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Old February 8, 2000, 11:56 PM   #1
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A customer of mine posed an interesting reloading question to me which I am unable to
answer. He’s getting a case of Cole Distributing’s Mil-Surplus Yugoslavian (50’s mfg)BRASS-cased, BERDAN-primed 8mm Mauser ammo from me, and has ordered some 9x18 Makarov ammo which is also BRASS-cased, and BERDAN-primed. He hates the idea of throwing all that brass away, and would like to reload the Berdan-primed cases with Boxer primers. Can he drill a centered flash-hole into the cases, and handload them, (mainly to lighter loads) SAFELY? What pressure/ignition/primer issues are we dealing with here? Is this brass up to being reloaded? I HAVE seen this done before, but I really question the practice. I load
primer-only propelled wax bullets for indoor practice in 9mm Para; (FUN ) without
enlarging the flash holes. And then there’s Winchester’s “Win-Clean” cases which I’ve
read have larger flash-holes than their other loads, and specifically are marked as
non-reloadable, yet several people have been reloading them with no problems. What do you guys (and gals ) think on this one? Thanks- Dakotan
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Old February 9, 2000, 01:21 AM   #2
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I don't think the outside diameter of a Berdan primer is the same as a Boxer. It's been years since I've fooled with them, but I think the Berdan is larger. Also there's a tit in the middle, between the flash holes, which is the anvil for the Berdan primer. Reddog
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Old February 9, 2000, 12:15 PM   #3
Paul B.
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Dakotan. I agree with Reddog. The Berdan primers are of different sizes. Your customer can get a Berdan decapper from Huntingtons, and primers from the Old Western Scounger.
The decapper is $43.95, extra pins $3.95. There is a conversion to the primer seater at $19.98 and the seater assembly for the proper size primers is $11.10 Also a shell holder drilled for the Berdan primer at $17.50. These prices are from the Huntington 1999 catalog and should give you a general idea of costs. Apparently they don't carry Berdan primers.
You can reach them at (
I have no prices for the Old Western Scrounger, but you can reach him at:
The Old western scounger
12924 Hwy. A-12
Montague, CA 96064
Ph: 1(530) 459-5445.
Hope that helps.
Paul B.
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Old February 9, 2000, 12:43 PM   #4
Mal H
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... or at
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Old February 9, 2000, 01:45 PM   #5
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Thanks, guys! Keep any other info coming. Take Care- Dakotan
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Old February 9, 2000, 09:41 PM   #6
Art Eatman
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In any cartridge, the size of the primer's flash hole is a critical dimension.

Enlarging any flash hole is considered dangerous. (This is not the same as truing to uniform dimension.)

So, obviously, only use Berdan-type primers in Berdan cases.

, Art
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Old February 10, 2000, 11:58 PM   #7
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I'd suggest using data developed with Berdan Primers. "Wiederladen," the Dynamit Nobel manual, has loads for the primers which the Old Western Scrounger sells. Some of the German powders listed have exact U.S. counterparts- only the label differs- check with Alliant for a current list. Bob
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Old February 11, 2000, 01:01 AM   #8
Big Bunny
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Yes, I agree, leave the drilling of berdan to convert to boxer alone and de-cap berdan rifle ammo with the excellent RCBS tool(each type of case is different - so be careful not to break a probe and so set it up separately for each type...its expensive to replace,as it is hardened steel !)... after de-crimping the primer-crimp (on most mil ammo to stop problems with looseness). Remove the primer with the lever tool - avoiding a too deep gouge, as this marks or damages the anvil,(it is easier the second time, I promise...)
Then remove the primer cup excess brass sprue with a slight taper, using a special tool or a sharp knife. Seating then can be achieved with a Lee Loader if your gee-whiz dies only allow boxer primer use.

I am not experienced with berdan s/a pistol ammo so I cannot comment upon the Markarov.

Reloading for berdan rifle (Colonel Berdan was a north american, I believe) can be fun especially as RWS/Dynamit Nobel at Troisdorf make such excellent products, though about a cent more than boxer each.

One word of caution. Beware any old cases and more modern ones fired with ex-mil mercuric based primers - for us post 1955, but much much later in chicom and soviet states, (EG-even some 1985 Russian Toz 49 nagent short target ammo was found to be corrosive recently) as it weakens the brass and can be very dangerous, also watch WW2 war-time production as regards headspace etc as some emmergency measures were in operation and tolerances suffered.
Best not to use these, as they should be in a museum .
When in doubt...don't! Your eyes are worth more than this !
Most mil ammo(and civ factory) is often overloaded in my opinion and this puts a real strain on the cases, but for a one-off use it is OK.This is worth bearing in mind when re-loading.

Shame to waste all that brass, also steel cases can be re-used but the effort expended, except for pistol cases(e.g.45 ACP) is doubtful. One stuck case in the die will lessen the desire considerably!

A worthwhile project and a survival skill too. Have fun...

***Big Bunny***
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Old February 11, 2000, 06:05 AM   #9
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Don't waste your time or money. For the amount of money you will spend, it's cheaper to just buy boxer primed shells.
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Old February 12, 2000, 10:48 PM   #10
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Thanks much for all the input, everyone; I'll pass it along to my customer.
Take Care- Dakotan
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Old February 13, 2000, 08:42 PM   #11
Big Bunny
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Well, yes, PB you are of course right, but that is not the whole picture in reality for some people.

Some foreign cartridges are not freely available on the market in boxer(Colonel Boxer was British I believe!)...or if so not at a price people want to pay (EG Norma @$3 a case!) also some rifles prefer berdan (EG Martinis in 303). Certainly most of the RWS berdan primers are more robustly made than the majority of boxer types used by reloaders and can survive heavier firing pin treatment .

While it can be more time-consuming than the right gear, a super-cheap berdan re-priming option would be a ground masonry nail(10c)used as a primer-pick and a small sharp 'stanley' or disposable knife($1.50). You will also need a hammer and a piece of dowel (or ideally a crush-die) to hold the berdan case in a vise... but most people have one handy anyway.

If you do muck up a case or anvil...well...nothing lost, go to another one! Practice makes perfect.

***Big Bunny***
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Old February 14, 2000, 03:54 PM   #12
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The "conversion", while possible, might be more trouble than it was worth. Then there is the safety consideration too.

Fiocci used to import Berdan Primers. The question is, which size would you need. I think that Berdam primers were somewhat "non-standard", though I could be wrong.

9 x 18 Makarov, boxer primed brass is readily available from Starline. One used to see Israeli ball ammunition in 8 MM Mauser. It was Boxer Primed, and non-corrosive. Might still be some around. Also, Federal is
loading Makarov ammunition, Boxer primed, in their American Eagle line
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