First Press: SS or Turret? And a few other ??? :)


February 28, 2010, 11:51 PM
Hi first post here. Been lurking awhile and have gleaned some good stuff from this site.

I've been shooting for just over a year (yes, I've wasted much of my life!!) and decided awhile ago that I would eventually get into reloading. Well, now that I've got back some of the FRNs Uncle Sam stole from me, I'm convinced that now is the time to pony up.

For now, there will only be two calibers that I will be reloading, 40S&W and 7.62x51 (since, besides a 22LR and a couple of shotguns, I only have guns in those calibers). I KNOW this will change once I start getting into it, but I'm telling myself that I'm only interested in reloading plinking ammo for the 40S&W (since I already have 1000 self-defense rounds on hand) and replenishing the ball ammo I shoot with my M14 (well, and coming up with a nice hunting load for it as well). Basically, I'm doing this to save money in the long run and also in case there is an issue with the availability of ammo (which I foresee). I'm not interested in becoming obsessed with the perfect load, etc. Of course, when I got my first gun, I told myself that I'd just get a pistol and a rifle and not get obsessed with firearms like I was with guitar gear. Key word there is "was" as guns have laid waste to guitars. LOL!! My firearms/accessories wish list is quite long now. :)

Okay...enough rambling. Don't know jack about reloading but I've been reading over the past few days. I even read the "read this first" sticky up top! Regarding a press, should I get a turret or a single stage? The sticky said that if you're going to be reloading pistol ammo to go with a turret. Okay...why? Do you use more dies when reloading pistol ammo than you do with rifle ammo? Even so, can't you run a single stage press like an assembly line? i.e. decap and resize all your brass, the prime all of them, then change dies to seat and crimp? I realize I'm speaking out of total ignorance here, so please forgive me.

I was looking at the Hornady LNL Classic SS Press and the bushing system seems pretty cool...almost would negate the need for a turret press, no? Of course I also see that you can get the LNL adaptors for the other major presses, so I guess there's no real advantage to the Hornady, though I read in a number of reviews that the positive priming system is the bee's knees. But I'm also finding that the Hornady is made of cast aluminum. Is that an issue? Seems RCBS, Lyman and Lee use cast iron...why doesn't Hornady?

Okay...time for a dumb question, but it seems that brass cleaning is done before decapping. Why is that? Wouldn't you want the inside of the primer pocket to be cleaned by the brass cleaning solution?

I see that there are also primer pocket cleaning tools. Looking in a Midway catalog, I'm a bit confused by some of the tools/combo tools. I would greatly appreciate clarification on the differences among primer pocket cleaners, chamfer, deburring and flash hole tools. Or are they all one and the same?

Of course I have a million more questions, but I don't want to annoy too many people all at once. I'd rather let it build over time and end in a massive tirade. :cuss: :D

Thanks so much!

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March 1, 2010, 09:52 AM
A quick search will yield the hundreds of responses posted to this very question, but quicker is to mention that single stage = 50 rounds per hour max, turret = 150-200 rounds per hour, progressive press = 400+rounds per hour.

How many rounds do you plan on shooting each week? Buy a press to match your needs and budget.

Keep reading before buying.

March 1, 2010, 10:11 AM
Randy P's response is good. I will add my $0.02

I started out reloading with a Lyman turret. 20 years late I still have it. Last year I bought a single stage Redding. Excellent press by the way. I load for pistol and rifle. You can set up a single stage like an assembly line as you mentioned. Thats how I do. Decap and resize 50, the prime and expand, them, then add your charge, lastly, seat and crimp the bullets. I can load 50 in about 2 hours or less. But I enjoy sitting there and doing it. I'm not going for maximum output. Its a hobby. If you think you might want to load as fast as possible and you'll be shooting a lot, get a progressive stage press. You still may want to start out with a cheap/ used single stage just to get the hang of it and to learn the important fundamentals.

I use a primer pocket cleaning tool. It is an old RCBS tool that has a screwdriver-like handle. Some folks say its unnecessary but I do it, especially on rifle brass.

March 1, 2010, 10:14 AM
I agree with RandyP statements but keep one thing in mind. With a turret press, you may keep both sets of dies set up and adjusted plus some turret presses will even have an extra hole to mount a powder measure. It really boils down to speed vs convenience. Myself, I run two Dillon 550B's.

March 1, 2010, 10:24 AM
I too started on a Lyman turret, still use it. It's nice not having to reset your dies constantly. There is no readon for me to buy a single-stage beyond for real small-volume pet loads or wildcats.

March 1, 2010, 10:24 AM
As an owner of a conventional (iron) turret press with manual rotation, I agree with Randy IF he's speaking of the Lee turret (auto-indexing) presses. Otherwise, I find my turret not a bit faster to use than the single stage I replaced it with and the single stage is MUCH more rigid and easy to make more consistant ammo on.

IF I were to buy a new turret I would ONLY consider the Lee Classic Turret press. The body and toggle links are all steel, and the turret heads are inexpensive enough to actually have one set up for each cartridge.

IF I were to replace my now old single stage (RCBS Rock Chucker 2), I'd ONLY consider the Lee Classic Cast.

March 1, 2010, 11:41 AM
Thanks so much for the responses. Besides not having the powder measure directly attached to one of the dies, is a turret press that much faster than the lock-n-load system? From what I'm reading, it takes two seconds to change dies.

Regarding having the powder measure directly attached to a die, don't you want to verify each load on a scale before dumping it into the casing? Or is that just what you'd do for match shooting or hunting ammo?

March 1, 2010, 12:19 PM
I have my powder measure in one of the 4 die stations on my Lee Classic Turret. It throws very consistent charges once it is set up and verified ( I randomly weigh a few charges in the process). I use the very nice adjustable charge bar rather than the pre-drilled 'disks'.

Like my sig line says, my gear is all Lee.

March 1, 2010, 01:13 PM
Every bench will have a place for a single stage press. On my bench there is the old Hollywood press that I bought used in 1963, and still use. There is also a Rockchucker from RCBS, which I use just about daily. In the middle of those two presses is a Hornady LNL progressive press. All three presses have their uses.

You will never go wrong with a single stage press. After all, it wasn't until Dillon brought out the relatively inexpensive progressive press that almost all reloading was done on single stage presses. By the way, I don't own a Dillon, but have some Dillon dies and case trimmer.

My advice is to get the single stage and do your brass prep in batches. I've been doing it this way for years.

You tumble clean your brass before sizing and decapping because clean brass is easier on dies, and you don't want to embed all that crud into the brass while sizing it. I clean primer pockets in a separate stage. I've made a motorized tool that makes this chore very quick and simple. Some people skip this stage entirely, but I'm not one of them.

Primer pocket tools come in all varieties. Some are for just cleaning out the primer debris left behind when the primer is detonated. This is what I do with all brass that doesn't have a primer crimp. I make my own primer pocket brushes from cable with the plastic coating that you buy at the hardware store. I cut it into about 1.5" lengths. I just skin back about 1/4" of the plastic and dress the cut end of the steel core on a grinding wheel to smooth it out.

For primer pockets that have been crimped, you'll need a crimp remover. This can be a primer pocket swager, where a small ram is run into the pocket and pushes the metal from the crimp back to where it came from, or a reamer, which actually removes the metal that was pushed to make the crimp. The choice is yours to make, but I prefer the primer pocket swager myself.

Primer pocker uniformers are cutters that are adjusted to make the primer pockets all the same depth. You won't need that for your "plinking" ammunition. They generally only cut on the bottom of the primer pocket, making the depth uniform. They're mostly the same as they come off the brass line, but some like to uniform. I do this for some brass, but certainly not all of it.

Flash hole uniformers do the same thing, only to the actual hole the flash goes through to ignite the powder. Almost all U.S. brass manufacturers punch their flash holes, which means there can be a small spur left inside the case after punching. Some people like to remove this spur to ensure more consistent ignition of the powder. That's also a decision left up to you. I don't bother with it except for some precision ammunition for long range shooting at paper targets. Rocks, dirt clods and tincans don't care whether the brass was properly prepped or not.........

Get some reloading manuals and they will explain a lot of this for you. The Lyman Manuals are very good in this regard, but naturally they favor their own brand of products.

Good luck with your new hobby and enjoy.

Hope this helps.


March 1, 2010, 03:41 PM
+1 for Lee Classic Turret Press

The single stage is fine for loading rifle brass if you're not loading hundreds of rounds. Loading hundreds of rounds of pistol ammo on a SS gets tedious. It can be done but its slow.

The Lee turret is about 3 times faster than a SS. It will also load .308 Win just fine. If you want to batch load rifle ammo, you can take out the plastic indexing thingie and use the LCT as a single stage. However you can't put a plastic thingie on a SS and make a turret out of it. :):)

I started out with a Lee Classic Turret and loved it. My son used a Rockchucker until he saw the LCT in action. We both load 2-400 rounds of ammo during the week for a cowboy action shoot on Saturday. Trying to load 400 rounds Friday night for a Saturday shoot with a single stage press just takes too long. 8 hours or a SS vs. 2 or 3 hours on a LCT. Now I use a LnL AR and load 400 rounds in 1-2 hours.

Life's too short to load pistol ammo on a Single Stage press.

March 1, 2010, 04:12 PM
The single stage is fine for loading rifle brass if you're not loading hundreds of rounds. Loading hundreds of rounds of pistol ammo on a SS gets tedious. It can be done but its slow .... Life's too short to load pistol ammo on a Single Stage press.

This is very true, and should ALWAYS be considered when someone new to reloading is trying to decide what press to purchase. Many people advise that a single stage (or perhaps a turret) is the about the only thing a newbie should consider; while progressive takes more time to learn, it's absolutely a valid choice for a new reloader.

Just the thought of pulling a handle 300-400 times to make 100 rds of pistol ammo makes my arm hurt.


March 1, 2010, 05:06 PM
"Just the thought of pulling a handle 300-400 times to make 100 rds of pistol ammo (on a single stage) makes my arm hurt."

Not mine.

A progressive makes sense for those who load lots of rounds for one charge for one cartridge but that really ain't what most of us need. I load far too many different cartridges to pay for the various tool heads and gadgets, and the time to fool with changing a "fast" progressive over, for each one.

The thought of paying for a progressive just for loading an occasional couple of boxes of pistol ammo in a short time makes my wallet hurt. I find a single stage to be exactly what I need.

March 1, 2010, 06:31 PM
+ 1 for Lee Precision Classic Turret Press. For sure it is one thing you will never regret buying.

March 2, 2010, 11:13 AM
Thanks for all the fine information...and an extra thanks to Fred for going into all that detail!

Looks like the Lee Classic Turret is getting a lot of love. I did some additional web crawling and am seeing nothing but good things.

I'm looking at it in the Midway USA catalog, and listed under "accessories" for the press are listed: hex ratchet, indexing ratchet, primer arm and shellholder retainer. Are these items I need to pick up along with the press, or do they come with it and are listed because they are common pieces that get misplaced, etc?

March 2, 2010, 11:50 AM
And do please note that the Lee press in question here is the 4-hole CLASSIC turret, not the Deluxe.

The Classic has an excellent spent primer disposal system and is steel, the Deluxe has a poor primer catching method and is aluminum.

March 2, 2010, 01:33 PM
Yep, roger that...the CLASSIC. Any idea about the accessories I listed in my previous post?

March 2, 2010, 01:41 PM
+1 for Lee Classic Turret Press
Another vote for the classic turret. You'll appreciate having the turret press for pistol ammo, and I use mine like a single stage for .243 win. Turret press is easy to learn on, and the help videos on Lee's website are great for beginners. is where I got mine, the kit is the best deal I found on it. I bought the kit in 9mm caliber, and use RCBS dies for my .243 win. Very happy with this set-up so it's what I recommend. Have fun!

don't you want to verify each load on a scale before dumping it into the casing?
I don't weigh each charge for pistol ammo, but I look to make sure powder went into each case. You can see this where you stand with pistol ammo like 40 s&w, without having to remove the case from the shell holder. I DO weigh charges to make sure it's throwing the right charge, but once I've determined this I plug and chug. I DO weigh each charge for rifle ammo, but I use the set-up like a single stage, and do it in batches: depriming, then re-priming, then weigh powder, then seat bullet etc.

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