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Old December 19, 2001, 12:53 AM   #1
David Wile
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Join Date: June 14, 2001
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Reloading Berdan Primed Brass

Hey folks,

I have been reloading for nearly forty years and have always read about reloading Berdan primed brass either with a special tool to remove the primers or by filling the cases with water and hitting a tight fitting dowel into the neck to force the primers out. In all my years, however, I have never removed a Berdan primer, nor have I ever met another person who did. Is there anyone on this forum who has had first hand experience in reloading Berdan primed brass? If so, could you tell us something about your experience?

Best wishes,
Dave Wile
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Old December 19, 2001, 01:07 AM   #2
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Primer cup is pretty soft. Easy to sharpen a small sacrificial screwdriver, make the end a little bit hooked. Poke it into the primer and flip the spent primer out. Play with the shape of your tool a bit and you will find that they come out quite rapidly.

Water n a plunger is a bit of a mess and I used to be able to decap Berdans quicker than most people could put a case in a shell holder.

Do the pokin toward the edge, less chance of buggerin the anvil. Remember, anvil is part of the case, not part of the primer as in Boxers.

Finding fresh Berdan primers in the states might be more of a challange than gettin the old ones out. They used to be cheap. I used to be youngj too.

Just like shukin peas, only different.

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Old December 19, 2001, 01:21 AM   #3
David Wile
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Hey Sam,

Thanks for that information. You know, I completely forgot about Berdan brass having the anvil in the case itself. When I started this thread, I was mistakenly thinking that one could use a Boxer primer if one could only get the Berdan primer out. Wrong! That realization then begs the next realization: I have never seen Berdan primers for sale in all my years. Have I been sheltered? Thanks again, Sam.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile
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Old December 19, 2001, 08:29 AM   #4
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David Wile...

Berdan primers are available through the Old Western Scrounger. They aren't inexpensive. If you are priming pistol and some small rifle cases U.S. made primer seaters will work, but for most rifle cases you will need to use larger primer seaters than the U.S 0.210" size. These are available from Huntington. You may (or may not) have to modify your shell holder to accept these seaters. You may notice the Berdan decapper on the Huntington site. IMHO, the methods C.R.Sam mentioned above are easier.

If you want to reload old RWS 6.5X68S or 8X68S brass having the old 6mm primer, the caps haven't been made in years.

If you have a large quantity of brass to decap, if you are handy, and have a deft touch, a short length of 0.024" music wire soldered suitably offset into a decapping rod will also work surprisingly well. Don't overheat the wire, you'll draw its' temper. To use this you raise the press ram to the point where the wire just touches the inside of the case head and slowly rotate the case till you feel the wire drop into one of the flash holes, then finish raising the ram.

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Old December 19, 2001, 11:09 AM   #5
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I have to admit to messing around with berdan primered cases. I don't remember all the gorey details, but this is what I did:

1) Using a sharp awl, dig the primer cup out.

2) Using an approriate drill bit and a drill press, drill out the anvil. I built a small wooded holding fixture to hold the brass on the drill press.

3) ream the primer hole to match a standard primer diameter. This will require some experimentation to find a good match. Federal Large Rifle worked well for me.

4) clean and debur the flash holes.

5)pop in a primer.

I found a source for inexpensive 8mm Mauser brass, so I stopped doing this. It does work, although labor intensive.

Good Luck
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Old December 19, 2001, 03:44 PM   #6
Keith J
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The water method will work if you size the cases w/o the expander/decap stem, of course, then fill the cases with water, adding a little detergent to prevent bubbles from sticking, and run the cases through a Lyman "M" die of the right size while keeping the case as full of water as possible. Plastic loading trays in a tub work great.

Its best to have a dedicated press for this and to use WD-40 to prevent rust after the process is over.

This also detects case defects like leaking primers and splits.

Priming is best done manually as most Berdans don't feed well due to dimensional differences. Standard primer flip trays actually work better.
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Old December 20, 2001, 04:42 PM   #7
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RCBS makes a Berdan depriming tool that works really well.
The whole trick is that you have to adjust the depth of the depriming pin(2-allen screws) for each caliber case you are working on. But once you set it you can deprime cases easy. The tool works just like popping the cap off a coke/beer bottle.
Modifing a shell holder for the larger diameter berdan primers is no problem. Just use a carbide drill bit then some fine sandpaper wrapped around another drill bit a couple of sizes smaller. Remove the collar on the priming arm pin and drop the primer in first then insert the case in the shell holder.
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