Primers - One better than Another?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Wireman, Apr 9, 2021.

  1. Wireman

    Wireman Member

    Aug 18, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Since I had a stock of primers of a particular size, I asked a few people at the range if they wanted to trade one size for another. I got a lot of interest but there was a consistent dislike for CCI primers. I've never had any problems with CCI, so I'm wondering why the reluctance to accept them in trade? Is there a perception that other brands produce tighter groups? What's the deal here?

  2. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    SE GA
    Can’t give any real info but most folks at my gun club like Federal primers. I suspect the same types of reasons are in play but I don’t know what they could be.

    These days I don’t know how anyone can be choosy.
    Catpop and Bfh_auto like this.
  3. Targa

    Targa Member

    Oct 22, 2019
    Most of mine are CCI and Fed....never had a problem with any of them. I do lean to CCI or Winchester when there is a choice simply due to the packaging.
    km5, Tcruse, Skgreen and 3 others like this.
  4. Ifishsum

    Ifishsum Member

    Jun 21, 2005
    Portland, OR
    No idea, CCI are my preferred primers but to each their own I guess. Not that I have had any problems with other brands, therefore no real basis for the preference they just seem to be more common in the places I frequent. At least prior to the last 12 months...
    Tcruse, Demi-human and AJC1 like this.
  5. 55fairlane

    55fairlane Member

    Feb 21, 2021
    Ft. Wayne Indiana
    Federal , my AR will pierce CCI but Federal no problem
  6. Mark_Mark

    Mark_Mark Member

    Jan 9, 2021
    The best primers are the primer you have on hand!

    mark_mark for the WIN!
  7. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    I run what I can find.
    CCI can cause misfires in one of my modded guns.
    I run mainly CCI in my rifles and 357s.
  8. gifbohane

    gifbohane Member

    Nov 7, 2016
    Weird reaction, almost all my primers are CCI. Never had a problem with them and have not heard complaints anywhere before???
    ducky123, Tcruse, Demi-human and 2 others like this.
  9. whughett

    whughett Member

    Mar 26, 2008
    Rhode Island/Florida
    Federal,Winchester,Remington, CCI,Wolf and some Russian branded ones I can’t remember during the last primer shortage, over the last 40 years or so my Dillon 550 doesn’t seem to notice the difference nor do I.
    kerreckt likes this.
  10. AmmoMan757
    • Contributing Member

    AmmoMan757 Contributing Member

    May 8, 2018
    I’ve always been a CCI guy and have never had an issue with them. When the surge on components started I bought a box of Federal. Haven’t tried them yet. With the way things are at the moment I’ll take whatever I can find and be happy with it. This reminds me of the saying beggars can’t be choosy!
    patsdad likes this.
  11. jmorris

    jmorris Member

    Sep 30, 2005
    CCI primers are often harder than others but that’s not always a bad thing. I have and use lots of them. Federals are known for softer cups and I have and use lots of them too, for things that require them for function or loads that seem to work best with them.

    The “works best” is why I have lots of primers from many different manufacturers. One load might really like Remington 6 1/2 primers, another load for a different gun might really hum with Tula primers, you just never know, unless you try them.

    All that said, I go through a lot more Winchester primers than any other brand.
  12. Wreck-n-Crew

    Wreck-n-Crew Member

    Jan 15, 2014
    Primers are a funny thing. For plinking rounds there really isn't one that works better than the other once loaded.

    As others have mentioned Federals are usually softer and like to go bang easily. That can be a positive if your using a pistol with light springs on the hammer,striker, or firing pin. But they also can ignite easy while priming. Not so good. In that case CCi's might be preferred.

    Then you have precission loading. I have had some primers like winchester that wouldn't mix well and couldn't get a good group. Switch to CCi or Federals and have good groups from both. Others have got their best groups with Winchester. Go figure. But one thing is for sure change the primer and you change the load.
  13. Hugger-4641

    Hugger-4641 Member

    Jan 21, 2021
    West TN
    The Winchester and CCI packaging is definitely more user-friendly to me. I'm not using an auto prime yet, most of my priming is with RCBS hand primer. CCI and Winchester flip into the tray 100 at a time right-side up. Fed an Remington have me spending 20 min with tweezers turning the primers over.
  14. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

    Oct 15, 2011
    East Texas
    Doesn't the feed tray on the RCBS Hand Primer act as a primer flipper?
  15. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    CCI primers can run larger in diameter then other brands. Harder to seat. When 38 special brass pockets get loose, switch to fat CCI

    Been this way for over 50 years. But not all lots are fat. CCI are great primers.

    Winchester WLP run better on a progressive press for me. The leading edge is tapered and better alignment on seating with pockets.

    Federal primers have had issues with LEE priming tools in the past. KABOOM.
    Ru4real and JT-AR-MG42 like this.
  16. brutus51

    brutus51 Member

    Apr 7, 2013
    Now is not the time to be fussy over what primers you can get.
    Never used anything but CCI or Winchester but I prefer CCI because they leave less residue in the pocket.:scrutiny:
    Demi-human and AJC1 like this.
    • Contributing Member

    TEXASJD Contributing Member

    Feb 10, 2021
    For accuracy

    Small rifle Remington 7 1/2 Federal 205M

    Large rifle Federal 210M

    Large rifle Mag 215M

    The only problem I have had with cci is losing brass to swollen primer pockets on the top end of pressure with rifle cartages. In pistol primers I have not seen much difference.
    2ndtimer likes this.
  18. Bartojc

    Bartojc Member

    Feb 6, 2014
    99+% of what I have and use are CCI. Never had an issue that could be caused by the primer.
    Demi-human likes this.
  19. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

    Dec 29, 2006
    Primer cake is mixed by hand, heard the workers have paddles. Primer cake formulas vary, look at George Frost's Book Making ammunition.

    The legacy military small arms primer mix is the FA 956 mix,

    PATR 2700 Encyclopedia of Explosives Vol 8 gives the composition

    FA 956

    Lead Styphanate 37.7 +/- 5%
    Tetracene 4.0 +/- 1%
    Barium Nitrate 32.0 +/- 5%
    Antimony Sulfide 15.0 +/- 2%
    Aluminum Powder 7.0 +/- 1%
    PETN 5.0 +/- 1%
    Gum Arabic 0.2%

    Do notice that there are allowable in mix percentages. Given the plus or minus and the differences in purity, it can be seen that primer cake varies by lot. Have a shooting buddy who was a gauging expert and went to Government ammunition plants. Bud claimed workers are given financial ncentives if their batch of primer cake is the most consistent. Probably some of the parameters measured are dwell, peak, duration , energy, and temperature. Bud said material ejection was measured. Even though workers are incentivized, just who makes the most consistent primer cake turns out to be, as bud said, "an artifact". Which means, by chance.

    There are plenty of primer compositions for there are many applications for primers other than small arms. This is a list of military priming mixtures, FA 70 is the old corrosive primer, I was able to identify PA101 as a fuse primer composition. All of the compositions to the right of FA90 are more sensitive than rifle primer compositions, so these are probably used on a variety of explosive or propellant devices.


    I have used CCI, Winchester, Federal primers for decades, just purchased the cheapest stuff. I did get made at Winchester when Winchester went to their brass finish primers. They made the primers more sensitive by using a thinner cup. The brass finish WSR pierced and ate AR15 firing pins at loads that never bothered the nickle plated WSR. However, the CCI 41 primer has a thick cup and shoots extremely well. I do use brass WLP and WSP, high sensitivity is a good thing in my pistols, I seldom shoot high pressure magnums anymore so I am not worried about primer piercing. Pistols have weak ignition systems compared to rifles so real sensitive primers such as Federal or Winchester are just fine with me, if the price is right. Still, if your pistol has a weak mainspring, time to replace it!

    This round was fired in a M586 that the first owner had shot over 60,000 rounds in PPC competition. He used Federal primers. In cold weather, with AA#9, a ball powder, weak ignition caused a squib and luckily the bullet lodged in the barrel throat, preventing the cylinder from turning. If it had gone further up the barrel, I could have bulged the barrel with the next shot. I had to drive the bullet back into the case with a long shafted standard screwdriver.


    Primer looks well hit, but that was illusory



    I replaced the old mainspring with a new one, no squibs to date, pistol shoots fine


    Politics and lobbying by big business have removed Russian primers from the market. I am sad about this as the Tula primers I purchased are some of the best rifle primers I ever used, they were unusually consistent.

    I have been buying primers by price for more than a half century by now, my advice is to use the mil spec primers in semi auto rifles as those things are prone to slamfiring with sensitive commercial primers. You have a slamfire, best case is that you will be startled. Commercial primers are not appropriate for Garand mechanisms, this rifle slamfired out of battery with S&B factory ammunition. It is obvious that the primers were too sensitive for this mechanism.


    The only appropriate primer to use in Garands/M1a's are the mil spec primers, that is CCI #34's. Commercial primers, all commercial primers, are more sensitive. Even then there are out of battery reports with CCI #34 primers, and that is because primer cake sensitivity varies by lot, and within the lot. The mil spec primers are less sensitive on average, but, that does not mean that there will not be sensitive lots of mil spec primers.

    Other than that, while I have seen differences in velocities over my chronograph between brands, I really don't know if it is due to the brand, or is due to lot variance within the brand. I don't recommend Winchester brass finish rifle primers due to their propensity to pierce, but I am shooting them up with mid range loads. Federal primers are the most slamfiring rifle primer around, so I will not use them in Garands or AR15's, but they shoot just fine in bolt guns and single shots.
  20. CQB45ACP

    CQB45ACP Member

    Nov 10, 2020
    Northern Virginia at the Beltway

    I was thinking of saying it this way: Any primer you have is better than all the primers you don’t.
    Mark_Mark likes this.
  21. JDeere

    JDeere Member

    May 31, 2020
    For accuracy and consistency this right here. If you just want it to go boom any will work...
    2ndtimer likes this.
  22. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

    Jul 10, 2017
    Oklahoma, out in the red dirt.
    I discovered this back in the early 1990s. When the first (that I lived through) component shortage occurred around 1993/94 (Clinton regime) I could still find CCI primers for a short time after others dried up.

    Back in the pre-internet days, if the LGS didn't have it, it may as well not exist.
    kalielkslayer likes this.
  23. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

    Nov 5, 2007
    Rural, far beyond the beltway, Northern Virginia,
    Huh. Interesting. For my purposes, I have always found CCI performance to be rock-solid.

    CCI has always been my favorite ... but ... when CCIs were commanding $30+/k and I could get another reliable brand for $5-$8 less, I would save the money (almost) every time. ;)
    AJC1 likes this.
    • Contributing Member

    TEXASJD Contributing Member

    Feb 10, 2021
    From every thing I have read and personal experience (M1A AR-10 Garand) it has more to do with seating depth of the primer than primer sensitivity or thickness.
  25. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Mount Desert Island Maine
    I mostly do 100 YD or less shooting with rifles. No matter the brand of primer I can't shoot the difference most times. The Federal primers are softer and work better in some light sprung pistols for me. The foreign brands are metric and go in tighter or will give you a few more uses in a brass that develops a loose primer pocket generally. Other advice above is good.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice