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Question about Remington 5 1/2 small pistol primers

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by vtuck2, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. vtuck2

    vtuck2 Well-Known Member


    In an effort to kick start my hand loading career, a few days ago, I visited a Gander Mountain store intending to stock up on primers.

    Since my reloading manuals tend to specify CCI primers I decided to buy that brand. The plan was to buy 1000 primers for small pistol, large pistol, and large rifle.

    What I did not realize was that most of the "recipes" for the powders I will use also call for regular (not magnum) primers for nearly ALL loads, whether these be .38 spc, .357, .44 spc or .44 magnum.

    I ended up buying a box of large primers (not magnum) and a box of small magnum pistol primers. I wanted to buy regular small pistol primers but they were out of them.

    Only after I got home did I realize that all of the recipes I intended to use called for regular primers.

    So, tonight, I went back to the store intending to exchange the box of small magnum pistol primers for regular small pistol primers.

    Unfortunately, the store was STILL out of regular SPPs in CCI so I bought a box of Remington primers.

    The primers that I was returning were NO. 550 and were designated "small magnum pistol primers". As I was checking out I realized that the replacement primers were designated "Remington small pistol 5 1/2 primers".

    The similarity in numbering (550 in CCI and 5 1/2 in Remington) caused me to begin to wonder if the Remington primers, even though the box did not say "magnum" were, indeed, magnum primers.

    I have three pounds of powder - two pounds of Unique and one pound of Bullseye. I have both Lee and Speer reloading manuals. As best I can tell none of the Lee loads call for magnum primers even in .357 or .44 magnum. The Speer manual calls for magnum primers with some Winchester powders.

    For the time being I do not anticipate loading hotter than the minimum published loads. I would appreciate it however if somebody would educate me about primers generally and these Remington 5 1/2 small pistol primers specifically.

    It is important to me to color between the lines.

    Thanks to one and all.

  2. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Remington 1 1/2 primers are standard small pistol primers and you are correct, the 5 1/2 primers are their Magnum small pistol primers.

    Since you will be loading starting powder charges those primers won't be a problem. Magnum primers will burn slightly longer and slightly hotter but are not a problem unless you are at the maximum powder charge.

    Magnum primers are not magic and will not explode your gun especially at minimum powder charges. BUT, Unique will work better with a standard primer as will Bullseye and 2400. You were correct in wanting to buy CCI-500 primers. They are my favorite primers for most handgun ammo.
  3. Josh45

    Josh45 Well-Known Member

    Fear not my friend!

    You can use those magnum primers in your loads. Just go with the start load and work up slowly. Also, That is just the way they are called by the MFGR. Small pistol primers are still small pistol primers. And magnums are still magnums.

    i have some 5 1/2 and they do not say magnum on them anywhere. They will usually say on the box if they are magnums. Your book will say they used 'CCI' primer but yes you can use Winchester in its place f it is what you have on hand.
    At least, I dont think so. I havent looked at them in days so look at the box a bit better.

    It is not mandatory that you use the same brand as what the book says but when it comes down to you book saying large primers or small primers, Use them accordingly.
  4. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I believe the numbering between CCI and Remington small pistol primers is a coincidence. The other Remington small pistol primers is #1-1/2 while the other CCI small pistol primers are #500.

    Similar with rifle. CCI small rifle primers are #400 and #450. Remington's small rifle primers are 6-1/2 and 7-1/2.

    The only primer that Remington states is "Magnum" is their large rifle #9-1/2M and it says "Magnum" on Remington's packaging. By the way, Remington's other large rifle primer is #9-1/2 (no "M").

    Advice above on their use is good.
  5. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    Good thing you got the 5 1/2's.

    From everything I've read, these aren't magnum primers. I could be wrong, but I believe the only difference between Remmy 1 1/2's and 5 1/2's is the cup thickness. The 1 1/2 cup is so thin, they advise this primer is NOT TO BE USED in .357 magnum or 40SW. This is apparently to avoid blown out primer cups from the pressure (oddly, 9mm +P is higher pressure than 40SW!?). The 5 1/2's are recommended for these calibers, even though I've never seen a 40SW recipe call for a MAGNUM primer.

    Anyways, don't worry. Plenty of people, including myself, have used magnum pistol primers and even small rifle primers in everything from 40SW down to .380 ACP. Even if they're technically magnum, I'd rather have them than a SPP that can't be used in all my SPP cartridges.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  6. medalguy

    medalguy Well-Known Member

    Off the subject, but does anyone know why Remington primers are all numbered in 1/2 numbers? Why not #5, #7, etc? why 5-1/2, 7-1/2? Just wondered about this for, oh, about 45 years. :rolleyes:
  7. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    ^ It's so you forget which one is for what. And then the store employee also forgets which is which. But he wants to look like he knows what he's doing, so he hands you the first box he looks at. Then you get home and realize you have the wrong ones, but you're too impatient, so you start loading them, anyway. Then you go back and buy the right ones, too!
  8. Jeff H

    Jeff H Well-Known Member

    This is what I learned when I was doing my own research during the height of the great primer scare a few years ago. Remington doesn't label their SPP primers as magnum and there is no difference except the cup thickness. Remington specifically recommends the 5 1/2 primers for 357 and 40.
  9. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    My memory is a little hazy on this, but I believe it dates back to the 1920's - 30's when all primers were the old mercuric (fulminate of mercury) type.

    At that time Remington/Peters primers were numbered 1, 2, 6, 9, etc,

    After Remington became pretty much the first company to start using lead styphnate "Kleanbore" priming compound, the 1/2 was added to each primer number to tell the difference between them and the same size mercuric primers still being made. Without confusing everybody any further.

    After spherical powder was invented in WWII, Magnum primers became necessary.
    So Remington added an M, or in the case of SPM primers a new number 5 1/2 in keeping with the numbering system in use already.

    Here is a primer cross reference chart.

    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  10. vtuck2

    vtuck2 Well-Known Member


    I've seen credible posts (here and elsewhere) to contrary effects. However, nobody has said they're dangerous to use. This is especially so (I hope) because I do not intend to push the envelope. At least not for now.

  11. Otto

    Otto Well-Known Member

    You might as well just keep the 5½ primers.

    Remington says:
    "In pistol cartridges, the 1-1/2 small pistol primer should not be used in the 357 Magnum, 357 SIG or the 40 S&W. The 5-1/2 small pistol primer is the proper selection for these rounds."

  12. vtuck2

    vtuck2 Well-Known Member


    Thanks. It's reassuring. Perhaps as soon as this weekend we will roll up some .38s. I recently gave one of our sons a vintage S&W .38. I can't remember if it's a model 10 or 13. But it's slicker than oily glass. He just bought a nice Milt Sparks IWB holster for it, on ebay.

    Best to all.

  13. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Well-Known Member

    Glad I read through this, I have been using 1 1/2's but luckily not on the noted calibers, but did not see that warning in the extremely small print on the side of the box....Good to know, I may go back to CCI after this batch is used up.

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