Loading large lots of handgun ammo on a single stage. TIPS?


July 7, 2011, 03:15 PM
I'm setting out on another (my 3rd such) 1000rd loading binge on my RC this time 9mm Luger and 115g MBC "parabellum" bullets.

I've worked out a fairly good system where I size/expand cases 100rds at a time here and there till all 1k are done, after which I'll prime all 1000 sitting on the couch watching TV in a couple hours. The actual loading takes place in 100rd batches here n there when bored. The entire process will likely take me a week or two.

Now to you progressive users this may sound like torture. But for me I enjoy my bench time and am in no hurry for this ammo as it will likely last me a couple years.

Now that I've outlined how I'm doing things I'd like to hear about your process from those of you who also load large lots on a single stage. Hopefully we can learn a few things from one another and streamline our processes.

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July 7, 2011, 03:21 PM
There is a reason we have AP presses, time saver. I would probably use the press to prime would save you many many hours. It's a bummer to spend 2 weeks to load and 2-3 trips to the range to shoot them up.

May want to add the turret to it to speed things up.

July 7, 2011, 03:32 PM
Do all of the steps one step at the time. I might do 2,000 at each step, sometimes.

Bush Pilot
July 7, 2011, 03:38 PM
My first tip would be to find someone with a Dillon that would invite you over for 2-3 hours. Barring my first tip, you pretty much have the procedure down. Be happy you aren't loading on a whack a mole set up.

July 7, 2011, 03:39 PM
I'm in the same boat as you, R.W. Dale.

I process the brass in large lots (500-1000) and stay on each step my single stage RC is set up for.

When I get to the actual powder dump and bullet seating I switch to running smaller lots but only because I'm working up a load of .357 LTC and don't know which one my revolver will love.

One thing I have done to stay organized is to have enough shoe box sized containers market with each step I'm working on. I take the box that is currently full, from the last step in processing I just did, and set it on the work bench. The box marked with the step I'm currently on is on the floor at my feet so that I can pull the shell off the shell holder and just drop it in the box.
I like to have my station set up so that I make as few movements as possible and get into a rhythm that gets the job done fairly fast.

I think this is one of those jobs where there are not too many different ways to skin this cat. Patience and relaxing music work best for me...

July 7, 2011, 03:46 PM
I use two single stage presses in tandem. Size on one and move to second press to expand. Seat on one and taper crimp on the other. Makes it a lot easier for me. Presses are side by side. Just finished 1000 rds of 9MM 124 Gold Dots. I too work for a while and stop. Takes me about a week also to finish 1000 pistol loads. A second press isn't very expensive especially if bought used on several different auction sites.

July 7, 2011, 03:51 PM
Thanks for the input fellas. I'm surprised how many of us single stagers there are.

On the time thing again I'm not in a hurry. With it 104 outside and me working out in it 11 hrs a day I'm just thankful for the hobby time that can be performed indoors in the AC. Its so infernally hot aside from my CCW qualification the 23rd I may not go shootin again for several weeks making this my loading season rather than the winter time for most northerners.

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July 7, 2011, 04:06 PM
I will be in the same boat just ordered a new SS set up

July 7, 2011, 04:42 PM
Does the RC have the ability to prime on press?

July 7, 2011, 04:42 PM
I recently bought a Pro 2000 progressive. It really speeds things up.

But before that, I loaded thousands of rounds on a single stage. All my handgun brass was deprimed, cleaned, sized, trimmed if necessary, and belled. I would then place them in storage. for example, I had 2,000 to 3,000 .45 ACP's ready to go at one time.

I would then prime 200, chrage 100, seat and crimp 100, and finsih the second batch of the 100 primed in the same manner. I coud do 200 rounds in about 90 minutes..

July 7, 2011, 04:50 PM
Does the RC have the ability to prime on press?

Yes but it's laboriously slow and fiddly on my RC IV. I haven't used the feature in years in favor of a Lee ram prime for low volume rifle loading or a Lee hand prime for handguns

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July 7, 2011, 06:00 PM
Reads like you have been following your process for a while and have it down. So, guess you do keep records/notes on where you are in the various steps with each batch of cases. I follow similar steps. I have a Dillon 650 but I still do a lot of processing & loading on the single stage presses I have. I size and inspect all cases on the single stage. I also hand prime (Lee) all cases, watching TV as you. For SS loading, I use loading blocks to keep the cases organized in the powder charging and bullet seating process, doing up to 200 in a batch. You are not alone. For the Dillon, I just dump the prep'ed cases in the hopper, set my powder measure and start loading.

July 7, 2011, 06:47 PM
This is based on my Lee Single Stage Breech Block and Lee Dies for 9mm

I also single stage it. When I am doing 9mm I also prime at the same time I deprime and size. NOTE: the brass has been tumbled first.

Then I have the little Lee press setup for the perfect powder measrure and my Breechlock for seating the bullets. I factory crimp as the last step.

July 7, 2011, 07:38 PM
Mounting a disk in a dremel and flaring and radiusing your shell holders entry for fast loading really helps with shuffling the cases in and out in one pass. sweep the sized case out between little and ring finger and load with a case between the thumb and index finger. Shallow loading blocks for short cases really helps with speedy handling. When you hit the groove with this method you can hit about 1 case per sec. that's the fun part. Flaring and priming unfortunately requires my thumb on the primer arm so no double shuffle. I'm too picky about bullet seating to double shuffle on that stage. I like maximum case tension thus I flare only enough to barely get them started without shaving. If indeed you do flare enough to really stick your bullets in the case it's no problem to double shuffle for seating too. just keep the powder hopper full, easy to have a bullet come loose and make a mess.

July 7, 2011, 08:31 PM
New term (for me anyway) the "double-shuffle" - I do that too, different fingers - same idea, thanks Shimitup!

Para Cassatt
July 7, 2011, 09:24 PM
I too only load on a single stage RCII. I do process and prime brass in 500,1000 & 1500 round lots but I seldom load more than a couple hundred or so at the time. I like the old primer tube and have only used this method since I started. I have no tricks to speed up anything but for safety I have found that charging a single case with powder measure and placing it in the press for bullet seating works well for me. I just don't like having powder out exposed to humid air longer than necessary and I can stop without having to cover things up. Knock on wood, I haven't had a double charge so far.

July 7, 2011, 09:40 PM
Yeesh. I load on a single stage too but the most I've ever done at a time was 200. As Blue hints at, it's very, very disappointing to know how many steps it took me to make each and every round and know that I'm undoing that every time I pull the trigger.

Just personally, I see a turret press in my future. When I first bought my equipment it was for loading rifle rounds. I tend to load those no more than 20 at a time. Loading 20 cartridges on a single stage is cake. It's just not cutting it for the handgun ammo though.

July 7, 2011, 09:53 PM
One tip I have is for flaring and/or additional crimping. Turn the shellholder to the right, and put a bin there to catch the shells/cartridges. When you put the next shell in, the last one gets pushed into the bin. You can flare or crimp at a rate of close to 30/min.


Actually, since you prime in a separate step from sizing, you could also do this for the sizing/decapping stage.

If you can't snug up a bin close enough to your ram, you could rig a little ramp/slide on your bin.

July 8, 2011, 02:17 AM
I used to load handgun ammo on a single stage. Got boring very quickly. Not having a powder drop the single longest stage for me was measuring the powder out on the DPSIII.
Now I just go over to my BIL's place and use his progressive to churn out lots of 1-2K.

July 8, 2011, 03:55 AM
I would do it in large batches at a time. Priming would be with a hand primer, I use a single prime Lee "older model or a K&M priming tool. I have 2 single stage presses mounted side by side, one flares case and drops powder, the other seats bullet and crimps the bullet. Would easily do over 500 in one evening, could to all 1,000 in one long evening.

July 8, 2011, 12:17 PM
I used to load like this and found that the best way for me was to do it step by step on every piece of brass.

De-prime and clean all brass.
Size all the cases and clean again to remove lube (only need a short cleaning this time around)
Trim everything that didn't fit in the jaws of my caliper set to the desired size.

Prime all of it.

Then sit down and load by adding powder and seating bullet one at a time until tired.

For the few calibers I still load on my single stage I start the process by de-priming with a universal de-capping die shortly after I bring the brass home from the range.

July 8, 2011, 02:51 PM
On a single stage press, I do things in batches per operation. I resize, trim if necessary and clean shortly after shooting so this step is done frequently then the cases are stored for future loading. I resize them all, trim them all then clean.

Loading is done in batches of 100 to 200 mostly because of the space I have on hand. I prime all of the cases with a hand primer, then charge all the cases, then seat the bullets and then crimp if I am crimping. Finally, cartridges are boxed. If I am loading more, I start the process again until I have the quantity loaded that I want.

By concentrating on one task, I can get into a rhythm and be more efficient until I have completed the batch of brass. I then move on to the next task.

July 9, 2011, 02:06 AM
Find yourself a "RCBS Case Kicker"....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85XGNxFpT90
(watch the entire video to see its use... saves you from having to remove the case from the shellholder... )

I bought one for my first RC, it has not been remove once in 15+ years.

July 10, 2011, 06:27 AM
+1 to all the guys that say do it all in batches, this really speeds up the process a lot for me. I do all the brass processing at the beginning. I polish 1/2 hour to get the dirt off, lube and size with the decapping pin removed, polish again till the brass is as clean as I want. Then I will deprime using a universal tool, remove primer crimp if necessary, bell the neck if necessary, trim to length as needed. Then set up with a hand primer and prime away, then put aside for loading in closed containers. I will do this to all the fired brass I have up to a 5 gal bucket full at a time. Then when reloading I will put the brass in loading blocks primer up as a check for backwards/crushed/high primers. Fill several loading blocks at a time, this step saves time for me also. Then charge cases in that block, look in cases to compare propellant level with good light and set aside till all loading blocks are filled. Seat bullets and do a QC check. If crimping do it before QC but I often do not crimp unless I have to for specific problems, tube feed, revolver movement etc. I will do in batches that will not make me tired. With prepped brass I can do 200-500 in an evening The brass prep is the time consuming part of this process for me and something to do on those long winter evenings.:D

July 10, 2011, 07:10 AM
Does the RC have the ability to prime on press?
Yes it does. And I like to "feel" the primer seat "home" with some of the tight ones.
Most common handgun done on my Dillon RL550-Most rifle done on my RockChucker. Bill.

Steve in PA
July 10, 2011, 12:53 PM
I've been reloading for a little over 20 years on a RCII. I reload for probably a dozen different caibers including .223, 9mm and 45acp.

I do the majority of my reloading during the winter months. Currently I have something like 4k rounds of .45acp, about 3-4k rounds of .223 and close to 2k rounds of 9mm loaded up. I would reload large batches just as the others would do. Right now, I'll throw my fired brass in the tumbler as soon as I get home, then put them into a container. When I have a good pile going, I'll sit down and work on reloading.

I've primed all my reloads using the RCBS priming set up on my press, never found a reason to do anything different.

July 10, 2011, 02:29 PM
I use almost the same style you are using. I will prep and prime a big batch and store 100 rounds each in zip-lok bags. Easy to do a few hundred in stages and doesn't become a chore. When I need some ammo I'll use the prepped/primed brass and just charge and seat. I don't shoot enough to warrent a progressive press that would cut my reloading time in half, I'd lose that much time of enjoyment! I do the same when casting my bullets, cast up a bunch, later sort/inspect, then depending on the lube I'll lube and size or pan lube then size.

Hondo 60
July 10, 2011, 02:52 PM
I reload almost exclusively on a progressive.
But, I recently added another caliber (I bought a 1911 in 45ACP).
Seeing I don't have all the necessary bits to reload 45ACP on the progressive,
I'm forced to single stage it.

On payday I'll be getting the "stuff" for the progressive!

I'd forgotten how slow & tedious it is to reload on a single stage.

July 10, 2011, 03:13 PM
I deprime, resize and reprime on the press as one step; then flare, charge and seat as the second - been working fine tat way for 30 years but then I don't shoot 1,000 per week

July 11, 2011, 12:06 AM
When I was shooting more in years past, I rarely ever cleaned brass other than wiping them off if they were muddy or dusty. Few people had brass tumblers then that I knew of. Somehow the brass and cartridges were fine, if not new looking. I never trimmed handgun brass either.

One trick that helps speed things up with a single stage is using wicker baskets for brass. A 12" w x 3 or 4" deep basket holds a couple hundred rounds of handgun brass, and makes it easy to handle them. I use one for infeeding rounds and one for outfeeding them while processing. Giving the basket a shake sideways for a couple seconds makes all the brass stand on the base and is easy to pick up 3-5 at a time for running thru the press. I orient the shell holder to the left, and can feed them in and out fairly quickly.

I also prime with the Lee hand primer. I look at every one and check to see if they seated properly, if not, back in the tool it goes, and gets seated correctly. Some seem to require rotating the round to get the primer seated deep enough all the way around.

July 11, 2011, 01:15 AM
Yes but it's laboriously slow and fiddly on my RC IV. I haven't used the feature in years in favor of a Lee ram prime for low volume rifle loading or a Lee hand prime for handguns

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That sounds like exactly what I do...

Marlin 45 carbine
July 11, 2011, 09:52 PM
ditto rqone set up another press in tandem to get a buddy, wifey, nephew to run it after all case prep is done.
be surprised how many loads you can run I have done 100 per hour + w/a nephew helping. straight cased pistol rounds. I did all primer squeezings after all case prep. this includes double checks of loads w/a flashlight to veify powder and most of the loads are max .357 or +P 9mmPara

July 11, 2011, 11:01 PM
I started on a Rock chucker that my father in law pulled out of the barn and gave to me. I was loading 9mm for IDPA. I also batch processed everything. I use plastic coffee cans to stage my brass in. I was hand priming as well while I watched TV. I then would load 100 at a time with powder and then seat & crimp. I am very glad I started this way. I learned allot about each step. I have since then stepped up to a used Dillon 550B I bought from one of the club guys that was moving to a 650. I still have the RC on the bench and use it for .44mag and depriming/sizing .223. Once I have .223 ready to load I charge, seat, and crimp on the Dillon. It still amazes me that I can crank out from start to finish 350 rounds of 9mm in a hour now without much fuss.

July 12, 2011, 10:57 AM
Interesting post. Looks like I am not alone using a single stage.

I start by tumbling the brass.I might get a lot of brass cleaned before loading. I am most apt to load in batches of 100. Whatever size batch I decide to do, I will do each step to the whole batch before moving on. I use a hand priming tool. When loading powder, I use a measure and put the filled casings in a loading block. When the block is full, I take the block and hold it so the light falls into the casings so I can see that each one has powder in it and none has a double charge. Then I seat bullets.

I enjoy the time spent reloading. I have never felt the need to spend the extra money for a progressive. I possibly don't shoot as much as many of you though. If I needed 1000 rounds a week that tune may change. :)

Have a great day!

Arkansas Paul
July 12, 2011, 11:06 AM
Sounds like you've got a pretty good system down. Mine is similar, but I rarely if ever load 1,000 round batches. I usually just go when I feel like it and do a couple hundred.

I would probably use the press to prime would save you many many hours.

Priming with the press is saving many hours over using a hand priming tool? Not for me. I have the Hornady priming tool and it is very fast. I would imagine all of them are equally fast as well.

July 14, 2011, 04:46 AM
^ I don't get it. No matter how fast it is, you're adding another step to the process for pistol brass, where you can size/decap/prime all at once. Take the time you spent priming on a hand tool. At least 75% of that is wasted time. Over the course of a few thousand rounds, I agree. That's potentially hours wasted.

If you must stop and clean primer pockets and/or trim brass, then I can see it being faster.

July 14, 2011, 11:58 PM
With priming on the press you're just swapping handling every case again for handling each and every primer individually.

Except it's not an even trade since on the RC the case has to be taken out of the way to drop the primer in the seater.

AND I'd have to remove my apparatus that prevents spent printer from flying out the priming slot and onto my floor

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July 15, 2011, 12:19 AM
I load in stages. 100 pieces at a time. .44 Mag

1st night I clean, size, bell
2nd night I hand prime, charge, seat and crimp

I have started to seat and crimp at the same time with great results.

July 28, 2011, 02:02 AM
I started out at the end of last year buying an RCBS Rock Cruncher single stage press. I learned a lot! I bought it primarily for rifle. I wanted accuracy. I started doing pistol after 1 month. The time that it takes to load 100 rounds is way too time consuming when (as previously posted), you blow it up in almost 3/4's of the time it took you to load it. 100 strokes to decap and resize, 100 strokes to flare case mouth, 100 strokes to prime, 100 strokes to powder charge, 100 strokes to seat the bullet and 100 strokes to crimp the bullet. That is a total of 600 strokes! 1 hour and 10 minutes. "YAWNNN!" It takes 3 nights of a few hours each to set up..load and clean up. I'm missing out on life supporting my habit..uh..hobby!

I just bought...two days ago...a Dillon 550 B. Geez o' Pete!! I set it up very easily. Popped out 600 rounds in less than two hours after it was set up..taking my time. Now I can actually enjoy a evening swim...a good movie...talk to my wife...talk to a neighbor...! There IS a life without being at a press all night. I blow up about 4-500 rounds on a weekend. All calibers, pistols, revolvers and rifles. I make a day of it at the club. The best part is..now I can go home..run the brass through the tumblers overnight..and on Monday..pop out 5-600 rounds in a couple hours or less... and be done until the weekend! Now..I will be spending more time on the single stage doing my rifle..(case prep) and exact powder charges..but I don't blow up 500 .308's. 100 is enough..and it takes me little time to do that for I do case prep in my spare time and have a ton of sized, trimmed and prepared brass sitting..waiting to be primed, charged and seated.

In other words...take back your life and get a progressive!

July 28, 2011, 03:13 PM
I also do 100 round batchs. I added the Hornady lock and load bushing to my RC and installed the lock and load on my dies. All the dies keep the correct settings and I can switch back if I missed a round. It saves alot of set up time. I reload 9mm, 38 spl, 357, 44 mag and 45 ACP. No need to reset dies for each case size.

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