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Discussion Starter #1
This may seem like a really dumb question, but I am curious: I have been shooting handguns for 50+ years, including competition and a lot of courses, although I'm sure there many here with more experience than me. For 45 of those years, I never had a light primer strike. But the last two guns I bought, a Sig P290 RS and an S&W .380 Bodyguard, have given me multiple light strikes with some ammo, ammo that was supposed to be good stuff. Usually, the rounds will go on the second strike, although once it took four strikes with recently manufactured factory new, brand named ammo. Also, there have been multiple threads recently about light strikes, including with a Glock.

My questions to the experts on this:
  • Are some primers getting harder to ignite? If so why?
  • Are some gun hammer/firing pin and/or strikers getting weaker? If so, why?
  • Is this a recent phenomenon or was I just lucky all those years?
  • What is the solution?
 

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I have also had a few light strikes in the past decade but I have been able to attribute those to deep-seated primers. Subsequent rounds in the same magazine from the same batch of ammo proved to be fine so the problem was not with the firearm but rather with the ammunition. Go back perhaps eight of ten years from those and I had some problems with Norinco 9mm rounds failing to fire, also apparently from deeply seated primers.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have also had a few light strikes in the past decade but I have been able to attribute those to deep-seated primers. Subsequent rounds in the same magazine from the same batch of ammo proved to be fine so the problem was not with the firearm but rather with the ammunition. Go back perhaps eight of ten years from those and I had some problems with Norinco 9mm rounds failing to fire, also apparently from deeply seated primers.
Interesting. I'm pretty sure none of my light strikes were deep seated primers, unless it was very slight. I examined most of them and they looked flush. I don't know what the tolerances are on that sort of thing.
 

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I wonder what the manufacturers know. They know the primers they use and the machines that install them. Surely they've looked into this.

I can't remember having any problems with my 1911 reloads on my Dillon, but my .38s and .357s when not reloaded on the Dillon have been a concern, requiring me to check them before a match. Almost always the problem was high primers. I've heard it said that with a high primer, some of the force of the hammer fall is absorbed in seating the primer causing it not to ignite.
 

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IMO there are differences in primer hardness or the thickness of the primer cup. CCI's seem to be the hardest to ignite (and seat) while Federals seem to be the easiest to ignite.

Grizzly is correct it is normally a high primer that causes ignition issues and not a deeply seated primer because a primer pocket is only so deep. If the primer is left high the first hit or so is cushioned while the primer is being pushed to the bottom of the pocket.

AFAIK there is no industry standard for primer hit forces as related to guns. I have a 1911 that's never given me a light hit but have a Browning HP that has. The HP has the strongest firing pin return spring I've ever seen. I'd like to find a lighter firing pin spring or a stronger main spring for it.
 

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MY experience: Never had a "light" strike. Not once in any firearm. I've never had a primer fail to fire on first hit except for two complete duds from the same package of CCI primers, and that was in the mid '70s.

I take that back now that I've thought about it. I had some misfires recently with my .223, finding the firing pin/bolt all gummed up with CLP. That was a maintenance issue, not a gun or primer issue, as all the rounds fired after cleaning the bolt.

Seated too deeply? All primers should be seated to the bottom of the primer pocket and be flush or slight deeper when seated fully. Unless you have a case with defective primer pockets, you can't seat one too deep. I've all but crushed primers, leaving them flattened, and they still fired on first hit.

High primers: I wore out a Lee hand primer until it would seat primers flush. The primers would drag on the revolver they were so high and still fired. Had them make closing the bolt stiff in rifles and still fired. I'm not too convinced on the "high primer" theory.
 

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Both of the guns you mention have had issues with light strikes in the past but, I assumed that had been fixed? Still, seems odd.
 

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My Colt Diamondback had light strikes when I first got it( many years ago). PO had cut the mainspring trying to lighten the trigger pull. All he managed to do was lighten the hammer fall. Ended up replacing the mainspring and the hammer( long story) to correct it.

CCI #41 primers are known to be harder than some others. But, I've not had an issue with any of my reloads rifle or handgun.
 
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I'm guilty of using outdoor range pickup brass. That means if it has been manufactured I've probably got some in my buckets. I do not always separate out head stamps but I do separate silver (nickle washed) from brass. I use a piece of 10gauge stranded wire chucked up in my hand drill to clean primer pockets. Don't follow my lead, it doesn't work all that great, but it does work. I do as many others do, prime by hand with a Lee primer. Some primer pockets are a royal PITA to seat the Winchester primers I use in, but the cheap Tula primers slide in easy. Tula is hard-shelled and Winchesters are easy to crush being softer. Either way I don't recall any light strikes or failure to ignite from those two primers in 9mm, 9x18 , or .38sp. YMMV
 

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Just a guess, but I suspect that small guns with light hammers (like those) would be more prone to it than larger guns. They could make the springs stronger to compensate, but I think that would make it harder to rack the slide.
 

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CCI #41 primers are known to be harder than some others. But, I've not had an issue with any of my reloads rifle or handgun.
According to CCI, the difference between #41s and their other SR primers is the gap between anvil and cup is greater on the #41s.
 
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I've been shooting a very long time too. I have no experience with those two pistols. Are they striker fired? Reportedly, some striker fired pistols may not be reliable with some primers. Some primers are definitely harder. With hammer fired pistols over lots of years, I can't recall any light strikes on any type of primers, as long as stock mainsprings were in use. This would include ammo using Magnum primers, even rifle primers. Just no issues with light primer strikes in hammer fired pistols.
 

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I have had light strikes with CCI primers in highly tuned actions and cheap foreign ammo. Sometimes you just get bad primers, not often but it happens. After the last ammo scare they were making so many primers so fast there was no quality control to speak of.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've been shooting a very long time too. I have no experience with those two pistols. Are they striker fired? Reportedly, some striker fired pistols may not be reliable with some primers. Some primers are definitely harder. With hammer fired pistols over lots of years, I can't recall any light strikes on any type of primers, as long as stock mainsprings were in use. This would include ammo using Magnum primers, even rifle primers. Just no issues with light primer strikes in hammer fired pistols.
Both of those pistols are hammer fired. FWIW, I sent the Sig back to the factory. They said they found no problem, but replaced the hammer spring anyway. It did not cure the problem with the ammo that was giving me problems. I took the S&W to a well respected local gunsmith and he said the problem was definitely the ammo. It was new, original manufactured, Herter's ammo that I had bought from Cabelas. And it wasn't just a rare occurrence. I would say one out of ten rounds was a light strike. To my mind, that just shouldn't happen.
 

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Both of those pistols are hammer fired. FWIW, I sent the Sig back to the factory. They said they found no problem, but replaced the hammer spring anyway. It did not cure the problem with the ammo that was giving me problems. I took the S&W to a well respected local gunsmith and he said the problem was definitely the ammo. It was new, original manufactured, Herter's ammo that I had bought from Cabelas. And it wasn't just a rare occurrence. I would say one out of ten rounds was a light strike. To my mind, that just shouldn't happen.
The BG is known for light primer strikes, so this should not be a surprise if you do some research on the gun.

I have had one for almost 3 years now, and occasionally get light hits.

This should be expected of any really small hammer fired gun.
And this is why that it has been a generally accepted idea for years that if you are going to carry a pocket gun, then it’s a pertinent idea to choose one with second strike capability.

This is a platform issue much more than an ammo issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The BG is known for light primer strikes, so this should not be a surprise if you do some research on the gun.

I have had one for almost 3 years now, and occasionally get light hits.

This should be expected of any really small hammer fired gun.
And this is why that it has been a generally accepted idea for years that if you are going to carry a pocket gun, then it’s a pertinent idea to choose one with second strike capability.

This is a platform issue much more than an ammo issue.
Yeah, I have read that too. Galloway Precision offers both an upgraded firing mechanism (trigger clear through to hammer) and a higher rate hammer spring that is supposed to solve it. I am considering it.
 

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Make sure the guns in question are fully in battery. My Sig P365 will go through 500 rounds of S&B NATO (Which is Hot but Clean) which is rumored to have harder primers for submachine guns without issue but start getting a light strike on WWB after 350-400 rounds. It was the amount of carbon residue from WWB. The gun was going far enough into battery to engage the disconnecter but get a light off center hit. Now I either stop at 250 rounds with dirtier ammo or clean the rails if I'm going to run a longer session.
 
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