Single Stage vs Turret vs Progressive


November 29, 2007, 06:00 PM
I want to get into reloading, but all the press options are driving me crazy. I plan on starting out to reload 40 S&W and .223 to go to the range and shoot for fun, but, eventually get into reloading .308 for accuracy. Should I start with a Single Stage RCBS Rock Chucker and later upgrade to the Piggy Back? Or, should I start with a Turret or Progressive and stick with that? I don't want to break the bank, but I also don't want to get a piece of junk and have to buy a better press down the line.

Also, what exactly is the difference between Turret and Progressive presses?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

If you enjoyed reading about "Single Stage vs Turret vs Progressive" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
November 29, 2007, 06:34 PM
Depends how much you want to shoot; after 30 years of reloading, I can confidently say that it's not about saving money - it's about being able to shoot more for the same amount of money ;)

A good single-stage press will never go to waste; you can expect to load up to 100 rounds an hour once it's set-up and you become familiar with it, whereas you can easily get 500 rounds per hour (or more, depending on your budget) with a progressive.

Have a look at Dillon if you're looking at progressive presses; as for the single-stage, any cast-steel press is decent these days.

November 29, 2007, 06:39 PM
With a turret you will get one finished round for every 3-4 pulls of the handle; in other words one operation per pull of the handle. With a progressive you will get one finished round per pull of the handle; in other words multiple operations per pull of the handle.

November 29, 2007, 06:42 PM
With a turret you will get one finished round for every 3-4 pulls of the handle; in other words one operation per pull of the handle. With a progressive you will get one finished round per pull of the handle; in other words multiple operations per pull of the handle.

November 29, 2007, 06:57 PM
With a turret you will get one finished round for every 3-4 pulls of the handle; in other words one operation per pull of the handle. With a progressive you will get one finished round per pull of the handle; in other words multiple operations per pull of the handle.

November 29, 2007, 06:59 PM
Ohhhhhhh; a triple tap, that has to be a record.

November 29, 2007, 07:01 PM
Also with the turret the dies are all mounted in the turret and you don't have to switch them out to go to the next operation. Once the shell is put in the shell holder you can finish that round completly before you take it out.

With the single stage you do all rounds in that operation then change dies then do the next operation and so on till you get done.

Personally I don't do rifle rounds on a turret simply because I like/think a single stage is more accurate but that is just me and your milage will vary.

Grandpa Shooter
November 29, 2007, 07:08 PM
To make this overly simple let's look at it this way. If you go with a single stage press you will only accomplish one function at a time. You put a sizing/depriming die in the Rock Chucker, punch out the old primer and set it aside. Then you pick up another piece of brass and do the same thing. Once you have all the brass re-sized and deprimed, then you go to phase two which is seating new primers in each piece of brass with a hand priming tool. Once you have primers in every piece of brass, you would then put a powder charge in each of them by hand with a little dipper. Let's say you charge 50 at a time. You would then put a bullet seating die in the Rock Chucker and seat one bullet at a time until all 50 were charged and had bullets sitting in them. You would then put a crimping die in the Rock Chucker and crimp all 50 rounds, one at a time. You would then have 50 finished rounds. (Sounds a little tedious?)

A turret die allows you to set up either three or four (sometimes 5 on the more expensive presses) dies at one time. You would pick up one piece of brass and size/de-prime it. On the down stroke you would replace the primer with a new one. Rotate the turret one space and insert another piece of brass. On that stroke you size and deprime one piece of brass while putting a powder charge (from an automatic charging unit) into the first piece of brass you put in the press. Then you put a third piece of brass in the turret. This time you are sizing/depriming, putting a powder charge in your second piece of brass, and seating and crimping your first piece of brass. If you had a four hole turret press you could seat the bullet in hole 3 and then factory crimp it in hole 4. Keep in mind that on a fully manual press YOU are rotating the dies for each repetition.

A progressive turret reloader has a mechanism for rotating the turret with each stroke of the arm, saving you that effort. A Dillon press keeps the dies stationary and you rotate the pieces of brass by pushing on an arm sticking out from the shell plate holder. Each stroke of the arm completes one finished round of whatever you are loading.

A mechanized progressive press does all the functions for you with the right attachments. All you have to do is watch.

This is an over simplified explanation for illustration purposes. The thing for you to decide is what you want to accomplish by reloading. Are you looking to learn a great deal about ballistics and the true nature of bullets and firearms. Are you looking for a greater quantity of ammo than what you can find or afford to buy. Are you looking for a truly satisfying hobby to fill a niche in your endless days of sameness? If you start small and work your way up I suspect you will discover a whole world of new aspects to shooting that non reloaders do not know exists.

It's your choice. Those of us here on THR will gladly help you begin, learn and enjoy!:D

November 29, 2007, 08:34 PM
OK here is the Lee turret press.
Put in a case. Pull the handle down and the case goes in the sizing die and is decaped. Put a primer in the cup. Raise the handle and the ram goes down and the turret indexes to the next die automatic. Give a little extra push and seat the primer. Pull the handle and the case goes into the die and is expanded and charged with powder. Raise the handle and lower the ram. Set a bullet ( I always look at the powder charge first ) on and pull the handle. It is rasied into the die and the bullet is seated, it can also be crimped in the same die. Raise the handle and lower the ram. Pull the handle and it goes into the die and is crimped. Take out the finished round. I probably made it sound a lot more involved than it is. I can load around 200 rounds per hour on this press. You can get this setup for around $200. Other turret presses don't auto index and load at about the same speed as a single stage. A progressive should load around 400 rounds per hour or more, depending on how much money you want to spend. I hope this helps.

November 29, 2007, 09:03 PM
I like a turret press over a single-stage, because it's faster, and you can keep the dies set up and adjusted. Also, you carry each round through all stages before finishing with it, so at the end of each cycle you have a finished round (rather than say 50 - 100 primed and charged cases sitting in a block).

I like the turret press over the progressive (like the Dillon) because it does only one operation at a time. Versus the progressive (e.g. Dillon) that is doing four operations on four rounds at a time. I like the one operation at a time mode, because I can observe each step. I can see (and feel) that the primer is seated properly; that the powder is charged properly; that the bullet is seated and crimped properly. I don't really trust myself to be able to pay sufficient attention to four operations simultaneously with each pull of the handle. Too much chance to lose concentration for a moment and make a mistake. (There are safety devices to help with this problem to some extent on progressives, though.)

I LOVE the Lee Classic Turret press (pictured in the post above). I can easily turn out 200 rds/hr while checking each step, and because it moves the turret automatically, it makes it very hard to skip or repeat a step (e.g. double-charge a case, for an example). For me it's the best of both worlds.

Just my $0.02,


November 29, 2007, 09:31 PM
I just got the Lee setup for .41 Magnum from Midway.

It came with a progressive press that works for pistol cartridges and short rifle cartridges like .223 and 7.62x39. I need another press to do longer cartridges like .375H&H and 7mm Mag.

Like the others say, you just load it up and work the handle. I just add the bullets. You can get an add-on to do the bullets for like 5$. Lee is marketing genius too. rofl.

The one big drawback for this setup for me is the powder measure is limited in amounts you can drop. Eventually, I'll go with a double stack for another 10$. Powder measure seems to be a common complaint from reloading websites for all brands of reloaders.

Lee is good and affordable. The instructions stink. Friends of mine use RCBS and Hornady. They like them, but recommended the Lee for a beginner.

Initial outlay of funds is pretty spendy.

Lee progressive kit with dies pre-installed: 130$.
Federal primers: 3$/100
brass: free, used.
Nosler 210gr JHP bullets: $20/100
H110 powder: $20/1lb

For 100 finished cartridges it is a lot. But .41 is getting hard to find.

I broke the chain several times and chipped the plastic piece that pushes the brass in the brassplate. But it works great. Just have to be smooth and move the lever the full length of travel so the primers sit, etc.

I am saving up for the Lee kit single stage with scale etc. I have my dies already.

November 29, 2007, 09:36 PM
What type of press you buy depends on where you are on a time/money continuum, where

Single Stage--------------------------------------------------Progressive

If you have lots of time and little money, a single stage is indicated. If you have some money and less time, then a progressive is indicated. If you are in the middle it's a toss-up, just be advised that you will get a progressive press eventually.

December 1, 2007, 10:06 AM
I have one turret and 5 single stage presses.

All I use now is the Forster Co-ax press.

December 2, 2007, 06:05 AM
Thanks for all the advice, I think I'm going to go with a turret press, I can learn how to reload, plus I'll be able to do a little volume loading for my 40 S&W and .223.

Now, what company do I go with, I've looked at RCBS, Lee, Lyman, Dillon and Forster. So far the best deal I've found on eBay is for a Lee Turret Kit for 90 bucks. Am I getting what I'm paying for with the Lee, or is it a good deal on a press I can eventually give to my son?

December 2, 2007, 06:34 AM
Buy the best one you can afford. You arm will thank you for a progressive when loading straight wall rounds. A progressive means 505 cranks for 500 rounds, not 1500 like a single stage.

December 2, 2007, 07:34 AM
I get good milage out of my Lee equipment:)

December 2, 2007, 07:59 AM
You might try Kempf's in Michigan City, IN. A lot of guys here that have gotten stuff from them. They're maybe the biggest Lee dealer in the US and have good prices and super service. IMO, you probably won't save enough buying used to make up for the potential hassle.

That said, I'd still at least consider a Dillon 550 if you got the money. Since it's manual index, you can use it as a single stage (one operation), turret (and load one round at a time for rifle), or progressive and load one with each pull (pistol).


December 2, 2007, 08:10 AM
I second redneck2's advice - buy from Kempf. Sue there spent an hour on the phone with me getting my turret press set up. Their prices are right, they're small & independent, and they know what customer service is.

December 2, 2007, 09:35 AM

Based on just over 10 lbs of powder worth of experience...

I use a Dillon 650 for volume - coffee can of brass or more. You really have to buy the quick change conversion kits to use it effectively. It goes real fast. I highly recommend the powder charge and primer alarms.

I use Redding T7 for short runs. Used 2 and 3 die sets are readily available at shows and you can have a couple sets at a time in the press. I have a couple of buddies who use this press as much as I do.

I use a Lee Loader for the 6 rounds of 30-30 I hunt with. I have to say that the Lee guys who designed these little jewels were geniuses.


December 2, 2007, 09:56 AM
The more I learn about reloading, the more I've come to love my single-stage press. Right now I'm using a Hornady Lock-N-Load. Even with all the little LNL adapters, it's a great bargain.

evan price
December 2, 2007, 11:33 PM
I have a Lee 3-hole turret press and it's pretty good for rifle.

I have a Lee Pro-1000 progressive setup for each of my pistol calibers. There's a learning curve in which you figure out how the press likes to be worked and how fast to run it. It took me a week of fiddling to get it running right and in that week I put out scarcely a thousand rounds with a lot of cussing and complaining and reworking rounds that were screwed up.

After I figured out what *I* was doing wrong and got a better mount for the Pro-1000 and hit my rythm the press performs like a charm, I can crank out .45acp as fast as I want to- say, 300 rounds per hour without any trouble assuming supplies hold up.

If you just shoot a single or a couple pistol calibers the Pro-1000 is a great value for the money and it's not bad once you run it a bit and learn how it feels and how it wants to be worked.

December 3, 2007, 08:59 AM
I have a Hornady 00-7 single stage that I used when I started. I still use it for 308 and depriming all of my brass as I like cleaning primer pockets. I just got a Dillon 550B a few months ago and don't know how I lived without it. I still deprime on the single stage and use a hand primer and just use the 550B to actually load the rounds. It cuts down time dramatically and works extremely well. Also, check out local pawn shops for presses. That is where I got my 00-7. They don't really ever wear out and Dillon has a lifetime "No BS" warranty. That being said most manufacturers will replace parts no charge anyway.

December 3, 2007, 09:52 AM
I should probably do a search or start a fresh new thread, but I'll just tag on here since this is sort of related (maybe?).

Years ago I worked with a target shooter who suggested I set up with a single stage for depriming and sizing, then do whatever else I want for the rest of the process when I got to that point. His thinking was that he also always checks overall length of cases, which is hard to do with a more-automatic reloading setup, so he deprimed and sized, then checked length and trimmed if necessary, then primed, then everything else.

I'm about to finally get setup, got a corner carved out of the basement, digging out the boxes of accumulated tools, and am looking for input as well.

Is anyone still using the old hand primer tools?

Do you folks with the multi-stage presses clean your cases with the spent primers still in them, or do you deprime then clean then lube and resize?

Maybe I just need to do some study work first. {off to the archives with me then}

December 3, 2007, 01:14 PM
I deprime before cleaning to reduce the amount of media which gets stuck in the cartridge.


December 3, 2007, 01:53 PM
For bottleneck rifle cases I deprime and size, then tumble clean (to remove the sizing lube primarily), then hand prime, then charge & seat bullet. I still use the RCBS case sizing lube and pad as I have never had a stuck case using the RCBS sizing lube. The major drawback is that you have to make sure you don't have any media in the case or the flash hole and that requires that you manually inspect each case - and that isn't a bad thing just time consuming. But then I am not loading for an fully automatic weapon so I am not doing 100s at a time.

evan price
December 4, 2007, 03:51 AM
I use a progressive and I deprime AFTER tumbling, because then any media crumbs that get stuck in the flash hole get pushed out by the depriming pin; I am not concerned by any discoloration inside the primer pockets and flash holes... do you wash the inside of the tailpipe of your car very often?
I have buckets of dirty brass waiting to be tumbled and buckets of clean brass with a big plastic grocery store scoop ready to be dumped into the case feeder.

December 5, 2007, 10:04 PM
I'm got the dillon after about forty years of reloading on a single stage press
I looked a long time and finally brought the dillon. I couldn't be happier.
I load rifle, 30-06, .308, .303, 8mm mauser, 8X56R, 7.62X54R, 7.62x39, 7.62X25,(upps, wrong group) .223, 6.5x55 on my dillon 550B and berdan brass also. I have to hand deprime the brass on berdan primed brass.
I also load most pistol cal.s. 380, 9x18makarov, 9x19 luger, .38 spl, .357 .40S&W, .45 auto, .45 LC, .44 spl. .41 mag. All from the one press. The Powder throws very accurate charges including for 30-06 and the haardest thing to change, is to go from small pistol to large pistol or large rifle primers. it;s the most versatile reloader on the market. I have to resize the rifle brass to check it's length, after I trim the brass I can use the dillon to put the primer in and move to the next station for powder. then to seat the bullet and then crimp the bullet(for the automatics). But your still using only two strokes per case. much less four.
If you get a "case" head for each cal. your set up time is next to nothing.
And dillon service is outstanding.
ok, I'll shut up for a while.

December 6, 2007, 09:32 PM
So I think I'm going with the Lee Classic Turret Press Kit from Kempf's. It's one of the better deals I've found online and from what I've read on Midway's site from people rating it, the worst thing about it is the instructions.

Anyone have any good comments or, more importantly, any horror stories they'd like to share about the Lee?

December 6, 2007, 09:54 PM
I have had a Lee Classic Turret press for over a year and haven't had one problem. It has been a awesome press. Make sure you don't short stroke it and when you go to turn the turret to remove it to change calibers raise the ram a few inches first and you won't have any trouble with the ratchet piece. Anybody that has had trouble with the ratchet has been from not using it correctly. That's not the users fault, it's due to the poor directions. I have never been sorry I chose to go with the CT press. I load 9mm, 38/357 and 223 on mine. The ammo has been accurate and very consistant.

Phil A
December 6, 2007, 10:28 PM
Anyone have any good comments or, more importantly, any horror stories they'd like to share about the Lee?

No complaints here. I have heard of people getting a bad turret and they could not use the press until it was replaced by Lee. The turrets are inexpensive. Get more than 1. - Phil

Rod B
December 7, 2007, 10:33 PM
I have been using the Lee Classic Turret for over a year & I am very pleased with the performance.

I would suggest getting the Lee Pro Disc powder measure & the riser. The Safety Prime system works well once you get the hang of of pushing it at the top of the depriming stroke. Also there is a slight learning curve to the amount of thumb pressure required.

Just one final bit of information, "DO NOT" attempt to rotate or remove the turret with out first raising the ram an inch or so. Failing to raise the ram will ruin the square drive bushing. It's not an expensive part & is designed to fail rather than stress other components. But why risk damage when it only take a second to raise the ram.

I would also advise you to go to the Lee website & view the video on the operation of this press.

December 8, 2007, 01:15 AM
I have one of these and couldn't be happier. If I had it to do all over again this is the press I would have bought first.
This is one press Lee got right.

Good read on the Lee Classic Turret here:


If you enjoyed reading about "Single Stage vs Turret vs Progressive" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!