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Single or progessive

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by bagel77, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. bagel77

    bagel77 Member

    Hello I am just starting to look into reloading. But I have a question I was told that I couldn't or shouldn't use a progressive for rifle loads. Is this true?
  2. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Well-Known Member

  3. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Well-Known Member

    You certainly could, but there is often so much case preparation to bottle neck rifle cases that it doesn't save you much time using a progressive versus a single stage. If all you had was a progressive, then no problem. If you load pistol rounds also, a progressive is really handy. This morning I just loaded 200 rounds of 40 SW in a leisurely 1/2 hour.
  4. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

    Loading bottle-necked on a progressive is slower than loading straight-walled...but I guarantee you I will save tons of time over a SS.
  5. mdi

    mdi Well-Known Member

    No. I know of a bunch of guys that reload 5.56/.223 on a progressive. Progressive presses are great for the seasoned reloader, but, IMHO, not a tool for beginners...
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  6. greyling22

    greyling22 Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't bother with a progressive for a rifle. rsrocket1 is right, so much case prep is just a hassle. And for roughly the price of a shellplate or caliber conversion you can just buy a single stage press.

    depending on the caliber you could split the difference and use a turret press. faster than a single stage, more versatile and cheaper than a progressive. almost as simple to learn on as a single stage.
  7. Uniquedot

    Uniquedot Well-Known Member

    I size any rifle brass that i plan to load progressively on a single stage press and then trim/clean primer pockets. When they go to the press for priming, charging, seating, and crimping, a loaded round drops with every pull of the handle. Yes it's much faster than using a ss or turret press and the quality of the ammo (plinking/hunting) is just as good. I don't load much rifle ammo anymore so i generally use a turret press for it now.
  8. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    Rigidity, complexity

    Thanks for asking our advice. Welcome to the forum and to handloading.

    No one has mentioned the rigidity factor yet.

    This reasoning may be apocryphal and may not be valid for all progressives or turret presses, but most single stage presses are cast in one piece, therefore THEORETICALLY stiffer than the others (and an "O" frame is stiffer than a "C" frame of the same weight and material). In a second leap of theory, because of this rigidity, a single stage press may make straighter ammunition with the bullets seated more concentrically and seated/crimped more uniformly.

    More uniform ammunition has been proved to be more accurate. But if your rifle, held in human hands, can tell the difference is an open question.

    Many long-distance competitive shooters load with hand tools right at the shooting bench sans press. That way, they can use the same cartridge repeatedly with individually weighed bullets. You can hardly get more uniform than that, theoretically.

    I believe the theories. I also don't believe I am so good a shot that it makes a difference for me. I do believe there are plenty of such shooters, though.

    If you shoot 20 rounds a month, a progressive would be a waste of money and time. If you shoot 1,000 rounds a month, anything but a progressive would be a waste of time (but some people do have a lot of time, I admit). In between, you've got choices to make.

    I advise getting a copy of "The ABC's of Reloading" ($17 at Amazon.com or free at your local library). There are several editions and, since the book is compiled by editors of many different writers, reading a couple of different editions may be worthwhile.

    Progressive presses are more complex than single stage or turret presses. On progressives, multiple operations occur simultaneously and a novice (generally) would have a more difficult time learning and keeping track of what's going on. Single stage presses are much simpler and everything happens at the operator's pace. Turret presses are essentially single stage presses with a movable turret on which multiple dies are mounted (for use one at a time, just like a single stage).

    What chamberings would you be loading for, what kind of quantities? Do you shoot competitively, for plinking and fun or hunting?

    Good luck,

    Lost Sheep
  9. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    This really depends on exactly what you're doing.

    Are you going to be producing 50-100 rds. a month of bottlenecked rifle ammo for plinking or standard-duty hunting purposes? Get a simple, inexpensive single-stage (maybe the Lee "Classic Cast" or if you're on a tight budget the Anniversary Kit is about the best deal going). Even if you graduate to something more complicated, a good single-stage will never be unwelcome on your bench.

    If you think you're going to be more at the top end of that volume range (or even if not), a turret press will be a lot less fussing, not having to set and re-set dies over and over.

    Are you going to be producing a lot more rounds than that for high-volume plinking, 3-gun "practical" shooting, or maybe High-Power at your local club? A progressive press is probably going to appeal to you. Something like a Dillon 650 can (with the right extra equipment) even trim your cases on the fly.

    Are you interested in a lower volume, but think you might get into high-precision shooting at some point? We're back to a high-quality single-stage. (Maybe that Classic Cast, or a Rockchucker, or some of the more exotics.) You'll have some "in-between" steps like case trimming, primer pocket uniforming, case-neck reaming, and so on to do which will negate the benefits of a progressive press.

    A beginner certainly can learn on a turret, and even some progressives, just as easily as they can learn on a single-stage, as you can run one operation at a time if you want. But you should identify your goal so you get a machine that really suits that plan.
  10. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I do load 5.56 blasting ammo on my Hornady L-N-L but it really does not excite me at the moment. There are some variables that have not settled down enough for me yet.

    All of the rest of my bottle neck rifle cartridges are loaded on a single stage, in part because I do not load enough at one time to justify buying the progressive parts. Even though I have the 223 Rem equipment for my progressive, match loads for service rifle are still assembled on the single stage.

    I do save some time loading rifle on the progressive as charging the case is done on the progressive instead of by batches in loading blocks.

    Short answer, rifle can be loaded on a progressive. You may not really want to.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  11. tommyintx

    tommyintx Well-Known Member

    any rifle ammunition fired in automatics, i load on my dillon 550, along with all pistol ammunition. the bottlenecked rifle cartridges used in bolt guns, even for "plinking" are done on a single stage.. the rifle cartridges for precision, i use micrometer dies on an arbor press.
  12. Pat M

    Pat M Well-Known Member

    I learned pistol reloading on a Lee Pro-1000, and still find it challenging at times. I have been loading all of my rifle ammo using the Lee Anniversary Kit. In answer to your question, if I could do it all over again, I would have started out with a single-stage press so that I could learn the fundamentals, and keep a close eye on the quality of the rounds I was producing.
  13. GW Staar

    GW Staar Well-Known Member

    • It isn't that progressives are all that complicated, they're not...especially my Pro 2000...simplicity is its middle name.
    • It isn't that progressively loading rifle isn't faster or worth the trouble (what trouble, and yes its faster....you have to case prep on a single too, so no big deal)

    The real reason to start on a single is one of preparation and understanding. Since you are doing one step at a time on a tray full of brass, it sinks in what each process is, what its for, and how to do it right....a great way to learn to reload.

    The real problem with a progressive is that every step is done at once with each pull of the handle. If you don't understand the safety and quality side of each step, you can make a lot of bad ammo very fast.;)

    As for rifle and case prep, many of us who use progressives, still use a single station to deprime and size. Why not? You gotta do that one step before you prep the cases. THEN, you can trim, debur, chamfer, and if you wish, clean & uniform primer pockets & remove military crimps.....and tumble the case lube off....all OFF PRESS.

    Once that's all done for the whole batch, then using the progressive, finish the job with one pull of the handle (per case). That's priming, charging, seating, and crimping if you want. That's 3 or 4 steps on a single station press, cut down to one. Certainly worth it to me.

    Do you have to use a single for the first step...of course not, but you have to set up the progressive twice, once for just sizing/depriming, second for the post prep steps. If you have a single station too, you don't have to do that. Besides, most of us reload a few of a calibers we don't shoot that often.....on the single station. It's a bit of a financial commitment to set up a progressive for each caliber, so I don't for those.

    To clarify that last statement, for either single or progressive setups you obviously have to buy dies for each caliber, but in addition, to set a caliber up on a progressive you have to buy tool heads(die plates) or in the case of Hornady, LnL bushings for each caliber you want to set up. Plus you will need to buy fairly expensive shell plates for each (excepting where shell plates do double duty such as .45acp, .308, 30-06 etc.). No matter the press brand, that comes out to $35 to $40 per caliber. So if you want to load .9mm, .45, .223, and 7mm Mag. all on a progressive, that's a $150 hit (average) by it self. That compares to $21 for four Lee shellholders for use on a single station press.(3.50 a piece)
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  14. bagel77

    bagel77 Member

    Wow guys, Keep the info coming. I am really starting to look into this. Thanks
  15. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Actually, this is what I was referring to above... On many progressives (easiest on ones that don't auto-index) you CAN run a whole batch of brass through one step at a time. Nothing says you have to run a case through more than one step if you don't want to.

    That said, I'll repeat that no reloader is ever worse-off for having a single-stage on his bench next to the big boys.
  16. Romeo 33 Delta

    Romeo 33 Delta Well-Known Member

    I've done all mine on a SS. I DO have time (retired, no kids, understanding wife) so I can spend a couple hours a night reloading. I can do 50 rounds from fired brass depriming to bullet seating in about 60 minutes ... less time if I can start from brass that's new or resized and clean. Thus, it's 50-150 per night ... depending. But if you don't have the time or the inclination, those factors need to be considered. Also, if you shoot 300 rounds per week and can only load 200 rounds ... you got a BIG problem.:confused:
  17. GaryL

    GaryL Well-Known Member

    I started on a progressive. But I'm also very mechanically inclined, so complexity isn't much of an issue with me. (Overly complex can be annoying though :) )

    Anyway, be honest with yourself. Is a brake job on the car a minor chore that you think nothing of? Have you rebuilt a transmission just because you always thought it would be interesting to see what's inside? And after doing said tasks, found the result was perfectly good and there weren't too many left over bits? A single stage requires minimal mechanical abilities, but like any reloading task, much attention to detail. There are a few steps up from there, so be honest about your abilities.

    People who have mastered reloading on a SS are quite capable of moving on to a progressive, with very little mechanical aptitude. But that's where they need to be honest, and pick the machine best suited to themselves. Something that requires a lot of fiddling, adjusting, and tuning to get it running well is going to be very frustrating for some, and a delight for others. Pick your poison carefully. :)
  18. davestarbuck

    davestarbuck Active Member

    I started on a single stage, moved on to a Lee Classic Turret press, and then moved on to a Dillon 550b. I wished I just started with the 550b. It has to be the easiest progressive press in the world to use. I like the manual indexing and the priming system is very uncomplicated. I would say the 550b is almost foolproof..

    I load mostly .223 and 9mm on the 550 b. I use 2 tool heads for .223. One with a decapper and a RT1200 trim/size die, and another with a decapper,powder drop,bullet seater and Lee Factory crimp die.

    Note I mostly only load 55gr practice loads, with a very very small amount of 77gr MK 262 clones for self defense and wild pig genocide ;). Either way I'm looking for reliablity first and reasonable accuracy (by my standards 2-4" at 100 yards with an Aimpoint or iron sights).

    Case prep is time consuming, I'd say at least 2 hours for processing 1000 rounds of military brass (needs swaging). By doing a small batch here and there I have processed over 5000 pieces over a few weeks and I'm still loading from this pile. Unfortunately, I've not been able to shoot rifle as much as usually do :(.

  19. codefour

    codefour Well-Known Member

    Go Single Stage

    First of all, if you are going to get a progressive, you are going to need a single stage. On a single stage, you fundamentally learn the process of reloading in so much more depth. You will understand fully what the progressive is doing later on. Besides LEE, you are going to spend an honest 500 to 600 dollars for the most basic progressive. You can buy the a great single stage for well under 200 bucks...

    And.... When you get your brass all deprimed, sized, trimmed ahead of time, all you have to do is pull that brass, seat a primer, charge with powder of choice, seat bullet and crimp if desired. You can crank out some serious ammo on a single stage if you pre-prep your brass.

    Before I got a progressive, all of my stored brass was already deprimed, cleaned, sized, and trimmed. If I knew I was going to shoot 100 .308's, I would remove 100 prepped cases and load them up in just under an hour..

    All of my bottle neck rifle brass is alread cleaned, deprimed, sized, and trimmed for the progressive. IMHO, the powder measures on progressives are NOT as accurate as using a meter to get you close to you desired charge and then trickling the rest to the exact amount..

    That is just my $0.02 worth..
  20. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Same here and when I need to make ammo I use my turret press and can turn out a lot of rounds easily and quickly.

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