Are Winchester Primers junk?


January 24, 2011, 08:25 PM
I've been having about a 10% failure to fire with my reloads. I DID have high-primers, but corrected the issue. My primers have been the optimal .003-.005 below flush. These have all been WLP with a lot number ending in 674G. Anybody know of any issues? Does Winchester have good quality control for their primers?

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January 24, 2011, 09:06 PM
I can't speak to that particular lot, but since beginning reloading last year, I have put 1300 WLP downrange with zero failures.

January 24, 2011, 09:07 PM
Winchester offers some of the best primers out there. I've used thousands without a single misfire. Check your case lube step and other parts of your reloading procedures for oil and grease products. Lubricants will kill a primer faster than anything.

Arkansas Paul
January 24, 2011, 09:10 PM
^ What he said.
I'd bet anything it's not the primers.

January 24, 2011, 09:13 PM
Not for me. They work fine in my reloads.

January 24, 2011, 09:16 PM
I've used Winchester primers for over twenty years. As the others have said, no issues--

For your failure rate, my guess is that you are not seating them firmly into the pocket.

Jim H.

January 24, 2011, 09:18 PM
I use a lot of Winnie primers anad they all go boom. HOWEVER I did have a problem with one batch of them (large rifle) last year. They were getting stuck in the primer tube of my Dillon. I had to use a wooden dowel and push down to get them to run down the tube. I used about 5,000 this way, then switched to Remington, no problems, used more Winnies, same problem, changed again to Wolf, no problems. So it was the primers a little bit out of round. Could be a bad batch of primers. Call Winchester and ask about that particular lot. They told me no problems reported with my batch.

Gadzooks Mike
January 24, 2011, 09:53 PM
Are Winchester Primers junk?


January 24, 2011, 09:55 PM
Winchester primers are not junk. Now, lets talk about your gun.

Jeff H
January 24, 2011, 10:21 PM
Are Winchester Primers junk?

They work very well for me.

January 24, 2011, 11:20 PM
Let's not talk about the gun...BUT, we can talk casings. I've started tearing them down to analyze the problem. Most of the case lengths come out below .886. The shortest at .882 doesn't even have a primer dent. I think I have my answer. I'm going to remove the primers and stick them longer cases...I'm guessing they'll go boom then. Thanks for the input, everybody!

January 24, 2011, 11:58 PM
Any primer made by Winchester, Remington, Federal, CCI, RWS, even Wolf (Tula) are top quality.

ANY maker can turn out a small bad lot every 30-40 years, but it gets corrected immediately. :D

January 25, 2011, 12:05 AM
Headspace problems will result in misfires, among other things. Over the years, I've popped several hundred thousand Winchester primers. They are certainly not junk.

It would help in the future if you listed the caliber you're working with in the original post.

Hope this helps.


January 25, 2011, 12:01 PM
I've loaded thousands of them and never had a misfire yet.

Jimmy K

January 25, 2011, 12:35 PM
I'm stumped on this again. I measured a bunch of my brass and cases below .886 are pretty common and fire well. What do your 45 ACP cases measure?

January 25, 2011, 12:39 PM
While I am sure that there have been occasional bad batches, it is very easy to place blame solely on a component but difficult to accept that the component has to be correctly set by the user in order to work.

January 25, 2011, 12:44 PM
Sometime seating them with too much force can crush the priming pellet. I've used Winchester for 20 or more years and have had no problems except they are to small to use with Hornady match .308 brass, I use CCI's for those.

January 25, 2011, 01:36 PM
I have been using Winchester primers for 20 years. I have never had a FTF.

January 25, 2011, 02:30 PM
Some competition guns with a light hammer strike might have a failure to ignite the Winchester primer since the cup is harder than a Federal. Or a dirty firing pin channel might cause this failure.

January 25, 2011, 02:36 PM
So what is the case length for your 45 ACP? I'm suspecting a headspace issue. XD chambers are relatively forgiving of oversize cases, but might be less than reliable with undersize brass.

January 25, 2011, 04:18 PM
I suspect you have too much slop in the linkage of your press. I'd suggest replacing it with a brand-new RCBS press. :D

January 25, 2011, 04:34 PM
I talked to a CCI technician one time about primers. He said they often ask people to send them their faulty rounds for them to inspect to see if it was a problem with the primer or a problem with the installation of the primer. They dismantle the round and inspect the primer very carefully. It is extremely rare to actually find a faulty primer. The overwhelming majority are caused by failing to seat them deeply enough. Once in a great while, one will be crushed by seating too deeply (I'm not sure how that could even be done).

Based on their forensic analysis of these things, he said their statisticians estimate that the chance of getting a legitimate faulty primer is about 1 out of 3,000,000.

Is that the truth? I have no way of knowing, but it sounded good to me. :) Incidentally, when I asked that same guy about Bench Rest Primers as compared to the standard primers, he said don't waste your money on the BR primers. They are exactly the same primers as the standard, except that for the BR primers, "they had 3 guys staring at the assembly line instead of 2 guys". :D

January 25, 2011, 04:36 PM
I just went all through this with a WWII Colt Commando.

It simply will not work 100% with CCI primers in RA-67 GI cases.

But it works perfectly with Win, Rem, and Fed primers in RA-67 GI cases. And CCI primers work fine in Win cases.

It's all about case & primer tolerance stacking causing excess headspace, causing the FP to fail to reach the primer to set it off.


January 25, 2011, 04:44 PM
#1. It's not the primers.

I've personally used nearly 40,000 Winchester large pistol primers in the last 10 years shooting bullseye and have yet to have a dud. I have used upwards of 250,000 various makes and sizes in the last 35 years of reloading and cannot honestly remember one dud primer. A long time ago I intentionally loaded with oily hands & fingers, trying to MAKE a dud primer in a cartridge. I had heard for years that you needed to have nearly surgically clean hands so you didn't contaminate the priming mixture. I couldn't do it, not to say it can't be done, but I couldn't. I quit worrying and just loaded. Now I load everything with Dillon 550's and an RCBS 4x4 so the amount of contact I have with the primers is very minimal.

Without a little more information about the loading setup, I tend to think there is something else in the process that is affecting your ammo.

What type of bullets are you loading? And, what seating depth is being used? If you're using a lead SWC design, seat them so there is 1-2 thumbnail thickness' of lead exposed.

What amount and type of powder are you using?

In my experience, case length means nothing in the 45 ACP. I have yet to measure a 45 case, other than wall thickness. If you were shooting a precision rifle, trimming to one given length is beneficial. On a pistol that is being used at 25 yards or less it makes no difference. At 50 yards, out of a Ransom rest with several custom 1911's, I haven't been able to show any improvement, and I've tested thousands of rounds. The most I will do for my long line loads (50 yards) is use the same brand of case for that match. The next match it may be another brand, but the powder charge, primer, and bullet remain the same.

If you mark and remeasure your .886 cases after many firings you'll find they have shrunk. A straight wall pistol case does that, they shrink not grow, unlike bottleneck cases.

Good luck in your quest.


January 25, 2011, 04:51 PM
Case length means nothing in the 45 ACP.Maybe, maybe not!

I agree it means nothing to a 1911 with a 1/4" of free firing pin travel out of the breach face.

But the OP is shooting a striker-fired XD, and striker-fired guns are not as forgiving as a 1911 on proper headspace, due to the very limited FP travel available.

I'm suspecting a headspace issue.I'm suspecting you are right!


January 25, 2011, 04:59 PM
i have not had any malfunctions with any of the winchester primers that i have used (and that is the only kind of primers i have used so far).

January 25, 2011, 05:11 PM
So many other variables involved here:
1. Primer seating?
2. Excessive head space/too tight of taper crimp.
3. Dirty/binding firing pin channel.
4. Weak striker springs.

As stated, it is next to impossible to "Deaden" any currently produced primer.:rolleyes:

January 25, 2011, 05:28 PM
Do the suspect dud rounds or ammo work in another gun?

January 25, 2011, 05:38 PM

I just need to give my $0.02 regarding CCI BR primers. I worked for ATK (people who own CCI/Speer) for a long time. Furthermore, I worked in the Primer Department. Now, that "technician" was probably pretty close with his 1 in 3 million estimate, he is a little off-base in his comments concerning Bench Rest primers (at least CCI's BR primers). Judging by his "3 instead of 2" comment, he has no idea of how the primer production process works. People don't "watch the assembly line." The line workers in that department work like crazy. Most of the processes are manual (most of the process is "hands-on"). People don't watch machines, they are running multiple shakers, transfering plates, inspecting. The people who make CCI primers are very skilled individuals. Machines don't do the work. Even the packaging is done manually (no robots). I just needed to clarify that, therefore giving credit to the folks who work there. They make a great product and deserve the credit for the work they do.

Without getting way too detailed (thus, cofusion), the main differnce between standard primers and BR's is the tighter tolerances and tighter specs. The amount of "primer mix" is more consistent from one primer to the next. They actually weigh samples of mix at determined intervals, which is how they know the amount of mix being put into the primer cups. Furthermore, the OAH specs of the finished product are tighter and less "rangy."

Now, this is not to say that standard CCI primers are not of good quality. They are AMAZINGLY consistent. However, BR's are even more so.

For what it's worth...

January 25, 2011, 06:04 PM
It's not the XD. I recently fired 200 rounds through it with no failures of any kind. I've had .882 casings fire ok...maybe it is seating depth? How deep do you seat WLPs? I've had mine around .003. I'm guessing these are sensitive to seating depth?

January 25, 2011, 11:47 PM
it's not the primer.


January 25, 2011, 11:55 PM
I have used Winchester SP/LP primers as my "Gold Standard" match primers. You should seat them about .004" below flush or slightly below flush as felt by your finger tip is fine.

Here's a thread for properly seating primers -

January 26, 2011, 12:28 AM
It's not the XD. I recently fired 200 rounds through it with no failures of any kind. I've had .882 casings fire ok...maybe it is seating depth? How deep do you seat WLPs? I've had mine around .003. I'm guessing these are sensitive to seating depth?

Seat them deep enough to allow you to feel the anvil bottom out against the fire wall. For that you'll need a hand tool. I like Hornady. It is made better than the others and feels better when you seat the primers. This offers better sensitivity, allowing you to feel the primer bottom out.

The most sensitive tool is made by Sinclair, however it is pretty slow to use cuz it's a single-shot.

January 26, 2011, 02:52 PM
suggest you clean out the firing pin channel and try again. can't hurt and may fix the FTF's.


January 26, 2011, 03:38 PM
My XD-.45, which is one of six XD's that I own, fires everything put through it. It's fired CCI, Remington, Winchester and Federal primers, and never skipped a beat.

I didn't go back and read all the posts in the thread, but I was wondering if you were having problems with one brand of brass?

Hope this helps.


January 26, 2011, 09:33 PM
I checked after it was commonality between the casings. Some are Speer, others are Winchester, others are Feds. I seated the HECK outta the primers (to the point of some deformation) and got 100% reliability when firing the prime cases only. They were already below flush to the touch...looks like they needed to go even deeper. I'll go ahead and load some cartridges with the primers seated even deeper and report back. Thanks for all the help, friends!

February 8, 2011, 08:34 AM
okay I've tried seating these flush, and .001 through .005. May not be junk but they are still way too touchy my taste. I'm switching to cci.

Marlin 45 carbine
February 8, 2011, 11:29 AM
I had 2 dud CCI LR primers out of one tray of 100. the only bad primers I've ever loaded.
I've used K's of Win no problems.

February 8, 2011, 02:21 PM
Maybe that makes me the exception...the fact remains they had their chance. If I AM the exception, they won't miss my business.

February 9, 2011, 01:08 AM
The measured seating depths you keep referring to are not really important. The primer needs to be seated 'fully' engaging the anvil. A smooth, long pull on the press handle until it bottoms out 'firmly'. Make sure the primer cup, primer hole and shell holder are clean.

The practice of some to 'restrike' the primer is an attempt to hammer the primer to where it's supposed to be using the firing pin as the hammer.

February 9, 2011, 03:02 AM
I've loaded thougsands of rounds with all varieties of Winchester primers without any problems that weren't my fault. What gun are they giving you problems with? And just in case you haven already done so, make sure you are seating them below the head about .001". A lot of failed ignition is from the primer being too shallow. When they are not completely in the primer pocket, and the energy from the firing pin strike will be diverted to seating the primer the rest of the way, rather than creating a deep enough dent. In most cases the primer will detonate on the second try, which is a good indication of not having been seated deep enough. But other things could be going on too. You may have a F.P. spring that need replacing or tightening, or your F.P. may need replacing. I had one that was chipped in just the right manner that I didn't see it until I measures it and then looked at it under a magnifying glass. I was doubtful at first because it approx. only .002" too short, but when I replaced it, the problem was solved.

February 9, 2011, 03:09 AM
Are you saying that you went from flush up to .005" above the primer pocket? If that is so then that is your cause. It can probably be better explained by others here, but the fact is you must seat those below below the head, around -.001" below or until you feel it bottom out, if you are seating by touch, but be sure they are below the case head.

February 9, 2011, 06:42 PM
I have used inchester primers for ca 50 years without a single problem. Currently I use ca 10,000 to 15,000 Winchester primers anually. I suspect the problem is with the seating of the primer in the case.

February 9, 2011, 10:52 PM
While I would consider myself a relative newb to reloading (only a couple years), I have loaded a few thousand .45ACP, and over a thousand .44Magnum rounds both hot and mild, and have used WLP primers exclusively. I have never had a round not go bang. I like them because at the time they were cheap and work for both normal and magnum loads. Walmart used to carry them for $25 a brick, but now they only sell the CCI 300s which I haven't tried yet, but bought a brick anyway.

February 9, 2011, 11:20 PM
Haven't seen a dud one yet. They all go bang for me first time every time.

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