What is the best hand held priming tool?

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  • Last Post 10 May 2023
John Alexander posted this 25 September 2022

I have been using Lee's hand held priming tools from before they had magazines. They were a great improvement over priming with a reloading press or with a Lyman tong tool.  However, the arthritis in my thumbs isn't getting any better and the Lee tools don't have a lot of leverage, so am looking for a replacement that you squeeze with your fingers.  What should I buy?

John

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pat i. posted this 10 May 2023

For loading at the range I like the Sinclair. For batch reloading pistol rounds the Lee seems to work ok.

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David Reiss posted this 07 May 2023

The bench mounted RCBS tool is very good, especially for my wife. She can't use the hand held tools because of her hand strength. I find myself using it more and more. Since I use Inline Manufacturing mounting system, it is not permantely mounted to bench and is not a problem by getting in the way when not in use. 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
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Millelacs posted this 07 May 2023

I've used the RCBS bench mounted tool, with the tube primer feed without any problems, other than it was permanently mounted to my loading bench.  It got in the way when not in use.

Since then, I've used the old Lee round tray "Auto-Prime" hand priming tool since the late '80's or early '90's.  

I wore out the slots on the cover, and used a rubber band to hold the cover on.

Then someone posted a link on the forum for files to 3-D print replacement lids:
.          https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2551606

I had a couple of lids printed out, and they work well.

Last year, the connecting rod on my old round tray Auto-Prime broke.  It cracked over time, and I didn't realize that was the cause of "proud" primers.  Connecting rods for the round tray tools are obsolete and not available from Lee.  The connecting rods for the newer Auto-Prime tools are not compatible with round tray tool.

I used a Lee Challenger press to prime for a while, until I found a second round tray Auto-Prime I had when living in South Africa.  I had a complete reloading setup, so I didn't have to bring stuff back and forth when on leave.  Now it's nice to have duplicate stuff.

So I'm back in business, happy as a clam, with the old round priming tool.

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RicinYakima posted this 01 May 2023

Lachmiller Engineering Company of San Francisco, CA. Early 1950's used his own shell holders, but by the early 1960's were made to use Pacific or RCBS holders. 

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Samari46 posted this 01 May 2023

Have an old bench mounted priming tool. Takes standard shell holders and just pop the primer in the tool and has a small arm that works just like a regular reloading press. Shell holders held in place with a set screw. Painted blue if that is any clue as to who made it. The other one I use is a K&M hand tool that takes the lee auto prime shell holders. I prefer to do all my depriming and priming as a separate operation as I don't want the grit getting on the press ram and like to check out the primer pockets and clean them prior to repriming. Frank

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LarryW posted this 01 May 2023

For about the last 10 years or so, I've been using the slick little 21st Century hand priming tool. They use any of the old, or newer, Lee small & large primer trays. Really nice adjustment for seating depth. But, any old RCBS hand unit is pretty hard to beat. Don't remember the cost of the 21st Cent unit

A day late & a dollar short, story of my life ???

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leadhead2 posted this 24 April 2023

I've been using the old Lee round tray seaters for over 40 years. I've tried all the others but

still go back to the Lee. I pick up used and new ones when I run into them at gun shows.

Found a brand new one with both small and large trays at a gun show a few years ago.

The guy had $15 on the box and I asked him if he would take 10. He said no, but I'll take

12. Almost tore my pocket off getting my wallet out. I think it's the best seater ever made.

leadhead

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res45 posted this 16 April 2023

Still using my old Lee round head hand held priming tool when I prime by hand, one I originally bought when they first came out and picked up another barely used one and some spare parts several years ago so I could have one each for large and small primers. Never had a problem with either one, no mater whos primers I've used. 

I take them apart every so often and give them a cleaning and lube all the bearing surfaces and they just work.  If the Lees ever give it up, which I highly doubt at this point and I had to primer off the press it would probably be either the Lyman or RCBS that takes shell holders.

'Artisan' in Lead, Brass & Powder.

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Larry Gibson posted this 12 April 2023

I have used a variety of priming tools over the years.  Started out with the Lee Loader wach'em in the got the single priming Lee tool and it was a great improvement.  Then the round tray Lee and finally have the square tray Lee.  However, way back when I also got the RCBS Bench mounted (I just C clamp it to the bench to use) and I have to say it was/is just about the perfect priming machine.  I have tried other hand priming tools but none really worked any better than the Lee with the square feed tray. 

That is until.....I recently had a Lyman hand priming tool given to me.  I've used it to prime 100 308Ws, 200 223s and 30 45 ACPs..  It works very well and is comfortable to use.  The grip handle fits the palm well and the finger lever give sufficient leverage.  It uses regular shell holders and it is easy to change them.  I strongly suggest the RCBS bench priming tool but If you really want a hand held priming tool then I can strongly recommend the Lyman.

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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meigs3 posted this 10 April 2023

I have the RCBS bench primer and have used it for about 15,000 primers and love it.

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mashburn posted this 19 October 2022

Hello to all,

I have had an old round Lee priming tool for a very long time. I have never had an explosion and hope I never do, but there is one thing that mine does that could possibly cause an explosion. Occasionally mine will stack two primers on top of each other in the hole in the shell holder. I'm sure if you have no sense of feel and kept squeezing hard enough that it would blow up. I feel it instantly and quit squeezing and take it out. Yes, they don't agree with arthritis, I put my right thumb on the lever and put my left thumb on top of the right thumb.  I guess you would call it the Lee two hand grip.

Mashjburn

David a. Cogburn

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LApm9 posted this 16 October 2022

"I do like the exceptional feel of the Lee Ramprime on a press ..."

Ditto here.

Bob .45-70 & .30-30

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JimmyDee posted this 16 October 2022

Make it 4 for the RCBS bench prime,

I like that tool, too.  A lot.  It's what I use in conjunction with the Forster co-ax.  Great feel, AFAIC.  But the OP asked about hand primers.

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RicinYakima posted this 14 October 2022

From the people that I know who have broken them, they are in two categories: trying to seat crimped in primer cases or not centering the case in the shell holder.  

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Green Frog posted this 14 October 2022

For rifles I generally use my Jake Simmons tool that I bought when I started shooting single shots.  For those unfamiliar with this one, it is an adaptation of one produced around the 1890s by Harry Pope.  Otherwise I usually use my first generation Lee tool with the screw in shell holders.  I've been told they break, so I have bought up several and a bunch of spare parts, but so far I've never broken one(?)

Froggie

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Sevenfan posted this 13 October 2022

Make it 4 for the RCBS bench prime, I can load 100 primers in a tube <30secs. Also have an original Sinclair hand priming tool purchased in the early 90s and use that when I'm really picky.

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Millelacs posted this 10 October 2022

I've used the old, round, Lee Auto-Prime for 30-years or more.

One, that I used the most, developed a crack in the connecting rod that I didn't notice.  Gradually, the crack widened and the primers weren't fully seating.  It was gradually enough that I didn't notice that the primers weren't seating properly.  Then the connecting rod broke.

Calling Lee, the connecting rod for the, old, round Auto-Prime is no longer available, and the connecting rod for the new Auto-Prime is not compatible, even though they look the same.

Luckily, I had a second Auto-Prime from when I had a second reloading setup while working overseas.

I've never had a problem with primers exploding.  And I've never heard of primers exploding until I read it on the here.

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John Alexander posted this 05 October 2022

I don't think the problem is too much leverage, but don't understand what makes one brand different in a way that would cause it to explode.  I have pushed out a lot of live primers and used them later. It usually makes a bump where the firing pin will hit but they seem to work OK --  no explosions.

 

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Ross Smith posted this 05 October 2022

Is the problem with the Lee and federal primers too much Leverage? I've never had a primer detonate on me.

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John Alexander posted this 04 October 2022

lotech,

You are right, that it isn't dubious internet lore.  The instructions with their latest priming tool says it "REDUCES the likelihood of a mass detonation"  They further say, "However all types of FEDERAL BRAND LARGE PRIMERS frequently cause the entire tray to explode" Hard to believe it's that bad but I am not going to find out.  I wonder what the instructions for other magazine fed priming tools say?

I have been using  the Lee square tray model for years and find it works perfectly.  Different strokes for different folks.

John

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