Boxer v. Berdan

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by ACfixer, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. ACfixer

    ACfixer Global Warming Enthusiast Forum Contributor

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    Can someone briefly explain the difference between Boxer and Berdan primers? I know when you look inside the Boxer has a dot/dimple and the Berdan has two, but why does that affect me if I want to reload the case? Is there an advantage to Boxer over Berdan other than reloading?

    Thanks!
  2. troy2000

    troy2000 Suspended

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    Primers work by having a small amount of explosive material struck by the firing pin, causing it to ignite the powder in the case. Boxer primers are self-contained units pressed into an open hole, and the anvils behind the explosives are built into the primer. You can replace Boxer primers by simply pressing them out from the inside of the casing.

    Berdan primers go into a pocket rather than an open hole; the anvil is the back of the pocket, with holes in it to ignite the powder. So to pop them out, you pretty much have to either do it hydraulically (like by using water and a tight-fitting rod as a piston), or drill the back end of the pocket out and replace the Berdan primers with Boxer primers.

    I'm not a reloader; others can talk to you about whether reloading Berdan-primed rounds is practical and/or cost effective.....
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2009
  3. wunhunglo

    wunhunglo G&G Newbie

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    Why not check out the old favourite, Wiki they're described quite well here:

    Internal ballistics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Reloading Berdan primed cases is not really practical, it can be done, if you can find the primers but is extremely time consuming for no gain in performance.
  4. ACfixer

    ACfixer Global Warming Enthusiast Forum Contributor

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    Troy, wunhunglo (I can't type that without laughing!) - thanks for the info. Perfect explanations and resources.
  5. Krag 30-40

    Krag 30-40 G&G Newbie

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    Berdan primers are metric,you can't just drill the pocket out and use boxer.
  6. tamalpias

    tamalpias G&G Newbie

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    The reason why berdan primers are so difficult to reload is because they have 2 holes at the bottom of the case and it is virtually impossible for you to line up a 2 prong rod to punch out the primer through these two holes. A boxer primer is just one hole down the center of the case which takes no alignment to punch out the spent primer.

    In order to push out a berdan primer you need to fill the case with water and using water pressure "blow" the primer out of the case. There are people who have been known to drill a hole in the center of a berdan primer case so they can reload them like a boxer primer case.
  7. gandog56

    gandog56 G&G Enthusiast

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    There are also chisel type Berdan primer removal tools. But a lot of Berdan primed cases are also not brass, but steel instead. Steel is much harder to work with.

    I always wondered about people who mill out the anvil in Berdan cases. It still leaves you with two flash holes, not one. What does that do to your pressure?
  8. Big Dog

    Big Dog Dinosaur Wrangler Forum Contributor

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    Berdan primers come in many different sizes (diameters). Getting them here in the US is difficult and expensive, plus the special tools needed to deal with them.
    There are methods of converting Berdan to Boxer, involving swaging the anvil down, which at least partially closes the Berdan flash holes, and also slightly reduces the diameter of the pocket, allowing it to be redrilled to fit a Boxer primer. A new center flash hole is also drilled. Over on the SwissRifles forum, a member has a very nicely detailed explanation of this, with pics of the various stages.
    Another method is to drill a larger hole and swage in a .22 Hornet case head, allowing use of small rifle primers.
    Yet another method, for low-pressure loads, is to drill out the pocket to take #209 shotgun primers. The pocket needs to be rebated to allow the primer rim to seat down flush too.

    All these methods require a lot of work, but will allow use of Boxer primers.
    Most often, it is simply a lot easier to order the proper Boxer-primed brass. The commercial cases will likely last longer too.
  9. gandog56

    gandog56 G&G Enthusiast

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    Too much trouble. I'll stick with Boxer primed brass for reloads, and Berdan primed loaded rounds for plinking
  10. ACfixer

    ACfixer Global Warming Enthusiast Forum Contributor

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    Agreed. There seems to be no good reason to mess with them. I have jillions of brass cases that were boxer primed so if I run across Berdan primed ammo it will be one-and-done.
  11. wunhunglo

    wunhunglo G&G Newbie

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    Do what I do with my Berdan primed 7.62 cases: stick a fmj bullet in the end(anything that will fit, even .303), buy some M13 links, make up inert belts of 50 rds or whatever and sell on fleabay for lots more than the parts cost.

    Take money earned & buy more surplus ammo when you can.
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