I have for many years been a devotee of Federal Rifle Primers, both 215 for the larger capacity cartridges, and 210 for standard cartridges. I use a lot of Federal 215 and 210 primers. During some recent primer shortages I was unable for months on end to get extra shipments of these primers, and was offered several times for my order to be replaced with both CCI and Winchester, of which I refused and waited for the Federals, which did finally come before I ran totally out.
This did prompt me to consider other primers however, but the question remained how that would affect performance of loads that I had established already with either Federal 215s or 210s? I decided to conduct a study of this to find out.
Having worked with the Pressure Trace System for several years I decided to use that in combination with the chronograph to gather as much data as possible to go beyond just a velocity study, and see how pressures were affected as well. Knowing how the slightest change in any component can make a huge difference in pressures, and sometimes no difference at all in velocity, the pressure trace is considered to be an important component of the study. And in the end it has proven itself once again. Several of the tests provided near same velocity, but vastly different pressures.
I decided one could not just test one powder, one bullet, and one cartridge, and realize any value in that. So I decided to do at least 3 different B&M cartridges, 2 different bullets each, along with two different powders, and see if one was able to gather enough data to realize if one primer stood out above others, or one might stand out as not so good? To begin with I chose the 9.3 B&M, 416 B&M, and the 50 B&M as the test cartridges. Two bottle necks, one medium bore, and then the 50 B&M as the basic straight case. Each of these at their best with totally different powders.
Sam Rose and I did the first test back in February of this year, 2011. We did the 416 B&M at that time. It was only recently I was able to resume the test work with the 9.3 B&M. My 50 B&M with the strain gages connected is out for a new stock right now, and since I was not able to work with it I decided to conduct a test in the 458 B&M, and when the 50 B&M is returned I will then finish the test with it.
9.3 B&M Primer Test
In the 9.3 B&M I decided to use the CEB 255 BBW#13 HP and it's favorite dose of 69 grs of RL 15. This is an excellent load and was worked up with the Federal 215 to begin with. The following primers were tested, Federal 210, Winchester Magnum, Winchester Standard, CCI-250, Wolf, and MagTech. Many of these being supplied by Sam Rose. The same primers were used with the 286 Hornady and 66/IMR 4320. A better load for the 286 Hornady is again RL 15, however I wanted to use a different powder, and this load is at Maximum, a slight push or change in primer could push it over maximum.
With the 255 CEB BBBW#13 and 69/RL 15 the Federal 215 did a great job. Took the load to some less than maximum and gave extremely consistent and even pressures, and the highest velocity. The Winchester Magnum primer gave a slightly lower pressure, but with a very high extreme spread, not showing good consistency, but velocities were consistent.
With the 286 Hornady and 66/IMR 4320 the Federal 215 gave some inconsistent pressures, with excessive extreme spread, very consistent velocity numbers. With this load, the CCI 250 gave near the same velocity, very consistent pressures and much lower pressure.
Conclusion? Obviously more work would need to be done to confirm this, but it appears one could in fact fine tune the pressures and loads by checking several different primers. For instance in this case with the 9.3 B&M, I would not investigate much further the 255 CEB BBW#13 Load with the Federal 215. However, with the 286 Hornady and IMR 4320 I could investigate the CCI 250 primer further, lower the pressures a good bit below maximum and nearly equal the velocity.
Please find the 9.3 B&M Data Below in PDF format.