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Old December 29, 2013, 10:42 AM   #1
Styles90
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Press vs hand priming

What is the advantages using a hand primer vs doing it on the press?

I am debating getting a hand primer I load on an old rock chunker single stage that has no primer tube just the arm so I dump my primers into a turning tray and pick primer up one by one and stick them in the arm prime and expand the case mouth is how I'm doing it now. I don't think it's bad but was wondering if hand priming would be better. The thing I hate the most is switching the rock chunker arm from large to small primer thought about just buying another arm so I can have large on one arm small on the other and just push pin out and swap arms. Or is hand priming really that much better?
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Old December 29, 2013, 10:55 AM   #2
Bart B.
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Good hand priming tools lets the user feel the primer's anvil push into the priming compound pellet. Uniforming that issue typically results in more uniform primer firing across all of them.

If you shoot your stuff into under 1/3 MOA at short range, it's important. Otherwise, either way's up to the person doing it.
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Old December 29, 2013, 11:52 AM   #3
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I have a drawer full of old Lee hand priming tools with different shell holders. I also had a RCBS hand primer that I hated & eventually sold off. I even toyed with the idea of buying a Sinclair's priming tool at one time ($100+).

As Bart said, conventional wisdom (at least everything I have read) says that for consistency, the primer compound needs to be slightly compressed the same amount for each round. The idea is that the only way to achieve this is by the "feel" of a hand tool & experience. A press' high leverage won't allow this finesse.

Now, I uniform all my rifle primer pockets when I first get them. Then I use the RCBS top press primer seater with a pre-set stop. If I'm loading a few I place them by hand in the punch. If I have a lot to load I use the primer tube attachment. This has worked great for me & I've had nothing but good results.

The two flaws in this method are the consistency of the primers themselves & the uniformity of the rim thickness of the cartridge cases, since primer seating is on the up-stroke.

FWIW...

...bug
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Old December 29, 2013, 12:03 PM   #4
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I have a couple Lee hand primers, and a Hornady hand primer. On all three I have to "fiddle and shake the unit to get primers to feed properly and occasionally one will get jammed cross-wise in the feeding "chamber". But my preferred priming method is a Ram Prime. I dump a few primers on a paper towel or cloth (easier to pick up) and even though they have to be fed individually, I like the extra "feel" I get. My fingers don't get tired and it's not a big deal for me to feed primers one by one (if you're into faster, more, faster, reloading a ram prime may be "slow" for you). Another thing about hand primers for me, is they all slide down in my hand and I have to reposition it every squeeze (I even put skateboard tape on my Hornady), I guess they just don't fit my hand...
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Old December 29, 2013, 12:40 PM   #5
NoSecondBest
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I use a hand primer for consistancy and speed. I "batch" when using the single stage or turret press. I find it faster to prime all the cases at one time. I've been loading for over 40 years and have shot hundreds of thousands of rounds. I've personally never heard of "compressing" the priming compound. I have always believed that seating the primer to a uniform depth was the advantage of a hand primer. I seriously doubt any compression to the compound is taking place in either process.
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Old December 29, 2013, 12:48 PM   #6
boondocker385
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I have a RCBS hand primer and love it. rarely do I have a problem with it not feeding and I have never had one flip or get stuck. I have learned that keeping it slightly tilted towards the shell holder is the key.

my wife likes it because it means I can prime while watching a movie with her.
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Old December 29, 2013, 01:17 PM   #7
jmorris
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Depends, nothing seats primers more consistant than a 1050 but if you are not doing batches of 100, many times a had tool will be quicker.
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Old December 29, 2013, 03:14 PM   #8
Lost Sheep
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I am in the minority, but I feel primers seating with more sensitivity on my press than with my hand primer.

With my hand primer, I have to squeeze hard. On the press, I have fingertip control and the visible movement of the operating handle makes it obvious when the primer bottoms out.

RCBS surely would send you a set of primer tubes and the arm on which they mount. I found the tubes fed very reliably. But filling the tubes took a lot of time (of which I am jealous).

Mikld, however may have the best suggestion. A ram prime feeds directly from the flipper tray (just like the hand primer does), which is convenient, fast and reliable. (Mikld, my Lee hand primers would only mis-feed when the parts got loose, which they did from time to time, so positioning your hand to keep your fingers holding everything in place should help.)

So, getting the parts to make your RCBS press complete might be free (RCBS is like that). But filling the tubes turns me off.

Getting a hand primer is a viable option. They work and are convenient, portable and inexpensive.

A ram-prime (screws into your press just like a die and uses the same shell holder up there that you use on the ram for all the other dies) is what I would suggest if I were in your position.

Those are the factors I would consider. Good luck.

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Old December 29, 2013, 03:33 PM   #9
Jimro
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A Lee hand primer is a cheap investment. I would make a batch with hand priming, and a batch with bench priming, and see if they made any difference at all to you.

My guess is that it won't. I've done both, and I haven't noticed a difference, but a data point of one is statistically worthless.

Anyways, if you don't find a difference, go with the method that is most convenient for you.

Jimro
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Old December 29, 2013, 03:37 PM   #10
lee n. field
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Quote:
As Bart said, conventional wisdom (at least everything I have read) says that for consistency, the primer compound needs to be slightly compressed the same amount for each round. The idea is that the only way to achieve this is by the "feel" of a hand tool & experience. A press' high leverage won't allow this finesse.
A ram prime die in a press will do this better than anything.

RCBS and Lyman make good ones. (Lee's, from what I recall, was somewhat suckier.)
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Old December 29, 2013, 05:36 PM   #11
Styles90
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never heard of the ram prime die before but I like the looks of it and got one ordered thanks for the replies.
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Old December 29, 2013, 07:06 PM   #12
lee n. field
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Ram prime dies are slower and more tedious to use than other methods. Just FYI.
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Old December 29, 2013, 07:18 PM   #13
Sidewinder72
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I have two hand primers, one set up for small and one for large primers. They are RCBS and I love them. I never touch a primer. And there is the feel factor in hand priming. I have never had a problem with either hand primer. I will never prime in press again. Good shooting
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Old December 29, 2013, 08:24 PM   #14
Crashbox
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I prefer my RCBS bench-mounted priming tool... that thing is phenomenal in my opinion.
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Old December 29, 2013, 10:29 PM   #15
Lemmon
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First started hand loading using the Lee Classic..... The priming system was nick named by my room mates at the time as lthe "tap...tap...BANG!" method.. Once I found the Lee hand primer I was in heaven. I have used the Lee, RCBS and press priming systems and have not had a problem with any of the modern systems we have today. I do prefer the RCBS system over the Lee. When using a progressive press I use the press system for priming my brass.

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Old December 29, 2013, 11:30 PM   #16
Lost Sheep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lee n. field
Ram prime dies are slower and more tedious to use than other methods. Just FYI.
I wonder. What makes the Ram Prime slower than a hand primer? I have never used one, but just looking at it, it seems (once installed) that it would be exactly the same number of hand movements (though the operating lever does travel several times further with the ram prime than the two inches or so the hand primer requires). Other than that, it does not seem things would be slower.

Am I missing something?

Thanks.

Lost Sheep
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Old December 29, 2013, 11:40 PM   #17
Blindstitch
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I have a Lee hand prime that I got in a box from my grandpa along with some Lee Loaders. The Hand Prime over the wack a mole approach is great and worked for him 30 years ago.

I use the hand prime in batches of 10,20 or more depending on how much I plan to load and then I can move on to reloading on my single stage hand press.

I have a ram prime and it works fine but with a single stage press it takes more time changing dies and prime tools.
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Old December 30, 2013, 12:17 AM   #18
Oldbuck30
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I use a Sinclair hand

primer, stainless steel. Love it and it will last forever probably never use anything else. It was expensive but well worth it.
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Old December 30, 2013, 07:41 AM   #19
overthere
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My RCBS hand primer broke a while back and while it was sent in to RCBS for repair I had to prime about 100 cases on my rock chucker press... What a pain, I would never be able to do that for more than occasional priming.

Granted, I have a pretty flimsy setup where my 'bench' does not have enough weight to properly counter-balance the force needed to seat the primer on the upstroke. If I had a sturdier setup, priming on the press would probably be easier but I do not see how it could beat the convenience of hand priming.
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Old December 30, 2013, 07:49 AM   #20
clemsonal
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I can sit in my living room recliner and prime with my Lee hand primer.
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Old December 30, 2013, 08:16 AM   #21
panamint
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I second the idea of priming while sitting in the recliner watching TV.
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Old December 30, 2013, 09:41 AM   #22
Panfisher
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I used to use a Lee Hand Prime, but it was hard on the fingers, and any more my fingers are arthritic and abused enough that it is painful, never could remember any sense of "feel" when seating them that way. Have switched over to priming them on my old Rock Chucker press, it is easier on my fingers, and I can feel them seat quite nicely, I also don't switch anything out between small and large primers, and they all seat just fine.

Any of those ways are better than the old LEE Hand Kits, with the punch and mallet!!
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Old December 30, 2013, 10:19 AM   #23
Ashbane
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My Hornady press kit came with a hand primer and after reading how many people prefer it I tried a couple hundred with it but in the end went back to the press primer. With the hand primer like someone already said Sometimes a second primer tried to get in with the first one and jam up sideways and I'd have to take it all apart to straighten it out. I 'feel' the primer seat very well in my single stage and never worry about a second one trying to jam in on the first one.
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Old December 30, 2013, 11:29 AM   #24
mikld
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Quote:
As Bart said, conventional wisdom (at least everything I have read) says that for consistency, the primer compound needs to be slightly compressed the same amount for each round. The idea is that the only way to achieve this is by the "feel" of a hand tool & experience. A press' high leverage won't allow this finesse.

A ram prime die in a press will do this better than anything.

RCBS and Lyman make good ones. (Lee's, from what I recall, was somewhat suckier.)
I have a striker fired 9mm that needs the primers to be "preloaded" a bit for consistent ignition, and a Ram Prime is best for this. (I've been seating primers for at least 25 years and very rarely have a problem). I don't use any "below flush" measurements, just make sure each primer is all the way to the bottom of the pocket, and the Ram Prime gives me this "feel" better than most other methods...
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Old December 30, 2013, 11:50 AM   #25
AllenJ
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Quote:
What is the advantages using a hand primer vs doing it on the press?
You get better feel.
You don't ever have to touch the primers.
It is much quicker.
Convenience of not having to be at the reloading bench to prime.
And I took the priming arm off my Rock Chucker, giving it a much better look

I've been using a RCBS hand primer for 20 plus years. I can not imagine going back to using the primer arm on the press, even if I could find it!
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