Monday, August 07, 2006

New Primer Mixture

It looks like Los Alamos labs has come up with a new priming mixture.
Chemist My Hang Huynh developed a new type of primary explosive, which are the explosives that, for example, ignite the main charges in a bullet or conventional bomb. The lab owns three patents.

Huynh said the new explosive is cleaner, safer and less expensive to produce than traditional lead azide and lead styphnate primary explosives, which have been in use since 1907.

The new primary explosive is made with iron, nitrogen, carbon and oxygen instead of lead. Lead is toxic to humans, and chronic exposure can result in birth defects, miscarriage and learning disabilities.

That is great news. Lead exposure is a bad thing and we who reload cartridges are exposed to it. We do our best to minimize lead exposure, but Dick Lee reported that when he did testing for airborned lead, it was found from handling spent primers. Having a lead free priming mix will certainly be an improvement.

However, all my cartridge recipes are set for the lead-styphnate primers. New primers mean new performance criteria, new pressure levels and new ballistics. Not better or worse, just different. When this new mixture comes out, we have to refigure every-damn-thing.

Yet, every time I buy a new pound of powder, I have to refigure everything. That is what reloading is all about.

Hat tip to Say Uncle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with new stuff. However this new priming mix has yet to prove itself. Will it fire reliably in extreme temperatures? Store safely in an ammo can for 50 years? Corrosives primers held on for an awful long time because the new lead based primers had yet to prove themselves. As I'm sure you know, if you keep the gun clean, corrosives primers aren't a problem.

Time will tell if the new stuff gets adopted voluntarily by the police and military first, or EPA regulations force the lead azide ones off the market. I'm working on my lifetime stockpile of primers and powder anyway.