Hand Held Priming vs Press Priming


January 4, 2012, 01:33 AM
I have an "in the press" primer now on my single stage press, but I'm thinking about getting a hand primer.

Could anyone give me some advantages/disadvantages of Hand Held Priming and Press Priming. I'm looking only for the Pros and Cons of each type--I'll probably decide on a model later if I decide to get one.

If you enjoyed reading about "Hand Held Priming vs Press Priming" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
January 4, 2012, 01:46 AM
I prime all my handgun ammo on the press but not my rifle ammo. for some reason rifle brass seems to be a little more finicky about on press priming. IMO rifle ammo needs more precise loading than handgun ammo so I always use a hand primer.

I use an RCBS hand primer and IO also have one of the new Lee hand primers I use occasionally.

January 4, 2012, 02:25 AM
I prefer the hand primer. It gives me what i have to say is a better feel when seating the primers. Plus, You can always get the last one done....

The one on the press isn't bad itself. The only problem I have is that I get the occasional backwards primer I have to correct and when I have about 3-4 primers left, It won't send the primer into the ram. Very aggravating.

Lost Sheep
January 4, 2012, 02:33 AM
I have an "in the press" primer now on my single stage press, but I'm thinking about getting a hand primer.

Could anyone give me some advantages/disadvantages of Hand Held Priming and Press Priming. I'm looking only for the Pros and Cons of each type--I'll probably decide on a model later if I decide to get one.

I prime on press. I use a Turret press and the speed advantage is significant.

On a single stage press the speed advantage of priming on the press is not too much. That is because of the nature of the batch process and the fact that you are removing the cartridge case. On a turret used in continuous mode (or progressive) not having to extract and reinsert the case makes for a substantial time savings. In batch mode, not so much.

Some people testify that the various hand priming tools (I know of the RCBS Bench primer, RCBS hand primer and the Lee Hand Primer) give a better "feel" when seating primers. With my RockChucker, I could feel with equal or greater sensitivity than the other tools. True, I had super-tremendous leverage, much more than I needed, but I could feel the primer seat just fine. Since I didn't have to squeeze really hard with my hand, but just push gently with my fingertips, I can feel the primers seat better on my press than with the hand primer tools.

Lee's priming systems (the hand primer and on-press, both) do not use tube systems. Lee states unequivocally that Lee will never use a tubular system. The chance of a chain detonation is a caution to them. Rarely happens, but when it does, I can imagine it is really scary and have no desire to experience it. I loaded for years with my RCBS in a primer tube and am not scared, but, "Why take chances?" My on-press system does not use a tube, but many others do. That is why many people choose to prime off-press; safety. Not me. The safety factor is a welcome bonus.

The speed advantage, the "feel" advantage and the safety advantage all point (for me) towards priming on-press, with the Lee "pez dispenser" system.

If you feel differently, good for you. Everybody has their own style and preferences and I will not fault yours if you don't fault mine. Heck, even if you do fault mine. I am happy, no matter what. I've got no downside or compromise to my choice.

Lost Sheep

January 4, 2012, 05:17 AM
I would also like for someone to explain the pros of hand priming. I have one, and I don't see any pros compared to priming on a SS press. Well, aside from the "can do it on the couch while watching TV" thing. As popular as they are, I know there's a real perceived reason for other people. Makes me wonder if my particular press has oddly incredible feel and speed.

January 4, 2012, 07:30 AM
Pros of hand priming when using a progressive press:

You do not have to do it while loading, which speeds things up a little, while making things smoother.

I despise priming on a progressive while loading. At least the ones I have used anyway. For me, hand priming is more consistent, partly because my heart isn't in it doing on the press during loading.

Everyone has to figure out what they like and dislike. Both methods work if done right.

January 4, 2012, 07:48 AM
I have used hand priming tools exclusively since 1980 even on the progressive press.

On the progressives, I prepare cases for loading shortly after shooting, a small batch that goes quickly, then prime and load at another time when I have accumulated a supply for a good run on the progressive. Loading on the progressive goes slick and trouble free when resizing and priming is decoupled from the loading process.

I can prime 100 cases in about the same time it takes to fill a primer tube and prime on the press.

I like the operation and feel better with hand primers than press mounted primers.

At least versus the progressive priming systems, I like the ability to inspect the priming process at all times with the hand priming tools. I may feel the same way about the Lee turret press priming system, but since I have never used one, I cannot really comment except that you would not be able to inspect the primer seating until after the cartridge is loaded without interrupting the process.

I always have two hand primers on hand, one set up for small primers and the other set up for large primers. I have used and like the Lee Auto-Prime and RCBS Universal priming tools. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

January 4, 2012, 08:55 AM
On the presses I have I no longer prime on the press.

With the progressives about 95% of the "issues" I need to address while reloading have to do with primer feeding, upside down primers, etc... I try to be very careful during the reloading process but the primer feed just does not seem reliable.

While I am sure that hand priming adds extra steps to my reloading, it significantly reduces the aggravation that I experience at the hand of my presses and allows me to concentrate on fewer processes in the press.

As for priming on the single stage presses, I think the ergonomics of the hand primer are better and allow me to work at a quicker rate.

January 4, 2012, 09:03 AM
I'm using a AP and there is no way I'm going to set down a dry to prime several thousands of brass. Press priming only for me.

January 4, 2012, 09:26 AM
On my single stage and now on my turret I prime on the press using the very nice system that Lee offers.

My first die sizes and decaps the once fired brass and then I prime on the downstroke of the ram in that same one operation. If I did prime off press I would still later have to run the brass through that same sizing die so off press priming adds another step that is not needed.

For those who enjoy priming off press? Good on ya' mates! We all get to particpate in this hobby at whatever level of intensity and using whatever protocol floats our boats.

January 4, 2012, 12:49 PM
Some folks like to pay more attention to their rounds, especially those who compete hard where extreme accuracy matter. They'll deprime, clean the primer pocket out, then prime. Having a hand primer facilitates that step.

Another nice advantage is resizing and depriming a batch of brass, running it through the tumbler again to get the lube off, and being able to prime it someplace than sitting behind the press. I use a Lee Hand-prime, and I've had the news on t.v. while priming. I also feel the Hand-prime is a bit more sensitive.

January 4, 2012, 02:09 PM
I use the Lee hand primer when loading bottle neck rifle cases. I batch process several hundred cases at a time and store them in bins labeled:

Going from trimmed to primed means simply grabbing a bin full of brass, priming them and putting them into another bin. It makes it easy to grab a bin full of primed brass and load them up with my standard load or develop a new load with different charges or bullets.

I don't hand prime pistol cases. They go from the "cleaned" box to the LnL AP press to the "loaded ammo" box in one fell swoop.

January 4, 2012, 02:14 PM
I now understand the viewpoint of the rifle reloaders - makes perfect sense. Thanks for the education.

I reload only pistol so for me once the once-fired brass hits the shellholder in my turret it stays there until it is a finished round.

January 4, 2012, 03:11 PM
Are you referring to the ram that is attached to the press, or a priming die that threads into the press and uses a separate priming ram? I use an RCBS priming die that threads into the press and is then adjusted to the precise seating depth desired. This system doesn't rely on how it feels, or by touch. I adjust the die to set my primng depth and then just feed primers and seat without having to worry if this one, or that one is completely seated or was deeper than I intended. It works just like a bullet seating die, adjust it and seat primers.

January 4, 2012, 03:20 PM
Yup, it's mostly just rifle rounds that get that treatment. I don't handprime anything for pistol, unless I'm just working up a few test batches of something. In that case I use the hand-prime. I'm not going through the effort to fill up the primer tube on my press just for a few dozen rounds.

January 4, 2012, 04:29 PM
I now understand the viewpoint of the rifle reloaders - makes perfect sense. Thanks for the education.

Rifle loading on a single stage.

Hand gun on a progressive but hand primed. Resizing, expanding and tumbling done shortly after shooting in small batches and stored for later priming and reloading.

Press mounted priming systems not 100% perfect for me. I hate rework.

It is what floats my boat. Obviously, that does not float yours but that is what makes the world go around!

January 4, 2012, 04:30 PM
For me the only "pro" to using a hand primer, is portability. I can prime cases anywhere and not limited to where my press is. I have a Hornady hand primer and a Lee hand primer and both are about the same as far as "feel" and speed. I have a Ram Prime that I much prefer to either handheld or press primers (the attachments that come stock with the press). My thumb or fingers don't get tired and the "feel" of seating primers is consistant.

A con to handprimers is inconsistant seating and they are slower. When my hands get tired or the linkage gets sloppy seating "feel" begins to fade...

January 4, 2012, 04:32 PM
I've used the hand primers from Lee, Hornady and RCBS, and as I've gotten older, they hurt my hand to the point that I can no longer use them. These days I do all my priming with either a Ram Prime Die on top of one of my single stage presses, usually the Rockchucker, or the RCBS APS system.

I'm one of those people who insists on cleaning all primer pockets prior to reloading, so this system works for me. When I load on one of my progressive presses, it's with sized and primed brass, so I can use station #1 for something else and it gives me an extra station for other accessories.

Hope this helps.


January 4, 2012, 05:16 PM
I really like the hand primers. I alway take them into the living room and while I'm watching TV I will prime my brass. I dont like to be contained to my reloading bench at all times so the hand held is nice to have.

January 4, 2012, 05:40 PM
I've been solidly in the hand prime camp for years...until last year, when I purchased a Forster Co-Ax. The built in "top of the press" primer is more consistent than my RCBS hand primer. With the RCBS I relied on feel, and have found differences as large as + - .008 on the same lot of brass. With the Forster built-in I have cut that spread in half or more.

I still hand prime on occasion for plinking, or making up large (500 or more) quantities, but my hunting and prairie dog loads now get the Forster.

Except for handgun - priming is done on the Dillon for those rounds

January 4, 2012, 06:30 PM
I'm a noob but I like using my Lee hand priming tool. I've been working in batches and it seems to be nice for sitting comfortably somewhere & doing a bunch at a time.

When it's time to load, all I have to do is add powder & seat a bullet, so I can load a bunch of rounds in very little time. My overall time is probably longer than someone doing it all at once on a press, but I like batching. I can concentrate on one task at a time and just do the same thing over & over - less chance of screwing up & easier to stop & pick up where I left up.

January 5, 2012, 08:50 AM
I started priming with the Lee hand tool and a mallet. Popped a few. Then went to the Lee hand primer with the screw in shell holder. It worked great then and still does. Kind of hard to find new shellholders though.:o I also have an RCBS bench primer that I never really liked.
When I started reloading again about a year and a half ago I bought the Lee hand primer and shellholder set. Had a very hard time with it because of arthuritus in my thumbs. About a year ago I got a Classic Turret with the Safety Prime. As someone mentioned on an earlier post, it is easier and has far more feel than anything I have ever used. The magazines of the shellholders are the only thing I don't empty out and put up. I store them in a plastic coffee can with the remaining primers still in them. Usually have about 50 primers when I start. Usually add another 100 when nearly all that are left are in the drop slot. Time for a break then anyway.:D

January 5, 2012, 09:24 AM
I hand prime with my Lee primer or prime on my Lee turret, both are excellent and work very well for me.
I hate running my LNL while trying to prime on this press, I like to have all my rounds pre-prepped, then using the progressive is so much more enjoyable and smooth--no hangups.
I don't care what progressive you have, there is always priming probs to be had---not for me.

January 5, 2012, 10:54 PM
I hand prime with a Hornady tool and feel like a rich bastard while doing it. It is a high quality tool rivaling the Sinclair unit with the advantage of speed. It is very sensitive and you can feel the primer bottom out, then cimpress a little.

john wall
January 6, 2012, 11:10 AM

I use the RCBS Auto Prime. This one is vintage, and has more miles on it than the Space Shuttle.

Hard to beat, get extra primer tubes.

January 6, 2012, 11:24 PM
I have tried it both ways, press and hand primers. It's like the Guy said, "whatever floats your boat". I see no advantages of disadvantages in either. If you use a progressive, why not use it all, you paid for it. Same with a Single stage, you bought the hand primer, why not use it..

January 6, 2012, 11:52 PM
If you use a progressive, why not use it all, you paid for it.

Features such as priming on the press sells the progressive presses. It does not mean that it is the only way to reload on the progressive.

For me, the press mounted priming systems are not reliable enough or the inspection of priming process on the progressive is non-existent.

For decades, I resisted the urge to buy a progressive press because i felt they were not flexible enough to fit my preferred method of reloading. I felt that I was locked in to reloading from resizing to loaded round. I like to tumble after resizing.

i bought the Hornady L-N-L AP as a new toy to play with. After using my Hornady for two years, I am finding it is flexible enough for my loading needs. Not that the Dillon 650 could not do the same, but I am pleased with my progressive choice.

I get benefits from using a progressive press. Shear production volume is not one of them.

So, this floats my boat. I understand that you might get your reloading rocks off another way. It is great the reloading hobby is so flexible to suit just about everyone's needs.

January 7, 2012, 08:43 AM
The progressive is so flexible I load any amount on it. I loaded two .357's the other day. It was a iffy load, so I only wanted a couple of them. As suspected, they did not work well, so I was glad I had only loaded two. (In scrap brass) Now I have a really good idea where to go from there.

If you enjoyed reading about "Hand Held Priming vs Press Priming" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!