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I have read in a gun digest that primers should no be used if older than 15 years, because of metal fatigue. The metal around the outside will crack and increase pressure. Is this correct?
 

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I seriously doubt it, however, I'm willing to be educated.

Metal fatigues when it is constantly being worked (flexing). There's not a whole lot of flexing in a primer's life: the cup is punched out of a sheet, the finished primer gets shoved into a primer pocket, and then it gets fired.

I suspect they're referring to embrittlement of the brass primer cup due to mercury fulminate priming compound. That particular problem dates back to the 1930's, along with nickle plating of primer cups to prevent it. That is not an issue with primers using lead styphnate (basically everything since the 1960s), which is why you find plain brass (unplated) primers made by Remington, Wolf, etc.

The "lead free" priming compounds do have a more limited shelf life, but that has nothing to do with cracking or increasing pressures.

I have limited experience with using old primers, because they get loaded and shot up fairly quickly, but I know I've loaded some that are 25 years old with no issues.
 

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I have read in a gun digest that primers should no be used if older than 15 years, because of metal fatigue. The metal around the outside will crack and increase pressure. Is this correct?
Hi DNS, IMO this sounds like a bit of urban legend. I regularly shoot surplus ~70yr old ammo (30-06, 30 Carbine, and .45 ACP) and can't remember ever having a fail to fire, or primer mechanical failure.

As the previous poster said, metal fatigue comes from repetitive stress, not just sitting.

Regards,
Richard
 

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The only problem I've ever had with "older" primers was with some that my wife's grandfather gave me when I was just getting into reloading. They must have been stored improperly because they all had "click-bangs". I have a lot of primers on hand now and don't expect to have problems even if stored for years and years under proper conditions. Generally, they get loaded into ammo long before that though. That's the best way to keep them fresh.
 

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I'm still working on some Winchester large pistol primers that date back to the 60's that a friend gave me. And like BobbyG, I'm still shooting a LOT of WWII vintage .30-06 ammo, and some foreign ammo that predates WWII even.

Primers, if stored reasonably well, can be expected to last longer that we will.
 
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