243 Winchester

I found this at a local gun range. Just curious, what event or force can rip the primer out? I assume it is not removed on purpose. The cartridge seems to be intact and not corroded.

It’s not really all that odd to find a primer missing on a fired case at a range. Particularly in allot of the more expensive hunting calibers such as this, since many shooters reload these cases, and reload primers. If you reload them enough times, and re-insert primers enough times, then they can be popped out under the right circumstances during firing. Or the firing pin just struck it oddly, and popped it out. This is always a pain for shooters, since a popped primer means your gun is most likely jammed, and will need to have the action cleaned out of any bits of errant primer, or powder. This problem seems to be most chronic when firing reloaded .223’s in some of the cheaper .223 AR / M4 clones.


The two most common reasons for popping a primer are high pressure loads and loose primer pockets from reloading the same case too many times.

It’s hard to say from the photo but there appears to be one part of the headstamp that has been ironed out - the “TE” in Winchester. This is generally caused by high pressure forcing the brass to actually flow and iron out flat in the location of the bolt’s ejector. But I’d really have to see the case first hand to say if that condition exists.

If you have a live primer handy you could try too see if it will simply fall into the primer pocket without resistance. That will tell you if the pocket is expanded to a size that will render the case useless.

Bottom line is, this is a common occurance in re-loads by inexperienced an/or foolish handloaders. You don’t find too many of these at the rifle range because shooters are usually embarrased enough at what they’ve done that they seldom show the case to anyone and are inclined to take it home and bury it. :) :)


Another reason I once encountered, out of my 10 norma factory loaded 8x57 I had 7 primers blown out. This not because the pressure was too high, no clue of that neither on primer or case, nor on my shoulder. The brass was soft!


Norma brass is notorious for being softer than most other brands, but not to the point that factory ammunition would blow primers. You must have had ammunition that somehow made it past inspection procedures. I hope that you immediately notified Norma.

Your experience leads me to offer a bit of advice to all shooters, and especially novices. ONE blown primer is a cause for concern. NEVER shoot another round without first determining the reason. I can’t imagine that an experienced shooter would have continued shooting to the point of 7 blown primers out of 10 cartridges. I realize that it is human nature to shoot “just one more” to see if it will happen again, but it is an urge that has to be controlled. Eyes and fingers are too valuable to risk.



I perfectly would share your concerns, but I’d still see this as a reason to notify Norma. It was a matter of brass, not a matter of pressure. HPT or “-v” (verbessert) would have kicked way harder and like I said, neither primer nor case looked not overstressed to me.

It does appear (to me at least) that this primer pocket is enlarged. A proper pocket for a large rifle primer should be a bit less than half of the head diameter of a .243, but this one seems to be greater than half the case diameter. Looks like enthusiastic handloading. JG

Gill - please take no offense, but I think it would be bery hard to eyeball a primer pocket and tell whether or not it was expanded from its normal diameter, except in the case of catastrophic failure. We are generally talking in thousanths of an inch.

John: I have no way to put up an image, but I do have a .30-'06 fired case that has as primer pocket so oversize–at least .250 in., probably more, that a casual glance is enough to see it’s expanded. Uncommon, to be sure, but not impossible. JG

I wonder what kind of loads and cases people are using to expand these primer pockets that badly. I have been loading for 45 years and I have never had an expanded primer pocket (that I was aware of - never had a primer fall out, or back out, etc.) Worst thing I have ever had was a run of misfires when I first got my Colt Python. I was shooting it with the same wadcutters I was using successfully in a custom built Colt Govt. Model in .38 Special. Come to find out, my primers were too high. In the “heavier” action of the auto, the firing pin was driving them home and firing them, but the Python’s hammer-fall was too light for that. I tiny turn of the screw regulating primer seating cured it instantly.