Is there a difference between Federal and Winchester pistol primers ?


April 8, 2009, 11:17 AM
I noticed a wide variaion between the loads that I had loaded before with Winchester small pistol primer and now with some I just loaded and put thru the Chrony with Federal primers. Otherwise would not be an issue but now the loads are light and if I add more powder and use Winchester primers and if they are hotter I will have an overpressure issue.

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Ala Dan
April 8, 2009, 01:00 PM
The main difference I see, is that Federal primers are softer; so
therefore, I like 'em better. Also, they seem to fit better; as W-W
primers sometimes get crushed when loading. :eek: :(

April 8, 2009, 02:21 PM
"Is there a difference between Federal and Winchester pistol primers ? "

Certainly. ???

April 8, 2009, 02:28 PM
I have used their small rifle, small pistol, and large pistol primers interchangeably (between makers-proper primer for the load of course) with less than max loads without issues and can't tell the difference for casual shooting.

I have not tested any pistol loads side by side through the chrono to see if one gives more FPS than the other. I am sure one does, but doubt it's a big difference.

I have been using Winchester and CCI primers lately working up some light and midrange .357 loads. I have not done a direct comparison as of yet, with no rhyme nor reason as to which primer I used in what load. I also have some Fed small pistol primers, so a little test of all three would be interesting. When I think I have a real winner (load wise), I will fine tune it and see if there is a difference worth noting, but I doubt it.

As always, when using max or near max loads, if you change a component, back off and work back up.

April 8, 2009, 03:38 PM
There reason I ask is because I am now getting at least 60 fps less on a known load that I had loaded before. Used Federal primers this time and most likely used Winchester before on the batch that was a little faster. Needed to know so if I bump up my powder charge and then change to Winchester primers and if they are hotter then I will have a load that is quickly approaching a max load.

April 8, 2009, 04:22 PM
Same temperature etc?

April 8, 2009, 04:39 PM
Using both WW primers and Federal in the .357 Mag I've had 25-40 fps increases in velocity using Federal vs WW. That's with Blue Dot, 2400 and WC820 (my lot mirrors 296). Not a huge difference but noticeable.

April 8, 2009, 04:49 PM
I been using CCI for years 35+ but l look for primers now that are on sale,I stop by bass pro they had remington and winchester 1000 primers for $30.00 so they came home with me

April 8, 2009, 05:52 PM
Only one time I've done a direct comparison. Back around 1990 I loaded a batch of .380 for My PPKS thusly: Speer 88gr/3.3gr W231/WW cases one half the box were WSP's the other F100's

WSP half 888 FPS STD. Deviation 20.8
F100 half 943 FPS STD. Deviation 8.0

At no other time have I loaded under closely controlled enough conditions to document a decisive difference in other calibers but my gut feeling is that Fed primers are or at least then were then a bit hotter. I do like the mechanical fit of Feds very much, consistently snug and very little variation in depth of the primer cup as well. I just bought a small stock of new ones, I'm curious to see how they compare with the old ones.

April 8, 2009, 09:07 PM
Temps were in same range. 50's last week. 60 or 70 during last batch. Will load some up and do a head to head test. Was really trying to avoid another chrony session after loading up a short batch. NEED to crank out some serious quantity to practice and for match ammo. Little time for chrony range sessions. Will post results after I get good chrony results.

April 8, 2009, 09:34 PM
It is not unusual to get 20, 30, or even more, FPS difference with the same exact ammo if you chrono it twice using small samples, especially if the temperature is different. Cold ammo, hot ammo, cold gun, hot gun, 57 degrees, 78 degrees, etc. etc. All kinds of variables.

April 8, 2009, 09:52 PM
Just what I need another variable. Brain already hurts trying to make major with 2 guns using same ammo. Totally forgot about temp variables. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

April 8, 2009, 10:44 PM
there is a difference. In his MODERN RELOADING, he plainly warns against using Federal primers in his primer tools (I don't have it handy to cite chapter & verse). He also says he isn't doing this to disparage Federal, but there is something about them that makes them unsafe in his equipment.

It could be argued, I suppose, it's the equipment.

But, it seems to me, for those who argue a primer is a primer is a primer, if the primers were the same, wouldn't the same AD phenomena occur with other primers as well?


April 8, 2009, 11:41 PM
QUOHELETH: That's not exactly correct. I contacted Lee and complained about Lee's "prmer limitations". Lee says to use the "Safety Primer" with Federal primers. Federals are softer and hotter. An ignition of one "could "chain react in Lees other primer feed according to LEE, but many people use them with no problems.

I use Federal ( in the Lee Safety Prime) because I can lighten my CZ75hammer springs significantly and still get zero FTFs. With Win primers I was getting an occassional FTF with the light springs.

April 9, 2009, 06:52 AM
While my details were wrong (thanks for the correction), you nevertheless provided the quotable evidence: Federals are "softer and hotter." That was the point I was trying to make - namely, Federals are different than others.


April 9, 2009, 07:52 AM
They are all slightly different. Feds are the softest of course. The Lee hand primer has no safety bar etc isolating the primer being seated from the rest. Millions of primers have been loaded with them, and they work great, but the primers are all looking you in the face with nothing separating the first from the rest. Lee is just being cautious.

A side by side test of 4 or 5 brands with a 100 round sample of each might be interesting, but expensive, and it would only prove one application.

A really good pistol load with fast to medium powders at 50 yards and it won't care (on target) which primer you are using. That I will bet on right now. :)

(Well, maybe for Bullseye ;))

April 9, 2009, 10:41 AM
When I chrongraphed Winchester pistol primers, they always gave me more velocity for the same charge as Federal.

April 9, 2009, 07:06 PM
Federal primers should not be used in Hornady or Dillon progressive presses.

April 9, 2009, 08:30 PM
Solution: Don't go max on the powder charge, find a loading that operates your semi auto pistol (not so important with a revolver), and use and/or mix your primers, then just go shooting! Whether you are deviating even 50fps with most cartidges will mean very little at pistol ranges. I have found 230gr .45 acp bullets shot at 800fps hit about the same as those loaded to 850fps. It should be the same with most cartidges. You can get obsessive about every little thing when reloading, like COL, case weight, handweighed powder charges, etc, but shooting two hands at 0-25 yards, all of that makes little difference (translated: in the real world). Rile shooting at long range is another story, but normal handgun distances, not so much.

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