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Old January 20, 1999, 04:07 PM   #1
Mike in VA
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Could someone straighten me out or point me to a source that explains the difference between Berden (sp?) and Boxer type primers? The reason I ask is that I have seen some military surplus 9mm ammo w/Berden primers offered at very attractive prices that I'd consider for target practice, but I wonder if this is OK for my guns (SIGs) If it's OK, is there any additional maintenance I need to be aware of (i.e. are they corrosive?) or other considerations in the use of this type of ammo? Thanks, M2
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Old January 20, 1999, 04:27 PM   #2
Michael Carlin
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Berdan Primer, currently the European standard.

In a Berdan primer the mixture is contained in a simple cup. The anvil is a part of the primer pocket of the case, and is centrally located in the pocket. This necessitates two flasholes off center, rather than the centrally located one in Boxer.

Boxer, the primer is self contained in that the anvil is a separate piece, placed in the cup above the mixture. The primer pocket has no anvil, and has a centrally located flashole about twice the size of the off center holes in the Berdan primed stuff.

Both systems work well, and though each has its advcates, I don't think there is any real inherent advantage to either in terms of results.

However in terms of reloading ease the Boxer system wins hands down. It is possible to reload berdan primed ammunition, but it is much more problematic than Boxer stuff.

Decapping is the first obstacle, the two hole system means that out Boxer system central decapping pin is useless. Various methods; hydrualic, and peircing the cup from the base, etc are used. All are much slower than decapping Boxer primed ammo.

Availability of components is a problem here in the US. Berdan primers are not generally as easily obtained as Boxer primers.

Basicly, Berdan primed ammunition is fine for one use. Then IMHO you should sell the residue for scrap and buy new.

The price of imported Berdan primed ammunition makes it very attractive, at least from and initial purchase point of view.

Berdan primed cases mixed in with your Boxer primed brass will make for some miserable experiences in reloading.

Sometimes the decapping pin is broken, or pulled out of the stem by the Berdan brass.

Sometimes the stuff is punched out leaving a three flash hole case. It you're using a progressive you will then, if I recall correctly, discover that the berdan primers are not exactly the same size as the Boxer primers.

The Boxers don't enter the pocket, and if they do the anvil collides with what is left of the existing case's anvil and you can not seat them flush.

Thirtysome years ago I spent several hours one night trying to salvage 20 rounds of 30'06 brass by converting it to Boxer from
Berdan. It doesn't work!

Shoot all the factory Berdan you want, but don't waste your time trying to reload it.

The Blaser aluminum case I understand uses a berdan primer to prevent its being easily reloaded.

Like the guy with the outsize muffler and the sports car on the Midas commercial, we can make anything fit, but do we want to?

I think not.
Oh, BTW I understand that Berdan was an American and Boxer a Brit, and like Luger, the Amercian, the Europeans bought Berdan's stuff and we (the US)bought the Brit Boxer's system. Go figure.





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Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

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michael



[This message has been edited by Michael Carlin (edited 01-20-99).]
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Old January 21, 1999, 11:19 AM   #3
Mike in VA
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Thanks, Michael, for a most thorough answer. I haven't gotten into reloading, but I love a bargain when I find one, especially if it lets me practice more often while preserving my budet. Now all I have to do is find that website with the cheap Finnish surplus ammo again. Mucho gracias for your help. M2
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Old January 23, 1999, 02:28 PM   #4
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Michael, are the Berdan priming compounds still corrosive these days?
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Old January 26, 1999, 05:56 PM   #5
Ray VanderLinden
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In a word, No.
Berdan is using the same priming compound or at least a very similar compound as Boxer.
A Historical Note:
Berdan Priming was Designed by an American in the late 1850's or late 1860's.
Boxer priming was developed in England by a Britsh Army Officer, at about the same time.

I find it interesting that America uses the system developed by a Brit, while Most of Europe use the system developed by an American.
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Old January 26, 1999, 06:36 PM   #6
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Is the NATO ammo all boxer primed?
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Old January 27, 1999, 12:46 PM   #7
Michael Carlin
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No, I don't think so, the primer system is determined by the country of origin. I have fired NATO spec ammon that had Boxer ammo and also the much more usual Berdan stuff.

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Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship
http://www.1bigred.com/distinguished

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