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Old May 11, 2000, 11:07 AM   #1
Mal H
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There has been a lot of discussion on what happens to a primer when oil is allowed to get on the primer of a loaded round. The consensus seems to be that the primer will fail.

I decided to try a series of experiments to see if this is really true. I used all WLP primers and .44 Mag cases. The cases probably don't matter, but different brands of primers (or a different gun with a lighter hitting FP) might give different results.

1) A small drop of gun oil (Hoppes) was dropped directly on a primer and then the primer was seated in the case.

2) Same as #1, but using WD40.

3) A clean primer was seated in a casing and WD40 was applied liberally (a puddle of oil on the primer) to the primer area. The case was set mouth down to allow the oil to migrate down.

4) Same as #3 but using Kroil penetrating oil since there is a high probability that that is the type of oil mixed with a cleaning solvent that might touch a primer.


I feel the amount of oils allowed to contact or even penetrate the primers is far greater in my experiments than in normal ammo handling.

All of the casings were left for 2 days and then fired in a Ruger SRH.

The results:

1) The primer did go off, but the output was very greatly reduced. I doubt that it would be enough to ignite powder, but who knows.

2) The primer went off at about 1/4 strength.

3) The primer fired normally.

4) The primer fired normally.


These experiments were in no way exhaustive or quantitative. But they did show me that the caution about not allowing any oil to touch the primer of a loaded round is probably an old wives tale.
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Old May 11, 2000, 01:44 PM   #2
bk40
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very interesting results. Thanks for sharing info, Mal.
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Old May 11, 2000, 06:23 PM   #3
HankL
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Very good start to the experiment. Next time do exactly as above and wait say 4 weeks and reshoot the experiment.
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Old May 11, 2000, 06:29 PM   #4
Mal H
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Hank, that's a good idea and I was thinking along those lines also. The oil may not have had enough time to migrate. From exp. #1, it is obvious that oil does affect the primer if it makes it to it. I also want to use water as well as the oils since ammo may have been under water or constantly moist.
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Old May 11, 2000, 06:56 PM   #5
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I second the suggestion to give the oil time to work. I've shot tons of very old ammo without any problems, except for one instance. I got a box of very old .38Sp that was clearly oil soaked, a friend found it in his garage. He had no idea how long it had been there, it was his father's. I have no idea how the box got that way, but I doubt it was immersed in oil. I tried shooting them one day at the range, and around a third of them didn't fire at all, the others seemed fine.
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Old May 12, 2000, 09:09 PM   #6
HankL
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This old thread will be dead in four weeks. Oil will kill a primer as proven above. The molecular problems should become obvious. Don't call me in on the chemistry!
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Old May 12, 2000, 09:19 PM   #7
Mal H
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Hank, there was no doubt that oil hurts primers. We both knew that from the gitgo. What I really wanted to see is if the oil can migrate to the primer compound from the outside. I should have been more precise in my first sentence of the first post. Check back in about 2 months.
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Old May 13, 2000, 05:28 AM   #8
blades67
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Oil won't only contaminate the primer, it will contaminate the powder as well. Try this experiment of yours with complete cartridges and give us the results.

I'm sure that Murphy will see to it that even if all rounds fire at the range, in time of need that small amount of lube on the breech face will cause a misfire. Well, that's how Murphy treats me anyway!

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[This message has been edited by blades67 (edited May 13, 2000).]
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Old May 13, 2000, 02:16 PM   #9
Mal H
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blades, is that based on experience or hearsay? That is what I'm trying to determine. Might be a good idea to try it with complete loads. I'll take a wooden dowel and hammer with me when I fire them.
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Old June 13, 2000, 06:53 PM   #10
Mal H
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Well folks, it's been about a month and I was able to complete the experiment on the four .44 Mag. cartridges this weekend at the MATFLCS III outing.

On May 13th I put 4 bullets in a 4 separate baggies along with a lot of 1) water, 2) WD-40, 3) Kroil penetrating oil and 4) Hoppes oil. So each bullet was immersed in the different liquids. This test is much more severe than would be found from a little oil on the breech face, for example.

I fired each in my Ruger SRH and each one fired with no apparent loss of performance. This was witnessed by 2 TFL'ers.

So I am still waiting for anyone to prove that oil that gets on the outside of a cartridge and/or primer will cause a FTF. My experiment is conclusive enough for me to still think that it is only a rumor and not based on fact. I hasten to add that oil or any liquid that gets on the primer compound will affect the primer's function. That goes without saying as I proved in the first experiment.
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Old June 13, 2000, 11:09 PM   #11
Waterdog
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It was my understanding that it was oil from your fingers that ruined them, I have personally touched many a primer without a failure.

Once I left a box of 45acp 230lrn reloads in my car for several days during the summer (AZ). It gets about 140 degrees in a car with the windows up. The bullet lube migrated into the powder, and about half were turned into duds and some fired but barely pushed the bullet out of the barrel.

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Old June 14, 2000, 04:14 AM   #12
Hal
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Mal,
Thanks,,,I think,,,ummm,,the conclusion is 100% obscure
Best bet I guess would be avoid it if possible, but don't sweat it too much if you catch it in time, just use up that ammo first. If you can't don't count on the stuff to go bang every time, but don't treat it as inert if it doesn't, but only on every other Tuesday if the moon is full, but only if there is more than one vowel in the month, or less than one vowel, then invert the result.
It's a pretty shakey experiment at best, but thanks for the effort. A chono readout and some serious side by side comparison would have added greatly, but that takes it out of the backyard-gotta-know-just-because-some-things-in-life-need-to-be-proved.

Like I've been saying right along, reloading is a whole lot more than saving money. It's these little side trips that make the journey fun!
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Old June 14, 2000, 11:46 AM   #13
Mal H
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RAE - As I said from the very beginning, "These experiments were in no way exhaustive or quantitative."

The only conclusion I wanted to arrive at was would they still work after being soaked in the various oils and liquids. A far more severe environment than a little oil on the breech.

The conclusion is 100% sure - they all went bang! and none went pffftt.
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Old June 14, 2000, 06:57 PM   #14
HankL
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Mal H, I think that you are conducting a very good experiment so far. Thanks for the effort!
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Old June 14, 2000, 08:40 PM   #15
Hal
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Mal,
Yes, of course I realize that your experiment was of the backyard variety. Please understand I was in no way trying to put you down for it, OK? Do I consider it to have merit? Of course I do. If in the future I should spill some #9 on a box of shells, I'll wipe them clean and use them at the earliest chance. Prior to this I would have probably pullet the bullets and started over. Would I have bothered to go through the entire month? Probably not, as I'm sure most others wouldn't have either. Like I said above, cost savings is just one tiny bit of reloading/handloading. Thanks for taking the trouble to confirm what some suspected and other though not possible. The results were different that what I had thought they would be. I figured 50% would be duds. Interesting results. Again, thanks and excuse my poor attempt at humor.
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