Reloading on a Progressive


April 5, 2010, 12:02 PM
Question: Doesn't reloading on a progressive press skips one important step if you're depriming/sizing on the same? (Primer pockets cleaning)

I Mean, depriming/sizing then priming right after, does not allow you to check to see if your primer pockets need to be clean.

What do you guys think about that? How many times can i reload without cleaning the primer pockets?

Thanks again!!!!

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April 5, 2010, 12:27 PM
when I was using a Dillion-- I cleaned & deprimed b/4 using machine.
A lot of people I know clean cases & run them thru machine-depriming in machine.
They fire fine........................

Bwana John
April 5, 2010, 12:30 PM
Actually I feel that missing case length trimming is MUCH worse than not cleaning the primer pockets. And sometimes I like to use powders that need to be thrown by mass not by volume.

Progressives are great but for most rifle reloading I use a single stage to achieve more precision.

April 5, 2010, 12:31 PM
I have some .45 ACP and .38/.357 cases that have been loaded on a Dillon several times and never cleaned and no problems yet.


April 5, 2010, 12:42 PM
I have been reloading for over forty years and very seldom clean primer pockets with the exception of two cartridges used in my long range varmint rifles. Pistol brass I never do. Almost all my ammo is loaded on a Dillon 550B.

April 5, 2010, 01:05 PM
Haven't cleaned a pocket on pistol brass since I started and no issues. Rifle brass gets a different treatment but like above i do it in single stage fashion.

David Wile
April 5, 2010, 01:25 PM
Hey Chagasrod,

I started reloading over 50 years ago, and I was taught to clean primer pockets by running the point of a pick around the inside of the empty primer pocket. Usually just a small flake or two of ash like material would come out, but I did to every metallic cartridge case I reloaded until 1997. It was then that I got one of the first Hornady LNL progressive presses.

You are correct. Running progressive means depriming and repriming without cleaning the primer pockets, and my whole metallic cartridge reloading experience to that point included cleaning all my primer pockets. Then I thought about it for a while and realized I had been reloading shotshells on progressive presses for 40 years and never had a problem. I started out reloading pistol cartridges progressively without cleaning primer pockets, had no problems, and then finally started reloading rifle cartridges progressively, and I have not had any problems with them.

I have come to the conclusion that cleaning all those primer pockets all those years was pretty much a waste of time.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

April 5, 2010, 01:50 PM
Some people put handcuffs on when loading with a progressive. By that I mean they run cases through with only a sizer die in the press, then take the sized cases, do the case prep, like clean primer pockets, trim, de-lube and even uniform flash holes. Then return the cases to the machine to complete the process.

When loading on my Dillon 650, I run them through the entire process beginning with lubed cases using midway spray lube. The only thing I do with rifle is; check the length of the case to be sure it isn't too long. If it is, it gets put in a batch to be sized and trimmed before loading.

When loading handgun ammo, I sure don't worry about cleaning primer pockets. I haven't cleaned a handgun primer pocket since my IMHSA days. I almost never clean rifle primer pockets, the exception is for hunting ammo. Even then it isn't needed.

April 5, 2010, 02:13 PM
New rifle brass gets primer pockets cut to a uniform depth, but after that I don't worry about them and deprime/reprime on a progressive.

I tried spray-on lube so I could use the progressive press without interruption, but I got so many stuck cases I gave up on the idea. Now I lube with an RCBS pad, resize/reprime, wipe off the excess lube and check for case length (also a cartridge headspace check.) Any that need to be trimmed get thrown in a separate bin, followed by trimming and chamfering.

When I get all the brass prepped, I resume operations on the progressive, but I index before pulling the handle (Dillon 550B) to skip the first station.

For me this is reasonably fast, and I get a chance to inspect the brass as I prep it.

IMO, there's nothing wrong with just using a progressive without breaking out any operations, if you can get the process to work. You might want to keep track of # of firings and batch check the brass for case length if you don't check as a breakout step. Also probably want to trim a little shorter than usual, to prevent case length growth from catching you by surprise.

David Wile
April 5, 2010, 03:50 PM
Hey folks,

I really like Snuffy's description of the way some folks load on their progressive presses: "Some people put handcuffs on when loading with a progressive." Immediately after Snuffy's post, Dmazur described how he sizes all his cases first before then reloading them progressively. I would not want in any way to demean Dmazur in any way for the way he chooses to reload on his progressive; he obviously knows what he is doing and simply chooses a different path than Snuffy and I. However, I would like folks new to progressive reloading know that one does not have "wear handcuffs" while using a progressive press.

When using carbide dies for pistols, I use no lube whatsoever. For straight wall pistol cases, I simply insure all my cases in a batch are trimmed to the correct length and that their case mouths are chamfered. The correct trim length and case mouth chamfering only has to be done when I first get the cases because this type of case does not "grow" in length after many uses. When all my pistol cases are the same length and chamfered, I find I can seat and crimp (if required) both jacketed and cast bullets in one operation. With a well chamfered case mouth, when using cast bullets I keep belling to a minimum, and I am able to use no belling at all with jacketed bullets.

Bottle necked rifle cases will lengthen over time and will have to be trimmed every so often. The hotter your load, the more often you will have to trim your cases. With moderate loads, your cases may not need trimming even after ten reloads.

For bottle necked cases I still usually lube them by rolling them on an old lube pad, and then I proceed to load them on the progressive just as I do with pistol rounds. I then take my finished loads and "wash" them in a 3 pound coffee can about 1/3 filled with gasolene. I simply rinse a handfull of finished rounds at a time, the lube comes off immediately, and I then lay the cartridges on a cloth towel to dry. In less than 15 minutes, the cartridges are completely lube free and dry, and I then place them in a vibratory cleaner to shine them up when required.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

April 5, 2010, 03:58 PM
Very well said.

My last paragraph alluded to that, in fact. As you're not checking case length until after the next firing, you should have that well under control with some type of system to track numbers of firings per batch.

I may yet get lubes figured out and go back to "full progressive" for rifle cartridges, as I load for pistol. For now, I'm reasonably content with breaking out resizing. (The handcuffs aren't tight...really. :) )

April 5, 2010, 04:02 PM
I load on a Dillon 550 & when doing handgun stuff I just feed them thru the press, but when I do 45-70 I'm extra careful & clean primer pockets. I shoot BP in my 45-70 so I even wash them in soapy water.

April 5, 2010, 04:58 PM
I don't shoot a 1000 rds. a week anymore --the kids are more or less gone(more less than more)--so I have no need to use my Dillions.
I always had problems with Win 30 carbine using CCI primers-I had to scrape the new primer pockets with a primer brush on a lot of cases to get the primer seated properly. Don't know why.Would not use them in my progressive.
No rush anymore--use Lee 4 hole turret for everything.

I broke the alum. handle on a Lee Turret trying to install primer in 30Carbine. They sent me a freebe..................

David Wile
April 5, 2010, 06:31 PM
Hey Dmazur,

I'm glad you took no offense at my comments about your reloading practices because I meant no offense and do not have a problem with how you choose to use your machine. Obviously you do it carefully and wisely.

As far as checking case lengths goes, you might criticize me for not checking often enough. When I get a new batch of cases (either new or used, bottle neck or straight wall), I size them first, then trim them to my "trim to" length, and then I spend some time chamfering the case mouths. I first debur the outside, and then I very carefully finish the inside to insure it has a smooth taper like the tool used to do the work. That chamfering sure does make it so much easier to seat bullets with absolute no bell for jacketed ones and just a very slight hint of a bell for cast bullets. For cast bullets used in rifles, I have never bought a special belling die to seat cast bullets in any caliber. When a rifle case has a nice chamfer, I have always been able to seat my cast bullets without any belling whatsoever. I will admit that all my cast rifle bullets are gas checked, and I suspect that may help a bit.

Unless I am testing a few cartridges for a special purpose, my reloads are usually on the moderate side in power and velocity. Given the moderate loads I use, my pistol cases never lengthen, and when I do check the length of my bottle neck cases, I never have to trim them until I have reloaded them at least ten times and even more. I know some folks shoot their stuff so hot they have to trim their cases after each firing. Those are generally the same folks who are replacing their barrels every six months or maybe a year.

As far as lubes go, I have a couple of different brands of spray lubes, and I have to admit they are convenient and work pretty good as long as you get the cases covered well. However, I found I did not always spray them enough, and I could feel the case was getting tight before it got stuck. Besides that, the sprays are a lot more expensive than the old fashioned RCBS case lube I have been using on a pad for 50 years. With the lube pad, I have learned to do it so I never get a stuck case (none in the last 35 years), and it is a very rare time when I get a lube dent. It certainly is messy, and I don't like messy, but it works well after all these years, and put up with the mess for a while.

Talking about wearing handcuffs, I think you could say that I was handcuffed to the old fashioned lube pad, and in my case they are pretty tight.

Hey Tom,

I also load 45-70 on my progressive without cleaning primer pockets, but I am not using BP. I have been tempted to load some BP in my Marlin Cowboy 45-70, but then I think about cleaning the gun, give up on the idea and take a nap.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

Maj Dad
April 5, 2010, 09:18 PM
When I was a kid (Korean war era :eek: ) there was a fellow down the alley on the opposite street who was an NRA center-fire bullseye shooter who I hung around & probably made a pest of myself. He was gentleman and tolerated me, and I remember him saying that all the big-league shooters (of the day, obviously) didn't clean primer pockets on pistol cases. I have never felt it a necessity, and though I do clean some (30 carbine as Howard J noted, and hot 357/44 mags, e.g.), I do not worry about it with 9x19s, 38s, 45s,, and crank them through the Dillon 550 with zero loading problems, and no ignition issues. Neither have I ever trimmed pistol cases (again, 30 carbine excepted, though it is really a rifle case) - they just don't stretch. I used to obsess over it when I got case-length-religion, but I found it a non-issue. I am still reloading 45 acp brass I picked up at McKwellar's Lodge at Ft Bragg in 1973, and though I don't load it to max levels now, it is essentially unchanged length-wise. Some are getting pretty beat up (and I do trash them as they get bad), but there are a bunch of them still in the plinking pile.

I know there is someone out there who has studied this in detail and will provide data "mos-shosh"... :D

April 5, 2010, 11:40 PM
I usually tumble and then size and de-prime 9mm before going full progressive, they are a bit sticky in the sizeing die and I feel it disrupts the process. I have used spray lube on the 9mm but thats kind of a pain, just as easy to size and de-prime first . I do all the straight wall cases in full progressive mode.


evan price
April 6, 2010, 12:57 AM
Pistol cases- I don't measure length, trim, chamfer, clean primer pockets, or even sort by headstamp or number of loadings. They get tumbled and dumped in a bucket, then dumped in the case hopper. It really won't matter unless you are looking for competition grade accuracy.

Rifle cases- I do a lot of military cases, so they need deprimed, swaged and resized and then trimmed to minimum length, & chamfered. Then they can be progressively loaded. I do the depriming in batches with a Lee turret; in one turret I have a universal decapping die and the RCBS Swage Die. Just swap the shell holder as needed. I use the Lee trimmer so the cases need deprimed before trimming.

April 6, 2010, 01:08 AM
My apologies... I'll try again tomorrow.


April 6, 2010, 01:25 AM
For me, depriming/sizing and hand priming separately resulted out of necessity because I use the Lee Pro 1000 progressive with problematic primer feed attachment (worked about 95% of the times). But this process also allowed me to examine primer pockets as part of my Quality Control measures and clean them when needed.

What I found from other seasoned match shooter is that they all hand prime their cases. :eek: When asked, their responses ranged from being able to identify loose primer pockets to simply extreme OCD behavior.

Having ran many comparison tests, I will admit that dirty primer pocket with new primer WILL shoot well. For me, clean primer pockets and properly seated primers is a standard I use for my match loads. For plinking/practice loads, it is not necessary.

April 6, 2010, 02:14 AM
I am the odd duck here when it come to reloading on my progressive, guess I suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I have been cleaning primer pockets for 37 years. We don't buy new ammo with dirty primer pockets so in our attempt to create better quality ammo why should we start out with dirty primer pockets? After a day of shooting the first thing I do is toss the brass into the first tumbler (50/50 corn cob and lizard litter) for two hours. This usually gives me time to get all my guns cleaned. When that is done I take the rifle brass over to the cookie sheet and give them a couple spritz of my lanolin/alcohol lube, then run all brass pistol and rifle through my Rock Chucker with the Case Kicker. Then the brass is taken over to the drill press that has a Hornady pocket cleaner in the chuck. Once the pockets are cleaned I run all the rifle though the drill press again first with the Possum Hollow Kwick Case Trimmer and then with RCBS debur tool. When I am done the brass is run though my second tumbler with straight lizard litter for two hour then it goes into storage container until I am ready to reload. I only reload in batches of 1,00 or more, less then that is just a waste of time by the time I set everything up.

Dave mentioned "Some people put handcuffs on when loading with a progressive." well I guess you could say I also wear shackles. I have a digital case counter that I use not only to keep track of how many rounds I reloaded but to remind me when to do a powder check; Ball powder 1 in 50 and flake 1 in 25. I used to do it only one or twice in a bath but that was before I had to pull 200 rounds because a piece of the plastic from the old 1 lb Alliant container that you use to pull up the spout on shed some plastic when I refilled powder measure and worked it way down into the cavity of the drum displacing 3 grs of powder on 18 gr load. I know that was a fluke but it was still a pain in the @ss to rectify and I don't want go through it again and yes the powder cop should catch something like that but remember I said I was OCD!

April 6, 2010, 07:33 AM
Some people put handcuffs on when loading with a progressive.
I am one of them, although I would not call it handcuffed, merley slower.

I run all the cases through to size and deprime. Then I hand prime. Then I load. If I want to clean primer pockets (and I do not with pistol calibers, only some rifle), I do it then.

I like it this way for a number of reasons. I do understand folks not wanting to go the extra step, which means pulling the handle double the amount of times.

Handcuffed in Bama :)

April 6, 2010, 12:23 PM
I am one of them, although I would not call it handcuffed, merley slower.

I run all the cases through to size and deprime. Then I hand prime. Then I load. If I want to clean primer pockets (and I do not with pistol calibers, only some rifle), I do it then.

I like it this way for a number of reasons. I do understand folks not wanting to go the extra step, which means pulling the handle double the amount of times.

Handcuffed in Bama

This is what I was trying to say last night but ended up rambling so I deleted it and apologized.

I do not always run the brass through this way and for the most part, pistol gets loaded into the case feeder and goes around the stations and falls into the bin as a finished cartridge. But I do also have alot of brass that is done as Walkalong said.

I have 3 progressives but sometimes I also make a run of pistol brass only on single stage.

I guess it depends on my mood.

Different strokes for different folks.


April 6, 2010, 12:30 PM
I re-size and de-cap, then ultrasonically clean, then tumble. Once my cases are all shiney I unscrew the sizer/de-capper and run everything through my Dillons as usual. I don't have to do it that way, I just like mirror like brass. I've reloaded thousands of rounds in the past with just a quick walnut scrub in the tumbler then run it right through the press. It's just a preference thing to me.

April 6, 2010, 01:17 PM
I've beern loading on Dillons, (450,650,1050) since the mid eighties.

I've never cleaned a primer pocket, except on my varmint loads.

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