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Thread: Substituting Small Rifle Primers for Small Pistol

  1. #1
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    Substituting Small Rifle Primers for Small Pistol

    Has anyone figured out or found a percentage of charge reduction when subbing SRs for SPs? I've got 6k of WSPs and about that many 9x19 bullets to load, but I also have about 3k Berry's plated RNs to load for .38 Special. My PX4s and CZ-75s will work with the Fed 205s I have and I think my P99Cs will too, but I'm pretty sure my revolvers won't.

    Powder will be BE-86.

  2. #2
    Site Supporter farscott's Avatar
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    My understanding is that the only difference between small rifle and small pistol primers is the harder cup in the small rifle primer to handle the increased pressures and the primer being harder to ignite due to the concern about slam firing in rifles.

    My concern would not be change in velocity; it would be can your pistol ignite the primer. I run small rifle primers in my 9x23 Winchester reloads due to the rifle pressure of that round.

  3. #3
    Lowly Production C-Class olstyn's Avatar
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    There has also been some concern I've seen people talk about in regard to the possibility that the harder cup of a rifle primer may not seal as well at pistol pressures, and as such, might lead to flame cutting of the breach face. Whether that concern is real or not, I don't know, but in times when primers were easy to come by, my thought on it has always been "why risk it?" I guess the real question is whether you think you'll run out of SPPs before you're able to buy any more.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck38 View Post
    Has anyone figured out or found a percentage of charge reduction when subbing SRs for SPs? I've got 6k of WSPs and about that many 9x19 bullets to load, but I also have about 3k Berry's plated RNs to load for .38 Special. My PX4s and CZ-75s will work with the Fed 205s I have and I think my P99Cs will too, but I'm pretty sure my revolvers won't.

    Powder will be BE-86.
    I have not found a percentage charge weight reduction but I have however used standard small rifle primers in 9mm before when supply was short. They went off just fine. IIRC there was little appreciable difference in velocity. I noticed no backing of primers, soot or any other indicator that they were not sealing, (since someone mentioned flame cutting and failure to seal). I loaded less than 1K maybe a little more like this using unique and RMR’s 124gr JHPs in a Glock 17 and 19. I had no failures to ignite using a standard striker spring. If you have concerns over cup thickness and failure to ignite use and extra power spring for ignition if needed. As always start lower and work your way up. I just went in at the normal charge weight but at the time I was generally loading at around 1075fps and in hind sight probably wasn’t smart regardless.

  5. #5
    Small rifle primers are routinely used by USPSA racerunners to disguise "pressure signs" in their overloaded ammo.
    Before Federal made magnum primers, they recommended their small rifle primer for .357 Magnum.

    I have a couple thousand plain vanilla 9mms loaded with rifle primers. They pop when hit by Colt and STI hammers and Plastic M&P striker. I felt dismayed yesterday when I had a misfire but it turned out to be a pistol primer. Probably a high primer from when my Dillon was failing.

    With my usual HP38 9mm load, I see NO difference in velocity with small rifle primers.
    I see no indication of escaping gas around fired small rifle primers. I will keep an eye on breech faces.


    Just for fun, I tried large rifle primers in .45 ACP. That is generally a bad idea, large rifle primers are taller than large pistol primers, cannot readily be seated flush so we are warned against slam fire of a high primer.
    To avoid that worry, I applied a rifle "primer pocket uniformer" to some .45 cases. Meant to square and flatten the bottom of the primer pocket, it also deepened the pistol pocket to where a rifle primer could be seated flush or a little below.
    Kind of laborious, so I only did ten.
    I loaded five with CCI BR2 and five with Remington 9 1/2 and my usual powderpuff .45 load, 3.6 gr Bullseye, 200 gr Xtreme.
    All fired normally in the Buzzard, my local shop built 2011 with probably a 19 lb mainspring.
    Code Name: JET STREAM

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by olstyn View Post
    There has also been some concern I've seen people talk about in regard to the possibility that the harder cup of a rifle primer may not seal as well at pistol pressures, and as such, might lead to flame cutting of the breach face. Whether that concern is real or not, I don't know, but in times when primers were easy to come by, my thought on it has always been "why risk it?" I guess the real question is whether you think you'll run out of SPPs before you're able to buy any more.
    I'm only thinking about doing this because I don't know when the primer shortage will end. The last time this happened, primer production went toward loaded ammo until that pipeline was filled and only then to the reloading market. I'm not too concerned about flame cutting on the breech face.

  7. #7
    Lowly Production C-Class olstyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck38 View Post
    I'm only thinking about doing this because I don't know when the primer shortage will end. The last time this happened, primer production went toward loaded ammo until that pipeline was filled and only then to the reloading market. I'm not too concerned about flame cutting on the breech face.
    Yeah, like I said, I'm not sure how real that is, and I do remember the last shortage quite well, so I definitely understand why you're considering using SRPs in place of SPPs.

    I'm personally set for probably 2 years at my normal rate of consumption on everything but powder (roughly a year worth of that), and my rate of consumption is WAY down from normal due to stupid COVID world meaning that I'm not attending matches at present. Hopefully at T+1.5-2 years from whenever I ramp up my shooting again, primers will be easy to come by.

  8. #8
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    I read when I started reloading, safe reloading technique is to drop powder charges, start another load work up whenever any component is changed. Today I fudge a little on some components, but I drop about 5% when changing bullets and brass, but primers can affect pressures drastically, so I often go back to a beginning load right out of my manual(s)...

    I like reloading and have plenty of components, so a load work-up is just more fun...

  9. #9
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    I picked up 10K small rifle primers during the last shortage as backup inventory. Turns out I didn't really need them as my small pistol primer inventory made it through. However, I load primers and powders on a first in / first out basis, so a couple of years ago I loaded and shot all 10K small rifle primers and never noticed any differences. Kept my powder charge the same. No ill effects on guns (Glocks) either.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
    Small rifle primers are routinely used by USPSA racerunners to disguise "pressure signs" in their overloaded ammo.
    Before Federal made magnum primers, they recommended their small rifle primer for .357 Magnum.

    I have a couple thousand plain vanilla 9mms loaded with rifle primers. They pop when hit by Colt and STI hammers and Plastic M&P striker. I felt dismayed yesterday when I had a misfire but it turned out to be a pistol primer. Probably a high primer from when my Dillon was failing.

    With my usual HP38 9mm load, I see NO difference in velocity with small rifle primers.
    I see no indication of escaping gas around fired small rifle primers. I will keep an eye on breech faces.


    Just for fun, I tried large rifle primers in .45 ACP. That is generally a bad idea, large rifle primers are taller than large pistol primers, cannot readily be seated flush so we are warned against slam fire of a high primer.
    To avoid that worry, I applied a rifle "primer pocket uniformer" to some .45 cases. Meant to square and flatten the bottom of the primer pocket, it also deepened the pistol pocket to where a rifle primer could be seated flush or a little below.
    Kind of laborious, so I only did ten.
    I loaded five with CCI BR2 and five with Remington 9 1/2 and my usual powderpuff .45 load, 3.6 gr Bullseye, 200 gr Xtreme.
    All fired normally in the Buzzard, my local shop built 2011 with probably a 19 lb mainspring.

    What Jim said. Federal used to list their small rifle and small pistol magnum as the same primer. The only problem I have ever had with small rifle in a pistol was with some Wolf small rifle AR primers.

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