Obtaining Reloading Primers

It seems like a familiar pattern- a disruption in the political environment or shooting industry (large military order for instance) results in a supply chain issue for ammunition reloading components. As a private citizen, this means you can’t buy what you need to reload ammunition. These component availability challenges vary depending on the type of component in question. Typically reloading primers end up being the most difficult component to obtain- as if they were made of gold…


After placing an order with Widener’s Reloading Supply in December 2012, I finally received the order just a few days ago. I haven’t ever experienced a delay like that, but at this point I’m feeling a bit of the “better late than never” reality. Fortunately I had planned ahead and was not halted in my reloading. I’ve heard from many of you that are just getting into reloading about big-time challenges with obtaining presses, primers, powder, dies, projectiles, and other items. The only advice I have at this point is to be patient, treat your retailers with patience and respect, and to look into creative options like trades. I would encourage you to “treat others like you would like to be treated yourself” as well.

It has taken Widener’s a long time to fulfill my orders, but this is understandable given the load they are under. They are doing their best to keep up.

Anyone else having luck finding primers? What was your wait time like? Please share your experiences!



30 thoughts on “Obtaining Reloading Primers”

  1. After getting caught short after the last election, I stocked up on large pistol primers. But I finally started loading for my .40, and didn’t have nearly enough SPP to last for any length of time. I got lucky, and found that my new shooting ranger had a good supply, and was able to buy enough to hopefully last through the current shortages.

  2. One of the big questions are, why is Federel insisting on packaging the primers in those giant boxes?!
    On the topic. I try to support my lokal gun store, and buying primers and powders in small quanties (1k primers and 1-2kg powder at the time, yes. Metricsystem is better). But since i tend to shop alot there i get i nice discount. And it is not worth saving a few pennies on that, plus. You often get better prices on guns and other stuff.
    But im sure you use up all the primer pretty quick.
    Like you said. Let everybody have some reloading gear!

    But since i live in Sweden we dont have any shortage! Only on Nosler Accubond for some strange reason.

    Nice webpage and love your youtube videos. Keep up the good work.

    1. Could it be that Federal primers are known to detonate really easily in fact. Federal primers have been known to detonate if dropped and if using a primer tube….stacked primers…it is usually advised not to use Federal primers for this very reason. So…those big primer boxes are used for a reason….it’s called separation.

      Depending on the caliber…such as 6.5…(264)….a lot of people use the Nosler Accubonds….and Nosler will run some caliber in sporadic runs or sometimes seasonal runs….just as will most brass manufacturers. When peope see 264 Winchesteer Mag brass in stock….the buying begins. However…the more popular a caliber becomes…you will see a more consistant supply. Trust me….264 Accubond bullets were not plentiful even before the hoarding started though you could find them. But Lord you’d have to search hard!!

  3. Before the election a friend sold me 10,000 Tula SP for $10 per 1000 because he could not get them to work reliably in his Glock. They worked fine in my S&W M&P 9mm Pro and 45. Sometimes luck has a lot to do with finding supplies.

  4. This is slightly off topic, but is there any harm in using small pistol magnum primers in place of regular small pistol primers? Right now I’ve got a surplus of magnum primers and would like to use them in reloading 9mm, .40 and maybe 357 Sig as well. Am I looking at any problems?

    1. Magnum primers generally are made to burn hotter than regular primers although there seems to be significant variation between manufacturers. There is no standardization between manufacturers for what is a standard primer and what is a magnum primer. Within the same brand the magnum primer should burn hotter than the standard. If you already have loads worked up that work well for you just reduce the powder charge one or two tenths grain when switching to magnum primers and test them. You may find that it makes a slight difference or maybe none at all. You will probably only notice a difference if you are shooting full power loads.

    2. Yes, many have found it OK to load the magnum primers in place of standard primers, many of done it for years. WARNING – Always work up your load from scratch! You can just swap a component in your recipe and expect it to be safe, when you change something, even just a primer (or even primer brand!) you should work up a new load recipe to be safe.

      I was having trouble finding Small Pistol Primers, and wound up just using Wolf Small Rifle Primers that I stocked up on for .223 – these have worked out great in this case – after I worked up an all new load for these primers.

  5. 14 Feb 13

    Lucky for me that I bought a few thousand various size primers last fall. I still keep my eyes open to replenish those that I’ve used but so far not much luck. I can’t find a #6 Shell Plate for my Hornady L-N-L either. Everyone has them on back order.
    None of this makes any sense. I saw an ad on the “BackPage” here in Phoenix offering primers at $1.00 each. Are you kidding me? I thought that 3 cents each was with in reason and 2 1/2 cents would have been better. I think that in a few months all of this will blow over and prices will get back to where they should be. Availability will increase too.
    Just hang in there. Time heals all wounds right?

  6. Waiting for Midway to send me an email for Large Pistol CCI and Winchester and Small Pistol CCI and Winchester. Sitting on just under 2k of each. Think I am going to get 5k to 10k of each when I get notified that primers are in.

  7. Well I didn’t have a problem finding primers initially, but the biggest challenge I have had is finding brass for 223. I was able to get some 223 brass but I had to look long and hard for it.

    1. 223 brass is easy to find, heck it’s posted all over Craig’s List. The issue is finding decently priced brass. 1 year ago I paid $60/1000 of once-fired LC brass. Now it’s around $130-150/1000. I’ve seen it posted for as high as $200/1000 over on AR15.com. Also check GunBroker, but it’s not cheap.

      1. Mid December (and I haven’t checked their prices since) I picked up 2000 rnds of once fired .223/5.56 ammo for $125 + $16 shipping from topbrassreloading.com

  8. I luckily stocked up on a bunch of things in spring 2012 and then did not shoot much at all during 2012. However first week of Jan I started to feel the squeeze and ran around locally in the Puget Sound area to grab some last minute things. I found about 30lbs of powder I need for pistol and rifle, along with 15k in primers. Now today, good luck, it seems everything locally has completely dried up.

  9. I want to say I saw an article on this blog laying out all arms and ammo mfgs. lead time. Its a while. Were talking 6 months to up to a year out on certain components/ammo/firearms, etc. I got a Hornandy LNL for Christmas and its still in the box…I was wanting to get into reloading before Christmas this year then Dec. 14th happened. Unless you have the time to relentlessly comb the internet for supplies, I think patience and time are gonna have to take care of this shortage, at least in my case. When I spot ammo on the shelves for my weapons I generally pick up a few boxes and not hoard so others can stock up. Trying to be a good steward in that respect. Support the 2nd in every way you can, write your congressman, call your local LEO agencies, ask them if they support the 2nd as you may be surprised. Things are changing. Support only those who support us. Gavin is right, patience is the key.

  10. Was lucky enough to find that Discount Shooters Supply had just received a $10,000. Order of primers so I was able to get what I needed. Powder hard to come by.
    To poster about using small pistol magnum primers, I have done so with 38 spl., and 9mm without any issues. Does not make a difference of any note on chrono in 38 and barely at all in warmish loads for 9mm.

  11. Or lack of being able to find them??
    I have a pretty good stock, but would really lick about 5-6k more CCI-41’s
    I have some extra CCI 35’s if anybody is looking, but I heard you can’t ship them without a Hazmat license or some BS ??

  12. Gavin,
    I’ve noticed in the past, and it’s something to look at, Powder Valley seems to have similar prices as Wideners, but their shipping prices are enough lower to cover the difference + some.
    But of course, right now, any port in a storm… get it where you can…

  13. I spent 6 months acquiring my reloading equipment as I am on a budget and that was the time it took me to purchase the equipment. Then took another two months to get some bullets, powder and only bought two thousand primers to get started, this was two days prior to Sandy Hook. Needless to say I haven’t been able to find anymore primers anywhere except shotgun primers and it is very frustrating. Can’t find them locally or online. The other reloaders I know are hoarding their stocks which is unfortunate. I tried to barter and or buy and they will not part with them. Someday I will return the same favor to them but will help my other fellow reloaders if I am primer rich.

    1. It’s called in most cases….”The Black Market”….and this is the very reason these shortages are with us. You have people buying up as much/many primers/brass/powder/bullets and seling at inflated prices. Oh I have heard the excuses…”OH”! We had to pay a primeum to get these and we make very little!! RIGHT!!

      This is exactly why all of should just tell these Slime Balls no! Last shortage…I knew of people that would buy up 200 to 300 thousand primers and then double/tiple the price back anxious reloadig that thought the sky was falling and I’ve gotta have them now!!

      Seen the resale price of AR mags nowadays?! I tell them to go sholve it…but them scumbuckets know that there are “The Anxious Ones” that are willing to part with $$$$$

      Heres the answer…..don’t! If online dealer/local supplier will let you back order…do so. Wait it out and don’t feed the frenzy.

      There is a local gun dealer here…he refuses to up his prices just becaused he could. This dealer gets AR’s in….sure the AR’s sell fast..but this dealer has been consistant with his pricing and is disgusted by the very types that help fuel these shortges….”The Black Market Scumbags”!

  14. And it doesn’t help when people get caught up in ridiculous TV shows such as Doomsday Preppers….lame reality shows that fuel more of a feeding frenzy. And besides….who wants to get cught in a hole iun the groud “IF” the doom and gloom prophets did get their dreams fulfilled! Christ Almighty…..how many years ago was it that the original “Red Dawn” hit the theaters? 1984 and there were those back then that went out (RUSHED ACTUALLY!!) and bought firearms and ammo…a lot!!…because after watching “A Make Believe Movie”…these people were convinced the Ruskies were at our doorsteps right then and there!!

    I’ll call it….It’s a MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD!! And of course…all that chaos caused more chaos…and no one profited in the end.

  15. I purchased about 5K large pistol primers in November, so or now I am ok on them. I was able to find Remington 6-1/2 primers for rifle. Found out they should not be used with .223 (they are rifle primers). I have heard they will work as small pistol primers on non mag loads like .38 special.

    1. What in the devil are trying to say ? 6 1/2 primers “are” small rifle primers and a 223 “is” a small rifle cartridge. I have used them for my AR15 for years with no problems.. could be because I don’t try to jack up my ammo to unsafe pressures to begin with…

  16. I stocked up just before the election and probably have enough to get through an IDPA season.

    Most shooters I talk to aren’t even practicing…they can’t spare the ammo. Some tried to practice with 22LR, but even then, that’s in short supply as well.

    How long this goes on is anyone’s guess. I’m figuring the better part of this year.

    Where I’m going to find lead for bullets or the money to buy it is the next big question.

    Fortunately, I have sufficient shotgun powder to load 45ACP and 45LC should I run out of pistol powder. But it’s so messy I just want to avoid that…

    1. I need to dig out my bullet stop come summer….I’m sure I’ll salvage well 100lbs+….easily. Thankfully….I have I’m guessing 1,200 to 1,400 lbs of lino type/lead bars that I’ve been hitting on Ebay. I cast bullets as I ned them but I have everal hundred ready to load!!

      Heres the problem with lead off of Ebay…..the price can get down right ridiulous and I won’t get into a bidding war. I’m getting lead for $1.50 + – now shipping included in that figure. Was about 1.00 per pound shipping included…but now??!!!! I’ve got to find some small pistol primers…..just back order and pay up front and wait??!! And getting dealers to accept backorders is questionable nowadays!! This sucks!

      I would suggest Ebay for lead and bid on as much lead as you ca…and keep on top of the bidding…guys will slide in at the last moment and get a decent buy on lead and yup…I’ve done it too!! You have to.

      I have not been dooped on any lead containing zinc off of Ebay.

      Good luck man!!

  17. I got lucky today!!!!!…..found 29 boxes (2,900) of Winchester 209 primers….No inflated price to boot! That takes care of my shotshell primers for the year! Now I’ve got to find a couple of 8lb kegs of powder.

  18. Hey all I’m here in California and i just got into reloading last month. I hit the jackpot the other day at my local gunstore i was walking out empty handed when i asked the cashier do you have any primers left? she looked in the back and found a whole box of ferderal large pistol primers not the brand i favor but i bought 3 boxs giving me 3k of primers. That was just plain luck who knows when i’ll get small pistol primers. Either way blessed to find those. Impossible to find CCI primers and winchester hopefully this will end soon. Thanks again Gavin ultimatereloader has helped me out so much and still i have a lot to learn.

  19. I got lucky, hitting some local places and getting primers. I now have 7k Large Pistol, 1k small pistol, 2k small rifle, 1k large rifle. Keep checking with the places near you. Also ask when the truck comes in and make sure you are there waiting.
    I was at Sportsman’s Warehouse after the truck came in and was there about an hour when I saw a guy walk past with some powder, I asked where he got it and pointed to the end of the counter. When I asked the guy working there if he had any he said yes. I asked for the powder I wanted in the sizes and he had Bullseye 1lb cans. I asked, how much can I buy he said he didn’t know. I told him give me what I can buy, he gave me 5 lbs. I left very happy. 🙂 Later I found some Unique powder and bought that too, so I am stocked on powder.
    My point is to keep calling and going to the local places and asking.
    Good luck!

    Be safe!

  20. If you have one near, try Bass Pro. Winchester small pistol $4.99 per 100 till they ran out. 3 or 4 days later Federal Small pistol magnum $3.99 per 100. Limit 500 a customer a day. Not the best price considering I lucked out at a lgs and got the last 2000 cci smalls for $23.99 a thousand. Try Dick’s sporting goods for ammo, got a thousand rounds of umc bulk 9mm for $249.00 + tax a few weeks ago. They manage to get some in twice a week but it’s gone within hrs. Hope this helps.

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