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I took my brand new Marlin 1895 Guide Gun out last Sunday for some plinking fun. Among the ammo I shot were some handloads that I had made 10-12 years ago. H-4198 powder, new Starline brass, and Winchester large rifle primers. First 10 or so lit up just fine, but then one didn’t ignite. The primer had a good dent in it from the firing pin - no different from others that did fire. A second strike didn’t help.

At first I thought one odd cartridge … but after the 3rd I set that batch of handloads to the side. I’m planning on pulling the bullets but is there anything particular I should look for in the case/primer? I was loading a fair amount of 308 Winchester about the same time for an M1A and never had an issue. I have seen light primer strikes with one revolver (hammer spring then replaced) and several times with striker fired pistols, but a second application of the firing pin always ignited the cartridge.

I don’t think that the problem is with my new rifle. The primer hits all looked really solid. However, I guess that I should try them in my 1895 LTD just in case it is the gun.

Any thoughts on what could cause this problem? What should I look for either with the cartridges or the rifle?

Chip
 

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If the primers look like they are seated the way they should be I would check the firing pin and rifle. Trying them in your other rifle would be something you could do before bothering to see if there is a problem with the rifle before taking the time to check the one that they didnt fire in. Did you shoot other ammo with no issues after the ones that didn't fire? If so then of course it sounds like the ammo is the problem.
 

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If the primers look like they are seated the way they should be I would check the firing pin and rifle. Trying them in your other rifle would be something you could do before bothering to see if there is a problem with the rifle before taking the time to check the one that they didnt fire in. Did you shoot other ammo with no issues after the ones that didn't fire? If so then of course it sounds like the ammo is the problem.
A pic might help:
Product Font Button Jewellery Circle


Another batch of handloads from a year or so later were fine. I did notice that the primers seemed to be seated quite deep. They were my first for a lever action so I was paranoid about chain-fire in the magazine. Used a Co-Ax bench mounted priming tool which has a LOT of leverage. Is it possible to deform a primer by seating it too hard?

I will test these 2 in my older 1895.
 

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I probably don't have much of an answer here, but have you given any consideration to the AGE of the primers and powder prior to assembly of the rounds and, in particular, the manner in which they were STORED before and after they were loaded?

I recently shot 60 rounds of .308 that I had loaded way back in 2012 using Hodgdon BL-C(2) and Winchester Large Rifle primers. The components were already 25 years old when I loaded them, but they had been properly stored inside the house in ammo cans. I had no problem with ignition.

If you determine the cause of your problem, please be sure to let us know the outcome. We're all curious.

Best of luck.
 

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A pic might help:
View attachment 913155

Another batch of handloads from a year or so later were fine. I did notice that the primers seemed to be seated quite deep. They were my first for a lever action so I was paranoid about chain-fire in the magazine. Used a Co-Ax bench mounted priming tool which has a LOT of leverage. Is it possible to deform a primer by seating it too hard?

I will test these 2 in my older 1895.
Those certainly look like good, solid hits to me. The primers don't appear to be seated too deeply in my opinion.

Again, my first impulse is to consider the condition of the components, but if the loads shoot reliably in a different gun, it would pretty much eliminate component issues as a consideration.
 

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I had a buddy that had several fail to fire events with a 7MM/08 about 10 years ago. This is by no means a diagnosis but another possible cause. We came to the conclusion with the available information we had at the time and concluded that it was a good chance that he got a bad batch of Remington primers. This was about the time that Remington was letting quality slip. Maybe someone else here can verify or debunk this theory. I am by no means an expert and have never used Remington primers in my reloading (always CCI, Winchester and Federal), just because I have never purchased them when I needed to restock. Not saying Remington makes bad primers, just giving you the information and what we could conclude what most likely happened to him.
 

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I hope no one laughs at this, but @TheTinMan, did you use sealer around the primer or where the bullet enters the case mouth? If not, with hand loads that old, moisture could possibly have infiltrated the case and contaminated the powder. I read about this many years ago but never paid much attention to it at the time.

About five years ago I had similar failure-to-fire problems with some old reloads a friend gave me. I remembered reading about this and became curious, so I ran a little test on my own reloads. I used that Markon sealant that Midway USA sells - heck, it looks like a bottle of fingernail polish. Anyway, I sealed around the primers and the case necks of 20 rounds of .30-06 180-grain hand loads, then placed them into a five-gallon bucket of water. I left those rounds sitting in that bucket for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, I removed them from the water and dried them off good. Some of the brass cases had minor corrosion on them but otherwise looked okay. I left those rounds drying on a towel for two more days, then took them to a local range to test them. All 20 rounds fired without any problems whatsoever.

I don't know if Winchester and Remington seal their factory ammo like this, but all Federal centerfire ammo I've ever used has had a blue or purple sealant around the primer.

Now I'm not saying that this is what caused your failures to fire, but it is a possibility. If you ever figure it out, please post a follow-up here to let everyone know. Good luck!
 

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I agree with some of the above theories. It could be the primer, because the firing pin strike sure looks good. I store my reloads wrapped in plastic in USGI ammo cans in a cool room on the North side of my house. I shoot cartridges I made in the 1980's and 1990's and they are just fine.

You may have powder degradation that ruined the primers. Disassemble the loads and give them the critical eye.
 

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Could be that the anvil was made too low and the firing pin didn't crush the priming compound.
I don't trust Remington products anymore. A couple of years ago bought a couple of bricks of Remington .22 Thunderbolt ammo. It was dirt cheep and was bought to plink with at one of our Christmas fun shoots. An abnormal amount didn't go off and we ended up calling the rest of them Rice Krispies as they seemed to go snap crackle and pop.
 

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I've never used Remington primers and actually prefer Winchester or CCI for my rifle loads. Federal primers are well known for being softer metal than others so I normally only use them in handgun ammo.
I've never used Remington primers and actually prefer Winchester or CCI for my rifle loads. Federal primers are well known for being softer metal than others so I normally only use them in handgun ammo.
I don't want to hijack this thread and what follows is not particularly pertinent to TheTinMan's problem, but, yes, Federal primers have a well deserved reputation for being softer.

In fact, the instructions in Lee's Auto-Prime priming kits from the late 80's, early 90's, contained a warning, in bold print, to use only Winchester and/or CCI primers in their hand priming tool. In their admonition, Lee didn't specifically mention any other brands of primers by name, but their implication was quite clear. To be totally fair, that was decades ago, and that warning may no longer hold after all these years, but I ain't pushin' the envelope with the Lee Auto-Prime.

Beside's TheTinMan stated he was using Winchester primers.
 

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Could be that the anvil was made too low and the firing pin didn't crush the priming compound.
I don't trust Remington products anymore. A couple of years ago bought a couple of bricks of Remington .22 Thunderbolt ammo. It was dirt cheep and was bought to plink with at one of our Christmas fun shoots. An abnormal amount didn't go off and we ended up calling the rest of them Rice Krispies as they seemed to go snap crackle and pop.
We refer to them as Thunder Duds!
 

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It had a similar problem with old Winchester large rifle primers. When I say old I mean they were probably 20 yrs old or so
Font Material property Rectangle Plant Event

picture show the packaging. maybe surplus military ?
I had nice primer strikes but something like 30% failed to fire. I removed a few of the failed primers and and inspected witn a magnifying
glass. I could see the primer compound was crumbling and falling apart I could see the same on a few unfired primers from the same tray. I'm not claiming this the cause of Tinmans issue. But primers apparently do have a limit on shelf life.
 

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It's certainly the primers. Under good storage conditions primers will last a lifetime. But variations of temperature and humidity will kill them. But not all of them. Hope these are only a few of your stock.

Where did your primers come from? Old stock? Sold by a reloader? These days a lot of old stock is turning up to take advantage of the high selling prices. Can you tell when they were made from the lot numbers on the box?

No way to tell which ones are good and which ones aren't. (Reminds me of the photographer who couldn't understand why his flashbulbs didn't work-- after all, they worked just fine when he tested them...)

At least be glad that your bad ones aren't going off, or going hang fire. (Some of them still could hang fire.) I had a batch of bad primers where some went off, but wouldn't ignite the powder. They had enough force to stick the bullet about 10" up the bore, though. Then all the powder spilled into the action. What a mess! Not easy to clean out an action at the range. But it took me about 10 rounds before I decided to pull them all and discard the lot. This happened about ever 4-5 rounds that fired normally.

I wouldn't use that lot of primers for hunting. Too undependable. You could run into a few that go off but don't ignite the powder. And you could run into hang fires.

I know that primers are like hen's teeth these dayw. It's reasonable to use them at the range. But make sure you keep that bolt closed and the muzzle downrange just in case you get a hang fire. At least you'll have the pleasure of shooting some of them.
 

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Could be that the anvil was made too low and the firing pin didn't crush the priming compound.
This is logical. Of the millions made, it stands to reason a few bad ones are gonna slip through. The strike looks great so I'd assume it is a bad primer one way or the other. But it's anybody's guess. Hard to prove since you had so many others that fired. I love Winchester primers and have never had a problem with them, but anything is possible.
 

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If your primers weren’t seated properly the second try with the hammer strike normally fires them. I had an issue a few years ago with some primers that didn’t ignite. They were federals. I blamed them on the primers until I looked into my primer seater die. It had “****” in it. Looked like oil or??? At that time I was spraying WD-40 on my casings and running on through sizing nonstop by the thousands. My guess is that the wd40 worked it way down into my RCBS shell holder/ primer seater. I’ve sense quit using WD-40 obviously and I still clean my shell holder‘s primer seater pocket out before every use now. I’m sure it was my fault and user error and I contaminated some primers with lube build up inside the primer hole inside my shell holders. You could have still had some faulty primers. After all they use to be all of 3 cents each retail cost before the Toilet paper panic.
 
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