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KennVFRidr

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While emptying my old storage unit I found a bunch of long forgotten primers...been sitting in original cardboard packaging in a cardboard box in unheated storage unit for at least 20 years. I’m in the process of setting up a reloading bench after a 15 year hiatus...any advice on the best way to safely test old primers?

Thanks for your thoughts!
Kenn Engstrom
 

bbbass

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Load a few in empty cases, put it in a vice, and use a spring loaded punch to set it off. (safe direction and hearing and eye protection and away from powder, other primers etc). if that works, load up a few shells and go out and try them.

I personally don't believe pistol primers make much diff, if they go bang you are GTG, but rifle primers may be different story on accuracy or whatever.
 

AMT

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I'd guess that the humidity would be the killer of any primer - not heat/un-heated. If they were in the original packaging, and in another cardboard box (of some sort), i'd do exactly as @bbbass mentioned. The cardboard can act as a wick and keep them fairly dry in lower humidity/damp conditions.

:s0155:
 

skeezix

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Recently I found some primers that I had purchased in 1977. They have been stored in the garage and survived two moves since I bought them. I just loaded up 10 and went to the range. They all chronograhed the same as some freshly purchased primers. I then loaded the rest of the vintage primers and all 300 have gone boom.
 

Spitpatch

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Word to the wise from experience:

Twice inside of 20 years, I have discovered in my stash older primers (10+ years old) and put them to use, only to experience something I had not seen before:

The primer cup itself has ruptured (pin head size) at the corner (the edge where the wall of the primer meets the striking surface). Two different calibers (large rifle and small rifle). Loads were book, tried and true previously.

Bolt face was etched (minor) where the rocket blast found its escape route. Primer recess in the case likewise at the outer corner.

These episodes were 15 years apart and the only commonality was the old primers. (Stored cool and dry from day one.)

Not saying this will happen to you. Not saying primers have a definite shelf life.

I am saying I learned a lesson. Take it or leave it.
 
The biggest problem that I have had with old primers is that some seem to slightly swell and will not seat, likely moisture. CCI have been the main ones, but those are most of my older ones.
 

KennVFRidr

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Thank you for the suggestions and info! No spring loaded punch...so I think I’ll have to just press some primers in and test. I’ve got small rifle for .223 and .450 Bushmaster, and large pistol for 10mm to test.

How much noise will just a primer make???

Thanks again...
Kenn
 

KennVFRidr

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Word to the wise from experience:

Twice inside of 20 years, I have discovered in my stash older primers (10+ years old) and put them to use, only to experience something I had not seen before:

The primer cup itself has ruptured (pin head size) at the corner (the edge where the wall of the primer meets the striking surface). Two different calibers (large rifle and small rifle). Loads were book, tried and true previously.

Bolt face was etched (minor) where the rocket blast found its escape route. Primer recess in the case likewise at the outer corner.

These episodes were 15 years apart and the only commonality was the old primers. (Stored cool and dry from day one.)

Not saying this will happen to you. Not saying primers have a definite shelf life.

I am saying I learned a lesson. Take it or leave it.

Thanks for the insight...do you recall what brand the primers were? I’ll test and inspect carefully...hate to toss 9000+ primers...especially when they seem to be in short supply lately.

I appreciate the lesson...I’ll definitely take heed!

Kenn
 

jjfitch

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50+ year old primers! These were just stored in a cardboard box and lived in dry and damp locals without special storage except inside closets. The little tray to separate the primers is made of WOOD!

Smiles,
20200321_102543.jpg
 

ma96782

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Test samples.....

Go shooting.

and/or

Even if you just load the primers into an empty case and attempt to fire them off. I suspect that.....maybe, you will gain something from the experience.

Aloha, Mark
 
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Several years ago I was down near the Deschutes river near where I live and driving along slowly on a dirt road I saw something that looked out of place off the road so I stopped and walked to look at what I saw and it was a pile of very old .45 ACP primed brass.

A lot of it was rotted and some still retained its shape and I picked it all up and brought it home.

Some of the headstamps had what looked like military markings with an '18' on it so I figured that was the year.

Well for the heck of it I wiped off several, put them in my 1911 and pulled the trigger and to my surprise many of them went 'Pop'! It was not full power and most did not fire but these had been laying outside for I don't know how long in rain & snow.
 
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Actually There is a lot of good write ups and studies that have been done in the industry to attest to the fact moisture will not kill a primer. Priming compounds are actually made wet and then they dry after they are applied to the cups as they are made .

If a primer has been exposed to moisture from the water in the air or being drenched after it dries completely it will ignite . I am currently loading pistol and rifle primers that are 60 years old and they go bang every time.

The only way to properly neutralize primers is to place them in mineral oil, so as long as those primers were not exposed to oils they will go bang many decades after they were made.

Smokeless powder on the other hand most assuredly does not get better with age after a given point in time . This usually is long after you are no longer treading the planet , when I was younger I rather indiscriminately would shoot any ammo whence came my way . I typically leave the pre WWII stuff to the domain of the collector as that powder is now getting on the age when it's chemical makeup is to be questioned.
 

arrowshooter

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I also load one in an empty case and fire it in the proper weapon. I roll up an old towel and stick the barrel in it to muffle the sound.
 
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