Firearm Forums - Arms Locker banner

Cleaning primer pockets

4066 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Smarter Gun
How important is this step in reloading?

I've looked at the progressive reloaders from Dillon, but it seems to me not cleaning out the primer pocket is a mistake. Doesn't the burnt powder left behind from the previous firing act as a slight cushion for the primer's anvil?

Seems to me that the primer is the most critical element of the reloading process to make everything work when you pull the trigger, so every precaution should be taken to make sure it is done right.
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
clean well. but dont not scrape away any brass.
??? But I've seen tools out there designed to square up the primer pocker. How do you do that without removing brass?

Is it worthwhile deburring the flashholes on the primer pocket? I'm not really ever going to be a top of the line target shooter, but sometimes you have to wonder what things make any difference in your shooting.
Great Question!

:rolleyes: Let me tell you, there has been many a time as I sat in front of my RCBS, 'Case Prep' machine with a thousand rounds, or so, moving across the table from left to right that I asked myself this very same question!

Do primer pockets - really - need to be cleaned; and should flash holes be reamed? Well, after more than twenty years and God, only, knows how many thousands of rounds: I DON'T THINK SO! (I've, probably, brought on early arthritis in my hands from all this handling and re:handling of shells, so this conclusion is hard wrought on my part.)

Here's the way I've come to see it. For precision rifle work, the answer is, 'Yes!' Primer pockets should be brushed out and flash holes should be uniform in size and shape. But then again for a match rifle or hunting reloads: case necks should be turned; cases should, also, be trimmed to proper length; and mouths should be nicely beveled. This kind of precision rifle shooting requires reloaded brass to be allocated to, 'strictly practice rounds' after 10-12 reloads.

The same rules that apply to automatic rifle rounds, also, apply to pistol and revolver ammunition. Simply stated: frequent primer pocket cleaning and uniform flash hole sizes are not, all that, important. If the case has been fired less than 10 or 12 times, with a relatively clean primer mixture, it is not necessary to clean out the pockets. Sure, occasionally, there will be a high primer; but a dirty pocket is not, necessarily, the answer here. It could be something, else, like head deformation, or a, 'soft' or an angled press fit.

In my experience, 'loose' primer pockets are much more of a problem than dirty ones. On many presses you can, often, spot this, 'loose fit' problem during the primer seating phase of the operation. GENERALLY SPEAKING if you spin the loaded cylinder on a revolver to rotate all six(?) rounds; and, also, learn to perform, 'opposite-hand, slide-top sweeps' as well as that old: 'pop-the-mag' and, 'rack-the-slide' routine on your auto, then, you should be fine with your reloads MOST of the time.

If you're shooting a GLOCK, (with the brave exception of a handful of, 'real men') none of the experienced reloaders I've talked to reload past the 8th time; and, for whatever it's worth, I always keep my reloads in their own batches of, about, a hundred rounds each; and, for all other handguns, after about 12 reloads, or so, I don't fool around with the cases, anymore, I throw them out and buy new brass.

Does this reloading scheme work? Well, after more than 25 years, I still have both eyes and all my fingers! I have had a few duds over the years, though: one bullet stuck in the barrel, two or three light charges, and about a hundred, or so, primer failures; but I've never overcharged a round; and I've, yet, to experience my first GLOCK, 'kaBoom!'

In one sentense: Primer pocket cleaning is not critical to the creation of FUNCTIONAL ammunition reloads. ;)

Regards, 'AA'
See less See more
Back in the early 80s when I was first considering getting into reloading, I asked around a lot to see what people thought of it. You know, all those old guys that always seem to hang around at gun shops. Well I asked them. I figured they have been doing this for a long time, so why not tap into their experience?

Anyway, in most cases, they all said the same thing. Clean out the primer pockets. Don't be in a hurry to make a bullet, so pay attention to every detail and do it right, every time. About the ONLY thing that really go wrong to keep a bullet from igniting is the primer. So take all due care with that part and you won't have any problems.

So yeah, cleaning out those primer pockets is a pain, and I am certain a progressive press would speed things up considerably, but I am quite willing to bet my life on any bullet I have ever reloaded. In all of the time I have been reloading, and all of those bullets I have fired, I have had exactly ONE misfire from my own reloaded ammo. And I can STILL remember that incident! I was shooting my H&K 91 and it was a .308 cartridge. I was just stunned when the hammer only went *click* when I pulled the trigger. I ejected the cartridge, and the primer certainly had a nice dent in it from the firing pin, so it was definitely a solid hit. Now what actually caused the primer to fail? Beats me. Did I get some sizing lube in it? Or was it just a bad primer?

I saved that cartridge for the longest time and had it sitting in a prominent spot on my reloading bench as a reminder about being diligent. It was right next to a .44 mag cartridge that had the bullet pushed ALL of the way down into the case. That was the very first bullet I ever reloaded, and a reminder to me to RTFM before doing something like this. :laugh:
See less See more
Can't, Really, Say That I Agree ...

:idea: Yes, and I am one of those older guys! The reason, 'Why' we, all, once talked this way is because this is the manner in which we were educated to reload by, even, more ancient old timers who, originally, were our instructors, too.

Somewhere around 1985-1990 Mike Dillon launched a whole new wave in reloading technology: Mass production bullet manufacturing for all shooters at an affordable price. Sure many of us doubted that quality ammunition could be produced on a Dillion progressive press; and the first thing we fixed on was primer pocket cleaning; but MIKE PROVED US WRONG! As previously stated, 'FULLY FUNCTIONAL ammunition CAN be manufactured on a progressive press without frequent primer pocket cleaning.'

In the trade-off between a more accurate round, or a more practiced, more accurate individual shooter: It is better to shoot more SLIGHTLY LESS ACCURATE bullets than to shoot FEWER MORE ACCURATE rounds. This is the big change in, both, thinking and technique that Mike Dillon has brought to the reloading experience. Please understand, it's been hard for me to re:adjust my thinking, too; but there's no good reason to, 'stick' the young people who are coming up behind us with the old thinking and education which we USED to employ. If you're starting out in reloading, today, my considered suggestion would be to begin with a single stage press and technology. This way the beginning reloader will learn the careful, correct way to reload, properly; and, by starting out slow and careful, the beginner will, also, create THE CORRECT MENTAL AND PHYSICAL RELOADING HABITS that he will need for a lifetime of safe and satisfying reloading.

Afterwards, GO PROGRESSIVE, speed things up, and hone your personal shooting skills with lots and lots of FULLY FUNCTIONAL ammunition. ;)

Regards, 'AA'
See less See more
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.