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Single stage advice

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by bearfoot, Nov 6, 2012.

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  1. bearfoot

    bearfoot Member

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    I'm going to start reloading soon. I bought a Ruger 77/357 rifle (a matching revolver will surely follow) and I'd like to experiment with soft/hot loads with different bullets to tailor different needs. I don't think I'll need to produce in volume any time soon, so I'm looking at single stage presses to start out.

    I'm sure I'll eventually move to other calibers as well (30-06 for accuracy or maybe 357 Sig for volume - crap that stuff is pricey!) Any advice accounting for current and future goals would be appreciated - I'm actually not sure what all to ask at this point.

    So I'm looking at different S/S kits and I can't help but wonder what's the difference between, say a Lee Challenger kit at $117 and a RCBS Rockchucker at $319? I know I'll have to get other items (dies, etc.) regardless of which kit, but I'm not sure if one is more complete (or higher quality, or more suited to straight-walled brass).

    A floundering noob would really appreciate your feedback.
     
  2. 45lcshooter

    45lcshooter Member

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    Lee is a good press to start on. RCBS Rockchucker is the better press IMO. You can find them both used fairly cheap.

    Dies i would go with RCBS Carbide or Redding. I use a little bit of everything as far as dies go. But one day i will have all the same die company.
     
  3. res7s

    res7s Member

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    The material from which they are made, and the overall dimensions are the main differences. I hope this helps.

    O-Frame single stage presses can be broken up into different categories, based on the material from which they are made, cast iron and aluminum.

    To my knowledge cast iron presses only come in one weight classification heavy.

    The Lee Classic Cast, Lee Classic Breech Lock, CH Champion, Lyman Crusher -II, RCBS RC, and Redding(Boss, Big Boss, Big Boss II) presses all have cast iron frames and strong steel linkages. Any of the iron O-frame presses will last several lifetimes.

    Aluminum presses come in two weight classifications, heavy and light.

    The RCBS RS-5, and Hornady LNL Classic are heavy aluminum alloy presses with steel linkages. Either of the heavy framed aluminum presses should last a generation or two.

    The RCBS Partner Press and Lee Breech Lock presses have lighter aluminum alloy frames with steel linkages. If you buy an older Lee press, keep in mind the Lee Challenger and original Breech Lock presses had aluminum alloy linkages. If you buy one either make sure the linkages are steel or upgrade them after you get it.

    My personal observations on the lightweight presses are as follows: The Lee Breech Lock is a pretty good press for someone on a limited budget. Unfortunately, I am biased when it comes to the RCBS Partner press. The only one* I ever saw was broken. The main frame actually broke free from the base, so I wouldn't take one if it was free. The only press I've ever seen that is weaker IMO is the Lee Reloader. If you look at them side by side, it looks like Lee took the RCBS Partner press and cut the forward pillar off making it into a C-frame press.

    * I have now seen another one. It is used to handload handgun ammo. It seems to be pretty well suited for this.
     
  4. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Check the sticky at te top of the forum titled "Reloader Library of Wisdom". Lots of good information.

    The RCBS and Lee presses and dies will serve you well, particularly for handgun reloading. I am not a fan of Lee's lock rings on their dies. Others love them enough to marry them.

    Some folks find some of the other Lee equipment, scales and powder measures for instance, leave something to be desired. Others do not.

    Most of the kits on the market are missing a few desirable pieces of equipment or tools that make reloading more enjoyable and easier. It takes a bit of experience to learn what works for you.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    You don't know what the guy was doing with it when it broke. Anyways, doesn't RCBS have a lifetime warranty?

    Regarding aluminum alloy, here's a secret. Linkage slop doesn't matter as long as the ram is centered under the die. The die is what makes the brass straight and concentric. Press flex doesn't matter on an O frame, unless you are into partial FLR of rifle cases and want to reduce your variation by a fraction of a mic. All that matters is it is designed strong enough to do the job, and that there's not a huge manufacturing defect.
    This is great if your children, grand children, and great grandchildren are all suddenly interested in reloading after their parents die. At that point, you will have saved money over an aluminum frame press and made a great investment.
     
  6. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Oh, and the Lee Challenger Kit has everything you need to start reloading pistol ammo except for the dies, components, calipers, and the nuts and bolts you need to mount it.

    There are two different kits that contain:
    Press
    Powder measure (Either the Auto disk or the Perfect Powder Measure)
    Balance scale
    Primer arms for priming on the ram
    Optional primer system (either Safety Prime for the press, or Auto Prime for hand priming)
    3 Breechlock bushings.

    I'd add:
    Calipers
    Bullet puller
    Tumbler
    Mounting hardware
     
  7. res7s

    res7s Member

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    He was sizing a magnum case. Don't remember the actual caliber. It happened in '08, and my memory for detail isn't what it once was. They did replace it, but he sold it and bought one of the the new Classic Cast presses.

    You'll notice I added a revision at the bottom. I now, have a friend that uses one for pistol ammo.

    After comparing the two, I'd take his old Lee Challenger(with steel linkage upgrade) over it any day. A good warranty doesn't make up for a weak design. It's sad but handloading equipment needs to be idiot proof.

    I did end up with his old challenger and I did upgrade the linkage. So now I own three Lees, one RCBS, one Dillon, and three MECs. Why I need this many presses I have no idea.
     
  8. bearfoot

    bearfoot Member

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    Thanks, Gents - I've read some the 'library of wisdom' (and other repositories) and am working my way through more of it. I'm leaning towards the rockchucker kit to start with - I may look through craigslist locally first, but amazon has a pretty good deal, too.
     
  9. Otto

    Otto Member

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  10. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    I'm curious what makes you lean towards the Rockchucker? The way it handles spent primers is kinda lackluster.
     
  11. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Member

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    The Rockchucker is a heavier press that provides more leverage with less effort. While some what more expensive, I prefer it over the Lee. Since any decent press will last a lifetime, difference in price is not much of a factor when spread out over many years. Good luck with whatever you decide on and enjoy reloading.
     
  12. Magnum Shooter

    Magnum Shooter Member

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    The Rockchucker kit comes with a 5-0-5 scale which is the standard by which others are judged, and at least 10 times easier to use than the Lee.
    It also includes a powder measure that is good enough to be copied by Hornady. Have one that is 30 years old and still works like new. Yes the press will drop a spent primer now and then but that is what brooms are made for.
     
  13. CountryUgly

    CountryUgly Member

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    Just recently went through what you are going through right now. I found a compromise with the Hornady LNL single stage. It works great for low volume loading and the LNL feature is nice when doing the occassional "bunch o bullets" loading session.
     
  14. Kingcreek

    Kingcreek Member

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    I started with a lee challenger kit years ago. It is adequate.
    The money I saved was eventually spent on progressives.
    If you think you will never go beyond a single stage, buy the better one. If you think you'll expand in the future, go basic to start.
    I still use my challenger press for some odd jobs even with 2 dillons mounted next to it.
     
  15. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    "Lee is a good press to start on. RCBS Rockchucker is the better press IMO. "

    Beginners actually have the same basic needs as old hands don't they? A lot of people agonize over presses than is helpful; they are all good but like any other tool a press should be chosen for the work it will be used for. There's no need for a cast iron press to do light work, no need for a progressive to load a few hundred rounds of different calibers a year, etc.

    It's amusing to read experts writing comparisions between a Rockchucker and "the Lee" as if Lee only makes one press or as if all Lees are the same. Lee makes something like eight presses, two of which (Classic Cast and Classic Turret) have cast iron frames and steel linkages which are probably 'stronger' and likely better machined than most Rockchuckers. And Classic Casts don't toss spent primers all over the floor! I prefer a single stage press because I mostly load smallish quanties, rarely more than a hundred rounds at once. If Lee had made the Classic Cast when I bought my Rockchucker my main press would be red instead of green; a young friend's CC is the better press in every way.

    IF I wanted to work faster I'd sure get a Classic Turret to speed up production without the hassels of a progressive.

    Both Lee and Hornady make die changes "quick and fast" with bushing gimmicks. Goodness, I can swap dies in less than a minute already so how much time could be saved; not enough to change my life style! Everyone to his own but I'd never pay the money for a meaningless purpose to put bushings on each die I own (that's well over a hundred individual dies) and if they don't all have a bushing it sorta defeats it's single purpose!
     
  16. flashhole

    flashhole Member

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    +1 on Ranger's comments. I have both the Lee Classic Cast and Classic Turret. Both are excellent presses. I had a Rockchucker, sold it in favor of the Lee presses. The Classic stuff is hell bent for stout. Same with the Forster press, sold it. Didn't like the ergonomics on that press at all, some love it, I don't. Isn't the Rockchucker made in China these days? That's a turn off for me. Lee is made in Wisconsin. Factory Sales has excellent prices on Lee equipment and one of the on-line stores (Kempf) sells a Lee Turret Press kit. The Classic Turret (not the Deluxe turret) is a good choice because you can remove the indexing rod and use it as a single stage. I have mine set up for several calibers but bought it specifically for 40 S&W. Used with Lee dies it is very easy to use. The Lee powder funnel fits the powder through expander and is easy to use with the Lee Dipper Cups. If you can't tell, I like my Lee setup.
     
  17. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    Me too. I wish the Lee classic turret press was available when I bought my Rockchucker. I would have without a doubt bought it instead.
     
  18. Steve2md

    Steve2md Member

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    I absolutely LOVE my Lee presses. I have a "c" press for single stage and a pro 1000 for progressive (dedicated to .45ACP), a load all 2 for 12 gauge. I can't see any reason to spend more money on a press that will, in the end, make identical cartridges. The "official" Lee warranty is 2 years. I've broken decapping pins (by misuse) well after that time, and they ALWAYS warranty the part for free. Shipping from Wisconsin to me (AZ) takes them 3 days. Can't beat it
     
  19. 918v

    918v Member

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    Don't buy kits. Kits contain crap. Buy individual high quality tools.
     
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