Rifle primers

Is there a best brand of primer, or is choice irrelevant?

Q: Is any one brand of primer better than the others? Also, what is the ideal depth to which primers should be seated?

I know you are using the RCBS/CCI Advanced Priming System (APS) which uses primers loaded in plastic strips. But what do you do with the strips after they are emptied?

Alan Muir

A: I save all the empty plastic strips from the CCI APS and load fresh primers into the empty strips using a machine that RCBS puts out for just this purpose.

Primers are an interference fit in the pocket and your priming tool must be set to seat them to the correct depth. If you seat your primers using the priming arm on your press, they will automatically be seated to the right depth.

If they are not seated deeply enough and protrude above the case head, it can lead to misfires or malfunctions.

On the other hand, when primers are seated too deeply it can actually crush the priming compound and cause misfires or prevent ignition altogether.

Ideally, the primer should be seated slightly below the base of the cartridge case — about .002” (0.05mm) is desirable.

There is a lot of misinformation regarding primers bandied about, most of it being handed down for decades. Some primer cups may still be slightly harder than others, but this is nothing to worry about. The simple fact is that for the vast majority of handloaders, the choice of primer matters not one whit.

They all ignite the powder and few hunters really need to worry about accuracy to the second decimal place.

For those who do, I can set their minds at rest. Every rifle, cartridge and powder is an independent variable, so there is positively no way to guarantee a primer that works in one specific recipe is going to do well in another.

If you are really picky about such things, I suggest you waste time testing each variable.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.