Blown primer rests on bolt face of AR15 rifle.

Blown Primers

Blown primer rests on bolt face of AR15 rifle.
Blown primer rests on bolt face of AR15 rifle.

Q: While I was shooting my SMLE in a military match recently the bolt became jammed. After I got the bolt opened I checked it and found that the primers of the last two rounds I fired had fallen out. My first five rounds were 1950s Greek manufacture, they were fine. the next loads was current manufacture Sellier & Bellot 180 grain. After cleaning out the primers I fired five rounds of Hornady 150gn ammo without any problems. I am wondering if it is the rifle or the Sellier & Bellot ammo that’s causing the problem. I’ve never had this problem before with any brand of ammo including Sellier & Bellot.
David McCallum

A: I don’t think it’s the ammo that’s at fault, but this sort of problem is hard to diagnose without being able to examine both the gun and ammo. I would strongly advise you get your rifle checked out by a competent gunsmith and have the rifle’s headspace checked. When primers fall out it’s sometimes a sign of excessive headspace. You can confirm this by inspecting all the fired cases. If you see a bright ring about 12mm up from the rim this is an indication that the case has stretched. The cure shouldn’t be too expensive. All the ‘smith has to do is check the headspace using his set of gauges and replace the bolt head if necessary.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.