Range Report: Fiocchi Primer Test

A while back (quite a while back) the folks at LuckyGunner.com asked me if I’d be interested in testing some large rifle primers by Fiocchi. They were willing to send me a sleeve if I would try them out and report on them – good, bad, or indifferent. I said I’d be happy to, but it would be some time before I’d get a chance to actually use them. I told them I would try them out in my Remington 700 5R with my pet load.

Well, that time finally came.

The Fiocchi primers are sold in sleeves of 1,500 rather than the industry standard 1,000.

You get ten packs of 150 rather than 100. The packaging is compact and fairly handy.

At the time of this writing, the Large Rifle primers go for $41/1,500, or 2.73¢ per primer, not including shipping and HazMat fees. By contrast, the CCI BR-2 Benchrest primers I normally use are $50/1000, or 5¢ each not including tax, purchased locally.

To prepare for this test, I decided I wanted everything as identical as possible. I had some Black Hills brass that had originally been the red box (new rather than remanufactured) 168 grain moly-coated match loads. I had reloaded this brass once with 175 grain Sierra Match Kings, so this would be the third time this brass had been loaded. I decapped and trimmed all forty cases to 1.950,” chamfered the inside and outside of the case mouths, and then ran them in my tumbler to make sure they were shiny clean. Afterward, I ran them all through my RCBS small-base X-die to resize them.

These had been fired through the 5R before. I could tell because they all fit into my case gauge already, albeit just a little tightly. After sizing, they fall in and out with ease, and have just a tiny bit of wiggle-room at the case head end. This is what I have to do to get my reloads to feed in my M25 gas gun. In addition to testing the Fiocchi primers, I wanted to see what the small-base sizer does to accuracy in the 5R as opposed to neck-sizing only, which is what I normally do when reloading for my bolt-guns.

After decapping, trimming, chamfering, and resizing the brass, I sat down and hand-primed twenty cases with CCI BR-2’s, and twenty cases with Fiocchi Large Rifle NIK primers using my Lee Auto-Prime. The all seated firmly and consistently, so dimensionally the Fiocchi primers are very uniform. Then, using my modified RCBS ChargeMaster (my technique with that particular device has been thoroughly revised since that post), I threw forty identical 46.4 (± 0.05) grain loads of Alliant Reloder-15 powder (Caution: use load data you find on strange web sites at your own risk!), and seated forty Lapua 155 grain Scenar hollow-point boattail bullets to a cartridge overall length of 2.80″ using my Dillon RL-450 press and an RCBS seating die.

(Note to whom it may concern: The only thing I’ve been given in this entire review is 1,500 Fiocchi primers donated by LuckyGunner.com. Everything else I mention in this post, I bought.)

Anyway, now that I had forty rounds of .308 that differ only in the primer used to light them off, it was RANGE TIME! I swapped out the Leupold scope for the Nightforce I bought awhile back, and I’ve had to play with it to get the right eye relief, but I think I’ve got it now. Still, I had to make sure the scope was on target, so I sat down and put my last eight rounds of Black Hills 175 grain through the rifle at 100 yards. Here’s that group:

The low-center hole is the cold-bore shot.  Even including it, that’s a hair over an inch, center-to-center, and about what I’ve come to expect out of that ammo. Next I ran ten rounds of each test load over the chronograph, with a cooling off period between. Here’s the data:

CCI BR-2 Load
Average Velocity: 2876fps
Extreme Spread: 58.40fps
Standard Deviation: 16.52fps

Fiocchi Load
Average Velocity: 2917fps
Extreme Spread: 42.96fps
Standard Deviation: 14.83fps

Now, I’ve gotten this particular load under 10fps Sd using neck-sized Lapua cases, but those are still damned good numbers. Obviously, the Fiocchi is a hair hotter than the BR-2, but it’s every bit, if not more consistent.

How was accuracy, you ask? Here’s the BR-2 load:

If you can’t read it, that’s 0.65MOA at 200 yards for ten shots.

Here’s the Fiocchi:

If you throw out that one far-right shot, the group is easily under 1MOA. Both of these loads ran a bit hotter than I’m used to seeing. Normally that load gives me right at 2800fps, not 2880+, and that seems to be right where the rifle/bullet combination works best. I will blame the difference on the Black Hills cases, sized in the small-base sizer. UPDATE: Nope, I checked my records, and 2880 is normal. Case capacity is probably reduced compared to the Lapua cases. I still think I need to re-run the test with Lapua cases but the purpose of this test has been met: the Fiocchi Large Rifle primer is damned good, and a real value compared to CCI’s Benchrest offering. I’m glad I have a whole lot more of them to experiment with. Thanks to LuckyGunner.com for the chance to try them out!

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