LEE New Auto Prime Tool: Overview, Priming .223 and .308 Cases

Priming cases is one of the most important steps in the ammunition reloading process. It can also be the most frustrating! If you want to optimize your reloading workflow, it’s imperative that you have a priming setup that’s easy to use and performs up to your expectations. In this post, I’m going to show LEE’s updated “Auto Prime” hand priming tool (LEE #90230). It shares some similarities with the LEE Auto Bench Prime, and even uses the same style of shellholders.

In this video you saw the “very first” cases I primed with this tool, and so far it’s performed 100%. Furthermore, it was super-simple to setup. I’m sure part of this had to do with the fact that I’m already accustomed to the LEE Auto Bench Prime which is very similar when it comes to setup and operation. What’s amazing about this tool is that you can get the New Auto Prime *and* a set of 11 shellholders for less than $40 street price. That’s pretty amazing!

You may be wondering what’s changed in this “new and improved” version of LEE’s Auto Prime. Here’s a short summary of the changes:

  1. New ergonomic profile with finger grooves
  2. New folding primer tray (same as LEE Auto Bench Prime)
  3. Primer isolation feature makes this new tool safer to use (reduces likelihood of mass detonation by separating primer being primed from rest of primers)

Here’s what comes with the New LEE Auto Prime tool:

In this picture we have: (clockwise from left)

  1. Box
  2. Large primer insert
  3. Instruction sheet
  4. New Auto Prime tool body with small priming insert installed
  5. New LEE folding primer tray

It is important to note that this tool does not work with “Standard” shellholders that turret or single stage presses use. The shellholders used by the Auto Prime, New Auto Prime, and Auto Bench Prime are optimized for use in these tools, and are quite affordable. I would suggest the set of 11 shown in this picture:


Here’s the list of cartridges that can be primed with the New Auto  Prime:


As you can see, with this affordable set of shellholders (I saw a set for less than $16. online) you can prime a WIDE variety of cases- this set includes shellholders 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 19. Additional shellholders shown in the table above can be purchased individually.

I’m just getting started with this tool- look for it in upcoming stories and videos!



5 thoughts on “LEE New Auto Prime Tool: Overview, Priming .223 and .308 Cases”

  1. I know there are steadfast folks on both side of the hand prime, press prime discussion. I have not tried this tool but I have an RCBS hand priming tool I will never use again. After priming about 200 40 S&W cases I had over a 25% first strike fail to fire out of the batch. I have never had a single FTF with anything I have press primed. I checked nearly every case and all primers were below the case face by what felt like the same amount as I would have using my presses. I believe every one of them did fire after being replaced in the magazine and fired again. That led me to think I was seating them high but I don’t know how much harder I should have pressed on the seating handle. I thought I was feeling the tool handle hit bottom on every primer. One thing that batch was good for was function failure practice. Others have different results than I did but just be careful as you use these tools.

    1. Interesting- haven’t tried that tool yet. The .223 and .308 cases I tried seated very well with this tool- same with the LEE Auto Bench Prime. I hate it when I load a batch of bad ammo- we’ve all done it! 🙂

    2. I have been reloading since early 80’s…I have used a rcbs hand prime tool for years…with all due respect, your problem is probably not the tool. You may have a light firing pin strike caused by crud around the firing pin. Or possibly primers which were subjected to improper storage somewhere along the way. Primers are incredibly dependable, I have had only one bad primer (failed to ignite) in 30+ years of reloading…Thanks

  2. I thought we were going to see different ways to clean brass this year, or did I miss it? Thank you for all your hard work having fun. Been watching your videos for a few years now keep up the good work. Marry Christmas to you and your family.


  3. I have and have used the older hand primer tool and it works OK. I’ll usually press prime but have done it when I had a large number of prepped cases laying around and decided to prime them while watching TV or something when I had nothing else to do.

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