Ask A Bulletsmith – Is your personal preference hand priming, single-stage reloading priming, or progressive reloading press priming?

We asked a few handy Sierra Bullets Bulletsmiths: “Is your personal preference hand priming, single-stage reloading priming, or progressive reloading press priming?” Check out their answers below.  We would love to hear from you too, please share your response in the comments below.


Hand priming, single-stage reloading priming, and progressive reloading press priming.

Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant answered “Hand priming on match rifle and handgun silhouette ammo. Progressive press priming on bulk ammo for handgun for 3-gun and USPSA matches.”

Ballistic Technician Rich Machholz answered “I hand prime all my match rounds, but utilize the on-board priming systems of my Ponseness-Warren semi-progressive and RCBS progressives.”

Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin answered “Hand priming with the RCBS #09460 bench mount tool. It is easy to fill, easy to use and sensitive enough that I know when the primers hit bottom.”

Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks answered “I love my hand-priming tool. I actually have two of the Lee hand priming tools. I set up one each for large primers and small primers just to prevent changing back and forth.”

Ballistic Technician Paul Box answered “Hand priming”

Robert Treece answered I prefer single-state reloading priming or separate bench tool priming of my cases.  The hand priming units bother my arthritic hands.”

Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd answered “Hand priming”

VP – Sales & Marketing Matt Reams answered “Hand priming for sure.”

Line Toolsetter Brad Vansell answered “Hand priming with an off press RCBS primmer tool.”

Process Engineer David Palm answered “Progressive priming for pistol and 223, hand priming for long range rifle loads.”

Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf answered RCBS automatic priming tool.”

Acting Production Manager Chris Hatfield answered “Single stage reloading priming.”

Maintenance & Machine Shop Lead Craig Westermier answered “Hand priming”

Plant Engineer Darren Leskiw answered “Based on my volume of shooting, progressive all the way.  I do see the advantage of single stage reloading for precision/ consistency.”

Production Resource Manager Dan Mahnken answered “I have an old priming tool that looks like a bottle jack.  I believe it was made by Lachmiller, which I have primed thousands of cases with over the years.”

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17 Responses to Ask A Bulletsmith – Is your personal preference hand priming, single-stage reloading priming, or progressive reloading press priming?

  1. cover says:

    Like Plant Engineer Darren Leskiw says, based on the volume of my shooting it’s progressive all the way for me too. Otherwise I would need more the 24 hours a day. I shoot one og two matches å week plus I am training 4-5 days a week.


  2. DAVID RUPPEL says:

    I finally broke my 30 year old LEE hand primer a year ago, so now I use my RCBS single stage for rifle case priming and my Hornady LnL progressive press for handgun priming.


    • Wow – it last 30 years! Bet you were bummed when it finally broke.


      • DAVID RUPPEL says:

        Yes I was. They changed the style and reviews were not good for the new style so I just decided to use the presses from now on. I really like using the presses now that I have the rhythm and feel down.


    • Reed says:

      I also used a Lee tool for many years even with a broken pot metal part. I now use the RCBS bench tool for everything and like it.


  3. Ron Stephens says:

    I use the RCBS hand primer tool with the universal shell holder for the ammunition for my precision rifles–.223 Rem. and .308 Win. and the Dillon progressive for the rest.


  4. Paul says:

    I like RCBS tools, but I use Lee Auto Primes that I replaced the handle with the newer style. It took very little fitting to make it work and now they should last forever! I also use one set up for small primers and one for large primers.


  5. Tim says:

    I have always preferred the more “personal” use of the hand primer. I actually wore out my first RCBS hand primer a few years back & they sent me a new one to replace it. It gets a lot of use dealing with four different handgun cartridges and five different rifle cartridges between myself and two daughters. I still do all my reloading on my old Rockchucker single-stage press.


  6. Bill Curtis says:

    Always use my Dillon progressive. When you get to be worn out (72 yrs) you begin to take a few shortcuts ;>)


  7. Hand prime always .


  8. Randy Hillyer says:

    Single stage reloading priming RCBS. More importantly in our gun club recently, we have had two times primers have gone off while priming cases. One was 100, and the guy has reloaded for 50 years, the other was 25 primers and he is on a list for a retina transplant as he lost the sight in one eye. (no glasses) Static electricity is the culprit! They make grounding tools to help this process. I believe in both cases they used a hand primer.


    • David Ruppel says:

      Oh man that’s a terrible accident! Safety glasses should always be worn when reloading. I have caught myself not having them on when priming. What a bonehead I am! I like having both eyes that work.


      • Steve L says:

        Static is the unseen hazard. Be careful in cold and dry environments. I also wear all cotton clothing to minimize static generation.
        Also, I have had a few primers go in sideways while hand priming which makes for a rather unnerving disassembly of the Lee hand prime and the cartridge. I always have eye pro on and as I hand prime I point the cartridge opening away from my face (sounds like common sense but you know how that goes).


  9. Steve L says:

    I deprime my cases prior to cleaning so I have gotten into the habit of hand priming my rifle rounds after resizing/trimming so I can inspect them by hand to ensure proper seating. I use the Lee hand primer too. I am not in any rush to make bucket loads of rounds so I kind of find it relaxing.


  10. DAVID RUPPEL says:

    I started using my rcbs single stage press after my 30 year old Lee hand primer broke for long range rifle reloading and I use my Hornady LnL progressive for pistol reloading.



  11. DAVID RUPPEL says:

    oops I already answered this along time ago. Thought I had heard this question before.


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