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Location: Colorado Springs
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Are my primers bad?

I went to the range yesterday to shoot my .357 mag., and had some misfires.  Basically, the primers I've been using are about 15 yrs. old.  Through all of our moves, they've been kept in a weatherproof container, but when I was firing yesterday, about 1 out of 7 rounds would require 2 trigger pulls.  Do you all think my primers are going bad or would it be the spring in my pistol??  The pistol is about 15 yrs. old also and has had around 2,000 rounds put through it.  Any input is appreciated.

WesternHunter's picture
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Could be

Could be that even if you kept then stored in a weatherproof container, that container experienced some extreams in temp and humidity one too many times over those 15 years.  Just remember that heat, cold, and moisture can build up inside too.  But it could be as you suspect, just a bad lot.  I've had primers that have lasted me at least 10 years before I loaded them.  Typically if stored right that stuff has a pretty good shelf-life.  Could be the spring in your gun too.  Some brands of primers are harder cupped than others requiring a pretty good hit of the pin.  check the indentation, if it looks weak or faint you may need to clean out the pin channel or get a heavier main spring.

CVC
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Lesson learned for all of

Lesson learned for all of us.  Keep fresh ammo in the gun whether for hunting or self defense.

Critter's picture
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Primers and powders are a

Primers and powders are a couple of components that after so many years or if you don't know how they were stored just need to be dumped and start over.  Now after saying that I will admit that I have quite a few primers that are over 15 years old but I know how they have been stored and have not had a single problem with them.  Now the powder on the other hand I watch real close and if I have any questions about it I will dump it onto the flower garden. 

If you need to get rid of primers the best way is to dump them into a can and then add some motor oil and let them soak for a few days before placing them into the garbage cans. 

WesternHunter's picture
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long time

Typically a finished cartridge will have a very very long shelf life if stored properly.  Often times a long shelflife even if stored improperly too.  I'm talking decades.  Powder should keep just fine for at least a couple decades as long as the container is kept with the lid on tight, away from high humidity, and constant extream fluxuations in temperature.  Primers the same. 

I've had ammo that was 20 years old kept for home protection.  When I finally did decide to fire it off at paper just to replace it, it fired fine and chrono'd as it should.  About 7 years ago I fired some old GI .45 Ammo that was headstamped with the year '40 on it meaning 1940.  Apparently that stuff had been part of the Lend Lease sent to Britain where it must have been stored as surplus and never issued (Britain had largely adopted the 9x19mm for sidearms and submachine guns through the war).  It sat in a damp storage facility for 60+ years untouched.  Evidently someone got ahold of several cases of that stuff and was selling it off at my gun club for target parctice for real cheap, like $3 a box.  It fired and cycled just fine through my Colt 1911 and Sig P220.  I assume it was the old corrosive primed stuff too. 

To this day people will occasionally come across an occasional crate or strap of ammo left behind by troops on old battlefields across Europe and the Pacific.  Even around very old defunct training camps here in the states.  Most of that stuff has sat exposed to the elements for decades and to the finders surpirse it fires fine.  We did in the early 1980's when looking for a way into a good fishing spot through some remote forest that was a couple miles from the old Camp Hale, on Tennesee Pass Colorado.  We found a couple old straps of .30-06 cartridges that were Frankfurt Aresnal headstamped along with an old tarnished Coleman GI pocket stove, and old GI flashlight.  We left it alone, probably because we had hiked in far enough and didn't want any extra weight on the way out.

Where reliability is concerned, it's always good practice to keep that stuff stored under ideal conditions. 

CVC
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What is the ideal condition

What is the ideal condition to store ammo and powder?  I am assuming in a dry dark place with low humidity?

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If it is loaded ammo I just

If it is loaded ammo I just keep it in the same room in my home that I have my reloading press set up in, but I have shot quite a bit of it that has been in my garage from tempatures from a -40 up to 97 or so.  As far as powder and primers I keep them in my reloading room where it is cool and dry and have never had a problem.

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dry

CVC wrote:

What is the ideal condition to store ammo and powder?  I am assuming in a dry dark place with low humidity?

Yup, for long term storage I'd go with relatively low humidity, but also an area that kept at a near consistant room temperature.  As long as it's stored in a box or carton I would not worry too much about the light or how dark it is in the room.  The main thing is that humidity and air temperature are kept relatively constant or as stable as possible.  There's gotta be a few rooms in everyones home that aren't given to real extream flucuations in temperature and humidity.  A lot of my waterfowl shells are constantly exposed to extreams, cold damp morning air, freezing conditions, then brought in from the cold overnight into a warm cabin or home where consensation build up on them in the box.  Sometimes I even am able to find a shell or two that I dropped in the water.  In spite of all these conditions they still fire just fine, granted I go through most of my waterfowl ammo by the time the season is up every year and buy new shells at start of the following season, but the few boxes that sometimes get carried over into the next season all fire just fine.

cuffs68's picture
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Check seating depth as well!

Your primers could have gone bad, but sounds like you took the necessary precautions to keep them dry.  The spring in your pistol could be weak, but I would take a look at your loaded ammo and see if the primers are seated too deeply in the primer pockets.  Might be time for some new brass?

Good luck and good shooting!

cuffs68

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Location: Colorado Springs
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Never thought about the brass

Never thought about the brass being the problem.  Good point, it is pretty old stuff that's been shot 10 + times easily.  Thanks for all the replies.

steven_seamann's picture
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i would say it is the spring

i would say it is the spring in your pistol is telling you it needs replaced because if your storing your primers in a waterproof container they should last a very long time. but it really depends on where the container itself was stored and what condition the container was in?

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