Hardness/softness of shotshell primers??


December 20, 2012, 09:33 AM
Does the hardness of shotshell primers vary much from one brand to another?

I have a side-by-side double in which the firing pins appear to be hanging up in the primers, making the gun difficult to break open after firing.

I'm thinking maybe if I went to a harder primer the gun might be easier to open? Which brand of shotshell primer is the hardest?


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December 20, 2012, 02:48 PM
I don't think there is a huge difference in hardness....but I'd probably say CCI is the hardest..../ and its one of the "hotter" primers as well.../ Federal is probably the softest.../ Rem and Win are about the same ( and you get way less pressure on both Rem and Win - so I prefer them usually.

I've used a lot of Winchester, Reminton, CCI and Chedite 209 primers...and I didn't see a big difference.

However, I'm assuming you know - that not all shotshell 209 primers are interchangeable ....you'll need to find the right recipe for the primer you pick ...

as an example, 12ga, Rem STS hull, Hodgdon Clays powder, 1 oz of shot, Wad is WAA12SL, velocity at 1235 pfs ...using a

CCI 209 primer powder drop is 17.5gr 11,200 psi
CCI 209-SC primer powder drop is 17.4gr 11,300 psi
FED 209 A primer powder drop is 17.7gr 11,300 psi
REM 209 P primer powder drop is 18.7gr 9,400 psi
WIN 209 primer powder drop is 18.4gr 9,500 LUP ( not PSI, like rsrocket1 pointed out ) ...sorry !

I'm not saying 1gr of powder in a shotshell is dangerous one way or the other ....because you'll find loads from 1125 fps to 1345 fps ...using 1 oz loads in a 12ga.....but I would still follow the published recipe.

Since you're firing pins are hanging up ....the first thing I'd do is take the stock off...inspect the firing pins and springs...and clean and lightly lube both .../ look at pins under magnification - make sure there is no erosion on the head of the pins...and reassemble before I decided if it was ammo related or the firing pins.

The other question is .....what hulls are you using.../ maybe its a hull problem ...or a hull resizing problem.../ if you're not resizing your hulls when you're reloading them, I'd suggest you do that as well. Some of the cheap hulls...with steel bases (like Chedite, Estate, RIO, etc ...can be a pain in the butt to reload and resize ).....in 12ga, 20ga, 28ga and .410 ....the only hulls I reload are Remington STS or Remington Nitro....I used to use the old Win AA's in 28ga and .410 ...but when Win switched to these HS 2 part hulls ....I quite using Winchester and went to Remington.

December 20, 2012, 07:56 PM
FIOCCHI 209 primers are harder than Winchester 209's. I had a Beretta 390 Auto that had fired over 45,000 WW 209's without a missfire. A few years back when primers got tight I had to use Fiocchi and ended up with about a 3% misfire rate till I put a slightly heavier hammer spring in my 390.

December 21, 2012, 04:35 PM
I will try the Fiocchis as soon as I can locate some without having to pay the ding-dong hazmat fee for a trial size.

Thanks to both of you for your information. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

December 21, 2012, 04:37 PM
You too ...and you're welcome..

December 21, 2012, 05:32 PM
I do believe that Fed209A's are about the hottest primers around, even hotter than CCI209 Magnums in almost all cases. The A is the designation for the Aluminum particles used to generate the extra brisance which can add up to 2000 psi to the pressure of a load when compared to another primer. Federal used to make a medium primer called 209 without the A. Fed209A's are my favorite primer because I shoot light (3/4 oz 12 gauge) loads and want maximum pressure and consistent cool weather performance.

CCI 209SC's were made for sporting clays application and were a little hotter than standard CCI 209's and stopped the SC designation in 2003.

The W209 load showed is actually 9,500 LUP or lead units of pressure and not PSI. While they are related, they don't translate exactly. Similar to CUP in rifle loads.

If your gun is old, try to stay closer to the 9,500 psi range of loads rather than the 11,500 range. You don't need to cycle a gas action and you just want a clean burn which should be when the loads get into the 9,000+ psi range.

Finally, keep to a published load when it comes to picking hulls, primer, powder, wad and payload weight. Changing any of these could drastically alter the performance of the shot and the safety of you and your gun. Good luck.

December 21, 2012, 05:43 PM
I corrected my post ...to read LUP, thanks for catching that...

December 22, 2012, 08:52 AM
Which primer is recommended over the others.

December 22, 2012, 03:36 PM
Cheddites are known for piercing and burning up firing pins
Win 209's are nice but ridiculously expensive.

According to emails I have from Alliant, any standard primer (not magnum or fed 209A) can be safely interchanged - so Win209, Fiocchi616, Rem209, NobelSport, etc. can be used in your basic target loads

December 22, 2012, 05:03 PM
Oneounceload that is good to hear. I've been beating my head againt the wall looking at all of the various load tables on line. I plan using CCI primers since I still have some left over from years ago.

December 23, 2012, 11:57 AM
Chedite is probably the only primer I'd suggest not using ...because of the reported problems eroding firing pin tips ....but I've used CCI, Win and Remington for a long time...

If availability was no issue ...I'd use Remington / but they seem to be hard to get in my area....so my 2nd choice is Winchester...and my 3rd choice is CCI.

But better isn't an issue really....all the big name companies are just fine.

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