How much difference is there in single stage presses?


March 9, 2010, 01:10 AM
I am loading on a Dillon 650, but like to resize rifle brass on a single stage. I currently have a Lee classic cast single stage, but would like another single stage to leave set up just for sizing rifle brass, and then use the Lee for other jobs like pulling bullets.

So question is, is a Redding or RCBS or Hornady press any better than the Lee for sizing rifle brass on?

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March 9, 2010, 01:24 AM
I doubt there is any single stage press that is better than the Lee Precision Classic Cast in any significant way or in any way for that matter.

March 9, 2010, 01:27 AM
Have you used presses other than the Lee?

March 9, 2010, 01:42 AM
consider the forster co-ax, it generates a lot of force for FL sizing brass.

March 9, 2010, 06:38 AM
consider the Forster co-ax, it generates a lot of force for FL sizing brass.

Second that motion!

The Forster CoAx is the finest single stage press out there. It has floating die alignment, universal shell holder, quick change die system and the most accurate press type priming system out there.

I've owned (single stage)presses from just about every press maker out there, all of then have moved on to new homes except the Forster.
It is reasonable in price about:$230-$240

Read the reviews there

Jimmy K

March 9, 2010, 09:38 AM
"So question is, is a Redding or RCBS or Hornady press any better than the Lee for sizing rifle brass on?"

No. And that comes from one who uses a Rock Chucker and Lyman turret and has used the Co-Ax and UltraMag, which actually has the most strength and the greatest leverageof any press I've used but that "advantage" sure isn't needed for common reloading and case reforming work.

I think many of us put far to much value on high cost and massive strength presses and too little on skill and knowledge. Lee's Classic Cast press is the winner for strength, design and precision machining in its design class, no matter the cost differences.

March 9, 2010, 09:54 AM
There is a significant difference between "O" presses and "C" presses.

There is a significant difference between the Forster Co-Ax and all others.

There are a few differences with the arbor type single stages.

And there is a huge difference in strength but not function of the Redding UltraMax.

March 9, 2010, 03:28 PM
The Hornady has the LNL bushing system- very nice system! You can get a conversion kit for the Lee however...

March 9, 2010, 05:03 PM
I'd just use the classic cast. I hear nothing but good reviews of it.

only takes a few seconds to unscrew a die.

March 9, 2010, 05:24 PM
I find it interesting that folks pan the C frame presses as inferior to O frame presses, but both the Forster Co-Ax and Redding UltraMag are C framed presses, and widely deemed among the best presses available. Both of these anchor the linkage to the top of the press, very near the die, for maximum stiffness and strength.

There are some features of single stage presses that make one easier to use than another. Such features include how well they handle the spent primers and debris, keeping them off the bench and floor. The best presses for this have a hollow ram or tube that captures the primers and directs them to a catch bottle, bucket, etc. below the press. Adjustable handles (length and/or angle) allow you to fine tune the stroke length of the handle stroke for the leverage the task allows. Some folks (like me) prefer tubular gripped handles, but others prefer ball-end handles. Some presses incorporate, or are compatible with, quick change die features. All of these features have varying value to different users. And of course, they come at different price points too.

There are four popular single stage presses that seem to stand out in value and performance, with the above features in mind: The Lee Classic Cast, the Redding Big Boss II or Ultramag, and the Forster Co-Ax (what I use).


March 9, 2010, 05:55 PM
Are the tolerances of the various presses different? On my Lee single stage there is just a little bit of wobble in the ram. Does this make sizing brass any less precise?

March 9, 2010, 07:16 PM
Probably less than you can detect while shooting.

March 9, 2010, 07:20 PM
...the sizing die does the work.

There is a big difference in tolerance. And I do think there is a lot of difference in leverage and thrustline forces between presses. Some pull the work bench a lot more than others. Others take more muscle to push the brass into the size die. Same is true for the tooling better machining make for smoother size.

IMHO the Hornady bushing system is a way to keep loaders from stripping the threads out of their aluminum bodied LNLs. (I own two LNLs and an aluminum Dillon 650 so I'm color blind) Plus the dies won't fit in their storage boxes with the bushings attached - what is so nice about them?

I also ask where the equipment is made. I will pay more to keep a fellow American employed.


March 9, 2010, 07:36 PM
The Forster is an O* type press, a flat O*, the forces are contained within the O of the linkage instead of the O or C of the frame.

* really it is a Box type, where the top frame guides the two rods that are attached to the bottom frame, the linkage forms a Box or a square O. Because the linkage is attached to the top and the bottom unlike either an O or C type.

In Regular O & C presses, the linkage is attached only to the bottom and all the force is exerted on the top half of the frame.

You have to think of the CoAx as a vise with screws on both sides instead of a c-clamp with linkage.

Jimmy K

The Redding Ultramag has the linkage attached to the top frame too.

March 9, 2010, 07:38 PM
I'd get another Lee Classic Cast. That is an excellent press. They are made in the U.S.A. too.

Rollis R. Karvellis
March 9, 2010, 08:17 PM
Don't forget the Lyman Ornge Crusher that's panted black now.

March 9, 2010, 10:04 PM
call me old fashioned but I still do not see the big deal of these bushings. A set locking die nut works just fine for me. I'm not hating or bashing, just saying my opinion.


March 9, 2010, 10:25 PM
I dont really like the Hornady bushing system because when your dies are in the bushings, they don't fit back into the die box for storage.

March 9, 2010, 10:35 PM
I use RCBS Reloader Special 5 single stage for depriming/sizing and really find it easy and effortless.

March 10, 2010, 11:34 PM
LNL bushing-fitted dies will still fit in Hornady die boxes. The boxes are also sold separately.

The co-ax guide rods are not attached at the bottom of the frame, they are guided in bearings at both top and bottom of the frame. The guide block is fixed to the guide rods, and rides up and down with them (the guide block and guide rods together constitute the "ram" on the co-ax).

If the co-ax linkage arms are part of the O, then it is a flexible, bending O at that. Most people understand that O or C refers to the shape of the rigid frame of the press. If the co-ax linkage arms and ram are included in the O, then most O presses would be more accurately described as figure-eights!


March 11, 2010, 07:34 AM
I guess that what I am saying is the the frame really does not have the force applied to it like a bottom linkage press does, call it what ever you like, but it is still the best design out there for precision ammo as far as presses go. Your right most people misunderstand how it works, the Ultramag is a inverted design similar to the coax in operation, except that Redding uses a ram instead of the base. I said the rods of the coax where attached to the bottom, I should have said the base(ram). It is harder to describe, than it is to use.

If you are only talking frame then the coax and Ultramag are C frames, but the linkage is what forms the Box in which the forces are contained on both.

After using my CoAx for almost 40 yrs, any having used(owned) presses from all most every other maker, The CoAx is still the best!

Jimmy K

March 11, 2010, 01:22 PM
"On my Lee single stage there is just a little bit of wobble in the ram. Does this make sizing brass any less precise?"

Absolutely not, neither in sizing nor seating. The highly acclaimed, and costly, CoAx press doesn't even have die threads, the die lock rings simply slide sideways into a milled slot and float there.

A tightly fitted ram is never needed to push a round case into a round die, they will self align unless a tight but off-axis ram prevents them from doing so.

The supposed spring in the old C frame presses was much less than some assume. A few minutes with a dial indicator will quickly correct that misconception.

March 11, 2010, 10:34 PM
A floating die has no external forces (other than friction, common to all presses) to keep it from seeking the center of the cartridge being pushed into it.

A wobbly ram on a conventional press certainly has external forces on it that change during the stroke (take a look at the toggle block as you work the lever), and seek to push the cartridge off center in the die. The only thing resisting that de-centering force is the thin brass case, which will deform slightly in response. This can be mitigated significantly if you pause, releasing pressure on the cartridge/die, at a few intervals during the stroke. This is most commonly recommended while seating (some also advise to rotate the cartridge at each pause).

The linkage and the bearings above and below the guide block on the co-ax ensure that lateral forces on the ram are in only one direction during the stroke, seeking to take out the play at the beginning, and allowing the ram to travel in a straight line for the duration of the stroke.

JimKirk, "It is harder to describe, than it is to use." I certainly agree with that! And with the fact that the co-ax is the best designed, best built single stage press.


March 12, 2010, 05:12 AM
Count me as another proponent of the CoAx. Have owned and used others but would not go back!

March 13, 2010, 02:24 PM
Lee Classic Cast. You can pay more, but will certainly not get more.

You will get a lifetime warranty with the others, though. And they throw in a free press too. That's kind of nice....

March 14, 2010, 03:34 AM
For sizing brass, any press that has the ram travel to accomodate the brass will do.

Your Lee classic cast should outlast you.

It wasn't clear if by sizing you mean resizing or case forming. If the latter, look for a compound leverage press.

March 14, 2010, 08:23 PM
The tangent forces on a conventional ram and toggle system are far less than some think. At the point resistance is felt with case contact inside the die the leverage points in the toggle linkage are so nearly vertical as to be irrelivant to case alignment. And all that is beside and ignores the rather loosely fitted shell holders we use.

Meaning, no current compount toggle linkage press has any helpful case-to-die alignment advantage over any other. If another design was truly superior they would all copy it, just as they did with the compound toggle linkage system; NO ONE still makes the original simple lever-link presses they all started with!

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