December 3rd, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Primer Seating Tools Reviewed

video primer priming seater tool video review primal rcbs lee hand bench

Seating primers is a key part of the reloading process. You need to seat primers consistently to achieve best accuracy. There are many different tools offered for seating primers, both hand-held and bench-mounted. Deluxe premium hand-held seaters may hold just a single primer, while a variety of handheld units employ trays to hold more primers. With bench-mounted primer seaters there are a variety of feeding systems — vertical tubes, angled trays, and even a strip feeder — the APS system pioneered by RCBS.

Today’s Saturday at the Movies feature covers a variety of primer seater options, from low-cost hand tools to the $600.00 Primal Rights unit. We also cover the innovative Lee Automated Case Primer (ACP) system which even feeds your brass, increasing your processing rate.

Forster Co-Ax Bench-Mounted Priming Tool

The Forster Co-Ax® Primer Seater is a trusted bench-mounted priming tool that works very well. Set the jaws for a particular rim size, load the tube, and you’re ready to seat primers. The tool has good “feel” plus plenty of leverage. Forster says that the tool’s “unique design allows the operator to eliminate all slop when working with a specific cartridge, translating into perfect seating, reliable ignition, and reduced misfires.” This Forster tool requires no separate shell holders. The spring-loaded jaws close to securely grip most modern rifle and pistol cases with a rim thickness of .045″ to .072″. And Forster provides a primer flipper tray that makes it easy to load the provided small and large tubes. If you shoot a large variety of cartridge types with various rim sizes, this Forster Co-Ax primer seater is a good choice.

Primal Rights Competition Priming Seater (CPS) Review

If there is a Ferrari of priming tools, it has to be the Primal Rights Competition Primer Seater (CPS). This impressive bench-mounted tool allows very precise control over primer seating depth. A vertical tube holds primers ready for insertion. The action is smooth and precise. Seating depth control is as good as you can get. That precise, repeatable control, and the tool’s smooth operation, are the tool’s major selling points. Video reviewer F-Class John believes that Primal Rights machine is definitely the best priming tool on the market, though it may not be for everyone given its premium $600.00 price.

Frankford Arsenal Perfect Priming Tool

Our friend Jim See of Elite Accuracy LLC has tested the depth-adjustable hand priming tool from Frankford Arsenal. This product, called the Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer, has some unique features. Primer seating depth can be adjusted with a handy wheel in the tool’s center handgrip. Each “click” of the wheel moves the primer post .001″ (one one-thousandth of an inch). Additionally, the design of the case-holder allows quick and easy removal of a primed case. The unit ships with a full set of shell-holders to match all types of cases. Like many other hand priming units, the primers are loaded into a flip tray that attaches to the head of the tool.

Frankford Arsenal Perfect Priming Tool jim see review

Accuracy Variances and Priming Tool Types

The above video compares the performance of the Frankford Arsensal adjustable priming tool with a Sinclair Int’l hand priming tool — a unit used for many years by top benchrest shooters.

LEE Automatic Case Priming (ACP) System

The LEE Automatic Case Primer (ACP) is the world’s first automatic-feeding priming tool that does not need shell-holders. Cases are guided into position by a sliding “finger guide”. The “dead length” priming device ensures that primers are seated uniformly without “feel” or adjustments required. This is very efficient and relatively easy, once the primers are loaded into the triangular tray. This ACP tool is on sale at Midsouth for $84.99, 16% off the regular price. We’ve tested the product and it works well, but sometimes needs a little fiddling with the primer feed guide.

To increase output, there are LEE ACP upgrades: Lee Universal Case Feed Magazine ($25.99), Lee Case Feed Collator ($10.99), and Lee Roller Handle (part #91629). In addition, the ACP can DE-PRIME cases efficiently with the $8.99 ACP depriming kit. SEE LEE ACP Product Info Sheet with all accessories.

LEE Auto Bench Priming Tool

Gavin Gear of has reviewed Lee Precision’s new lever-operated, bench-mounted priming tool. The Lee Auto Bench Prime features a hopper-style primer feeder set at an angle. Gavin likes the tool, reporting that primers feed well and seat fully with very little effort. And switching from large to small primer size (or vice-versa) is quick and easy. Overall, Gavin says the Lee Auto Bench Prime has earned a place in his reloading room: “The Lee Auto Bench Prime is easier to use than a hand priming tool, and more efficient.”

How the Lee Auto Bench Prime Performs
Gavin had three important “take-aways” from his initial loading sessions with the Lee Auto Bench Prime:

1. I was surprised by the low effort needed to prime cases — it’s pretty amazing.
2. You can quickly and easily install shellholders and change primer sizes.
3. The folding primer tray works very well. It’s a great setup from my testing so far.

Are there any negatives with the tool? Gavin noted that, in the course of loading 100+ rounds, once or twice he had to tap the triangular tray to get the primer to feed: “That’s not a big deal, and may smooth out with time”.

RCBS APS Strip Priming System — Bench Tool and Strip Loader

rcbs aps strip priming system hand toolRCBS pioneered an innovative priming system that held primers in handy horizontal strips. This video shows primers being placed in strips, and then cases being primed using an RCBS bench-mounted APS strip-priming system. Many years ago, this Editor acquired an RCBS Pro 2000 progressive press, which employed the APS strip priming system. Primers were held in strips which could be easily connected for continuous feeding — no tubes to load! I liked the system so much I then acquired an APS hand priming tool (photo right), an APS bench-mounted tool, and an APS strip priming tool that fits on a single stage press. I loaded many thousands of rounds successfully with the APS system with not one inverted primer ever. I still use the APS hand primer tool to prime most of my rifle rounds.

video primer priming seater tool video review primal rcbs lee hand bench

Unfortunately, RCBS has discontinued sales of most APS priming tools, but you can still get primers pre-packaged in APS strips, and you can still buy the Strip Loader tool for placing primers into strips.

BONUS Video — K&M Primer Pocket Correction Tool

K&M offers a handy tool for optimizing primer pocket depth. K&M’s Primer Pocket Correction Tool uses a carbide cutter with a preset depth, allowing consistent depth squaring of the primer pocket bottom. Designed with a drive shank to be used with your cordless screwdriver and/or a K&M handle, these tools are available in four types: Small Rifle/Pistol; Large Pistol; Large Rifle; and .50 BMG.

Priming Tool Tip — Check Your Primer Seater for Wear

Priming Tool APS CCI magnum Primers Lee RCBS Priming

From time to time, we all encounter a primer that doesn’t go off. It’s normal to attribute the problem to a bad primer. But sometimes there are other explanations. George S., one of our Forum members, experienced a couple failures to fire, but he learned that the issue was his priming TOOL, not his primers. Here’s what George told us. There’s a lesson to be learned:

“I had issues with CCI 450s when I had my first 6BR barreled. I had probably three or four out of 20 rounds that failed to fire. the primers were dented but didn’t fire. I called CCI since I had bought a case of them. The tech was decent enough but had the audacity to tell me I was not seating the primers all the way in the pocket. I proceeded to let him know I had been reloading longer than he had been alive and I knew how to seat a primer.

Turns out that I did and I didn’t! I was using the RCBS primer tool I had used for years and the primers felt just fine to me. I finally decided to check the tool and since I had a new one I took the seating pins out and measured them. The seating pin on the tool I had been using for years was shorter by a few thousandths! I then used the pin from the new primer tool and darned if the primers that didn’t seat down to the bottom of the cup.

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