

  1. #1
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    Primer Pockets, How loose is too loose?

    I have completed load development on my .223 and settled on a load I want to use for matches.
    I threw all the brass I had together and started loading for large quantities.
    The matches I shoot are lost brass matches so I don't expect to get any of it back.

    All of the brass has been fired at least once but no more than five times.
    A lot of it was used for load development.
    Some of the loads were toward the high end of allowable pressure, but none of the loads could have been called excessive.

    Long story short, all brass has been prepped and checked but I noticed that some rounds offered almost no resistance when seating the primers.
    Other rounds felt pretty much normal.
    I have a hard time believing that any of the brass would have expanded primer pockets given the history of it.
    I keep meticulous records and keep brass sorted into my own assigned lot numbers.
    If any brass has more than five firings it gets tossed.

    Maybe its a case of primers out of tolerance but I find that unlikely when they are coming out of the same box.
    None of the primers are loose enough to fall out but I don't know how good they will seal.

    What's going on here and should I be concerned?
    At this point the only two choices would be fire them and hope for the best.
    Or,...... start over, pull all the bullets and scrap all the cases.
    I've already loaded several hundred so that's a lot of work in the toilet and I don't want to do it for no good reason.

  2. #2
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    Speaking for myself, I note the brass to be culled with a sharpie after I seat a primer and there is no resistance. I load the round but that's the last time that brass will see service in my rounds. My .02

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    Senior Member straightshooter1's Avatar
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    Also, just speaking just with regards to myself, I used a Swage Gage on my primer pockets after every firing and throw out any that the gage shows to too large. Out of a lot of 160 Federal brass for .308 that's been fired 8 times so far, I've only thrown out 2 and that was one after the 3rd firing and another after the 6th firing. When using a hand primer tool (which I seldom do now and use my Co-Ax press) the seating does feel "loose" (not like they're going to fall out though), especially compared to new brass or my Lapua or Peterson brass that tends to feel tight when using a hand primer tool. Also, after firing, when I inspect the primers, I look for any soot that might leak from around the primers as an indication of a too loose pocket and get rid of that piece, but. . . to date I've not ever experienced that phenomenon. And my loads are mostly what I would call middle range and occasionally will have some with high pressure loads, but I tend to use my Lapua and Peterson brass for firing those kinds of loads. Note that I do not shoot competitively so I don't know precisely how this affects things like ES for competitive long range shooting, but I do get single digit SD's with my favorite loads.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member ddd oo7's Avatar
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    If the primer doesn't fall out, it will work.

    If you are throwing brass away after 5 firings just because it has 5 firings on it, then you are wasting money. If there ain't nothing wrong with it, then keep using it.

    If your load development included finding the max charge without pressure signs, then at least a couple of your brass will be toasted on the first firing. It is entirely possible to have loose primer pockets after the first firing if the load is on the hot side. Brass used to determine max load should be kept separate if not discarded after first firing.
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  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddd oo7 View Post
    If the primer doesn't fall out, it will work.

    If you are throwing brass away after 5 firings just because it has 5 firings on it, then you are wasting money. If there ain't nothing wrong with it, then keep using it.

    If your load development included finding the max charge without pressure signs, then at least a couple of your brass will be toasted on the first firing. It is entirely possible to have loose primer pockets after the first firing if the load is on the hot side. Brass used to determine max load should be kept separate if not discarded after first firing.
    That is sound advice.
    It may be wasteful to discard brass after 5 firings but I do have my reasons. In my bolt guns, I usually neck size. I don't often full length size but when I do, I have my sizer dies adjusted to set the cartridge shoulder back no more than 2-3 thousandths. That way, working the brass is kept to a minimum. This helps avoid thinning brass and case head separations. ARs are a little different. I find that the headspace in AR chambers tends to run a little long. I presume that manufacturers do this so that they will run well with a wide variety of ammo. When I reload .223s I an not sure which rifle they will be fired in (I own several) so I full length size every time and set the round back to SAAMI max length = 1.760". This means I am working the brass more than I would like. I do this to make sure the reloads will easily chamber in any rifle and not just the one that last fired them. I don't want my rifle shutdown due to a case head separation, so I tend to err on the side of caution. I figure it is better to throw away some good cases than to keep a few bad ones. In competition, reliability is everything.
    Last edited by tlshores; 09-09-2018 at 05:24 PM. Reason: grammar

  7. #6
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    If the primer seats will little force I use a Lee depriming tool to check the primer. The Moderator at AR15.com reloading forum posted this method and I have used ever since.

    Below if the newly seated primer moves with just finger pressure the case goes in the scrap brass bucket. And remember brass is a expendable item and your bolt face is not.




    The person who post the photo below at AR15.com said he wasn't worried about loose primer pockets. And he would just replace the bolt when it got bad enough.


  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigedp51 View Post
    If the primer seats will little force I use a Lee depriming tool to check the primer. The Moderator at AR15.com reloading forum posted this method and I have used ever since.

    Below if the newly seated primer moves with just finger pressure the case goes in the scrap brass bucket. And remember brass is a expendable item and your bolt face is not.




    The person who post the photo below at AR15.com said he wasn't worried about loose primer pockets. And he would just replace the bolt when it got bad enough.

    I would say you are flirting with danger using a punch to see if you can push a primer out.. I'm not sure exactly how much force it takes to cause ignition that way but I do know 1st hand from removing live primers that I've a the occasion for one to detonate. I imagine if primer pocket is very loose that it's a very low chance of detonation but just saying...

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlshores View Post
    I have completed load development on my .223 and settled on a load I want to use for matches.
    I threw all the brass I had together and started loading for large quantities.
    The matches I shoot are lost brass matches so I don't expect to get any of it back.

    All of the brass has been fired at least once but no more than five times.
    A lot of it was used for load development.
    Some of the loads were toward the high end of allowable pressure, but none of the loads could have been called excessive.

    Long story short, all brass has been prepped and checked but I noticed that some rounds offered almost no resistance when seating the primers.
    Other rounds felt pretty much normal.
    I have a hard time believing that any of the brass would have expanded primer pockets given the history of it.
    I keep meticulous records and keep brass sorted into my own assigned lot numbers.
    If any brass has more than five firings it gets tossed.

    Maybe its a case of primers out of tolerance but I find that unlikely when they are coming out of the same box.
    None of the primers are loose enough to fall out but I don't know how good they will seal.

    What's going on here and should I be concerned?
    At this point the only two choices would be fire them and hope for the best.
    Or,...... start over, pull all the bullets and scrap all the cases.
    I've already loaded several hundred so that's a lot of work in the toilet and I don't want to do it for no good reason.
    I always look for evidence of gas/powder burn around primer pockets. I've had them still feel ok but have enough stretching that they leak a tad and that's when they hit the scrap bucket

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted_Feasel View Post
    I would say you are flirting with danger using a punch to see if you can push a primer out.. I'm not sure exactly how much force it takes to cause ignition that way but I do know 1st hand from removing live primers that I've a the occasion for one to detonate. I imagine if primer pocket is very loose that it's a very low chance of detonation but just saying...

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk
    I'm 68 and have been reloading for over 47 years and light finger pressure is not going to set off a live primer.

    And if you notice in my photo the end of my 68 year old finger is not missing or mutilated.

    Nor does my finger have the compound leverage and force of a reloading press.
    Last edited by bigedp51; 09-16-2018 at 11:04 AM.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigedp51 View Post
    I'm 68 and have been reloading for over 47 years and light finger pressure is not going to set off a live primer.

    And if you notice in my photo the end of my finger 68 year old finger is not missing or mutilated.
    Didnt say it necessarily would, just posting a word of caution to those that may try. I promise that to much pressure will detonate the primer , i have detonated a few when depriming live primers.. the conditions were controlled and designed for doing that task so no one was in anyway injured, but as I said I dont know how much pressure is too much.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk

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