Primer pockets. How loose is too loose?

  • Last Post 29 June 2020
GP Idaho posted this 17 June 2020

Good Morning all. What is your opinion on when brass should be recycled (pistol) or primer pockets swaged for repair (expensive brass) My reason for this question is that I recently purchased the Lee APP press and the four tube universal case feeder with collator. While this system is quick in depriming cases you also lose some of the feel that you have with other means. According to Google minimum pocket diameter is .173 (small pistol) and maximum of .1745. I also states that small pistol primers should be .175 in diameter. I believe this to be nominal and can vary with manufacturer. In going through some 9mm cases this morning I was using a .174- pin gauge and recycling brass when the gauge entered. Not that 9mm cases cost much, pretty much free for picking up at the local range but other calibers do cost real money and so the question, how loose is too loose?

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Little Debbie posted this 17 June 2020

Too loose for me is when they fall out of the pocket partial or fully from gravity. This is assuming there are no cracks in the neck and you’ve checked for incipient case separation(rifle brass). I’ve got an old batch of .32-40 cases that have no “feel” when seating primers. These cases are used for low pressure cast bullet loads in a M94 Winchester. So far no primers fall out.I anneal these cases every 4-5 firings to prevent neck cracks and keep them in service.

I agree about 9 mm brass. There are so many makers of boxer primed cases that small primer pocket brass, oversized pockets, or brass with primers that punch the bottom of the cup out and leave a ring in the pocket are best placed in the scrap bucket as you sort them out. I also tend to sort out crimped primers in 9mm. Nothing makes progressive loading of 9mm more frustrating than out of spec primer pockets. I’ve got 2 or 3 5 gallon buckets of once fired pickup brass. It’s certainly not rare.

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Ed Harris posted this 17 June 2020

Put example primed cases in kinetic bullet puller BACKWARDS, and then whack on a hard surface.  If primer comes out, therein lies a clue.  Gage that one with pins and you have most of the answer.  However a pin gage only measures the tightest dimension of the pocket, it does nothing for out-of-round.

I prefer to use a HAND priming tool and go by feel.  If the primer enters way too easy, those cases are marked across the head with a red felt tip, used only for light practice loads, fired, then flattened and scrapped to keep anyone else from using them.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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Bud Hyett posted this 17 June 2020

My experience is with rifle primer pockets. My experience with pistol cases is the case neck goes before the primer pocket goes.

Ed Harris's backward blow using the bullet puller is a great idea. I'll be using that in the future on dubious cases. I also use a hand priming tool and suspend any pocket that is too easy. The next step is a primer pocket uniforming tool. If it cuts, or feels tight without cutting, good case. If the tool slides in without resistance, the case goes into the scrap bucket. 

With cast bullet shooting, I use a 300 cartridge lot of brass for matches. This keeps me in plenty of sighting and record shots for both Regional or National Match programs. For weekend matches, I use one hundred round boxes, usually shooting approximately 80 rounds including sighters and the sighter target. The remaining rounds in the box are shot for practice.

Whenever a case in a lot is too easy to prime, the entire lot is inspected. I find even with annealing, the cases last at least twenty loads for the lot if not thirty.  

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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GP Idaho posted this 17 June 2020

Thanks to all for the replies.  I do have a go-no go primer pocket gauge for both large and small primer pockets. For small pockets it measures .173 and .175  even when the .175 end will not enter the pockets some feel loose when priming. Yes, I do use a hand primer. Part of the reason for the above post is that I recently purchased 100 each of 32 S&W and 32 H&R mag brass. (Starline) and after the first firing pockets feel loose when seating the primer. Neither caliber was loaded above mid-range.Not sure what's up with that.. I'll do as Ed posted above and mark cases for the recycle bin, give them one more charge and scrap. As the 32s are revolver rounds I'll reload them until I see a leak I believe, I don't load top end rounds much and when I do, I use once or twice fired brass. Gp

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Hornet posted this 17 June 2020

Not all primers are created equal. Another brand or even a different lot number of the same brand might fit better. Some authors used to recommending measuring samples of each batch and recording the exact diameter ( to 0.0001") to extend brass life by going larger as needed.

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barra posted this 18 June 2020

It has been known to keep some favoured brass going by placing the primer pocket over a ball bearing and tapping the the primer pocket a little tighter.

Some people even have used nail polish.

Some of black powder shooters seat a primer over a piece of paper to keep the powder out of the primer hole.

and some have used tubing to make large into small rifle pockets.

I-have tried some of these ways as a test to see what I could do if I get a strange and rare chambering one day.

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Wheel Weights posted this 18 June 2020

Unless you have rare cases, it's not worth messing with.

You can feel when seating them.

If they are too "easy" toss the brass.

Not a place to be cheap.

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Wineman posted this 21 June 2020

I still use the older (No Federal Primers) Lee hand tool. Every time I use the Lee turret press to prime (really poor man's Dillon), I get inconsistent seating and misfires. With the hand seater, never an issue. I either batch size or if feeling frisky, pull the case after the sizer, prime and continue with the turret.

Happy Father's Day to all!


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jniedbalski posted this 29 June 2020

I got more tight primer pockets than loose in my spare brass. I do have some 38 special that are getting on the loose side. I keep them on the very low side any ways . But something to keep A look out for. So far no leaking primer pockets

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