No, I don’t want to scare anyone, especially when they’re just beginning. But even more importantly, and more irresponsibly, would be to not caution people – especially this who are new to reloading – about the hazards of mis-handling things like primers and powders. Mishandled, they ARE hazardous to your health. Handled properly, you could reload a million cases over a lifetime of shooting without an accident or injury.
PRIMERS – posted with permission
Primers should ONLY be seated once. Even with normal handling, primers can ignite without warning during the seating process. That’s why, if you use a hand priming tool (which I actually recommend because of the better “feel” and control over the seating process), it should ALWAYS be aimed away from any direction where an accidental discharge could injure or damage anyone/anything. If a primer isn’t seated properly, I know of people who will put it back in the priming tool (or back on the press) and attempt to seat further. This should ONLY be done BEFORE you do any other steps – that is, inserting powder. Here’s what happened to one person who attempted to seat the primer further AFTER he/she had added powder and bullet. Unfortunately, the additional pressure can ignite the primer, so you would want it going off in a safe direction whenever seating a primer. NEVER attempt any further seating of the primer after adding powder. (Re-seating in a press is safe, because the case will be contained in the die.) (See priming videos about safe priming practices.)
Here is what happened to someone recently who attempted to seat the primer further into a case WITH POWDER AND BULLET INSERTED. The bullet doesn’t fly with deadly force, because the case is not supported in a chamber and the weak link is therefore the case material, pieces of which DO fly with dangerous force when the primer and powder ignite. (Think this sort of thing can happen only to a newbie? This person had 30 years reloading experience! Just got complacent, which is easy to do when you load thousands upon thousands of rounds without incident.)
NOTE: Disposing of bad primers in cases (ONLY – NO powder!) consist of any of the following: 1) putting the EMPTY case in a firearm and snapping the primer, 2) soaking SMALL quantities of primers (no more than a couple dozen) in a strong lye solution for a week and then flushing the water away with COPIOUS amounts of water, 3) water soaking works for old, corrosive primers (if you know they’re corrosive) and 4) consulting with local gun clubs, police, etc. if all else fails. Do NOT dispose of in a fire. (See “The ABCs of Reloading” book. Also lots of good information on this and other topics are available in most modern reloading manuals, which is one of the reasons why we recommend you have several.)