Boxer Primer Removal
Hydraulic Decapper
RCBS instructions
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Decapping (uncapping)
Spent Berdan Primed Cartridges

There are three basic methods of removing spent Berdan Primers... The first of these is a tool produced by RCBS. I have never actually seen one of these personally, nor could I initially find instructions on how it is to be used, but I illustrate it here...

RCBS Berdan primer removing tool

In essence it is a hardened spur that punctures the cap and hooks it out, I assume that the plain mandrel is used to hold the case whilst this operation is performed. The spur is held in place by a hexagon socket grub screw and an Allen key wrench is supplied with the kit. Since the page was first written, a kind gentleman by the name of 'Bob' has sent me a photostat of the RCBS instructions.

With all due respect to RCBS, I originally considered this device somewhat crude and likely to damage the cases. But in the light of correspondence (some of which is detailed on the instruction leaflet page I have modified my opinion to be more favourable.

The second method fills the case with hydraulic fluid (simply washing up liquid and water), stands it upright in a collar that allows for the primer to fall into a central recess. A wax covered wooden piston that is a good fit in the case mouth is then placed in the mouth of the case and sharply hit with a hammer. The resulting pulse of hydraulic pressure will remove all except hard crimped primers. I personally find this method to be as crude as the first, with risks of many types of damage to the brass. The process also showers the reloader in hydraulic fluid at every hammer blow.

Method 2a is a cross between method two and the more elegant, fully engineered hydraulic decapping system.

The basic Kit
Alternative rams
RCBS Decapper Method
  Links are provided at left to several pages produced by R. Ted Jeo. Although the tools of the method are inexpensive to make (they were originally described by Lee W.), the decapping process is likely to be slow, with the operator getting somewhat wet, but if only a small number of cases need to be tackled, this method does the job, although I have had reports that some primers never coming out by this method. I am also sceptical about possible case neck damage or even expansion of the body of the case.

The third method is true hydraulic uncapping... It can be applied to any metallic centrefire ammunition. The process works equally well for both Boxer primed or Berdan Primed cases, but is most applicable to Berdan primers as the Boxer version is more often removed by simple mechanical means.

This third way is similar to the previous one, but removes all the objections. The hydraulic de-capping machine consists of a heavy steel container containing the same soap and water type of hydraulic fluid, with a central pillar which is drilled out to take the hydraulic de-capping bottles and hold them upright. A hole in the bottom of this pillar allows the expelled caps to exit. The hydraulic bottles have a polished steel plunger that runs in an "O" ring seal. The plunger is hit sharply with a hammer to provide the shock wave and pressure that forces out the cap.

This method of providing the pressure has several benefits...

The pressure pulse is much larger than method two, due to the use of "O" rings, and will shift hard crimped primers.

No damage to the case can occur during the de-capping process as the pressure is applied to the inside of the spent primer cup and this pressure is resisted by the case base which is itself totally supported by the annular surface within the inside of the strongly built steel bottle.

The action takes place inside the hydraulic bottle and there is little chance of the fluid squirting out to wet the operator. Sod's law dictates that the occasional squirt does happen, but it is a small price to pay for such an elegant solution to the problem of Berdan decapping.

There is a page accessible via the link at top left that describes the manufacture of a 'home made' hydraulic decapper that is also compatible with the hydraulic bottles (cylinders) that were made for use in the "Wamadet" decapping tool that was sold in the UK up until a few years ago. The drawings on that page will enable a greater understanding of the text above.

German decapping tool

Some years ago I became aware of a plier type tool of German manufacture, but I could not locate a photograph of the device, this has now been rectified as the image below has been sent by Mike Kaaland, who has given permission for publication.

German Berdan primer decapping tool

To use the tool (Instructions are from translated German text and may not be accurate) position a cartridge case in the holding collar of the bottom lever, slide the locating plate into the groove of the case rim, close the middle lever to trap the case and gently enter the decapping pin into the primer cap with the top lever, then hinge upwards the top and middle lever together which withdraws the cap.

Printed from Dave Cushman's Shooting website Live CD version

 Originated... 04 June 2002, Written... 19, 28 September 2002, New Domain... 19 November 2003, Revised... 21 February 2004, Upgraded... 24 January 2007, Addition... 07 May 2007, Code Altered... 18 May 2008, Upgraded... 23 May 2008,
Source Code last updated...
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