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  1. #1
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    Default How to Identify Boxer/Berdan Primed Ammo?

    Is there any way to distinguish what ammo is boxer primed vs berdan primed by looking at it? (I did search a little and didn't find anything on it).
    If at first you don't succeed try a different angle.

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    Default Re: How to Identify Boxer/Berdan Primed Ammo?

    It's easy when handling EMPTY brass cases: one hole - Boxer primed; two holes - Berdan primed.

    When I'm reloading 9's for example, I dip the end of a vacuum cleaner tube into a bucket of of empty cases - tube has a fine wire-mesh grid (the mesh for a screen door is perfect) secured by electrical tape or a zip tie - and orient the cases so they're all ass-end up. I look at all the head stamps, remove any 9x18 or .380 cases, then pull a fistful of the remaining cases and look through the mouth of each case to see if there's one hole or two holes. If I see any Berdan primed cases, i pull those out and toss them in a container for recycling.

    Then repeat the process maybe 50-80 times (if you're gonna reload 1,000 rnds or so). Roughly, you're inspecting 12-15 cases at a time. This inspection part is critical especially when you have mixed brass that you haven't previously looked at in order to avoid any problem at your reloading press. You'll know you have a problem after you notice your decapping pin is no longer in the die but inserted perfectly between the two Berdan holes in the bottom of the case!

    Truly a temporary "OH SH!T" moment. Simply use a pair of pliers to remove the decapping pin from the case, pull the die, and then re-install the decapping pin where it's supposed to be.

    As far as determining whether a fully loaded cartridge is Berdan or Boxer primed (say, on stuff you purchased in bulk online), the seller USUALLY discloses that in their description of the cases. But not always, so you have to ask before you buy...
    - bamboomaster

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How to Identify Boxer/Berdan Primed Ammo?

    I think wolf is berdan primed.

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    Default Re: How to Identify Boxer/Berdan Primed Ammo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Walleye Hunter View Post
    Is there any way to distinguish what ammo is boxer primed vs berdan primed by looking at it? (I did search a little and didn't find anything on it).
    Other than headstamp, I do not know of any identifying marks. I do not know of any US made berdan primed ammo. I also know just because it is foreign, it is not necessarily not boxer. Of course once it is fired you can look into the case, but that does not help with loaded rounds. If you google it, you may be able to find out as in the case of Danish AMA headstamp 30-06 ball which is fine ammo, but it is berdan. Let's see what other wisdom comes around.-
    Illegitimus non carborundum est

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How to Identify Boxer/Berdan Primed Ammo?

    I recall someone saying that the Malaysian .308 is berdan primed and the guy selling the Serbian stuff claimed that it is boxer primed but I was clueless on how to verify it.
    If at first you don't succeed try a different angle.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How to Identify Boxer/Berdan Primed Ammo?

    Berdan primers are slightly wider and look different seated, at least to me. Of course you can verify after shooting it by looking down into the case to see if it has one hole or two for berdan. I'd say most anything steel cased or Russian is going to be berdan. And a lot of Euro surplus brass ammo will be berdan. I've never heard of anything American in the modern era being berdan.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How to Identify Boxer/Berdan Primed Ammo?

    Quote Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
    Berdan primers are slightly wider and look different seated, at least to me. Of course you can verify after shooting it by looking down into the case to see if it has one hole or two for berdan. I'd say most anything steel cased or Russian is going to be berdan. And a lot of Euro surplus brass ammo will be berdan. I've never heard of anything American in the modern era being berdan.
    Whilst looking at the stuff up close I noticed that some of it has domed primers, could that be one sign?
    If at first you don't succeed try a different angle.

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    Default Re: How to Identify Boxer/Berdan Primed Ammo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Walleye Hunter View Post
    Whilst looking at the stuff up close I noticed that some of it has domed primers, could that be one sign?
    I have seen older US milsurp with those, so I would not rely on it. Just curious, why do you care before shooting other than berdan should be cheaper to buy since it is considered to be not reloadable.
    Illegitimus non carborundum est

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How to Identify Boxer/Berdan Primed Ammo?

    th.jpeg
    Berdan left, boxer right.
    Good info from others.
    For me I had to learn to develop a feel for each process. If it doesn't feel the same, usually needing extra pressure on any step, I've learned to stop and check things out.
    My decapping pins sometimes break so I always keep extra's on hand.
    If there's a reliable way to tell by looking externally I'd like to know.
    Last edited by cephas; April 4th, 2018 at 01:57 PM.
    It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How to Identify Boxer/Berdan Primed Ammo?

    For all that replied to OP to look inside the empty case I think he is asking how to ID a loaded round. As far as domed primers, in my experience those are older primers. I have several sleeves of 1960s and older primers I've bought at auction that are domed. I also frequently see domed primers in pre WWII milsurp ammo.

    The only way I know to accurately ID loaded rounds is to collectively recognize headstamps, lot numbers, country of origin and date of manufacturer. Assuming the seller has not repackaged the ammo this is fairly accurate. The reality is there are so many options you'd have to have the means to research the information instantly. Online dealers don't provide this level of detail and I can never get a strong enough signal at gun shows.

    I use a relatively elementary approach. If the stuff was manufactured pre 1990s, steel cased, made in any Asian / former Soviet / Middle Eastern country, or is a price that's significantly low - I assume is corrosive AND Berdan primed regardless of the seller's claim.

    The only sure fire method I have seen used was by a guy at the Harrisburg show about 15 years ago. He would buy the smallest quantity the dealer would sell (anywhere from 1 to 20 rounds) and pull a few bullets with an inertia puller. This allowed him to confirm the primer, powder vs cordite, ensure the powder didn't look contaminated, and if the ball was tracer. I recall he got some concerning looks from others as he was hammering away at the concrete floor of the Farm Show building.

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