Basic Difference Small Rifle Primers vs. Large Rifle Primers

A close look at using small rifle primers rather than large rifle primers in reloading cartridge cases where both are offered; testing shows size matters little, with a few exceptions. Interestingly, when Lapua began offering 6.5 Creedmoor brass, it introduced its brass with Small Primer pockets—to the acclaim of precision competitive shooters and the dismay of traditional propellant companies 209 primer. Starline and Alpha Munitions also offer 6.5 Creedmoor brass with Small Rifle primer pockets. The advantages of using a Small Rifle primer rather than the standard Large Rifle version are twofold.

Additionally, a small primer pocket leaves more material intact than a large primer pocket. The case head is left more robust and less susceptible to pressure-caused deformation. Handloaders searching for the last iota of long-range performance can push bullets faster—using aggressive charges on the cusp of safe pressure limits—without loosening primer pockets.This time, 26 of the 100 rounds failed to ignite. They all have lovely solid dimples from the firing pin and are correctly seated. Does anyone else have problems with Winchester primers like this? Bad batch, maybe?

I have used CCI primers on my 223/ 556 reloads since I started loading and have had very few issues with them. With the current state of affairs, there have been no primers available at my local stores, and I was out of small rifle primers. Bi-Mart got some Winchester primers to come in, and I always figured a primer is a primer, so I bought five boxes. I loaded a hundred rounds, went plinking, and had 12 out of the 100 rounds fail to ignite. I went home and took apart the rounds; everything looked good, dry, with a good powder. So I loaded 100 more and went out again this morning.

Reloading is a great way to save money, tailor ammunition to your specific needs, or both. I’ve been reloading for 20 years and have learned many things. One important lesson learned is selecting the correct components to make the ammunition. Primers come in different sizes and varieties. Standard, Magnum, and Match are three common varieties and will be sold in both rifle and pistol primers. Should you use a matching primer instead of a standard one? There is no significant advantage to using match primers rather than standard primers. While primer manufacturers often say their match-grade primers have additional quality control checks, most shooters cannot see any advantage. Still, there are differences in how all primers work.

The self-contained metallic cartridge is one of the most significant innovations in the history of firearms. It consists of four items—brass, bullet, powder, and primer. Any recent graduate of a hunter-ed program should be able to rattle off this information because illustrations showing the component pieces of cartridges have been a part of the curriculum for decades. Our bright-eyed new hunter might not know that all four profoundly affect cartridge performance, wwhetherwe’reetalking about accuracy, reliability, or lethality. And not to pick on the poor kid, but they pprobablydoesn’tthave the slightest clue as to what a primer does. In this, our young hhunterisn’ttalone.

 

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