The loading press is the mechanical device that produces finished ammunition from components with the help from the right set of loading dies and a shell loader. Some loading presses are hand-held or may be mounted to a reloading bench. The second option is the most popular type of reloading press.
Why use a loading press?
The most important reason for using a loading press is the money you’re saving once you start using one. Loading your own ammunition is way cheaper than purchasing factory ammunition. The best reloading equipment might lower your costs by up to 50% depending on the caliber you are loading and the components your pick.
Once you’ve decided to load your own ammunition, you get to be the quality control expert so you can take the time to carefully perform and get a close up of each stage of the loading process. This helps you get the most consistent loads in the end.
When you load your own ammunition, you get to decide which bullet, powder, brass, primer manufacturers to get so you are able to find the perfect combination of components that your gun really appreciates. As you’ve become the quality control expert, able to customize the components that suit specific firearms, you are also able to create ammunition that is more consistent and more precise that the regular factory ammunition.
Last, but not least, you get to choose a certain type of bullet construction combined with various powder loads that fit a specific application, self–defense or hunting mission.
The downside when you use a loading press is that you need some time to get the hang of the mechanism and the initial costs are rather high. After a while, you’re going to get your money back, and as a plus, you’ll get to be your own quality expert. Spending time on your own, away from everyone, shooting your own bullets, might be priceless for some 🙂
Which type of reloading press to get?
There are 3 types of reloading presses out there. It’s better to know a bit about each of them before buying your own. The best reloader for you might not be the most popular one, but the one that fits the best your needs and abilities.
Any reloading press puts together all the 4 items to make a bullet: the bullet, the powder, the primer and the brass that holds them all together.
Turret presses and single stage ones handle the steps one at a time, but a progressive press takes up all stages at the same time.
You should stick with a single stage press if you are mostly loading for rifles and don’t need large quantities of ammunition. If your budget is tight, this type of press is a good option for you. A single stage press is very accurate and requires time, which you should be willing to spend.
Once you want to pay attention to details and don’t care that much about the speed, it may mean you need a turret press. This type of reloading equipment is good when loading a rifle or a pistol and is not high priced either. The turret press is a bit faster than the single stage one and, as a plus, it’s not very complicated to operate.
For the large quantities of ammunition and the loading of pistol shells, the progressive press is the reloading press to get. Your budget needs to be a bit bigger but you’ll realize the time you save once you get this type of reloader. And, if you also like the levers and knobs and have mechanical abilities, this type suits you perfectly.
One last word
Of course, you can always go and buy yourself more than one reloading press. In case you’re a serious shooter that shoots pistol and rifle, this is the best thing to do. You may get a single stage press along with a progressive one, or a progressive and a turret- as long as you have the money for it.
Top 5 Reloading Press Reviews
For the professional shooter that needs a large quantity of ammunition and a big diversity also, one of the best choices out there is a progressive press like the Dillon Precision 16940 XL 650 223 Progressive Auto Indexing Reloading Machine. The Dillon Precision is a heavy duty progressive press and here are our pros on it:
- The Dillon Precision Auto is a 5 station progressive loader
- It includes .223 Rem Caliber Conversion kit, factory installed
- Station 1 is for resize/depress
- Station 2 is for powder drop/flare
- Station 3 is for powder check
- Station 4 is for seat and station 5 is for crimp
- The Shell plate is mechanically indexed
- The Shell plate rotates one station with each pull of the handle
- The cases are mechanically inserted
- You may manually feed bullets
- The press comes with a case feed tube to automatically insert cases
- You may add the case feed motor to automatically insert cases into the Case feed tube
- You may load 500 to 800 rounds per hour
- The press comes with powder measure
- There powder measure features large and small powder bars (small bar installed)
- The small bar throws from 2.1 to 15 grains of powder
- The large bar throws from 15 to 55 (extruded type)-60 (ball/spherical type) grains of powder
- The press comes with one prime system with large and small priming parts (appropriate size are installed)
- The early primer warning system makes it safe to use the press
- The press features one large and one small primer pick-up tube
- The Dillon Progressive Auto comes with one plastic ball handle and one loaded cartridge bin
- The tool head is efficient
- The press comes with powder die
- The caliber conversion kit is already installed
- The set of standard Allen wrenches is useful
There are some things that count as cons, though:
- You need some time until you set up the press
- The kit doesn’t contain electric case feeder, powder check die, strong mount so you need to invest more
- The press doesn’t come with dies
- The kit doesn’t include wrench holder, bullet tray nor aluminum roller handle
After spending 30 minutes or more to get everything adjusted the first time, you would only need ½ hour to swap out, assuming you have a separate powder dropper adjusted for your 9mm, for instance.
If you like better the easy operation and setup of a turret press, you can go with the RCBS Turret Press. There is also the RCBS Deluxe Reloading Kit to have a look at. There are many good things to mention about this press, so here are the pros:
- The press features 6 stations
- The frame material is cast iron
- The frame design is a C-frame
- The handle is ambidextrous
- The press has quick change turret head
- The press has 4” ram stroke
- You also get an automatic priming system with primer tube, primer plugs and sleeves for large and small primers
- The press also comes with a primer catcher
- There are 2 holes for mounting and you should use 3/8” bolts to mount the reloading press to the reloading bench
- The turret press gives you many combinations in the mounting sequence of fires
- You may operate it in progressive or single-stage mode
- The progressive mode gives an output from 50 to 200 rounds per hour
- The turret head is held by one bolt for a fast and easy changeover
- The standard shell holders slip intro press ram
- A clip spring holds in place the shell holders
- The primers are placed away from stacked primers
- The press comes with a safety tube
- The primer catcher keeps spent primers on floor
- The press has a baked epoxy finish
- The epoxy finish is chip and fade resistant
- It’s easy to clean up the press
- It’s very easy to operate the press
- The press operates smoothly and is very reliable
- The press comes with a lifetime warranty for home reloaders
As for the parts we like less, here are our cons:
- The primer needs to be of better quality
- The press doesn’t come with mounting hardware
Another high quality auto-progressive reloading press is the Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press. There are many good features to this press so here are our pros:
- The Hornady Lock N Load is an auto-progressive reloading press for quickly switching dies and loading other calibers
- The 5-station bushing system lets you change from 223 to 45 in less than 5 minutes
- The EZject system ejects every cartridge, without adjustments
- The system gives quick-change metering inserts
- The system comes with universal case retainer spring
- The press comes with automatic indexing system
- This is a built-in priming system
- The press comes with case-activated powder drop and a large-capacity hopper
- The system switches die, powder measure, check dies, bullet seater or crimp dies and you don’t need to change the whole die head
- The press is able to load pistols and magnum rifle cartridges
- The press uses shell plates
- The system is easy to use and reliable
- There is great customer support
- The press is well designed, reliable and solid
- The bushings are inexpensive and easy to use
- The powder dispenser sits in one of the bushings and it’s very easy to swap out
- The shell holder has an easy design
As for the cons, there are a few to mention:
- It takes a bit to setup a load with the standard inserts.
- The auto indexing could be smoother
- You need both video and printed instructions to get a clear image on how to operate the press
- The shell holder has some difficulty in proper alignment which sometimes gives crunching a case or a primer
But, the lock and load die system works flawlessly, which is a great reason why you should get this press.
An efficient progressive press is the Lee Precision Load Master 9-mm Luger Reloading Pistol Kit. Giving high performance for its price, the Lee Precision has many good things to talk about, so here are our pros:
- The Lee Precision Load Master reloads rifle and handgun cartridges very easy
- The press has enough clearance for the largest magnum rifle cases
- You may use it as an automatic indexing progressive press or as a single stage press
- The press comes with 5 stations that accept most popular reloading dies
- A detachable turret holds the dies and lets them be removed and reinserted without any other adjustments
- The press comes with carbide 3 dies set (full length size0, turret, shell plate powder measure
- You also get a case feeder and primer feeder
- The frame is made of steel and cast aluminum
- The press has an O-frame design
- The handle is place bottom right
- The press works with 7/8”-14 threaded turrets
- The stroke ram is 3-3/4”
- The ram is 1-3/4” diameter
- The press has 3 holes for mounting
- The press is fast and easy to operate
- The Lee Precision comes with 2 year guarantee unconditional
Apart from the good things, there are some minor issues that we need to mention. So here are our cons:
- The press doesn’t come with mounting hardware
- The information is not enough for understanding how it operates
- The primer system is a bit fragile
- The press needs some polishing and tuning because it runs smoothly
- The powder measure system is not accurate enough
- The primer feed mechanism is made of plastic
But, for the money you pay, you get an efficient, durable loading press, that’s versatile and reliable.
A great single stage press, entry level, is the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press. This kit comes with many accessories and here are our pros:
- The Rock Chucker press frame gives a full four inches of ram-bearing surface so that it sturdily supports the 1inch diameter main ram
- The handle is made of heavy duty steel
- The press has a frame of cast iron material, which is strong and versatile
- The Rock Chucker comes with a comfortable ball-type handle grip on
- The press has an ambidextrous handle design
- The Rock Chucker is versatile and strong
- You may reload all handgun calibers with the press, apart from 25ACP and all rifle cartridges up to 30-06 Springfield length
- The press is great for the beginner but for the professionals just as well
- The Rock Chucker is for heavy-duty reloading, case forming and swaging
- You may upgrade the press to a progressive loader with the addition of a Piggyback-4
- It’s easy to use the press
- The press gives great leverage
- The Rock Chucker is robust and well built
- The press comes with a removable die insert
- The latter of the press helps you use the Hornady quick change bushings
- The lever screws into the pivot linkage near the center which gives less twisting force on the ram
- The ram stroke is 4 inches, which is great space for magnum ammunition
- The press gives great accuracy of the powder measure also for the smaller ammo, even when using extruded powders
- The Rock Chucker press uses hex locking bolts which makes it safe when operating it
- The kit contains the press, handle, primer catcher, handle nut, primer arm, large and small primer plugs and sleeves and coil springs
- The price is right for the quality you get
- The press comes with a lifetime warranty
There are some minor issues to the press, so here are the cons:
- The hardware to mount is not included as this depends on your table
- The priming device is not the best. It’s kind of fragile, doesn’t have the best design and does throws primes
But for the money you pay, you get a good single stage press that is able to make you a master brass loader.
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