Was Lee Patent Primer ever put into production?

James Paris Lee (of Lee-Enfield, Remington-Lee, and Winchester-Lee Navy fame) received US Patent 193524 on July 24, 1877 while he was living in Ilion, NY, working with Remington.

This patent addressed the issue of primer safety in tubular magazine firearms (Such as the Remington-Keene and most Winchesters).

Lee invented a primer with the back of the primer cup (the portion closing the base of the cartridge case) concave instead of flat or slightly convex, and possible placement of some inert material on the inside of the cup to cushion any blow less than that from a firing pin indentation. Copy of the patent drawing below.

Was this ever put into production, most likely by Remington or U.M.C., but perhaps another maker?


Can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like that as a single or installed in a cartridge.
Other than perhaps the Winchester Milbank primer which has a small deep dish, but those were much earlier.

A collector who does not post on the forum and wishes to remain anonymous send me the following information to share, and I am pleased to do so:

“About 20 years ago I came upon some Lee Patent primers in an old, label gone, primer tin. Note- I didn’t know they were Lee primers at the time. The late James Sones was visiting me relating to some business for the R.M.C.C.A. one evening and I showed him the primers. He knew immediately what they were as he was researching his patent book at the time and had found the patent. They don’t look like much and appear like they may have been manufactured by U.M.C. I have never ran across a cartridge loaded with one of the primers but that really doesn’t mean much as I don’t think they were manufactured much beyond the experimental stage. I’ve always thought that they date from the time when Remington was producing the Lee rifles.”

If I understand the patent drawing as being close to the final design it would appear the primer would be compatible only with its own cartridge case; in other words, it could not replace a conventional boxer or berdan primer in a standard cartridge case of either type. Jack

Sure would be interested in actually seeing an example.

Very cool!

Very nice Aaron

Aaron- Thank you! What is the source for the photos so I can give credit if ever published?

My iPhone and collection. I can take it out and get a better picture if you want.

Aaron- Thanks. These are good. Nice item!