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Are small rifle primers really the same as magnum, small pistol primers?


Bison Bud

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I read on another thread that small rifle primers were the same thing as magnum, small pistol primers.  Even if the primer charge is equal, I always thought that there was some dimensional difference between the two.  However, I have recently heard of folks using the small rifle primers in handgun loads with some success and over the past few years you had to take what you could get so this could be useful information.  Does anyone out there really have the scoop on this issue?  Are they interchangeable in both directions (ie. can you use small pistol primers in small rifle load too)?  Good luck and good shooting to all.

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Here are the SAAMI specifications for all primers and the primer pockets in brass produced to specification.

 

Small Rifle and Small Pistol same dimensions.  Large Rifle and Large Pistol DIFFERENT and do not interchange.

 

During the primer shortage, all handguns I own lived on small rifle primers because that was my stockpile.  Still do, except for things like 38 special hollow base wadcutters loaded for maximum indoor range target accuracy.  

 

When handloading, various primers of whatever will produce various different chamber pressures with the same powder / bullet combo, so if trying to load anywhere near the limits, proceed with caution.  I also never work up any load without chronograph results for velocity and standard deviation.

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Howdy Bud,

 

Read the thread here on the Wire....... "SPP vs SRP"

and watch the video posted by Sedalia Dave.

 

This particular video shows there is basically no difference between Small Pistol, Small Pistol Magnum, and

Small Rifle.

And the test was done for pressure of each primer AND actual performance in 9mm reloads.

 

..........Widder

 

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It depends on what people mean as differences. It’s already been posted what the dimensions are. I would say there’s a difference in all primers. Look at how all the cowboy shooters with lightened springs prefer federal. CCI and Winchester both sell small and large rifle primers that are harder than standard for military applications. I wouldn’t doubt there is some sort of standard for what it takes to set them off. Then you’ve got standard, magnum, match and magnum match primers. I know some precision shooters that claim there’s a difference between batches of primers, just like many reloader claim to see differences in batches of bullets and powder. Safe and accurate reloading is all about the right combination of components. Fortunately it seems for the time being we are getting back to where we can select the ideal component for the job instead of just hoping to find something that will work. 

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About fifteen years ago, I spoke directly to a CCI factory rep about this, and she told me their standard small rifle primer, #400, is the exact same primer as their small pistol magnum, #550, just in different packaging. I said, "What about the others; Remington, Winchester, Federal, etc.?" She couldn't advise me on other manufacturer's products, of course, due to "liability concerns". 

 

I experimented with CCI400 primers in four Single Six .32's with 15 pound Wolff springs earlier this year and had no problems.

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15 hours ago, Brandon A Bovine SASS 27688 said:

All I got to say is 
Hi Bud! We should get together one day and shoot a match somewhere.

Hey Brandon!  Always good to hear from you and I'd love to get out and shoot together again.  Unfortunately, an infected knee implant a few years back and multiple surgeries to get past it, as well as major surgeries on both shoulders has left me considerably less mobile and capable of shooting a real match.  Turning 70 this month doesn't help either, with some serious arthritis pain and nearly every injury I ever had coming back to haunt me to some degree.  Anyway, I can still walk and stand, but not for extended periods and it's been a real change in lifestyle to say the least.  Geese, I even have to walk my dogs from a mobility scooter because I can't go far or fast enough to suit them.  I do still get up to my local club range to shoot and it's still my favorite recreational activity, but I do most of it from a chair.  I keep on moving and hoping my physical condition will improve and that I will someday be able to get back out there to the matches, but at least for now I doubt that I could make it through an entire cowboy match.  Frankly, I really miss it and pards like you are the primary reason!  Anyway, I hope things are well with you and yours and thanks for touching base here!  I have many good memories of shooting with you and Mountain Drover, two of my favorite posse pards of all time.     

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Thanks to all that posted information here!  Apparently, even an old dog can learn a new trick of two.  Good luck and good shooting to all.

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At least for CAS and the supper shot distance we shoot .

None of it matters .

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On 8/31/2023 at 10:29 AM, Three Foot Johnson said:

About fifteen years ago, I spoke directly to a CCI factory rep about this, and she told me their standard small rifle primer, #400, is the exact same primer as their small pistol magnum, #550, just in different packaging. I said, "What about the others; Remington, Winchester, Federal, etc.?" She couldn't advise me on other manufacturer's products, of course, due to "liability concerns". 

 

I experimented with CCI400 primers in four Single Six .32's with 15 pound Wolff springs earlier this year and had no problems.

 

Subject has been pretty much covered, and I also got information from CCI that their SR primer is identical to their SP Magnum primer. Same cup, same anvil and the same amount and type of priming compound. However, how other companies build their primers is up to them, as other than the size, there is no standard on the priming compound or its brisance. Especially for the Small Pistol and Small Rifle primers, there is not a lot of room in that small cup, and depending on the compound, the difference in brisance may or may not vary that much. In addition, another manufacturer may have a thicker cup in the rifle primer, or it may be the same as their small pistol. At the pressure of a typical cowboy load, cup thickness is only a factor for reliable ignition with a light hammer spring. 

 

BTW, back in the day come of the old primers has a steel cup, and the guns had a hammer spring to match. Old shotguns are notorious for piercing primers.

There are several industry wide priming compounds used, they are the "standard" compound and "common" compound. I think the names alone should tell you the whole primer thing is akin to witchcraft. 

 

I chrono my loads, that is where the difference in brisance can be measured and it is where you can detect ignition issues and powder position nuances. I don't have access to any pressure testing equipment, but I suspect the difference in pressure may not be discernable. In my testing I've discovered a few interesting things. One is that a CCI SPM primer has nearly the same brisance as a standard SP Winchester primer. There is also a compatibility that seems to occur between some powders and some primers. Some combinations just work better than others. But you'll never know unless you chronograph your loads. 

 

BB 

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