Tight Primer Pockets

Some primed cases

Several years ago I semi-retired my .17 Remington and purchased a Ruger .204 to help control foxes and other varmints on the farm. As I intended to start handloading I bought several hundred rounds of factory ammo (Federal Premium V-Shok 32gn and 40gn) to get a supply of cases. While they are relatively expensive, I am more than happy with their performance. I have previously reloaded for some of the small calibres (.17, .222, .22.250and .243) with good results. The press, dies and scale which I have been using for 20 years are mainly RCBS and include a RCBS Automatic Primer Feed attached to the RockChucker press. After having prepared the cases by resizing, trimming to uniform length, deburring and cleaning the primer pockets, I struck a problem. When I tried to seat Remington 7-1/2 primers, they were very tight or would not seat at all. The circumference, not the depth, seems to be the problem. This was unexpected as in all the other calibres I’ve reloaded for this never happened. After the first ten or so cases, I stopped, bought a RCBS Primer Pocket Uniformer and resized the primer pockets very carefully using a slow speed drill. Then I again set out to seat the primers. Now the primers seated, but I was not happy with the amount of pressure needed to seat some of them, so I resized the cases again, this time with more vigour. This had the desired outcome with only the odd pocket still too tight and I junked those cases. My questions are: does all new brass have to have the primer pockets resized when initially preparing the cases? Should I buy a Lyman Ezee Primer tool or similar as reviewed in the November 2017 issue? Are Sierra BlitzKing 39gn projectiles superior to, for example, the Hornady 40gn V-Max, to make them worth the extra they cost. In a supplementary background in the October 2017 issue you seem less than impressed with the American obsession for bringing out a new cartridge every few months. ( Such a fuss about the 6.5 Creedmore). Is there any niche left for another cartridge and if so, what would it be?
Stephen Boyton

A: I too found that primer pockets on Federal .204 Ruger cases are smaller in diameter than other brands of .204 brass. I got around this problem by using Federal 205M primers which seated normally. Using the RCBS Primer Pocket Uniformer

Lyman E-Zee Prime
Lyman E-Zee Prime

generally makes the primer pockets all the same depth, but shouldn’t affect their diameter. I suggest you use Federal 205M primers in your .204. I’ve never had to resize the primer pockets in any cartridge I’ve reloaded for. However, Federal does crimp the primers in their .223 Remington ammo for use in black rifles (semi-autos) and before you can reprime them you have to remove the crimp. Personally, I have been entirely satisfied with the performance of the Hornady 40gn V-Max and don’t bother with the Sierra 39gn BlitzKing. We don’t need any more new cartridges particularly Super Magnum barrel burners. As far as the 6.5 Creedmore goes, it does nothing the .260 Remington doesn’t do as well.
Comment from Editor Marcus O’Dean. While I tested the Lyman E-Zee Prime and found it very satisfactory, forcing primers into undersized primer pockets would present difficulties to any hand priming tool currently available and acquiring an E-Zee Prime or any other similar product would not assist this situation. The solution lies in uniformed, correctly sized primer pockets or smaller dimensioned primers, as Nick advises. I regularly load PMC Large Rifle Primers, the diameter of which is larger than other brands and in different brand cases, more or less force is required, or indeed a ream from a primer pocket reamer to allow normal priming operation.




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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.