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Old September 14, 2012, 07:25 PM   #1
valleyforge.1777
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Any problems using Federal small pistol primers?

I'm reloading 9 mm ammo with once-fired brass, Win 231 powder, and 115 grain FMJ bullets. I have always used Winchester WSP small pistol primers, but can't find any of them anywhere now. Seems everyone is sold out. I did get some Federal blue box (regular old Federal, not the match primers) small pistol primers. Has anyone had any trouble with these?

Are the Federals harder to seat than Winchester?

Any other problems I should know about before hitting the bench to do some reloading?

Thanks,
D. Valley
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Old September 14, 2012, 07:52 PM   #2
SL1
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I havenot used them, myself. But, I have read that they are somewhat softer in the cup material, and can pierce more easily with hot loads.

Maybe others with personal experience can chime-in.

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Old September 14, 2012, 07:53 PM   #3
Brian Pfleuger
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I used them briefly loading 357sig for a Glock 33. No seating problems but I literally couldn't load them at any charge level without flattening/cratering and piercing.
I tried them from below starting loads up to about mid-level before I gave up and went to CCI. CCI, I have loaded to beyond SAAMI limits with no issues.
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Old September 14, 2012, 08:05 PM   #4
tkglazie
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I LOVE Fed SP primers and prefer them to all others for their superb reliability (I use lightened hammers in several of my guns) but they do have a minor liability- they can crush when pressed into a some tight .380/.38/9mm pockets like an S&B, WW or similar case. With any of the other major cases I have no problems whatsoever. I have no such trouble with S&B .45 cases, but the .380/,38/9mm S&B brass I find is either given away or goes into the recycle bin.

A minor issue, to be sure, but worth mentioning. Otherwise, I HIGHLY recommend Fed SP primers.

edit- I only load mid-range loads, nothing hot.
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Old September 14, 2012, 08:17 PM   #5
SL1
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Strangely, the Alliant data for the new 300-MP powder uses CCI primers for all cartridges except the .357 magnum, where it uses Federal 100 primers.

Has anybody loaded 300-MP to the max of this data with the Federal primers?

Did they survive?

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Old September 14, 2012, 08:24 PM   #6
Misssissippi Dave
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I haven't tried them in S&B cases. I have used them in Winchester and Federal Champion cases. They work well. I prefer Winchester primers when I can get them. Federal primers are softer cups. They work really well for pistols with light hammer springs. Winchester primers are a little harder. I have only used 5000 of the Federal blue box primers in the past year. I will need some more primers before winter and hope Powder Valley will have some Winchester in stock between now and then. If they don't I will just get some Federal primers.

I don't load hot loads in 9 mm. I normally use only Winchester or CCI primers for .357 Mag. loads. I do load S&B cases with Winchester primers. It takes a little more effort to seat them the first few times. After that they get easier to seat.
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Old September 14, 2012, 09:15 PM   #7
delta tide
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I had the same issue, Vally. I have only used CCI, until 2 months ago. CCI primers were nowhere to be found, so I got 4,000 Federal sm pistol. They seem a little easier to seat than CCI. Don't know how they compare to Winchester. I have only shot about 400 so far, but have had no problems. I can definitely tell Federal is softer (firing pin seems leave a deeper indention in the cup using the same powder charge and OAL).
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Old September 14, 2012, 11:39 PM   #8
Crunchy Frog
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The only trouble I have with Federal small pistol primers is FINDING them.

All the cowboy shooters around here swear by Federals.
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Old September 15, 2012, 12:26 AM   #9
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I pick up Federal primers when I can't find the usual preferences (CCI, Winchester, Magtech, Remington, Fiocchi, S&B, etc. ...in that order).


They work just fine. I've never had any problems or "anomalies" when using them. I just don't like the bulky packaging, and most of my loads have been worked up with CCI or Winchester primers. So, using the Federal primers means I have to run at least one string of pressure-testing loads.
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Old September 15, 2012, 01:09 AM   #10
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Federal's softer cup primer has LONG been the go-to choice for competitive revolver shooters for whom a light hammer strike must reliably detonate their cartridge. A light hammer strike is one product of a lighter hammer spring (which gives a lighter double-action trigger pull) so having a soft-cup primer is certainly the best way to (hope to?) maintain reliable ignition while lightening hammer spring tension.

One of the side effects of an easier to detonate primer has been detailed well already -- they don't stand up to heavier loads.

But the other thing to consider and keep watch for is the liability of unintentionally detonating one at the bench while priming.

Lee has carried warnings in their priming tools and progressive presses for many, many years, going back to the 80's IIRC about using only Winchester or CCI primers in their equipment, to guard against unintentional detonation.

I don't see why Lee equipment is any "rougher" when it comes to priming cases than other brands or colors of equipment, but they have continued their use of that particular warning. They never spelled out Federal as a specific problem, but they did (and still do?) say that Winchester and CCI were less susceptible to the issue.
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Old September 15, 2012, 01:50 AM   #11
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I was testing some combos in my .40Super conversion in a 1911. I had loaded some with cci and they shot good so I wanted to try some more.The cartridge runs higher psi and has a tendancy for primer flow and pierced primers(it a good indication of where the loads at,no data available). On my second loading I used Fed primers(my loading wasn't at the higher end)and most of them did pierce. By switching back to CCI it stopped. I now do use (large) rifle primers to stop flow(even cci) at higher charges.
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Old September 15, 2012, 04:35 AM   #12
rajbcpa
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I prefer CCI primers but for the last 5 weeks or so I have been unable to find ANY. The only brand on the shelves is Federal. One LGS has Federal and the 4 other LGS have no primers at all.

There has been a lot of gun violence in the news recently, and I suspect people are buying inventory for their own personal use (stock piling)...in anticipation of some restrictive legislation that could be on the horrizon.

It is like 2008 again but not as bad... You can find any brand primer you like on the Internet, but you need to pay hazmat....

Last edited by rajbcpa; September 15, 2012 at 03:01 PM.
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Old September 15, 2012, 07:09 AM   #13
valleyforge.1777
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I could not find Winchester WSP primers at Graf's, Natchez, Powder Valley online. My LGS is sold out of the WSP (I bought their last box of 1,000). I was able to get Federal small pistol from Natchez. This might be a temporary shortage for the Winchester WSP. I don't know if full-on panic is hitting or this is just a fluke and Winchester will deliver a boatload more of the WSP to retailers in a week or so.

Sort of a dumb question for the group:
I know that pierced primers are usually a sign of over pressure. If I rule that out (for example, indirectly with chrono data) and the piercing or flow is just from the soft Federal primer in my 9 mm loads, IS THERE ANYTHING DANGEROUS OR PROBLEMATIC FROM HAVING THE FIRING PIN PIERCE THE PRIMER?
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Old September 15, 2012, 07:52 AM   #14
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Quote:
Sort of a dumb question for the group:
I know that pierced primers are usually a sign of over pressure. If I rule that out (for example, indirectly with chrono data) and the piercing or flow is just from the soft Federal primer in my 9 mm loads, IS THERE ANYTHING DANGEROUS OR PROBLEMATIC FROM HAVING THE FIRING PIN PIERCE THE PRIMER?
Not a dumb question at all...it does happen.
Yes, two things can happen. The area around the firing pin becomes eroded by the hot gases and the debris the gas can carry can injure the shooter. If the pierced primer is not an anomaly but is the result of a too high of pressure in a batch of hand loads, stop shooting them. Pull the bullets and redo your load with a safer choice.
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Old September 15, 2012, 07:58 AM   #15
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Quote:
...I have loaded to beyond SAAMI limits with no issues...
The only time I knowingly load beyond SAAMI limits is when I feel that I have too many eyes and fingers and want to get rid of a few.
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Old September 15, 2012, 08:50 AM   #16
dunerjeff
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Pierced primer in 99% od calibers is bad,very bad. With just undr 20 pierces in that 1911 ,my firing pin is rather rough,from the hot gases. I make sure to wear glasses at all times with that caliber,plus gloves, just in case. In 9mm, you should never get pierced primers, no matter what brand . The small primers help in that reguard and it is mostly because of the large primers that is the issue with the .40Super. I mistakenly put small down, Starline is the only brass that has them. My formed brass uses large.
I sure hope people aren't doing all that panicing stuff again
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Old September 15, 2012, 10:42 AM   #17
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I've never had an issue with Federal spp. Work great in .40 and .357/.38.
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Old September 15, 2012, 06:21 PM   #18
BigJimP
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Like others advised...Federals are too soft for my liking...not worth the risk of a detonation when seating them in my opinion.

I prefer CCI primers - even over winchester.
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Old September 15, 2012, 07:17 PM   #19
Ideal Tool
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I have been using Fed. SP, SR, LP, LR primers for ove 30 years with absolutly no problems whatsoever. They are my primer of choice when top accuracy is desired. I hand prime using using the K&M priming tool, a Jerry Simmons Pope style re-decapping tool when loading the .25-21, or .25-25 Stevens, or for revolver ctgs., the top priming station on the Forester Co-Ax press.
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Old September 15, 2012, 07:42 PM   #20
Nathan
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Quote:
Quote:
...I have loaded to beyond SAAMI limits with no issues...
The only time I knowingly load beyond SAAMI limits is when I feel that I have too many eyes and fingers and want to get rid of a few.
. . .and you obviously don't reload for a caliber like 45 Colt where SAAMI is holding onto seriously low pressure levels because if not, someone will surely buy a box of ammo and shoot it in their vintage 1873 Colt!

Some calibers have been loaded from the prehistoric era through today and can be run a bit over SAAMI, but using pressure tested data to achieve modern performance in strong guns.

Think of guns like the BFR, Linebaugh customs, Ruger SA's and freedom Arms compared to an 1873 Colt.

To the OP. I really like Federal primers in my rifles. In pistols, I always have used Winchester. No good reason why, just have. I think you will be happy with Federal, but of course reworking loads would be required.

Another option is to order 5000 online in a variety of sizes, with a few lbs of powder to save some money and get what you want. Prepare to order ~$200 - $300 worth of stuff, before the savings is worth it.
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Old September 15, 2012, 08:00 PM   #21
Sevens
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Quote:
Sort of a dumb question for the group:
I know that pierced primers are usually a sign of over pressure. If I rule that out (for example, indirectly with chrono data) and the piercing or flow is just from the soft Federal primer in my 9 mm loads, IS THERE ANYTHING DANGEROUS OR PROBLEMATIC FROM HAVING THE FIRING PIN PIERCE THE PRIMER?
I don't know if there are other ways of getting a pierced primer, but I do know of two ways:

1) have a damaged firing pin that has a jagged or sharp point (and/or exacerbated by primer swipe)
2) have excess pressure

You said in your post "what if I rule that out?" (over pressure) but I would suggest that without pressure testing equipment, you simply cannot rule out an over pressure situation.

Dangerous and problematic is that when you have a pierce primer, you've got white-hot gas forcibly trying to escape somewhere other than out the muzzle behind a bullet. That's bad! No good will come of it.
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Old September 15, 2012, 10:26 PM   #22
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Quote:
The only time I knowingly load beyond SAAMI limits is when I feel that I have too many eyes and fingers and want to get rid of a few.
SAAMI's recommended maximum average pressure is very low for some cartridges. In a suitable platform, those cartridges can be loaded substantially hotter than SAAMI's published figures.
Examples:
8x57mm Mauser (35k CUP), .30-40 Krag (40k CUP), .444 Marlin (42k CUP), .45 Colt (14k CUP), .32 S&W (12k CUP), .32 S&W Long (12k CUP), and the list goes on....

All of those cartridges can easily be loaded to higher pressure levels, without safety issues, in commonly available (modern) firearms. But, as soon as you exceed the pressure levels listed above, you're 'beyond SAAMI limits". ...which really doesn't mean anything. SAAMI's numbers are recommendations based on the limits of some older firearm designs; not a hard limit put in place because of some limitation inherent to the cartridge.
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Old September 16, 2012, 08:25 AM   #23
valleyforge.1777
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I have been buying online.
The places I've looked online do not have Winchester WSP small pistol primers.
I have been buying online.
The places I shop do not have the Winchester small pistol primers.

I appreciate the advice that several folks have given to look for the primers I want online, but as I've said a bunch of times, I have been buying primers online. There seems to be a shortage of Winchester WSP small pistol primers, ONLINE.

Hence, I got the Federal small pistol primers, ONLINE. I understand about online buying.

My question was, "Since I can NOT find Winchester WSP small pistol primers in local stores OR ONLINE, and since I got the Federals instead, are there any problems with Federal small pistol primers that I need to be aware of?"

The answer seems to be the following:
1. Many people have used them without problems.
2. Some people found that when using them for SAAMI spec loading, they find the primers pierce even when they use loading specs that are within the SAAMI safety ranges.

So, then I asked if that is a problem, i.e. having the primers pierced by the firing pin, IF THE LOADING IS WITHIN SAFE RANGES OF PRESSURE, and the answer seems to be the following:
1. Some folks don't understand the question (that related to how a very soft primer could be pierced by the firing pin under otherwise safe loading conditions).
2. Yeah, that will be a problem, if the firing pin pierces the primer, and yes it can happen with Federal small pistol primers even if the ammo is loaded well within the limits of the SAAMI safe pressure ranges.

So, now I've got one other question for the group:
Presumably, Federal uses their own primers in their own factory loaded ammo, right? And, so if the primers don't pierce when I shoot factory-loaded Federal ammo and I load to comparable pressures in my reloaded ammo with Federal primers, I should probably not see pierced primers with my reloaded ammo, right?

The fly in that ointment is that Federal and CCI are owned by ATK and it is by no means certain that they actually use Federal primers in the factory-loaded Federal ammo. Right?
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Old September 16, 2012, 09:01 AM   #24
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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I use them all the time. I like them much better than Winchesters to be honest. Couple of plus items going for Federal that a few others don't.
1. stainless cup.
2. Nitro mixture. I believe Federal is still using.
There as good as CCI or Fiocchi from my point of view.
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Old September 16, 2012, 10:14 AM   #25
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You nailed it at the end.

If you roll the clock back 10-15 years, it would be a fine bet that Federal ammo used Federal primers. These days, however, you have (at minimum!) a 50% chance of even getting "Federal" ammo in the Federal branded packaging.

I'm sure that Federal/Speer/ATK has details about it, I don't know if they are available, but some of the Federal ammo out there is merely headstamped as such and is being spit out of the same machines (and likely the same production line) as the CCI/Speer/Blazer Brass product. This can be seen easily with the extruded 9mm brass -- and can be compared to the other, FC headstamped non-extruded 9mm brass. Easily seen in .45 also.

Being that I don't use Federal primers, and I've only once briefly used them back in the 90's, I'm in no position to comment on how those primers may have changed (or not) over the years due to ATK's holdings and influence.

It's starting to look like you are attempting to squeeze blood from a turnip here in this thread. Why don't you buys some primers... online, garage sale, back-alley at 3 am, doesn't matter. Buy some primers, build some loads, shoot some guns and if you make some interesting discovery -- document it and share it here in this thread.

In the mean time, you can always send an e-mail to Ben Amonette at ATK and if he doesn't have the answer or won't share the answers, you'd have to bust in to the joint to get the answers you truly seek.
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