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I have a question on primers...

2826 Views 15 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  RUFUS
I have been reloading for about 20+ years now, but only for target purposes. I recently tried some steel plate shooting
and really enjoyed it, so my son (Who got me started with the steel shooting) had a trigger job done on my old .38
special and I reloaded as I normally would. I had a lot (approximately 15 of 100) with light strikes leading to a failure
to fire. I asked a friend who has been shooting at the pro level for some time and he asked what primers I was using.
I normally use Winchester SP, and he said they are too hard and I should change to a softer primer. Not to confuse by
saying what brand he told me to use, What would you folks advise for me to use.
By the way, the trigger is about 3.5 to 4.0 lbs. and oh so sweet......
Thank you in advance for any help you can lend to my search.
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SIR, I WOULD ADVISE YOU TO FIND a pistolsmith who knows the correct way to lighten the the action of your pistol so it does what the gun's manufacturer and GOD made it to do, Hit ANY MAKE OF PRIMER and set it off in the proper manner.
DO NOT confuse a 'light' action with a SMOOTH action.
Contrary to popular opinion there are no ' soft primers' per'se, there are some that are a dangsite more sensative, AND they are also a dangsite more touchy and dangerous. THESE would be the FEDERAL line up of primers which use the ' basic lead styphnate' priming compound.
Definitely caused by the trigger job. Too light a firing pin strike. Usually showing up in double action mode.
Winchester primers are considered some of the best, so reliable that the Winchester 209 shotgun primer was used to set off the charge that seperated the booster rockets from the space shuttle.

Primers are made to a specific standard and I seriously doubt that one brand may be "softer" than another. But a mil-spec primer or a magnum primer may have a slightly harder primer cup.
Thanks for all the replies. I am going to try the federal primers, those are the ones I had been told about and mentioned in the original post. If this does not fix it I'll ask the smith that did
the work to check it out. I would have done this before, but he has had some personal things to
take care of, and I am in no rush. He is by the way a very good gun smith and an exceptional
Thanks again, and when I get the primers, I'll let you know how I made out.

The above is based on my personal reloading experiences, but I do know several IDPA revolver shooters that use only federal primers due to the problem you've described.

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Try federal primers they are the softest and may work just fine. Many of the best gunsmiths out their will make an action smooth as silk and reduce the weight of the hammer spring. This is common and as long as you are shooting your own reloads for target purposes who cares if it will fire any primer.
I know a lot of people have lightened the trigger pull from the factory standards. I also know that the letoff can be a bit different from one gun to the next. A very old friend who shot pistol matches years back told me that it is more important to have a smooth action rather a light action. He said he learned that after shooting with the oldtimers of his era. Excercises building the strength in both hands improved his shooting abilites far beyond what a light trigger could provide. I have no way of proving this rumor - but I heard that Ed McGivern had an exceptional strong grip. Possibly a born gift along with fast reflexes. I can see the merits of building up hand and arm muscles as there would be less fatigue and a steadier hold.
Rick McC, Chaz, Trap4570, thank you all for the info. That was the type of information I was looking for. Thanks again.
Get a new mainspring or try some Federal primers.
I finely scored some Federal Match primers and will be reloading some rounds tomorrow. I will be using a new powder also, so I hope to test them on Tuesday or Wednesday, and will give you all the results. It has taken a while to find these primers, so I hope it was worth it.
Well, I finely got the time (this last 2 month's were real busy) to try the new primers out.
Loaded up 50 and not one glitch. I even used a new powder, hodgdon titegroup @ 3.2 gr.
I must say that stuff is D-I-R-T-Y, very disappointed with that result. But the primers solved
the problem and that was the major concern.
Again thanks to all who gave me positive comments.
I have shot some Cowboy action and many of us lighten the springs in our guns as you can shoot faster and more accurate with a lighter trigger. I lightened a Marlin 1894 and had a few fail to fires. I was told to use Federal primers as they are softer. I took the advice and the Federal primers solved the problem.
Be sure the strain screw is in far enough. If it is backed out even a smidgeon it results in light strikes. Sometimes a longer screw is needed. Some guys will shim it up to make the difference. Not a big job. S&W guys know about this.
I just loaded some standard pressure 38 special rounds. I have only one of several 38 special Colt revolvers that is finicky in double action with primers. I changed to Winchester small pistol (from CCI) with brass colored cups and will try them later this week. I too have heard the story of hard CCI primers. In all disclosure, if any of the primers are seated correctly, they fire, but loading on my Lee 1000 progressive sometimes leaves the harder to seat CCI primers just a little proud and there I believe is where the problem is.
If you gun will only function with federal primers you have a problem. While they are softer and easier to ignite, they are not the cure to an improper action job. Have you examined the seating depth of your current reloading setup? Is your gun equally sensitive with various brands of factory ammo?
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