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I've read a couple of threads on other sites that said small rifle primers could be used in place of small pistol by reducing the powder charge to low or mid range. I've done more research on the web but can't really find anything that convinces me this can be done.

The main difference in the two primers seems to be the force of the firing pin strike required to ignite the primer. However, I can't find anything that talks about the explosive force of the small rifle vs the small pistol. Anybody know anything about this?
 

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The big difference that you will find is that one of the primers will seat a bit further into the casing then the other. I dont remember which.

Now many years ago a gent taught me to reload and he knew his stuff. I used federal small rifle primers for small pistol cases. He told me to only do this with federal. Why i dont remember. I used them for years like that. But i have to admit over the last 15 years or so I used what is spelled out.

I am not telling you what to do or what you propose is ok.

I have no problem doing what you propose only in plinking rounds. that is me.

If you decide to do it then i think the most you will encounter is a dud on the one side. On the other side is that the primer may not be seated correctly and cause a dangerous situation if a firing pin barely hits the primer from an autoloading pistol.
 

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For comparitive purposes I measured a small pistol and small rifle primer. both are Fiocchi brand.

Small Rifle:
Height - 0.1175"
Dia. - 0.1750"

Small Pistol:
Height - 0.1190"
Dia. - 0.1745

According to my measurements, the diameter of the pistol primer is smaller than the rifle primer, and the pistol primer is taller than the rifle primer.(May just be that way because the anvil is higher --who knows??)

I can't attest to if they are interchangeable. I figure if they were, there would be no reason to manufacture seperate primers. I would guess that the rifle primer may be hotter because it has to iginte more powder. Also, as you have stated, the force required to ignite the primer may be a factor. It is my understanding that rifles hit primers harder than pistols.

Safest bet would be to find small pistol primers. Using small rifle primers for pistol loads is well, playing with fire, our in our case, playing with little bombs.
 

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The explosive force, hottness, whatever in primers
is called Brisance.

How hard they are to set off is called something else---
can't recall at the moment, but it's tested by dropping a steel
ball from various heights to set them off.

Now that you have your daily trivia---yes you can use
small rifle in pistol ammo. (NOT large-- large rifle primers are taller
than large pistol)

However--drop your charge a bit (maybe 5%) just to be
safe. Chrono your loads if you have a chronograph.

Rifle primers are harder. Be prepared for light strikes,
especially if your gun has had any action work.

With light loads watch out for hot gas leakage around the
primer which can lead to breechface erosion. Because the
primer cup is harder, it may not seal in the primer pocket 100%.

IPSC shooters have been using small rifle in 9mm Major and hot
loaded 38 super for a LONG time without problems.
 

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The cup metal thickness is greater on the rifle primers because the rifle pressures are higher. It is maybe 15,000 psi against maybe 60,000 psi. Obviously you need thicker metal to contain a great difference in pressures.

Whether you can use the rifle versions in a pistol is a function of how hard the hammer or striker in your particular gun hits the primer. Guns with trigger jobs where the hammer spring has been replaced with a reduced power spring may not reliably set off the rifle primers. What you might see in that case is great variations in velocities from shot to shot or flat no ignition. It is also possible to get hang fires too (very dangerous!). Without testing (over a chronograph) I'd not suggest using the rifle primers in a pistol.

I will tell you that pistols made for high pressure rounds, like the 357 Maximum which uses rifle pressures, using rifle primers is a must.

I personally use the primer size listed in the reloading manuals. With the hoarding going on with all things gun related, today it may be impossible to find the correct primers and it may become "any port in a storm". I have a good supply of all primers bought after the first election of Obama but it will not last forever so I too may be forced to use rifle primers in pistol cases but I will do a bit of testing to assure no dangerous problems. I most assuredly will not use pistol primers in rifle cases!!!!

LDBennett
 

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I've read a couple of threads on other sites that said small rifle primers could be used in place of small pistol by reducing the powder charge to low or mid range. I've done more research on the web but can't really find anything that convinces me this can be done.

The main difference in the two primers seems to be the force of the firing pin strike required to ignite the primer. However, I can't find anything that talks about the explosive force of the small rifle vs the small pistol. Anybody know anything about this?
I see this is a old post but this might help someone I made the mistake of using small pistol primers in a few hundred 223 rounds before I caught my mistakes. I decided to go ahead and try a few rounds. And had no issues at all in around 300 plus rounds fired. I'm not saying you should or not but it worked out for me.
 

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I’ve seen it done successfully on YouTube. Would I do it? Probably not unless it was a last resort. But what do I know? I’m rebuilding primers with paper caps for toy guns.
 
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