Electric primer

  • I have a couple of questions: => 1) When was the first electric primer used and which type of ammo (caliber, nationality, year of manufacture, etc.) used it ?? => 2) When the electric primer was used for the first time for the 20mm Hispano (20X110) rimless ammo ?? Thanks in advance, Liviu 04/15/10


The oldest I remember right now is the British 1-inch aiming tube - long before 1900.


The Morris Tube Insert using a 1 Inch Nordenfeldt cartridge for large calibre Naval Guns had an electric primed case to match the electric-firing Primers used in Big Naval guns. (Separate bagged Charge types).

Electric primers in Cannon shells (Aircraft) only came into use in WW II, with some German cannon. Probably only about 5% of German cannon ammo made was electric, the rest classical percussion firing pin. Only the Postwar development of reliable electric circuits and insulation materials allowed the full exploitation of the electric primer in cannon shells of 20-40 mm. ( M103 20mm for Vulcan cannon)

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


Doc, where do the 5% come from? The aircraft gun ammo we see here on Germany is quite a bit more than that. I also assume it must be looked at by caliber since some calibers existed only with electrical primers (like MG131 and MK 108). Also the MK 103 which was in mayority electrical (over the MK 101 which was small scale production in comparison).
The only one left to be supplied with both ignition systems was the MG 151/20 (the MG 151 was mostly percussion primed an there the lectrical primers are seldomly recognized - there 5% might fit).


About shotguns electric primers have been in use for a long long time !!
For example :
the Martin de Brettes (1866) riffle
the Baron and Delmas (1867) riffle
the Clair (1883) riffle
and so on

Same about canons :
Champion, Pelliet and Grenier (long before 1878, I don’t remeber the year)



I’ve heard that caution should be used, handeling ammunition with electrical primer. Would static discharge be enough to set of the primer of modern ammunition with electric primer?


Great question. And also, what supplied power for those shotguns in late 1800’s, was there a portable battery already?


Yes, even in 1867 there was a battery in the stock


Just as an aside, My local gunsmith (Nelson Collie) makes net guns and all sorts of other cool stuff. He wanted to electrically prime something and use the Remington Etronx Primer’s but found out that the Etronx system to initiate the primer was propriety and (according to them) impossible to replicate. Impossible unless you have a disposable camera and 15 minutes free that is.