1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Is a Primer a Primer a Primer?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by fmnnc, Nov 26, 2007.

  1. fmnnc

    fmnnc New Member

    Mar 4, 2007
    Oak Level, North Carolina
    Simple Question...

    Can a small rifle primer from one company be substituted for a small rifle primer from another company?


    Example: Winchester's WSR for CCI's 400 or vise versa?

  2. RustyFN

    RustyFN Senior Member

    Jul 5, 2006
    West Virginia
    Yes, that's not a problem. If you are shooting max or near max loads I would reduce the charge a little and work back up. Some primers are quite a bit hotter than others.
  3. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Senior Member

    May 21, 2004
    "Land of (dis)Enchantment"
    One thing to be aware of also is the fact that primers from different companies are softer or harder than others. CCI are harder than Winchester, which are harder than Federal.

    My slicked-up 1892 in .45 Colt won't reliably set-off CCI primers, but Winchester and Federal are 100%.
  4. Starter52

    Starter52 Participating Member

    Oct 16, 2005
    Northeast USA
    I've been reloading for 30+ years and I have never cared what brand of primer I used. They are all the same to me. I feel the same about different brands of gasoline.

    I will note that some (CCI) seem to be a tad bit larger than other brands. I've always needed just a bit more pressure to seat CCIs. Winchester primers seem to slip in a bit easier.
  5. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Senior Member

    Mar 7, 2007
    The Land of Bowie, Crockett, Travis & Houston
    I realize the OP is about rifle primers.

    However, "a primer is a primer is a primer" is not necessarily true for pistols, I take it, having read Lee's manual. He says be very caaaaaaaaaareful when using Federal primers in his machines. Must be something about them, I guess.

    Not trying to hijack the OP...just curious about rifle vs pistol primers.

  6. sargenv

    sargenv Member

    Apr 6, 2006
    Bay Area, CA
    I know several people who have had the whole tube go off on their 650's when using federal primers. Knock on wood I have not yet, but it's always in the back of my mind when I load with them.. I always make sure to be wearing safety glasses regardless of which primers I use.
  7. FieroCDSP

    FieroCDSP Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Wooster, Ohio
    Federal primers are a bit more volatile. From what I have read, it's due to the way they seal the priming compound. Some brands use foil or paper. I'm not sure what Federal uses, but it's said they're more prone to chain detonating. A little extra caution is warranted (reduced number in Lee prining gear), but they perform about the same.
  8. Slamfire

    Slamfire Mentor

    Dec 29, 2006
    Federal primers are about the most sensitive around. It has to do with thin primer cups and the priming compound they use. They use the most sensitive formulation of priming compound around: normal lead styphnate. Everyone else uses a different lead styphnate.

    Winchester redesigned their primer around 2000 to make it more sensitive.

    Why? All those folks out there with out of tolerance firearms were complaining that the primers were too hard. These folks cut a couple of coils from their mainsprings and are upset when their firearm will not reliably ignite a primer. Since it can't be their fault, it must be the primer, and they are able to convince other people that what the world needs is extremely sensitive primers.

    The consequence is that primer manufacturers change a perfectly good product line and make primers that are extremely sensitive. Which means they are prone to slamfire, and pierce easily.
  9. Sunray

    Sunray Elder

    May 17, 2003
    London, Ont.
    Change any one component and you need to work up the load again.
    "...cut a couple of coils from their mainsprings..." That'd do it. You don't cut off a couple of coils.
  10. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Elder

    Oct 14, 2005
    Northwest Arkansas
    I wish that were the problem! I had to stop using CCI primers all together as I was getting a 5% misfire rate. When it first started happening with my arisaka sporter I ordered an extra power striker spring to rectify the problem. Did it change things? NO. Then I bought a CZ527 in 7.62x39 and it wouldn't set cci's off reliably. And this rifle will fire milspec 7.62x39 without a hitch hard recessed primers and all. The misfired primers were literally so hard the firing pin wouldn't leave but the slightest indention
  11. mc223

    mc223 Active Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Just Down the Road
    I have yet, in thousands of reloaded rounds noticed any of the alleged volatility or sensitivity of Fed primers.
    The 550 just churns em out without a hitch. I have heard the internet stories of tube detonation of primers in Dillons, but have never seen a documented report of it actually happening.
    I have however, had multiple pierced primers with mid book level charges with the WSRs.
    Cup hardness is debatable, however the actual thickness of the cup is known and could be used as a reference.

    Scroll down the page for cup thickness.

    Some primer photos.


  12. scrat

    scrat Mentor

    Jan 27, 2007
    Monrovia, CA
    the primer topic again. Remember the primer pole on whats your favorite brand of primers. I have used cci primers. had way tooo many missfires. everyone was saying your not seating them deap enough your not seating them correctly. well either way i switched to winchester and i have not had a single miss fire. so im just going to stay with winchester. sorry cci. my money goes to winchseter on primers.
  13. Wildfire

    Wildfire Participating Member

    Nov 2, 2007

    Hey There.
    I have fired many many thousands of CCI primers. That is all I have ever used for the 25 plus years of competative, target , and hunting.
    I have never had not even 1 miss fire. All primers have different burn rates just like powders do. PSI will vary . You got some good advice in the above post. From experianced shooters. Primer seating depth is important. If not at the bottom of the pocket the firing pin has to push it that far before it can do what it is intended to do. Normal firing pin protrusion should be .055" Max.
    Any more and it will pierce primers. Get much shorter and it will not be reliable in setting them off. Many factory guns come with that already messed up for you. Check that and see what is going on. The primers may not be to blame at all. I have found many rifles with firing pins that were too long. 2 new Encore's had .076 and one had .096" firing pin protrusion. Pierced primers. Ordered new ones. They came even longer yet. T/C claims they never heard of this problem. I just bought 2 weirdos a year and a half apart.
    I shortened them and all is fine. That primer should set .003 to .005" below the case head. Improper head space can also result in bad hits on the primer.
  14. Steve C

    Steve C Senior Member

    Jan 5, 2006
    They can be substituted but they are not identical, you will get changes in pressure and velocity. Some brands of primers are just hotter than others.
  15. rero360

    rero360 Active Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Fredonia, NY
    I know with the Lee auto primer the instructionssay ot to use any type of federal primers with it. Needless to say it made me curious as to why this would be, found out the answer.

    You shouldn't use federal primers with the Lee auto primer because the primers can't feed from the pan onto the ram, however if you drop the primer directly onto the ram it works just fine, just rather slow.
  16. P-32

    P-32 Participating Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    the dry side of Washington St
    I never noticed this fact when using Federal primers in my Lee autoloader hand held.

    I have used CCI's for years. There was a period of time I could hardly prime a pistol cartridge with them but they improved. I can think of no misfires with a CCI primer, ever! I would say in scrat's case there was a problem either in the ammo or firearm out of spec.
  17. Slamfire

    Slamfire Mentor

    Dec 29, 2006
    Krochus: You don’t have a primer problem.

    You stuck a Wolff extra power mainspring in an Arisaka and still had misfires? Think about it, that firing pin had one heck of a lot of momentum and you did not have reliable ignition?:confused:

    I can recall, almost three decades ago, assembling a M1917 firing pin assembly. As I was pushing the firing pin and mainspring into the bolt sleeve, I lost control of it and the firing pin shot out across the table. It hit a concrete block wall, tip first, and with enough force to knock a dime sized divot out of it. :eek:

    I learned a couple of important things. 1) firing pins can be dangerous,2) Never, ever, point a loaded firing pin assembly at your head. :eek:

    So let us examine your statement of
    I do not believe that any primer is so hard that it can bounce firing pins off its chest like Superman can bounce bullets off his belly. Nope, you have another problem.

    If you only have the slightest indention, that is evidence the firing pin is barely touching the primer at its fullest extension. If that primer was right next to the firing pin you will have one heck of a large indention. And if you had large indentions but no ignition, then I would say you had a primer problem. But you don’t.

    You might say, “hey I get excellent indentions with all those good primers that go off.” Well that is what you would expect. The first thing to back out on ignition is the primer. It literally impales itself on the firing pin. The higher the pressure, the shallower the indention as the firing pin attempts to push its “inney” belly button into an “outey” belly button.

    So my guesses:

    1) A thin rim, the extractor is not holding the case head against the bolt face.

    2) Excessive cartridge headspace

    3) Insufficient firing pin protrusion.

    I am unfamiliar with the action on a CZ527, looking at a picture it appears to be a claw extractor bolt gun. And you say, it works with military surplus with hard primers. Well it should have enough zing to make commercial primers ignite, so I don’t think you have a primer problem. You have a dimensional tolerance problem somewhere. First thing I would check is rim thickness, next cartridge headspace. Try a crush fit on your reloads, have just the last 10 degrees of bolt turn swag the cartridge into place.

    It should ignite everything. If not, carry a ramrod to knock the cartridge out!:cuss:
  18. RyanM

    RyanM Senior Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    I've yet to have a problem with CCI primers being "hard." My Ruger SP-101 with a 9 pound mainspring (factory is 14#) sets them off just fine. I had a couple that weren't seated deep enough when I first started reloading, but that was obviously my fault, as they'd have just the tiniest little dent in them.

    Other guns with factory mainsprings, I can purposely seat the primers out a little too much, and they still usually work. 100% ignition if they're flush with the case head or deeper.
  19. Werewolf

    Werewolf Senior Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    I've not experience the problems many here relate concerning Federal and easy detonation but I have had big problems with Federal primers and a Lee Classic Turret.

    It is the only brand that flips when being pressed into the primer pocket. 1 in 8 or so just turns over. Winchester and CCI don't do that. Wierd but true on my press.
  20. EShell

    EShell Member

    Nov 5, 2003
    Agreed. There can be **many** performance nuances.

    There are also very different definitions of "work", so when one asks "will it "work"", we would need to know "in what context?" the question is asked.

    Using CCI #34 in .308 match loads, I found it impossible to get decent accuracy that was much more forthcoming with regular WLR primers and the same set of components. This may be due to the hotter mix being incompatible with the medium-capacity of the .308 case, since #34s are most similar to CCI #250s, but less sensitive in order to be compatible with military auto and semi-auto firearms. I had been trying to find a load that would "work" in both my M1A and my M-700 LTR . . .

    Did they "work"? Yes, the cartridge fired and since I had worked up to that point, pressures were withing my boundaries. Did they "work as well as an alternate, no, they did not work with respect to the desired accuracy level.

    My 6.5-300 Weatherby burns 74 grains of Retumbo behind a 123 Scenar for near 3,500 fps. I used the commonly recommended "magnum" Federal 215M primer. 100 yard accuracy was great in the match-quality rifle. Velocity was great and pressures were again within limits.

    Did they "work"? No, they did not work at all, even though the rifle fired and a bullet came out. My velocity extreme spreads are terribly high, almost 100 fps, which gave me severe vertical dispersion as I reached 1,000 yards, the working range of this rifle. Hitting stuff consistently at long range was just not possible, even though my 100 yard groups went into 3/8 MOA.

    I went to Fed #210M, the "standard" rifle primer, upped the powder charge to get my velocity/pressure back up, and my velocity extreme spreads suddenly went to single digits and my 1k vertical went away. Did they "work"? Yes, perfectly.

    So, please tell me again, what was the question?:confused:

Share This Page