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Old January 30, 2019, 08:42 AM   #1
Nathan
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Priming Tool Choices

Looking into a new priming tool for hunting/semiprecision liads(0.5”@100 yd).

What do you use? How do you like it? What would you change?
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Old January 30, 2019, 10:13 AM   #2
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After fifty+ years of reloading and shooting competition and hunting a LOT, I seriously doubt you'll ever be able to identify accuracy improvements attributable to your priming tool. If there are any attributes at all on the priming tool that make a difference, I think they'd be lost in all the noise in the process from many, many other causes. I've been using a Lee hand primer for about forty years and I can find no fault with it. It's more sensitive to letting me know if the primers fully seated than using the handle on the press. It doesn't make them more accurate, it just lets me know that they're flush with the base and will allow the bolt to close or the cylinder to rotate. You're going to get a lot bigger bang for your buck accuracy wise with good case prep and spending a lot of time at the bench with different loads for your gun and keeping good records.
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Old January 30, 2019, 10:34 AM   #3
Don Fischer
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I think a lot of people create their own problem's over thinking thing's. This would be one of those things.
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Old January 30, 2019, 11:08 AM   #4
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Use a RCBS grip primer. Mainly because it lets me feel differing primers/pockets, is convenient and quicker. Only other one currently available is the rock chucker"s primer attachment, which is why i use the handheld one.
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Old January 30, 2019, 11:09 AM   #5
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I either use the primer seat on my little RCBS RS3 press (single seating them...) or my newer RCBS universal hand press. I used a Lee Primer for many, many years until the handle finally broke on me, the design was 'new and improved' so I couldn't get a part for it, so I bought the RCBS. It's OK, and seems to work pretty well, the only problem I have is with cases with a shallow or worn rim... they will sometimes pop out of the spring loaded shell holder.

I read a LOT of reviews on hand primers before I bought the RCBS, I think it was a good choice.
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Old January 30, 2019, 12:13 PM   #6
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For low volume reloading I use hand priming tools. The only hand priming tools I've used extensively are the original Lee Auto Prime and Lee Auto Prime XR. Both of those tools worked well and were easy on the hand. Their main down side was their tendency to break. None of than matters much now since both are obsolete.

I've not used Lee's latest version of the Auto Prime (the New Auto Prime).

The only other hand press I've used much was the Frankford Arsenal, which found very stressful on the hand. I sold it soon after purchase.

It seems all of the hand primers suffer from bad reviews of one sort or another, at least from what I have observed.

There do seem to be those who really like the RCBS bench priming tool, but I've personally never used one.

All of my priming is currently done with the older LEE Auto Primes referred to above, or the priming system on the Hornady L-N-L AP Press (which works reasonably well).

One of the nice things about the hand primers is that they generally include primer flippers/trays as part of the tool and you don't need to mess with separate flipping trays and loading primer tubes (as you do with the RCBS Bench Priming tool and progressives presses like the Hornady L-N-L AP).
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Old January 30, 2019, 12:30 PM   #7
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I used the RCBS hand primer for years until the arthritis kicked in. Switched to the RCBS bench unit with the pick up tubes. I just seat until it stops and the primer feels below flush using my highly calibrated precision index finger. Single digit velocity SD's are the norm
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Old January 30, 2019, 03:02 PM   #8
F. Guffey
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As 'no second best' said I have the Lee auto primer system. that would be the one with the round tray. As time has passed I have found extra parts, I also have the Lee single hand primer. I also have the RCBS auto hand primers with the round trays. And the systems that bolt to the bench along with the Herter Bench primer that uses Herter shell holders.

The one that fails me is the press mounted primer systems. One problem with that system is the flipping of primers caused by the high frequency in vibrations. And then there is the RCBS shell holder, RCBS has different designs for shell holders.

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Old January 30, 2019, 03:34 PM   #9
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I have been using the RCBS universal hand priming tool. Works well. I like to be able to feel how the primer seats. Not sure it matters that much though.
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Old January 30, 2019, 07:14 PM   #10
Longshot4
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As I remember in 78 when I started metallic. The rock chucker press was it. Eventually moved to the Lee hand priming tool and screw in shell holders &&&. Eventually it broke and I bought another one but it used different shell holders $$$. now I'm considering the RCBS bench depriming tool and a decapping die. The small tools allow you to feel the primer résistance when seating. I consider that very important.

Then I purchased a primer pocket REAMER (UNIFORMER) large and small. It is a great tool. I use it one time on brass and I never need to use it again on that brass. Primers seat with consistency of resistance and depth.

Try it. I think you will like it.
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Old January 30, 2019, 07:38 PM   #11
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Hand priming units are good will give you a good feel when primer bottoms , I use a RCBS Ram Priming unit attaches to the top of the press , I uniform all my primer pockets to the same depth so this unit works best for me .
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Old January 30, 2019, 07:47 PM   #12
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I still use the ancient Lee hand priming tools which use the flat shell holders. The plastic trays are discolored but the thing still works and I like the feel, that distinct feel the primer has bottomed out in the primer pocket. Lower right in the attached image. I still have an old RCBS which is new in box for when the Lee finally is no longer usable, top center in the image. Another priming tool I really like is the RCBS on the top left. I have no idea how many years I have had that but it works just fine. There is just that "something" in the feel of these priming tools I like.

I stopped priming on the presses years ago. I guess I could as the presses I have will do it, I just don't. I have never noticed any difference in accuracy of my loaded ammunition which I could attribute to the priming tool. Flash hole uniformity yes but actual priming tool no. My advice is find a tool which you like and "feels" right to you and run with it. Likely a matter more of personal preference than much else.



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Old January 30, 2019, 07:51 PM   #13
RC20
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Quote:
I have been using the RCBS universal hand priming tool. Works well. I like to be able to feel how the primer seats. Not sure it matters that much though
Ditto. I like it, though I am starting in withe some arthritis I am good with it. More my thumb than my grip.

The downside is the tray setup. The new larger tray is awkward and it can (did) break the holder which is not substantial. RCBS sent me an almost whole new unit that had that part in it.

I wanted to see how it went so I taped up the old one and its still going. If I put the new one on I will reinforce it and likely ok. Done 8,000 rounds at a guess with it.

I do like the slip in feature I don't have to move shell holders around with.

The only case its a bit iffy about is the 7.5 Swiss which is different from any other case and no base heritage.

The issue really is more the brass pocket, its not quite US size (metric I am guessing).

It seat primers down .003-.005 and I can shoot 1/2 inch and sometimes better groups though I don't know its the primers (I suspect you would need to be down in the 1s and 2s to see it affect a group unless the priming tool or use was really bad.)

My brother gave me an olde non universel, its tray fit, smaller, rounder, that helped.
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Old January 30, 2019, 07:58 PM   #14
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I think I’m going to get the std K&M....compare it to my RCBS and Hornady. Then sell off the 2 that don’t make the cut!
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Old January 30, 2019, 08:48 PM   #15
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For hand priming, I prefer the RCBS tool. (The universal is easier to use, but I still have the version that uses shell holders.)

However... I picked up one of the RCBS automatic bench prime tools on clearance (65% off) last year. Since I mounted that sucker, I haven't used another priming method - not the Redding, Lee, RCBS, or Pacific presses; nor the RCBS hand prime or the CH-4D ram prime.
I like it.
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Old January 30, 2019, 09:31 PM   #16
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I have the sinclair single primer and it is very solid and good. I then lost the large primer parts and got the Frankford Arsenal Perfect Primer tool kit. It is serviceable.
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Old January 30, 2019, 09:47 PM   #17
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Nathan,

The K&M Primer Gauge tool is the only one I know that gives you full control of setting the bridge of the primer. I have one and it does exactly as advertised, letting you measure exactly how far the anvil of the primer is pressed into the pellet based on zeroing on the particular case and the particular primer going into it. But it is expensive and using it is very slow going.

You may do well with the more standard tools. Fully controlled seating with the Primer Gauge tool does reduce velocity SD's (more with some combinations of components than with others), but the difference will likely be seen only at very long ranges. Getting a more conventional tool with good leverage will do almost as well more easily.
"There is some debate about how deeply primers should be seated. I don’t pretend to have all the answers about this, but I have experimented with seating primers to different depths and seeing what happens on the chronograph and target paper, and so far I’ve obtained my best results seating them hard, pushing them in past the point where the anvil can be felt hitting the bottom of the pocket. Doing this, I can almost always get velocity standard deviations of less than 10 feet per second, even with magnum cartridges and long-bodied standards on the ’06 case, and I haven’t been able to accomplish that seating primers to lesser depths."

Dan Hackett
Precision Shooting Reloading Guide, Precision Shooting Inc., Pub. (R.I.P.), Manchester, CT, 1995, p. 271.
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Old January 31, 2019, 12:33 AM   #18
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I'm the odd one out as I mostly use the RCBS APS primer system, press mounted, the bench primer and the hand primer. But that's not how I started.

First, I used a Rock Chucker press mounted one until someone, somewhere, had an accident with it. (Handloader Magazine told the grisly story back in the early seventies) Thoroughly spooked I bought a one-at-a-time Lee hand primer....graduated to a Lee with a round tray and used those until I bought my first progressive Pro 2000 that used APS strips. I do like all three ways to prime on APS equipment.

But then I had to complicate things my buying a new RCBS Pro Chucker 7, with its' tube priming system......

I prefer my APS tools, but the tube priming on the progressive with safety shields is okay.
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Old January 31, 2019, 09:14 AM   #19
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I'm still using my old Lee priming tool with the screw in shell holders, bought around 1972. I've been able to find extra shell holders at gun shows and online as needed. hdbiker
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Old January 31, 2019, 09:46 AM   #20
hounddawg
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think a lot of people create their own problem's over thinking thing's. This would be one of those things.
nah, people just want to see better groups and scores and think by using the same aftershave the pros do they will get perfect targets without having to spend hours at the range putting thousands of rounds downrange. Why learn wind patterns and trigger control when you can just buy the new Acme guaranteed X ring producer thingamajig you saw on Spendmoremoney.com.

People don't stop to think that 20, 30, 50 years ago tiny groups were being shot by people without $1500 annealing machines, and $2000 scales. If a primer is seated to the bottom of the cup, it is seated. No micrometer adjustments required
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Old January 31, 2019, 11:04 AM   #21
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The problem is in not knowing what another individual who is successful with his target loads is feeling when he seats a primer. Some folks with some equipment are going to generally hit the sweet spot whether they intended to or not. Not knowing who those folks are means not knowing what role that did or didn't play in their championship success.

Naval Ordnance at Indian Head studied primer seating and refined the targeted range of reconsolidation of small and large primers used in military munitions from the 0.002"-0.006" number originally recommended by Olin and Remington to 0.002"-0.004" for primers from those same companies. They want ammunition that works reliably from -65°F up to desert temperatures rather than peak accuracy in most instances, and that is affected by optimum seating. But that also means ignition regularity is affected by it.

In the mid-'90s, Federal recommended 0.002" for their small rifle and 0.003" for their large rifle primers. I've not heard of any change in that recommendation. I mention it to point out there is some brand variation here due to differences in primer sensitivity.

The same thing that produces the tighter velocity spreads mentioned by Dan Hackett (and we don't know what he was feeling when he seated a primer "hard", or what tool he was priming with) is also reducing variation in ignition time from the firing pin strike to the bullet exit. Since no shooter holds perfectly still, that can sometimes result in the muzzle being directed in slightly different directions at the moment the bullet departs. If, say, one shot spends half a millisecond getting the powder to burn and the next takes five milliseconds to do it, the motion of the muzzle can open groups up pretty significantly. The shooter won't be able to discern that small delay other than by group size, and there are lots of different causes that affect group size, so he may be spinning his heels for quite a time trying to find it.

That last point is why I use the fancy tools when I am working up a new load. I want to get all the variables out. I can then drop the extra effort items one-at-a-time to see if my groups start to open up as a result. If I still get great precision without any special effort or precautions, I consider that a great load, as it will be relatively immune to any variables in my loading process.
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Old January 31, 2019, 11:15 AM   #22
F. Guffey
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People don't stop to think that 20, 30, 50 years ago tiny groups were being shot by people without $1500 annealing machines, and $2000 scales. If a primer is seated to the bottom of the cup, it is seated. No micrometer adjustments required
And I have always said time and distance are factors.

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Old January 31, 2019, 11:52 AM   #23
F. Guffey
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I have never noticed any difference in accuracy of my loaded ammunition which I could attribute to the priming tool.
When it comes to priming tools there is the tool and the operator of the tool. And there is the 'sky is falling' group. No where can I find where R. Lee defended the Lee Auto prime system. He did blame the operator and the manufacturer of primers. And then there was the UPS driver that blew his thing off (tail gage).

I have 4 Lee Auto Primes systems with extra parts; I have experience with the Lee round tray priming system. I have never brown the lid off of if one of my primer systems by Lee.

When loading the tray I have never reduced the number of primers, I start with 100 and I have loaded the tray from the big box Federal sleeve without dropping one primer.

Problem; reloaders (some) have the nervous habit of double clutching, you would thing

the reloader would give the handle one stroke for one primer. Problem, two strokes will cause two primers to feed. Without enough leverage to seat the top primer will protrude’ the protrusion will not allow the case to be removed to clear the jam. Never have I found a situation where the reloader identifying the protruding primer as being the problem.

I have never recommended the reloader use one primer to seat another primer; I suggest one stroke for each primer, two stacked primers reduces leverage, when leverage is reduced the reloaders has a bad habit of going for two hands or two thumbs.

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Old January 31, 2019, 01:16 PM   #24
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Naval Ordnance at Indian Head studied primer seating and refined the targeted range of reconsolidation of small and large primers used in military munitions from the 0.002"-0.006" number originally recommended by Olin and Remington to 0.002"-0.004" for primers from those same companies. They want ammunition that works reliably from -65°F up to desert temperatures rather than peak accuracy in most instances, and that is affected by optimum seating. But that also means ignition regularity is affected by it.

In the mid-'90s, Federal recommended 0.002" for their small rifle and 0.003" for their large rifle primers. I've not heard of any change in that recommendation. I mention it to point out there is some brand variation here due to differences in primer sensitivity.
I just uniform my primer pockets before firing the first shot, load the ammo in a consistent manner push the primer in as far as possible and get consistent results. I have used a old school Lee hand primer, RCBS hand primer, RCBS bench primer, the Hornady priming system on the AP press, and single primed on a RC and never noticed any changes in accuracy with any of them.

On the other hand I can vary between a hard hold and free recoil and change the point of impact and group sizes using ammo pulled from the same box. Uniformed primer pockets and consistence seating depth is necessary, but whether the brand primer is .002 or .003 beneath flush has never seemed to matter as long as it is consistent.

Tell ya what though I ordered a Holland's Perfect Primer Adaptor Kit for my RCBS bench primer to give it a test

https://www.hollandguns.com/
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Old January 31, 2019, 03:50 PM   #25
jugornot
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Originally Posted by hounddawg View Post
People don't stop to think that 20, 30, 50 years ago tiny groups were being shot by people without $1500 annealing machines, and $2000 scales. If a primer is seated to the bottom of the cup, it is seated. No micrometer adjustments required
Lets go back to flintloacks and the creedmoor position. that's when men were men and rifles were an extension of their machismo. As with almost everything the law of diminishing returns makes experimentation for better ammo expensive. It behooves us to look toward the professionals to see what resources greater than ours use in an attempt to further their livelihood. Sometimes there are to many variables to accurately evaluate what is better. A list of variables from ammo to rifle to the shooter would be very long.

hounddawg you are the voice of economy reloading. And that's fine. But it does not refute others experience as to what works for them. Annealing every time allows me to achieve very light and consistent bullet seating and neck tensions without neck turning. My dispenser is quicker and more accurate than throw weigh and trickle. Someday caseless ammo with propellant to the microgram will exist (if guns still exist.) Then you will have only the variables of people and rifles.

A quote that probably applies to both of us "The lady doth protest too much, methinks". As long as people are happy with their ammo, it is "good" ammo no matter how they achieve their results.
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