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What’s the Best Hand Priming Tool for Reloading? Reviewed & Ranked

Best Hand Priming Tool

If you want to save a fortune, then reloading your own ammunition is the best way to go. Hand priming equipment is the easiest and cheapest option to streamline your reloading process and increase the quality of your finished rounds. To help you choose what best suits your weapon, we have compiled the best hand priming tools for you.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Sinclair International - Sinclair Priming Tool

OUR #2 RATED

Lee Precision - Auto Prime XR

OUR #3 RATED

RCBS 90200 Hand Priming Tool

1. Sinclair International - Sinclair Priming Tool

Why we picked it:

Sinclair’s offering is one of the best if you’re looking for a slick hand primer. It is made from a combination of durable stainless steel and aircraft-grade aluminum. The form factor of this hand priming tool is small and ergonomic. 

This tool also comes with a twist-and-lock method that keeps the cartridge fixed. It also has an appealing stainless steel finish at an affordable price range.

PROS

CONS

2. Lee Precision - Auto Prime XR

Why we picked it:

Lee Precision Auto Prime XR is a great hand priming tool for those who are on a budget. Although the body has plastic components, it can still deliver great results, just like its expensive contemporaries.

The reloading process is also made easier in this hand priming tool because of its primer tray.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

PROS

CONS

3. RCBS 90200 Hand Priming Tool

Why we picked it:

Aside from the cast metal build of this hand primer, it is also ergonomic. The tray is large enough to fit many primers for an instant changeover. 

The biggest benefit when using this hand priming tool RCBS offers is that you may reuse the same shell holders from the previous model. Familiarizing yourself with the whole priming process using this tool would require practice, just like any hand priming tool does.

PROS

CONS

4. Lee Precision Ergo-Prime

Why we picked it:

The ergo-prime name of this priming tool is accurate as this hand primer is the most ergonomic on the list. It has a contoured grip to assist in the process and reduce fatigue.

The tray and primer operation are also separated, which offers protection from tray detonation.

This hand priming tool also requires a specific shell holder to operate.

PROS

CONS

5. RCBS - Universal Hand Priming Tool

Why we picked it:

This universal hand priming tool is best for those looking for versatility but wants to save a few bucks. Small and large primers can be used with this universal tool.

Reloading ammunition may be a bit slow given that the universal shell plate accommodates various classes of ammo, nonetheless, this is a good hand priming tool and the speed of reloading can be improved through constant practice.

PROS

CONS

6. Hornady - Handheld Priming Tool

Why we picked it:

Hornady is just like any other hand priming tool. It has a tray for the primer supply, and it is a handy tool that reduces fatigue, but what sets it apart is that the reloading press is spring-powered. This means that the ammo automatically separates from the hand primer with every punch. 

It might also fall in the category of universal priming tool because standard shell holders and even additional shell holders from RCBS can be used.

PROS

CONS

7. Frankford Arsenal Perfect Seat

Why we picked it:

Aside from the hand priming tool itself, the Frankford perfect seat hand primer comes with 12 shell holders out-of-the-box. All your shell holders used for large and small primers are contained in a primed case. Some might even classify this kit as a universal hand priming tool, given its perks.

The priming tool is made from heavy-duty zinc, while the internal components are made from steel. Frankford’s offering is the best tool for precision. Veteran gun owners understand that the desired seating depth of the primer is a safety mechanism.

PROS

CONS

What Can a Hand Priming Tool Do for Me?

A hand priming tool can help shooters save money by recycling used cartridges instead of buying pre-primed shells. A good priming tool does the basics, but the best hand priming tool offers additional features to make the priming process more convenient.  

For instance, ergonomic hand priming equipment reduces fatigue. Other hand primers also have trays that hold multiple primers at a time. Your right-hand priming tool should meet your every priming requirement.

Your Guide to Buying

buying guide

Shell Holders Inclusion

When selecting the best hand priming tools for reloading, consider the shell holder included in the package. The shell holder is responsible for holding the ammunition while reloading.  

Some tools allow for the separate purchase of individual shell/cartridge holders, but a priming tool that includes free ones out of the box is ideal, like the Frankford Perfect Seat Hand Primer. 

Material & Durability

Another parameter in choosing priming gadgets for reloading is its build quality. The product of a craftsman is greatly influenced by the quality of their tools. -Richard Mann, Writer of OutdoorHub

Choose ones that are made of stainless steel or high-quality aluminum for tool longevity. The RCBS 9460 Auto Priming Tool is one of the most durable and has a great single-stage lever system. 

Portability

Hand priming equipment is supposed to be a portable device. This separates it from mounted gadgets as you may use a hand priming tool even in the range. One budget-friendly bench mount priming tool you can consider for a fixed priming station at home is the Lee Precision Auto Bench Priming Tool.

Easy To Clean

Ideally, a hand primer should be straightforward, and this includes its design. The more parts exposed in the tool, the more mechanism it uses, and the higher its cleaning demand is. The Sinclair International Priming Tool is minimalist, and given its simplistic yet durable and efficient design, these are great hand primers to use.

Ergonomics

Great hand priming equipment offers a good hand seat. Tools like these significantly reduce fatigue, prevent awkward postures and contact pressures [1]. However, the ergonomics do not only span the handle because even the mounting system plays a big role. 

A hand primer that allows only a single or a few primers to be mounted at a time is inferior to those with dedicated trays for primers.

Safety 

Safety measures in using an ergonomic hand priming tool should also be considered, especially for those with dedicated trays. A tool without a safety gate in this area can cause more damage when tray detonation occurs, further resulting in a chain reaction of combustion within the tray.

Price

Budget priming devices have their drawbacks, but some competitive priming equipment are safe and affordable for those on a tight budget. An example is the Lee Precision – Auto Prime XR, which sacrifices the ergonomics by a bit, but still gets the job done. 

Competing within the same segment is the Zee Universal Priming Tool. Unfortunately, this device suffers from primer seating precision, so it isn’t included in this list.

What Are Safety Measures for Working with a Primer?

  • Protect your ears with earplugs as primers make loud sounds when detonated.
  • To keep your eyes from incurring any damages in case the primer pieces blow out of the device, it is recommended to wear eye protection.
  • Select a priming tool with a safety gate separating the tray from the primer operation to prevent any chain reaction if a primer combusts. 
  • Store the primer in its original packaging and away from any heat source that can trigger them.

FAQs

Yes, but it is bearable. Hand fatigue is natural when using hand priming tools, especially when you have reloaded a few hundred cases. Some ergonomic devices may provide better comfort and slow down the onset of fatigue, but no matter how perfectly seated your hand is, your hand will feel fatigued eventually.

Old priming tools work and can still be used to reload shells with primers. Many people claim that the old version of the Lee Auto Prime has been one of the best priming tools for reloading, and some people claim that they have been using their tools for up to 40 years before it breaks.

Yes, you may use any shell holder for your hand priming tool as long as it is compatible. Some tools only accommodate their native shell holders, while others like the Hornady Handheld Priming Tool can also use shell holders from RCBS.

The downside of using a universal shell holder is that the speed of priming is compromised. Since the shell plates cater to all ammunition, removing the ammo makes the process slower. However, the universal shell holders are great because they let users save costs from buying separate shell/cartridge holders.

What’s our Choice for the Best Hand Priming Tool?

After spending more than 24 hours of research, our choice for the best hand priming tool is the Sinclair International – Sinclair Priming Tool because it offers top-notch durability and convenience. Built with stainless steel and aluminum, you can expect this to last longer than average hand primers.

You can surely avoid jitters when the shells are fixed on the plate, and you can be assured of accurate primer seating. If you value safety and accuracy, then we highly recommend the Sinclair model. Some of Sinclair’s highlights are:

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Our #1 Recommendation

Sinclair Priming Tool

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