Handgun Primer Variation?

Handgun Primer Variation?

This is a discussion on Handgun Primer Variation? within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; Over the years I have primarily used Remington and Winchester primers. When the primer shortage of 2008-2009 hit, I got to using CCI's, as they ...

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Thread: Handgun Primer Variation?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Devilsclaw's Avatar
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    Handgun Primer Variation?

    Over the years I have primarily used Remington and Winchester primers. When the primer shortage of 2008-2009 hit, I got to using CCI's, as they were more available here. They seem to really seat well, and generally seemed to be very good quality primers. I have heard before, that the CCI primers have too much variability for some.

    Now to the question. Over the last year, I have been getting more and more discouraged about handgun shooting. I haven't been able to make those nice tight patterns like I used to, and was about to the point of quiting the hobby. I should disclose that I'm not a new shooter, I've been shooting for a long time, and I used to be able to do quite well. Keep in mind, I was so discouraged that I started shooting from a sandbag rest, with the same horrible results.

    Over the last month, I have been using Winchester primers again, and I'm getting much better groups. Off-hand groups that are probably 1/3rd the size of previous rested groups--all with the same loads, except the primers.

    Probably just me practicing a little more, but I still wonder if it might be the primers. I can see primer variability being an issue with rifle ammuntion, but handgun? I just can't see that it would be that big of a deal. I'm using cast bullets after all.

    Does anyone else have any wisdom to pass on about primers in handguns? Anything that you have learned over the years?


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    I used to be strictly a CCI man, only because that's the brand the local store carried. I never had any issues with CCI (one dud in 1000s). Since then, I've thrown Win, Rem, and Federal into the mix and have never noticed any difference in performance. Maybe if I ran identical loads with different brand primers through a chrono, etc., I might notice one was 10 FPS faster/slower than the next, but at 15 yards it's not going to make a difference. I don't load max loads, so I never concerned myself with "reduce load and start over." If I ever did notice a difference in groups with one brand, I might rethink it, but I haven't so far.

    I never noticed any difference with my .223 or .30-06 either, come to think of it.
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    Senior Member Array Devilsclaw's Avatar
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    Well, Oldvet, you are thinking exactly as I have. With medium loads, I just cannot see that it would matter. Still, the change has been very noticable. I gotta think it's just me.

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Its probably just you. Sometimes things just come together after a lot of perserverance.

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    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    I use primarily CCI primers. I have some winchesters in storage for a rainy day, because it was all that was available when I went to buy. I've used them and also not really noticed a difference.
    -Ryan

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    Member Array tkirk's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, I have observed the identical problem over the years.....thought as you it could be the lack of quality control of the manufactured primers. Switching to Winchester from CCI didn't solve the problem, but finally realizing that the wear & tear on the "Star" of the cylinder of my S&W Model 29 .44 Mag, as well as the compression of the "cylinder bushings" from a constant diet of "Hot Loads" was causing my problems. Quite simply, the cylinder gap between the barrel had increased, thus causing a varience of pressure, thus the opening of my groups. A quick trip to my local gunsmith solved the problem......replaced the "Star" & bushings, as well as my cylinder rod....my groups tightened up once again.

    You might wish to perform a simple test of your weapon....from a sandbag rest, taking your time, squeezing off each round, note where each round is hitting on your target, and make a mark your cylinder with your wife's or significient other's white nail polish. You will probably find that two (2) or three (3) chambers of the cylinder are just fine....printing groups that can be covered with a quarter, while the other cylinder chambers are flying all over the place. Improper cylinder alignment will cause this to occur, and if this is happening in your case, take your weapon to your local gun doctor.

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