April 20th, 2008

RCBS APS Hand Priming Tool

Readers often ask: “What priming tool should I use?” There is no simple, clear-cut answer. Different tools have different advantages and disadvantages. Many short-range benchresters like the Sinclair one-at-a-time priming tool. They believe this unit has the best “feel” for seating primers.

Others prefer the K&M tool, another “single-loader”, because it can be fitted with a seating depth gauge, for the ultimate in precision. On the other hand, one top shooter with a couple National Championships under his belt favors the modest $19.00 Lee Autoprime tool: “It’s simple, efficient and has served me well for years–I’m not convinced the fancy, expensive tools do a better job.”

This editor has tried all of these tools, and personally I favor the RCBS APS hand priming tool. It has two important advantages. Number one, primers are held in color-coded plastic strips so you never have to touch the primers. If you buy the pre-loaded strips, there is no chance of getting an upside-down primer, and you never have to fool with flipping primers in a tray. Second, the APS tool has a “universal” shell-holder. This employs spring-loaded jaws so it can fit any size cartridge, from a 17 Fireball to large magnums. The unit has a comfortable grip and plenty of leverage. Each time you seat a primer, the strip automatically advances.

Currently, only CCI primers can be purchased pre-loaded into strips. But there is an inexpensive tool that allows you to load Federal, Winchester, or Wolf primers into the strips. The strips come in a variety of colors (Red, White, Blue, Orange, Yellow, and Black), so you can sort your primers by color.

The RCBS APS hand primer is ideal when doing primer comparison testing. You can slide one strip of 25 primers in the tool, seat 5 or 10, then easily remove the strip with the remaining primers, and slide in a second strip with another primer type. You can slip the first strip back in a storage box and the primers remain ready to use.

As contained in the strips, primers can also be used in an RCBS 2000 progressive press, a bench-mounted priming unit, and a special device that fits into the top of a Rockchucker or similar press. I have loaded over 20,000 pistol rounds with an RCBS progressive press and I have had not a single flipped primer. Not one. The strip-priming system also makes it easy to switch from small to large primers on the progressive–this can literally be done in under 20 seconds.

The bench-mounted unit is ideal for priming large quantities of cases. The long handle provides plenty of leverage, and you can work fast, as the primers automatically feed through the system. When I load large quantities of varmint rounds, I use the bench-mounted APS system.

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