Primers too high with hand-held priming tool

Ape_Factory

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May 23, 2020
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This is a cross post from the semi-auto sub forum. I want to see if hand held primers not seating the primer to the right depth is a thing. I just discovered my Lyman hand primer, with a RCBS shell holder, does not seat the primer flush or slightly below the cartridge base. This is on fully prepped (reamed, unified) primer pockets.

With the shell in the holder, depressing the handle on the hand loader would cause the case to move upwards. There was a lot of play with the case in the shell holder. I borrowed a backup primer but the RCBS shell holder wouldn't work with it. Ordered a Hornady shell holder which arrived today and produced far less play. Using the Lyman, the primers were seated maybe a thousandth deeper, it was almost imperceptible but better. I switched over to the backup Hornady hand primer, with the Hornady shell holder and it worked! I could feel the primers were seated below the base.

I initially purchase the Lyman as it was mostly metal in construction and figured it'd last longer than the RCBS which I've used successfully in the past.


The details. After producing a few test loads with varying bullet weights, I went to the range, ballistic chronograph, note pad, etc. in hand and did some testing.

I ran into a slam fire issue with an extremely quick double tap which did not bode well for groupings and this was on the 2nd row, low powder charge test round. With that said, I moved on to one round in the magazine for the rest of the day after it happened one more time.

I originally thought it might be a buffer/spring/BCG combo as I'm using a lightweight titanium BCG (Rubber City Armory) and I've run two springs, a Springco Red (firmer) and a Strike Industries flat wire (about mil-spec) with an Odin Works field adjustable buffer with no weights. The empty buffer comes in a bit heavier than an empty mil-spec buffer. Gleaned the idea off the 2A Armament website and what they run with their lightweight BCG.

With that said, the gun cycles perfectly but was denting my brass and I wanted to figure out why. I used off the shelf PMC Bronze to dial the gas and scope in as it's a new build, AR15. Wasn't sure if this was a case of too much gas or another issue. Using a Superlative Arms adjustable gas block. It's about halfway to full open (two turns from closed). The rifle cycled everything from 52gr up to 77TMK's without a hiccup.

Here's what the slam fire primers look like. The only uneducated guess I can make is the bolt slamming against the primer set it off and with the firing pin retracted, the primer metal flowed into the firing hole as it became an "outie" instead of an "innie".


I tested 308 rounds in a different semi-auto rifle as well and had no issues. Again, fully processed primer pockets, same brand of primers (CCI) and same hand-seating primer tool.
 

Baddog 0302

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I ran into the same problem with my Lyman primer with the .473 shell holder doing 308's , 6 BR's ect. Converted it to prime 223's and
got a FA hand primer for the 308's & BR , & CM cases.
 

Ape_Factory

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Interesting...not sure I can do anything about the Lyman .223 except send it back. Not sure if I should risk getting another one to see if it's in spec or try the RCBS next. Haven't looked at the Franklin yet but will take a peek.
 

Ape_Factory

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Snap. You're right, that ain't cheap but looks great. I just purchased their case neck mandrels. Quality stuff and they actually shipped the same day.
 

milanuk

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  • Mar 23, 2002
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    So... I've had a few priming tools over the years. The Primal Rights CPS is *very* nice, as is my Sinclair Int'l hand priming tool.

    But if I wanted something that was 'better', without breaking the bank, I'd look to the K&M primer seater. Probably 99% of the function of the 21st Century and Sinclair tools, just much less fancy finish - so a *much* lower price.

    Now if you like nice things, and can afford the bling, go for it. But if you just want a better hand priming tool without having to go donate blood for a month... check out the K&M.
     
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    TheOfficeT-Rex

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  • May 19, 2019
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    I had a 21st century primer. I now own a CPS.

    If you're doing 50 at a time, you may get away with any of the adjustable hand primers (and I quite liked the 21C primer, except for the force). If you want to seat to exactly the same depth and without the fuss and in a very slick package that will allow you to do more than 50 at a time - bite the bullet and get the CPS. All of the adjustment and feel, with none of the effort. Also, Primal Rights as a company is GTG in my book.
     

    Ape_Factory

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    I would prefer less expensive, definitely! I'm knee deep in it at this point and I know there's still lots of stuff I don't have, as does my neighbor, because I keep borrowing all of his stuff. I will most likely be loading hundreds of rounds at a time in each bullet weight and honestly, I'm looking for competent, solid, dependable ammo that's a step above off the shelf match at a far lower price point. I'm not looking to do precision rifle shooting so trying to keep it as simple and predictable as possible. I'm shooting out of (admittedly) somewhat precision AR's but if I can get MOA at 100 or 200 yards, I'll be happy.

    I'll take a look at everything mentioned above. I'd seen the Primal Rights CPS a while back and it's a bit over my budget at this time. I'll just have to work on my forearm strength with a hand primer. And at this point I'll be going back over the primed cases and essentially doing them again, sigh. I already have about 1600 primed in 223/556. Good times. Brutal learning curve.
     

    Ape_Factory

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    One thing I'm noticing though is most of those mentioned above do not use feed trays so it's a grab a primer and drop it in sort of thing. I'm bored beyond belief these days but that's a bit tedious. I'm not sure I'd have the patience to do that many 223 cartridges with a hand primer which functions like that. Hell, I just about crawled out of my skull unifying 1000 308 rounds with an RCBS case prep center. Practically became an out of body experience given the timeframe I which I completed that task.
     

    milanuk

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  • Mar 23, 2002
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    Break it up, man. Do a hundred, take a short break, do something else, then come back to it. Rinse lather repeat until done. Unless you have some time critical event coming up (like a match tomorrow) don't push it. That's how things go wrong. DAMHIKT 🙄
     

    Ape_Factory

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    I hear you. I tend to have a block of time to work on things and then no time for weeks. I work a day job and started a small business last fall just in time for COVID to hit. So I tend to hit things hard if I have an opening. But yes, I agree, that is how things can go wrong! Most likely with dropping powder, I'd break it up. My development loads are five rows of five and I'll do a couple runs a night tops. Just want to get it all sorted, load the ammo and be done with it for a while and move on to the next project.
     

    TheOfficeT-Rex

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    One thing I'm noticing though is most of those mentioned above do not use feed trays so it's a grab a primer and drop it in sort of thing. I'm bored beyond belief these days but that's a bit tedious. I'm not sure I'd have the patience to do that many 223 cartridges with a hand primer which functions like that. Hell, I just about crawled out of my skull unifying 1000 308 rounds with an RCBS case prep center. Practically became an out of body experience given the timeframe I which I completed that task.
    Yes, most of them you have to drop the primers in individually. I wear nitrile gloves. More grip and primers are the nastiest part of reloading (depriming especially). I could never stand to hand prime more than 50 at a time, so i feel that pain (literally).

    Cheap, Fast, Accurate - pick two.
     

    milanuk

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  • Mar 23, 2002
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    Having hand primed a metric a$$ load of cases using that K&M tool... it's honestly not as bad as it seems, once you work out a process. With the primers setting out, I can grab a case from the tray, sort of 'palm' it, and pick up a primer with the thumb and index finger of the same (left) hand on the way to meeting the other hand holding the priming tool. Drop the primer in the seater, slide the case in the shell holder, squeeze the lever to where I feel the primer stop, and then a tiny bit more to where the lever stops against the body of the tool (the K&M and others like it are adjustable for how much 'crush' you want during seating). Release the lever, pull the case out and return it to the loading block and pick up a new case in one motion, snag a primer on the way back... it really doesn't take that long once you get a rhythm going.

    That said... I have ran into some brass/primer combinations that just didn't play nice together. Like I mentioned, I have a couple of 'nicer' hand priming tools... and I've had some Prime 6.5CM brass that felt like I was going to crush the primer trying to get it seated flush. Even on a 550, it wasn't fun (didn't have the CPS at the time). The primer pocket uniformer was super tight going in, and primarily cuts the bottom of the pocket, not the sides (mine, at least). When I asked around, people's response was "just shoot it with hot loads, they'll loosen up soon enough" :oops: :rolleyes:
     

    daylate

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  • Mar 13, 2013
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    As a very satisfied 21 century primer seater fan...I was suprised how well the Caldwell primer seater worked and is adjustable for depth....but I’m sticking with the 21st seater but the Caldwell is quite a bit cheaper..
     

    Jayhawkhuntclub

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    The 21st Century gets really expensive if you're priming a lot of different cases with it.
    The K&M may not be as nice, but it does a great job and gives you good control over seating. It's not cheap either, except when compared to the 21st Cent.
     

    Ape_Factory

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    So a quick update. Right now I'm just doing 223 and 308. I have a hand gun in 5.7x28 but that's a complicated round to load and I actually have plenty of ammo so the 21st may work for me albeit one primer loading at a time.

    Thinking the primer seated high was my issue, I sat some of them deeper but ran into the same "slam fire" issue. I'm now under the impression it's not a slam fire issue but a trigger control issue, bump firing, as it only seems to happen when I'm trying to get groups and I may be a bit light on the trigger.

    I loaded up some dummy rounds last night and dropped the bolt on them repeatedly with the bolt release. Not one single primer fired. And this was with the "high" primers that were pretty much flush with the base. I'm still looking into another primer seater as taking a case with the slightly high primer, reseating it a bit lower with the Hornady hand primer makes it more stable when standing upright on a flat surface. No more wobble.
     

    XLR308

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  • Mar 22, 2018
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    I have been using Lee hand priming systems since the early 90's and never had an issue other than wearing out the first one.
    Actually didn't wear it out the cast metal handle you squeeze for leverage gave out after many thousands of rounds.
    The latest generation seems to be better made and the kit comes with all shell holders.
    It definitely requires a calibrated feel but works great, I would like to eventually try the 21st Century tool but just haven't found a need to yet.
     

    FLIGHT762

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    The 21st Century gets really expensive if you're priming a lot of different cases with it.
    The K&M may not be as nice, but it does a great job and gives you good control over seating. It's not cheap either, except when compared to the 21st Cent.
    I have a K&M. Very happy with it. Not as fancy as the 12st Century or the Sinclair, but it is adjustable to depth and feel and uses Lee priming shell holders, which I already have several. It's quick to change over from large to small. I was fortunate to find a used K&M on a used parts table at a local gun shop for $35.00.