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Primers are currently hard to find, at least around here. So, can anybody tell me the differences between pistol and rifle primers? In other words, in a pinch, can one be substituted for the other? What would be the expected performance results? I guess more generally speaking what are the differences between (1) small rifle regular, (2) small rifle magnum, (3) small pistol regular, and (4) small pistol magnum. I would that the same answers would apply to the corresponding rifle primer series.

Thx.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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For which cartridges?
 

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Just to throw it out there...204 Ruger.

I thought his question was pretty straight forward.

I have no idea of the answer, but am interested in opinions although I know from my research and data that the 204 likes Small Rifle Magnum primers with certain powders.

Good luck and all the best.
 

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There was a thread started a few months ago, where many indicated that they thought that small rifle and small pistol were essentially the same. Large primers however are not so. If I am thinking correctly, Large rifles are slightly taller, so they are not interchangable. I think that you can use magnum primers in place of regular, but you should reduce your load by a good bit (maybe even go back to a starting load) and work up slowly. Years ago, I was given about 500 magnum primers and I have just now begun to use some of them. So far, I've seen no difference in accuracy, but I did reduce my load quite a bit when I made the switch.
 

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The Shadow (Moderator)
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A
1) So, can anybody tell me the differences between pistol and rifle primers?
2) In other words, in a pinch, can one be substituted for the other?
3) What would be the expected performance results?

B)
I guess more generally speaking what are the differences between (1) small rifle regular, (2) small rifle magnum, (3) small pistol regular, and (4) small pistol magnum. I would that the same answers would apply to the corresponding rifle primer series.
A1) cup size & thickness(sometimes), and pellet charge.
A2) Rifle to pistol, very generally speaking; certainly possible.
From pistol to rifle, if you like pierced primers and the damage that ensues; it's possible.
A3) It depends, A LOT on what specifically you are talking about.
Did your primer swap go from Normal to Basic primer compound, how about the DDNP series? Was the load near max? Is your firing pin strong enough to imprint the primer cup sufficiently to ignite it properly? What is your case fill? Etc, etc.


I've shared a bunch of data with primer swaps, bullet swaps. SR vs LR Creedmoor, magnum primer swaps, the "all ball powders need a Magnum" nonsense.... The honest answer is it depends. In many instances, the result is absolutely nothing changes. In others, very large pressure changes happen.

B1 - B4) It depends on the brand and the priming compound, but for generality: Magnum primers tend to have a bit more peak pressure output, tend to have more hot particles output, and tend to be less consistent in output.


Cheers
 

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From pistol to rifle, if you like pierced primers and the damage that ensues; it's possible.
Thanks for pointing that out. I had forgotten that pistol primers may be softer and can be pierced by rifle firing pins..........................................
 

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Clearly, we're long past due for the resurrection of the corrosive primer!
 

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Dara, in Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan, has a "town industry", which is to make guns and ammunition. Using primitive hand tools - chisels, files, saws and drills - they bring in scrap metal from Karachi ship yards and turn it into weapons. They have 'patterns' like Lee Enfield rifles captured from British soldiers on the North West frontier a century ago, as well as more modern weapons from more recent conflicts, which they will meticulously copy.

They also re-make ammunition from spent cases, using reconstituted match heads for the primer compound and cut up film stock for the propellant.

I once had someone from Dara visit us to see how we made rifle barrels. He explained how they did it back home, using methods that would be familiar to Pope.

One thing those guys have, which we no longer have in the West, is unbelievable hand skills. He could take a piece of plate steel and cut out a hole in the shape of a five sided star, then cut out a five sided star from another sheet of plate steel and hand work it so that this star would fit in the hole in the first plate. He could hold it up to the light and no light would get through. Then he could turn the star through each of the five points and push it into the hole - and no light would be seen where the edges met.

I remember George Swenson, an American who settled in England and who made the Swing target rifle back in the '70s, telling me how he watched one of the Wilkes brothers in their gunshop in Beak Street in London. He was filing up a new lock plate for a shot gun. He filed away for about an hour, then presented the plate to the inlet in the stock, gave it a few more strokes, then pushed the plate into the stock - an absolutely perfect fit. George said that you only acquire that level of skill if you start that kind of work before puberty. The Wilkes brothers started working for their father as young boys and the gentleman from Dara told me he started work in his father's shop when he was ten.

These days, putting children to work at that age is considered child slavery and it is illegal in this country. The consequence is that the bench workers in Holland & Holland, Purdeys, Westley Richards and other top gun makers who have a reputation for making fine guns by traditional methods - can't match the level of finish and precision their forebears could attain. They can no longer file a round hinge pin by hand. But these days, of course, we have CNC machines and down in the basement of those fine old gun makers establishments, where prospective customers won't see them, is the rows of CNC machines and young lads with computer skills who program them.
 

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Dara, in Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan, has a "town industry", which is to make guns and ammunition. Using primitive hand tools - chisels, files, saws and drills - they bring in scrap metal from Karachi ship yards and turn it into weapons. They have 'patterns' like Lee Enfield rifles captured from British soldiers on the North West frontier a century ago, as well as more modern weapons from more recent conflicts, which they will meticulously copy.

They also re-make ammunition from spent cases, using reconstituted match heads for the primer compound and cut up film stock for the propellant.

I once had someone from Dara visit us to see how we made rifle barrels. He explained how they did it back home, using methods that would be familiar to Pope.

One thing those guys have, which we no longer have in the West, is unbelievable hand skills. He could take a piece of plate steel and cut out a hole in the shape of a five sided star, then cut out a five sided star from another sheet of plate steel and hand work it so that this star would fit in the hole in the first plate. He could hold it up to the light and no light would get through. Then he could turn the star through each of the five points and push it into the hole - and no light would be seen where the edges met.

I remember George Swenson, an American who settled in England and who made the Swing target rifle back in the '70s, telling me how he watched one of the Wilkes brothers in their gunshop in Beak Street in London. He was filing up a new lock plate for a shot gun. He filed away for about an hour, then presented the plate to the inlet in the stock, gave it a few more strokes, then pushed the plate into the stock - an absolutely perfect fit. George said that you only acquire that level of skill if you start that kind of work before puberty. The Wilkes brothers started working for their father as young boys and the gentleman from Dara told me he started work in his father's shop when he was ten.

These days, putting children to work at that age is considered child slavery and it is illegal in this country. The consequence is that the bench workers in Holland & Holland, Purdeys, Westley Richards and other top gun makers who have a reputation for making fine guns by traditional methods - can't match the level of finish and precision their forebears could attain. They can no longer file a round hinge pin by hand. But these days, of course, we have CNC machines and down in the basement of those fine old gun makers establishments, where prospective customers won't see them, is the rows of CNC machines and young lads with computer skills who program them.
Every now and then I am greatly impressed by some people's life experiences.
 

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That experience is among the kinds of things that cause me to laugh myself sick when a TV or YouTube presenter looks at ancient fitted building stones and claims that because you can't slip a piece of paper between them it means space alien technology must have been involved in their making. The manual skills of artisans over the centuries were quite fantastic enough without extraterrestrial input. The suggestion that their work required such intervention is more a reflection of just how much spoiled modern machine-dependent people have forgotten about the first principles of making things than it is about the need for either superhuman or supernatural involvement.
 

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Primers are currently hard to find, at least around here. So, can anybody tell me the differences between pistol and rifle primers? In other words, in a pinch, can one be substituted for the other? What would be the expected performance results? I guess more generally speaking what are the differences between (1) small rifle regular, (2) small rifle magnum, (3) small pistol regular, and (4) small pistol magnum. I would that the same answers would apply to the corresponding rifle primer series.

Thx.
This is a question with no, single correct answer. It depends on the cartridge, the rifle you are shooting it in, and how 'hot' the load is. Pistol primers have thinner metal cups as the firing pin strike in a pistol is usually weaker that that of most rifle actions. Some rifle firing pin strikes could puncture a pistol primer, and if the load is fairly high pressure, the thinner primer cup may allow the primer to more easily back out of the primer pocket. Right now, it's not only primers that are hard to find, but powder, bullets, new brass, and just about everything else one needs for handloading.
 

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Primers are currently hard to find, at least around here. So, can anybody tell me the differences between pistol and rifle primers? In other words, in a pinch, can one be substituted for the other? What would be the expected performance results? I guess more generally speaking what are the differences between (1) small rifle regular, (2) small rifle magnum, (3) small pistol regular, and (4) small pistol magnum. I would that the same answers would apply to the corresponding rifle primer series.

Thx.
Small pistol
Primers are currently hard to find, at least around here. So, can anybody tell me the differences between pistol and rifle primers? In other words, in a pinch, can one be substituted for the other? What would be the expected performance results? I guess more generally speaking what are the differences between (1) small rifle regular, (2) small rifle magnum, (3) small pistol regular, and (4) small pistol magnum. I would that the same answers would apply to the corresponding rifle primer series.

Thx.
Small pistol primers and small rifle primers.
What they have in common: both enter a small primer pocket.
Differences: small rifle primers theirself have a thicker wall to not "blow out" in higher pressures. Small pistol primers are thinner. Considering the pressures are are about on average probably 10-15 thousand psi less
 

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So aside of pressure. You load a small rifle primer in your 9mm. Your firing pin may not even set the round off due to thicker cups. If you load small pistol primers in your 556 rounds. Not sure what kind of issues it can cause but can definitely blow out a primer from higher pressures.
 

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Small capacity cases benefit from small pistol primers. General rule is larger cases with slower powders might benefit from magnum primers. Same goes for large revolver cartridges.
I use small pistol primers in K-Hornets and have used them in 222 and 221 Fireball without noticing any difference.
 

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The Shadow (Moderator)
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Large, yes.
Small pistol/rifle are essentially the same outer dimensions.
 

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In addition to cup wall thickness, the other theoretical concern is the amount of gas made by each primer. In theory, a standard small pistol primer has the smallest amount of priming mix and makes the least gas, while a magnum large rifle primer makes the most, and everything else is in between. The idea is that smokeless powders, especially those with heavy deterrent coatings, require a minimum start pressure inside the case to ignite reliably and uniformly. As the case gets larger, the greater volume of space between the powder grains requires a greater total amount of primer gas to reach the needed start pressure. Making that extra gas requires using either a greater amount of priming compound or a different priming compound with additions that are oxidizers and fuel materials to increase the amount of gas made.

That said, years ago, before Vista Outdoors bought them, CCI had a nice lady who answered the phone who told me their SPM primers, the #550, had the same cup and anvil and priming mix type and quantity as their SRP, the #400 primer. In other words, they were the same product in different boxes. She told me company employees all bought the #400 for both small rifle standard and small pistol magnum applications because they were priced lower.

Since the buyout, if you call CCI now, you get warned that interchanging the 550 and 400 is "playing with Dynamite." Well, as Allan Jones (who used to work for CCI and developed primers, among other things) points out, priming compounds and other details about them change more often than people realize, so it is possible my information is out of date. On the other hand, they don't generally want to change a primer so much that the published load data using it becomes obsolete. So I wouldn't expect a big change in either the 400 or the 550 in terms of performance. This video seems to prove what the nice lady told me long ago is still true. However, be cautioned that the fellow who made the video and measured pressures assumes from the experience with 550s and 400s the same is true of other brands SRP and SPM primers, and we all know how to spell assume. So I wouldn't trust it beyond the two primers actually tested without making tests of your own.

I wanted to run my own test by getting some current production CCI #400 and #550 primers (the ones I have are all from before I spoke to the lady on the phone years ago), weighing them on an analytical balance before and after firing and cleaning and firing wax bullets with both to compare the velocities achieved, looking for any differences in the results. But, alas, when I got the 38 Call wax bullets last year, I missed the chance to buy the primers by a couple of days and now have to wait for the pandemic buying to level out.

This article by Allan Jones is good general information on primers. If you want a taste of how complicated the topic can become, look at the Courtney's work on primer blast waves.
 
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