Speer/CCI Catalyst: Lead-Free Primers

Lead exposure is one of the downsides, if not the only downside, to extensive live fire. There are ways to reduce exposure and deal with any residue left behind, of course, but these measures are even more effective if you use certain ammunition. Speer, CCI, and Federal Ammunition recognize the need for lead-free ammo, so they put years of research and testing into implementing a lead-free primer. The result is the Catalyst, a lead-free primer that’s used in Federal’s innovative Syntech Range ammo and American Eagle Lead-Free loads. Speer and CCI are using it in some of their ammo lines as well.

federal 210 primers
Federal manufactures primers, including the lead-free Catalyst, which they, CCI, and Speer use in many of their ammo lines. (Photo credit: Federal Ammunition)

Many manufacturers use lead styphnate mixtures in the production of primers, but Federal Ammunition states the proprietary design utilized in the Catalyst is not only lead-free but outperforms those other methods. The company also says the Catalyst primers are safer to manufacture and provide a host of benefits over lead designs. For example, the Catalyst primers deliver greater compatibility with modern powders, produce less pressure from the gases generated during live fire, and don’t cause degradation in the powder they touch.

CCI Blazer ammunition
CCI’s Blazer line of ammunition is using lead-free Catalyst primers. (Photo credit: CCI)

The company says these primers are extremely clean-burning which helps them perform more uniform and complete propellant combustion. Even better, the Catalyst has minimal velocity variation and consistent bullet launch, meaning accurate, reliable performance is superior to many others. These primers are also non-hydrophilic, meaning they don’t attract water molecules like DDNP-based mixes that are found in other brands which improves overall quality.

speer gold dot ammo
Speer is using Catalyst lead-free primers in some of its ammunition lines. (Photo credit: Speer)

As CCI and Speer increase the use of these primers in their ammunition, the products should see a rise in reliability and accuracy. And, of course, they’ll produce less lead. Reducing lead exposure is a win for every shooter.

Regarding the use of Catalyst primers, Speer and CCI’s Director of Factory Operations Mike Overberg said:

Catalyst lead-free priming technology provides the cleanest, most consistent ignition possible. We are excited that our Lewiston plant is now set up to run Catalyst priming in our target pistol products. The Anoka facility has proven this to be the best lead-free priming technology available. Our staff here has done a fantastic job of working across factories to extend this product into Speer and CCI Blazer ammunition products made in Lewiston, Idaho.

federal syntech ammo
Federal uses lead-free primers in its popular Syntech line. (Photo credit: Federal Ammunition)

Federal, CCI, and Speer President Jason Vanderbrink added:

This product has proven to be the best in its class after nearly seven years of continuous production. Its consistent performance has been tested over hundreds of millions of rounds. Most notably, the product is featured in Federal’s innovative Syntech Range ammo and American Eagle Lead-Free.

Why not reduce your exposure to lead starting with the ammo you use rather than trying to handle it all in clean-up after shooting? The fact that the manufacturers say you’ll also get improved accuracy and consistent velocity is a fantastic bonus.

What do you think? Will you be using ammo from CCI and Speer powered by Catalyst primers? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

MSRP varies by product.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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