View Full Version : Small Primer vs Large Primer Brass (Discussion)

28 April 2018, 06:58
As usual I have been doing googlefu in order to try and learn stuff before forking out lots of money in a long term plan. Some of these things I (partially) knew before but I learned a little bit. Enough to make me more curious.

.45 ACP comes in either large or small primer variants.
.308 rifle brass also comes in large or small primer variants.
6.5 CM is yet another that is either small or large primer

I am sure there are others.

I am curious to have a conversation about this.

From what I understand the primer pockets on the small rifle stuff lasts a lot longer than large rifle. I watched one video where the guy set out to test and after X amount of reloads the brass was still fine except for the large primer pockets were too loose to hold a primer any longer and had to be tossed. When the same test was done using small rifle primers with the same load he hit X number of reloads and kept on going by a lot more so in theory he got way more bang for his buck for his quality brass.

If anyone knows or has resources about the small/large primer thing including what all parent cases it applies to post it up.

Note: I am hopefully soon to get into at least a couple of other calibers (rifle) and maybe out of another (pistol).

In that process I am considering on loading up on even more primers. I would like to stockpile primers even more than now. I am also considering throwing out a lot of old brass and investing in some good new stuff (maybe). This will depend on a bunch of things like caliber considerations etc but I might just take the plunge over time and say buy a lot of never fired cases at once from the same lot and just toss the rest.

Additional notes: I am considering getting out of .380 all together. It's nice to have--but it's just one more caliber and one I don't shoot as often. With .45 ACP it would be nice to have all my brass be the same primer size so I don't have to hand sort that stuff. For 9mm and really all other pistol calibers it would be nice to have consistent brass that will last a long time. Some of the mixed brass I am using for 9mm is great, thick, and robust. Other stuff is thin and soft. More than just accuracy it would be nice to just have a lot of consistent brass to work with that will last a while.

For rifle brass the life of the brass matters but also it's pretty important to get consistency from that.

28 April 2018, 12:25
I have headstamp sorting OCD. For my primary reloading of .45ACP and .223, I have everything cleaned then sorted. This has helped me on .45 reloading tremendously. I have one bag that is just small primers, mostly Blazer brass. Once I have around 1k I plan on trading it. However, since I do reload on occasion for 9mm and .357, if I run into a jam and can’t find large pistol, I have a backup.

I have found that my reloading setup does well with almost all .45 brass, except for Federal. I’m saving that to trade for PMC, RP, or Winchester.

For my .223/5.56, I separate by type and make (not year). I don’t sort by shot count, but I do use a Ballistic Tool Swage Guage after all cleaning to find enlarged primer pockets, and toss them. I believe the primer pocket will fail well before head separation, especially if you aren’t loading hot.

Sorting does suck, but in the long run, I think it’s necessary for consistency and trouble shooting.

As for large/small resources, I just go with the load book. It’s annoying as all hell, but I’d choose SAAMI spec for most rounds. That being said, if your going to buy the good stuff, like 6.5 CM in Lapua, get a good amount and use the small primers.

28 April 2018, 21:46
Wow! Thanks man! I had no idea those little tools like that even existed.

I bought a set of those swage gauges for small and large primers. That should help a lot with sorting through brass. I have a decrimping tool already but that little tool you mentioned should make it easier to cull the bad stuff.

As for the brass--- I have a bunch of buckets filled mostly with mixed brass sorted by caliber. I do have one bucket of brand new Lake City brass though. I have several thousand pieces of that.

For 9mm and .45 I am thinking about biting the bullet and just getting a few thousand pieces of new brass each. That would last me quite a long time I am sure but it's not cheap, especially when you start adding up different calibers.

I am looking at Starline Brass but who knows. I might find something better and cheaper out there. I am not very familiar with their products though. I've never used them but they seem to get good reviews.

As for the primer sizes I am really wondering if anyone has any preference. On the Starline website it says this about the 6.5 CM small primer brass:

Our SR6.5CM brass uses a Small Rifle Primer. Many target shooters prefer the Small Primer for the increased consistency and accuracy. While other small pocket manufacturers use a smaller than standard flash hole, Starline uses our standard .080" flash hole, as we feel that it gives better ignition with some of the slower powders and in cooler conditions* (and you won't be breaking off decapping pins either!)The Small Primer version also maintains primer pocket size much better than the large primer version under higher pressures. For our Large Primer version please see our 6.5 Creedmoor case.

Before I invest a bunch of cash into new brass though I am going to do more homework. The stuff one guy loves the next guy hates.

I have a stash of primers now, but I want to start hoarding those and keeping a good stockpile. If I ultimately go into 6.5CM (most likely yes) I can use the same primers as an AR but it would also mean buying a lot more of that type.

I am kind of drawn (on paper at least) to the small primer brass because I have heard several reports (including from Lapua and Starline and other sources) that the pockets last a lot longer. Whether or not it gives better accuracy and all that I have no idea.

At the end of the day though I am trying to make educated decisions about what exactly would make my life easier and what stuff I should build up supplies for. Overall it's going to cost several thousand bucks so I am trying to get a game plan together.

29 April 2018, 06:11
Must have been at least 10 years ago I came across some Winchester Clean 45ACP small primer at the range. I reloaded it with with the same load of Winchester 231 and 200gr RN I was using at the time but used CCI small pistol 500 instead of CCI large pistol 300. Average velocity and spreads were on par with large pistol. Having satisfied my curiosity I tossed the small primer.

I reload 38spcl/.357 and 45ACP for recreational range use. Used to reload 9mm but it's become so cheap over the years it's not worth it.

What would make your life easier? What worked for me reloading pistol brass is to not agonize over the endless overthink. That was easy for me because when I began reloading 30 years ago I didn't have any money. I used whatever brass I could find. Didn't have calipers, pocket cleaner, trimmer nor chronograph. All I had was a Rock Chuker, Lee dies, hand primer and powder scoops. Now I've got all the goodies... but the ammo doesn't know the difference. That said, I don't shoot in Bullseye pistol matches where agonizing can make a difference.

29 April 2018, 08:33
With the pistol stuff I'm not overly concerned about how it shoots per se. What I have now shoots fine by me. That said it can be a PITA in the reload process.

With that what I'm running into is hitting loose pockets, crimped pockets, or just flat out junk brass. It all slows me down a lot because it's not culled.

Most of it is fine and shoots great but the reload process gets tedious when you prime a half loose pocket or you get all the way to the charge stage and the brass is so thin it crunches in the press.

That tool that cjd3 mentioned will help a lot to cull out the junk. I need to cull out the thin walled stuff too.

If I just bite the bullet and get new brass of all the same primer size and strength it will save me a lot of time and effort over time. That's the thought process here.

29 April 2018, 13:06
The only time I've crushed a straight wall pistol case is when the mouth isn't flared enough to properly set the bullet and gets crushed when trying to seat. My guess is too thin of a case isn't the issue you're experiencing with straight wall pistol.

I've never purchased pistol brass for reloading. You can buy 1,000rd loaded cases of Fed or Win 45ACP for the price of buying brass for reloading and components. Shoot it... then all your brass will be the same for reloading. Using a Sharpie on the head will help to keep it separate from other spent brass at the range and reduce culling.

29 April 2018, 19:17
I’ve never seen a small rifle primer .308 case. And I’ve shot mainly the big names but I’ve inspected all kinds

I use 100% small primer .45 ACP. I can stock up solely on small pistol primers to use with 380, 9mm and 45...it’s a win win. And my loads are still light and have no problems setting off the charge

29 April 2018, 19:53
Iíve never seen a small rifle primer .308 case. And Iíve shot mainly the big names but Iíve inspected all kinds

I use 100% small primer .45 ACP. I can stock up solely on small pistol primers to use with 380, 9mm and 45...itís a win win. And my loads are still light and have no problems setting off the charge

That is the whole idea right there. I am not sure which brass company makes new small primer .45 brass for sale. Starline doesn't have any (not that I can find).

I will have to do some homework to see if I can find some stuff that is quality out there and not outrageously priced.

If I can find some good small primer .45 brass I can just stock up all on small primers and I would be covered. It's much more about logistics/time and money management than it is about shooting. I think it's Federal that sells primarily small primer .45ACP ammo. I've shot thousands of rounds of that over time so it's again not so much that it's going to shoot better or worse I don't think.

Same thing for rifles if I could swing it, to have all one primer size, would be kind of nice.

As for the .308 brass here is a link...I never saw it before either but I guess it works. Same with 6.5. Lapua only makes small primer 6.5 brass, but starline makes both small and large.

Scroll down until you see ".308 match"



Here is the 6.5 small primer. They specifically say it lasts a lot longer (the primer pockets) which would be nice.


29 April 2018, 20:10
At the end of the day if I need to get 4 different types of primer's that's fine, but if I can just get two that would be way better assuming all other things being equal. If I can stock up and get 50,000 of each that would last me a while, particularly through any ammo runs or whatever. Call me paranoid but after that whole Obama thing I am wanting to stack it deep. Fortunately during the last run on ammo I was stocked up on everything except .22 ammo.

29 April 2018, 22:00
Palma shooters are a different breed and the brass is not something you’d find as a range pickup for example

I have two small primer 45 headstamps that seem to be the most common:

Blazer brass and Federal.

Worst case scenario you could buy some 45 Blazer ammo, burn it up and keep the brass

30 April 2018, 05:53
I found a few places online that sort the brass for .45 by primer size. Some even head stamp sort too. I might just go that route as its very cheap. Apparently most .45 guys dislike small primers.

From a logistics standpoint it might be a good thing. Especially for plinking ammo.

30 April 2018, 07:30
My .45 bunny fart load is a 230gr plated round nose with 3.3gr Titewad (shotgun powder), and CCI Small Primers (not magnum). Works great in my 1911s

30 April 2018, 17:20
I wouldn't mess with Palma 308 brass unless you either A) feel you have fully exploited the accuracy potential of the .308 for long range shooting but still need to squeeze out a bit more performance or B) just feel like spending some extra time and money for the hell of it to see if you notice a difference.