Hornady lnl progressive vs single stage press


May 3, 2014, 01:38 PM
I am a newbie to reloading and want to get started reloading my own shells. I currently will be reloading .308 for a POF AR10 with 20 in barrel and .45 for a XD 5in tactical. I imagine that this list will grow some as time goes on(daughters are starting to enjoy shooting). I am debating between the Hornady LNL progressive press and a single stage (Hornady or RCBS). Any wisdom/thoughts out there? My main use for reloading is target/plinking rounds to maintain skills, with a few hunting rounds thrown in(I live in Colorado and hunt).
I have a decent budget but also would like to spend as little as possible. I am out for a Dillon. I imagine I will load about 200-300 .308 per month and the same with .45. I am interested in precision shooting with the .308 and it seems that progressive is great for .45 but maybe not so much with .308? I my original plan was reloading lapua brass with rcbs x,dies and developing loads from there. My question is this. As with most things it seems that as you get better with loading you end up loading more rounds and shooting more. As I start out can I get consistent rounds and refine my skill reloading on a progressive(and spend the money now) or should I just get a single stage and realize I will get great .308 and slower process for .45. I hope this makes sense.

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May 3, 2014, 02:03 PM
You have analyzed well! Single better to learn, but eventually your ammo needs will grow and the progressive would be a nice thing to have. Some progressive presses can be deactivated to work single stage cant they? Or is that just turret style presses? Someone will be along with familiarity with your equipment choice. The single stage is always good to have, I use mine to "pre prepare" brass. Like a thousand LC I just went through depriming.


May 3, 2014, 02:20 PM
If I were starting over from scratch, I would go with a Forster Co-Ax *and* a Dillon SDB.

tightgroup tiger
May 3, 2014, 02:30 PM
I would get a single stage or a Lee Classic Cast turret press which is a self indexing turret press that can be made single stage easily. (10 seconds) I always recommend this since you should have a single stage to go along with the progressive anyways. Just conventional wisdom.

Whether you buy a LNL-AP or go for the Dillon the first time is up to you. Personally, if I were to do it again I would start with the Lee Classic cast turret press to start with instead of a single stage and skip the single stage all together since that turret press can be made single stage or left self indexing. It's just more versatile, then go straight to the Dillon if that's what you have your heart set on. But either way the single or self indexing turret is far easier to learn reloading on then starting with a 5 station progressive.

I have the lnl-ap w/case feeder but unless you are loading 1k or more at a time you really don't need the case feeder in my opinion. The LNL-AP is a really good machine but so is a Dillon so can't go wrong with either one.

May 3, 2014, 02:32 PM
About 8 years ago I bought an LNL to replace my Lyman turret for high volume loading. But, I still use the turret press along with a RCBS Chargemaster. This arrangement works fine for me.

May 3, 2014, 02:38 PM
When I started reloading 35+ yrs ago all I had was a SS press. As I got into shooting handguns my requirement change. I discovered that the SS aggravated my tennis elbow, which limited the number of cycles I could do. I moved up to the LNL-AP and never looked back. After using this press I see no reason why a nubee could not start on it. You just start off as you would a SS press. 1 round and 1 die. Then you can progress to 1 round all dies. Once your comfortable every thing is running right you can move to AP. Due note that once all stations are full you will have a small OAL change. This is normal with all progressive due to flex in the base plate. I use only ball powders (WST 45acp, WSF 9mm, 231) when it comes to running in AP. Large flake powder like Unique does not meter well enough, ±0.2gr deviation.

I load 308 and 7mm Rem Mag on my LNL-AP. As with all rifle ammo I do not shoot high volume so I weight each charge and do not run in progressive. I load 1 round at a time as I would on a SS. I do have the X-die for my 308 but can not confirm if I will ever need to to trim again since I shoot it so little. As for the 45acp you will love the LNL-AP. I have the brass feeder on mine so my output is in the 500/hr range if I want too. I have a bad back so my time is limited. Very seldom do I load for more than 2-3hrs at one time.

For high precision shooting a progressive will not match a good SS press. It just depends on what you classify as precision shooting. For general practice ammo the progressive are just fine provided you use a powder that will meter accurately.

May 3, 2014, 04:30 PM
The LNL would be a very good press, I really like mine. While you can't keep it from auto indexing, you don't have to fill stations you are not using. I like resizing rifle brass in my LnL since I only have to feed the brass in, the press spits it out on its own. Makes for quick work of the job.

The only reason I would advise against the LnL for the rifle is if your using a powder that is hard to meter like IMR 4064. Varget seems like it would do OK but the best is a ball powder if you can find a combination that works for you. But if you wind up going with an extruded powder your going to have to hand way every charge so a progressive is a mute point in that case.

As far as pistil goes, your best bet is the LnL. It seems like no matter what you do there is always pistil rounds to load.

To be honest though, you should get a single and a progressive. And if the LnL is the progressive your looking at, then it only makes sense to get the Hornady single stage so that you can use the bushings. I did convert my RCBS over to run the bushings, its as simple as unscrewing the die adapter and screwing in Hornady's lock and load adapter.

I use both of mine quite a bit, together they make a great team.

May 3, 2014, 06:09 PM
If Hornady offers a shell plate for .308, that should be your answer.

May 3, 2014, 06:11 PM
OP, I will echo what some others are saying here. Go for either the Single Stage or the turret first. Get a good grip on what you are doing and then consider a full progressive. I started on an RCBS Rockchucker and use it for rifle where the volume does not merit the progressive. You have to consider your shooting volume for the progressive. There is a learning curve associated with them. I have used a Lyman turret (older style All American) and am running 2 Hornady LNL APs now. One setup for large and one for small primers.
I know that lots consider the Lee Classic Cast Turrets as good beginners, I haven't used them, but it makes sense. Gives you a good way to learn and then a good capacity/volume as you grow the skills.
I load 223 and 308 in a mixed mode. I resize/deprime on the RC and after measuring, trimming (if needed), swaging, etc, I bring them to the LNL for priming, powder and seating. I load 300 blackout (known swaged) fully on the LNL.
Feel free to ask specific questions as needed.

May 3, 2014, 08:04 PM
I prefer to load my rifle on a single stage but I do load some rifle cartridges that I might shoot alot of on a progressive. I do all my resizing of rifle cases on a single stage.

A single stage press is a handy thing to have around even if you do most of your loading on a progressive. There are a few reloading tasks that just work better on a single stage.

I have a Hornady L-N-L that I reload mostly handgun on and like ti.

May 3, 2014, 09:18 PM
I started on a Lee single stage but after more than two years feel that I need more production. The single stage just isn't cutting it anymore. I've decided to load .223 and 9mm on a LnL and keep doing .308 on the single stage.

I have no regrets getting the Lee first. I think it was probably the best way to learn. Plus, it never hurts to have a single stage around in addition to a progressive.

May 3, 2014, 09:43 PM
I think the LNL AP is the way to go. Not only is it a great progressive press but can easily be used as a single stage by just inserting 1 die at a time in station 1. You can also manually use the powder measure. While learning or for precise rifle loads, operate it as a single stage.

May 4, 2014, 08:20 AM
VerticalRN - Welcome to the High Road

If you are planing on banging out 400 to 600 rounds a month of a combination of pistol and rifle rounds the Hornady AP would be a great choice. I have one. I think its a very good press. Very versatile and easy to set up. The only complaint I have is with the priming. It just doesn't like CCI primers. I think it can be “tuned” a little, but for now I just buy another brand. I gotta say, you can crank out some ammo in a hurry with one.

I am interested in precision shooting with the .308

I know a lot of guys that load for rifle matches on progressive machines. Most seem to prep the cases on the first pass, trim and clean off the lube, then load them up on a second pass. On the Hornady you can see inside the case in the bullet seating position. If your powder gets bridged in the powder drop you can get it sorted out before you seat the bullet. Or you can just use ball powder.

May 4, 2014, 10:05 AM
Everyone has different experiences as you are already seeing. I started on a single stage many years ago, laid out of reloading for nearly 30 years and now reload multiple calibers. A couple years ago I went with the LNL and really like it. It is a totally different experience in reloading. I still will still sit down and run through a bunch of cases on my single in new calibers as I look for the sweet spot.

The simplicity of the single stage cannot be overstated. One operation at a time, quality control for me along with consistency was much easier to control. This is not to say you can't with a LNL progressive, there is just a lot more going on with each pull of the lever. It is difficult to watch every step of the process and there are variables as most progressive reloaders will admit.

I am a pretty mechanical person so this stuff doesn't scare me but I would always encourage a person to start with a single and get comfortable with all of the variables of reloading. For me, going to the LNL created an entirely new set of challenges which were quickly overcome, just different.

Have fun with it.

May 4, 2014, 10:26 AM
Starting with the single stage is a great theory, but loading on a single stage for me lasted one batch. thinking "this is BS".

So far I load only handgun, so if I load for my AR or 30-30 Winchester, I might appreciate still having that single stage for more than miscellaneous tasks to support the progressive and turret. I have provided though for .223 on the progressive and 30-30 Win on the turret.

I am a fan of the Lee cast turret but do my volume stuff on the Hornady LnL AP. I would love to try a Dillon 650 XL, but am heavily committed now to what I have. I am not unhappy and kind of like developing a command of the adjustments on these machines, reluctant to give up those skills. When anything isn't working quite right, I go back to the manual and review all the setup instructions. Hornady has been quick to help when I needed it.

May 4, 2014, 07:19 PM
Don't overlook the cost of shellplates for every* new caliber, as opposed to just a new shellholder (and some die sets come with a shellholder)

*some cartridges do share common shellplates, like .30-06, .308, .45ACP, OTOH some don't have shellplates available so you're stuck if you need to load them on a progressive.

Progressive presses are great, but they will never completely replace single-stages. So buying a cheap SS to start with is not a dead-end upgrade path.

May 8, 2014, 05:05 AM
You can also put just 1 round at a time in your AP & run that 1 round from fired to finished. I have used my Pro1000 to load 243 & even 30-06. I drilled a hole in the turret so it didn't auto advance & I'd rotate the shell plate at the bottom of the stroke. It is a great press to load 45ACP on.

I still rather do Rifle on a SS even over doing it on the LNL AP or my Loadmaster.

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