If you plan on reloading your own ammunition, priming cartridge cases might be the hardest thing that you have to do. Going with a reloading press can make things easier on you. But then again, buying a reloading press is not a small task. It can cost a lot of money.
And when your entire reason behind reloading is to save money, naturally, you would think twice about making this investment. Well, what if I could give you a way that you could prime cases without having to spend hundreds of dollars on a reloading press?
What I am talking about is using the best hand priming tool. This simple, cost-efficient tool can help you reload a decent bit of case if you put in the elbow grease. Sure, it is not as fast as a reloading press, but it gets the job done pretty nicely.
However, you need to make sure you are getting a decent model that makes things easier and does not complicate things. Hand priming tools are typically pretty portable, and you can use them just about anywhere. And with the right pickup, you will be able to prime hundreds of cases without any effort.
In my hand priming tool review, I will talk about some of the best options out there that will help make your future reloading projects a lot smoother. So, without further ado, let us get started.
Top 6 Best Priming Tool for Reloading
Here are my top picks for some of the best hand priming tools available in the market.
1. Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer
It feels like whenever I am talking about tools related to reloading, I am always starting out with the brand Frankford Arsenal. More specifically, I am always going with their Platinum Series line of reloading tools. But in my defense, this line of products is extremely well made and offers amazing performance.
This time I will be going with the Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer, which comes with a lot of promising features. It is not too expensive and is priced in the same range as most of the top-tier hand primers out there. So, you will not be breaking your bank with this option.
Primer seating accuracy was the main focus of the manufacturers when they were coming up with this design. As such, the unit features an adjustable seating system that prevents crushing the primers into cases.
The tool gives you access to 12 shell holders, which should keep you covered for all bullet calibers and types. On the off chance that you need to buy different shell holders, the box comes with slots for up to three separate shell holders. This lets you keep everything organized and near your fingertips when you use this tool.
Replacing the holders is also extremely easy. You can easily find the post assembly on the priming tool that you press down and can simply slide out the old shell holder and insert the new one. It’s that easy! You can even remove the post assembly if you want to use larger shell holders.
The tool comes in a neat little package that is ready for transport whenever you want. Everything is organized in its own slots, making it one of the most portable options that you can find on the market.
The priming tool itself is made of die-cast zinc and steel. It is not too heavy but feels pretty solid when you hold it up in your hands. So, if you are worried about its durability, I am pretty sure it will last you a lifetime if you take care of it.
- Comes in a nice package
- Includes 12 shell holders
- Easy to use
- Strong and durable construction
- A bit pricey but entirely justified.
2. RCBS 90201 Universal Hand Priming Tool
The RCBS 90201 Universal Hand Priming Tool features an old-school design, and frankly, back in my days, this used to be the standard design in most hand primers. It features an amazing combination of design and durability, making it a great reloading primer tool for just about anyone.
If you are on a budget, this is the one I would recommend. Of course, there is a downside to this unit that I will talk about later. But for people who want a basic hand primer tool that can handle all types of calibers, then this is an amazing pickup.
One thing that I love about its design is that you don’t need shell holders for it to work. This means you have greater freedom in choosing which type of calibers you want to work with, and you do not have to worry about switching holders for specific caliber types.
Instead of using shell holders, the unit features a removable primer tray. Since it is removable, you can also use it with other devices that share a similar design which gives you even more value out of your purchase. And since it can hold multiple primers at once, the reloading process becomes much simpler.
To secure the brass, the unit comes with an adjustable jaw. It also has a safety gate that lets you keep the tray and primer apart. This means there are absolutely zero chances of detonation as you are using the priming tool.
Now, as for the downside that I was talking about, you need to remove each case manually after you prime it using the machine. This is not that big of a deal if you are reloading for yourself. But some professionals might prefer going with a more time-saving device instead of this one.
- Ergonomic and universal design
- Comes with a safety gate to prevent detonation
- Comes at a good price
- Easy to use
- You need to remove each case after priming manually.
3. LEE PRECISION 90230 New Auto Prime Hand Priming Tool
Accidents can happen while reloading and priming brass, but that doesn’t mean you should not take every measure possible to prevent it. Thankfully, most manufacturers take safety pretty seriously when designing their hand primers.
But if I had to name one product that trumps all others in terms of safety, it would have to be the LEE PRECISION 90239 Auto Prime Hand Priming Tool.
Now, what makes this unit special is its special elevator pin safety design. This feature ensures that the tray for each primer remains separate, thus eliminating the chance of tray detonations. And I’ll be honest; I absolutely adore this safety design and how it enhances your overall work experience with it.
Other notable features of this tool include a large triangle-shaped tray. The tray is compatible with all types of primers. So, you should not have to worry about any compatibility issues with this unit.
Another thing that I love is the design and material of the curved lever. It is practically indestructible, thanks to its solid steel construction. And on top of that, because of its curved shape, it also feels pretty comfortable on the hands.
Besides, the unit is pretty small, and you can simply put it in your pocket if you want to do some priming away from your workbench. Its pre-assembled insert will make things a lot easier for you when you are switching between larger and smaller primers.
The price of the unit is also quite attractive, making it a great choice if you are on a tight budget. It features an extremely simple and straightforward design making it a great pickup even if your priming skills are at a beginner level.
- Comes at an affordable price
- Elevator pin safety design
- Comfortable curved lever
- Suitable for all skill levels
- The required shell holder is sold separately
4. RCBS 90200 Hand Priming Tool
The RCBS 90200 is another well-designed hand priming tool that might be worth a pickup if your prime concern is safety. But on top of being safe and user-friendly, this unit cuts down your priming time by almost half. So, if you want to work fast, this is your pick.
The main thing that contributes to its excellent priming speed is the large primer tray. With a capacity of around 100 primers at the same time, the tray will have a drastic impact on your priming time.
But speed without safety is never ideal. And I would not recommend this option if the only good thing about it was that it’s fast. The unit features a safety gate system that keeps the primer supply and the priming seat separate. As a result, the chances of unwanted detonation are absolutely zero.
Besides, the unit also features a convenient shape and size, allowing you to take it with you just about anywhere. Its portability is truly a sight to behold, and if you are the type who does not want to prime sitting in front of a workbench all day, this will not disappoint you.
The lever also feels pretty smooth and should not cause fatigue if you use it for an extended period. As for the tool itself, the strong cast-iron metal construction should get rid of any durability concerns you may have about it. However, the tray is made of plastic.
This unit comes at a pretty good price. Of course, you need to buy separate shell holders from the same brand if you want to use them, which means extra money out of your pocket. Still, this is a pretty amazing pickup if you are on a tight budget.
- Amazing build quality
- Safe and ergonomic design
- Can hold up to 100 primers at a time
- Compact and portable design
- The primer tray does not seem that durable
5. Lyman Products E-ZEE Universal Priming Tool
Another big name that often comes up when talking about reloading tools is Lyman. The E-ZEE Universal Priming Tool that they offer is an excellent option for anyone who prefers using a hand primer instead of an automatic model. It is priced well and comes with a range of exciting features making it one of my favorites.
The first feature that I would like to talk about here is the primer tray. With this unit, you don’t get one but two full-fledged primer trays. One of them holds larger primers while the other one can handle small-sized ones. This makes the overall process a lot simpler since the two trays have their own separate punch assemblies.
Needless to say, it also speeds up the overall process by quite a bit. And switching between the two trays is also effortless. And to make sure the primer positioning is perfect; you can also flip the tray. Since the device does not have any small moving parts, you do not need to worry about it suddenly breaking down on you.
The unit also features a built-in shut-off gate that reduces spillage and keeps your surroundings clean when you are working. As for compatibility, you can use just about any shell holders on the market from any brand. It is super versatile, and the flexibility it offers to the users is quite admirable.
I also love the heavy-duty steel construction of the unit. It has a decent bit of weight to it, but it is still light enough that you can carry it around in your pocket. The handle positioning is good, and you should feel no extra strain if you want to use it for an extended period if you want to use it for an extended period.
There is a downside to it, though. While it is pretty accurate, it is not the most precise tool for the job out there. Other options like the Frankford Arsenal or RCBS 90200 might give you better accuracy over the brass. Then again, this one costs a fraction of what you would have to spend for those units.
- Heavy-duty steel construction
- Comfortable handle positioning
- Compatible with any brand of shell holders
- Two separate trays for large and small primers
- Not the most accurate device out there
6. Hornady 0500021 Handheld Priming Tool
Using a hand priming tool is quite tedious. In fact, this is the main reason why most reloaders prefer going with an automatic primer instead of a manual handheld model. But if you want an easy-to-use model, the Hornady 0500021 Handheld Priming Tool might be the best pickup for you.
Now, this is a pretty straightforward unit. But what makes it truly stand out is its spring-powered handle. This addition reduces hand fatigue in a clever and practical way. Furthermore, it also ensures you separate ammo from the primer automatically with every punch.
Another good thing about the unit is that it comes with molded primer bushings on the inside. What this means is you do not need to separate primer bushings yourself, which will make things a lot more efficient for you.
Changing primers and shell holders is also pretty simple since the spring and punch are inside the device. So, you won’t have to worry about complete disassembly for this.
As for compatibility, it is designed for use with primers both large and small. Though it is primarily designed to work with Hornady shell holders, it features an additional tray that can also handle RCBS shell holders. Regardless of the brand you go with, you need to buy the shell holders separately.
Construction-wise, I found nothing wrong with it. It is built well and is pretty lightweight. That, combined with its compact size, makes it a great choice if you want to work away from your workbench. The price of the unit is also quite affordable, so your budget should not be an issue here.
However, the real drawback of the unit is that you cannot adjust the primer seating height. To adjust the seating, you need to use a thread-in plug. Apart from this one minor nuance, this is a pretty fantastic choice that can be a great addition to any reloader’s arsenal.
- Spring-powered handle for reduced fatigue
- Easy to use design
- Compatible with both Hornady and RCBS shell holders
- Compact and portable design
- The primer seating height is not adjustable.
The Bottom Line
Hand priming can be a good alternative if you do not want to spend a lot of money on automatic priming tools. And as long as you get a decent hand priming tool, you can prime a good volume without stressing yourself out.
Sure, there are some downsides to a hand primer. But it gets the job done quickly and also saves you a few bucks in the process. I consider that a win. As a bonus, you can even use it while you are watching TV since it is so compact and portable.
I hope my complete review of the best hand priming tool could help you figure out which unit you want for yourself. Good luck!