7 Best Hand Priming Tools for Reloading [2024]

by Tom Moore

November 25, 2022



The Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer is the best hand priming tool -that’s what we think, anyway. It is durable, versatile, and dependable. That doesn’t mean it’s the only choice. There are many other good hand priming tools available. It’s possible one of them might better suit your specific needs – which is why you should read our GU rundown.

If you are just getting started and want to know more about the importance of hand priming tools for reloading, read our FAQs.

If you’re already comfortable with how the process works, read on! We explain what our picks are for the top hand priming tool options based on our own experience, quality of parts, retailer reviews, buying guides, and information provided by the manufacturers themselves.

7 Best Hand Priming Tools

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer
  • Works with small primers and large primers
  • Includes an injection-molded case
On Amazon
Lee Precision 90230 New Auto Hand Priming Tool
  • Requires Lee Auto Prime Shell Holders
  • Designed to work with any primer
On Amazon
Lee Precision 90700 Auto Bench Priming Tool
  • Ergonomic design
  • Most affordable primer seating tool on Amazon
On Amazon
K&M Primer Deluxe Hand Priming Tool
  • Requires Lee Auto Prime Shell Holders
  • Unique gauge capability
Check Price
Lyman E-ZEE Universal Priming Tool
  • Easy-to-use design
  • Accepts all shell holders
On Amazon
RCBS 90200 Hand Priming Tool
  • Designed for RCBS shell holders and RCBS presses
  • Primer tray requires no contact with primers
On Amazon
RCBS 90201 Hand Priming Tool
  • Universal shell holder
  • Includes patented safety gate
On Amazon

Best Hand Priming Tools

  1. Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer
  2. Lee Precision 90230 New Auto Hand Priming Tool
  3. Lee Precision 90700 Auto Bench Priming Tool
  4. K&M Primer Deluxe Hand Priming Tool
  5. Lyman E-ZEE Universal Priming Tool
  6. RCBS 90200 Hand Priming Tool
  7. RCBS 90201 Universal Hand Priming Tool

Individual Hand Priming Tool Reviews

We’ve taken an overview look at our list. Now we’ll take the time to review each one individually.

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer Review

The Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer is the best one you can get. With the famous Frankford precision and its high-quality features, there isn’t another model available that quite measures up to this one. Not in our experience, anyway.

Key features include:

  • Adjustable seater system, with a hard stop that prevents tray detonation caused by improper seating depth on your ammo
  • Die-cast zinc structure, with steel internal components, allowing for durability and long-lasting use
  • 12 shell holders, offering sizing options for multiple different calibers
  • Primer tray that automatically positions your primer supply to be seated, allowing for an efficient priming process
  • Quick thumb release system, allowing for the reloader to switch between large primers and small primers

It’s important to know that Frankford’s hand primer set is more expensive than most hand primers, but that’s because of its quality.

This Frankford Arsenal hand primer boasts a combination of heavy-duty components and countless reviews from owners who rave about versatility and performance. It’s easy to see why this option is the most high-quality hand primer tool available.

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer Pros and Cons

  • Capacity- Works with small primers and large primers
  • Dual cool- Includes an injection-molded case
  • Recommended- Extraordinary number of positive reviews
  • Expensive – On the high end of price points.

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer Deals

Lee Precision 90230 New Auto Prime Hand Priming Tool Review

Lee Precision’s 90230 hand primer tool requires specific Lee Precision Auto Prime shell holders. Due to this exclusivity, Lee’s automatic priming tools are best paired with other Lee Precision reloading presses and equipment for an efficient priming process.

Components included with the Lee hand primer:

  • Folding primer tray, which includes small and large adapters for your small primers and large primers
  • Free molded storage box, meant to securely house all of your tools while you’re not using them — also capable of holding up to 18 Lee Precision Auto Prime shell holders
  • Durable, comfort-focused lever
  • Large triangular trays that attach to this lever and accept any primer size from any primer supply
  • Elevator pin (patent pending). This minimizes the likelihood when you’re seating primers, preventing tray detonation

Although Lee’s automatic priming tools require specific shell holders, they also offer quality and precision with every lever pull. Lee Precision is a long-time favorite because many have marked their high quality as the standard for priming and de-priming

Lee Precision 90230 Pros and Cons

  • Utility- Works with any primer
  • Adaptable- Primer tray handles large and small primers
  • Exclusive- requires Lee Auto Prime shell holders

Lee Precision 90230 Deals

Lee Precision Auto Bench Priming Tool Review

For those who like to leave the work at the workbench, we included Lee Precision’s Auto Bench Priming Tool — an excellent priming tool that isn’t as portable as the other primers on this list. This automatic priming tool securely mounts onto your reloading station.

This hand primer is the budget-friendliest priming tool on our list.

Its unique features include:

  • Primer trays for both small and large primers, providing a quality auto prime for whatever size caliber you need to reload
  • Ergonomic design that allows for a smooth, effortless priming process
  • Mounting holes that let you mount this bench priming tool straight to your workbench or the Lee bench plate system (purchased separately)

Lee Precision requires you to use the Lee Precision Auto Prime shell holders purchased separately. Unfortunately, standard shell holders are not compatible with this bench priming tool.

Although some components for the Lee Precision Auto Bench Prime Tool are sold separately, it does not discredit the quality and price point that makes this a high-quality option for priming.

Lee Precision Auto Bench Priming Tool Pros and Cons

  • Affordable- Among the most affordable options available
  • Ergonomic- Easy and pleasant to use
  • Exclusive- requires Lee Auto Prime shell holders

Lee Precision Auto Bench Priming Tool Deals

K&M Primer Deluxe Hand Priming Tool Review

This primer seating tool from K&M offers a different seating design than most other priming options. The precision you get with the seating depth separates this heavy-duty hand primer from most.

Since it comes with a pressure gauge, reloaders can accurately measure the pressure and adjust the seating depth of their primers. This process lets the user physically feel the primer touch the bottom of the primer pocket, ensuring consistency with every reload.

Extra fine threads in the depth adjustment allow precise measurements to guarantee accuracy within the primer pocket.

You can use K&M’s hand primer with the priming gauge, too. This gauge ensures you apply the correct amount of seating depth and pressure, minimizing the risk of tray detonation.

Even though K&M makes this hand primer tool, it still requires Lee Precision Auto Prime Shell Holders. They’re good shell holders, but many won’t like the restriction.

Unless you prefer shell holders besides Lee Precision’s, the K&M Deluxe Hand Primer Tool is a top-of-the-line option in terms of accuracy. A hidden gem among the other popular hand primers, the reviews from long-time owners of this primer seating tool attest to its reliability.

K&M Primer Deluxe Pros and Cons

  • Versatile- Has a unique gauge capability
  • Limited- Requires Lee Auto Prime shell holders

K&M Primer Deluxe Deals

Lyman E-ZEE Universal Priming Tool Review

Lyman E-ZEE Universal Priming Tool enhances leverage, prioritizes ergonomic design, limits small primer components, and aims to simplify how hard it can be to start using a hand primer.

Notable features of Lyman’s Universal Priming Tool:

  • Unlike many others on this list, this is a universal primer seating tool. It’s compatible with any popular brand of standard shell holders.
  • This kit contains two primer trays containing different punch assemblies for both small and large primers.
  • Each tray has a shut-off gate included. This helps keep the primers in place to reduce spillage of the primer supply.

If you tend to utilize different types of shell holders because or require them for different calibers, the Lyman E-ZEE Universal Priming Tool boasts the versatility you seek.

Lyman E-ZEE Universal Pros and Cons

  • Simple- Very easy to use
  • Omnivorous – Accepts all shell holders
  • Occasionally finicky – Sometimes hard to feed

Lyman E-ZEE Universal Deals

RCBS 90200 Hand Priming Tool Review

RCBS crafts consistent reloading equipment and easy-to-use tools, as well as an efficient priming process.

Key components of the RCBS 90200 Hand Priming Tool:

  • Patented safety mechanism held within the circular primer tray, which separates the seating of the primer from the primer supply and minimizes risk of tray detonation
  • Primer tray design prevents contact with primers
  • Primer plugs that can dispense large or small primers
  • Long-lasting guarantee, thanks to high-quality cast metal

RCBS shell holders are also required in this portable hand primer.

If you pair it with an RCBS Reloading Press, there isn’t a better option out there.

RCBS 90200 Pros and Cons

  • Efficient- Designed to be extremely safe and efficient
  • Limited- Designed for use with RCBS holders and presses

RCBS 90200 Tool Deals

RCBS 90201 Universal Hand Priming Tool Review

Like the RCBS 90200, this universal hand primer keeps safety measures in mind, incorporating a safety gate into its design. Also, it does not require specific shell holders.

Important features of RCBS’s universal hand priming tool:

  • Includes the necessary components to switch between using small and large primers
  • Capable of accepting cases ranging from .32 ACP to .45-70 Government
  • Comes with an RCBS lifetime warranty

Although more expensive than other options, no hand primer boasts the same high-quality internal components as RCBS Universal Hand Priming Tool. (Also, the RCBS 9460 Auto Priming Tool is worth a look, even if it’s more expensive than any primer on this list.)

RCBS 90201 Pros and Cons

  • Universal- Does not require specific shell holders
  • Switchable- Between large and small primers
  • Unsecure- Latching the cover down can flip primers

RCBS 90201 Deals

What is a hand priming tool? [Plus Other FAQs]

Also called a hand primer, a hand priming tool can conveniently seat your primers swiftly and precisely.

What is a hand primer used for? A hand primer is used for seating primers outside of your standard reloading setup, allowing the priming aspect of the reloading process to be completed wherever you want. 

What are the benefits of using a hand priming tool? The benefits of using a hand priming tool include:

  • Portability
  • Reliability
  • Increased accuracy
  • Ease of use

If you use the primer seating tool that comes with your reloading kit, there’s a chance it wasn’t made as well as a tool intended explicitly for priming.

Back to the guide, or continue reading.

What does a primer do? A primer is the igniter that reacts with the powder in the casing, which fires the bullet out from the ammo casing.

What is the purpose of the primer in reloading? In reloading, the purpose of the primer is to react to the firing pin, causing the gunpowder to ignite. This means the seating depth of a primer is critical to the accuracy of your ammo.

What are reloading primers? Reloading primers are the caps located on the bottom of ammo casings. These caps respond with an electrical impulse from the firing pin, igniting the charge in the cartridge, which then fires the bullet from the cartridge.

Can you touch reloading primers? You can touch reloading primers with your hands, as long as your hands are pristinely clean. If dirt or oil gets into the casing during the reloading process, it may likely affect the quality of that ammo.

Most primer trays make it easy to operate and handle the primers without touching them, which removes the possibility of tray detonation or other problems that may occur due to primer handling.

What components are needed in order to hand prime a cartridge? The components needed in order to hand prime a cartridge include:

  • Primer seating tool
  • Set of shell holders for different size calibers
  • Primer tray, which securely holds your primer supply

Is it okay to use a hand priming tool for reloading rifle ammunition? Yes, it is okay to use a priming tool when reloading rifle ammo, as long as you use the correct size shell holder for that caliber ammo.

Back to the guide, or continue reading.

New to guns? Start here.

If you’re still learning the basics of firearms and would like to know more about guns themselves, Gun University offers articles and giveaways to get you started. We also offer rankings covering pistols and rifles, as well as other articles that cover all aspects of the reloading process:

  • Best progressive press
  • Best single-stage press
  • Best turret press
  • Best powder measure scale


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About Tom Moore

Tom is one of our content writers at Gun University. When Tom isn't behind the keyboard, he participates regularly in NRL22 and IPSC. You'll often find him out hunting with his mates or camping with his family.

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