Crimps Are a Pain

by
posted on May 7, 2014
lessons_ah2015_fs.jpg (7)

undefinedI’m not sure who the ordnance bureaucrat was that determined that crimping primers in place was necessary—perhaps a reader with a better grasp of military ordnance history can enlighten me. I’ve heard it offered that crimping primers in place makes military ammo in military arms and fired under military conditions more reliable. Maybe so, but for those of us using old military brass it’s another step in brass prep that we’d just as soon pass upon. Crimped primers have found their way into modern commercial ammunition as well. Any manufacturer who loads for the military leaves the crimp feature in their loading operation probably because it would cost too much to remove and replace it when they change from military to commercial ammo.

In the old days primers were stake-crimped into the primer pocket. A staking tool—a sort of square-pointed punch—would put three crimps around the rim of the primer pocket after the primer was seated. Now the crimps are annular—meaning there is a circle of metal around the rim of the pocket to ensure it doesn’t blow out during a fire fight.

The crimp does not make it any more difficult to remove a spent primer, but you cannot seat a fresh primer with a crimped pocket. There are two ways to deal with crimped primer pockets. Many handloaders simply ream it out with a primer pocket reamer—really old school guys used a pocket knife. It’s effective, but I hate to remove metal from a cartridge case, so I use the much-more-labor-intensive primer pocket swager. This is a tool that utilizes a rounded nub on the ram of your press to swage or push metal out of the way and ensure the pocket is the proper dimension to hold the new primer.

Trouble is, in order to make it work you have to slide the case onto a mandrel located at the top of the press and then bring the ram up to contact the case, and finally ram it all home to remove the crimp. It’s a tedious task and one fraught with injury potential. If your timing gets out of whack, it’s real easy to get that ram up and catch your thumb and/or index finger between the ram and the bottom of the die. I’ve done that more than a few times, and it really upsets my day.

In reality, since I am currently loading prairie dog ammo, I should go ahead and ream and uniform the primer pocket. Doing so takes another variable from the accuracy devil, but doing so is equally tedious and time consuming—which is my biggest beef when I am prepping some 2,000 rounds of .223 Remington brass. It reduces the finger pinching bug-a-boo, but slipping up can run a sharp reamer edge into the hand as well, so we’re back at the original conundrum.

An aside: Don’t expect to find primers crimped solely in military calibers. A friend found his .204 Ruger cases from Federal had crimped primers, and it took a while to find a solution since there aren’t any .20-caliber mandrels made for swaging dies.

I’ll probably just continue to swage the pockets of this horde of brass—partly due to inertia and partly due to the fact that they are not all made by the same manufacturer. I’m not a good enough shot in the field to make use of the .1- to .125-moa difference that might occur when reaming the pocket. So if anyone should show up over the next couple of days and hear some profanity being launched from within my shop, they’ll know I pinched my fingers again.

Latest

Review Leupold BX 4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 Lead
Review Leupold BX 4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 Lead

Review: Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2

Leupold’s BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 rangefinding binocular blends affordability, portability and usability to deliver excellent color, clarity, depth of field and low-light performance.

#SundayGunday: Ruger Super Redhawk in .22 Hornet

Get a closer look at the Ruger Super Redhawk in .22 Hornet, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Review: Ruger Super Wrangler

The Super Wrangler is reliable, accurate and affordable. It may well be this generation’s best of the best for a “woods” gun and is an excellent rimfire handgun choice for any hunter.

Traditions Launches Outfitter G3 in 360 Buckhammer

Traditions Firearms has announced the release of its Outfitter G3 single-shot rifle line in 360 Buckhammer. This caliber will be available in both the standard and all new Pro Series models.

Head to Head: .375 H&H Magnum vs. .416 Rigby

The .375 H&H Magnum and .416 Rigby are both capable of taking the entire spectrum of game animals, in any climate, on any continent. But which is the better choice for the hunter? We investigate.

New for 2024: Heritage Manufacturing Heritage 92 Line

Heritage Manufacturing has launched its line of Heritage 92 lever-action rifles. Rooted in tradition, the Heritage 92 series is designed to pay homage to the iconic firearms of yesteryear while delivering the precision and performance demanded by today's enthusiasts.

Interests



Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.