How do you know when your primer pockets are too loose?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by 9mm guy, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. 9mm guy

    9mm guy
    Active Member

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    This is a further discussion from a prior question about when you know to throw away your brass. As a beginner reloader, I understand that I need to inspect my brass for cracks etc. That's easy enough to see. But how can you tell when the brass' primer pockets are too loose? (I'm specifically talking about 9mm handgun brass if that makes a difference) If too loose, will the primer just fall out from a finished round with powder spilling out when you pick up the finished round? Does it not fire in the gun? How do you know?

    I have the Lee Classic Turret press and so I prime using the press itself. And so it's harder for me to feel any resistance as opposed to hand priming. It's also hard for me to know if a primer goes in too easily. And so how can you tell?

    I do decap before cleaning my brass and someone said that if the primer falls out too easily, throw away that brass. But I have deprimed over a thousand brass casings and I have found a wide variety of pressure levels that it takes to take out the primer. Is there a way to know which amount of pressure is too little? Thanks in advance for all your answers.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
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  2. Cameron72

    Harrington, WA
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    I have worked with .44 Mag brass to the point the primer pockets were too loose. You get a feel for how much pressure it takes to seat the primer. When I would find tired brass the primer would seat with little pressure. You can really feel it. I would mark the brass then toss it after firing. It took many normal reloading to get to that point.
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  3. SHPD_Retired

    Saint Helens
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  4. noylj

    high desert
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    Really, if they fall out.
    It's just another OCD activity. I bring all my cases back from the range and I inspect, deprime, sort, and clean. You can EASILY feel the lack of resistance when depriming and scrap that case.
    Unless you have gross head space issues, a "loose" primer is not an issue (unless, maybe, you are shooting high-level competitive long-distance rifle).
    Of course, for those who also "uniform" primer pockets every single time, I could see you prematurely ruining the primer pocket after only a few loads.
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  5. Roop

    La Grande
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    I've never had any loose primer pockets on pistol brass, it seems to only be an issue with high pressure rifle rounds.

    Too loose is when you can push out a spent primer by hand with a nail, or reseat one by pressing it against the edge of your loading bench.
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  6. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu
    PDX OR
    Member Emeritus Silver Supporter

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    I preferred to use a hand priming tool. Really easy to tell how the primer is seating and more comfortable in my easy chair with a tray on my lap.I used an RCBS tool, they're under $40.

    BTW, this was when I gave the cases their critical inspection.
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  7. Dyjital

    Albany, Ore
    Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    You can feel with your press if they are too loose. Trust me, I have the same press. I also have the press lubed in specific spots so there is less resistance in those areas to give me more feel while loading rounds. When the primer touches the start of the pocket you will feel the resistance and then it takes that little extra force. Well when the extra force is removed and it slides in like a hotdog in a glass of water.... Yeah that's a loose pocket.

    The only loose pockets I've come across were some hot .308 and .44Mag. The rest I just use tape to hold the primer in place. (Kidding). No 9mm so far has been loose and I've used a few cases quite a few times.
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  8. Certaindeaf

    SE Portland
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    Oh, the Lee turret has plenty of "feel" when seating primers since the press is only doing one thing at a time and it's on the charging handle upstroke.. exactly like a single stage press. A progressive is doing five things at once so primer seating "feel" is much degraded.
    Best "feel" is gotten through a hand seater.. like from Lee or RCBS.
    You'll know if the primer pocket is too large if the primer seats with very little or no resistance.. you'll find that those that do will fall out spontaneously or with a little coaxing. Don't bother to test or second guess those though.. just toss them.. because they will fall out.
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