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Upgrading from single stage to progressive or turret

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by ArtP, Oct 9, 2010.

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  1. ArtP

    ArtP Member

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    I've been loading mostly rifle rounds on a Lee single stage press for about a year. I've had great success and learned an awful lot. Recently I started loading 44 mag and 9mm handgun rounds and have discoverfed just how slow and laborious a single stage can be to make pistol rounds in quantity.

    I don't make rifle rounds in any quantity and really don't mind spending a lot of time to make custom, high quality rifle rounds on a single stage. Last night I spend about three hours making 100 each of 9mm and 44 mag. I think I could shoot them faster than I can make them!

    I'm considering a turret or progressive setup and spent some time reading the manufacturers instruction manuals online and the sticky's atop this High Road category. I'd be very thankful if anyone could go beyond what I found and clarify further.

    What is the difference in a turret style and progressive? Can one be upgraded to the other?

    When operating slow enough to have a "safety first" approach, how many rounds per hour could I make with either style of press?

    I have mostly Lee equipment now. I appreciate value, but that value shows in the quality of some of the tools. When I started, I did not know enough to know where to spend heavy and where to skimp. As example, I really appreciate the Lee dies but the powder measuring tools leave something to be desired. For someone with an average tolerance for cheap and average appreciation for quality, can you talk a little about the Hornady vs. the Lee systems?

    If one wants to "substantially" change calibers, how long does it take to switch? By substantially, I mean different crimp, primers, powder.

    If I wanted to, could I make bottleneck rifle rounds on either a progressive or turret? Or are these faster systems exclusively for straight walled pistol calibers?

    This post was intended to be simple and easy to answer. Somehow it grew into a full-blown set of questions. I don't have any expectations for someone to sit down and answer any of it, let alone the whole post. I will appreciate any info you want to offer.
     
  2. Tilos

    Tilos Member

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    If I were buying a progressive today, it would be a Hornady LNL AP.
    I have too many shell plates from another brand to switch now though.
    Look here to see all the presses in action:

    http://ultimatereloader.com/
     
  3. dawico

    dawico Member

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    A turret press is just a single stage press that holds more than one die. I personally don't have a need for it. With the exception of my most accurate ammo, I resize rifle rounds on a single stage press, clean them again, and then use my progressive press to prime, charge, and seat bullets. This is the best way I have found to make large quantities of rifle plinking or hunting ammo.

    I have read alot of bad reviews of the Lee progressive presses, but haven't used one myself. My Hornady LnL AP is a good press, but takes occasional tinkering to keep it running smoothly. It takes at the most about 10 minutes to change calibers when I have to change primer sizes, as that is the hardest part to convert.

    For handgun rounds, a progressive press is the way to go. I take my time making handgun rounds, and can usually pump out 200 an hour. The manufacturers say 500 to 600, but I visually check all charges and don't have a case feeder.

    I have not found a powder dumper that is extremely accurate, they usually dump +/- .2 grains, but my rounds are not full throttle, so this isn't a major issue for me. For top end handgun rounds, I use my progressive press in conjunction with my RCBS Chargemaster combo. I can make over 100 rounds of precise handgun ammo an hour with this procedure.

    It takes alot of equipment to reload the way I do, but it works for me. You will find that a progressive press is very handy, even if you just use it for some parts of the reloading process. It saves alot of handle pulling by combining steps, and will turn out accurate ammo in a hurry.
     
  4. bds

    bds Member

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    Turret press moves the turret with dies mounted while the case on the shell holder on top of the ram rod stays stationary. Progressive press moves the shell plate with several cases while the turret with dies stays stationary.

    I haven't used a turret press, but used several Lee Pro 1000. On the Pro 1000 with auto index (shell plate indexes automatically as you operate the ram lever), case feeder and manually feeding the bullet with my left hand while the right hand operates the ram lever, I can load 250-350 rounds slow and 400-650+ rounds fast. The Pro 1000 does have a known issue with feeding small primers (I am about 95% with SP primers and 100% with LP). There are things you can do to make the small primer feed more reliable or you can hand prime 9mm cases separately.

    This has been a heavily and often heated discussion topic (flame suit on), so I will take one thing at a time:

    1. Lee dies - I use Lee carbide pistol dies and found many other shooters with various brand press also using Lee dies. I would consider Lee die quality very good, more than sufficient to reload consistent pistol rounds.

    2. Pro Auto Disk - I use Pro Auto Disk powder measure on the Pro 1000 press and it is very accurate with powders like Bullseye/W231/HP38/Green Dot with charge-to-charge variance of less than 0.1 gr, which I consider to be match shooting consistency. With larger flake powder like Promo, variance is up to 0.2-0.3 gr, which is fine for plinking loads. I consider the Pro Auto Disk quality to be very good also subject to powder type used. The often mentioned comments about this powder measure leaking and being inconsistent is often due to improper setup/use, no initial lubrication of parts and premature wear of wiper that the disk slides under.

    3. Hornady vs Lee - If you are comparing Hornady AP LNL vs Pro 1000/Load Master, I would recommend the Hornady. With that said, I have used Pro 1000 presses to load over 300,000+ rounds of accurate match loads over the years and with proper cleaning/lubrication and maintenance consider the Pro 1000 to be durable.
    I keep my dies on different turrets (cost about $8) and switching caliber depends whether you need to change out the shell plate (9mm and 40S&W uses the same shell plate). If you are going from 9mm to 44 Mag, it will require:

    - Change out of the shell plate (about 1 minutes for me - probably 2-5 minutes for you)
    - Change out of turret with dies (5 seconds)
    - Exchanging Auto Disk (30 seconds)
    Pro 1000 is primarily setup for .223/7.62x39 to reload rifle cartridges in progressive mode. Some posted they reload .308/.30-06 in single stage mode by removing the center hex rod, but I do not have personal experience with it. As far as I know, the turret press can load rifle cartridges in the same "turret" mode.

    That's why we are all here. Young and old farts like us networking and sharing information with each other so we can better enjoy our shooting/reloading hobby/passion.
     
  5. flashhole

    flashhole Member

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    Unless you intend or need to load very large quantities of handgun ammo you might consider the Lee Classic Turret. It has the auto indexing feature that works really well. I can easily load in excess of 100 rounds an hour and that is with me using a Lee Dipper Cup as the powder measure. In all fairness, I start with primered brass.

    This is how I set mine up for 45-70. Similar setups are used for 223 Rem, and 40 S&W. It takes about 10 seconds to change from one caliber to another.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. ArtP

    ArtP Member

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    Thanks for the info guys. BDS - I appreciate your thorough answer.

    I watched the video on the Hornady LNL. It's qute a piece of equipment and I can fully understand the $400 price tag.

    What does indexing mean?
     
  7. bds

    bds Member

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    Indexing means rotating the shell plate so the case moves to the next station (under the next die on the turret) on the progressive press.

    The indexing can be done manually by hand (like on Dillon 550) or automatically with the up/down movement of the ram/shell plate carrier. Most progressive press auto index on the downward cycle of the ram, but Hornady auto index 1/2 on the up stroke and 1/2 on the down stroke.
     
  8. Tilos

    Tilos Member

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    ArtP:
    That link in my post#2 has a tab at the top for Lee products as well.
    Within the Lee products page are vids of the turret presses too.
    There's lots of info there, and is easy to understand.
     
  9. flashhole

    flashhole Member

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    On the Lee press in the photo, indexing means the next die in sequence is moved into position by the down-stroke of the press lever arm. Auto indexing is accomplished via use of a twisted rod. That rod can be removed if you want to manually index the dies. The die turret locks up in a detent assembly for proper positioning. It is a very easy press to use.
     
  10. y5e06

    y5e06 Member

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    A turret press isn't just a single stage w/ a die plate.
    as mentioned, when you stroke the ram the turret index over to the next die in the loading sequence. It really is a great compromise between a single stage and a progressive. it is much cheaper and if you use reload multiple calibers you don't need a different shell plate for each ($30+), only the die plate/turret & shell holder that comes w/ most die sets ($3 holder). Easy to have all the setups for diff calibers. I believe I have 8+ calibers set up in various turret plates. The pistols have their own, e.g. 4 die 9mm carbide set in a plate. However the rifles can share a plate. I have pair of 7.5 die in two holes of a plate and 8mm dies in teh other two holes. works well since I don't run the indexing rod for rifle, i.e. single stage mode.

    As far as reloding rates go, when set up efficently I can easy do 150/hr 9mm or .38spc, almost 200 w/ no hang-ups and smooth running. About 100+ hr .223.
     
  11. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    No one has yet mentioned that Lee's auto-indexing turret presses are unique. Other turret presses do not auto-index and, in my opinon, that makes them funny looking single stage presses with die storage, as mentioned earlier.
     
  12. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Member

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    I'm going to recomend against the lee turret press. I hate using mine. The turrets wobble, the knob fell off the handle,the priming thing it came with just doesn't work, and it just feels cheap.
     
  13. flashhole

    flashhole Member

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    Sounds like you would be willing to sell it cheap. I'm interested. We are talking about the Classic Turret, not the Deluxe Turret?
     
  14. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Art -
    • If you are sensitive to powder measurements (and I believe you should be) then IMHO there is no better press on the market than the Hornady LNL AP. There are lots of cheaper ones, but once you consider everything and compare feature to feature, then you'll come to the same conclusion.

    • Even with a slow steady stroke, you'll be making pistol ammo 4 times faster than a single stage, so there is absolutely no reason to rush. Going fast on a progressive results in a herky-jerky motion that does not create consistent ammo. Any video you may have seen on the internet that starts with the words "Watch how fast I can go..." is, quite simply, made by a fool. A fool who has probably blown himself up by now. :D

    • Remember this: ANY progressive press is going to pay for itself in less than a year. So why would you want to even be looking at "price" other than to have a "not to exceed" price in mind?

    • Look at Lee's best, the Hornady AP, the Dillon 550B, and the RCBS 2000. You'll come to the same conclusion. And the Hornady still comes with free bullets, too.

    ;)
     
  15. flashhole

    flashhole Member

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    That bullet deal is hard to beat if you have the cash for the AP. I took advantage of the offer on a few sets of dies.
     
  16. ArtP

    ArtP Member

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    Wobbles, I agree in getting what I pay for. I found that Lee puts out some crap and also some very good stuff. Lee collet neck dies are the cheapest on the market, yet I like them better than my Redding dies, which cost almost three times as much.

    I want to thank everyone for their thoughts on this. As usual, some very good advice was given in a remarkably short amount of time. I do feel pretty confident to look into the Lock and load and know how much time it will save.
     
  17. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    • The turrets wobble

      What's the down side? That seems to be part of the die adjustment. There has to be enough play for the turret head to rotate.

    • the knob fell off the handle

      So put it back on. It's just a press fit with a tapered hole. Mine has not come back off once I put it on more firmly.

    • the priming thing it came with just doesn't work

      Mine does. What have you done with customer service or tech support?

    • and it just feels cheap

      Mine doesn't, but I wonder how much you are willing to pay for a different impression that has little to do with making good ammo.
     
  18. bds

    bds Member

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    ArtP, good going! :D

    Hornady AP LNL is the next press on my shopping list. But properly set up Lee presses are not bad either.

    I started out with Pro 1000 when I was single and money was tight but still wanted to shoot USPSA matches. I had a good mentor who taught me to use both Dillon 550 and Pro 1000 as to what worked and what didn't.

    I learned to keep the Pro 1000 humming and years passed. Even when money wasn't so tight, I got so used to using the Pro 1000 with fast caliber changes that I just kept reloading on it (and my match scores kept increasing too). We have tested reloads from the Pro 1000 with other rounds from various other presses at the matches for accuracy, and my reloads have consistently come out on near or tops. One reason other reloaders determined why this was is that progressive presses using adjustable powder measure/drop sometimes "drift" when not checked/adjusted properly (one shooter checks his powder drop after 30-40 rounds, most around 100 rounds because of this. If I am using the right Auto Disk hole, I weigh the first few drops to check that powder has "settled" in the hopper and I am good thereafter - no checking every 30-40 rounds). Since these comparison tests, I have seen some of my competitors now loading on Pro 1000 or using the Pro Auto Disk powder measure on their presses. :D

    I thought about buying a Dillon 1050, but my wife asked, "Will it load more accurate match rounds?" Funny, but I had to tell her, "No."

    After talking to owners of various presses (some with 2-3 brands), I am currently leaning towards the Hornady.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2010
  19. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Taking my time with my LNL, hand feeding each case and bullet and looking in to each case to see the powder, I can easily make a round every 4 to 6 seconds, faster when I concentrate and try. It is a very versatile machine. I like it a lot. I do not prime on it, but that would not make much difference in speed.
     
  20. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Member

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    The thing sticks after seating the primers. On top of that you have no feel at all when seating them.
     
  21. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Progressive presses are great but they are expensive and they do have their pitfalls. I use a Lee 4 Hole Turret Press and I can load 180 to 200 handgun rounds per hour safely. IMO unless you a real lot rounds a day for competition a turret press is just fine even when you shoot 300-500 rounds a week.
     
  22. Border Hopper

    Border Hopper Member

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    The LockNLoad bushings are a great idea, allowing you to quickly change from one caliber to another. If you are a serious reloader consider having "dedicated" presses or think about how convenient it may be to change calibers.
    My portable single stage presses (a Lee "Bust Developer" and an aluminum HDS unit) are great for prepping brass if I'm on the road. Get something substantial for your home use. My Redding turret is reliable and exact, but not portable.
     
  23. ArtP

    ArtP Member

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    I've thought of building a shooting bench/mini reloading station that could be towable, with a portable tent/windscreen. Nothing would be better than to test loads on-site. Another idea is crappy scale, hand press and pre-prepped brass. The whole idea could eliminate watsed components.

    But you bring up a good point about the bushings. I have five sets of reloading dies now for my Lee single stage. I also have a quick-change bushing for each die (15 total). Do I simply need one bushing per die, as in 15 - same as the single stage?

    Also, one "plate" per caliber, but similar calibers can share a plate; like shellholders do?
     
  24. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Art -
    The bushings to me are a solution for a problem that doesn't exist. Leave the bushings where they sit and outfit all your dies with a lock nut that stays in place, like the ones from Hornady or RCBS. That's considerably cheaper and only takes seconds longer to change.

    Lets be fair and play nice. :D In truth, all the manufactures offer some tidbit that's flaky or simply way over-priced. That's why after ten years you'll own some of everyone's equipment. At one point I was loading 9mm with 4 different brand dies in the same progressive.
     
  25. ArtP

    ArtP Member

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    You make a good point. I wasn't rying to come off as slamming Lee. In fact I have a lot of respect for them and most of their equipment. Perhaps I was sloppy in my statement.
     
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