There are different types of primers for different firearms, including pistol primers, rifle primers, and shotgun primers. They range in size from small to large, depending on the cartridge they’re used for.
Primer types are distinguished according to:
- The type of weapon in which they’re used.
- Whether they’re used in rimfire or centerfire ammunition.
- Whether they’re meant for standard or magnum ammunition.
- Whether they’re Boxer or Barden design.
Let’s take a look at each of these categories.
What Are the Different Types of Primers for Different Firearms?
Primers for large rifles and pistols measure .210 inches in diameter, while small rifle primers and small pistol primers measure .175 inches in diameter. Shotgun primers also measure .175 inches in diameter.
It’s important to keep these distinctions in mind when reloading ammunition. Otherwise, the reloaded round could misfire and possibly injure the shooter.
Rimfire Versus Centerfire Primers
Rimfire primers are built into the casing itself and cannot be replaced. Centerfire primers, on the other hand, are changed out during the reloading process. Knowing how to do this safely is one of the most important reloading skills to learn.
Standard Versus Magnum Primers
Most people assume that magnum primers are only used with magnum cartridges. This is not always the case, however.
For example, magnum primers are sometimes used when working with spherical gunpowder, which takes a little extra heat to ignite. That’s because magnum primers burn a bit hotter than their standard counterparts.
However, you should never substitute magnum primers for non-magnum primers unless your reloading manual says that it’s okay. Failing to stick to the manual guidelines could put you at risk for serious injury.
Boxer Versus Barden Primers
Most ammunition manufactured in the United States uses Boxer primers, in which the anvil is an integral part of the primer itself.
On the other hand, much of the ammunition manufactured outside the United States uses Barden primers, in which the anvil is built into the casing and is reused every time the round is reloaded.
Most shooters in the US prefer the Boxer design for the following reasons:
- Boxer primers come in fewer sizes than Barden primers, which simplifies the reloading process.
- The Boxer design avoids the danger of wearing out the anvil, an inherent risk when reloading Barden-type rounds.
- The average shooter will notice little if any difference in performance between the two types of ammunition.
Despite these advantages of Boxer primers, it may be worth your time to learn how to work with Barden reloading primers, especially if you own firearms chambered for European or other non-US calibers.
How to Stay Safe When Working with Primers
Now that you know more about primers, here are some tips for handling them safely:
- Make sure the primer is properly seated in the casing – so that it’s not jutting out past the cartridge or inserted so deeply that it may misfire.
- Only work with one type of primer at a time – this will help to prevent mix-ups.
- Always wear eye protection when reloading – this precaution could save your vision in the event that a primer ignites during the reloading process.
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Here at Powder Valley, we not only have a great selection of reloading products, we also have the expertise and dedication to customer service to make sure you get exactly the products you need, every time. Check out our wide range of top-quality primers and get fast shipping on your order. Shoot more and pay less when you shop with us.