Need Advice Selecting My First Reloading Press


September 2, 2010, 04:55 PM
Like most of you, I'm now looking to begin reloading because I like to shoot, and ammo costs are through the roof. Calibers I'll be reloading are 45ACP, 9MM, 38/357, 223.

I'm tool-friendly (a serious amateur woodworker) so not scared by set up tasks.

I would like opinions on the following questions to help me select my first reloading press-
1)Turrret vs. Progressive-like the idea of producing large quantities of ammo quickly.
2) How difficult is it to re-calibrate a progressive press if things get out of whack-have heard horror stories that trying to find which stage is out of adjustment can take hours-is that true?
3) Best value for the $-I'm very willing to settle for a turret press and sacrifice some speed of reloading for lower cost. All you Dillon owners who love your presses don't need to respond to this topic since I don't want to spend that level of $'s for my first press. I'm more interested in opinions (good/bad) on Hornady LNL AP, Lee Turret, RCBS Pro, etc.

Thanks in advance for your input.

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September 2, 2010, 05:02 PM
I would get a high quality single stage press and learn to reload with it.

Later on is the time to go progressive, after you get a clue what you are doing one step at a time.

The LnL, turrent, etc really save you no time because you do each operation in large batches with a single stage press.

The is absolutely no reason or speed advantage to change dies or die stations 3 or 4 times each round you load.

A single-stage press will always have many good uses on any reloading bench, no matter how "progressive" you get later on.


September 2, 2010, 05:23 PM
A Lee single stage with a full circle frame will suit you just fine. Some of Lee's machining is a little rough, but the design and overall quality are there.

A turret press is more or less multiple single stage presses put together over one ram. Unless you never want to change dies for the two calibers you reload, they save no time in the long run over a single stage press. A progressive press is a whole different animal.

From what I hear, the Lee progressive presses are to be avoided. Besides them, it sounds like a good progressive (Dillon, Hornady LnL AP, etc) is out of the question at this time.

September 2, 2010, 05:25 PM
I usually recommend a single stage to start out. But seeing as you have mechanical ability get a progressive. I'm not a fan of the Hornady press as I see a lot of people having timing issues on them. Someone may say I'm wrong but do an Internet search on the LnL progressive and you'll see the problems. Mostly seating primers or timing. Never had any of that on a Dillon.

I've owned nothing but Dillon for the past 9 years and no problems to report. Did a lot of research before deciding on a progressive. Ruled out the turret as it isn't much faster then a single stage.

Have owned all the Dillon presses except for the SD. One bit of advice I'll give you on progressives, make sure it has enough stations for a powder check die. This is the reason I sold a 550 and moved on to a 650. Without a powder check die eventually you will get into trouble with an over/under load. I will not own a progressive press without a station to check the powder.

September 2, 2010, 05:37 PM
I have looked at almost all the presses out there and picked Lee over the rest. A single stage press would be your best pick, progressive presses are hard to work with. If you want to load several cal. you have to change dies and face plates I use a 4 tourret lee press but I only load 45, 9, and 38 special rounds. The 223 you want to load can only be done on a single stage or a dillon press. You can buy a single stage from midway for around a $100.00 and get almost everything you need other then the dies.

September 2, 2010, 05:57 PM
I recommend a Lee turret press.

September 2, 2010, 06:28 PM
A single stage is by far the better way to start and you will always have uses for one even if you later move to a progressive, etc. Lee's Classic Cast is perhaps the best of its type regardless of its low cost. (If I had to replace my Rock Chucker that's what I would get, it's actually the better press.)

There is no real advantage to any conventional turret press (IMHO) but Lee's Classic Turret is not conventional. It has a useful auto-indexing head that you can disable for single stage use for learning and the heads are inexpensive enough to make having one set up for each cartridge practical.

September 2, 2010, 06:40 PM
Go with Lee. It works well for a cheap setup. The kit has almost everything you need to get started. As go get use to it youd probably upgrade peices of your setup anyway. Better/faster scales, measuring devices, brass cleaner, etc. Also probably do some other tweaks and mods as you go along as you find your perfect load. My Lee press still works great. Nowdays I have it setup as a backup press and is always setup the way I like for my .270 anytime I need to pop out a few new rounds it's ready to go. The Lee scales are quite acurate for what it is ... I stuck to it while looking for my perfect load then after I got the new scale, remeasured the load from the Lee scale with the new scale ... it was out by .1 of a grain.

September 2, 2010, 08:11 PM
I looked at Lee presses in the beginning too. The reason I didn't go with them is some of the users told me the primer feed is an issue and they seat primers using a handheld priming tool. To me that seems like a waste of time if you can't do all the steps on the progressive.

One of the questions I asked owners of progressives when I was looking was how many rounds an hour they are doing. If you get answers of "I don't rush", "I take my time" or "I don't count" there is a reason they can't give you an answer, they're having mechanical issues.

The Dillon presses I've owned have all been dependable. The 550 produced 350 to 400 rounds an hour, the 650 does about 500 to 600. The 1050 I have does an honest 1200 an hour and my arm generally needs a rest after the first hour.

Go with Dillon and the press will hold it's value should you ever decide to sell it. Lee on the other hand would not get you much money if you wanted to part with it.

There are lots of choices. Do some internet searches on the different brands and you'll find the problems you'll encounter with each brand.

To the person that said you'll never outgrow a single stage press, he is right. I still load most of my rifle rounds on a Rock Chucker.

September 2, 2010, 09:14 PM
If your budget allows for a Hornady LnL AP, do it. You can start without a case feeder but expect to add it at some point. It will allow you to place bullets and cases with your off hand. I don't have a Hornady but it is on my wishlist, and I have been through dozens of these threads and read all the arguments, done all the quotes, etc.

I use Lee and am doing fine but I have a wood shop too and do like nice tools and machinery. It makes for a better quality of time while doing the work.

I can appreciate why many report having machines dedicated to a caliber setup, i.e. more than one press. I have that too, but believe Hornady would be one of the better ones for doing changeovers that aren't too stressful. I also have four bandsaws and five drill presses, so you get the picture.

September 2, 2010, 09:16 PM
I would recommend the Lee classic turret if you are only loading 800 to 1,000 rounds a month. I have been loading on mine four years now and it has been a great press. The safety prime and pro auto disk powder measure have worked near flawless. The LCT can also be used as a single stage press and when you want to load three times faster just put the auto indexing rod back in. I have a feeling that 200 rounds per hour on the LCT will meet your needs a lot longer than 50 per hour on a single stage.

September 2, 2010, 09:29 PM
Someone above said something about not being able to load .223 on a Lee Turret, wow I wish I had known that before I loaded the couple of thousand sitting in my garage right now :neener:

It works just fine for .223, I even load .308 on mine I just don't use the powder dispenser, I weigh all of my charges on my .308 and then seat the bullet. I am told that long rounds can be problematic, but I don't plan on loading anything like that and if I did, I would just buy a single stage since I kind of want one anyway for load workup and small batches.

September 2, 2010, 10:28 PM
gerrym526, I have helped some shooters new to reloading setup on Lee Pro 1000 Progressive. As many have posted, starting reloading with a progressive press is not for everyone (I did, and look how confused I am :D).

rcmodel gave good advise, learn the reloading basics on a single stage press first. The setup I now use and recommend is both single stage and progressive press mounted on the same bench. I use the single stage to separately deprime and resize as I hand prime most of my cases. If you reload 9mm, resizing 9mm case is much easier on the single stage press (I use and recommend RCBS Reloader Special 5 but any "O" ring single stage is more than adequate). I also often prefer to do 38/357 on the single stage and you may prefer to do some test loading of 223/rifle cartridges on the single stage. It's the best of both worlds.

Since you are mechanically inclined, check out these 9 part videos on complete disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly of Pro 1000. If it looks like it's something you can do, you might give it a try. BTW, Pro 1000 will load 38Spl/357/9mm/40S&W/45ACP and 223.

Complete disassembly/reassembly -
Loading on Pro 1000 -

September 2, 2010, 11:39 PM
You can get a nice RCBS RS5 Reloading Starter Kit for less than 250 bucks. Right now RCBS has a cash rebate also. I would start with the Single Stage and use that to learn the basics. Then, if and when you decide to get into it further, you can always upgrade to progressive. Most still use thier single stage even though they have a progressive. So, you won't be wasting money if you upgrade later.

September 3, 2010, 09:47 AM
If your budget allows for a Hornady LnL AP, do it.

I second this opinion if you plan to reload quite a bit of pistol.
I would steer clear of the Lee Pro1000 and the Lee Loadmaster.
There are an intrepid few that can make them work but in the long run you'll be happier without all the priming and indexing issues they present. I started with a Pro1000, moved to the Loadmaster thinking it was an upgrade then finally threw in the towell and bought the Hornady LNL. I now use the LNL AP and the LNL Classic single stage and I couldn't imagine any press offering more.

That said, the Lee Classic Cast Turret seems to be the economical solution. A good friend just started with one and aside from needing (2) risers on the powder drop to clear the priming mechanism he hasn't had any complaints.
The Lee Classic cast seems to be the press of choice.

September 3, 2010, 10:11 AM
Ck LNL Prices against Dillon 550
I have been the LNL Route due to cost, not a good experience.
Words of Experience

September 3, 2010, 11:00 AM
2) How difficult is it to re-calibrate a progressive press if things get out of whack-have heard horror stories that trying to find which stage is out of adjustment can take hours-is that true?
Bull Poop! I have read line after line, paragraph after paragraph about these so called nightmares. I run a LNL and a Loadmaster and neither one have any such issues that takes hours to fix. I think this comes from frustrated people that are not inclined to fix the issue. I could write a ten page all hell breaks loose article on shell plate alignment and scare everybody away from buying it too or I could just fix it. Good Grief, it did't even take the factory an hour to build the press and box it up.

I would venture to say a LNL is very nice and can serve every purpose. The Lee Loadmaster is better BUT it will require a few minutes of tinkering if you need to replace a wear part or make an adjustment. I have a friend with a Loadmaster set up just for 223 and he likes it very well.

September 3, 2010, 04:44 PM
lee classic cast turret

same price as a good single stage. but way faster

Hondo 60
September 4, 2010, 10:26 PM
I think your best bang for the buck is a Lee Classic Turret Press. You can use it in Single Stage mode til you really get the hang of it. Then simply reinsert the indexing rod & you've got a great turret press.

If I knew then what I know now, that would've been my choice. But even the oldest of the old timers still use a single stage for some operations. So if you decide to get a single stage, it won't go to waste.

Just my $0.02

September 4, 2010, 11:57 PM
tell ya what bud I have an old lee single stage press sitting on my floor taking up space pm your addy pay for shipping and its yours... happy reloading.. pay it forward

September 5, 2010, 10:51 AM
tell ya what bud I have an old lee single stage press sitting on my floor taking up space pm your addy pay for shipping and its yours... happy reloading.. pay it forward Gee, Christmas got here early......

September 5, 2010, 11:26 AM
Gerry.......I believe you got your best answer with the first response. The longer you stick around here, the more you will come to respect the knowledge of rcmodel. Much also depends on how many rounds you shoot a month and whether you look at reloading as a hobby or as a chore. I shoot approximately 500+ rounds a month of various calibers(.357, .44, .45ACP, .460S&W, .32 Win. SPL., and 30-06), with various types of loads within individual calibers. I do this all on a Rock Chucker and have done so for years. I load when I have the time and always run out of empty brass without ever running out of ammo. I can't brag about my rounds per hour, but my ammo is accurate and consistent and I always have something to do on rainy Sundays and that hour between when I get home from work and supper.

September 5, 2010, 12:34 PM
yep I still load on my rock chucker. I love that press. and between my wife and I we shoot 2K + a month easy sometimes I have seen us go through 5K rounds a month. she loves reloading as much as I do and between the two of us we can knock out a batches of a hundred in about an hour and that rifle rounds that have to be trimed and lubed ect. we can do 200 rounds of straight wall pistol an hour.

September 5, 2010, 12:54 PM
My advice is get one of each of the Lee Classic presses, single stage and turret. I have both on my bench and have established routines for loading that take advantage of the best features of both.

This is how I set up my turret. The specific set up is for 45-70 and I use the Lee Dipper Cups for charging. I can easily do 100 rounds an hour with this set up with pre-preped brass. I size the brass before hand on the single stage.

Here are the two Lee presses on my bench.

September 5, 2010, 02:38 PM
I'd say go with the best deal you can get on a single stage press for now. They all work pretty much the same if they're a single stage anyway. Then whatever money you save, put it toward a really good scale. You'll always have some use for a single stage press, so it wont be money wasted.

September 6, 2010, 01:26 AM
The question is, what do you want to spend? You can buy a lot of ammo for the cost of a premium press.
For pistol rounds, nothing beats a progressive. For multiple calibers, nothing beats the Hornady L-N-L AP. I consider it superior, for me and my preferences, to every press I have seen except the Super 1050. For me, it is several steps up from the 550 and 650, and they are a step above the RCBS, which is several steps up from the Lee.
If you are willing to disassembly, file of burrs and mold flashing, and not get frustrated, you may be happy with the Lee LoadMaster.
The Hornady is, as far as I can see, about the fastest and the least expensive to make caliber changes with.
For pistol rounds, I gave up on single-stage or turrets back when Hornady first came out with the Pro-7 (I think it was called) AP with 5 stations (late '70s or early '80s?). I never regretted that decision and working with a friend's 650s only made me more sure of my decision.
I gave my son my L-N-L when I got a Super 1050. Do not even think about starting with a 1050.
You want either a Lee Challenger (with die bushings), a Lee turret (with auto-indexing), a Forster Co-Ax, or a Hornady L-N-L.
Go to manufacturer's sites and read the manuals and watch any videos. Go to YouTube and watch videos. Find someone who reloads and try their press. Note what you like and what you don't like and then look for a press that addresses YOUR likes and dislikes. Never assume that someone else's "perfect" press will be even moderately acceptable to you.

September 6, 2010, 07:45 AM
The spend issue is very real. I keep a running inventory of all my reloading equipment with the price I actually paid and the retail price. It gets updated frequently. I do not have a progressive press of any type so no big dollar items. Nor do I have power trimmers or multiple powder dispensers. Mostly lots of hand tools but if I had to replace everything I have today I would be out well over $4000. My actual out-of-pocket cost is less than half that but most of the stuff I have was bought on eBay when you could get a good deal.

September 6, 2010, 08:15 AM
I'd say go with a turret ...

From my rather limited experience it's kinda the same as a single stage, minus having to swap out dies in-between calibers, once you remove the funky rod that makes it turn.

I can honestly say we're using the turret press exactly like a more convenient single stage ... but always have the option to get the fancy parts that make it more like a progressive one.

highlander 5
September 6, 2010, 09:13 AM
Myself,I'd go with RCBS or Redding single stage because of the LIFETIME warranty on both these presses. Even though I have 2 650s I still have a single stage for tasks that the progressives aren't designed to do. Case in point,I plan to get an upper in 300 whisper/fireball for my AR. The brass in made by expanding the neck of the 221 fireball case. 221 fireball brass in hard to come by so I plan to make the brass from 223 rem. I wouldn't try that on my 650 I certain that I'd break something.

September 6, 2010, 10:51 AM
If you anticipate more than maybe 100 rounds each time you go shooting, a progressive is the better choice for you. IME, Dillon make the best progressive presses, and I've owned Hornady and Lee progressives.

For my present uses, I like the Redding Boss press for my bolt actioned rifle loading, but if I'm loading for a shell shucker where absolute accuracy is not necessary, I use a Lee Classic Cast Turret press. Far from perfect, but since I sold my Dillon equipment, this is what I have! :)

September 6, 2010, 11:04 AM
I'm kind of surprised by the recommendations for single-stage presses over turrets. I like single-stages just fine (and picked up a second hand Lee Classic Cast to add to my bench recently). But I really like the Lee Classic 4-Hole Turret. I have my various cartridge dies mounted and stored in the removable turret heads, so swapping cartridges is as easy as swapping heads. Works for me.

September 6, 2010, 11:18 AM
stubbi - I use my classic turret when loading for my bolt guns and get very accurate ammo. I don't see a difference in accuracy with press type. Accuracy comes from payong attention to detail and knowing how to use the equipment you have.

September 6, 2010, 01:16 PM
3) Best value for the $-I'm very willing to settle for a turret press and sacrifice some speed of reloading for lower cost.

Well that just screams out LCT.Now is that the best for you thats a good question that only you truly know the answear to, theres been some great input to help you make the best choice for you.
My self I've got a Lee S/S - LCT and a SDB

ETA: flashhole love your reloading center

September 6, 2010, 09:20 PM
Gerym526 wrote Calibers I'll be reloading are 45ACP, 9MM, 38/357, 223.

Here's my opinion: get the Lee Classic Turret. I started with one. It's not hard to learn reloading on it. There are plenty of videos to help plus people on this forum to ask for help.

The choice of press is dependent on what kind of ammo you want to reload. Rifle ammo is well suited to a single stage press because of the extensive case prep involved. A turret is not necessary unless you want to load a bunch of .223 or something like that.

I really wouldn't want to load pistol ammo on a single stage press. It's just too slow. If you want to reload less than 100 rounds/week, you could get by with a single stage. Loading between 100-500 rounds/week would go very nicely with the Lee Classic Turret. More than 500/week of the same caliber is more enjoyable on a progressive like the Hornady or Dillon.

Another plus for the LCT is caliber changes. The Lee is faster than anything I know of. Pop one turret out and another in in a few seconds. Change primer sizes in a minute or so (try that on a Dillon or Hornady). The Lee Pro AutoDisk is cheap enough at $38 or so to have one set up on a turret for each pistol caliber you load frequently.

My son and I shoot Cowboy Action. He reloads for .44 mag pistols and a .45 Colt carbine. He loads for himself and his wife so he need 120 .44mags and 120 .45 Colts for each match. That's 240 rounds/week with a caliber change. He was doing it on a RCBS Rockchucker. It was so painful for me to watch and think about that I got him a Lee Classic Turret for his birthday. The Rockchucker is now a paper weight waiting for a need to arise for it to be called back into action.

Figure about 2 hours to load 240 rounds of mixed .44 and .45 on a Lee Classic Turret. That was taking my son about 5 hours on a single stage.

Life's too short to load a lot of pistol ammo on a single stage press.

Just my $0.02. :)

September 6, 2010, 11:21 PM
Gerryn526, I strongly recommend Lee presses. I've been in the reloading game just a scant 6 months and without question Lee is the way to go. I have 2 of their presses, one for handgun and another for rifle. Lee's customer service and technical support has no equal! Good luck.

September 7, 2010, 03:48 AM
Lee Classic turret would be and was my first choice. You can run it single stage as well.

September 8, 2010, 12:45 PM

like hydralicman i'm a fan of lee's classic cast turret.

some ramblings:

i have two dillon square deals and a 550; they're great, but very pricey these days and they aren't ideal for small runs...caliber changes are $$$.

i chose the classic cast turret over lee's other turret designs because of its construction material...i'm old school, prefering cast iron to aluminum, if possible. after using it, i idled my dillon, lyman and rcbs presses.

i purchased lee's priming attachment, but prefer their hand primer; the attachment works but isn't as fast for me.

most of my loading is rifle, so i don't auto-index.

a completely set-up turret fits in a 13 oz. coffee can; i have 26...lee would've made money on me if the press were for free. :o


ignorance is its own reward

Kevin Rohrer
September 8, 2010, 12:52 PM
You are loading high volume rounds that say "progressive".

But you are a beginning, and for safety reasons, that says, "single-stage".

Think safety and start out with a single-stage press. As you will be moving on from it fairly quickly, don't spend a lot of money on it.

I recommend you goto Ebay and get a used one for <$50. The old Herters Super 3 can be had there for $30-40 and will do an admirable job. If it doesn't come with a universal shell holder, CH/4D will sell you one for $11.

Once you have been loading with it for a year, then move to a progressive. The Dillon 550B and Hornady LNL are both excellent.

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