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>> .454 Casull Primer Tests :: By Dan Kiesey on 2001-08-08
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I had always assumed that as long as my selected primers caused things to go boom with 100% consistency, my primer selection interests were satisfied. My first insight that primers from different manufacturers may perform differently was during one summer of testing .44 mag loads. I found a change of primer could change the impact point by 1½ inch at 25 yards, and affect the accuracy and velocity. I’ve also found that the best primer for one cartridge and/or load may not be the best for another set of components -- thus my habit of including primer comparisons in any new load development. 

For a current development session, I selected the following five small rifle primers for testing with a 6 1/2" barreled .454 Raging Bull:

Winchester (WSR)
Remington No. 7 1/2 Bench Rest
CCI 450 Magnum
CCI BR-4 Bench Rest
Federal Gold Medal Match GM205M

The testing was performed with the cartridges at two different environmental temperatures (ambient) and at a reduced temperature. I will be the first to identify the reduced temperature testing in the manner I performed it was not the optimum testing environment. An example of the obvious is once the cartridges left the icebox, they were exposed to ambient temperature and a “warmer” revolver, thus some impact would be expected. As noted below, that exposure was minimized as much as possible. The reduced temperature testing was developed as follows:

Cartridges (qty 5) were stored in individual plastic containers and placed in a freezer for 2 hours at 0 degrees temperature. The containers were then placed in an insulated icebox and covered with ice for transportation to the range. The time from removal from freezer to final shot fired was approximately 47 minutes. The individual containers allowed me to leave the cartridges in the icebox until time to shoot that particular primer group. Tests indicated the cartridges ranged from 18 to 20 degrees at the time the revolver was loaded. All cartridges were fired within 11 minutes after starting and each 5 shot primer group was fired within 90 seconds of being taken from the icebox. Since the average velocity of the last two shots (all ten groups at reduced temp.) was only 1.8 fps faster than the first two shots, I would assume the environmental temperature did not noticeably affect the cartridges prior to shooting.

The testing was performed over a six-day period, with five rounds loaded and shot for each primer each day. Ambient temperature for tests day 1 and 2 was 72 and 74 degrees. Ambient temperature for day 3 and 4 was 64 and 62 degrees (cartridges were 18-20 degrees at time of test) and the final ambient test temperature for day 5 and 6 was 88 degrees.


The primary interest for these tests was velocity performance, consistency of velocity performance (ES) and accuracy. For the sake of brevity, I'll only indicate that the cartridge components were Winchester brass (new) sorted for 1.381" length, 24.1grs. of W296 powder, and hard cast, gas checked 360 gr. bullets.   RCBS .454 dies were used and seating and crimping were done separately.  O.A.L (1.777") was compared between groups to assure consistency. The Chrony was placed 9ft. from muzzle.  Accuracy tests were conducted from bench rest with iron sights and targets were placed at 25 yds.

Test results are as follows:

Velocity Results – (feet per second)

Primer

88 degrees

71 degrees

18 degrees

Average

Winchester (WSR)

1376

1336

1312

1341.3

Rem. No. 7 ½ BR

1369

1349

1311

1343.0

CCI 450 Magnum

1359

1349

1291

1333.0

CCI BR-4

1367

1342

1322

1343.7

Federal GM205M

1371

1340

1308

1339.7

Average

1368.4

1343.2

1308.8

 

 

Extreme Spread – (feet per second)

Primer

88 degrees

71 degrees

18 degrees

Average

Winchester (WSR)

20

42

60

40.67

Rem. No. 7 ½ BR

20

40

80

46.67

CCI 450 Magnum

38

37

141

72.00

CCI BR-4

14

40

52

35.33

Federal GM205M

17

48

60

41.67

 

Standard Deviation

Primer

88 degrees

71 degrees

18 degrees

Average

Winchester (WSR)

7.15

13.4

21.41

13.99

Rem. No. 7 ½ BR

8.26

12.2

28.41

16.29

CCI 450 Magnum

14.85

11.2

39.36

21.80

CCI BR-4

7.02

14.2

18.19

13.14

Federal GM205M

6.62

17.7

29.97

18.10

 

Accuracy – (inches)

Primer

88 degrees

71 degrees

18 degrees

Average

Winchester (WSR)

0.95”

1.45”

2.44”

1.61”

Rem. No. 7 ½ BR

1.15”

1.08”

3.37”

1.87”

CCI 450 Magnum

1.75”

1.59”

1.71”

1.68”

CCI BR-4

1.11”

1.15”

1.38”

1.21”

Federal GM205M

2.30”

1.27”

1.45”

1.67”

 

Summary

There were no misfires and one could say they all performed adequately. But at the risk of offending the reader and their favorite primer, I suggest that for this combination of components, the CCI BR-4 did out perform the other primers.  To any reader I did offend, let it be know that my “standards”, the CCI 450 and Remington 7 ½, came in 4th and 5th place! Like many tests, the results reflect my skills and this particular set of revolver and loading components at this particular time – but I would like to think it offers a result worth following up on for long-term usage. And with that I wish all good shooting - Dan.

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