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univseral hand priming tool or shellholders?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by plunge, Jan 2, 2012.


which type of hand priming tool do you prefer?

Poll closed Feb 1, 2012.
  1. Universal type

    10 vote(s)
  2. Shellholder type

    31 vote(s)
  1. plunge

    plunge Well-Known Member

    I'm pretty new to reloading and i'm looking to get a hand priming tool and i've seen universal tools, and tools that use shellholders like the press. I'm just wondering which is the better way to go. I'm usually wary of anything that says "universal" but from searching it seems like a lot of people like the universal style. Thanks.
  2. Fleet

    Fleet Well-Known Member

    I use the RCBS shell holder type, works great.
  3. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Well-Known Member

    I'm currently using the shell holder type (lee) mainly since I shoot very little rifle loads. And I use the RCBS Xdie so I don't have to trim every 3-5 firings.
  4. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    You did not have both as an option.

    I like the universal hand priming tool, particularly the one that uses the APS strips. But I have a couple of cases, brass .410 shells is the most notable, that I drag out the Lee Auto Prime for.
  5. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Well-Known Member

    Although certainly not a Lee fan, their Auto Prime works as advertised.
  6. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    I prime on the press, so can't vote - lol
  7. plunge

    plunge Well-Known Member

    I also prime on the press. I'm just looking for a little bit quicker/easier way to prime. it looks like the shellholder type is the preferred type so far. I will be buying one sometime and was just hoping to see what most people were using.
  8. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Well-Known Member

    Priming tool...

    Plunge--I'm a big fan of the new Lee Auto-Prime XR handheld priming tool. It just plain WORKS!

    Yes, you have to buy a special shellholder for it (I just buy the new shellholder whenever I'm buying dies for a new cartridge and be done with it, unless one of the shellholders I already have, already fits the new cartridge.) but there are a lot of crossovers, some surprising, like .45 ACP and .30-'06 use the same shellholder--who would have guessed!

    And be very gentle with the plastic cover for the primer tray--The clips that hold it on, will break. When that happens, just hold the cover on the tray with a rubber band.

    The above notwithstanding, the darn thing is a good gadget to use. I recommend it.
  9. John C

    John C Well-Known Member

    The Hornady hand primer uses standard shellholders. I recently picked one up, but have yet to try it.
  10. mtrmn

    mtrmn Well-Known Member

    Prime on my press(es) never saw any reason not to. RCBS single stage and Dillon 550
  11. James2

    James2 Well-Known Member

    I am using the RCBS hand priming tool which uses standard shell holders. It works well. The only other way I have primed is with a priming arm on the press. The hand priming tool is a vast improvement over that.
  12. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I can prime 100 cases with a hand primer in a bit longer time than it takes to fill a primer tube with 100 primers. When you add in the time it takes to fool with reloading the press mounted priming tube and seat the primers, time is about a wash.
  13. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    My experience is solely with Lee gear so forgive me if this is a dumb question. I use one die to size/deprime and then prime on the downstroke. (one operation)

    Does it not add a step/process to then remove the sized/deprimed case and then take it to my hand primer. Then put that case back in the press?
  14. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    Yes, it would. Except my sized, deprimed, and mouth expanded cases make a pass though the tumbler before being primed.

    I resize and prep cases shortly after shooting. I do not let unprepared cases accumulate. These batches are small, relatively, and I cruise through a days shooting in 5-10 minutes/100 handgun cases. Rifle takes a bit longer due to lubricating and trimming. But, after tumbling rifle cases, I am not handling gooey, slick cases either. Lots of this work can be done while watching the tube or grooving to my favorite tunes. Ah, multitasking!

    I store the prepped cases away. When I need, or decide to load a particular cartridge, I prime the cases by hand then load them on the progressive. Most of my process interruptions on a progressive press come in the resizing die area and the priming system. By resizing at another time and priming by hand, I eliminate the downtime caused in those areas.

    All three of my progressive presses, one Hornady and two Dillons, have had the priming system removed. My progressive press priming systems are not reliable or robust enough for my liking. Perfect would be about right, or the ability to inspect the seated primer before dropping powder would work.

    I hate rework worse than trimming cases.

    But I do have some idiosyncrasies. Your loading preferences may or will differ.
  15. Romeo 33 Delta

    Romeo 33 Delta Well-Known Member

    I'm with Smokey Joe 100% !
  16. esheato

    esheato Well-Known Member

    Same here.
  17. Jimfern

    Jimfern Well-Known Member

    I went from the RCBS universal hand press for APC strips to the standard RCBS universal hand press and am very happy with it. If you keep the shell holder blades clean, they work just fine.
  18. David Wile

    David Wile Well-Known Member

    Hey Plunge,

    I have been an RCBS fan for 50 years. I have looked down on Lee products for an equally long time. I tried a friend's Lee Auto Prime hand tool maybe 30 years ago and found it was easier to prime with it than on my RCBS press. The only problem was that it was a chinzy Lee product and I had to buy a special set of shell holders to use it, but I did buy the shell holder set and found it worked like a charm. I was just embarrased to admit I was using a Lee tool.

    A year or so later, RCBS came out with their hand priming tool that used regular shell holders. In true RCBS form, it was a robust tool that felt like a man's tool in your hand compared to the little Lee tool. I bought the RCBS tool and began to use it with great pride. Within two weeks, I put the RCBS tool away and went back to the Lee Auto Prime tool. Yes, it was nice that the RCBS tool used regular shell holders, but the tool was not very user friendly to me. It was a pain to change the primer sizes as well as change the shell holders.

    The lowly little Lee hand tool was much easier to use and change both primer sizes as well as shell holders. Also, the set of special shell holders was not all that expensive to buy. My first Lee Auto Prime lasted about a dozen years maybe when the thumb lever broke on me. My first thoughts were this is typical of Lee junk, and I got my RCBS tool out again. It was not a week before I bought a new Lee Auto Prime tool and retired the RCBS tool again.

    I like the idea of the beffy heft of RCBS products compared to the flimsy Lee stuff. When it comes to the hand primer tool, however, I am still sticking with the flimsy Lee tool that is so much easier for me to use. I wish the Lee tool would be a little bigger and a little beefier, but I would not want them to change the very simple and user friendly way it gets the job done.

    I think RCBS over engineered their hand tool. Anyone want to buy a used RCBS hand tool that is maybe 20+ years old but pretty much like new? I still like RCBS stuff, but you will never get my Lee Auto Prime from me.

    Best wishes,
    Dave Wile
  19. kingmt

    kingmt Well-Known Member

    My vote doesn't count ether. I ram prime unless running the Pro 1000. The only reasons I ram prime instead of useing the press priming system is it hurts my hands & the ram prime seats it every time & at the set depth.
  20. David Wile

    David Wile Well-Known Member

    Hey Plunge,

    Perhaps I should have mentioned that I bought a Hornady L&L progressive press back in 1997. When I reload on the progressive press, I do all the operations on the progressive press. I know some folks prime by hand even though they are using a progressive press, but that is not for me. My progressive press is completely progressive. Every time I cycle the handle, I get a finished round, and that includes pistol and rifle cartridges. I do place a case and a bullet in place by hand with each cycle, but each cycle produces a finished cartridge.

    When do I use my Lee Auto Prime then? Whenever I am loading cartridges on my single stage press, and that is more often than you might think. If I only have a small batch of five, ten, or even twenty rounds to load, I will usually do it on the single stage. In fact, I used to load five rounds on the RockChucker, turn around and test fire them in my indoor range, see the results, and then go load another five with perhaps a different powder charge. I still do a lot of reloading in single stage mode, but when I have a whole bunch to load, I put the progressive press on the bench and let it rip.

    In any case, I still use my lowly Lee Auto Prime with great satisfaction even if I am ashamed to admit it.

    Best wishes,
    Dave Wile

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