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To Single Stage or Not to Single Stage?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Metal Tiger, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. Metal Tiger

    Metal Tiger Well-Known Member

    Greetings all. After a 35-year layoff from reloading my brother and I decided to get back into it again this past year. He went Red with the Hornady LOL for small pistol primers and I went Blue with the Dillon 550 and large pistol primers. All is well there. We have all of the pistol calibers covered.

    My question has to do with the utility of having a single stage press handy for such things as load work ups and some rifle cartilages I want to load like the 45-70. I know I could load the 45-70 on the Blue thing.

    Second, if I would add a single stage press, which one would it be? I have ruled out Lee for personal reasons. The choices are an old USA used Rockchucker that may be hard to find or Red vs. Green. The RCBS would be the last choice in my thinking currently but that could change. The decision comes down to the Hornady Classic LOL or the Redding Big Boss II. It’s the Red team vs. the Green team this time. Go Packers.

    OK folks, what do you think. Is it worthwhile to pick a single stage press up after having a couple of progressive monsters working nicely? If so, Red vs. Green.

    Have at it. Thank you for your considered replies.
  2. rockn30809

    rockn30809 Well-Known Member

    I would always have one around.
  3. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I prefer a singe stage for rifle cartridges. I have been dabbling with 223 Remington blasting ammunition made on my Hornady L-N-L but it does not ring my bell.

    For me to move dies between the progressive and the single stage I have to readjust the dies. So, I do not do that. Working up pistol loads on the Hornady is fine. I prime off the press, charge off the press and use the press to seat the bullets and crimp. Just like the single stage.

    Note that on the progressive, I resize and prep the cases at one time and store them away for a future loading session.
  4. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Well-Known Member

    It's always nice having a SS around. Since you already have the LNL-AP I would go with red. That way you could use your dies as they are set if needed. I would also determine what spacer would be needed if you wanted to move the function from blue to red or vs versa. That way your die settings will not be changed if you moved around. There are several functions that require a SS press, bullet pullers, de-glock dies and load workup.
  5. noylj

    noylj Well-Known Member

    There is no reason NOT to load with the progressive.
    With the Hornady, it is no problem to remove a case with one hand.
    Remove case and trim/chamfer/neck turn
    Put case back in and continue...
    have no primers in the system
    Remove case and trim/chamfer/neck turn and hand seat the primer
    Put case back in and continue...

    You aren't getting all the benefits of the progressive, but production will still flow, producing more rounds per hour.
    If you want a SS for perceived accuracy, get an arbor press and custom hand-made dies.
    Personally, I always have the little Lee Reloading Press on my bench for small jobs, depriming, and as a Bulge Buster.
  6. aHFo3

    aHFo3 Well-Known Member

    I have the Hornady LNL progressive and I recently added the Hornady single stage. It seems a simpler way to go with the bushing system that they use, plus all the colors match :)
  7. res7s

    res7s Well-Known Member

    I'd go with a Redding, but it wouldn't be the Big Boss II. It would be the Redding Ultramag. I wouldn't get the Hornady because I wouldn't spend that kind of money for an aluminum O-frame press. Might as well get an RCBS RS or Partner press. I don't like the way the linkages bolt to the Big Boss' frame. If you look at an Ultramag or RCBS RC you will notice the bolts that the linkages swing from are supported on both ends. The bolts on the Big Boss just screw into the frame. To me this is a design flaw. The Ultramag has the same spent primer handling as the Big Boss, superior linkage support, and it will flex less due to the linkages being attacked to the same surface the dies screw into.

    If you really like the Hornady LNL bushings, you can get the conversion kit to use them in any press with 1 1/4 - 12 threads. http://www.midwayusa.com/product/858110/hornady-lock-n-load-press-and-die-conversion-bushing-kit
  8. Metal Tiger

    Metal Tiger Well-Known Member

    Res7s, Great points. I especially like the Hornady bushing kit idea. Earlier today I was looking at the Redding Ultamag and wondering if it was too big to work on small cases like .45 ACP? I know that for large rifle cases this press is superior. Buffalo case ready as its advertized.

    If the Redding Ultramag will take the Hornady bushing kit I will consider this very closely.

    I did not know that the Hornady Classic was an aluminum frame. Too bad, that seems to knock it out of the running. Anyone have comments on the current Chinese run of Rockchuckers? It would be an alternative option now all things considered.
  9. germ

    germ Well-Known Member

    I would feel naked without a single stage. Not that it's absolutely necessary. I do use mine quite frequently.

    I have the bushing kit in my Rock Chucker, but so far I've been too lazy to shim the dies for use in both the LNL AP and the RC. Someday.

    BTW, your LNL AP frame is aluminum. What's your objection with aluminum? The LNL Classic certainly appears to be heavy duty. If I were looking for a SS I wouldn't hesitate to consider this press for my use. Do you have some exacting requirements like long range benchrest competitions, reforming cases, or is it just personal preference?

    I make up my 45-70's (for lever gun) and other rifle ammo with the Lee Classic Cast Turret. Heck, the whole upper part of this press is bolted on with 3 risers of round stock, and I've never heard of anyone complaining about the ammo produced from it. Even those who generally find Lee products on the cheesy side (me), like this press. Point being that if this press is sturdy enough to satisfy most users needs, I would imagine the LNL SS would be as well.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    I have a single stage, but load most everything on the LNL, such as .458 Win Mag, as well as .223 plinking ammo, .222 Mag target ammo, .30-30 hunting ammo, etc, etc...

    Actually, I have two single stage presses. I just haven't used my little specialty press in a long time.

    Until you start splitting hairs with serious target ammo, the LNL will work for you.
  11. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    I enjoy reloading almost as much as shooting. While I begrudge nobody the use of a progressive, I like the simplicity, control, and deliberateness of a single stage.

    If production rate ever becomes more important to me than QA and pure enjoyment, then I'll acquire a progressive.
  12. kreidel

    kreidel Active Member

    Hoser just posted this and other pics of his setup in the "Show your Bench" thread. He states "Both the 550s have been tweaked to load precision rifle ammo, everything from 223 Ackley to 338 Lapua". He owns a few 1050, a Co AX, etc so it would appear he know how to produce ammo and setup equipment to do so. But he makes precision rifle ammo on a 550, that speaks for itself.

    Single Stage presses are great and I just made a thread I miss using mine since I reload more than I can shoot. But I honestly feel your 550 is more than capable being your single stage press if you treat it as such. Just buy your dies with the money you would have used on the SS press.
  13. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Well-Known Member

    I have lots of presses on my bench that have from 1-12 stations each, but one will always be a single-stage for small jobs and specialized stuff (collet bullet pulling, single-round priming, etc).

    As for which one, get a quality press w/ lots of leverage for FL resizing large rifle cartridges. Red or green is fine. Mine are all black or gray as most of them are no longer made.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  14. dbarnhart

    dbarnhart Well-Known Member

    RCBS RockChuckers show up frequently on Backpage and Craigslist.
  15. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I agree, separating the process of resizing and reloading negates some of the advantages of a progressive.

    But, I find there are enough glitches when doing the whole process, resizing through reloading, that any time I might gain is lost from correcting problems.

    Also, I went 25 years with out a squib load when loading on a single stage but had several in the first few months on the progressive. Some of that was being on the learning curve but as I gained more time on the progressive, I have adjusted my process to virtually eliminate squib loads. Part of that process change was separating resizing from reloading.

    But folks seem to do the whole process just fine.

    My main reason for getting a progressive was to reduce case handling and minimize the actual pulls of the handle. All out production was not that important. But i do spend less time reloading since I bought the progressive.
  16. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    I'll confess, there are those times when I'm loading pistol that I wouldn't mind having a progressive press. But for the last 30+ years I have used my single stage RCBS presses for everythng and have yet to be disappointed with the finished product. Slow isn't necessarily bad, and fast isn't always better! In my opinion, I think a progressive has it's time and place. If you plan shooting hundreds of round every weekend a single stage will probably not fit your needs well. On the other hand if your like me, I don't shoot large quantities during each session and prefer to load for optimum precision and performance, rather than maximum quantity. I know that's a fairly broad statement and I'll likely get some flack, but there is a definite purpose assigned to each.

    I would doubt many bench rest shooter's would consider quantity as one of there priorities when considering loading methods?
  17. res7s

    res7s Well-Known Member

    If I was to get a RC it would be a used one. The new ones don't have the same feel the older ones had. I don't know how to explain it other than that. It might be as simple as the paint they use now, and me liking my cousin's 35 yr old RC so much.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I bought the Lee Classic Cast when I needed a larger single stage press. I have an old cast iron RCBS RS but I needed something a little larger. One day I do plan to own either the Ultramag press or a Forster Co-Ax.
  18. psyshack

    psyshack Well-Known Member

    To bad the OP does not have Lee on the radar for some reason. The Classic Cast is a beast of a press. My next Single Stage will be the big Lee with a 50 BMG die set. :)
  19. res7s

    res7s Well-Known Member

    I can't see bending the handle with anything I'm planning on doing, but I read a review where one guy said he bent his. I can't figure out how he did. I've seen people swage jacketed bullets with it. Just thought you should know.
  20. Bovice

    Bovice Well-Known Member


    Sometimes I LOL when I reload too!

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