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Can Small Rifle Primers Be Used In Pistol Loads?

Can Small Rifle Primers Be Used in Pistol Loads

Every time you walk into a gun shop or sporting goods store, you may notice that there’s a shortage of ammunition and reloading supplies. Primers seem to be so hard to find nowadays. The next thing that comes to mind is to use small rifle primers during the pistol’s loading process. But is the substitution even possible? Read on to find out!


Small Rifle Primers vs. Small Pistol Primers

Small rifle magnum primers and the small pistol magnum primers look essentially the same to the unaided eye. But, when evaluated more carefully, under a microscope, these two show clues that can somehow distinguish them.

SR primers and SP primers have the same dimensions in terms of diameter (0.175”). On the other hand, large rifle primers (LR primers) and large pistol primers (LP primers) have 0.210″ diameter. There is a cup height difference, so they can’t be interchangeable with each other.

Primer Loads

The boxer primers consist mostly of a soft brass circular cup and a pressed-in anvil. Between the cup’s base and the anvil lies the priming compound. The modern primers are known to be non-corrosive and usually contain compounds including lead styphnate. Seating the mag primers must squish the anvil into the pellet, once they are seated flush in the cartridge.

SRP and SPP don’t show a difference dimensionally or on the amount of driving compound used. However, SRP is generally made up of thicker materials than SPP. The efficacy of the factory loads by deformation may be past the safe levels of load if the cup used is thicker or made up of harder brass


Can Small Rifle Primers Work in Pistol Cartridges?

While there are lots of small rifle primers and a dwindling supply of small pistol primers, they can’t be substituted for each other. The SR primer and SP primer may be virtually identical in size, as with the primer pocket of their respective cases. However, the rifle primer has a higher cup thickness and a higher pressure.

As of writing, there is still no verifiable data showing the difference in the fire rate between the two. Thus, interchanging the load components of these two guns is irresponsible.


Forums and Communities

With the advancement in technology, several forums recommended communities have an open discussion about various ammunition topics such as using standard rifle primers in pistol. Here are some of the claims and recommendations that can be used as a discussion starter:

  •  A user suggests that a modified gun, with lightened springs, should have no problem with using small rifle primers in a pistol cartridge. Any modern combat handgun must have enough force to ignite without any problems.
  • A user tested both and didn’t notice any difference. The accuracy was great, lacking any flattened or pierced primers, and they worked fine.
  • A user gathered data that shows that there are consistent max loads and small standard deviation. However, routine use is not intended, unless a lack of supply is experienced.
  • A user used small pistols in rifle rounds or rifle loads and claimed that the load development was as usual.

Get help from expert


Get Help From the Experts

Using the correct primers is always a must to ensure zero problems with your handgun cartridges. Rather than getting recommendations from a forum community dedicated to ammunition and reloading components, it’s best to get help from the experts. At Trifusion Tactical, we give the best advice for all your ammo needs. Our store offers a wider variation of products in stock than anyone else. You can even give us a call for more information and better bulk pricing options.

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