Hand priming tool choice


January 20, 2010, 03:01 PM
I would like to hear suggestions for a hand priming tool to purchase. I am just now getting stuff together to begin reloading and will need one of these. I have read where some tools cannot be used with specific brands of primers. Ideally, I would like a tool that would not be limited to certain brands. Also, another (maybe minor) concern is what shell holder does it use. I have Lee dies so far. I will be loading both rifle and pistol, if that matters.

So, consider your experiences, ergonomics, primer brand limitiations, whatever, and let's hear your suggestions!

Thanks a lot! :cool:

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January 20, 2010, 03:06 PM
I have a RCBS universal hand primer and chose it based on the fact that it does almost all cartridges without a shell holder. Good luck with it so far but have only loaded 100 rounds so far.

January 20, 2010, 03:22 PM
My Lee handprimer seems to work alot better than my RCBS. Not saying its better, just that that this particular one works better. The primers seem to hang up in my RCBS.

ECHRain10, you don't need shell holders for your handprimer?

January 20, 2010, 03:24 PM
RCBS Hand Primer

January 20, 2010, 03:37 PM
I have a Lee with their die set and been very pleased. I reload in stages. Once sized and de-primed I have my cases separated. When I need ammo I can sit anywhere and re-prime a bunch of cases before I go to the next stages and I'm not restricted to sitting infront of my bench. This has worked for me and JMO.

January 20, 2010, 03:46 PM
My RCBS hand primer tool has worked perfectly for me since about 1970.
Got a box of Lee universal shell holders I keep with it, and one of them will fit anything I reload.

I have a cigar box half full of the old worn out Lee hand primeing tools & parts.
The new Lee's may be better.

But if I was buying a new one today, it would be the RCBS Standard, or the Universal.


January 20, 2010, 03:59 PM
I have a K&M. Very solid. IMO second only to the Sinclair.

January 20, 2010, 04:03 PM
+1 for the RCBS Universal Priming Tool. I have primed thousands of rounds of different calibers without a problem.


"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of a common enemy."

Samuel Adams

January 20, 2010, 04:25 PM
If price is no object, and you want the best primer seating tool available-meaning the most precise primer seating-there are a couple of choices: One being the Sinclair tool, which is a long time favorite of ultra-precision bench rest shooters. The other is the recently introduced hand tool by Magnum Metal, which is becoming a new favorite with the accuracy crowd. You can see pictures of them at Sinclair Int, and Magnum Metal. Or I can attach pics of my own tools if needed. If you can find someone who will part with a Gun-Clinic priming tool, they are the best ever, but no longer made and most people who have one won't part with it. I'd never sell mine but occasionally they show up for sale. Worth looking for.

January 20, 2010, 04:32 PM
I have an RCBS universal hand primer and it's great.

January 20, 2010, 04:36 PM
I've used the Lee tool for many years with complete satisfaction: cheap and very effective. It takes a lot to wear one out, but over the years I've managed to wear out two.


January 20, 2010, 04:43 PM
The Lee tool works, but it's cheaply made and uncomfortable to use a lot in one sittng. I used one for several years before moving to the RCBS Universal APS hand loader. I like not having different shellholders, and I like not having to hold it a certain way and make sure the primers feed in OK. The only problem I've had with it so far are certain brands of older .45 Colt brass that like to slip out of the universal chuck thingy. The ergonomics and build quality are much higher than the Lee. It also cost a lot more, especially including the strip loader...

January 20, 2010, 05:01 PM
The Lee works and I'm happy with the ease of use and the feel for the primer seating. It takes it's own type of shellholder that will cost you a couple of bucks each or the whole set for ~$13.

I did, however, wear my first one out in about 7k cases. The second one is hanging in better since I grease up it's contact points regularly.

I'll probably wear this one out and try the RCBS model, is my experience. The price is great, though.

January 20, 2010, 05:14 PM
+1 on thr RCBS. I use the standard one and have not had any problems with it. I load .223 and .44 with it. Yes you have to jiggle the primers sometimes so they will drop in to the tool to be seated. I just usually tilt a little so that the primmer tray is such that the primmers drop in easy.

dagger dog
January 20, 2010, 05:16 PM
I have RCBS and Lee, I like the Lee a little better, using my thumb to put pressure on the primer seems to give a litlle better feed back, I can feel the primer being pressed into the pocket and bottoming out. The RCBS seems less sensitive to me because there are 3 or 4 fingers that apply the pressure. The RCBS is in my opinion has greater leverage and this could be the reason it seems to have less feel.

January 20, 2010, 05:18 PM
Another vote for the Lee Primer! Haven't tried the RCBS but I'm sure it is also very good.

January 20, 2010, 05:20 PM
My absolute favorite is the OLD Lee priming tool. They had a short aluminum body with a screw-on shellholder, alot of benchresters used them. I have also used the old Bonanza bench-mounted priming tool that had the three eliptical wheels that could be turned to fit almost any case, & was fed by a gravity-fed primer tube. It was slow to load & adjust, I ended up setting it for my .38/.357 ammo & used it solely for them. I also had a Hornady priming tool, looks like a Lee Auto Prime but bigger. It was very uncomfortable to use & I didn't like it at all. Without going to the expense of a Sinclair or K&M tool I feel the Lee Auto Prime is very hard to beat, I have a couple of them & keep a few spare parts on hand in case of breakages, which I had a couple of when I got my first Lee AP, but haven't needed to use any for ages though I did buy a new tray cover a couple of months ago as the one I had was discolored & getting a bit loose.

January 20, 2010, 05:21 PM
I've been using my Lee hand primer ,about 10 years now ,and it works just as well today,as it did the very first time I used it.

January 20, 2010, 05:24 PM
I have two Lees and one standard RCBS. The Lee design is far more 'user friendly' than the RCBS which must be totally disassembled to change out the shell holder - and the two-piece plastic thing that holds the shell holder is a failure waiting to happen. It sits in pieces in my 'FAIL' box. The Lee tools are marked one for "Small" and one for "Large" primers - changing the unique shell holders takes only a few seconds. That is it's only real limitation - some odd calibers have no shell holder for this tool. So then I prime on the press - not really a problem. The Lee works with ALL primer brands - the 'warning' against certain brands is due to Lee having a tiff with certain other companies, NOT due to safety or failure to work.

January 20, 2010, 06:24 PM
IMO second only to the Sinclair.I have a Sinclair, and it is definitely the best, but slower of course. I only use it for 6 PPC.

For everyday use the RCBS or similar inexpensive tool is the way to go. Your loads will never know the difference if you aren't shootin' "ones" or "twos", and even then you may not be able to tell.

navyretired 1
January 20, 2010, 06:27 PM
I also have and love my Old Lee priming tool with screw in shell holders, I have all but a couple of the shell holders and keep my eye out for them. The bodies are made out of pot metal but they have the best primer feel of any I've tried. I've collected 5 or 6 ofr the bodies and keep watching "reloading Equipment.com" for others and the missing shell holders, they're getting pricey now. Sinclar or someone is making a dupe of them now.
If I couldn't use my old Lee it would be RCBS.

January 20, 2010, 06:35 PM
I think I might be the only one who didn't care for the RCBS Universal hand priming tool. It just didn't work as well for me as the regular hand primer that used shell holders. The guy I gave it to loves it, however...

I've settled on using two RCBS hand priming tools, one set up for small primers and one set up for large. Saves me some time, and I always have a backup if one breaks.

January 20, 2010, 07:45 PM
I have a lee auto prime and primer tubes on my Rock chucker.

Robby from Long Island
January 20, 2010, 08:07 PM
Have been using the Sinclair priming tool for years and am very satisfied with it.

January 20, 2010, 08:14 PM
I have four LEE priming tools for all four primer sizes with labels.

January 20, 2010, 08:15 PM

January 20, 2010, 08:16 PM
Wow!!! I put this topic in while at work thinking it might get 4 or 5 responses by the time I got home and looked at it. But 23 ?!?!?

Now to go read through them all! Thanks for all the responses.

(Make that 25 replies - some came in while I was typing!)

January 20, 2010, 08:19 PM
My Lee hand priming tool has served me well, keep it lubed and it will last a LONG time.

ole farmerbuck
January 20, 2010, 08:21 PM
I bought a Hornady and RCBS at the same time. Its Hornady hands down! It even comes with a things so you can use older RCBS shell holders i believe. I tried using the RCBS but just doesnt do the job like the Hornady.

January 20, 2010, 08:21 PM
The Lee hand primer tools needs to be greased from time to time, which is very easy to do with pedal bike wheel bearing grease. Just don't let it go dry or you lose sensitivity, and wear the tool out.

January 20, 2010, 08:40 PM
On the Hornady, do you have to use special Hornady shell holders, or will others work?

January 20, 2010, 09:20 PM
Lee Precision Auto Prime 122 reviews on Midway USA and 4 out of 5 stars $ 12.99
RCBS Hand Priming Tool 61 reviews 3.4 out of 5 stars $ 36.49
RCBS Universal Hand Priming Tool 26 reviews 4.3 stars out of 5 $ 49.99
You could get 4 Lee Precision Auto Primes and set them up for four different primers for the price of a single RCBS. At 1/4 the price and essentially the same level of customer satisfaction the choice seems clear but to each his own.

January 20, 2010, 09:41 PM
And a sore thumb with the Lee.

ole farmerbuck
January 20, 2010, 09:47 PM
On the Hornady, do you have to use special Hornady shell holders, or will others work?
It comes with a green primer tray for rcbs holders and i'm thinking others will work. I have some Lees i can try tomorrow.

ole farmerbuck
January 20, 2010, 09:49 PM
On the Hornady, do you have to use special Hornady shell holders, or will others work?
Hornady's pliers-style design gives you maximum leverage with minimum fatigue and a much better "feel" compared to thumb-operated styles. Works with small or large primers. Uses standard Hornady shellholders (sold separately) or included adapter for RCBS shellholders

January 20, 2010, 09:56 PM
You can't beat the Lee for the money. You can get the Lee AND their complete set of shellholders for it for less than alot of the other options. I've put a bunch of primers through mine with no complaints/issues.

January 20, 2010, 10:52 PM
I did not mention the Honady with 25 reviews and only 3 out of 5 stars at $ 33.49 it did not seem to be a viable candidate.

January 20, 2010, 10:53 PM
RCBS Automatic Priming Tool

It doesn't lend itself to priming your brass while sitting on the couch watching Amercian Idol.....but then again, I don't do any of my reloading while watching TV so that really isn't an issue. It's a very nice tool to use with an amazing degree of sensitivity/feedback for seating the primer.


January 20, 2010, 11:53 PM
I use the Hornady when I want to hand-prime cases. I bought it because that's what the semi-local gun shop had in stock.

And I really like it, too.

January 20, 2010, 11:53 PM
I have Lee and RCBS and prefer the RCBS.


January 21, 2010, 12:00 AM
Lee Autoprime. Perfect feel, i do it while watching TV.

January 21, 2010, 12:13 AM
Thanks for all the informative responses! :cool:

Everyone have a great Thursday.

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