One of these is not like the others

I was doing some reloading and came across something I have never seen before. One of these is not like the others:


These are Winchester Small Pistol primers (WSP). Lot number YAL201G.WP_20150209_001

I found this primer without an anvil in the first 1000 of a case of 5000. I’ll be watching for this sort of anomaly in the future. But it’s not something I have seen before in reloading over 60,000 rounds so the odds of it being of critical importance is a little low. Not that I would necessarily have caught it before, but I’m going to do my best to make sure I catch flaws like this from now on. I just never imagined I should inspect the primers before using them.

These are primers I purchased five to ten years ago so I doubt there are many, if any, from this lot still “in the wild”.


13 thoughts on “One of these is not like the others

  1. Pingback: Sharp as a Marble - I admit I don’t think I inspect my primers either

  2. Primers are one of the most reliable products manufactured. They were used to fire the explosive bolts that separated rocket stages, back when NASA launched rockets. What you found is highly unusual.

  3. It’s good to watch for this. Many years ago, I found a couple of primers without the active ingredient, so now I routinely do a visual check.

  4. Good to know. I just cracked open my stash of WSP primers from 2007. I’ll keep an eye open.

  5. This is precisely why I dislike the “stack the primers on edge in the packaging” used by Federal.

    Sure, I check once they are in the flip tray before I load them into the Dillon’s primer tubes, but an additional opportunity to catch this sort of thing would be welcome.

    To be completely fair, in all the thousands of Federal small rifle primers (#205s) that I have used in my .38 Super Auto (and Comp) loads, I have never yet had a dud primer.

  6. Was only the anvil missing or was the primer pellet gone as well? I can’t tell from the photo.

  7. There was some really bad QC going on in primers back then, probably due to the shortages.

    • “Really bad” meaning a failure rate of a small fraction of one percent. Just adding perspective.

  8. When you do a lot of something, it is interesting. One of the interesting things about doing a lot of something is that you experience things that are highly, highly unlikely or rare.

    I’ve had primers fail, and then I’ve had primers fail on the second, and all subsequent, strikes. Since the phenomenon is so rare it’s difficult to make general statements, but in my experience if the first strike doesn’t ignite it, the chances of a second strike igniting it are very low. That is if your strikes are of proper strength and the primer was properly seated. And so we see conditions upon conditions.

    Who was it that lost some BIG shooting match because a cartridge case had no flash hole? There we have an extremely rare situation coinciding exactly with an extremely rare situation, which is “rare to the rareth power”.

    • I don’t know if it made him lose the match, but the no primer flash hole happened to Todd Jarret at the 2007 USPSA nats in Missoula. I was there, but did not see the brass myself to personally verify. I have a cell phone video of it somewhere. New Starline brass. You see him look over at the RO who didn’t stop him for a “squib” and mutter “I’m gonna blow up the gun”, and then *click*. Good call on the RO’s part. The stage wasn’t going well for Todd, I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded a reshoot.

  9. Nothing made by man is ever 100% foolproof….but all things considered it’s
    amazing how reliable primers, especially since they really don’t cost more than a couple cents apiece yet are essential to the function of ammunition.

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