Salvaging and Using Components from Loaded Ammunition

Over the years I have disassembled a fair amount of loaded ammunition that I have been given in order to salvage their components for reloading. Admittedly this can be a somewhat tedious and labor intensive effort but it can save a little money on an increasingly expensive pastime.

Preowned Ammo
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Taking Apart Metallic Ammunition with a Kinetic Bullet Puller

A handy tool to have around is a kinetic bullet puller. Shaped very much like a hammer, the cartridge is inserted bullet first into a collet in the head. The cap is screwed on and the head of the device is struck on a somewhat hard surface such as the end grain of a block of wood. The inertia causes the bullet to pull out of the case and the powder to fall out into the head of the puller. It may take multiple whacks depending on how tightly crimped the bullet is.

By unscrewing the cap of the bullet puller, the bullet and powder can be poured into a container. Kinetic Bullet Pullers sell for about 15 to 20 dollars.

Recovering Live Primers From Metallic Cartridges

I never use a resizing die to deprime a metallic cartridge case which has a live primer in it. If the primer should detonate in the confined space of a resizing, the result might well be damage to the die and or user (me). I use a depriming rod held in pliers. On the one occasion, a primer did detonate the rod just bounced up and there was not damage to the depriming pin.

I never try to punch out live crimped in primers from military ammunition. That really is just asking for trouble. I will either load the primed cases and fire them in the usual manner or I will squirt a little penetrating oil into the case an let it sit for a few hours before punching out the primer.

Shotgun Cartridge Disassembly

I use two different methods for salvaging components from Shotgun Shells.

Salvage both the hull and wad

I will use a small flat bladed screw driver to pry open the folds of the crimp. The shot will be poured into a container. A pair of needlenose pliers to pull on the petals of the plastic wad column. Empty power in separate container for proper disposal. I never salvage powder charges from shells that I have not loaded. There are just too many risks to using an unknown smokeless powder. This is slow and time consuming. I rarely do this and never for a large number of loaded shells. For me used hulls are easy to come by and wads have been fairly in expensive.

The quicker method of disassembly

I use a box cutter to cut two thirds of the shells circumference near the crimp. The shot can then be emptied into a container. I will make a second cut near the base of the shell above the brass to extract the powder for disposal. I never reuse powder from factory ammunition. If the primers are in good condition I will salvage them by inserting them in the depriming station of the press. I never use any pin punch which is small enough to fit in the flash hole of the battery cup as there is a good chance that the primer will detonate.

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