Best Hand Priming Tool – Buyer’s Guide

Best Hand Priming ToolPlanning to get the most effective hand priming tool around?


You arrived at the appropriate web page today.

Prices for hand priming tools range from inexpensive to costly. We hope this list helps you pick out the best hand priming tools.

Best Hand Priming Tool Reviews 2020

When it comes to buying a priming tool, the experience is a little different than other gunsmithing tools.

But, exactly how to select the appropriate priming tool? As you can visualize, there are hundreds of different models out there.

However, when you are buying hand priming tools, you need to keep some things in mind.

Look at the comparison table. I will provide you with more information that will help you in our Buyer’s Guide later.

Product NameSpecial FeatureOur Rating(Out of 5)Current Price
Frankford Arsenal 909283 Constructed with a full-length, ergonomic grip 5.0 Check Price
RCBS 90201 Accept cases from .32 ACP to .45-70 4.9 Check Price
RCBS 90200 Fits in your hand for portable primer seating 4.8 Check Price
Frankford 110006 The case includes 3 extra posts 4.7 Check Price
Lee Precision 90230 work with every brand of primer 4.4 Check Price

1. Frankford Arsenal 90928 – Best Rated Hand Deprimer Tool

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Frankford Arsenal is one of the famous companies in the market right now. It’s a great Hand Deprimer Tool for Standard Primer Removal for Reloading.

The Frankford Arsenal Hand Deprimer allows you to break out of the confines of the reloading room and take you depriming anywhere.

With a hand-operated, portable design, you can quickly and easily deprive your brass of the couch. The collection tube catches old primers and is see-through to easily monitor the fullness level.

When the catch tube is full, simply twist off and empty. After the primer is removed, the Deprimer auto ejects the case for faster and easier operation.

It’s convenient, you can easily decap casings anywhere, but note that you will drop powder and primer residue on the carpet/couch/ your lap so plan accordingly to reduce cleanup.

I purchased the Lee Universal decapping pin as others had recommended but have not found a need to replace the stock pin that came with the tool.

Every once in a while I come across a tight flash hole or primer anvil which gets stuck and hard to remove the decapped case, but I found that it happens to infrequently to be an issue. I just keep a pair of dikes next to me to help remove the random stuck case.

Having used a few plastic Mityvacs and broken them, I was worried this might share the same fate, since it didn’t look much sturdier, and I tend to accumulate a lot of brass with crimped primers.

But when I got it in hand, the quality struck me; it wasn’t just a cast plastic frame, it was pretty stout metal with a good powder coat or something.

Knocks out crimped primers without any problem, even got a Berdan-primed brass case in there, and it deprimed that, too. But it wasn’t pretty.

The depriming pin was sticking in some flash holes, so I turned it down a bit before finding out that there’s a slimmer pin available from Frankford, somewhere.

This has really made the depriming process easier when it comes to wet tumbling, don’t need to get brass anywhere near the press, I can just knock the primers out quick while I’m watching a show or something and have clean pockets and dryer brass.

If you’re tired of cases getting stuck in your press and/or exerting a lot of force to remove spent primers, buy this.
I love it, if you’re a serious reloader, this is a must-have. Or at least in my case. I have deprimers that come with every die kit I bought, but I got tired of having to lube up the cases and the dies and still having to exert a lot of force to get the primer out and then pry back open the press for the next shell.

But I put up with it when I was only doing small batches. But last time I went to the range with my friends (who don’t reload) I ended up coming home with around 300 some odd cases and after depriming the first 10 with the press, I thought to myself no way in hell I’m doing this 300 more times.

So I bought this to try, got it today and love it. It’s so much easier than the other way and even my 8-year-old son can use this and punch out the spent primers.

He’s actually using it right now as I write this review and has already punched out about 20 primers just in the time it took me to write this. If an 8-year-old can use it, you know it’s easy to use the product. I would definitely recommend it.

Great product. It took very little time to really get the hang of it. The unit comes with 3 bushings for a wide variety of calibers.

I use the largest for depriming .45s and the middle-sized bushing for depriming .40 S&W and .38 spl. Those are all I’ve worked on so far.

One tip, make sure you tip the unit down when you squeeze it to pop a primer as well as when you open it after depriming. This serves two purposes.

First, if you tilt it back some of the old primer guts will fall out into your lap. Secondly, if you have the bushing adjusted just right, when you open the unit after the depriming stroke, with the head of it pointed down, the deprimed case will fall right out.

This eliminates you from having to manually pull it out before you insert the next case for depriming. This may sound minor but it’s not. When you’re talking about doing several hundred casings at a sitting, saving this extra step really makes a big difference.

One other tip, don’t forget to check the little cup that holds the old primer guts every once in a while. It’s not threaded in, it is a pressure fit. If it comes loose and you don’t realize it, you’re going to have a lapful of old primers.

My process is to place an old towel on my lap, sit in my favorite chair, and go to work. As I said, it took very little time to figure it out and really get rolling. This is a good quality unit and I’m very satisfied with my purchase.

  • The grip is comfortable
  • Small and compact
  • Great for mobile reloading or small spaces
  • No real set up or tear down other than changing out the collet for different sized brass
  • Built like a tank
  • If you don’t hold it angled downward, the primers won’t all end up in the primer capture tube
  • The tool has places to attach the collets, not in use, which is a great idea

2. RCBS 90201 – Best Universal Hand Priming Tool

RCBS 90201 Universal Hand Priming ToolRCBS is a good company. It’s a great Universal Hand Priming Tool. RCBS is a leading U.S. manufacturer of precision reloading equipment.

Ever since 1943, when Fred T Huntington founded the company in the back of his father’s Oroville, California, laundry and dry-cleaning plant, the company and its employees have gone to extreme lengths to provide customers the highest-quality reloading tools and accessories.

Best hand priming tool on the market. I bought two; one specifically for small primers and the other for large primers only.

No more nicking the case head (edge) while trying to prime it. After 25+ years of reloading, I have tried almost every priming system out there.

The only time I don’t use this hand priming tool is if I’m reloading with my XL650 progressive press. I hate the system on my Redding Turret press, I get frustrated with my Forster Single Stage Reloader and even get frustrated with the Forster hand priming tools.

I just pull out my trusty RCBS Universal Hand Priming tool and get the job done right with no frustrations.I Like this Priming tool because it is working with a minimum of aggravation.

I had a Lee Auto-prime XR and it was a piece of crap that jammed and double fed primers and a whole list of problems. The old Lee priming tool worked fairly well, but the new XR with so-called safety features works like crap.

This RCBS is a much more reliable tool. This one has the universal shell holder which makes it more versatile, but the cases are harder to insert and remove, slowing down the primer process.

The cheaper model that requires individual case holders is a little faster to operate, but you have to have different holders for different cases.

Choose whichever one you want, They are the same except for the case holder options. Lubing the universal case holder with high quality very light lube will help some in the speeding up of insertion and removal of cases

I cannot believe how easy it is to use. Got it early afternoon and by evening I had 700 shell casings of 9mm primed and loaded.

Not a single primer wasted. For a hand primer I would give it two thumbs up. Yes, I have a progressive press that likes to waste primers and along with those wasted primers there is powder and having to pull bullets.

No, I have removed the primer function on the press and let it expand the case mouths, add powder, seat bullets, and crimp.

Yes, I deprime and size my cases before cleaning them. Now I’m adding the primers to the cases before they see the press.

Btw the primer flipping issue mentioned in the other reviews will not happen if you place the green tray on a flat surface before you put the clear cover on. Also, this does not do well with crimped primer pockets. Make sure you remove all traces of the crimp.

I reload everything from 32 S&W up through 45 Colt and 223 to 30/30. The universal jaws are great- no switching shell holders. Primed a batch of 357Mag, easy peasy.

I bought this tool as I am an amputee, so the design makes for easier use- application of leverage- than the Lee tools I previously used. Both get the job done, the RCBS is just easier.

The primer tray is slick too, less chance of a fumble, and ching small pistol primers on the floor. Also, it provides nice feedback on seating the primer. Great tool.

I’m no fanboy of any particular brand. I have died from Hornady, Lyman, RCBS, and Dillon Precision; as well as some accessory dies other items from Lee.

I returned the round tray RCBS hand priming unit and decided to try this one, as it was on sale for only another $9. The difference is night and day. I also use a Lyman E-ZEE prime unit, and the new RCBS is definitely the superior design.

Have primed 2K+ cases so far, my biggest complaint is the care that has to be taken when closing the lid on the tray, as it requires enough force to cause your primers to flip over.

Once set, it’s fast and precise. No shell holders and no free-floating priming rod are each a nice bonus. It’s more involved to change over from large to small primers, but anyone with a shred of mechanical aptitude can handle it with ease.

Purchased based on previous experience with the high-quality products and outstanding warranty offered by RCBS. A shell holder is not required for this tool and, in my opinion, is a definite advantage.

Instead of requiring a shell holder, the tool has two spring held jaws that grasp the rim of the case when readying for priming and offer a positive seating of the case and the primed case is easy to remove from the tool.

The handle is large and comfortable that makes priming ease. RCBS recommends removing the case jaws and cleaning every 500 rounds. After the first time, it is very easy to do. Overall, the product quality is what one expects from RCBS.

  • Combines features found on our other two hand priming tools into one convenient package
  • The universal shell holder will accept cases from .32 ACP to .45-70 Government
  • Patented safety gate isolates the primer seating operation from the primer supply virtually eliminating the possibility of tray detonation
  • Removable primer tray orients your primers for use and will fit any manufacturers’ primer packaging
  • Includes accessories to seat large and small rifle or pistol primers
  • Doesn’t stand up by itself, like the Hornady.
  • Takes longer to flip primers from some manufacturers than, eg, Lee.

3. RCBS 90200 – Best RCBS Hand Priming Tool

RCBS 90200 Hand Priming ToolRCBS is a good company. It’s a great Universal Hand Priming Tool. RCBS is a leading U.S. manufacturer of precision reloading equipment.

RCBS offers precision-engineered reloading products. Our most iconic being the Rock Chucker Press. We pride ourselves in building the highest quality products that last for decades of reloading.

I used to reload years ago and had one of the old-style Lyman hand primers that I liked very much. Now that I’m retired and back into reloading I needed a new hand primer.

I read reviews on all of the available tools and chose the RCBS 90200. It has a few quirks but overall I’m very happy with it.

Once it is all set up the tools work great with plenty of leverage to seat your primer. It has a “safety gate” which blocks all of the primers in the tray from the one being seated, just in case.

The primer tray works great with a secure cover that you can rotate to open/close the feed chute so you won’t spill any out as you attach it to the tool.

The tray feeds well and is easy to take on and off to refill. The tool uses your standard RCBS/Lee shell holders so there is nothing else to buy.

It is very sturdy and I don’t see anything that will wear out over time. Not so good: You basically have to disassemble the tool to change shell holders or primer size.

It’s a little awkward at first but now that I’ve done it a dozen times or so it has become quite easy. Don’t get frustrated, just follow the directions and you will soon have the hang of it. Overall I think it is a very well made tool that should last for years. I would definitely buy it again.

Had been using an RCBS hand primer from the ’80s. Looks about the same but I had to load one primer at a time onto the cupped pushrods then put the case in the shell holder and squeeze. Arthritis wouldn’t cooperate picking them up anymore.

Read the reviews on this one and took a chance. First, they must’ve read the reviews too. The pushrod and spring now go in from the bottom before you install the shell holder and safety gate so it cannot fall out.

Standard press shell holders from RCBS and Lee both fit as long as they are reasonably new. Lee must be watching too as the older holders don’t have enough bevel in the bottom to fit so they changed the newer ones.

My older shareholders were easy to alter with a carbide counterbore burr in a drill press. As long as I push the friction fit primer tray in as far as it goes it stays and the small primers don’t flip over on me. The way is faster than my old one and priming in the press. This thing is a joy.

Great priming tool. Tip for future purchasers – Read the instructions and play around with switching the rods and shell holder before going to town with priming your shells.

After you do it a couple of times, you know exactly what you need to do and it is easy. My older Lyman X shell holders will not work with this hand primer.

I compared to a new RCBS shell holder I have which is chamfered around the hole in the bottom which sits on the black insert that goes in the head of the priming tool.

The Lyman shell holders are just a straight hole. I will add a picture of this if I remember. Some quick work with a file might allow the Lyman holder to fit.

The design doesn’t allow my 577-450 MH to work as they are too large in diameter. Turn the holder opening towards you and the cases stay in place by themselves. Good deal.

This is leaps and bounds above trying to use the resizing press to install primers. A bit of finesse is required to use it, since you can easily jam a primer into the plastic guide quite easily and then have to carefully push it out from the anvil side of the primer.

I found myself rolling the handle a bit in my hand to make sure I had the primer clearly in the opening and then squeezing the handle a bit to lift the primer and block another primer from jamming it before placing a shell and seating the new primer. Once I got the hang of it, re-priming was a breeze.

I originally bought a Lee Auto Prime XR, which I promptly returned after the primer holder kept popping open. The RCBS primer is significantly higher quality in virtually every way and does not require special shell holders (I use the shell holders which came with my Lee dies) which would probably end up lost.

Overall, this is a great tool and pretty fast once you get the hang of it – I primed 300 cases in about an hour today, not sure if that’s fast or slow but it’s good enough for me.

  • Seat primers quickly and safely; includes large and small primer plugs
  • Safety mechanism separates the seating operation from the primer supply, virtually eliminating the possibility of tray detonation
  • Fits in your hand for portable primer seating
  • Primer tray installation requires no contact with the primers
  • Uses the same RCBS shell holders (post-1980) as RCBS presses
  • You have to partially disassemble it to place or change out shell holders
  • Removing jammed primers can be somewhat difficult

4. Frankford 110006 – Primer Seating Tool with Case for Reloading

Frankford Arsenal Platinum SeriesFrankford Arsenal is one of the famous companies in the market right now.

This is the third tool I’ve tried priming with, and barring any catastrophic failures, it will be the last. While it is a little heavy, it’s well-designed and comfortable to use.

Priming on the press is terrible, and my ancient Lee AutoPrime just wasn’t cutting it anymore, so I spent the money on this and haven’t looked back.

First off, it’s FAST. I just ripped through a tray of 50 cases in 3 minutes, 51 seconds. That includes a brief pause in the middle to adjust seating depth when I switched to another headstamp.

That change in depth was simple. Three clicks on the dial and the primers were seated to the perfect depth.

If I had any complaints, it’s that the tray does a worse-than-average job of flipping primers. That said, I’ve never used one that worked all that well anyway, and I’m getting pretty quick at flipping them with a set of tweezers. The feed shutoff on the tray is a nice touch.

I’ve got several Frankford Arsenal tools on my bench, and they’ve all been rock-solid purchases. This priming tool is no exception.

I’ve been reloading for about 15 years and have 4 existing hand priming tools: 1 RCBS, 1 Old Lee, 2 x New Lee. This is by far the best tool I have ever used. It addresses all the design/execution shortcomings of the other tools.

You may ask “Why does he have so many priming tools?” The answer is that its pain in a** to switch a tool from one caliber to another, so I just kept each set up for a different cartridge.

This tool enables small primers to large primers and shell holder swaps in seconds. The ergonomics are great. It’s nice and heavy and appears to be built to last. The seating depth adjustment is actually super useful and something you’ll appreciate when you had misfires because of primers seated too deeply.

I primed 500 cases with no significant hand fatigue. I can’t say that about the other tools I own. In those 500 cases, there was only 1 “fail to feed” of a primer that was easily corrected. Reliability appears excellent.

The primer trays appear to be well designed and executed. The only very minor nit is that the small bumps on the surface appear to be less efficient at flipping primers into the correct orientation as some of the other tray designs that utilize radial grooves.

The only additional thing I want from this tool is to buy additional primer trays so I can label them and keep primers in them for different cartridges.

I have gone through 1 RCBS loader, 2 generations of Lee loaders, and this one from Frankford is absolutely the best. It allows you to also set the depth of your primers, a feature the others do not allow you to do.

The shell holder numbers are different than Lee’s but are interchangeable. The list of calibers the Frankford can load is much larger than the number listed on the Lee chart.

The cost is more than the other two, but it’s capacity and the fact that everything is included in a convenient carrying case keeps the parts together in one place.

The other neat thing about this system is that the primer container is square, like the boxes of primers are, so there is not loss of primers on the floor.

This is a great improvement over my old RCBS for which changing shell holders was a PITA. My only complaint is with customer service. Either it’s non-existent or the customer service department is on a cruise.

My unit came with a manufacturing defect. The casting labeled “large primer pin sleeve” wasn’t drilled out so the primer punch could lass through it. No big deal, right? Just contact customer service and order a replacement.

About ten days ago I purchased a “Perfect Seat Hand Primer.” I bought it new from Amazon. It looks to be very well designed and manufactured, vastly superior to my old RCBS. I’m sure I’ll get many years to use from it if I can have a replacement for the below noted defective part.

The metal casting identified as the “Large primer pin sleeve” was not drilled out. It is solid and as such the primer pin can’t pass through it.

I can mail it to you if you will let me know me to whom it should be addressed.

  • Works with both small and large primers
  • Constructed of a heavy-duty die-cast zinc
  • Adjustable seating system
  • Comes with 12 shell holders
  • Ease of use
  •  The trays do a worse-than-average job of flipping primers
  • Price is higher than the quality

5. Lee Precision 90230 – Best Auto Hand Priming Tool

Best Hand Priming Tool - Buyer's Guide 3

Lee Precision is a good company. It’s a great Auto Prime Hand Priming Tool. The Lee New Auto Prime Hand Priming Tool is the updated version of a time tested classic.

The Auto Prime has been designed to work with every brand of primer and features the patent-pending “elevator pin” which safely separates a single primer from the tray reducing the likelihood of tray detonation.

I reload a number of different calibers and have been reloading rifle and pistol ammunition for about 40 years. I am still using the first Auto-prime tools that I bought so long ago that I can’t remember when I bought it.

I bought this one to try out the different shapes of the primer tray – the original ones had a round primer tray. As advertised, this new shape does make it easier to load and to feed primers. Made an enduring and simple design even better.

I reload a number of different calibers and have been reloading rifle and pistol ammunition for about 40 years. I am still using the first Auto-prime tools that I bought so long ago that I can’t remember when I bought it.

I bought this one to try out the different shapes of the primer tray – the original ones had a round primer tray. As advertised, this new shape does make it easier to load and to feed primers. Made an enduring and simple design even better.

This Lee Precision Auto-Prime XR is a valuable tool. Why I waited so long to have one is beyond me. This auto primer loader is easy on the hands and very fast.

I loaded 14 in one minute. That included putting the brass in place, pulling the handle, lifting the brass, checking the primer fit, and placing the brass in the box.

My Lyman reloading press has a primer reloader, but it would stick, jam, and do all kinds of stuff that took up extra time. This Lee Auto- Prime worked flawlessly.

Lee Auto-Prime XR saved me a ton of time loading 150 .45 Long Colts brass. This is my few friends to the reloading world. If you guys and gals don’t have this piece of equipment for your reloading, get it.

I love this hand primer. I had the RCBS equivalent, as I usually prefer RCBS products, but a friend recommended this one from Lee. As soon as I got it, I tried it out and was seriously impressed.

I would recommend and buy this product again over any other brand. The shipping was fast and the hand primer delivered.

Old one still the easiest to use, but since you can’t buy them anymore, this is still quite functional and a good value for the money. I have used Lee products for years.

Even though it is harder to use, I’d buy it again. Always keep tilted up when putting the tray in, the primers slide out even when it says locked.

So nice. I can prime several hundred cases in the time it used to take to prime 50 by hand with primer holder, punch rod, and a rubber mallet. Now its set squeeze, drop, set squeeze drop. I can do it while watching tv or anime and not have a primer go boom or put it in upside down.

These make it really easy to prime brass. It was a little tricky setting it up the first time as the instructions were not that great, but because it is a simple piece of equipment it was easy enough to figure out.

As many Lee Precision products, this auto-prime tool is very well to build and does just what it supposed to do. I have heard stories about the plastic cover being lost because of the heavy usage. I am not at that stage yet. For me, this works very well.

I have two of these (one for each size primers). I also have another RCBS hand primer and a bench mount RCBS primer device.

Also, my progressive press has an auto prime feature. I prefer to hand prime and I prefer the Lee product to do it. Lee is well-thought-out and simple to operate.

Also, it is difficult to make a mistake with it since the primer is more visible up to the point of its being pressed into place.

I do have two small criticisms of Lee. #1, the cover of the primer tray is prone to jarring loose, upwards just a tad, during use. This can allow stray primers to lodge into an area they are not supposed to be.

This results in additional space between the primer tray and the cover. This, in turn, can allow primers to turn upside down. You lose time realigning everything.

I generally use a small piece of tape to keep the lid more firmly in place. The literature for the Lee Auto-Prime fails to make the point that it uses its own version of shell holder, rather than the shell holders designed for the reloading press.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how a reloading-press-holder could possibly fit into the Auto-Prime.
(The RCBS hand primer uses the same shell holder as used in the reloading press; the Lee does not)

I concluded that my Lee Auto-Prime was miscast when made until I returned to the instructions and decided that there must be a separate line of shell holders. There was. Some clarification of this point might be in order.

  • Style: Hand-Held
  • Shell holder Type: Lee Auto Prime
  • The Auto Prime has been designed to work with every brand of primer
  • Simple and enduring design
  • Low price
  • Does not work with Lee shell holders
  • No warranty

Best Hand Priming Tool – Buyer’s Guide

You need to search for the following features while picking the best hand priming tool.

If you are buying this for the first time you should not only aware of the advantages of the priming tool but also aware of the accuracy of it.

Bottom Line

Making a decision about which primer is the best for you is not an easy job, but we tried our best to recommend the best one. If you are not exactly sure which tumbler to get, we recommend the Frankford Arsenal 90928.

In case you feel that we left out some other great hand priming tool, don’t hesitate to let us know.

John Wayne

This is John Wayne's website, and this is a bit of copy about him. He has a life long desire to test all kinds of tools and wreck them if needed. He has an engineering background, loves playing baseball and football, ran home to watch films, listened to The Jam and The Buzzcocks, and read magic trick books!

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