The Best Hand Priming Tool for Reloading for all Time!!!

It is very hard to say which is the best hand priming tool in the market. Even though they have the same purpose, each has a different set of boxes they had to check in the design phase.  Some were very concerned about the seating depth, some on safety, quality and then some focused on speed, efficiency, and quantity. And this article will funnel them down to find out the best hand priming tool in the market as of 2021.

But if you are looking for bench mounted priming tool then click here.

Best Hand Priming Tool.

Best Hand Priming Tool

Frankford Arsenal Perfect Seat Hand Primer

Best Hand Priming Tool For Reloading

Cheap but Reliable Priming Tool

Lee Precision Auto Primer Hand Priming Tool

Lee auto primer hand priming tool


List of Primer Tools Reviewed in This Article

Hand Primer ToolsDetails
Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand PrimerView Details
RCBS 90200 Hand Priming ToolView Details
RCBS 90201 Universal Hand Priming ToolView Details
LEE 90230 New Auto Primer Hand Priming ToolView Details
Lyman Products E-Zee Universal Priming toolView Details

1. Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer Review

I just love this hand primer, and you might love it too after you read this review. This is the only hand primer in the market that gives you the option to select the depth of primer seating. 

But do you know at what depth the primer should be seated? Find that at the end of the article.

Made of durable parts and is rustproof 
Very accurate primer depth setting  
primer crushing is prevented using a hard stop
Changing primers are simple and fast.
Has a square primer tray.
Includes 12 popular shell holders
Comes in a nice hard case to hold.
The handle comes back to its initial position upon releasing pressure.
Relatively Expensive

The Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer is durable because the outer frame is made up of die-cast zinc and all internal components are made of steel. Due to this material combination, the hand primer does not rust. The frame is also very durable even though it is made up of cast zinc. It can easily take any force applied by hand.

Best Hand Priming Tool For Reloading

An amazing feature of this hand primer is the adjustable depth of the seated primer. It accomplishes this by introducing a dial depth adjuster, which lets you choose the depth the primer plunger will push on the primer. And after that depth is reached there is a hard stop that prevents you to seat the primer deeper than your setting even after applying excessive pressure which ultimately prevents primer crushing. Ohh! and you can adjust the dial with 1/1000th of an inch (0.001 inches). This all without the need to disassemble anything.

F.A. Depth adjusting hand primer dial

The Grip and handle are comfortable to use, and just like the frame, it is made up of durable material. The ergonomic handle design also reduces stress on the fingers and can be used for 100+ cases in a go without straining your hand and fingers. 

With the primer, you will also receive 12 shell holders for the most popular cases (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 19) and 3 extra posts for the shell holders that you may need. Frankford Arsenal also provides parts to quickly swap between small & large primers. They also provide a small booklet that indicates which shell holder fits which case. 

The primer tray has ridges that when shaken will flip all the primers in the correct orientation. The extra feature it has is the locking mechanism that blocks the primers from slipping away, when not in use. And changing from a small primer to a large primer is also easy. Just remove the shell holder, the primer will holder for the shell holder, the priming rod, and spring. Take the other holder insert the spring and the priming rod & set it back in position. To hold everything in place insert a shell holder again & begin priming.

All these items come in a handy tough case to easily store and tuck away when not in use to avoid losing them.

All good so far, so what’s the catch? All these features come at a price point that is relatively more than most primer tools out in the market. But the price comes with the quality of the output.

In Conclusion – This hand primer minimizes primer crushing by letting the user choose the depth and does not rely on feeling which can easily lead to error and wastage. It comes in a nice box, with 12 popular shell holders. With all that in mind, I believe this is the best hand priming tool for reloading currently in the market.

2. RCBS 90200 Hand Priming Tool Review

The RCBS company is very renowned and they make some of the most durable and reliable reloading products available in the market. And the primer tool that we have here is also of a similar category. Extremely durable due to its quality material. 

RCBS 90200 Hand Priming Tool
Very Durable, made of High-Quality Material
You can remove the whole priming setup if a case is stuck due to protruding primer.
The patented design of RCBS virtually eliminates tray detonation.
Relatively expensive for just the priming tool.
Changing the shell holder or priming unit is an irritating task.
You will need to buy shell holders separately.
Requires getting used to the priming tool.
Comes with a circular priming tray.
The connecting rod may bend or break.

Let me get it in the open, only Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer has a depth seater, no other hand priming tool has this feature. But RCBS here plans to tackle a different problem altogether. Which is when the seated primer is protruding and is stuck in the primer tool. In some cases, pulling the level again and again also does not help.

But, RCBS has a solution. Simply remove the connecting strip rod, and pull the holder for shell holder and deprimer in the press and you can continue to prime again (but you can actually overcome this by simply nudging the case to lose). F.A. Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer does not face this problem because you can just spin the dial and prime a bit more until the primer is seated inside the primer pocket and can be easily removed from the priming tool.

The Hand Priming Tool comes with a circular priming tray, and like all other trays, it has ridges that help to orient the primers when shaken. But due to its circular shape it a bit harder to operate. Though RCBS has a square tray, you will need to buy it separately. The design of the tray was patented by RCBS and it avoids tray detonation.

RCBS also suggests using their own shell holder and for optimum operational efficiency, but you can use LEE or Hornady’s as well. But they won’t provide you with any shell holder, so if you don’t have one you may need, buy it along with the priming tool.

Now let’s talk about its problems. There aren’t many problems but usually, any reloader will be annoyed while trying the change from small priming to large priming (or vise versa). Because it has more than just a few steps. And the instruction provided by RCBS is also not simple or complete.

In Conclusion – The design is a bit old and initially hard to use but gets easier along with time. But switching between primer types is a pain. Moreover, you will need to buy shell holders separately and the round primer tray is a put-off. And to top all that off, it has a higher price point than it deserves. In my Honest Opinion, avoid this hand primer.

3. RCBS 90201 Universal Hand Priming Tool Review

This is an updated version of the RCBS Hand Priming Tool. It has similar functionality just like its predecessor. But it is easier in few ways.

Previously you needed to buy a shell holder separately, but like the name suggests “universal” – does not require shell holders because the 2 spring-tensioned brass neck gripper can hold almost all brass. 

RCBS 90201 Universal Hand Priming Tool
Relatively Cheap
Safety feature to avoid primer flow when not in use.
Equipped with universal shell holder
Changing primer is relative simple
Square primer tray
Durable build
The connecting rod can bend or break.
The universal shell holder is a bit tough when thicker cases are used.

In the previous model, changing from a small primer to a large primer was quite an irritating task and required time. Well the new design by RCBS has definitely reduced the complexity and time required. Because to change priming ram all you will need to follow some simple steps.

  1. First, screw in the set screw to a level where it is not protruding from the frame.
  2. Unscrew the safety gate screw to release the safety gate (connecting rod).
  3. Remove the safety gate to release the Primer Feed.
  4. Gently compress the handle completely and while in this position screw the set screw to lock the handle in position.
  5. Now using the primer plug wrench to unscrew and screw the required priming rod, to hand tight tension.
  6. Next, loosen the set screw to bring the handle in the initial position.
  7. Insert the appropriate primer feed (large primer feed for large priming rod and vise versa).
  8.   Reconnect the safety gate and screw in the retaining screw. 

Once you get used to this changing process, you may feel that you will not need the set screw to hold the handle in position. You won’t be the first and there is nothing wrong with that.

Next, we have the primer tray, unlike the previous model, this one comes with a square primer tray. Which like the previous model has the safety feature to stop the flow of primers when not in use.

The rest of the features are similar to that of the RCBS 90200 Hand Priming Tool.

In Conclusion – This Priming tool was a much-needed update on the previous model. It definitely is an improvement but there are still better options in the market.

4. LEE 90230 New Auto Primer Hand Priming Tool Review

The 1st Lee primer in this is the new auto primer hand priming tool. First thing first this is one of the Cheapest Hand Priming Tool. It is quite easy to use and easy to change between small and large primer rods.

Lee auto primer hand priming tool
Amazing tray design
Decreases tray detonation occurring.
Easy to switch between large and small primer rod.
Need to buy shell holder separately
Hand starts to strain after 100s of rounds.

The frame of the tool is made of plastic, actually, besides the handle & priming rod, all else is made of plastic. But that does not mean it is not durable. Due to the plastic, this primer is lighter and has readily available replacement parts if something breaks. The ergonomic design of the frame fits comfortably in the hand.

The removable primer tray has an excellent feature. While closed it is a triangular tray that can hold more than 100 primers and when opened completely it becomes a square tray where you can flip and place the primer box so that most (if not all) primers stay in the correct orientation. The elongated primer channeling design from tray to priming rod also reduces the tray detonation possibility.

Lee Precision primer tray

The tray has another feature where there is 3 position on the switch “Open, Lock & On”. Open basically opens the tray. “Lock” locks the tray, and “On” lets the primer pass through the priming tray to the loader. 

The Primers have to pass through a small path to reach the priming rod, and due to this gap, any chain reaction which may occur during detonation is significantly reduced. 

The shell holders for this hand primer (or any lee primer) are a bit different from the usual shell holders. Hence you will need to buy the shell holders separately. They and cheap but still an extra cost.

Lee Precision primer shell holder

Next up, is changing the primer rods (small to big or vise versa), which is easy and can be performed in mare minute even for absolute beginners. You can find LEE-provided instruction here and below are mine. 

  1. Remove the shell holder.
  2. Flip the tool and press down on the handle joint to release the handle.
  3. Remove the primer setup,
  4. Insert the required setup and place the handle back in position.
  5. Insert the correct shell holder.

And done, ready to prime.

In Conclusion – This Primer is super cheap, for this case cheap does not mean bad output. The excellent ergonomic design helps in priming with minimum effort. Amazing tray design and is easy to swap between primer plunger types. In my observation, it reduced its price by using plastic and can be considered the best cheap hand priming tool.

5. Lyman Products E-Zee Universal Priming Tool Review

The last tool in this list is the Lyman Products E-Zee Universal Priming Tool. Like that of the RCBS this tool is also of metal construction but lighter. Unlike the usual orange color of Lyman, this tool is actually black. Comes with 2 trays for both small and large primers. 

Lyman Products E-Zee Universal Priming tool
Relatively Cheap
Easy to swap between large and small priming rods.
Accepts normal shell holders
Plenty of leverage on the handle
Durable construction.
No chance of dropping pin or tray accidentally.
Designed to avoid flipping within tray after closing the lid.
Most units have a seating depth defect.
As primers leave the tray to the ram, they occasionally change orientation.
Primer crowds at the gate and gets stuck.
Not depth adjustable.

The priming tool by Lyman is very durable and weighs just under 1 pound. And these features are available at a very affordable price.

The design of the tool also enables easy switching between large and small primer rods because the whole system of taking out the plunger and spring comes assembled with the trays as one unit. So the chances of mistakenly losing small parts are practically nil. 

Another great feature this hand primer has is that it accepts all brands’ shell holders but I found it works best with Lyman shell holders and worst with RCBS shell holders. And the design enables plenty of leverage, enabling to seat hundreds of shells without straining the hand.

As I pointed out in the table above, I’ve faced some problems while priming. 

  • While seating operation I have some primer that changed orientation on the path between the primer tray gate to primer plunger, and it happens about 10% to 15% of the time. And it does not get better with practices.
  • Sometimes during the priming operation, I occasionally had to shake the tray to avoid clogging the tray exit of primers. And I think it is here that some primers flip in the wrong orientation.
  • Also, the primer does not have any depth adjustable option. Which causes some primers to protrude while seating. I have heard the phrase “you grow a feeling for it”, and yes, you do but when you are reloading hundreds of shells, the hand can’t apply the same pressure, and that feeling gets disrupted causing more protruded or crushed primers.

In Conclusion – It is a good design but there are better options in the market for a similar price range.

So which is the Best Hand Priming Tool?

You can already tell if you have read the whole article. Nothing is perfect, but in the world of imperfection, we try to find the best option within the given imperfections. But I would present my Honest Opinion anyways. So in the next paragraphs, I will try to summarize the article.

For the position of the best hand priming tool, the tool has to be designed to avoid all human error, easy to use, and also cost-effective. And If not all, most of the boxes are ticked by the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer. Because it does not operate on feeling but has an accurate depth-adjustable dial. Enough leverage to operate on 100s of rounds and comes in a nice & tough case to be tucked in once its needs are fulfilled. Though the price is a bit on the higher end, it justifies the price with the quality of the seating. And is a worthy contender for being the best hand priming tool for now.

Best Hand Priming Tool For Reloading

At what depth should I seat the Primers?

This is a very popular question. And it very easy to make mistake, while may lead to primer crushing or protruding primer. And in both cases, it is very dangerous. So usually the rule of thumb is to seat the primer in a range of 2 to 5 thousand an inch (0.002″ – 0.005″)deeper in the primer pocket. 

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