View Full Version : Reloading with Berdan primers

January 19, 2013, 08:06 PM
I've noticed that PV carries and still has Berdan primers for sale. Have any of you tried depriming Berdan brass and reusing it? Is there a special tool that can deal with the tiny double holes? Can you drill them out from the primer side? Can one use Berdan primers in place of a standard, one hole primer?Thanks.

January 19, 2013, 08:15 PM
Never done it, but I've researched it when I was contemplating doing so for some European calibers.

You decap by piercing the primer from the back and prying it out with a dedicated berdan decapping tool. Or hydraulically. Fill with water, insert snugly fitting rod, whack with hammer, pressure pops the primer out the back. Messy. No way to do it with a decap pin as there is no way to precisely locate the 2 flash holes.

Primers are NOT interchangeable. Boxers have the anvil as an integral part of the primer, berdan have the anvil on the brass.

January 19, 2013, 08:16 PM
Here is a short article that details decaping berdan type brass. Hope it helps.


Ive only played with it a little, and never really found a great way to deprime them myself.

January 20, 2013, 06:32 AM
Thanks guys. Looks like a task that would need to be driven by desperation. I appreciate the quick info.

January 20, 2013, 07:09 AM
Not really, the RCBS berdan decapping tool makes it easy. Just size without the decapping pin. My Lee hand primer primes berdan fine.

January 20, 2013, 09:22 AM
Geez... I tried de-capping Berdan primers probably 30 years ago, when a friend gave me about 500 foreign .30-06 cases, as I recall. It was a royal PITA to say the least. I did 100 or so, reprimed them then sold off the entire bunch for the scrap price of the brass. Hagar, points out that RCBS now has a decapping tool that works well so that may indicate that things have changed over the intervening years...or (LOL), Hagar has a higher tolerance for mind-numbing piece work than I do...no offense is meant BTW...Rod

January 20, 2013, 09:41 AM
Easy way to deprimer berdan primed cases,works with berdan or boxer.

Jim Watson
January 20, 2013, 10:32 AM
The only Berdan primers I ever fooled with were in some Kynoch .450 Express belonging to a friend. We clamped the sizing die in a vise, mouth up, and dropped a case into it. Then drove a common awl through the indent at a sharp angle so as to miss the integral anvil and just levered the primer out of the pocket. The same principle as the RCBS device, just with ordinary tools.

You can do it with hydraulics like Mike40 describes, you can even do it on the press with an expander plug. It is possible to bulge the brass beyond use if the primer is crimped or corroded really tight in the pocket.

res45s video does not emphasize it, but uses a balanced hydraulic surge that won't hurt the brass. There was an old Gun Digest or Handloader's Digest that showed a fancier set of tooling for the same job.

Getting into trivia and history, once upon a time, British shooters could support a domestic reloading tool industry. There were three Berdan decappers operating on completely different principles.

The Prime Hydro Punch had a water reservoir with plunger and a long nozzle that reached down into the case and set over the flashholes. A whack on the plunger forced the primer out with hydraulic pressure but with only a couple of drops of water released. Lots less messy.

The Prime Power Punch looked similar but the long nozzle set a fresh primer down against the flashhole from the inside. The exposed plunger was the head of a firing pin and a hit on it blew the Berdan primer right out into a shielded base. It cost you two primers per shot, one to shoot, one to decap, but was quick and dry. You could use a more common Boxer primer in the decapping operation. Noisy, though.

Prime or maybe Wamadet made a decapping spindle that went in the sizing die like a regular Boxer decapping assembly. For Berdans it had an offset decapping pin made of fine but strong piano wire. You left it loose in the threads and as you raised the press ram, mainipulated the head of the spindle to feel the pin into one of the flashholes. Then pull the press handle to decap like Boxer. Said not to work with crimped primers, the fine tip would just punch through.

But all that was in a bygone day and the old British tools largely forgotten.
I looked and the Wamadet seems to be back in production, but Prime is apparently long gone.