The Federal® Centerfire Primers are manufactured to exacting standards, so if you load your own you know you’re getting the same high-quality primer components and optimum ignition that make Federal cartridges the choice of match shooters everywhere.
- Model: 200
- Use: High velocity and magnum pistol and revolver
- Type: Small Magnum Pistol Match
- Nominal Diameter: .175
Most component primers have a little disk of paper between the anvil and the priming mix. Called the foil paper, it covers a priming pellet and is simply a manufacturing expediency. The anvil is omitted in this view for clarity.
Yes, those pesky little things we can’t do without are hard to come by at the moment. If this rush follows past trends, it too shall pass. Let’s talk about some of the lesser-known facts about primers while we fret about whether we have enough.
I suspect most readers know that a primer has more than one job. In addition to providing a spark to ignite propellant, it gives an initial boost in pressure to help the propellant reach a self-sustaining burn. It is also part of the case-sealing system that keeps hot gases behind the bullet and out of your face.
U.S. handloaders have a choice of primer size and purpose. There are separate versions for rifle and handgun; within each category, there are two sizes.
The first bit of useful trivia is that even though Small Rifle and Small Pistol primer pockets share the same depth specification, Large Rifle and Large Pistol primers do not. The standard pocket for a Large Pistol primer is somewhat shallower than its Large Rifle counterpart, specifically, 0.008 to 0.009 inch less.
A number of handloaders found this out when one of the “mega-magnum” handgun cartridges appeared a few years back.
Original cases were formed for Large Pistol primers. Some reloaders decided to switch to Large Rifle primers to better handle the high pressures, and they found the rifle primers stood proud of the case head, an unpleasant situation in a high-recoil revolver cartridge.
Primer EquivalencyThere have been reams written about how various brands of primers compare. Tests to compare the effects of primer substitution have been published for years.
I’ve been a lab rat long enough to understand that road is fraught with potholes.
We heard a number of requests to add a primer chart in the Speer manuals I wrote showing what the various primer makers call their primer types.
Note that there are no such charts in my books. Why? First, switching primer brands from what we used in the manual could create an unsafe condition.
Second is accuracy of information. One of the last Speer manuals before I took over printed a nice chart of primer sizes and manufacturers’ numbers.
Almost before the first printing was sold out, one company completely changed its numbering system, and a foreign brand listed became unavailable.
Hardcover books are almost like engraving stuff in stone, and I did not want a chart — that may be obsolete before the book ran its course — to create problems.
As for the “which is hotter/colder” discussion, a similar conundrum exists: primer specification change. CCI overhauled its entire primer line in 1989.
We were careful to make certain that the new primers could share load data created with the older versions, but not every change is announced.
Another time, shortly after a writer friend of mine had a lab shoot a complete series of rifle ammo with the only difference being the primers, another primer maker came up with a change that affected the outcome of that test.
Here’s a classic example of a printed mistake being taken as gospel: Another company’s reloading manual had a chart of primer numbers and types that incorrectly showed the CCI Benchrest primer as being interchangeable with the CCI Magnum primer.
This was perpetuated over several editions of that manual before we convinced that company to correct it. People would call CCI and demand that our Benchrest primer was a Magnum because it was printed that way in another company’s manual.
Bottom line: If I publish a primer performance equivalency chart today, it will soon be obsolete, and some poor sod will try substituting primers based on invalid information.
I apologize to the nice person who recently wrote my editor suggesting I do a handgun primer equivalency test, but it can lead to too much grief. Stick with published and current load recipes.