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Small Pistol/Rifle/Magnum/NATO Primers, How interchangeable?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by sumaskid, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. sumaskid

    sumaskid New Member

    Small rifle primers

    What are your thoughts on useing small rifle primers instead of small pistol primers?
  2. Reloadron

    Reloadron Well-Known Member

    Welcome to THR.

    Small rifle primers require a harder hit to detonate, in some cases this is not a problem while in other cases it is a problem depending on the handgun. Small rifle primers are also a hotter primer which depending on the powder used may or may not result in higher pressures. The list goes on...

    There are pages and pages written on this subject but a general rule is if you are going to substitute small rifle for small pistol primers reduce the loads. Start low and work up observing the spent brass and primers for pressure signs and any damage.

    Will they work? Likely just fine in most applications. Will I tell you go ahead and do it? Nope, I suggest you continue to read up on the differences and make your own decision based on all the data out there and your particular situation.

    Just My Take
  3. luvit

    luvit Well-Known Member

    I've found threads similar to this question, but some of the answers were obviously guesses.
    I use small pistol primers, but I don't have detailed answers on the real differences of potential substitute primers.

    I use .38, .357, & 9mm handguns. I don't know the physical size/shape/operation difference in the primers.
    Again, if I had to substitute, would any of the following not fit or damage my casings or damage my firing pins?

    1) Small Pistol Primers Magnum
    2) Small Rifle Primers
    3) Small Rifle Primers Magnum
    4) Small Rifle Primers 223
    5) Small Rifle Primers 223 Magnum

    I hope I didn't overlook a great thread which covers all of this very well.
  4. KansasSasquatch

    KansasSasquatch Well-Known Member

    The magnum and rifle primers will burn a little hotter and may increase your pressure enough to matter if you at near MAX loads. The cups of the rifle primers are harder and your pistols may not set them off. My dad's XD .45 won't set off Tula .223 primers but my XD will. As long as your guns will set them off, you shouldn't have a problem using them. Just reduce your loads to start. I stay .3gr or lower of max loads when I substitute a magnum or rifle primer for a SPP. Just use caution.
  5. Reloadron

    Reloadron Well-Known Member

    This link is a link to a chart showing a good cross reference of primers by manufacturer.

    This link covers primer and primer pocket dimensions.

    While I will not be the one to suggest doing it, there are loads where some primers can be interchanged without things really going wrong. Keep in mind that primers are designed and manufactured for a specific application and loading manuals call out specific primers for reasons. Obviously there is no one size fits all.

    For example while small rifle and small pistol primers share the same outside dimensions the small rifle primers are less sensitive to the strike and hotter in nature. Can I use small rifle primers (or interchange) them with small pistol? In many cases yes but with considerations and if the pistol firing pin strikes are light the rifle primers may not detonate. Using the hotter rifle primers in pistol can create higher pressures and while this in most cases amounts to next to nothing it can vary depending on the powder the primer is igniting. There is more to swapping primers than just will they fit.

    Anytime this swap is done I advise starting low and working loads up and actually I don't recommend the practice for the new and inexperienced hand loader. Use the primer the manual you are working from calls out for what you are loading.

    Just My Take...
  6. salpal48

    salpal48 Well-Known Member

    I found there is no difference between small pistol and small rifle . or large pistol and large rifle . I,v used them in both cases . I,v never used a mag primer in all my reloading years.

    It,s true that rifle primers are a bit hotter But the difference is not drastic. The myth of Primers I feel have been created by the manufacturers to have reloaders spend more money.
    At one time weather you were shooting a 243 or a 375 H&H you used a large rifle .
    Several years ago there only 4 primers
    What really has changed.
    All manufacturers have made a science out of everything in order to grab more of your $$$$$$$$$$.
  7. luvit

    luvit Well-Known Member

    yeah, i get that there's more to it than fitting. -- i think you both made some great posts.
    i believe the 2nd link you provided is actually great information.
  8. So are we saying I can use Large Pistol Magnum primers in place of Large Pistol primers as long as reduce the powder charge to account for the hotter primer.
  9. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    To go along with the info in post #2 If needed I choose to substitute between the types of SMALL primers and find that the rifle are harder and a bit stronger in the ignition department.
    IN DISAGREEMENT with post #6 some. Large Rifle primers are taller/longer than Large Pistol primers and when LR primers are subbed for LP primers they do not seat below the case head and possibly Could cause the round to ignite before fully in battery or outside the chamber completely so this is to be avoided at all costs. If they were below flush for the reloader then they were crushing the primer and that will cause problems itself. They also are harder to contain the pressures that rifles operate at also.
    Additionally there ARE differences between the regular and MAG primers in ignition strength in SOME brands and NOT in some (WIN for example use the same primer for both) brands. It is up to you to look at what we post and decide what is the safe way to reload. You can bank on what the company selling the product gives for instructions as they will be in court if they advise you to do something unsafe. Others on the internet have " no horse in this race" and may advise you to do something dangerous because they did it without harm this time and were good with the results (read that to be lucky!). YMMV
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  10. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    (Two nearly identical threads merged.)
  11. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

  12. luvit

    luvit Well-Known Member

    i really dislike merged threads.. i know why you did it, but it's not seamless.
    i'll further hesitate to start another thread.
  13. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Understood. However, we work pretty hard to keep the place as coordinated and sensible as possible and having two threads on exactly the same topic on the same day means we're really not doing our best to focus our efforts. While we often ask folks to use the search function and see if the same topic has been addressed at any length previously, when that topic is the subject of a thread still visible on the first page within the forum a search isn't even necessary. The more people interested in a subject that we can get talking together about that subject the better, and on the flip side, we really don't want folks to have to repeat themselves in order to contribute to the group's discussion of a topic.

    Oh, we don't discourage folks from starting threads -- just to look around a bit and see if the conversation they want to have is already going on.
  14. luvit

    luvit Well-Known Member

    you don't get it.. and i understand that too.
    i actually did use search, as stated in my op and was not pleased with any previous thread and replies, therefore i started a very detailed thread which i could steer the direction i wished.
    i wish no disrespect, but i won't elaborate further how your links, posts, and merge were not really a match to where i was guiding this. -- i know you're doing what you think is right and i'm leaving as what it is.
  15. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Well-Known Member

    You've got your answer. All small boxer primers, rifle or pistol of all brands and kinds, will fit into any boxer primed brass that has a small primer hole.

    Lots of us use SR primers in handgun loads. I do. Virtually none of us have pressure measuring equipment to actually tell you if pressure is increasing. We watch for pressure signs in the exact same way everyone else does. What else do you want, someone to do the experimenting for you on your reloading press and use your gun while they are at it?
  16. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Well-Known Member

    I use SR primers in .357 Mag and 9mm, not because they work better but because I have a bunch of them. Those are high pressure cartridges.
    People who seem to know what they are talking about say you can get leakage around the primer in low-pressure cartridges (.38 Special, .380, etc) and erode the bolt face or back of the frame. I don't know if it's true or not, just passing the info along so you can watch for it.
  17. luvit

    luvit Well-Known Member

    well obviously they "fit" & thanks for a great example of a poor response on the 2nd half of your post.

    cool.. that's really good to know. I was hoping for these kind of details.
    I don't have any magnum guns or cartridges to compare. -- Thanks!
  18. savanahsdad

    savanahsdad Well-Known Member

    you can with some powders , here is a good article http://www.loaddata.com/articles/detail.cfm?articleID=149
    'Primers for Magnum handguns" and if your not loading for a mag , there is still some good info there
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  19. savanahsdad

    savanahsdad Well-Known Member

    Sam1911: thanks for the merge,
    I didn't want to type all that info again, (without the caplock .bold or head-banging of course.) I didn't know that was not aloud on THR , sorry,
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  20. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    According to CCI their CCI #41 primers are equal to their SRM primers with a slightly thicker cup. The same holds true for their #34 primers ant their LRM primers. Both NATO primers are magnum strength primers.

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