Fiocchi Small Pistol, No Lead, primers

I do a lot of indoor shooting and the possibility of lead poisoning is something that concerns me. I get a blood test for lead every year and it stays within the “normal” range but when I wasn’t doing much shooting for a couple years it went to almost undetectable levels. Hence, I know I have a lead source in my environment and it’s probably either the indoor range and/or the reloading.

When I saw Powder Valley had no lead, small pistol, primers available I ordered some to test. I didn’t know they were even available to the reloading community. These primers would probably reduce the lead exposure at both the range and when handling the reused brass during reloading.

They are a bit more expensive than the Winchester primers (WSP) I normally use. Before shipping the Winchester WSP primers are $28/1000 (2.8 cents each). The Fiocchi no lead primers are $57/1500 (3.8 cents each). A penny per round difference… hmm. Okay, I would pay that if it significantly reduced the lead I’m getting into my system.

Due to a mixup by Powder Valley I ended up (after a couple of weeks) getting 1500 Fiocchi standard primers as well as 1500 of the no lead primers. They came in a brick of 10 trays of 150 primers per tray:

IMG_8279

They are, ironically, a lead grey color:

IMG_8283

IMG_8285

I made up my indoor loads and ran them over my chronograph:

Bullet
weight
Powder
weight
Mean
velocity
PF SDev ES Min Max
Montana Gold JHP, CFE Pistol, WSP
primers*
180.22 5.4 921.50 165.87 11.5 38.0 905 943
Montana Gold JHP, CFE Pistol, Fiocchi No Lead
primers
180.22 5.4 916.67 165.00 16.6 56.0 897 953
Montana Gold JHP, CFE Pistol, Fiocchi standard
primers
180.22 5.4 879.00 158.22 44.3 139.0 803 942

Hmmm.. The standard deviation and especially the extreme spread are worse with the no lead primers. And the Fiocchi standard primers are terrible! The velocity is lower and the standard deviation and extreme spread is through the roof. I loaded up some more rounds and tested them and got essentially the same results.

With the polymer coated bullets I use outdoors and CFE Pistol powder the results were even worse. The standard deviation went from about 10 fps with WSP to about 18 fps with the Fiocchi no lead primers (I haven’t tested the Fiocchi standard primers with these bullets).

I really don’t want to keep two types of primers around. I want to minimize the number of components types rather than expand them. And if I increase the standard deviation on the match ammo I would need to increase the mean velocity to insure I continue reliably making major PF. Increasing the velocity also means increasing the reloading cost above that of the increased primer cost, and increasing the recoil to solve a “problem” I don’t really have.

I think I’m going to continue using the WSP primers.


** Yes, I know these aren’t reliably making Major Power Factor, I’m increasing the powder charge some based upon this data. This load is just for practice anyway. I have never used them at a match. For USPSA matches I have been using Black Bullets, WSP primers, and ETR7 which has been repeatedly tested to give me a PF of a little over 170 with a SDev of about 9 fps.

9 thoughts on “Fiocchi Small Pistol, No Lead, primers

    • I got 8 pounds of it. It’s all loaded up. I’d get more if I could. Good price. Low charge weights. Good velocities. Great standard deviation.

      • For some odd reason, it was easy to find HS6 around here a few years back during the recent powder shortage. So I’ve got a bunch of it that I’m putting in pistol reloads until I use it up and go back to now available favorites.

  1. The primers count for over 90+% of your lead exposure from shooting. Very little from handling during reloading, and very little when shooting APART from the vaporized lead from primers.

  2. I’ve long wondered about the degree of uncontrollable environmental factors in lead exposure. For example, a good indoor range will strongly exhaust at the target end, producing constant low to medium velocity air flow (50-75 LFPM) past the shooter toward downrange which should reduce lead exposure (1 MPH = about 88 linear feet per minute)

    I don’t have my NRA range manual at hand, but IIRC it’s long been know that hazardous particulate contamination is highest at the muzzle and for several feet beyond.

    Outdoors, wind direction and velocity are not controllable, other than by shooter orientation; wind may be at the shooter’s back on Stage 1, but in his face on Stage 4. Calm winds – <5 knots – and especially breezeless conditions, as are sometimes found on shielded or sheltered stages and ranges, may allow contaminants to linger in the air around the shooter.

    Plus, in action shooting, under calm conditions a shooter may fire several rounds then move forward to engage other targets, and in so doing move through a static "cloud" of contaminants remaining airborne from the previous rounds fired.

    I wonder if compensators have a positive or negative effect on the presence of such a "cloud."

    Joe, have you considered, or tried, personal protective equipment in the form of anti-contaminant masks? Do you know of any studies with data on blood lead level with and without such PPE? Have you ever noted wind direction (and, perhaps, velocity) during matches?

    • I used a mask to filter the air when I’m working with dusty brass cleaning media. I also have an air filter running 24×7 on my reloading bench.

      I don’t know of any blood level data with and without such equipment.

      I know that sometimes people end up going through clouds of smoke and particulates at matches. It all depends on the wind conditions that particular day and the layout of the stage.

    • On a somewhat jocular note, I usually find myself forgetting to breathe while shooting any but the longest IPSC course. 🙂

      The concentration required for adequate DVC is intense.

      Now it seems, from this discussion, that might not be a bad thing.

  3. Is there any proof that smal concentrations of lead in the body are not beneficial?

    Anyway; those people I’ve known who constantly try to avoid “toxins” in their food and environment are that same ones who are always sick, weak, and afraid to do things. At some point, what might be considered prudence becomes a pathological obsession.

    Eventually the body can lose its ability to deal with environmental stresses, and then it’s further weakened by fear, by a pervading sense of victimhood, and paranoia.

    The paranoia turns to hate, and at some point the person will snap (ask me how I know) go nuts, and attack the people they blame for their bad feelings.

    And so the person that’s always talking about “toxins” and suchlike, I consider to be a threat. They’re always demanding deference and special treatment, they have to bring their own, special food when they come to dinner, and certainly aren’t any good to anyone, except to reinforce the paranoia of their fellow pathological, phobic travelers. Then they become a gang.

  4. Lead in the blood isn’t beneficial. It replaces calcium and to a lesser extent iron in tissue and bone. The way lead conducts electric charges causes major problems when it has replaced calcium in the structure of nerves and organs. Similarly it weakens bones. For some reason the body, in most people, mistakes lead for calcium and iron, which is disastrous for kids with growing bodies building new organic structures. Though some people have a physiological make-up where their body does recognize heavy metals and passes them readily.

    I don’t know why modern bullets don’t have protected bases like TMJ. Seems to me eliminating vaporization at the bullet base would do more to remove airborne lead than changing the minuscule amount in primers.

Comments are closed.