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Old January 16, 2007, 02:41 PM   #1
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Very Old Primers

How long are Primers good for,??
Ive found some that My father had put away
many years ago, I'm guess somewhere around the 1930's they are rem, Primers 1 1/2 in the old green and red box, with the wooded stick deviders, would they still be good??They still look good, and or are they worth anything to a collector, just woundering any help or ideas will be welcome,
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Old January 16, 2007, 02:58 PM   #2
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I inheirited my Granddads reloading stuff. I have some old winchester primers with the wooden dividers that have a crushed velvet coatiing. They still ignite flawlessly.

VMMV, as I cannot venture a guess as to how yours were stored for the last 70 odd years.

When in doubt throw them out. Or load them for 'blasting' ammo. thats what I did.

Seriously, if they are cruddy looking, toss them.
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Old January 16, 2007, 04:29 PM   #3
Trapper L
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Before I loaded them or threw them out I'd take them to a gunshow and see what the collector market would pay for these. Might be worth a lot, maybe worth nothing, but ya don't know if ya don't try.
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Old January 16, 2007, 04:30 PM   #4
Dave R
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I also inherited some old primers. Don't know how old, but the price tag said Rite-Aid, 79 cents!

I did some head-to head comparison with modern primers. The modern primers made smaller groups. But the old ones were fine.
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Old January 16, 2007, 04:37 PM   #5
12 Gague
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old primers

Collectors are more interested in the boxes than the contents. If in doubt about the condition of the primers, load a few and try them. If they shoot fine, well you know what to do with them, if they don`t go bang, toss the primers and keep the old boxes for the gushow trip. May surprise you what some serious collector will pay for old ammo boxes, powder cans and primer boxes.
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Old January 16, 2007, 05:10 PM   #6
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Hey, if they are from the 30's, is there a chance they could be CORROSIVE? I would not use corrosive primers in anything even if they are still active and useable. If you knew they were not corrosive, you might prime some in cases and see if they detonate OK in a gun. Otherwise if the quantity is not large, I would consider them collectables or curios.
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Old January 16, 2007, 05:44 PM   #7
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The box label may tell you about the composition? If they say "non-mercuric" they are still likely to contain chlorate and you would need a soap and water clean-up afterward. Military ammo did not start getting rid of chlorate primers until '51 or '52, I think. I don't know when the commercial primers changed?

On the plus side, the old chlorate primers withstand temperature extremes better than modern primers. They may well work just fine. I would be tempted to close them up in a couple of layers of zip-lock baggies with some desiccant for a month before trying them, if you really want to? The only reason I can think of for doing it at all would be to make ammo for long-term storage. That old mix is very durable, and if it works well now, it should continue to do so for a long time. You still have the clean-up to contend with. The box is definitely gun show material. How many of these things do you have, anyway?
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Old January 16, 2007, 09:07 PM   #8
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Moisture and temp variations are what can kill primers long term. If they were stored in a barn or a damp basement for 40 years, they might be fizzlers at best. But some old old ammo that was stored well from pre WW2 can still fire reliably, because for one thing the primer is not exposed to the atmosphere when in a ctg, just temp. changes. I guess if you do load them, you better mark the loads as corrosive(assuming the primers are), in case you save them awhile and you forget which ones are. You don't want a milsurp rusty sewerpipe looking bore from getting them mixed in with modern loads.
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Old January 17, 2007, 03:44 PM   #9
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If you're even close on the date estimate then there is very good chance the primers are corrosive and could ruin your firearm.

IF you choose to use them anyway be sure to clean with warm soap and WATER. Corrosive salts are water soluble (not oil soluble) and cannot be removed with today's common cleaning solvents.
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