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Can small rifle primers be substituted for small pistol primers?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by vito, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. vito

    vito Well-Known Member

    Local stores have plenty of small rifle primers, but continue to have nothing in small pistol primers. Can these be used interchangeably? What risk would there be in 38 special or 40S&W if I used small rifle primers?
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Really none to speak of.

    1. If your guns have enough firing pin energy to set them off reliably.

    2. You start low and work up the load with them as you should always do anyway when switching components.

    I think there are already some prople doing it.

  3. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    yep...what RC said. SR primers have a harder cup so that when used in a rifle with higher pressure they do not pierce and allow hot escaping gases to damage the bolt face and firing pin. SP primers have a softer cup to make them ignite reliably with handgun firing systems. Many claim there is no difference in intensity of ignition, but as RC said, rework your load as when changing any component.
  4. 627PCFan

    627PCFan Well-Known Member

    I use SR primers in all my pistol rounds (357 and 38). I have no failures to fire from using them, with the exception where I didnt seat the primer all the way. As always rework your load up-
  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    My question is then do small rifle primers seat below the case head?

    I tried using large rifle primers in the 44 Mag and they all bottomed out with some of the primer above the case head.
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Small R & P primers & primer pockets are the same height & depth.
    Lg R & P primers & pockets are not.

    Lg. rifle primer pocket depth (min/max): .125"/.132"
    Lg. pistol primer pocket depth (min/max): .117"/.123"

    Lg. rifle primer cup height (min/max): .123"/.133"
    Lg. pistol primer cup height (min/max): .115"/.125"

  7. 918v

    918v Well-Known Member

    You are going to erode your breechface by using small rifle primers:

  8. 2zulu1

    2zulu1 Well-Known Member

    Sierra load data uses WSR primers for the 38 Super, I haven't seen any difference in performance or breech face issues in my 1911s. Now I only use small pistol primers, but it's nice to have backup.

    Always use proper protocol and common sense when developing loads. :)
  9. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member


    Before you go and makeup 50, try 2 or 3.
    I know that my 38 Spl - a S&W Model 10-5 - does not strike the primer cup hard enough to set off a rifle primer.
    But I have no problems with small PISTOL primers.
    As usual rcmodel's advice is right on.
    Try it - but start low & work up.
    Rifle primers are supposedly a bit more energetic.
  10. Scimmia

    Scimmia Well-Known Member

    Only with low pressure loads. I believe that CCI has said that their small rifle primers are the same as their magnum small pistol primers.
  11. Otto

    Otto Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but that doesn't mean you should use them....
    Quote from CCI:
    "Safety Note: use Magnum primers only when specified in published load data."
  12. nofishbob

    nofishbob Well-Known Member

    "I believe that CCI has said that their small rifle primers are the same as their magnum small pistol primers."

    I had heard this, too.

    I contacted CCI last year and was told emphatically that the SPM and SR primers are NOT the same.

    I use SR in place of SPM without issue, but I have worked the loads up with these primers and am not pushing to the high end of the data.

    Good luck!

  13. waho

    waho Well-Known Member

    According to the VV 4th edition manual, .357 magnum loads require a small rifle primer.
  14. dragon813gt

    dragon813gt Well-Known Member

    Magnum primers are powder dependent. Not cartridge dependent.

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  15. waho

    waho Well-Known Member

    The OP's question was if small rifle primers could be substituted for small pistol primers.
  16. JLDickmon

    JLDickmon Well-Known Member

    because he can't find small pistol primers..

    I'd say, "If it's a magnum cartridge with spherical powder (296/H110 for example) it wouldn't be out of the question, but you should always revert back to starting loads and work back up.."
  17. mgmorden

    mgmorden Well-Known Member

    There are a TON of guys on the competition circuit who do this. While I personally would buy actual small pistol if both were on the shelf, if I wanted to keep shooting and could only find small rifle I wouldn't hesitate to use them in my pistol loads.

    Take RC's advice and work up your loads separately, but other than that, go for it.
  18. dragon813gt

    dragon813gt Well-Known Member

    All I use for H110/W296 is SRP. But I worked the loads up and I'm using it in a carbine. I also have loads worked up w/ SPP for 2400.

    I would only substitute SPP for SRP if I absolutely had to. SRP are equivalent to small pistol magnum primers IMO.

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