What's the "right answer" for .223 primers?


December 23, 2011, 08:26 PM
I've heard/read that for shooting in an AR that you must use hard primers like CCI #41 or some other brands "magnum" primers or else run the risk of slam fires.

Sounds like it makes sense at first blush because I do see small firing pin dimples when I unload a chambered, unfired round.

But then I think of all the commercial .223 that people fire thru ARs every day without issue. If the inertia from the free floating firing pin would cause a regular small rifle primer to detonate in a reload, wouldn't it do the exact same thing in something like WWB, UMC, or American Eagle, etc?

Not knowing the "right answer" I bought CCI #41 primers. No big deal because its only a few $ more per 1,000, but I'd hate to pass up a sale on regular old small rifle primers that would be perfectly fine/safe for me to use because I have a false notion that I shouldn't use them.

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December 23, 2011, 08:31 PM
You can bet that all commercial .223 ammo is loaded with primers that are not sensitive enough to be unsafe in AR's & Mini-14's.

As for me?
I have used CCI standard SR primers in both gun types since I started reloading for them in 1970.

Nothing wrong with using CCI #41.
But CCI Standard or Magnum primers will work just as well & safely.


December 23, 2011, 08:32 PM
I've been using small rifle primers without any slam fire incidents of any kind. I've also used the super soft federal match primers also without any slam fire incidents.

Anecdotal? Yes. But they work just fine for me.

December 23, 2011, 09:15 PM
winchester work fine for me

December 23, 2011, 09:22 PM
I've used all different brands of primers in my AR's and never had a problem with any of them. The right answer is the primers you have on hand. No need to make it any more complicated than that.

December 23, 2011, 10:22 PM
I like Rem 7 1/2s best.

I've tried CCI 400s and they seem to flatten at medium-high loads, well before max. Looking online, it appears that Rem 7 1/2 are thicker and are the preferred among precision shooters.

Hondo 60
December 23, 2011, 10:37 PM
I've used Rem 6 1/2, CCI 400, CCI 450.
I haven't seen any notable difference.

December 23, 2011, 11:01 PM
I had a slamfire with the AR15. It occurred during the NRA standing slowfire stage of a highpower match. I was using the brass colored WSR primers. Winchester nickle primers used to be the primer I preferred to use, never had an issue, but these brass colored WSR are thin and pierce easy. My AR also slamfired, in battery.

The bud with whom I was squadded, his AR slamfired with a Federal primer, during his standing relay.

I talked to him in Nov 2011, he had one more AR15 slamfire with Federals and is no longer using that primer.

My bud has won the President’s 100 patch a couple of times and the CMP said he was the best vintage rifle shooter in the US. He is not a novice at reloading.

I use CCI #41 primers as they have thick cups and are hard to pierce. These are excellent primers in the AR and I shoot HM scores (seldom HM standing scores anymore) all the way out to 600 yards with the things.

When you load these things, you must ensure that nothing is in line with your muzzle that you don't want dead. Just in case.

Under Fulton Armory FAQ, the article “Slamfire: the M16 story” http://www.fulton-

Slamfires happened to the early M16’s because of a heavy firing pin and sensitive primers. If you look in Chapter eight, page 130, of the “Black Rifle” by R. Blake Stevens, there is an entire section on the slamfire problems the Army had with the M16. A number of AR15 slamfire incidents had occurred when cartridges were single loaded and the bolt release pressed.

If you read the report in the book, dated 1963, based on the tests of two rifles with the firing pin configuration available at the time, the energy during bolt closure of one of the test rifles firing pin always was above the “none fire” specifications of the primer. Which meant that statistically some of the primers would ignite at those energy levels. So the Army did two things. The first was to test alternate firing pin configurations, all pictured in the book, and one has a spring undoubtedly like the current AR-10 design, and the second was to change the ammunition specifications to require a harder primer.

AR15 Slamfires

AR15 slamfire with Winchester primers.


Occured today while breaking in a new upper ... single round in the mag, pressed the release and ... BANG! A little later on, with three rounds in the mag, pressed the trigger ... round fired. Everything is ok. Pressed the trigger again ... double BANG!

I went back to single loading to finish out the box. Total rounds fired ... 40. Two slam-fires (including the double). Two failures to extract. One failure to feed.

First slam-fire was on the second round fired (while I was still single loading the magazines). The double was on rounds 27, 28 (of 40).

At this point the ammunition is my prime suspect, Winchester "White Box" .223 Rem, 62 grain but I would have to say that ARs do, in fact, slam-fire.

I did inspect for a frozen pin after the first slam fire. I didn't expect one (frozen pin) since I had personally cleaned and inspected the gun last night and it was the second round of the day. I also didn't expect it to foul up too much since it is a piston operated upper (ZM Weapons).

The upper was brand new and unfired (except for factory). The lower is a relatively new (about 200 rounds) RRA. Both (upper and lower) were cleaned, inspected and lubricated properly before the trip to the range. The lower has functioned flawlessly for those 200 rounds when mated to a White Oak Armament upper (all Black Hills .223 Rem 77 grain).

I know BR said that the bolt face could cause the slam fire but the two casings did have firing pin strikes with no other dimples or scratches on the primer face.

I am begining to suspect the recoil spring on the ZM upper. It does seem rather robust. This upper might require the harder primers found in 5.56 NATO. Unfortunately I don't know it all yet so I'm still researching.

Tavor 21 Slamfire video on youtube.

Notice how many rounds the guy fires. If he had a mechanical problem he would have recurring slamfires, but he did not. When you see the slamfire, notice that the finger is not on the trigger. He was running Federal American Eagle (federal primers) and Winchester ammo. Winchester redesigned their primers in 1999 to make them more sensitive.


Watched an AR Slam-Fire Saturday
Posted 20 http://www.usrifleteams.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=13132&view=&hl=slamfire&fromsearch=1 April 2009 - 09:10 AM

I was scoring my firing-point partner Saturday during offhand and he had a slam-fire on about the 5th round. We're talking about an experienced shooter here. Multi-year state HP champion, generally shoots 199-clean offhand, not to mention he's a hell of a nice guy. The bullet hit the dirt about 10 yards in front of the firing line. I was watching him closely trying to learn something from his technique, but didn't expect to learn this. I know his finger was off the trigger for certain but his muzzle was decidedly pointed earthward when he closed the bolt. The area downrange is uninhabited for many miles, so at this range folks are a bit lax about closing the bolt while rifle is pointed toward the impact area. After that, he was pretty careful about keeping it level. He was shooting an AR spacegun. He thought it might have been due to the bolt carrier weight he had just put in for testing before this match. My suspicion is high primer, but he could be right. Another possibility is his loading technique. He places the round through the ejection port, then tips the muzzle down and jiggles the round fully into the chamber prior to closing the bolt. I have always thought it best to leave the cartridge on top of the magazine and let the bolt "strip" and chamber it from it's "natural" position. In any event, let this be a lesson to all of us. Closing the bolt is an inherently risky event. Point yer rifle at the backstop when you push that button. My buddy lost the match as a result of his slam-fire, but next time it could be a lot worse.

12 April 2011

I have had ARs fire unintentionally before when the bolt hold-open is released and the bolt slams home. Usually this has happened with reloads, due to use of soft commercial primers and the free-floating firing pin design of the weapon. The milspec primers are slightly harder to prevent just such events. Many claim that the low wieght of the alloy pin makes this unlikely,...but I've experienced it and know better. Nearly took my big toe off once when I releoaded a fresh mag and let the bolt fly home (finger off the trigger, of course).

If the weapon had seen a lot of rounds fired since the last cleaning, the carbon fouling build up that the direct gas system is notorious for could have slowed the rotating and closing of the bolt just enough, that when the sudden slowing of the bolt assembly's forward movent allowed the free-floating firing pin to hit forward on the soft commercial primer,...detonation occurred before complete locking of the breach.

Posted 20 April 2009 - 10:43 AM

I disagree.

It's happened to me.

I've found that dropping the round entirely into the chamber and letting the bolt close with full momentum isn't the best idea.

I now leave the round resting on the magazine and let the bolt "pick it up" as it closes.

Free-floating firing pins and occasionally sensitive primers can lead to this.

Gary brings up a good point about the trigger issue. Another consideration is the primer. I have seen 2 slamfires in an AR15. Both occured during an offhand string, 2 shots in a row. The shooter is a very experienced reloader and highpower shooter. It never happened again to him. He was using WSR primers. Perhaps it was the primer's "sensitivity," a couple of high primers, or a combo of the two.
The occurance sure did shake his nerves though. Both rounds impacted 10-20 yds in front of the firing line.

Posted 20 April 2009 - 12:02 PM
I had it a few years ago practicing off hand with winchester white box in my service rifle.

Second shot of the night, shot went into the ground in front of me. I put the rifle down and tracked down my 2 ejected brass. Looking at the primer strikes, one had metal flow out into the firing pin hole in the front of the bolt. So, instead of a primer srike like an innie belly button, one of the brass had an outie. No damage to the rifle.

Whats most amazing about your post PamF is the 199 to 200 part!


Posted 20 April 2009 - 12:46 PM
I've had two slam fires and both of them scared the beejiminees outta me. One of the more experienced shooters in my club made the observation that slams seem to happen more often when the muzzle is depresseed as the bolt goes forward. He postulated that the firing pin is already lying forward from gravity almost as if it was preloaded. He figured that as the bolt rode forward with the pin already out, if the primer was gonna go that just gave it the extra opportunity to do so. Since that time I've never let the bolt go forward with the muzzle depressed. I have no idea whether his idea has any merit but it makes me feel safer. For what that's worth. LOL

Posted 22 April 2009 - 11:06 AM
We had at least 2 MIA's over the years at New Holland that had rounds go off when the bolt was closed.
The reason I am able to think of at least 2 is the severe damage to the rifles. In the 2 listed instances the rifles were damaged to the point the receivers were cracked and or broken.
We have an AR-15 do the same thing a time or 2 a year. We have not had rifle damage from the AR-15 slam fires.
My finding at the end of the M1A era and start of the AR-15 era was to completely ensure an AR-15 will not slam fire is to install a light weight firing pin.

Posted 22 April 2009 - 12:31 PM
I had a slam fire several months ago. I was just at my regular local club's range doing slow fire standing practice. Put the round in the ejection port, sort of tipped my rifle forward very quickly to let inertia start the round in the chamber and dropped the bolt. Round went off about 10 feet in front of me. I make an effort to keep the rifle parallel to the ground when dropping the bolt, but get lax about it sometimes.

I was using handloads. Hornady 75gr HPBT, 24.0gr RL15, Remington 7-1/2, LC03 brass. I'm betting the primer was a bit high, because it was once fired brass from military source and I used a Dillon Super Swage tool to just barely swage the pockets (keeping them tight as possible, but still accept a primer).

Posted 23 April 2009 - 01:58 PM
I g=had a slam fire with a Garand in the first highpower match I EVER shot. Really unnerved my. I was a reloading greenhorn, but others found some issue with the dies a friend had loaned me. learned a lot that day. I've always remembered that.

Posted 03 May 2009 - 08:52 AM
We've had only one instance in the 11 years I've ran local matches. AR15, handload. The same gun has been used many times since w/o any problems. The round impacted the ground 15 feet in front of the line - not a big problem with me compared to having the muzzle raised and the bullet leaving the range.
Me, guess like most, load with the muzzle slightly depressed, drop it in, and hit the bolt release. Bent several rounds trying to drop 'em on the follower. Haven't lost 10 points to slamfire yet, although I have employ many other methods of losing points !

Posted 29 May 2009 - 11:46 AM
I saw two slam fires by the same shooter in the same offhand string.
He was a good shooter who posted a poor score for the day because of this.
I never found out what caused this in his rifle that day but it reinforced the absolute importance of having the muzzle ALWAYS pointed in a safe direction when closing the bolt on live ammunition. (in any firearm)
Both rounds impacted the ground a few yards ahead of him but later, in the same match, I witnessed him closing his bolt with the muzzle well above the horizon. ????????
Bullets impacting the ground will tumble and have a limited flight distance but ones angled above the horizon can pose a much more serious hazard.
Trying to close the bolt with the rifle aimed at the backstop is, in my opinion, asking for trouble. I always keep my muzzle down when closing the bolt and have never experienced a slam fire in my own firearms.
Most folks close their bolts sky high during their rapids and I wish that they wouldn't

Posted 29 May 2009 - 12:33 PM
I had mine to slamfire monday while chronographing some loads. It was completely horozontile on a front rest when I loaded and closed the bolt. I'm just glad it was pointed downrange and wasn't pointed at the chronograph when I closed the bolt. Scared the crap out of me though.
Slamfire, how is it scored?
Posted 21 July 2009 - 12:05 PM
How do you score or count a slamfire? Is it considered as a miss or are you allowed to fire over with another round and disreguard the slamfire? I am referring to having a slamfire while shooting slow fire 200 or 600. The reason I'm asking I have had 2 slamfires one was recorded as a miss at one range and the other one was disreguarded and I was allowed to fire another round in it's place at a different range. Just wanting to know the proper procedure. Tim

Posted 21 July 2009 - 04:05 PM
I never had this happen until I bought some CCI400 primers. The rem. 7.5 never slamfired on me. I'll be glad when the CCI's are gone.
Posted 25 July 2009 - 06:12 PM
I had it happen to me twice in the same stage of a match, standing slow fire, with the newer Winchester SR primers. I was able to borrow a friends extra amo and finish the match. I now only use Rem 71/2's at matches and have never had a problem since. The old Win SR's were harder. I have used CCI mil spec primers on my practice loads with no issues also

December 24, 2011, 02:29 AM
Any AR ammo I build gets either a Rem 7 1/2 primer of a CCI #41 primer. There's no reason to take a chance if the proper primers are available.

That said I always used CCI #34 primers for my M1 Garand ammo. During the recent shortage I couldn't get any so I used standard CCI LR primers without incident. If I could have gotten Magnum primers I would have used them over standard primers because they have a thicker cup. I did go back to the NATO rated primers when they became available again.

December 24, 2011, 03:10 AM
For my AR I load with standard CCI, Remington 7.5 and Wolf 223. All have been perfectly fine.

December 24, 2011, 05:54 PM
I've experienced 1 slam fire in my life and can't definitively blame that one on a soft primer-I honestly don't know WHAT happened. I pressed the bolt stop and chambered a round and the round fired without my finger anywhere NEAR the trigger. That's all I know for sure.

I have used CCI SR primers for years and only recently changed to military #41 primers. This "slamfire" was WITH a #41 primer. Put a hole in the roof of my shooting bench shed. I was less than pleased to say the least.

December 24, 2011, 07:03 PM
I have used CCI and Winchester primers in my ARs ans M1s and Remington 7-1/2s in my ARs without issue.

I see too much conflicting information on the web about primers, soft vs hard cups, thin vs thick cups, etc., that I really wonder what to believe.

CCI says that their 34 and 41 primers match military sensitivity, but they don't indicate how they obtain that. I would not necessarily expect them to divulge their secrets but it does add to the mystery.

December 25, 2011, 12:53 AM
CCI says that their 34 and 41 primers match military sensitivity, but they don't indicate how they obtain that. I would not necessarily expect them to divulge their secrets but it does add to the mystery.
I think CCI is actually supplying primers for the military. That would be one way of them knowing the specs...

Aren't they the only commercial manufacturer who market primers for the 50 Cal?

December 25, 2011, 03:08 AM
I think CCI is actually supplying primers for the military. That would be one way of them knowing the specs...

Aren't they the only commercial manufacturer who market primers for the 50 Cal?

Could be. I will not dispute it one way or the other. You are probably correct on what CCI is manufacturing for whom.

But like I said, CCI is not saying what they do to meet mil spec vs commercial spec except to say the 34 and 41 primers match military primer sensitivity.

Does CCI use a harder cup, thicker cup, change the primer compound, all of the above, none of the above, some combination of the above, or something else entirely.

I cannot say I have seen any reputable reference on the subject from CCI or any of the other primer manufacturers.

I am interested in the real answer but I really do not expect to see it.

December 25, 2011, 03:27 AM
I think you're right. Unless you know someone who works in the primer department of CCI you will never know the answers to all those questions.

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