Priming Cartridge Cases
Having de-primed, re-sized and cleaned our cartridge cases we are now ready to prime them for subsequent reloading.
The first step, now that we have clean cases, is to visually inspect each and every cartridge case. This can be done quite quickly, throwing out any that may have any obvious faults, such as cracks.
I always count out the cases I intend to prime and sit them upside down in a shell tray.
My reloading is very methodical and includes repeated visual checks at different stages of the reloading process. As I have said previously, reloading is not a social event. I do it alone in order to avoid any distractions.
Secondly, I make it a rule to avoid reloading, or handling firearms, if I have been drinking any alcohol at all. Those are activities I personally believe you need to be absolutely sober to engage in. For me, it is an all or nothing approach.
For priming I use a Lee hand tool that I have had for nearly thirty years. I prime everything from 22 Hornet through to 458 Winchester Magnum using that device, and the appropriate shell holder. The Lee tool comes with two primer trays, one for small rifle and one for large rifle. There are a number of other makers of such reloading tools, with very similar functionality.
I generally prime in multiples of ten. That makes for an easy transfer of primers from their packet to the Lee tool tray. Gently sliding back the cover of the primer packet deposits the primers, ten at a time, into the Lee tool tray.
Invariably, a few primers are the wrong way up. A few gentle taps on the tray will giggle the primers and encourage them to all face up the right way for priming. The tray cover is then fitted and priming can commence.
The thumb lever gives a good feel for the seating of the primer. The lever should be pressed full stroke in order to properly seat the primer in the pocket of the cartridge case. The seated primer must be ever so slightly recessed into the case base, not level and definitely not protruding in any way.
Some shells will need to have the primer pocket gently reamed with a purpose designed tool.
For example, when I reloaded Federal factory 223 Rem cartridges, I found that the manufacturer had crimped the primer into the case. Unless the crimp is cut away with the reaming tool it will be very difficult to seat the new primer.
Each shell is picked up, primed, and placed upside down in a new row in the shell tray. At a glance you can see which shells are un-primed and primed. Once all the shells are primed, I then sit them facing upwards ready to be charged with powder.