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Warning: Primer Detonation

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Scott F, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. Scott F

    Scott F Oregon City, OR Active Member

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    I was in my shop loading 45 Colt. I dumped 100 new Federal large pistol primers onto the tray of a six month old RCBS universal primer seater. I put the top on the tray about half way and was gently shaking the tray to flip all the primers the right way when there was a large bang. I noticed several things right away, my leg and my right hand was stinging, there was a large black scorch mark on my right leg that was under the primer tray I was gently shaking, and I was no longer holding a primer tray. Shrapnel hit a friends patio door fifty yards away.

    Before anyone asks, I did not need to change my shorts. Waiting for a RCBS and Federal customer support supervisor to return my call.

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  2. PaulB47

    PaulB47 Hillsboro Well-Known Member

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    Lot of excitement in the loading business, eh? :)

    Maybe there was some primer dust loose in the box?
     
  3. Dreams of Steel

    Dreams of Steel Sherwood Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    I use a Lymans universal hand primer and I am curious if you have any idea what may have caused the detonation. This is one of my biggest fears with reloading, and while I am very careful at all times when dealing with any type of explosive components, I always have the idea of something like this happening in the back of my mind. Do you think it was an extra sensitive primer or something in the tray that just happened to catch it just right (wrong)?
     
  4. Scott F

    Scott F Oregon City, OR Active Member

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    I have call into both Federal and RCBS, two fine companies whit long histories of great customer service. I still do not know what went wrong. Some thought it might have been static but the HR was 47% at the time of the excitement. Federal said they did not think Static was the issue.

    Needless to say I have given this a lot of thought. I will say this is the first primer I has set off while reloading and I have been at it for almost 53 years. I also tend to be cautious when reloading in things like no powder out of the storage container that I use to keep all my powder. If a eight pound can would have been pen on the bench I may not have been around to post this. I feel extremely lucky to not have been hurt other than a minor burn and some stinging. Lucky enough I bought two lottery tickets. ;)
     
  5. Crohnos01

    Crohnos01 Washington Well-Known Member

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    Holy Big Bang Batman!

    That's really scary... I know I get a little lax about reloading protocols sometimes.... I must have done this same process a thousand times over the years with the same equipment. I am going to print this post and tape it to my reloading bench to read next time before I start priming..,

    Glad you're okay albeit a little shaken up I'm sure. Please do post if figure out the cause of your excitement!
     
  6. Dreams of Steel

    Dreams of Steel Sherwood Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    I shudder at the thought of an 8lb keg going off! I am also happy that the wounds were superficial and you are alright, but I am now starting to rethink my priming location and method. I really hope I never have to experience this kind of thing but I will be keeping an extra close eye on everything while processing. I use Win pistol primers, which in my experience come all facing the "correct" way so that I can hold the primer tray upside down, hold the box of primers against the tray, and turn the priming tool upright. I have not had to manually flip a primer using this method, except when I jerked and flipped a couple by accident.
     
  7. drstrangelove

    drstrangelove Vancouver, WA Active Member

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    Do yourself a favor and get an X-ray to make sure you don't have a piece of shrapnel in your leg. Primer compound is quite toxic, having lead azides among other compounds not so good for your body.
     
  8. Scott F

    Scott F Oregon City, OR Active Member

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    I was not really happy with the RCBS tool because if I had all the primers facing the right way putting the lid on caused a snap that would flip half of them. I loaded with the old system that came with my Rockchucker for years. I am thinking I should go back to it. I would resize, clean the primer pockets if needed then seat my primers after the expanding step. A bit slower maybe but slower is better than healing up.
     
  9. Scott F

    Scott F Oregon City, OR Active Member

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    It is clean, nothing penetrated the pants or the skin. It is more a bruise and burn that anything. But thamks for the info. I did not know that.
     
  10. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Wow! Just real glad you're alright! Scary proposition!:eek:
     
  11. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Smokeless powder would have just caused a fire, if that - it would not have detonated from that.

    Still, it pays to be careful.
     
    orygun likes this.
  12. 66PonyCar

    66PonyCar Tigard, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Don't forget the safety goggles when hand priming cases!
     
  13. Scott F

    Scott F Oregon City, OR Active Member

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    Yes it would just burn but it could be a read bad day if it started burningin your shop and sitting on the bench you are sitting at.
     
    orygun likes this.
  14. Dyjital

    Dyjital Albany, Ore Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    Impressive!
     
  15. Velzey

    Velzey Estacada, Oregon Gunsmith Gunsmith Bronze Vendor Bronze Supporter

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    I've seen what a one pound can of powder can do in a small wooden tuff shed. The building was a 10x16 shed. The top of the can was open. Sparks from an overhead power strip that failed started it.
    It took about 10 seconds for the flames
    From the plastic bottle to die down.. But the 10' fireball that came out of the jug hit the ceiling and walls and ignited everything flammable. My friend and I were in the rear of the shed sitting at his reloading bench. When it ignited he was right next to it, and I was about 4' away. He received very bad flash burns and fell over backwards. Hitting his head in the process. I started to head for the door and realized he was on the floor. I grabbed his arm and drug his bubblegum out the door with me.
    Within a minute the whole building was engulfed.

    Never ever underestimate what and open can of powder can do!
     
    orygun likes this.
  16. Crohnos01

    Crohnos01 Washington Well-Known Member

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    Doing some Google search results I found several other instances of unexpected primer detonation and in each case, the primers in question were Federal.... Coincidence or an indication of a problem with Federal?
     
  17. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    For a generation or two, Lee has warned to not use Federal primers in their hand seater devices. Don't know about now.
     
    PBinWA and Dyjital like this.
  18. Crohnos01

    Crohnos01 Washington Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I saw the correlation between Lee and not recommended for use with Federal primers. The OP of course was using RCBS.... I guess I am wondering if there's a cautionary tale of Federal primers in ANY brand hand seaters.
     
  19. Dyjital

    Dyjital Albany, Ore Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    CCI are recommended because they tend to have harder cups than others.

    Inverse is that others have softer cups which may be why they have issues with premature ejacu-errrrr detonation.
     
  20. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    There's that and if I remember correctly, Federal uses a totally different type of compound than anyone else (all the others use the other category of "formula").. and it is considered more sensitive than others.
    I use Federal when I must.. they're great primers (and for some guns, are necessary for ignition).. I just load fewer into the tray and pray a little more is all.
     
    Dyjital likes this.