January 21st, 2021

Finding Primers — How to Organize Your Quest

primer sources supplies finding CCI Federal
Photo courtesy Laurie Holland, TargetShooter UK Magazine.

Reloading components are in short supply these days, particularly powder and primers. But primers may be the biggest challenge these days — finding them may seem like a Quest for the Holy Grail. That’s a big problem for handloaders. You may be able to find substitutes for your favorite powder and bullets, but if you don’t have primers, you can’t even get started.

To locate primers these days, you must consider ALL possible sources: local gunshops, local private sales, sale tables at shooting club meetings, gun/hunting forum classifieds, large outdoor stores, and mail-order vendors. Then yes, worst case scenario, look at the auction sites such as GunBroker.

You need to be looking at multiple places — local vendors, gun clubs, big retailers such as Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse. And get creative — talk to shooting buddies, check for estate sales.

primer sources supplies finding CCI Federal

Consider all Possible Sources — Not Just Online Vendors

The guys who are scoring primers these days are resorting to old-fashioned methods — visiting small, mom-and-pop gunstores, checking local estate sales, and “networking” with local shooting club members. First, if you are not a member of a local shooting club, you should join for a multitude of reasons. We recently acquired some powder at a local shooting club meeting, exchanging some H4198 for Hodgdon Varget straight across. A Forum member recently scored both powders and primers at the estate sale of a shooting club member.

For the best chance of success, regularly check 6-10 brick-and-mortar locations in your region. One good way to do this is by combining forces with shooting buddies. Get together with 3 or 4 guys and collectively scout ALL the local gunshops and outdoor stores with shooting supplies. You CAN get lucky. For example, we regularly check a small gunstore in a nearby mall. Just last week we were able to find CCI pistol primers! Yes, deliveries are happening, you just need to check. And check often.

How to Find Primers — SEVEN STRATEGIES

1. Make a list of ALL local gunshops and outdoor supply stores within a 70-mile radius. Call them on a regular basis.
2. Join a local shooting club. Attend meetings where you can sell/exchange products. (We recently exchanged pistol primers for rifle primers we needed).
3. Join local/regional gun forums. You may find listings for “face-to-face” transactions where you can buy/exchange primers. Our AccurateShooter Forum also has a thread on Where to Find Primers.
4. Bookmark multiple vendor websites and check daily (we provide a list below).
5. Combine resources with some shooting buddies. Get together with 3 or 4 guys and collectively scout ALL the local gunshops and outdoor stores with shooting supplies. Assign each guy a different “territory” (perhaps close to his work locations).
6. Search your garage and storage areas. This Editor recently found 5000 Winchester Small Pistol Primers in an unopened box. These were left over from his IDPA and 3-gun days, years ago.
7. Consider APS Primers. CCI sells APS primers pre-loaded in plastic strips. These can still be found gathering dust in some shops. You can remove the primers from the strips, or simply buy an APS priming tool and use them as intended.

primer sources supplies finding CCI Federal

Online Vendors for Primers

Here are leading online retailers that sell primers (along with other reloading components). NOTE: Most of these vendors are sold out of most primers most of the time (as of 1/21/21). However, you should check regularly. Persistence will pay off, eventually. Primer shipments DO arrive, they just sell out fast.

Graf & Sons
Midsouth Shooters Supply
Powder Valley Inc.
Precision Reloading
Bruno Shooters Supply (Not currently taking web orders)
Natchez Shooters Supplies
Sportsman’s Warehouse (check online AND in stores)
Academy Sports

Best Strategy for Online Primer Purchasing (Not Auctions)
With these (and other) online vendors, you need to check “early and often”. Primers may arrive and sell out in a matter of minutes. You should bookmark multiple sources and check them multiple times each week.

The primer shortage has been worsened by dramatically reduced imports of Russian primers.
Russian Wolf Primers shortage

Last Word — About Online Auctions for Primers
We are seeing persons selling primers at crazy high prices ($200/1000!) via online auctions at Gunbroker and elsewhere. Be careful… very careful. Primers are a HAZMAT product. They may ONLY be shipped legally by Hazmat-certified businesses. Some of the Auction sellers are not HAZMAT-certified. If your primer shipment is seized or not delivered because the seller was not properly certified, don’t expect to get your money back.

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