Wra reinforced primers

I have three 25-36 Marlin with WRA Co h/s. The primer is reinforced not unlike a subcaliber training device. The copper primer is monogrammed “W”. The different script of the h/s would imply different years of mfg. yet the “double primer” remains

Why was this “double primer” used ??

The one on the left is obviously a UMC brass primed, the upright cartridge is the 3rd WRA.

They are not reinforced primers, they are called protected primers. This has been discussed several times before. Do a search and you should find the answers to your questions.


There are others that know much more than I about this primer design, although the conventional explanation is that it was developed to allow cartridges having spitzer (pointed) bullets to be used in tubular magazines (to prevent primer detonation of the leading cartridge from the pointed bullet behind it, under recoil). They are seen in early smokeless cartridges which were used in tubular magazine rifles. Problem is that I have not seen any such cartridges having protected primers that were loaded with spitzer bullets. But maybe there are some. A second theory I have seen is that it is a reinforcement for the weaker metal primer cups common to the time, to allow their use with the higher-pressure smokeless powder loads. Perhaps there are other theories. In any event, they were known to have been used by Winchester from the mid-1890s up to 1932. I don’t think other ammunition manufacturers used them, at least I have not seen any.

I imagine the manufacture and use of such primers were patented by someone, and therefore the patent(s) language should state the true intent of the design. I have not researched this.

The scan of pg 94 ,Hist. of Mod. Sm. Arms Ammo. is where I drew the reference to “reinforced” primers. I substituted “reinforced” for “protective cap”. Did not know that would create a problem.
Discovering that I have a .30 Gov’t. with the exact h/s pictured in the scan, then finding the WRA’s lead me to ask the forum.
I mean who else could possibly know the answers ??

The cartridges in question do not appear to be reloads and do not have pointed bullets.
I wanted to know if there was a specific reason for their use.
A reason such as ,a HV or HP loading that would cause primers to blow out if “unprotected” .


Thanks for correcting my nomenclature. I will endeavor to search out the Journal articles made mention of.

Edit of post for clarity

The 1896 Winchester catalog illustrates this primer with the following description:

No. 5 Winchester Improved Primer, made especially for .25-35 Winchester and .30 Winchester Smokeless Cartridges, in quarter boxes, per 1,000…$2.00

The 1905 Winchester catalog has the same description, but also adds a No. 51/2 primer for .32 Winchester Special, .33 W.C.F., 38-55, 45-90, and 50-110 Winchester High Velocity Cartridges. Same price.

I suspect they added other calibers later. The protected primer seems to be quite common.



Here is a Winchester Protected Primer use you may find interesting:



The primer seen on the government-produced .30-40 cartridge and those seen on various WRA-produced cartridges are quite similar in appearance but different in intent. The government primer was used with .30 caliber cartridges intended to be employed with sub-caliber devices used in artillery pieces. My understanding is that this cap prevented the heavy firing pin of the cannon from piercing the primer. In the case of the WRA cartridges it’s intended to avert the possibility of ignition of cartridges in tubular magazines. This latter issue was not in the early days specific to pointed bullets, as J.M. Marlin was concerned about such magazine explosions in his own firm’s rifles. UMC dealt with Marlin’s concern by producing Marlin’s center fire calibers with small primers. WRA special primer appears to be a similar response. Jack

Jack is absolutely correct with respect to the use of the 30 Krag cartridge and the reason for the special primer…


I have always understood it as just a precaution against chain fire in tubular magazines. Certainly in the civilian loads. Its not really necessary because cartridges were mostly tapered and lay flat in the magazine.Try it yourself, get some .30-30s and lay them end to end. The bullet nose doesn’t contact the primer. Its also the reason for the flat nose in bullets for rifles of this ilk. The flat nose is probably more effective which is why it has endured while the protected primer has faded into the past.

Protected primer usage by USC Co. was probably during the period 1926 to 1936 when WRA Co. owned them. An unmarked No. 4 primer was also used by USC for their shotshells during the same timeframe.

I understood the use on sub caliber cartridges, it was the commercial cartridges that I questioned the use.
I also questioned why WRA used them but UMC did not ??

Did WRA use a more sensitive primer than UMC ? WRA is clearly copper while the UMC is brass.

WRA never owned USCCo., National Lead owned USCCo. entirely from 1919-1920 until 1931. The operation was moved from Lowell to New Haven in 1926. National Lead would not or could not continue to lease the Lowell factory from the Butler/Ames family. They leased unused floor space from WRA, who agreed to manufacture, but not sell USCCo. products.

The sharing of components between the two company’s lines would make good business sense, esp. during the Depression.
Witness bullets marked “W” and “S” on the two company’s products.

When WRA went into receivership and was acquired by Frank Olin in 1931, WRA/Wetsern continued to mfg. USCCo. products.
This is evident by the patents on later USCCo. Copperhead Speedsters( black and gold boxes) and Climax shotshells (red hulls)
The patents are registered to John Olin and Western Ctg.

National Lead dissolved USCCo. as a Massachusetts corporation in 1936. The same year that Olin exercised a clause in the WRA/Nation Lead contract and purchased all the remaining rights to name and patents of USCCo.

Dave-Thanks for the h/s shot

Good info, uscartco. Giles and Shuey’s new book, ‘Winchester Cartridge Boxes’, states on page 291 that Winchester purchased USC. Other sources make the same claim. Thanks for the correction.

[quote=“uscartco”]I understood the use on sub caliber cartridges, it was the commercial cartridges that I questioned the use.
I also questioned why WRA used them but UMC did not ??..[/quote]

UMC used small rifle primers (.175") in a small primer pocket, in most, if not all, the levergun calibers.
The 5W Winchester Protected primer was also a small rifle primer but in an outer sleeve which fit into a large primer pocket.