Updated: August 05, 2020

Having the right tools for any project is essential if you are going to do it right, and this is true of reloading your ammunition. Millions of people enjoy the many benefits of creating their own cartridges, but it is important to have the right tools to be able to accomplish this. This is why having the best hand priming tool is essential for creating accurate ammunition efficiently.

It is true that you can purchase pre-primed shells but you are likely to find that these cartridges are much more expensive than if you did it yourself, and they are not necessarily better quality. Purchasing a good priming tool can help you finish the reloading job so that you get exceptional rounds at a much cheaper cost in comparison to what you would spend on pre-primed cartridges.

How to Make the Right Choice?

Before telling you about the best products I found on the market, I thought it was important to describe some of the key features that can help you to choose the best hand priming tool for yourself. So here are some factors.

  • Design. The design is important, especially if this is a product that you intend to use for a prolonged period of time. Some are much more comfortable to hold, making the action of using the primer a lot easier.
  • Caliber Sizes. The types of cartridges and the sizes of caliber are an important feature is well. You want one that will likely handle a multitude of cartridges, but if you only use one or two types then finding one specific for your needs is a better option.
  • Portability. There are options out there that connect to a workbench, making them easy to use. However, these options are not really portable. You may want a priming hand tool that allows you to be able to take it with you.
  • Safety. While all of these tools are built for safety, there are some that by design ensured that detonation is a complete improbability. If you are a person who is extremely safety conscious, especially if you are a beginner, this may be your primary consideration.

7 Best Hand Priming Tools on the Market

Now that you have some of the essentials about choosing the right hand priming tool, I wanted to give you what I found to be the seven best choices out there. I made my review based upon a number of factors, including my personal experiences with the different hand primers. I have tried them all out, read many reviews, and talk to friends and family about the various options. Therefore, I am giving you what you will probably find is one of the most detailed reviews for hand priming tools you are going to find.

#1 RCBS 90201 Priming Tool – Best Universal Hand Priming Tool

RCBS 90201 Universal Hand Priming Tool Review This was my absolute favorite product that I reviewed. In fact, it was a favorite among many that I talked to and among most reviews that I read. I found that very few people had anything negative to say about this primer, which is kind of rare in this day and age.

First of all, it is built with a great design and with great durability, which is going to save you money in the long run. You can use this hand primer for years, making it a valuable choice.

I love the fact that it actually combined two features in one. It not only is a perfect priming tool, but comes with a multitude of accessories. It can handle shall cartridges of many different sizes, anywhere from .32 all the way up to .45 – 70.

This is a safety conscious hand primer. Their patented safety gate ensures that the Primer seating is isolated from the primer supply, eliminating any chance of detonation occurring. The primer tray is removable and will fit any of the other RCBS primers, meaning that you can use it with multiple tools. You are able to seat both large and small rifle primers as well as those for pistols.

It is easy to use and to hold. You will like how quick and easy it is to get your cartridges primed and ready to use.

#2 RCBS 9460 Auto Priming Tool – Best Automatic Priming Tool

RCBS 9460 Auto Priming Tool Review Here is a great auto priming tool that is specifically built to be easy to use and handle a large array of cases with ease and efficiency. This product starts with a great design, which is built to make it easy to take with you anywhere. Because of how lightweight and durable it is, you will have no issues taking it with you as you head out to the range or on a hunt, and it would easily fit in your pocket if you needed it.

Included in the kit are two feed tubes and two rod assemblies that are perfect for priming. These are used to help make the priming process a lot more efficient, especially after you become more familiar with the device. This is one of those products that’s easy to use at first, but the more often you use it the more efficient you become.

This is a single-stage lever system, which you will love. It makes it so that the injecting of the primer is fast and precise every time, and you have no issues with feeding the shells, no matter what size they are.

The primer tube is able to hold up to 100 primers at a time, allowing you to be a lot more efficient. It would not be surprising if you are able to do 100 cartridges in a matter of a two or three minutes with this device. It’s efficiency and ease-of-use are just that impressive.

#3 LEE PRECISION 90700 Priming Tool – Best Bench Mount Priming Tool

LEE PRECISION 90700, Auto Bench Priming Tool Review If you are looking for a hand tool primer that is specifically designed for mounting to your bench, you will really like this option. This is the perfect choice for those who are a little less comfortable with using a hand primer or who may be a beginner. You will feel a lot more comfortable using this product if you fall under this category.

The triangular tray is specifically designed to handle all brands of primer boxes. It is specifically built to be ergonomic, making it so that you can inject the primer with a simple pulldown of the handle. It also is this, you could do this with one finger it is so easy. In fact, it specifically built for either right or left handed people.

It handles both large and small primer trays and makes it so that you do not need to continue to swap out the press shell holder like you would with other brands. This tool effortlessly seats even the most difficult primers and is extremely effective at its task.

The primer is made of a tough polyester material that allows you to monitor the primer from the tray as it is inserted to the primer pocket. You can change the primer size or the shell holder and a matter of a few seconds and it comes with a built-in primer flipping feature which allows you to directly fill larger primer boxes.

It is made of a durable steel and polyester combination and easily mounts to your bench. You will need to purchase shell holders as they are not included.

#4 Frankford Arsenal Primer Seating Tool – Most Perfect Seating Primer

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer Seating Tool with Case for Reloading Review What I really liked about this priming tool starts with the unique design. It is a fantastic design that makes it easy to push in the primer by simply pulling on the lever, much in the way that you would use a caulking gun. That was a nice feature to start with.

The product works with both large and small primers in the case includes three extra posts so you are able to store your collets in the same place as well. I really like that this came in a case, which made storage simple and insured optimal protection of the primer.

To use, you simply push the thumb release which allows you to switch to either the small or large primers and it has a special safety audit so that you can never crush a primer. I like that extra mechanism.

It’s a durable product, made with a heavy duty zinc where the internal components are made with steel. The entire look is well-designed and ensures that it is well protected by the design. Plus, the removable parts are easy to get off making reloading a lot more convenient.

Included in the case are 12 different shell holders which will allow you to be able to use the product with 652 different calibers. There is also a primer tray that will hold 100 small or large primers and you receive the storage case. A worthwhile choice indeed.

#5 Frankford Arsenal Deprimer – Best Handheld Depriming Tool

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Hand Deprimer Tool Review This is a perfect little tool that can be used to both prime cartridges or to deprime them. The universal collet system, which is patented by the company, deprimes a wide assortment of brass cartridges, from .20 all the way up to .338.

This Frankford product uses a similar design to many of their other primer products, which makes it easy to use and provides a great look. With a simple pull of the handle you are able to either remove primer from a cartridge or added depending upon which setting you choose.

This can tool is designed to be used with both pistol or rifle brass, even with military crimped primers. That makes it one of the most versatile you’ll find on the market, making it well worth your investment.

This hand tool is made with a solid diecast aluminum and provides an ergonomic grip which makes it a great product during prolonged use. In four easy steps you are able todeprime brass by hand, while being able to reset the tool to apply prime.

This is a great product to use anywhere, and you don’t have to worry about powder or residue being lost out of the cartridge. It is made to do the job and do it well.

Comparison Chart

Hand Priming ToolProsCons
#1 RCBS 90201 Universal Hand Priming Tool
  • You are able to use any caliber shell with this primer
  • You do not need a shell holder with the product
  • Extremely safe, well designed to ensure tray detonation is improbable
  • Provides accessories so you can use for both large and small gun primers
  • Accepts a wide range of cartridges and cases
  • Could have been designed to be more ergonomic
  • A bit more expensive than other options within this category
#2 RCBS 9460 Auto Priming Tool
  • Impressive quality design that is also lightweight
  • Portable, weighing only 2.25 pounds, but still durable
  • Flawlessly feeds all types of shell sizes
  • Accessories make this a worthwhile purchase
  • While a great design, you’re paying a lot more for that design
  • You may have problems with transfer of primer from loading arm to seating rod
  • Not as efficient when using rifle casings
#3 LEE PRECISION 90700, Auto Bench Priming Tool
  • The most ergonomic hand priming tool you are going to find on the market
  • Because plastic parts are used in its design you were able to watch the process from start to finish
  • Extremely easy to use and you could quickly prime hundreds of shells in a matter of a few minutes without any discomfort
  • Perfect for any person of any size or strength
  • Must be mounted to a bench or other solid object to use
  • Comes with no shell holders
#4 Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer
  • A fantastic design that makes its use easy
  • Durable case protects the product and comes with 12 different shell holders
  • The spring-loaded handle will automatically return to the start position after each use
  • Handles a wide range of cartridges
  • Perfect primer for virtually any style of pistol or rifle cartridge
  • I found that it only works with boxer primers
  • You will need to use crimped brass for any de-priming
  • The tray does not do an effective job of flipping primers
#5 Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Hand Deprimer Tool
  • Fantastic design that makes it easy to use
  • Can handle wide assortment of cartridges
  • Works for both priming and depriming
  • The press fit catch tube will fall out at times
  • You will likely have to tighten the adjustment screws after every 100 or 200 uses

Most Frequently Asked Questions

Because I have been reloading my own ammunition for decades, I am frequently asked questions related to what’s the best tool to purchase, how to use them properly, and what are some key considerations when purchasing a specific tool. Here are some of the more common ones I receive related to the hand priming tool.

How does a hand priming tool works?

The purpose of the hand priming tool is to make reloading easier. Depending on what kind of caloric case you have, this equipment helps to prime the shell so that it is easier for firing. All it takes is a little bit of powder properly injected into the cartridge.

To use the tool, you simply put a l small amount of gunpowder in the projectile base. The hand primer helps to lock this powder in so that you get the it is much quicker and safer to do.

What are the benefits of having a hand priming tool?

The primary purpose of a tool like this is two things. The first is that it makes you much more efficient. You are more likely to get your case primed properly so that it is much more accurate. Plus, it will save you time using this tool.

The benefit of this tool is that it makes the reloading set up a whole lot easier. This tool helps to prime the shell casing so that the cartridges ready for firing. It is true that some reloading presses come with primers, but in my experience these are not easy to use. You will get a lot more productivity out of purchasing a hand priming tool because they are simple to use and you only get better in using them over time. You can take it anywhere with you and this is why it is a valuable tool to have.

Should I choose a bench priming tool or a portable one?

The truth is your choices related to whether you want something that you can take with you or something you intend to use more around your house. The bench models are better if you are looking for greater longevity, simply because they take less of a jostling. They are installed in a specific spot, meaning that they are less susceptible to damage.

However, they deny you the ability to use them as you need. The portable option allows you to use it any place you are at. You may find that you need one of each.

Do all shell holders fit a hand priming tool?

Sadly, the answer to this is no. What you are likely to find is that there are some priming tools that use specific shell holders unique to that brand. While these are normally not too expensive, they are in additional purchase you will have to make.

How Deep Should Primers Be Seated?

This is a hard question answer, because most people who are experienced in reloading their own cartridges develop a feel. What you will find is that after you have used this for a few times you will actually begin to feel when the primer is seated properly. This is one of the advantages of using the portable type.

How do I make sure that I don’t crush any primer?

If this is really a concern for you, you may want to start by choosing one of the primers that is specifically built to ensure that crushing does not occur. If you don’t have an option like this, this is another one of those feel kind of situations. You are looking for only a small amount of primer to be crushed during the operation, and after eight or 10 tries you will have it down.

Michel Pedneault

Michel Pedneault

Michel Pedneault has been blogging for more than three decades. He is one of the former lead writer of Tribunnews.com. He wrote thousand of reviews on various tools & gears. He is fond of travelling, adventures and discovering new things. You can reach him at twitter @pedneault

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