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Old October 27, 2012, 06:50 PM   #1
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454 Casull Primer Hell No boom

So I started loading .454 Casull with some hard cast 265 grain lead, and have had miserable reliability due to primers not igniting. Not just one gun, but 3. I started using CCI mag small rifle primers and first batch had primer failures to fire with a Ruger Super Redhawk, a Taurus Raging Bull, and a Rossi 454 92 model. Primer dents were not as deep as I would have liked to have seen. Most would not fire on repeated attempts. None of the arms were modified. Failure rate was about 50 percent on all arms.

So I got some Federal match small rifle primers. Situation improved, but still had 2 failures, 1 was retried in the Rossi 92, and it fired. Had to use the bullet puller on one round. Both batches were 20 rounds.

So I am looking for a reliable 454 Casull primer. All were seated nicely with once fired brass. I had 3 kinds of brass, Hornady, Starline and ...uhh (CBC maybe not sure). Anyway, the worst brass of the three was the Starline. Sometimes the brass buckled while seating and crimping. New Lee Carbide dies and Lee press. I don't think that is related to the primer issue as the primers were checked for flush fit to rim and were good. Just another gripe I guess.

Anyway, I have had ZERO failures to fire with factory ammo (Wisconsin Cartridge, Winchester, Hornady). I wonder what primers Wisconsin Cartridge Co and others are using? I have read something about Remington primers working well. I am thinking I need to avoid magnum primers, even though they are recommended. I know the CCI's only work 50 percent of the time and are too hard. No more of those lawyered up ultra hard CCI primers.
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Old October 28, 2012, 02:58 PM   #2
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Since the problem occurred with different brands of primers and different guns, I'm guessing your problem is related to the seating depth of your primers. I always tend to seat my primers a tad below flush and have never had a issue. The firing on the second attempt kinda points to it, as the first strike sets the primer deeper and the second strike sets it off.
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Old October 28, 2012, 04:20 PM   #3
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the brass buckled while seating and crimping.
If you seat all the bullets first then go back and crimp in a seperate operation you can avoid that problem.

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Old October 28, 2012, 04:30 PM   #4
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Primer seating problem for sure. Need to figure out how to get them seated a bit below flush as stated above. Easiest way is with a Lee Autoprime hand primer. Chep, easy, and effective.

The buckling problem is pure die adjustment, not a brass problem. Go back to the instructions and follow carefully. You can seat and crimp in one step. You are probably applying too heavy a crimp.
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Old October 28, 2012, 05:31 PM   #5
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I'm new to reloading but it is my understanding that you want the seat primer 3 to 4 thousandth below flush .
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Old October 28, 2012, 06:11 PM   #6
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X10 on the primers not seated to the bottom of the pocket. I have used Win, REM, CCI, Fed, and Wolf and not had any issues with any rounds not being lit off.

I use and have used Starline cases almost exclusively in half a dozen or more handguns just about since it became available. I find it to be about the best I have used. If your having issues with it I am guessing it is due to improper die adjustment as pointed out above.

When I load, I seat and crimp at the same time with most all of my handgun loads unless I am doing something special to a particular one. I have crunched plenty of cases over the years setting up with a new bullet or new caliber, but once I get things set I usually have no issues.

Your primers should seat to just below flush of the case heads if they are flush your not seating them enough, give them a bit more and you will see a VAST improvement. Also CCI is one of the better ones you can be using with this particular round.
Mike / TX
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Old October 28, 2012, 06:18 PM   #7
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I've had two misfires in 40 years of reloading, using CCI, Remington, WW, and Federal. They are either contaminated by your procedures or seated improperly.
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Old October 28, 2012, 08:52 PM   #8
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My book says to use small rifle magnum primers in a 454 Casull.
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Old October 28, 2012, 08:55 PM   #9
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Make sure you are using the small primer seating ram. A large one will only seat the primer flush.

Don't worry about how far past flush it is seated. Push it to the bottom of the pocket and then give it a nudge to compress it a bit and set the anvil. If the primer is seated to the bottom of a clean pocket it will be below flush. If you find a high primer when you check you need to try to seat it the rest of the way and/or take that one apart to see what's going on.
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Old October 30, 2012, 10:13 AM   #10
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I bet he's using the large primer seater and is only getting them flush. That's a high failure rate and too many guns to be anything else.
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Old October 30, 2012, 11:15 AM   #11
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+1 on all of the above comments...

You really need to go back to the first the manuals with your press...and double check your recipes to make sure you're using the right components. I don't think there is any question you have a primer seating depth problem ...and maybe aggravated if you're not using the correct primer.

Wrinkling the brass - is clearly a setup issue on your dies / and another reason why bullet seating and final crimp should be done in 2 stations / or in 2 different operations.

.454 Casull is an easy case to reload...I've used CCI small rifle primers and both Hodgdon H110 and Hodgdon Titegroup with primarily Federal brass - with Jacketed bullets.
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Old October 30, 2012, 11:17 AM   #12
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If in fact your primers are seated all the way then your hammer springs needs to be replaced with a heavier one.
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Old March 19, 2013, 12:30 AM   #13
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Alaskan Failure to Fire

I have a .454 Alaskan and experienced a FTF with Buffalo Bore Ammo. This is what BB sent me back when I contacted them. Appears there is a general defect in the Redhawk design that makes it unreliable with certain primers. Hope this helps others.


All too often, when pulling the trigger, the firing pin strikes and a deafening click emerges from your firearm. Few sounds are louder than hearing a “click” when you should have heard a boom/blast and felt recoil. After working with firearms all my adult life (40+ years at this writing) and being in the firearms industry, making millions of rounds of ammunition per year for the public, one of the most prevalent and misunderstood occurrences among the shooting public, are the actual causes of FTF’s.

Most shooters believe that when ammo fails to go bang, it is the fault of the ammo, after all, it was the ammo that failed to go bang and that very same gun has always gone bang before, so now that it made a click sound instead of a bang, ammo must be the culprit. Seems obvious, no? Well, the facts just are not so!

In relation to the above paragraph, let’s discuss firing mechanisms, better known as guns/firearms. Firearms have several moving parts that all have to be within a certain tolerance, working together, in a split second, to give a reliable firing pin/primer strike. Some firing systems are simple and others are complex, but all firing mechanisms are far more complex than ammo which consists of a stationary primer, seated into stationary brass, with stationary powder and a stationary bullet, seated within. Ammunition has no moving parts, unless it ignites. The ammunition is relying on the much more complex firing mechanism to ignite it.

After spending decades researching and learning the intricacies of FTF’s, I’ve discovered that although the ammo did not go bang, and it appears to be the fault of the ammo, in 98% of the cases, (98% is not an exaggeration) that is simply not true. The much more complex firing mechanism is normally the culprit.

Let’s look at some current and very commonly flawed firing systems.

1. Ruger Redhawk:

This is probably the most prevalently flawed firing system and generator of FTF’s currently on the market. All iterations of the Redhawk or Super Redhawk have the same hammer to frame to transfer bar problem. Anytime a transfer bar is being utilized, all other aspects of the firing mechanism must work very well to overcome the difficulties imposed by the transfer bar. The Redhawk is plagued with hammer to frame to transfer bar tolerance problems. While most Red hawks will fire most brands of primers most of the time, many Redhawks will FTF with at least one brand of primer, once in a while. Well, “once in a while” with one or two brands of commercial primers is a disaster waiting to happen, especially when the buyer of factory ammo, has no idea what brand of primer has been used to manufacture said ammo. Normally, when a Redhawk FTF’s, the hammer contacts the frame prematurely and thus insufficient energy impacts the transfer bar, because that energy went into the frame via the hammer to frame tolerance, or lack thereof. The simple solution is to remove enough (normally .020 inch) from the hammer face, where it contacts the frame. This allows the portion of the hammer that contacts the transfer bar, to hit the transfer bar more fully before contacting the frame, thus providing more strike energy to the firing pin, through the transfer bar. A story best illustrates how common this problem is with Red hawks. About five years ago, I purchased a new 4 inch Redhawk chambered in 44 mag. On rare occasion it would FTF with CCI # 350 primers, when I fired it in single action mode, but in double action mode, it would FTF much more often. (The CCI # 350 primer is made within industry standards, so don’t go blaming the primer) I took it to a local Missoula gun smith named Matt Brainard. (406-549-3249) When I walked into his shop with the new Redhawk in hand, Matt looked at it and with no input from me, said “having ignition problems”? That’s right, FTF’s are common enough with Redhawks, that Matt had a good idea why I brought the revolver in before I said anything. Matt machined roughly .020 inch from the hammer face, where it contacts the frame, allowing the hammer to impact the transfer bar with more force and that Redhawk has never had another FTF.

As if all the above tolerance problems with the Redhawks firing mechanism isn’t enough, Redhawks chambered in 454 Casull suffer from yet one more malady. 454 Casull ammo is made utilizing a small rifle primer. Yet Ruger makes the 454 versions of their Redhawk with the same diameter firing pin as the 44mag. and 45 colt chambered versions and 44 mag. and 45 colt ammo utilizes a large pistol primer. Small rifle primers, by design, require more strike energy or at least a more focused area of pin impact, than large pistol primers. So, when Ruger chose to use the larger diameter firing pin, to ignite the small rifle primer utilized in 454 Casull ammo, they handicapped the firing mechanism yet further. The larger diameter firing pin tends to cover too much surface area of the small primer and this big foot print spreads the pin-strike-energy outward too much, instead of inward, into the primer. The result is FTF’s with some brands of small rifle primers. Generally, the above discussed cure will solve this problem, but not always and enterprising and knowledgeable gunsmiths like Hamilton Bowen, sell a longer firing pin and heavier main spring for the Redhawk, which truly solves the problem. Gee, why would Hamilton Bowen have designed a longer firing pin and stronger main spring, if there was not a problem with the firing mechanism in the Redhawk?

Remember, we are discussing only the firing mechanism of all Redhawk iterations. Aside from problems with the Redhawks firing design, I love the Redhawk revolvers and I own several of them, including one standard Redhawk that was converted to 500 Linebaugh by Dave Clements, which also required modifications to the firing mechanism to be 100% reliable in double action mode.
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Old March 19, 2013, 10:48 AM   #14
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AND ANY BALLISTICS LABORATORY can easily prove CCI primers are not one whit harder than anyone elses, PERIOD !
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Old March 19, 2013, 01:23 PM   #15
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I got my Freedom Arms .454 Casull back in the late 80's, and still reloading the same brass from the original several boxes of ammo I bought at that time. I think it was Freedom Arms stamped brass if I remember right. I've reloaded hundreds and hundreds of rounds using exclusively CCI Small Rifle Magum primers and never had a misfire.

I still seat all small primers with the upstroke on the single stage press, but you might look at the Lyman Ram Prime Die which I have been using on large primers for years which allows you to seat uniformly and with very little muscle involved.

I seat and crimp with one stroke on cast 255gr SWC using Hornady 45LC carbide dies and have never had an issue. Maybe you are overcrimping.
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Old March 19, 2013, 02:25 PM   #16
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Shooting Times article on primers.
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Old March 19, 2013, 02:31 PM   #17
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The post that resurrected this thread isn't really relevant to the OP, could be a thread of it's own, in the appropriate handgun forum, but it's neither applies to this thread nor is appropriate to this forum.
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