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Out shooting recently (.38) and had some duds. Good primer dent, but no bang. I haven't got any way to dissect these rounds safely and am wondering what happened. This was a first for me. The rounds were very old handloads. I should have heard something if the primer went off and there was no powder, right? If the primer did go off and there was no powder, would the bullet (148 gr. wadcutter) have stuck in the barrel?

Thanks for any info...

Bruce
 

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If the primer went off the bullet would have moved. The primers were probably contaminated and died over time. HMB
 

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About the only way to pull wadcutters is with a "kinetic" puller. 38 cases are so cheap that your time must be worth nothing if you have to resort to it to save the components. Crush the cases with pliers and dispose safely and count yourself lucky you didn't have one pop a primer and push the bullet into the barrel or just into the forcing cone and follow it up with a round that worked.
 

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If the primers ignited there is a good chance the bullet would have lodged in the barrel. Certainly the bullet would have moved. I suspect the primers were defective for what ever reason.
 

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If they are reloads, sometimes loaders reload them quickly for volume and forget that the primer pockets get filled with residue so thick that the anvil of the primer is not fully seated. This residue will make a "cushion" that the primer is against. You get a good strike, but the primer is not on a solid seat. Therefore sometimes it makes for a non-ignition situation. Clean those pockets...
 

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Sometimes the primer will get contaminated with oils, case lube, handling with fingers and storage issues. I have heard that ammunition stored in armories have been fired over 50 years later and worked fine. I believe overall that primers are very reliable if stored properly. I'm assumming that the gun's firing pin is working properly & you're seating the primer flush? I store mine in a military-type ammo box (air tight) and never store in a garage, attic or next to the furnace. Darrell
 

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Powder is pretty stable and will usually last many years. Primers do not always last as long. I have had some issues with very old primers, so I'd say that is likely where your problem is. They could have been contaminated before loading and deteriorated over the years. Dirty primer pockets will also give some trouble, but a second or third strike on the round might set it off. Just be careful, since a primer or squib load could lodge a bullet in the barrel. Firing another round behind it could destroy the gun and cause injuries.

Some of the earlier "non-corrosive" primers had a poor shelf life if I remember my history correctly. I've heard the same thing with some of the newer lead-free primers, although it's hard to test them since they haven't been around that long.
 

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Good advice here

Primers keep well after loaded, just less so in orig packaging

If they go on the second strike, it is likely a seating issue. Some guns have the strain screw backed off the mainspring and give weaker hits (not your issue). Another thought is crud under the extractor or in chamber absorbing the strike energy. Are other shells reliable in the gun? If not excess endshake may be involved

BTW, how many people know what "crud" really is?

Chalk River Unidentified Deposits, (nuke) and no I do not glow in the dark
 
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