Making Reloads On A Press

Reloading Ammunition
 By Mike Coviello (Tanner)

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How To Safely Remove A Live Primer
(From A Brass Casing)


There are two suggested methods for safely removing a live primer from a case; with a reloading press or firing it in your gun.


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Firing A Primed 9mm Case With No Bullet

There are two suggested methods for safely removing a live primer from a case. The first it to use your reloading press and simply "de-prime" the case using your reloading press and die. If you do this be, sure to wear eye protection and do it slowly using great care as you don't want the primer to go off with a sudden impact. Another method is simply to load it into your gun and shoot it. Out of curiosity I decided to try it both ways.

Removing a live primer in a case with a reloading press

I have read about people removing primers using their reloading presses and the primer goes off with a bang. Most times it doesn't. I tried it with several disassembled factory rounds of 9mm Luger. I placed the empty case with primer into the reloading press die and while wearing eye protection, gloves and long clothing slowly and cautiously moved the press arm (while standing as far back as possible) to de-prime the case. The primer came out nicely. I tried a few more with no problems. I believe the key here is to move the arm of the press slowly with even pressure as not to cause an impact on the live primer. I could now reuse the primers or discard them in the trash after soaking them for a few days in oil or WD40 to supposedly make them safe.

Reloading Turret Press
Removing a live primer from a brass case
has it's risks but can be done safely.

Is it safe to fire a 9mm case with a live primer but no powder or bullet in your Glock 19?

When you reload you are bound to end up with some bad rounds that you want to take apart with a bullet puller. When you do you are left with a live primer in a case. Now what do you do with that? How do you safely remove and dispose of the primer?

Removing a live primer from a case by firing it in a gun

"Just put in your gun and fire it. It's the easiest way to make it safe". That's what some people say for safely disposing of a live primer in a shell that has no bullet or powder. This got me curious, so I made up three "rounds" of 9mm cases with primers (no bullet or gun powder) and took them to the range to shoot. When I got there I showed them to the range master and asked him if it was permitted to fire these at the range and if it was safe to do so. He indicated that it would be safe and it was permitted as long as I followed all of the range rules just as if I was firing live ammunition.

I loaded the first one into my Glock 19. I had to load it through the top of the gun with the slide back as of course it would not load properly using the magazine. I extended my arms and fired my gun. With my hearing protection all I could hear was a tiny "pop" as the gun discharged. My friend standing next to me said he saw a small spark and a little bit of smoke come from the muzzle of the gun. It was no big deal at all and less than I expected.

I tried to load the next primer and case into my Glock but I noticed that the slide would not pull back. I tried four times to pull the slide back but it was stuck. Somehow firing the dummy round off in my gun caused the slide to stick. I had to field strip it to remove the spent case. Even after the gun was apart it took quite a bit of force to dislodge the case and barrel from the housing. Apparently the discharge from the primer tried to push the slide backward but did not have enough force so instead it just expanded enough to get stuck. Later examination of the case showed that the primer moved slightly within the primer pocket and now protruded slightly from the case bottom. I was pretty sure it did not start out that way. Needless to say I did not fire the next two dummy rounds in this fashion.

The Safest Way To Remove A Live Primer From A "Bullet" (Empty Case/Cartridge)

The safest way to remove a live primer from a case would be to first soak the primer in penetrating oil/WD40 for a few days then de-prime it using your reloading press while wearing protective clothing (face shield/eye protection, gloves and heavy clothing). Stand as far back as possible while de-priming the case and keep your head as far away from the case as you can. If you are super cautious you can hold some kind of shield in front of you while you move the reloading press arm. While this method may be considered too cautious, most reloaders simply remove the liver primer from the case using their reloading press while wearing eye protection.

Feedback Messages

February 2, 2012
You NEVER hand feed a round/case into a chamber from the ejector port. The reason you had trouble is because when you did that, your Glock was not in full battery because the case rim was between the extractor claw and chamber, not behind the extractor claw as it is when fed properly through the magazine. I reload and when the odd primed case needs to be de-primed, I load the round or rounds into the magazines of my Sigs - P220 for .45 ACP and P226 for 9mm - load and fire them and hand cycle until the primers are all fired so I can safely de-prime them in my press.


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Mike Coviello is a former aerospace engineer, now Web Designer/SEO Consultant. Hobbies include shooting zombies & reloading ammunition.






Reloading Equipment
1. Equipment
The Components Of Ammunition
2. Components
Cleaning Brass Cases For Reloading
3. Brass Cases
Making Reloads On A Press
4. Know How