A reader asks . . .
I picked up two boxes of Winchester 9mm bulk at my local Wally World and found five of these red primers.
That red stuff you’re seeing on the back of those round is primer sealant.
When primers are press-fit into cases during the manufacturing process they usually form a tight enough seal for civilian use, keeping out most of the moisture and protecting the powder and primer components from corroding. But if you’re out in the elements (say, crossing rivers or caught in a monsoon) some moisture can leak into the cartridge and ruin the powder (and subsequently your day).
That’s where primer sealant comes in. Primer sealant is typically a lacquer-like compound that is applied over the primer to form a watertight seal and make the cartridge almost completely impervious to the elements.
It’s an extra step in the manufacturing process though, so for ammo destined for civilian sales they typically don’t bother. Military customers, on the other hand, like primer sealant on their ammunition. That symbol on the bottom of both rounds is a NATO headstamp, meaning the rounds were made to their specifications.
If you’ll be going on a hunt and want to ensure that your ammo supply stays dry, you can buy primer sealant and apply it yourself to your ammunition.
So how did those rounds with sealed primers get into your bulk ammo pack? Well, it probably has to do with our decreasing involvement in the middle east.
When the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were heating up, the military started placing orders for massive quantities of ammunition. In response the major manufacturers ramped up production to meet the demand and made those components according to the military specification (sealed primers, etc).
With the gradual draw-down of U.S. forces, what we’re seeing is that some ammo manufacturers produced more military spec components than were needed. So some of the ammo they were expecting to sell to our boys in camo were just sitting around the warehouse collecting dust. Instead of sitting on it, they’ve fed some of this inventory into civilian distribution channels.
You got a few primed cases in your bulk pack that were destined for the military and were re-purposed for civilian sales, packed with the rest of the lot and sent out to your local Wally World.