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Discussion Starter #1
The S&W .38 Special Model 36 no dash which I bought for my daughter doesn't like my reloads. For a few years I have used nothing but Winchester primers and have several hundred on hand. Yesterday I fired a few rounds in the J Frame and had two no fires out of twenty that I tried. Both misfires were Winchester primers, the brass colored ones. Mixed in were some rounds that had nickel plated primers and all of these fired.

Question is: how does the Winchester primers rate on the hardness factor.? Which brand of primers are softer and may dependably fire better? The dealer I bought the gun from let me take it home (I know him pretty well) and try it out and sure enough I had misfires with my reloads. I took it back and the dealer took it out to his range and fired three cylinder fulls of factory ammo without a hiccup. So I know it will fire with factory ammo dependably. Now with the ammo shortage I'm out of factory ammo and think I will try different primers. In the meantime I may go over to Cabela's next week and see if I can beg, borrow or steal a box of factory .38's. any advice on the hardness of different brands of primers?
 

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I believe 99% of misfires can be attributed to seating problems; not seated completely. Federal primers have been reported to be "soft", but I haven't had access to Federal primers for quite a while. Did your reloads fire on the second try?
 

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I doubt that is a primer problem. It sounds like a primer seating problem. If the primer is not seated deep enough the hammer strike will seat the primer, but there is not enough resistance to penetrate the cap deep enough to cause detonation. It has happened to me.
 

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I doubt that is a primer problem. It sounds like a primer seating problem. If the primer is not seated deep enough the hammer strike will seat the primer, but there is not enough resistance to penetrate the cap deep enough to cause detonation. It has happened to me.
Ditto.
 

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I hope it's not the primers. I just bought 1000 of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well I certainly hope you are right and that is what it is. I will load up another twenty tomorrow but won't be able to test the J Frame for another week or ten days. FWIW when I tested the gun before I bought it, the rounds that misfired did fire fine in my K Frame S&W. I will take the ones that didn't fire yesterday and try them in the K Frame also. I wonder if the person who owned the gun before I bought it could have tried to reduce the trigger pull weight and bubbaed it. Thanks for the response.
 

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Well I certainly hope you are right and that is what it is. I will load up another twenty tomorrow but won't be able to test the J Frame for another week or ten days. FWIW when I tested the gun before I bought it, the rounds that misfired did fire fine in my K Frame S&W. I will take the ones that didn't fire yesterday and try them in the K Frame also. I wonder if the person who owned the gun before I bought it could have tried to reduce the trigger pull weight and bubbaed it. Thanks for the response.

One thing, if it is the gun,,, If a gun has too light of a trigger pull that affects performance the scenario many times will be the primer will fire in SA mode but not DA. So maybe the dealer fired it in the SA mode and you fired it in the DA mode. I have a Ruger that has that problem now so I will be ordering a Wolfe spring kit. That might be what you are experiencing.
 

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Two things came to mind when I read this post: The first thing was are those small regular pistol primers?, and the second was maybe a light strike from the hammer/firing pin from a weak mainspring. If those rounds fire in another pistol you have already answered your own question.

If those turn out to be small rifle primers, that could be your problem. If it is, don't feel bad because you won't be the first reloader to do it.

As far as age being a factor, I've shot some of my .44 Mag reloads from the early 1970s a few years back and they all went 'bang'.
 

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The two scenarios mentioned above are my guess too (high primers or light hammer strike).

In tests done a few years ago by one of the gun magazines the Winchester primers were some of the most active. But primers must be seated to a few thousandths below flush. You should be able to feel with your finger that the primers are below flush.

It is common when doing trigger work for hammer springs to be replaced with lighter duty ones. Normally it makes no difference to the primers unless the spring is way too light.

My guess is high primers.

LDBennett
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Thanks for the responses. You have covered most of the things it could be. I will load up some today taking care that the primers are fully seated and try that when I have the gun available in a week or ten days down the line.

I believe I fired the gun single action for all the rounds, trying to see if the gun shot to point of aim. If it proves that the gun is light striking I will go the Wolf route and replace the mainspring. Further advice welcomed. And yes, these are regular small pistol primers and not magnum.
 

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i've never encountered a failure of a win primer to go poof.

I hve seen some primers not seated well take 2 strikes.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
O.K. this morning I had only about a half hour to look at these rounds with the Winchester primers. The primer top does look very high, not enough that they will totter when put rim down, but very close to the top of the primer being level with the case rim. I put one of these in the shell holder and slowly applied seating pressure and it did seem they were a little lower. I had to take my wife to Topeka to a meeting she was to attend and while there went to two Walmart stores and Dick's Sporting Goods, all were out of handgun loads. Plenty of rifle, and shotgun ammo.

Will start early tomorrow and load twenty more rounds from scratch making sure I use enough pressure on the primer seater. Hopefully............
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Certainly will. My daughter lives 50 miles away and we see her mostly on weekends. Thanks for your concern.
 

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these ar ethe kind of issues other relaoders always want to hear about.

possible problems and what it takes to figure the problem out.

after all.. like i said. i've never had a bad win primer.. ont he other hand. relaod supplies have been in such high demand that palces are workign round the clock. mistakes COULD happen. there have been reports of hornady projectiles coming out of the box .003 undersize, thus affecting crimp... obviously a QC problem. not out of the realm of possibility of bad primers too.

again. good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Most of the responses here think its a high primer thing, which I agree. Last night I got to thinking when I first was learning to reload that all the articles said to make sure the primer pockets were kept clean. So when I had time today I pulled twenty loaded rounds from the drawer where the .38's are kept and took them outside and fired them in my Trooper MKIII, then deprimed the cases and found that the primer pockets went from spotlessly clean to grungy. Somewhere along the line I had reloaded fifty or a hundred without cleaning the pockets. My Lee primer pocket cleaner had vanished but a short bronze bristle brush did the trick and I cleaned all twenty, sized the cases and reloaded with 2.6 gr Bullseye behind the 158 gr standard bullet for the .38 Special. So I now have twenty rounds of ammo that I KNOW are correct and if I can run three cylinder fulls without incident I will assume (yes I know) my problem is solved. If there are misfires then I will contact Mr. Wolf for a new mainspring. Maybe I can do this on the coming weekend. Whenever I do I will post again with the results. I reprimed with Winchester primers, the only kind I have. The bullet number is #358311.
 

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Has the pistol had a trigger job where the mainspring may have been altered? aside from the high primer issue this will also cause misfires with harder primers.

Most of my handguns have trigger jobs and I use magnum primers in everything and I do not have misfires. It is easy to go a little overboard with the action/trigger job on a revolver when youre searching for that certain slickness. As a general rule as far as revolvers are concerned you need at least a 7# DA pull for reliability.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I bought the revolver used so have no idea about the spring. Looking thru some of the S&W partial forums I see that when these little revolvers came from the factory (mine was made in 1967) they had quite a stiff trigger pull. Many owners installed the replacement spring kit which reduced the weight of the trigger pull but came with the caveat that two to three hundred rounds should be fired to assure that the hammer fall was strong enough to make the revolver reliable. Its entirely possible that is what happened to mine. By the way is there a reason why you use only the magnum primers?
 

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he's from texas. they like everything big ;)

ps.. invest in a new primer pocket cleaner.. or even the tool kit from someone like lynam.

has a flash hole true-er and depth true cutter. also cleans.. etc.
 

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In 25+ years of reloading handgun loads I have never cleaned one primer pocket in a handgun case. I have never had any problem with the residue left in the primer pocket allowing a new primer to fully seat. Some of these case have been reloaded more than a dozen times. If you are getting high primers whatever you are using to prime with is not working correctly. I have seen presses whose primer punch was not adjusted correctly create this problem but I have never had it happen on my Dillon. Some here like to seat primer by hand with a hand primer tool. With that tool you can supposedly feel the anvil of the primer hit the bottom of the primer pocket. My Dillon primer punch seats rigidly against the press and the shell holder is a tight fit on the ram. The result is the primers always seat correctly. If you are using a press to seat primers then there is a deflection problem in the press as you seat the primers. Change primer seating tools or adjust the one you have.

Primers are suppose to be below the cartridge head by a couple of thousandths of an inch. you can feel that with your finger. anything less means the primer is not totally seated and hammer of the gun has to finish the job taking energy which reduces that energy the primer needs to get set off.

I have guns where I have lightened the hammer spring substantially and never have primer ignition problems. The trick is get the primers fully seated and the problem should go away.

LDBennett
 
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