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Old September 4, 2012, 02:59 PM   #1
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How do I know what primer to buy ??

I'm getting into reloading and buying items to get set up. How do I know what primers to use? Large pistol or small pistol? I will be reloading 9mm & 45 Colt.
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Old September 4, 2012, 03:20 PM   #2
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The SIZE of the primer is determined by the particular cartridge case that you are reloading. For your cartridges, 9mm takes small pistol primers, while .45 Colt takes large pistol primers.

The reloading manuals will tell you what BRAND of primers were used to produce the pressure-tested data, and whether they used STANDARD or MAGNUM primers with each powder.

Of course, if you are ordering primers and the reloading manuals at the same time, then you won't really know what you want to use at the time you order. In that case, I would suggest CCI standard primers in both the small and large pistol sizes for the cartridges that you specified, since they are used for a lot of the manuals and are usually available.

Or, if you tell us which manual(s) you are ordering, we can check our copies and tell you what brands of primers they used so you can match them with your order.

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Old September 4, 2012, 03:31 PM   #3
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I don't recall any 9 mm load needing mag primers. Small pistol primers for 9 mm is what you need. I have used CCI, Winchester, Remington and Federal primers for 9 mm and they all work. Some presses may not work well with certain primers. I don't recall just which Lee presses they were and even some of the high end presses might work better with a given brand as far as feeding goes. I suggest not buying more than 1000 primers of any brand until you find out what you and your press work best with.

.45 colt will use Large pistol primers. Some powders will need Large Magnum Primers and it is will be listed in your loading manual if they are needed or not. It is hard to say without knowing the powder you plan to use and the bullet as well.
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Old September 4, 2012, 03:37 PM   #4
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Most often 9mm will use a standard small pistol primer (SPP), some powders like HS-6 may work better with magnum SPP's.

45 Colt? Again, most loads will use a standard large pistol primer (LPP), some very slow powders like H110 do better with magnum primers, but chances are it will be a standard LPP.

Look in you load data to see what it specifies, if anything.
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Old September 4, 2012, 04:28 PM   #5
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Is there a reloader/reloading-supply shop near you? It's in their interest to tell you (and sell you) what you need and if they're any good they have a boatload of knowledge plus all the books.

If you are ordering, the same applies to calling the company, except that you can't show them your cases. If they don't know for sure and don't pass you to another order-taker who does, use a different supplier.
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Old September 4, 2012, 05:00 PM   #6
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Do you have a good reloading manual?
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Old September 4, 2012, 05:15 PM   #7
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I too wonder if you have and have read a reloading manual and absorbed all the info available.
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Old September 4, 2012, 05:30 PM   #8
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Old September 4, 2012, 05:51 PM   #9
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A 9mm needs a small pistol primer. A 45 Colt takes large pistol or large pistol magnum primers.

These things are based on primer pocket size and powder volume.

Probably the best place to start looking at what primer to use is the load recipe you are working from.

After you develop some experience, you will adjust this choice based on your experience.

My experience tells me to use Winchester primers. I do this for 2 reasons. I have never had a primer related issue and I like that I can use WLP for normal and magnum loads. I probably read something about consistency when I selected them, but now I forget.

For rifle, I buy Federal and normally Federal match primers. They have always given me what my loads needed to be accurate. For 5.56, I used Winchester and they were fine, but now I'm going to try CCI #41's as they are made for 5.56 loads which can be hot combined with the required hard cup to prevent slam fires in AR rifles.

So, simply, if it were me, I would buy WLP and WSP.
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Old September 4, 2012, 06:39 PM   #10
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As noted above, you need SPPs and LPPs. Forget about magnum primers for now. Buy whichever brand's cheapest. They all work.

And, buy a Lee Autoprime hand primer tool. Much easier and more effective, I think, than priming with your press. Very inexpensive.

As far as manuals, get several. I like the Speer and Lyman, and of course the get the ABCs of Reloading.
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Old September 4, 2012, 06:53 PM   #11
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And, buy a Lee Autoprime hand primer tool. Much easier and more effective, I think, than priming with your press. Very inexpensive.
I would agree with a single stage. A hand primer defeats the purpose when loading on a Lee classic turret or progressive. My priming systems on my classic turret and Dillon 550 both work near flawless.
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Old September 4, 2012, 09:03 PM   #12
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Wow ... I've got to learn more about this

Thanks for the insights:

I don't have any reloading manuals yet. I guess I'd better grab one... Lee Modern Reloading?

Thanks for clearing me up on where to find the info as well as the info that you have sent my way. I had researched powders, bullets, and presses, but didn't know primers were a big deal.

Thanks All
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Old September 4, 2012, 09:22 PM   #13
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Modern Reloading is an excellent choice and a must have in my opinion if you use Lee Precision equipment. Plus it only costs around $14.00. Another good source of information are the powder manufacturers' web sites for load data.
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Old September 5, 2012, 07:44 AM   #14
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I would suggest that you also get a reloading manual from the bullet manufacturer if you intend to use one of the major brands like Speer, Hornady, Sierrra, Nosler, or especially if you intend to use Barnes bullets, because they are a little different. Those manuals contain information that the Lee book dose not, because they do their own testing.

Lee simply compiles the test data from the powder manufacturers, and may lump together data from different tests using different primers and different bullets and different cases.

That can be problematic. Especially in the 9mm, where bullets of the same weight can have substantially different lengths. Swapping bullets of the same weight, or even using the same bullet but seated to a different overall cartridge length, can make a substantial difference in the peak pressure when a 9mm cartridge is fired.

With respect to the .45 Colt cartridge, I don't know if you will be shooting your handloads in something like the original Colt Single Action Army (or modern "clones") or a Ruger New Model Blackhawk. You need to know that the loading data for these two guns is substantially different. The original Colt guns were designed for a .45 Colt cartridge that was limited to about 14,000 psi peak pressure. When the New Model Rugers were designed for the .44 Magnum cartridge, it was found that they could handle loads up to 32,000 psi when chambered for the old .45 Colt cartridge. So, some loading manuals have two sets of data: one that keeps the loads below 14,000 psi, and another "for Rugers and Contenders ONLY" that lets peak pressures go up to 32,000 psi. To make matters even more confusing, Ruger has recently began building revolvers chambered in .45 Colt on their smaller "Flat Top" frame, which should only be loaded up to about 23,000 psi, even though it is a Ruger.

So, especially for the .45 Colt, you need to research the strength of the gun you will be shooting your loads in to make sure that you are being safe with the data that you use.


Last edited by SL1; September 6, 2012 at 06:29 AM.
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Old September 5, 2012, 10:41 AM   #15
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Your reloading manuals will specifically state what primer was used with each load. There is NO quesswork.
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Old September 6, 2012, 03:26 PM   #16
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I'm not sure if someone said it already, but not all .45 cases take large pistol primers anymore. I have seen Federal .45 Auto with small pistol primers. So be careful!

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Old September 6, 2012, 03:31 PM   #17
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+ 1000 for everyone that posted the reply "get the proper manual FIRST, then properly pick out components...
Thanks for coming!
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Old September 8, 2012, 07:27 PM   #18
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Keep it simple

First, be aware that an increasing amount of .45 ACP brass is made for small primers. These must be sorted out as you'll crush a large primer trying to stuff it in a small pocket.

Use standard primers for all your pistol loads. Use magnum primers when a specific load calls for it. There's no need to use magnum primers in a 9mm. Also, many hand loaders sometimes use magnum primers in non magnum loads without any apparent ill effect.

There are specialized needs also. If you're concerned with slam fires in an autoloading rifle, then use primers known to be hard such as CCIs.

Hunters sometimes have difficulty with failures to fire with .35 Remington caliber in the Marlin 336. One partial solution to this is to use Federal primers, known for being soft and easier to detonate.
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Old September 8, 2012, 08:55 PM   #19
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Federali, don't confuse the poor guy. He is loading 45 Colt, not 45 ACP. 45 Colt has (to my knowledge) never been manufactured to use small primers.

Here is a link to a nice Wikipedia article:

To answer the O.P.'s questions:

Primers in metallic cartridges in common use in the U.S. today come in 8 principal varieties and are named "Boxer Primers". (There are historical variants which are interesting, but irrelevant to you right now and then shotgun primers and European primers, named "Berdan Primers".)

Small and Large (small diameter is 0.175" and large diameter is 0.210")
Standard and Magnum
Pistol and Rifle.

These four are of no concern to you whatsoever.
Small Rifle Standard
Small Rifle Magnum
Large Rifle Standard
Large Rifle Magnum

Small Pistol Standard are the most commonly used in 9mm. Very few 9mm loadings use (require) magnum primers. Mag primers are for hard-to-ignite powders. IT DOES NOT MATTER if the cartridge is named "Magnum" or not. It is the POWDER that governs.

No 9mm brass I have ever heard of uses Large primers.

No 45 Colt brass I have ever heard of uses Small primers.

Fast, easy-to-ignite powder charges in the 45 Colt will use standard primers. Magnum primers are usable, but may require a slight reduction in powder charge, lest higher-than-intended pressure be generated.

Magnum primers give a longer-lasting, hotter and/or larger flame. Hence, their use in hard-to-ignite powders and their tendency to give a bit higher pressures than standard primers when used with any powder.

Then, there is hardness. The primer cup, when struck with the firing pin takes a dent in order to ignite the primer. Some manufacturers use a softer metal in the primer cup than other manufacturers. Federal is reputed to be softer. CCI is said to be harder. Most of the rest are in between.

Did I overload you?

Put more compactly:

Use standard primers, small pistol for your 9mm. Use large pistol primers for your 45 Colt. Use fast, easy-to-ignite powders and standard primers while you are learning to load.

When I taught a friend of mine to load (for his 500 Smith), I did some research and settled on Trail Boss as an ideal powder with which to learn. It occupies a lot of volume for its energy, making it easy to view how much powder you have (not too much and not too little). The 45 Colt case is large. A voluminous powder is a good powder to use.

The 9mm is a smallish case. Trail Boss might be too voluminus to do so well. A powder like Unique is one of my favorites, but there are many others just as good or even better. Looking at my manual, Herco looks like a good candidate along with IMR PB, IMR "Hi-Skor" 700-Xm Blue Dot, Green Dot, HS6 and others. 9mm shooters more knowledgeable than me, please help here!!

Good Luck.

Lost Sheep
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