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Thread: Primers - a newbie question...

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    Member aces-n-eights's Avatar
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    Default Primers - a newbie question...

    OK, so i was at a gun store and asked the guy behind the counter if they had any primers. He said they had small and large pistol. I told him i was looking for small rifle primers.

    He said you could use small pistol primers in a rifle case, but you can not use small rifle in a pistol case. We had a long conversation and i felt he knew what he was talking about. He said the metal in the primers is the only difference. The pistol primers have a softer metal and can be used in either rifle or pistol ammo. The rifle primers have harder metal and therefore can't be used in pistol ammo.

    Sooooo, what say you? Is the guy full of doo-doo?
    English is an odd language. It can understood through tough thorough thought, though.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    I personally wouldn't. If you're loading for 223, or a semi auto, you could get slam-fires or possibly even pierced primers. Take a small rifle primer, and the pistol primer you speak of, and weigh them. The small rifle primers are slightly heavier. I suspect thicker metal for higher pressures. Your call though........

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    Yep, The softer/thiner material of the small pistol primer can make it dangerous if used at the pressure of some of the small rifle cases with full loads. It is common practice to use small pistol primers in small case low pressure loads such as shooting cast bullets in smaller cases like the 25/20, 22H. 218Bee,256Win and such. I would not use them in full power loads in a 223 and especially in a semi auto rifle where slam fires could occur.

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    Member aces-n-eights's Avatar
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    Thanks guys! Good info. I am loading 223 but not to full power.

    Sorry for my ignorance... what's a "slam fire"?
    English is an odd language. It can understood through tough thorough thought, though.

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    Slam fire is when the bolt snaps shut the force ignites the primer without you intending to. There are many things that can cause it, in reloading the most common cause is high primers, primer sits proud of the case and contacts the bolt on closing. What Mainer is talking about is when the bolt closes and stops the firing pin keeps going and ticks lightly off the primer . . . With a thinner primer this may be enough to set one off now and then when you least expect it, very bad thing.

     
    You can use rifle primers in a pistol safely in a pinch, you may get fail to fire from light strikes but usually it works. Not a good idea to use pistol primers in a rifle except in some very special circumstances, never in an auto loading action because of slam fire.
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    Member GD Yankee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aces-n-eights View Post
    Thanks guys! Good info. I am loading 223 but not to full power.

    Sorry for my ignorance... what's a "slam fire"?
    Many semi auto guns have a free floating firing pin. When the round is chambered, the firing pin will/can move into contact with the primer strictly due to its inertia. If the primer is soft or protrudes from the case, the action of chambering a round can result in the gun firing, without ever pulling the trigger. Do a google search and you'll find a few examples. Some full auto guns in fact have a permanently protruding firing pin and they essentially are "slam fire" weapons - which is why they fire from an open bolt.

    Primers are about the cheapest part of a reloaded round. Always use the proper primer for the cartridge.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    then there's the 454 casull......uses small primers at 60,000 psi. Don't they recommend the use of small rifle primers with the bruiser of a pistol cartridge??

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    yup, you're right, I personally use federal match small rifle in my 454 loads, as I load for protection want the best. I have used large rifle in 45 colt loads before in a pinch, but those were standard loads coming out of my 454 pistol, so I wasn't worried about pressure. I would be careful whichever way you choose to go

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    Quote Originally Posted by winibezold View Post
    yup, you're right, I personally use federal match small rifle in my 454 loads, as I load for protection want the best. I have used large rifle in 45 colt loads before in a pinch, but those were standard loads coming out of my 454 pistol, so I wasn't worried about pressure. I would be careful whichever way you choose to go
    Large Pistol primer pockets are smaller in depth than Large Rifle. So are the primers.

    Therefore, the larger rifle primers wouldn't fit well in the smaller pockets.

    That could result in high primers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Large Pistol primer pockets are smaller in depth than Large Rifle. So are the primers.

    Therefore, the larger rifle primers wouldn't fit well in the smaller pockets.

    That could result in high primers.

    Smitty of the North
    Correct, large are same diameter but not depth and can not interchange (without changing the pocket) and small are dementedly the same. Rifle primers, in addition to being thicker are also hotter than the same brand of pistol primers. So if you sub small rifle for small pistol the load needs to be backed off and re-worked to account for the primer.
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    Member marshall's Avatar
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    http://www.jamescalhoon.com/primers_and_pressure.php

    Pretty cool chart. I'm trying to find data on the cup height as it relates to a couple comments in posts below. I've heard that the rifle primers are taller but I haven't measured them. Perhaps I'll step out in the shop and take a measurement or two.

    What I see interesting here is a loose pocket with a CCI rifle primer can be tightened up for an additional firing with a Federal primer. I've shot these side by side to record velocities with a chronograph. They are very close, less than 1% difference.

    There is a bigger difference between CCI-250 versus Fed 215M, about 2%. In the tests I did between 250's and 215's in three magnum rifles I feel comfortable interchanging these primer brands without recipe adjustments.

    I realize the question was about pistol primers, I'll keep digging...

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    Member marshall's Avatar
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    I just went out in the shop and measured the difference between CCI small pistol, large pistol, small rifle and large rifle.

    A quick check measuring five of each came up with small pistol, large pistol and small rifle all being within .002 of each other in height. The large rifle was about .009 taller than the others.

    I don't have a full selection of Federals to compare against.

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    I'm having trouble remembering where and can't seem to find the source, but I swear I read someplace not long ago that, at least in Federal and CCI, small MAGNUM pistol, and small rifle primers were identical in size, cup metal, and priming compound and were merely repackaged for the different applications.

    Don't take my word for it, but can anyone else verify that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by evandailey View Post
    I'm having trouble remembering where and can't seem to find the source, but I swear I read someplace not long ago that, at least in Federal and CCI, small MAGNUM pistol, and small rifle primers were identical in size, cup metal, and priming compound and were merely repackaged for the different applications.

    Don't take my word for it, but can anyone else verify that?
    Read some guys talking about it on a different forum 3 or 4 years ago. One of them called Federal and was told they are definitely NOT interchangeable. One of them tested the theory anyway and reported slam fires in his 223...
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    Thanks for the info, guys. I'll continue my hunt for small rifle primers... not worth the risk using small pistol instead of small rifle...
    English is an odd language. It can understood through tough thorough thought, though.

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    SP are hard to come by now, harder than the others. You could run an ad in the ammo dump and trade them for SR I bet.
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