Powder from pistol cartridge - caked?


I recently picked up an RCBS impact hammer to pull projectiles and I noticed after pulling the shot capsules from a CCI 9mm, and also a .45acp BBM hardcap shotshell, that the powder in both were caked into little bricks. Is this from moisture, or just compression? Is it safe to assume that these would not fire if it is caused by moisture or might it have resulted in a hang-fire?


I suspect these ‘pills’ of powder were manufactured and loaded that way, as powder that cakes from being compressed over a long period of time tends to have to be dug out of the case to remove it, it will not come out in one piece as those appear to have. I have never seen smokeless cake like this, but black powder very often does.


The common thing about these two is that the powder was loaded under a plastic or paper hull, both of which had buffer discs on top of the powder. Maybe it was compression from a tight load? I found it interesting that the 9mm aluminum CCI shotshell case had a center ridge on the inside bottom of the case, and it was two-hole primed. You can see the indentation from the center ridge in the powder cake on the left.



Don’t know of any “pelletized” smokeless powder being used and it is interesting that two rounds from different manufacturers have the same thing going on. I don’t think smokless powder would work well like that. Perhaps both cartridges were exposed to similar conditions to cause that?



The 9mm CCI cartridges I purchased new 1 year ago and they haven’t been wet. The BBM hardcap .45 shotshells are 20+ years old, and who knows what they were exposed to, although I have the original box and it appears fine with no water damage.


I have a pulled down BBM Hardcap in my collection that was pulled down in the 1980’s when this round was new. It had normal loose pistol powder.

The CCI 9mm Blazer is Berdan primed with 2 flashholes.


Everyone - MOST CCI aluminum cases are Berdan primed with two flash holes. Not all of them are by any means. For some time now, some have been made with Boxer primers, probably not a wise, even if economical move by CCI as someday that may come back to bite them, since the Aluminum cases are still NOT recommended for any reloading!

John Moss


I happen to have a primerless CCI shot round. Here is a scan of it’s exposed behind :)

And the full round:

I did poke around in it through the flash holes. The round is unloaded, probably some sort of demo/handout version.