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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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