Progressive or not?


April 25, 2009, 02:20 PM
Is it just me or do others use a single stage press only? Others have let me try their progressive presses but I still come back to the build them one at a time routine. I think it is the control over the final product that makes it worth while, still it takes a while to load 1K of 380 in an evening. On the other hand it would be a poor time to find a squib load in a self defense situation when it reeeeealy counts!!! Also I don't want to find out what it might do to the MP40. That could cost me more than buying factory hardball.

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Ben Shepherd
April 25, 2009, 02:29 PM
I do it this way-

Range/practice ammo gets assembled on the Dillon 650. Serious use(hunting, SD) gets done on the rockchucker.

Some folks use handloaded SD ammo, the majority don't. I do. I trust my loads more than one I didn't see put together with my own eyes.

But that's a subject for an entirely different thread.

LTR shooter
April 25, 2009, 02:40 PM
I still load all my handgun ammo on a progressive Dillon Square Deal. My rifle rounds are loaded on a single stage Lee Classic Cast Press.

April 25, 2009, 02:42 PM
...still it takes a while to load 1K of 380 in an evening.

So you can load a thousand 380's in one evening on a single stage?
That's impressive.

April 25, 2009, 02:44 PM
Well, the 550B is supposed to be the most popular progressive press in the U.S.

That doesn't necessarily prove anything, but lots of competition shooters (IDPA and others) have had excellent results with it. And, of course, there are lots more who find it inadequate and run a 650 or a 1050.

The 550B is manually indexed and the other models are auto-indexed. If you aren't paying attention, it is possible to pull the handle twice and double charge a round on the 550B.

I like to think that, if you can walk and chew gum at the same time, this is virtually impossible, but apparently some folks have managed to do it.

I read an excellent suggestion from a long-time 550B user, which was to set yourself up so there are no interruptions. When that plan fails, leave the handle down while you tend to your interruption. Then you resume with a lifting the handle, a repriming push (forward), index, insert new brass and continue. If you do this any time you're interrupted, this procedure virtually eliminates the possibility of double-charging.

Basically, the press doesn't double charge. The loose nut running the handle double charges.

More elaborate presses (650 and 1050) have additional stations, so you can run a powder check die after the powder-thru expander die.

As far as skipped charges goes, this is also kind of impossible if you're paying attention. Dillon sells a "low powder alarm" for those who can't see the powder dispenser 12" in front of their nose... :)

It's all about volume and how you value your time. Progressives can turn out high quality rounds, even in rifle calibers. I use my 550B to reload for my Garand, for example, which does seem to like to eat ammo in quantity.

I'm not a benchrest shooter, but I imagine the "craft each round individually" just doesn't go with a progressive. I've seen pictures of these guys with a press set up at the range. They shoot 10 or 20, then reload and continue shooting!

If you're not shooting 500 rds a month, but more like 50, a progressive is probably a waste of money.

April 25, 2009, 02:50 PM

April 25, 2009, 03:43 PM
There is nothing wrong with loading on a single stage press if you have the time. I did it for over 20 years before I bought a Hornady LnL progressive. I still use the Rockchucker every once in a while.

April 25, 2009, 03:53 PM
I started out some 40 years ago with a single station press, graduated to a multi head press and then to a Dillon 550. I now run 2 Dillon 550B's and a Redding Boss(single station). I use my Redding for small quantities of rifle ammo or for deveoping new loads. 95+ % of my loading is done on the Dillon's, one of which is set up for small primers and the other for large. Once you are used to a progressive press you will never go back to the single station press.

wild willy
April 25, 2009, 03:55 PM
I loaded on a single stage for thirty years before I got a progressive wish I would have got it lot sooner but if you can load 1000 an evening on a single stage probally don't need it :D

Steve H
April 25, 2009, 03:55 PM
I have been a rock chuckeer only person for aobut 20 years. It does everyting I have from .223 - 7 mag and all my handgun stuff. Not the fastest but it works for me.

April 25, 2009, 06:41 PM
I load on both and to be honest, if I had the time, I would probably stick to single stage. But I don't.


April 25, 2009, 07:01 PM
I just bought a RCBS turret press for a friend of mine. Got the whole kit. Helped him set it up. Showed him how to use it. Loaded over 100 rounds.

Now I know why I like my 550 so much. I wouldn't take a turret for free if I had to use it, especially for pistol.

I can use my 550 like a turret, or four stage for pistol. The ram is maybe 4-6x as large on the 550 and it's WAY smoother. Maybe the RCBS will slick up over time.

April 25, 2009, 07:41 PM
I've loaded thousands of rounds on a single stage, and still load rifle ammunition on a single stage, but all the handgun ammo gets loaded on the 550B. It's just much faster and the quality of the ammunition is just as good as that loaded on a single stage press.

Eric F
April 25, 2009, 08:03 PM
I use both, I use a 550 b for 38 super and mt lee clasic cast for all my rifle but I shoot black powder cartridges though.

April 25, 2009, 08:26 PM
Hey! Guys!
the question was Should I get a progressive or not? It is not Which progressive should I get.

Welcome to The High Road!

I loaded a wide variety of cartridges on a single stage for over of my first 30 years of loading. As my kids got old enough to shoot the demand in number of cartridges went way up. Summers we would burn up to 4000 cartridgesm in a week of prairie poodle shooting. Most of those cartridges were loaded during the winter.

When I started competetive pistol shooting, I got a progressive. It was almost manditory unless I wanted to spend late nights loading. When the kids tried comptetive shooting, a second progressive was necessary.

If you can load 1K rouonds a night, that is impressive. However, if you get one or two more pistols, you might want to consider a progressive. The choice to progressive really depends on the numbers you wish to turn out per time involved.

I usually load at a relaxed pace of 250-300 rounds per hour, checking powder levels and OALs regularly. Now that the kids are grown, my numbers have decreased, one of the pressed sees only limited action. However, I now do most of my loading, rifle and pistol on one of the progressive presses. I still use my 50 year old single stage for some tasks.

April 25, 2009, 09:15 PM
Well I highly recomend the dillion 1050, the 650 is also a great choice. I can load 1000 in a hour with out trying.

April 25, 2009, 09:19 PM
the question was Should I get a progressive or not? It is not Which progressive should I get.

Shoney is right here.


April 25, 2009, 09:29 PM
Loading 1K of anything in an evening is impressive. If I was loading that much in an evening, I would get a progressive. I load less than that in an evening, although I could do more, and would never try it with a single stage. I am lazy I guess, and would never try to load 1K on a single stage if I did not have to.

Yes, get a progressive, if you are ready. (I started on a single stage like many others)

Which one? Well............I like the LNL. Others prefer the Dillons, some swear by the RCBS machine, and some love their Lee.

If you can, get your hands on some and try them first hand.

I like the ergonomics of the Hornady system. That is why I bought my Projector around 25 years ago, and recently upgraded to the LNL.

All of them work well. All of them have their strong points. There needs to be a place we can go to try them all out, but there isn't.

April 25, 2009, 09:48 PM
To answer the original question, answer a couple of questions about yourself, honestly.

1) Are you mechanically inclined? Have you repaired the brakes on any of your cars, rebuilt an engine, built a go-kart or RC model, installed a garage door opener, or done any other number of relatively involved mechanical activities? If the thought of taking apart the lawn mower engine frightens you, think long and hard about getting into a progressive.

2) Are you meticulous? Do you take pride in things well crafted? Based on what you've said, you probably are, but only you can answer that. With a progressive, you can make quality ammo and/or mistakes 2-10 times faster than you can now. For some, the slow pace of a single stage is just right for them.

Progressives tend to be a bit fiddly. You fiddle with this or that, a bit like tuning up an old car, but when you get it right, she purrs like a kitten. But like any mechanical device, a little tuning or adjustment is going to be required from time to time. Being of different designs, they each have their quirks, so some people have more affinity for one brand over another. For others, it's just a machine of a different color.

April 27, 2009, 12:49 PM
I load most of my pistol ammo on a 550B, the exception being when I am loading hunting loads in .44 mag, but then again the volume of those is not high.

Most of my rifle is done on an old single stage RCBS. The exception being my .223 plinking loads where the volume is high. With the .223 plinking, I still size on the single stage, then trim, deburr, clean the primer pockets, then use the 550 for priming, charging, seating, and crimping.

The Bushmaster
April 27, 2009, 01:13 PM
Single stage for rifle. Single stage and turret for handgun for the last 23 years.

If you don't need LARGE quantities of ammunition the above combination is perfect. If youplan on shooting thousands of rounds a month you might want to think about a progressive...

April 27, 2009, 03:36 PM
I retired 2 years ago and found that I enjoyed loading so much that I remounted my old Herters press on the bench with my Rockchucker and pulled my progressive off, boxed it up and stored it. I like my single stage presses, got 3 mounted now.

The Bushmaster
April 27, 2009, 04:49 PM
I believe Wild Willy would need a couple of progressive presses as much as he shoots and as fast as he goes through ammunition...:D

April 27, 2009, 04:59 PM
my dad has a progressive, and that is what i wanted. i have been using a 30 year old single stag rock chucker for a long while. instead after reading the different reviews and such i went with the lee classic turret press and i like it better than the progressives, it isn't as fast but it i slight years better in speed, consistency and convinence over the single stage. and there is less stuff going on at once. isted of watching 4 rounds at a time, i watch one, and i couldn't be happier. i will stick with my turret and have no plans of going with a progressive.

April 27, 2009, 05:52 PM
I like progressive: olive... shell... vodka... load... sip... PULL ... sip... BANG. Then tell the captain to turn the yacht into the sunset.....

ok, ok... +1 for Lee Turret

The Bushmaster
April 28, 2009, 09:44 AM
Make sure you spend a few dollars more and get the Lee Classic CAST Turret...Not the aluminum base one.

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