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Anyone here use magnum pistol primers of even small rifle primers for most of your handgun loads? I read they can make powder ignition more uniform and therefore increase accuracy and reduce extreme spreads. I'm not talking about sticking them in high pressure cartridges with low case capacity, I'm more interested in how they might help cartridges with excessive case space like .45, 357, 38, etc. which are the calibers I am constantly experimenting with in my reloading.
 

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Doing things that violate the manufacturers recommendations is a risk. Asking others to condone or approve of the action is propably not a very responsible act.

This, from the forum admins:
ATTN MEMBERS: Use reloading data at your own risk!
Dear forum members,

Many of you like to share reloading data for your favorite calibers with other members of the forum. This is permitted, but please keep the following in mind:

1. The 1911 Forum and its staff has no control whatsoever over the data or advice being presented here. Other members are expected to use this information solely at their own risk.

2. Members who repeatedly present advice or data that the 1911 Forum staff considers unsafe or inappropriate will be banned. Period. If you're too stupid or arrogant to care about others hurting themselves don't post here.

Be safe!
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Just be safe out there please.
 

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Anyone here use magnum pistol primers of even small rifle primers for most of your handgun loads?
I don't. 45 years of loading and shooting,
and I pretty much use the designated primer for the each cartridge.

Don't forget that factory ammo -- including match ammo -- employs
the right primer for the right cartridge.
 

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I read they can make powder ignition more uniform and therefore increase accuracy and reduce extreme spreads.
Not usually. I suspect you misunderstood what you read.
We come across the rare, and I mean REALLY rare, event where a
mag or rifle primer might happen to improve a certain powder
in a certain handgun cartridge in a certain particular gun. Maybe.

But to assert that "they can make powder ignition more uniform
and therefor increase accuracy and reduce extreme spreads
" is just
too much of a stretch across the board.

After all, if it was true nobody would ever buy standard primers.
Heck, the manufacturers wouldn't even bother make them.


And the point Griz makes -- that it might do more harm that good --
is the safe assumption for virtually all of us at the bench.
We have some truly experienced and careful senior members
who might work up a load from start to test the difference
between standard and mag primers, but it doesn't happen often.
 

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In the zombie apocalypse and that's all you have. I'd use them in loads they were not intended for.
 

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Anyone here use magnum pistol primers of even small rifle primers for most of your handgun loads? I read they can make powder ignition more uniform and therefore increase accuracy and reduce extreme spreads. I'm not talking about sticking them in high pressure cartridges with low case capacity, I'm more interested in how they might help cartridges with excessive case space like .45, 357, 38, etc. which are the calibers I am constantly experimenting with in my reloading.

Use the appropriate primer for the round you are loading. Most pistol rounds do NOT need mag primers. You don't have enough powder space to have to worry about ignition except in a very few cases.

Mag primers are used in rifle applications in some cases to pressurize the case on firing to promote consistent ignition in loads that have a lot of air space, or in loads using huge amounts of slow powders. Not so much for pistols. The very slowest pistol powder is still quite fast compared to the average rifle powder. It just doesn't take that much to light them up.
 

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Some pistol powders require magnum primers for good ignition. An example is Winchester 296. Winchester advises the use of magnum primers with this powder. Some load manuals, such as Speer, advise the use of magnum primers with some powders in some calibers. These are well marked in their manual, and for example, in the 357 they indicate magnum primers for 296, H110, HS-7, HS-6 and Lil' Gun.

I did some test years back with 45 ACP and a couple powders (231, N320) with standard and magnum primers using an accurized gun fired in a Ransom Rest. Magnum primers produced a slight increase in velocity with 231, but N320 showed a larger increase in velocity. No difference in the extreme spread of velocities - magnum primers were not more consistent. Group size didn't show any obvious change. The loads were not near the upper end of charge weights, and produced velocities below 800 fps.
 

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Some pistol powders require magnum primers for good ignition. An example is Winchester 296. Winchester advises the use of magnum primers with this powder. Some load manuals, such as Speer, advise the use of magnum primers with some powders in some calibers. These are well marked in their manual, and for example, in the 357 they indicate magnum primers for 296, H110, HS-7, HS-6 and Lil' Gun.

I did some test years back with 45 ACP and a couple powders (231, N320) with standard and magnum primers using an accurized gun fired in a Ransom Rest. Magnum primers produced a slight increase in velocity with 231, but N320 showed a larger increase in velocity. No difference in the extreme spread of velocities - magnum primers were not more consistent. Group size didn't show any obvious change. The loads were not near the upper end of charge weights, and produced velocities below 800 fps.
The first paragraph pretty much sums up my experience with magnum primers, mostly with magnum pistol loads and shotgun powders. 357 and 45colt with h110, w296, lil gun, a1680 all loaded near 100% load density. I have noticed that Winchester sells LPP that state, "for standard or magnum loads".
 

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Another thought crosses my mind as well, and I did see this happen in a HK pistol during the first Obummer shortage. A friend loaded some pistol with Federal small rifle primers. Rifle primers are a touch longer than the pistol counterpart. In brass with primer pockets that are a bit shallow (ie S&B) the primer may stick out past flush enough to cause a slam fire. His pistol went "runaway" for 4 or 5 rounds. We went back to his house immediately after that and tore that 100 rounds down and de-primed them. Can I say that it was totally because of the primers? Of course not. Was it a major contributing factor? I can only say I think it was. The pistol in this case has never exhibited the same behavior since using the correct primers for the application.
 

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Some guys were using magnum primers in mild loads when they couldn't get SPP or LPP with no ill effects but the only reason they did is because that's all they could get. If given a choice use the right primer.
 

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Another thought crosses my mind as well, and I did see this happen in a HK pistol during the first Obummer shortage. A friend loaded some pistol with Federal small rifle primers. Rifle primers are a touch longer than the pistol counterpart. In brass with primer pockets that are a bit shallow (ie S&B) the primer may stick out past flush enough to cause a slam fire. His pistol went "runaway" for 4 or 5 rounds. We went back to his house immediately after that and tore that 100 rounds down and de-primed them. Can I say that it was totally because of the primers? Of course not. Was it a major contributing factor? I can only say I think it was. The pistol in this case has never exhibited the same behavior since using the correct primers for the application.
Small rifle primers are the same height as small pistol primers, so if your friend's problem was a result of the primer, it was caused by their error in not seating them correctly. Only the large rifle primers are taller than large pistol primers.

Folks might keep in mind that sometimes rifle primers are recommended for use in their pistol ammo. For example, I, and others, use small rifle primers in their excess pressure IPSC loads (38 Super, 9 Major) because they handle the high pressure better than pistol primers. (Note, these loads exceed SAAMI specs and require a fully supported chamber.) I've not done any comparisons for consistency etc. compared to pistol primers for these same loads, so I can't comment on that. Keep in mind that these loads are not for amateurs and require very careful development. Also, the 9X23 Winchester operates at rifle pressure (55,000 psi). Rifle primers are recommended for use whenever developing 9X23-like pressure loads in that cartridge. I've seen pressure signs in the rifle primers when used in the 9X23 with published load data !!

Tests in a 9mm with 231 showed that some magnum primers produced an increase in velocity over their non-magnum counterpart, but not always. Pressure was not measured in those tests so it's unknown what happened there. http://38super.net/Pages/Primers.html I didn't mention this before because the OP said he was not interested in information using magnum and rifle primers in high pressure cartridges with low case capacity.

Note also that some people on this forum have stated that they use small rifle primers for ALL of the pistol ammo - I'm not sure how many calibers they load, one or several, and only they can say whether they've done tests for consistency, etc.

In other words, using magnum primers when they are not listed in load manuals or small rifle primers in pistol rounds is not unusual. But, as with all load development, those loads must be worked up carefully. i.e. the same rules apply.
 

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My understanding is that Small pistol and small rifle cases have the same primer pocket dimensions so, accordingly, small pistol and rifle primers are dimensionally the same. Large rifle are deeper than large pistol so that doesn't work. But with small, I know there are at least a couple members here who regularly use small rifle primers so they don't have to stock both primer types and do so with no ill effects. That doesn't mean it's "ok", just that those members do so. So, I would think that seating depth issues with small rifle primers in small pistol primer pockets would be contributed to the harder primer cup and not the dimensions, which again, are supposed to be the same.

Edit ... Superdude beat me to it.
 

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This is one of those questions where you will never get a for sure answer.
I load for the 454 Casull and they recommend small rifle primers, Remington 7 1/2.
I read that when Dick Casull was developing the cartridge that he made metal bushings to convert brass from large pistol to small rifle primers. Advance to now and I have read on other forums people bemoaning the use of small rifle primers, some have set up machining operations to drill the small rifle pockets to large pistol size. If Casull had settled on large pistol primers I am sure today people would be converting 454 brass to small rifle primers.
Your best bet would be to try it yourself, start low and work up and see the results for yourself.
 

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The 454 Casull is another one of those really high pressure pistol rounds (50,000 CUP: http://www.handloads.com/misc/saami.htm), like the 9X23. Pistol primers aren't made to handle pressures like that, their cup is not as thick/tough as rifle primers. Consequently pistol primers can show cratering or end up flat or pierced at those pressures. I've seen pierced primers with Winchester 9X23 factory ammo. I load with Federal small rifle primers when I start pushing pistol pressure that high for that reason.

One should always use caution when substituting components. Even different brands of brass can have different case capacities and will affect pressure/velocity. See Figure 6 and Table 3 at this link (http://38super.net/Pages/9X23.html) for a documented example. Brass strength is not the same for all brands and even case wall thickness does not correlate well with how they will handle pressure (see that same link).

We're not always able to use the same components listed in loading manuals. In fact it can be rare that we use the same components. Load manuals usually use only one brand of brass for their load development. Yet most of us have a dozen different headstamps in our common brass for some calibers - 9mm and 45 ACP, for example. Just be wise and start with reduced loads and watch for pressure signs. It's not as big of a concern if your loads are in the low to mid-range, but you have to be especially mindful when approaching the max loads. I've seen a situation with one powder where a published max charge weight yielded pierced primers. I immediately stopped using that load! Always follow the rules of smart load development to protect yourself.

Also keep in mind that different guns (barrels) react differently to the same load. I've experienced several examples of this where the same load showed no pressure issues in one barrel but showed high pressure signs in a different barrel. So some loads might be 'gun-specific'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I am mainly asking about the small rifle primers because I load a lot of full power .357 magnum using 2400 and W296. I stay well under max loads but then again max loads can differ by manual, so I have actually fired a lot of rounds that other manuals said were over max before discovering data indicating my loads were overpressure. I know the original .357 was 15.5 grains of 2400 with a 158 grain LSWC and used small rifle primers. I have also seen manuals that call for small rifle primers, such as Vihtavuori's load data for .357 mag. My particular gun has never had any loads show pressure signs except for one time I had flattened and cratered primers but I swore off that particular load.
Has anyone here found any benefit to using small rifle primers in their .357 loads?
 

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I like to load with what the people with all the test equipment recommend.

I have, to my knowledge, ventured outside recommendations twice in almost 50 years of loading. Both did not produce good results.

The first was with a 357 Magnum loading a bullet/powder combination that was not listed. I stuck a bullet in the barrel.

The second was accidentally loading some 9mm rounds with CCI #41 small rifle primers designed for 223 loads. I could not get most of them to fire in several different handguns. A few did actually fire with repeated hammer strikes.

I rarely try to push the limits and like to stick with tested data.
 

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I know the original .357 was 15.5 grains of 2400 with a 158 grain LSWC and used small rifle primers.
When Phil Sharpe & Elmer Keith (with help from Dan B Wesson) developed the 357 Magnum, Hercules 2400 wasn't invented yet. When Hercules formulated 2400 about 10 years later, it was for 22 Hornet. They didn't marry it to 357 Mag until much later.

It is undoubtedly true that they used both small pistol and small rifle primers, since there were no 'magnum' chamberings prior to 357 Mag, so there were no magnum primers, were there?
 

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I am mainly asking about the small rifle primers because I load a lot of full power .357 magnum using 2400 and W296.
It's up to you to use small rifle with Alliant 2400. You won't be the first, nor the last.




But I wouldn't be the fool to touch W296 with any components other that what the ballistics labs publish...

especially fooling with non-magnum primers.


We love ya man, 296 is a very special powder with standard industry warnings:
Only use magnum primers, never go BELOW minimum load nor above max load.
Best to heed the warnings.
 

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I have done a bunch of comparison testing with std. vs magnum primers and there are very few cases where a magnum primer improves anything. I've seen cases where velocity spreads became much larger with them and also seen accuracy get worse.

If the manual says to use them I do but the only time I'm sure they are needed is full charge .44 Magnum loads with H-110/296. Just this week I was working with a new .44 and had to borrow some primers,,,:grumble:

Back in the day when Supers were blowing up small rifle primers were a good idea with hot loads because the cup is thicker and better able to stand higher pressure .
 

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Some guys were using magnum primers in mild loads when they couldn't get SPP or LPP with no ill effects but the only reason they did is because that's all they could get. If given a choice use the right primer.
This has been my experience as well.
 
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