Boxer vs. Berdan Primers

Boxer and Berdan primers differ in several key ways. Boxer primers have an internal anvil, a single flash hole, and a limited number of sizes. Berdan primers, on the other hand, have no internal anvil, two flash holes, and a wide range of sizes.

Both types of primers are fine for most shooting situations. When it comes to reloading, however, Boxer primers offer distinct advantages, especially for those of us in the US.

Why Most Reloaders Prefer to Work with Boxer Primers

In regard to actual performance, both Boxer and Berdan primers provide excellent results. When it comes to reloading, Boxer primers offer several unique benefits. These include:

  • Greater uniformity – Boxers come in four standard sizes: large rifle primers, small rifle primers, large pistol primers, and small pistol primers. Berdan primers, on the other hand, come in more than a dozen sizes, making them difficult to sort and classify.
  • Anvil design – Boxer primers have an internal anvil that’s replaced during the reloading process. Berdan primers, on the other hand, rely on an anvil that’s mounted in the case itself, a design which can fail over time and make the casing useless.
  • Ease of replacement – Boxer primers can be removed and replaced using standard reloading equipment. On the other hand, Berdan primers require expensive tools that can be hard to find.
  • Familiarity – most reloading books and videos are geared towards working with Boxer primers. Finding equivalent materials for Berdan primers can be challenging, especially here in the USA.

When all these factors are considered, it’s easy to see why Boxer primers are the design of choice for the vast majority of American reloaders.

Special Circumstances

This doesn’t mean that Berdan primers have nothing to offer you, however. Here are some reasons for learning how to work with them:

  • To reload a special type of ammo – a prime example is the Russian 7.62 x 54R cartridge, a Berdan primed caliber which has become very popular here in the U.S. Why dispose of its spent brass when it’s possible to reload it instead?
  • To learn new reloading skills – knowing how to replace Berdan primers is a great way to expand your knowledge of firearms.
  • To follow best practices when it comes to firearm safety – some reloaders try to modify Berdan cartridges to accept Boxer primers. But this is a risky process that can damage the weapon or even injure the shooter. It’s much safer to use the type of primer for which the casing was designed.

Historical Background

The Berdan priming system was invented by Major General Hiram Berdan of the US Army back in the 1860s. While his design never caught on here in the States, it did become popular among European ammo makers, who use it to this day.

Boxer primers were developed by an Englishman named Edward Mounier Boxer, also in the 1860s. Americans found it to be the more practical of the two designs and made it the default choice for ammo manufactured here in the US.

Powder Valley Is the Name to Trust When It Comes to Reloading

Whatever types of ammo you reload, you can’t beat the giant selection of reloading primers and other supplies we carry here at Powder Valley. Plus, we back up everything we sell with our legendary expertise and customer service. Browse our site and place your order today. We can help you to shoot more and pay less.