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Berdan Primers vs Boxer Primers: Understanding the Differences

When delving into the world of ammunition, shooters might encounter two distinct types of primers: Berdan and Boxer. While both serve the same fundamental purpose of igniting the powder charge in a cartridge, they differ in design and reloading compatibility. In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between Berdan and Boxer primers, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each type to help you make an informed choice for your shooting needs.

Berdan Primers: Traditional and Reliable

Berdan primers were historically the first type of primer used in ammunition and are still widely used in some regions. Here are the key characteristics of Berdan primers:


  • Simple Design: Berdan primers have a straightforward design, with two flash holes positioned on the casing’s base.
  • Cost: Due to the anvil being a part of the casing, Berdan primers are simpler in design when compared to Boxer primers, thus making them a little cheaper to make.


  • Difficult Reloading: Reloading Berdan-primed cases is more challenging and time-consuming than Boxer-primed cases. Berdan-primed cases require specialized tools and equipment, making them less popular among reloaders to the point where almost no one reloads with Berdan Primers
  • Limited Availability: In some regions, finding Berdan-primed ammunition or primers might be more challenging, limiting reloading options.

Which Manufactures use Berdan Primers?

Berdan primers are most popular in European ammo brands. Almost all Russian manufactures such as Wolf Ammo, Tula Ammo, Barnaul Ammo, use berdan primers. Also, most military surplus ammunition uses Berdan Primers.

Boxer Primers: Modern and Versatile

Boxer primers are the most commonly used type of primer in ammunition today, offering several advantages for shooters and reloaders.


  • Reload-Friendly: Boxer-primed cases are reload-friendly and can be easily reloaded using standard reloading equipment, making them a top choice for many handloaders.
  • Availability: Boxer-primed ammunition and primers are widely available, ensuring shooters have access to a broad selection of calibers and types. Boxer primed brass is the most common found in the U.S as all major manufactures in the United States use boxer primers.
  • Simple Removal: Removing spent Boxer primers is straightforward, as the anvil is part of the primer itself.


  • Slightly Higher Cost: Boxer-primed ammunition and primers might be slightly more expensive compared to Berdan-primed options.
  • Complexity: While splitting hairs, Boxer primers are more complex than Berdan primers which makes them a little more expensive to produce.


In summary, Berdan and Boxer primers have their distinct advantages and disadvantages, catering to different shooting preferences and reloading needs. Berdan primers offer simplicity in construction and often used by European ammunition suppliers. On the other hand, Boxer primers provide versatility, easy reloading, and widespread availability, making them the preferred choice for many shooters and handloaders.

For most shooters, Boxer-primed ammunition proves to be the more practical option, offering convenience, reloadability, and a wider selection of available calibers. As with any ammunition-related decisions, it’s essential to prioritize safety, adhere to proper reloading practices, and use compatible primers for your firearms.

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