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Author Topic: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers  (Read 9045 times)

Outbreak

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Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« on: May 31, 2011, 03:14:43 PM »
What's the difference between Small Pistol Primers and Small Rifle Primers? Same for large pistol/rifle primers.

I assume they're the same size, since there aren't separate pistol/rifle priming systems, just small vs large.

The reason I ask is I accidentally bought 1,000 small rifle primers the other day, instead of small pistol primers. I now have less than 1,000 pistol primers and over 4,000 rifle primers. I can burn through pistol quickly, but that many rifle primers will last me a long freakin time. Can I use small rifle primers for pistol loading?
TexasOutbreak

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M1911a1lvr

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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2011, 03:38:28 PM »
What's the difference between Small Pistol Primers and Small Rifle Primers? Same for large pistol/rifle primers.

I assume they're the same size, since there aren't separate pistol/rifle priming systems, just small vs large.

The reason I ask is I accidentally bought 1,000 small rifle primers the other day, instead of small pistol primers. I now have less than 1,000 pistol primers and over 4,000 rifle primers. I can burn through pistol quickly, but that many rifle primers will last me a long freakin time. Can I use small rifle primers for pistol loading?
  The biggest difference in the two is the burn rate. Since the rifle charge is usually bigger, but slower burning powder. So the burn rate will be hotter and longer. If you use them in pistol brass, It will create a dangerous pressure spike. Which could prove to be a damaging result.
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JesseL

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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2011, 03:57:35 PM »
Dimensionally; small pistol and small rifle have the same diameter, as do large pistol and large rifle. Small pistol, small rifle, and large pistol primers all use pocket depths of .118-.122", while large rifle primer pockets are .128-132".

In construction rifle primers of both types generally have thicker cups than pistol primers to withstand the higher pressures they're usually exposed to.

As for primer compound, rifle primers have more/hotter primer compound in order to consistently ignite larger charges of slower burning powders. The same goes for the Magnum variations of any primer size.


If you want to use rifle primers for your pistol loads, you could have issues with pressure due to the increased ignition power and you could have problems with some pistols not being able to strike the thicker rifle primer cups hard enough for consistent ignition (light strikes).
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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2011, 04:28:00 PM »
That's enough reason for me to just use pistol for pistol and enjoy my stockpile of rifle primers. My P228 gives me light strikes as it is. The last thing I need is harder primers. Also means I'll be out of CCI small pistol primers within about a month and I can hunt for softer ones (IIRC Federal primers are a bit softer.)
TexasOutbreak

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THE NORSEMAN

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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2011, 10:21:38 AM »
I'll echo JesseL on this one.  While one could in theory use small rifle and small pistol interchangeably, on top of the possibility of FTFs due to the harder and thicker cup material, the rifle primer with it's higher brisance would require a total load rework with a chrono to get it right.
 
On the bright side, you now have 1,000 primers you could use for 223, eh? ;)

As for the general hardness/softness scale of primer cups, it's generally allowed that CCI are the hardest, Federal the softest, with Winchester and Remington in between.
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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2011, 01:33:20 PM »
On the bright side, you now have 1,000 primers you could use for 223, eh? ;)

And I have a .223 kit for the Dillon, so I'll go through them quickly. I just won't shoot them very fast.

Quote
As for the general hardness/softness scale of primer cups, it's generally allowed that CCI are the hardest, Federal the softest, with Winchester and Remington in between.

Explains the light strikes I've been getting. between the Sig trigger job and ALL my primers are CCI.
TexasOutbreak

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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2011, 10:54:20 AM »
OB: Try some federal primers then.  Even if that cures the problem(it should), I'd be a little leery of a trigger job that won't light off one of the major manufacturers products.  That means factory Speer gold dots could be problematic in that gun.  Not a good thing.

As for primers, they're like any other component in the hand loading realm.  Different approaches by different makers.  I use Federal primers by the thousand in progressive machines, and have had no trouble with them.  The "warning" out there about using them in progressive machines is to save the terminally clueless, IMO.  Run the press at a decent pace, keep it properly maintained, and don't force things.  You'll be fine. 

I use almost exclusively Federal primers, I've found them more consistent in dimension and more consistent over the chrono than other brands.  YMMV of course.

Brass is the same way, different results from different makers.  I love Federal pistol brass, but detest their rifle brass, same with Winchester, yet with Remington it's the exact opposite.
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Outbreak

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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2011, 12:29:00 AM »
I'm not planning on carrying Gold Dots in this gun. For the time being, it's a competition gun. Once I get some Federal primers, I just want to put the factory (trigger job) spring back in it, because that pull is oh-so-sweet.

I have a few hundred CCI primers to get rid of, but then I'm getting some Federal primers. I'll just make sure the mag I keep loaded with hollowpoints is full of Hydrashok or HST instead of Gold Dot.

With this knowledge, I plan on shooting a hundred or two of my reloads (CCI primers) through my carry gun, because it's loaded with Gold Dot right now.
TexasOutbreak

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mnw42

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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2011, 12:07:23 AM »
I have seen small-rifle primers used in very hot Super .38 loads and one guy working up warm .357 rifle loads.  It is not something that I have had a need to try.  The CCI primers work very well for my mid-range Super practice fodder.
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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2011, 06:13:50 PM »
Yup, a lot of my friends shoot Open guns that require super high pressures to run the compensators. One guy I know runs small rifle primers in 9mm Luger. His bullets are smoking along in excess of 1400fps.
TexasOutbreak

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Kaso

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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2011, 10:40:03 AM »
Joining this a bit late, but:
As for the general hardness/softness scale of primer cups, it's generally allowed that CCI are the hardest, Federal the softest, with Winchester and Remington in between.
how is this going to be affected, by the fact that CCI bought Federal. (Or is it, that ATK bought both?)

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mnw42

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Re: Difference Between Rifle and Pistol Primers
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2011, 01:01:53 AM »
ATK owns both and has done a reasonably good job keeping its subsidiaries independent of each other.  The mix components in factory ammo if they have to, but I think they are smart enough to realize that re-loaders are a lot more particular.
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