The Age Old Boxer vs Berdan Debate

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  • Last Post 20 August 2022
Bryan Austin posted this 09 August 2022

As I start digging in deep into the Berdan vs Boxer debate, I am soon siding with the Boxer myth.

No, there was certainly a Boxer primer invented and by E M Boxer, but what folks call Boxer Primed today were invented by someone else.

Here is a photo I took a screen shot of from an article. The article is about the Trapdoor Springfield and the 45-70-405 Springfield cartridge.

Take a look at the photo description and tell us what ya think.

 

I actually see this constantly with all kinds of solid-head modern cartridge cases. For some reason (I have me theory), modern cartridges are divided into two groups

  • Berdan - For the cases with a built in anvil
  • Boxer - For the cases that use a primer cap with the anvil in the cap

Yes, I just said that because it makes it that more interesting. Not only do folks call primers "Boxers" when they are not, they also call the cases the same.

I guess in their defense they are really referring to the case design that takes the aforementioned primers. Either way, it proves that over time, when things are explained or described incorrectly, myth becomes gospel.

I am in the process of learning here, I am "teachable" so I would like for those that have photos of solid head cases that use a Boxer primer to please show them.

Here is Boxer's US Patent for a "Metallic Cartridge", not a primer patent....but that is "the" primer design and used by Boxer.

Here is a .577 Snider Rifle "Mark I" cartridge that I understand to be invented by Col. Boxer (British).

 

Here is the cartridge case-head design. It is in several pieces and held in by the primer housing acting like a rivet!!

 

And again, what folks all over the world call a Boxer Primer....

 

 

No way folks.....

 

Here ya go, I fixed it!

Boxer Anvils and Boxer Caps?

 

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Oldman 1950 posted this 10 August 2022

Nice Research

A. J. Palik

Any day you wake-up sucking air will be a good day

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Bryan Austin posted this 10 August 2022

Who patented the solid head cartridge case? The Hotchkiss Aug 31st, 1869 is all I can find at the moment.

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G. H. Daw's US Cartridge Patent 89,563 dated May 4th, 1869 (two months before Boxer's patent.
Daw has a nice looking folded head case there.

 

Of course unlike Daw's paper case(?), Boxer's "Metallic Cartridge" case  was patented two months later, US Pat 91,818 on June 20th, 1869. However, his case was ot even a folded head, but pieced together from several components. That darn primer, although conical, looks pretty darn close to Boxer's "Vertical" primer.


Then there is Hotchkiss' Aug 31st, 1869 solid head "Cartridge" patent that looks to have used both a Berdan (maybe not) type anvil primer and a conventional primer that sure looks like Benet's design (Fig 4a) from early 1866.


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Bryan Austin posted this 10 August 2022

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GregT posted this 11 August 2022

Hogwash! I have reloaded with Berdan (your "Boxer Caps") primers since 1964, I got my primers from Dixie Gun Works and Turner Kirkland guided me by phone as to how to begin reloading Danish 6.5x55 cases. I also had regular Boxer primers (your "Berdan caps with anvils". I currently have probably 50,000 Berdan primers from Russia, PMC (Korean), RWS from Germany, Norma from Sweden. They are all marked Berdan on the manufacturers packaging. Pretty much the same thing with my Boxer primers. I have NATO and other world armed force issue empty casings for the Berdan primers and most of the common commercial manufactured casings for the Boxer primers.Both primer types have had interesting evolutions that did not make Berdan primers magically fit Boxer cases as time went by. I can't wait until you trace how each primer type is taken out for re-priming the case...

   I note the work you did putting this all together as it probably took a lot of time to accomplish. I need to know, though, where is the pin-fire primer explained? Where is the rimfire primer explained? Let's hear about the fulminate used in the primers. Corrosive primers, non-corrosive primers. What a topic! Thanks!

GregT

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Bryan Austin posted this 11 August 2022

Hogwash! I have reloaded with Berdan (your "Boxer Caps") primers since 1964, I got my primers from Dixie Gun Works and Turner Kirkland guided me by phone as to how to begin reloading Danish 6.5x55 cases. I also had regular Boxer primers (your "Berdan caps with anvils". I currently have probably 50,000 Berdan primers from Russia, PMC (Korean), RWS from Germany, Norma from Sweden. They are all marked Berdan on the manufacturers packaging. Pretty much the same thing with my Boxer primers. I have NATO and other world armed force issue empty casings for the Berdan primers and most of the common commercial manufactured casings for the Boxer primers.Both primer types have had interesting evolutions that did not make Berdan primers magically fit Boxer cases as time went by. I can't wait until you trace how each primer type is taken out for re-priming the case...

   I note the work you did putting this all together as it probably took a lot of time to accomplish. I need to know, though, where is the pin-fire primer explained? Where is the rimfire primer explained? Let's hear about the fulminate used in the primers. Corrosive primers, non-corrosive primers. What a topic! Thanks!

GregT

 

Greg,

I am easily confused as you can tell.

First, this is the Boxer vs Berden Primer debate, aint got a dang thing to do with pinfires. Go re-read what I posted.

Boxer primers are not Berden primers and Boxer primers are not what we use today for loading out 357 mag, 44-40s, 44 mag, 45 Colts, 9mm etc

Let me try this again.

Berdan Primers are simply primer cups applied to a primer pocket with a built in anvil in the cartridge's primer pocket with two holes that protrude into the  bottom of the cartridge case. Below just happens to be a modern case or the Berdan design. Both case and primer are of the Berdan design.

 

Boxer Primers, (E. M. Boxer), are a whole different story. Boxer's cartridge case is complex and pre-historic. Started out with the Snider .577 in 1865. The case is made from brass foil, the case head made from several folded components. The cartridge case is not of the historical "drawn Brass" type that we even use today. The primer was nothing new and used in shotguns, was an improved shotgun design.

THIS IS A BOXER PRIMER of which Benet had already applied for a patent in 1866.


Benet's Primer design shown in his April 1866 Drawing...and again in the Bill to congress aforementioned.

 

Modern Gardner type primers are not what is seen in any of the above photos with a vertical anvil. It basically all started with Hotchkiss' 1869 Patented solid head case design and "shorter" primer design with a horizontal positioned anvil. Technically only the cartridge design is covered under the patent. This design was improved several times, once by Oliver Winchester and used in the 44 Winchester in 1874.

Gardner's 1878 widely used in Winchester's cartridges, which was an improved Winchester design.

 

Hobbs and Orcutt, whom worked for UMC, used the vertical primer in their 44-40 cases

 

This Hobb's 1882 patent is what advanced to what we use now.

 

Here is what we use today. Exact same thing as above but using three legs rather than just two. These are NOT BOXER PRIMERS.

 

 

So ya see there is absolutely no rhyme no reason to call our modern conventional primers, Boxer primers. Totally incorrect.

 

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Fiddler posted this 11 August 2022

Sooo, ~60 years ago I had some Canadian GI 30-06 that had a disc shaped anvil, not 2 or 3 legged, a disc, that had a bump in the middle and 2 small flash holes. This cup, primer compound and disc anvil was seated in a conventional .210 ------ style case with a single central flash hole. Was this a sample of the rare Hobb's Berxer transition design?

Call it what ya like, I'm glad there is a single central hole to remove a spent primer!

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Bryan Austin posted this 11 August 2022

Sooo, ~60 years ago I had some Canadian GI 30-06 that had a disc shaped anvil, not 2 or 3 legged, a disc, that had a bump in the middle and 2 small flash holes. This cup, primer compound and disc anvil was seated in a conventional .210 ------ style case with a single central flash hole. Was this a sample of the rare Hobb's Berxer transition design?

Call it what ya like, I'm glad there is a single central hole to remove a spent primer!

You completely missed the point....and I have no idea what a rare Hobb's Berxer transition designed primer looks like.

If the anvil was seated in the cup in the horizontal position, it is not of a Boxer design.

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porthos posted this 12 August 2022

don't understand why there would be a "age old debate". unless you cannot get boxer brass for a obsolete caliber; why would anyone want to go to the trouble of removing the berdan primer??

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Bryan Austin posted this 12 August 2022

don't understand why there would be a "age old debate". unless you cannot get boxer brass for a obsolete caliber; why would anyone want to go to the trouble of removing the berdan primer??

 

I think my problem is my failure to explain the debate. We all know there are still "Berdan" brass and "Bedan" primers still used today. Regardless of how or why, new or old, they are still used and are of the "Bedan Patent"! I do not know if they are currently manufactured under Bedan's patent or someone elses and is why I said "Berdan Patent".

However, there really is no such thing as Boxer brass or Boxer primers for what we typically call "pistol cartridges" such as the 45 Colt, 9mm etc. If you are referring to the larger cartridges like the .577 type Snider cartridges, Boxer invented the .577 Snider cartridge and patented the invention in England in 1866 (I think it was), however, he successfully operated his invention in 1865 with Snider and the new breech loading rifle.  Boxer patented his CARTRIDGE DESIGN (.577 Snider) in the USA in 1869.

 For some reason, folks are calling nearly all modern primers "Boxer" primers. The problem is that these guys are correcting those that call Berdan primers, boxer primers. The problem there is that those guys are incorrect because the the "Boxer" name is also incorrect.

THIS IS A BOXER CARTRIDGE (including the primer). This was an improvement of Daw's 1869 patent.

Looks 100% NOTHING LIKE the primers we used in the 1860's or even now...at least in the USA. Depriming these were easier than deprimig the Berdan design, however, these are in several parts and when depriming, the other parts could easily be dropped and lost forever while "in the field".

What we use today is not that complicated but basically is a direct decedent of Oliver Winchester's improved Hotchkiss, Farrington and Smoot's type primer designs in 1874.

By this time it was competition between US ammunition manufactures in the USA. Winchester, UMC, E. Remington, USCCo etc. Each wanted their own patent to keep from paying royalties.

  • 1872 - Farrington, USCCo
  • 1874 - Oliver Winchester, Winchester Arms
  • 1876 - Hobbs, UMC
  • 1878 - Gardner, Winchester
  • 187? - Farrington (Type 3, improvement on the 1872 patent), USCCo
  • 1882 - Hobbs, Winchester

The Hobbs 1882 patent is nearly identical to the primers we use today.

 

Compared to these guys of today....nowhere near a "Boxer" design

 

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Bryan Austin posted this 20 August 2022

Actually, its not the 1882 Hobbs patent that is what we seem to use today, but the Winchester 1878 Patent.

1874 Winchester

1878 Gardner

 


Any idea where the patent is on these?
Left - Winchester
Right - CCI

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