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New or Old... Which Reloading Press is the Best?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Mr.Don.P, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. Mr.Don.P

    Mr.Don.P New Member

    Mar 17, 2012
    I have come to the following conclusion....

    I ABSOLUTELY Have to have a Reloading Press!

    So now that I have come to that decision.... New or Old... Which Reloading Press is the BEST one out there?

    I have been doing some homework, i.e. looking around and reading up on the subject now for a few weeks.

    I have poured over ALLOT of old posts from the internet....

    Apparently some people like the OLDER Presses, as in.... "My dad gave me this back in ww2 and have been using it ever since and it is the best".

    Now I have also had the younger crowd say that a one stop press "is the BEST thing since GOD created the Gun!"

    What I am going to be needing to reload is: a .38 S&W, (for an old WW2 WEBLY) a .38 Special, (S&W Six Gun Revolver) .380 (Bersa, Colt & S&W Autos).

    Sooo I guess my question is...

    What Press is Perfect for the "Newbie" and yet is S I M P L E and easy to understand how to use that will be AROUND and USEFUL After said "Newbie" has perfected it's use?

    Dillon, Lee, Lyman, RCBS???

    I know that there are "Others" out there, (Mostly looking at eBay for Ideas on presses) yet my thoughts are leaning towards getting a "Brand" Name with ALL of the Trimmings....

    I want one that has been around a long time and seems to be going to be around for a LONG time to come so that parts and Manufacturer assistance can be obtained with out any problems!

    And while were at it WHAT am I going to need that isn't in a basic "Kit"?

    Also PLEASE with your answer... you MUST tell me WHY!

    WHY the best in your opinion and WHY am I going to need it!

    Thank you all for your thoughts!!!
  2. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Northern KY
    I assume we are talking about single stage presses and not complex progressive reloading machines? If so then there's really no giant differences. A press is basically just a fancy metal lever that holds your reloading dies. I cant imagine any single stage press is any harder or easier to use than any other. Old or new doesn't make much of a difference except in the unlikely case you run across a used one that is so worn the ram no longer aligns precisely with the die hole. I love my old press, but not because it's old. I love it because it's already paid for and bolted to my bench.

    I have three presses: an RCBS Reloader Special 3 made in the mid-80's, a Lee turret press and a Lee Pro 1000 progressive. If I could only keep one it would be the single stage RCBS because I can load anything with it, albeit a bit slowly. The turret presses are really only suitable for pistol rounds.

    You asked what stuff you need in a kit. You must have a dies and a shell holder for the caliber you are loading. You also must have a powder scale to check your powder charge weights unless you buy a set of the Lee powder dippers and never deviate from their suggested loads. A reloading manual is absolutely critical in order to select safe loads, although some of the data is available online from the powder makers now. And I highly recommend some sort of hand priming tool. Most new presses will come with some sort of primer seating apparatus, but priming on the press can be very tedious.

    I have no idea what a "one stop" press is.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  3. TennJed

    TennJed Senior Member

    Sep 26, 2010
    Look into a Lee Classic Turret. Just perfect for beginners in handgun calibers. Plenty of info out there so do some looking, but I strongly recommend the Lee Classic Turret. Good price and the ability to swap calibers quickly and easily
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  4. mbopp

    mbopp Active Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    Upstate NY
    I got tired of changing dies on my single stage press and bought a used Lyman turret for pistol calibers. For rifle rounds I still prefer my single stage Rockchucker.
    I highly recommend you get a powder measure and set of calipers too.
    For 100 rounds a week or so the turret is fine. If I were to shoot more I'd have to look at a progressive press (one loaded round for every pull on the handle.)
  5. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    Mine is the best and the other persons is the worst. :D

    They all make good stuff. Get your hands on some presses and try them out. Seriously. :)
  6. flashhole

    flashhole Participating Member

    May 2, 2005
    Owego, NY
    If you are sold on Redding I suggest the Ultramag. It can size anything you will ever shoot and is very well aligned ram-to-die. You will never out grow it. I also like the Lee Classic Cast (single stage) and Lee Classic Turret, both are excellent value. I'm shocked the Forster Co-Ax crowd hasn't chimed in and called every other press ever made a POS compared to the Co-Ax.
  7. ranger335v

    ranger335v Senior Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    "... there's really no giant differences. A press is basically just a fancy metal lever that holds your reloading dies. I can't imagine any single stage press is any harder or easier to use than any other."

    Ditto; I always grin when someone touts his choice as "best". Fact is, they are very simple devices and they all work very well if the user knows what he's doing. If he doesn't know what he's doing no press swap will make him any smarter.
  8. One78Shovel

    One78Shovel New Member

    Sep 13, 2011
    So. Cal
    The Dillon RL-550B has loaded thousand and thousands of rounds for me and keeps banging them out. It's on its 12th year.

  9. vtuck2

    vtuck2 New Member

    Mar 4, 2012
    Mr. Don,

    As other members have said, they all work.

    Although I don't generally have much brand loyalty, I will tell you this.

    Richard Lee, the founder of the Lee reloading equipment, was in many ways, the "Henry Ford" of the hand loading industry. He pioneered a no frills, inexpensive, reliable line of equipment and in so doing, made reloading equipment affordable to millions of Americans.

    To my knowledge, the company is still family owned. I bought his basic single stage reloading kit several years ago, and it came with a reloading book personally written by Richard Lee. In a world of cigar chomping corporate board room big shots, Mr. Lee is, in my opinion, a breath of fresh air.

    But really, for you, it should be an easy decision. Any single stage, entry level press will do, and any one of them is all you need for now. Maybe you will outgrow it or perhaps not. Nevertheless, I heartily recommend Lee reloading gear. Tell him 'Vernon sent you" ha ha... just kidding.

  10. jcwit

    jcwit Mentor

    Oct 19, 2007
    Great state of Indiana
    There is no "best" press as there is no "best" gun, caliber, car, etc., etc. Check out whats available at your price point, personally for someone starting out, as far as new I recommend one of the Lee Kits, I don't think one can beat their value, but I also have other makes that I use on my bench, and have products from just about every major maker on my bench.
  11. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Senior Member

    May 25, 2011
    Piney Woods of East Texas
    They all are capable of producing good ammo if the end user does his part. Does not matter which press is used if the reloader does not do the detail work to make it right. Not all of the presses are not built for heavy use and will fail on large caliber rifle loads.

    You did not mention on what your weekly/monthly use will be.

    SS press will avg around 60-100/hr max. doing batch processing. Some can be up graded to a turret.

    Turrets are the next step up but they only save the time of taking the dies in and out. You can run one round all the way through without removing the brass for the shell holder.

    Progressive, are all about speed. Most start at around 300/hr. Adding a brass feeder can jump the speed to 500+/hr. The front runners are Dillon 550b, 650 and Hornady LNL-AP (made in the USA).

    So it gets to how much time you have for how many rounds per week are needed.

    You need a solid bench, good lighting, caliper, scales, dies, shell holder/shell plates, case trimmers, several load books. Then you need something to store your ammo and supplies at a minimum to get started.
  12. Chawbaccer

    Chawbaccer Participating Member

    Feb 3, 2005
    Definately an old Pacific "C" press. They usually go for 350 bucks, American, in used condition. Now as it just so happens I have two of them out in the shed, along with a large assortment of rams. I am willing to let BOTH presses go for one money, 250 dollars American, plus shipping. If you are interested in this fantastic deal, please send me a personal message.
  13. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Senior Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Welcome to the forum and thanks for asking our advice.

    Forster is pretty darned good, but costs quite a bit. What's your budget?
    Good. Many people don't bother. It makes their job harder, as they don't know how to form their questions or conduct their search.
    What kind of quantities?
    Almost every handloader I know has at least one single stage press, even if it sees little use, they are handy for quick jobs or tasks that are hard to do on a progressive or on a turret press. Singles are simple, that's for sure. Turret presses have the advantage of being able to BE a single stage simply by not rotating the turret. Progressives are more complex and cannot be a single stage, but they can emulate one. Very few people recommend learning on a progressive and if you don't need more than a thousand rounds a month, I can't see where the cost of buying one is worth the effort they take.
    I lean away from "all the trimmings". I recommend starting out with the minimum and adding tools and "the trimmings" only as I find the need for them and learn how to use them.
    Like my previous sentence, my personal prejudice is against kits in general (though I recognize that MY style is not the ONLY style and a kit may suit you just fine). Different from me is not bad in my mind, just different.
    You need a press because fingers are not strong enough to form metal

    You need dies because fingers are not precise enough to form ammunition.

    You need an accurate way to measure powder because eyeballs are not accurate enough to mete powder. A scale is usually best.

    Everything else, you can improvise or do without for a while. For example, you will need a bullet puller (to disassemble rounds that, once loaded, you don't want to shoot for any reason). But until you make such a round you don't need it and when you do make such a round (or bunch of them) you can set them aside until you go to the gun store and get one.

    Of course, I assume you already have safety glasses (shooting glasses will do, but I have a dedicated pair with my loading gear) and a couple of manuals.

    I neglected to mention something to mount the press on. I started out with a 2x6 30" long that I wedged into the drawer of an end table. Still use the board, but now it mounts on a folding workbench. A dropcloth is a good idea, too. Old sheet.
    They are all good. Ones that are not good lose reputation fast and don't stay in the market very long. So, the "best" comes down to finding the one(s) that suit your needs the best. I only have a partially formed opinion on that, until I know more about you.
    You are welcome. Thanks for asking our advice.

    I don't know how much reading you have done so far, or your shooting experience, so I will start from the beginning:

    My first advice: Read "The ABC's of Reloading", an excellent tome on the general processes of reloading. Some people have found it a little intimidating, but just remember, handloading is not rocket science. It does involve loud noises and things that go very fast, but it is safer than driving and a lot simpler than baking a souffle or changing a tire. Just follow the directions assiduously.

    Let me share with you some posts and threads I think you will enjoy. So get a large mug of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, whatever you keep on hand when you read and think and read through these.

    The "sticky" thread at the top of TheFiringLine's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST "

    The "sticky" thread at the top of TheHighRoad.com's reloading forum is good, entitled, "For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST"

    Latest version of my "10 Advices for the Novice Handloader" is post #14 of this thread

    "Budget Beginning bench you will never outgrow for the novice handloader" was informed by my recent (July 2010) repopulation of my loading bench. It is what I would have done 35 years ago if I had known then what I know now.

    My post, Minimalist minimal (the seventh post down)

    Thread entitled "Newby needs help."
    My post 11 is entitled "Here's my reloading setup, which I think you might want to model" November 21, 2010)
    My post 13 is "10 Advices for the novice handloader" November 21, 2010)

    If you think you might go for used equipment, here is some encouragement, titled "How much to start reloading....dirt cheap! "

    Let us know more about your needs.

    Will you leave your gear set up or put it away after every loading session?
    Will you shoot a lot? Do you think you might expand to rifles or heavier cartridges? Maybe get into competition?
    What's your budget?
    Stuff like that.

    Lost Sheep
  14. CMV

    CMV Member

    Dec 18, 2011
    Winston-Salem, NC
    +1 on Lee Classic Turret


    Because that's what I chose, therefore it's the best!

    For me, it really was the best choice & I'm happy with it.

    - Inexpensive
    - Faster than a single stage
    - Not as complex as a progressive
    - It can scale with you - you can use it as a single stage or auto index 4 dies to move with some speed when you're ready
    - Spare turret rings are less than $10, so if you buy one with each die set, you set your dies up once & that's it (unless you change the type of bullet or other fiddling around, but in general, get them correct & then just remove the whole assembly)
    - Caliber changes take all of 10 seconds (goes with above)
    - It captures spent primers really well
    - It is built pretty well. Not the beefiest thing out there, but stronger than something like the deluxe version. Strong enough
    - Small footprint. It probably takes up about 2x as many sq in of bench space as my Breechlock Challenger single stage, but since it holds 4x the dies it's a very efficient use of space. Takes up much less space than multiple single stage presses.
    - Very easy to take out of the box, set up, set dies, and start loading. LOTS of youtube videos that walk you through how to do exactly what you're trying to do. As an absolute beginner, it was really easy to have it operational and decapping/sizing brass in no time.

    Be advised, the press itself isn't the expensive part. You'll have to buy a ton of other stuff to make it work and that can be frustrating & confusing - it was for me at least. Dies, shell holders, scales, powder measure, gages, trimmers, cleaning tools, reference books, consumables, etc. All the accessories - even using the cheapest, most basic stuff out there - will cost more than the press itself unless you get a pretty high end one to start with. Not saying that to discourage you - just be prepared if you have a set budget in mind. Don't plan on spending most of that on the press itself or there won't be much left for everything else.
  15. Joatmon

    Joatmon New Member

    Oct 30, 2010
    If you want to go with new equipment it is hard to beat the price of Lee. I personally dont use much Lee equipment (a couple of dies). I tend to use a lot of older stuff, if you do some shopping around you can find high quality used equipment out there for decent prices. If you see rifle reloading in your future try to get a press with compound leverage. Keep collecting books and reading. Used is not necessarily bad when it comes to reloading equipment.
  16. Bowfishrp

    Bowfishrp Member

    Aug 17, 2007
    Spring, TX
    I would say it depends on how much you want to spend. Lee is about half the price of Hornady and about a 1/4 of the price of Dillon.

    I have a Hornady and shoot lots of different calibers from rifles at 308 and 223 to pistols with 380 to 45. I love the versatility and the LNL is really cool. Need to switch to another caliber? Just pick up three more bushings for each die for about $9 for the pack. The new ezject system is awesome compared to the old one and I personally have not had issues with the priming system.

    Now if money was not an issue I would get the dillon 1050 and then maybe get the powered arm so it would be completely automated.
  17. Twiki357

    Twiki357 Participating Member

    Jan 26, 2011
    Prescott Valley, AZ
    "... there's really no giant differences. A press is basically just a fancy metal lever that holds your reloading dies. I can't imagine any single stage press is any harder or easier to use than any other."

    I agree. I've been using a Lyman turret press that I bought used around 1960/61. Why? It works. And like the saying goes: If it ain't broken, don't fix it. Oh, and I've loaded every thing from 380 ACP to 300 Win Mag.
  18. GLOOB

    GLOOB Mentor

    Sep 16, 2007
    ^ +1. 90% of people are happy with their first press. Nearly any press will work well and make good ammo, if you learn how to use it.

    The thing I like about my Lee Breechlock is that it cost $55.00. That's about 1.2-1.5 times the cost of a complete die set. I have 8 die sets. Whenever I upgrade, I know I didn't waste any money. :) I was pretty close to trying my first progressive, awhile back. But I decided I don't have the space, nor load in a big enough volume to make it worth the caliber changes. Whenever my circumstances change and I get that first progressive, I'll be in business and still have a tiny, compact, cheap SS press for a backup to make small batches of a different caliber without changing over my progressive.

    Oh, and when I'm not using it, my Breechlock slides into a 3"x7" shelf space.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  19. Ravenmoon

    Ravenmoon New Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    First post here, have to say I really like this site. I just had this conversation with a long time friend who wants to get into reloading. If there was one press I wish was around when I started reloading 25 years ago it would be the Lee Classic Turret. I bought and still use my first press, a Special 5 by RCBS with a starter kit. My light weight green press has loaded 1000's & 1000's of rounds, reformed brass, swaged bullets, anything I wanted it to do it dose. But it takes Forever to load a lot of pistol rounds!
    My friend works part time with the game commission and has to qualify with his sidearm every year so he has to shoot a lot to keep his skill level at high standards. He as 2 kids a rental property and full time job so Time is the biggest factor and money is always short.
    After using the Lee classic turret then finally getting one, this is and will be the press I recommend to anyone just getting started or wants more speed. The Lee classic turret in the kit form will get you up and going to the range in short order. The one and only thing I do not like is the scale, the safety prime system takes some getting use to and my not be for everyone, but fingers always work. So for about $225 plus the stuff you need no matter what (dies, primers, powder, bullets, ect) and a little research makes for a happy reloader.
  20. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Senior Elder

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    The reason why that may be true is the fact some of the press designs have not changed since WWII. A single stage press like the RCBS Rockchucker produced good ammo 25 years ago and will do so today. Even if you bought a new one it would do the same good job as the older one that's been on the bench forever.
    Since you won't be shooting 1000 rounds a day you won't need the expense of a progressive press. I have used a Lee Classic Turret Press for well over 7 years now and it produces very good ammo. I can safely make 180-200 handgun rounds an hour and even though I shoot a lot that number easily covers my needs for the weekend.

    Welcome to the forum...

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