What press to start with?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Rev. Chad, Nov 11, 2012.

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  1. Rev. Chad

    Rev. Chad Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    I am looking to start reloading .45 LC and .38 Special, what would a good set-up to start with? which compnets would be the best to use in terms of the ammo? This is a totally new project for me so any and all advise is welcome.
  2. creeper1956

    creeper1956 Member

    Sep 29, 2012
    Washington State
    If you're really a detail oriented, attentive and focused individual, you can start with a progressive. Dillon, RCBS, Redding, Horandy, Lee... they all make a good progressive. If you're not the guy I described, a single stage turret press might be the better way to start.

    First... read this, then buy one of the reloading books listed.
  3. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Member

    Nov 28, 2010
    This question comes up all the time and there are many possiblities depending upon your needs and budget. How many rounds of ammo do you think you will reload monthly? Do you think you will add other calibers as time goes on? How much time do you want to spend reloading? These are just a few things to consider. Also remember that good equipment will last a lifetime and it can sometimes pay to spend more now and make the job easier. I suggest you start by reading existing posts already on the forum for this topic as well as getting Lyman's 49th Loading manual. This will provide you with the basics of reloading and equipment available. At this point, you will be in better position to ask questions concerning your particular needs. Reloading is a great hobby and everyone on the forum will be glad to help.
  4. Clark

    Clark Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    Where I5 meets the rain forest
    I would start with the 38 special until you find out what kind of reloader you are.

    I own ~ 10 presses and I just bought another RCBS Partner press.
    They are about $70 ~ $75 + shipping
    Some of the best shots in the world use them.
    I like them, and I am a lousy shot.
    The love is universal.




    I like Lee carbide die sets for handguns
    They are ~ $30

    You would also need small pistol primers, powder, and a funnel to get started.

    I would start with a pound of Unique, but dozens of different powders would work.

    The powder may look like $15/ pound on line, but shipping includes hazardous materials charge [haz mat] which makes ordering just one pound not practical. It is better to go to the nearest stocking dealer, gun store or gunsmthing and just buy one pound for $25.

    Same thing for the primers.
    They may look like $31/1000 on line, but it is better to buy small quantities locally.

    So it is at least $145 + Shipping to get started on 38sp with MY choices.
    But you will not out grow any of that equipment, except the little yellow dipper in the die set.

    You will soon want to move up from the dipper to scale and powder measure.


    That is at least $42 + shipping and with other brands, can be a lot more.
  5. CZ57

    CZ57 member

    Jan 6, 2005
    Heart of Texas
    The LEE Classic Turret is a great compromise between a single stage and a progressive. You can use it as a single stage to start with and when you get comfortable with it switch to the auto index mode that will allow you to load semi-progressive with a capability of up to about 200 rounds per hour of handgun ammunition. This is a press that will grow with you. You can buy it in kit form for $215 at Midway, but I'd suggest you discard the scale and get a better one like the RCBS RC 135 that is triple poised and designed specifically for weighing powder charges.

    I have no doubt that LEE is in development of a new progressive based on the LEE Classic Turret. If that happens, you can then get an update kit that would turn the Classic Turret into a full progressive with a production rate of 400 - 500 rounds per hour. Like I said this press will grow with you and is capable of very good precision. ;)
  6. mrayw

    mrayw Member

    May 8, 2008

    Lee Classic Turret Press!
    I have 2 Hornady lnl progessives,RCBS Pro 2000 and others.
    Love the progressive loaders but dollar for dollar the Lee Classic Turret is the most press for the money and great to learn the game on. It is very relaxing to pump out reloads on,low stress!!!
  7. gspn

    gspn Member

    Jun 10, 2006
    Questions you need to answer:

    1 - How many rounds do you plan to reload per month (or year)?

    2 - How much money do you want to spend on equipment?

    For lower volume production (a few hundred rounds per month) the Lee will work perfectly. I started on the Lee Classic Cast press and I love it.

    However...when my volume needs started increasing i had a choice to make. I could keep using the Lee and crank out 100 rounds per hour...and spend 4 hours a week in the garage pulling a handle on a press...or I could buy a progressive and spend an hour to do the same amount.

    I ultimately upgraded to a Hornady LNL. I still have the Lee for calibers that I don't won't be reloading in large amounts.

    Figure out the answers to the questions above and then come back to us. You're going to get lots of good advice here...I know I did when I started out.
  8. Detritus

    Detritus Member

    Jan 19, 2003
    Central NC
    If ALL you're going to load are pistol calibers, my suggestion is one of the LEE turret presses. I use the 4 hole variant because i mainly load 45acp and a factory crimp die.
    I also use the Auto-Disk powder measure, but if I was starting over i'd buy the "Pro Auto-disk" and will eventually upgrade to that measure because it's frankly easier to deal with for a number of reasons.

    Single stage presses are just too dang slow for pistol caliber reloading, they're great for Precision reloading for a rifle, but I can turn out 200-300 complete rounds of .45 on the turret press in the time it would take me to just size/deprime and re-prime the same number using a single stage press and a hand priming tool
  9. James2

    James2 Member

    Nov 27, 2009
    Northern Utah
    Yep as noted, depends a lot on your needs, and also on your pocketbook I guess.

    If you are wanting to get started cheaply you can look for a used press.
    You can look on this board for the for sale forum and also on http://thefiringline.com/ for the for sale forum. eBay always has some presses and other reloading tools, if you can play that game.

    Something like a Partner or RCBS JR3 will do a nice job for you for not too much outlay if you can find a used one.

    You should read the stickies on this board about getting started. It is also recommended that you buy a reloading manual and read that for starters...... and yes, holler if we can be of any help. Lots of knowledge and experience on this forum.

    As a bare minimum you will need a press, shell holder, set of dies, powder dippers, powder funnel and a be-burr tool. I would also prefer to have a scale and powder measure. Sure makes it much easier and the scale takes out the guess work. I have never loaded with just the dippers. Got a scale with my first set up. If you go with the scale and powder measure, you can forget the dippers. Again some of this may be found used.
  10. TooManyToys

    TooManyToys Member

    Feb 12, 2011
    Welcome Rev. Chad

    I'll jump in here and join others in recomending the LEE CLASSIC CAST Turret press. ( this is their model made with a CAST IRON base)
    Every company out there makes good presses,.. but with that said, many people (including myself) feel this is the Best all around, do everything well press for the money today. It is a quality machine with a lot of nice futures and will last a lifetime.

    While your at it,. LEE Carbide dies are a good choice too.

    UNIQUE would be an excellent powder for 38 spl. & 45 LC.

    You will need reloading books,... Lyman's current book ( #49) is a great 1st choice.
    LEE's Modern Reloading ( 2nd addn..) is a good 2nd choice. Mr. Richard Lee has written a lot of good technical info found in the front of the book not easly found elsewhere.

    Welcome to a great site, don't be afraid to post any questions you may have, there are many good people here ready to help.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2012
  11. Otto

    Otto Member

    May 14, 2007
    Here you go, $229 after rebate...

  12. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

    Jul 5, 2006
    West Virginia
    I started with a Lee classic turret press. After talking to some people on the forums I knew 50 rounds per hour would seem too slow and too boring to me. Their advice to start with the classic turret was the best advice for me. It has been a great press. Six years later I bought a Dillon 550 to speed up a couple of calibers. I still use the classic turret as much as the Dillon.
  13. manithree

    manithree Member

    Sep 18, 2009
    One more vote for the Lee Classic Turret. I love mine. And you can get some good kits here:

    They have great customer service, also.

    I started on .38 special, and I'm glad I did. Revolvers are more forgiving than bottom-feeders, so it's a great way to start. I started with Clay's powder and bumblebee lead bullets because they were both available at my LGS.

    I really like Hodgdon-family powders. They have lots of load data free on their web site that you can cut and paste into a spreadsheet, then sort by columns you're interested in. Plus H4895 and Trail Boss are just cool for reduced loads for rifles.

    I have the Lyman and Lee manuals because they both include lots of loads for lead bullets. If you're interested in that, they're good ones to get. Plus they both have good introductory text.
  14. jmorris

    jmorris Member

    Sep 30, 2005
    If money was no concern (it always is for me) and I knew then what I know now (can't thats why they call it experience) I would have started with a 1050. That being said I made a bunch of rounds with a Lee turret before giving it to friend so he could start reloading.
  15. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Member

    May 29, 2010
    Medina, Ohio USA
    First off, read Lyman #49 and any edition of The ABCs of Reloading prior to #9. Your questions shall be answered.
  16. Hondo 60
    • Contributing Member

    Hondo 60 Member

    Sep 6, 2009
    Freeport, IL
    IMHO it is not wise to start anywhere other than by reading a reloading manual or 3.
    (more than one is recommended)

    My favorites are :
    1. Lyman 49th Reloading Handbook - has a GREAT how-to section & the widest array of reloading data found in any manual.

    2. Modern Reloading by Richard Lee - just be aware that he feels his reloading equipment is far superior to any other brand. (I've found that to not necessarily be the truth).

    When you finish that - then I'd recommend a Lee Classic Turret press.
    It's great for beginners because you can remove the auto-advance spindle & use it like a single stage.
    Once you figure out what you're doing you can re-install the spindle & make 3x the ammo in the same amount of time.
  17. sho'nuff

    sho'nuff Member

    Sep 12, 2009
    where is that deal found otto?
  18. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Member

    Jan 22, 2010
    Alaska, Fort Wainwright
    Whatever you pick I would recommend you start with a single stage, maybe even the turret. I started with a Lee single stage and still have it and use it on a regular basis. Even if you get a progressive later you will still use the single. There are many things that it comes in handy for. I still load almost all of my rifle rounds on it. The only thing I would say you may not like about Lee kits is the accessory's that come with it. You will end up replacing some of the stuff eventually but it will work fine until you find out what you want to upgrade. I still use a lot of the stuff, and have upgraded some of it as well.
  19. Charlie1022

    Charlie1022 Member

    Oct 23, 2012
    Ohio City, Ohio
    How strong is your reloading bench?

    My bench is made with 2X10's with 1 1/4" work bench material glued and screwed from the bottom side that is attached to a 2x4 lagged to the wall with a simple 2X4 box leg system. I have it set up in an L shape and it has worked very well for the past 20 plus yearrs. I am 6ft 4inches tall so I made mine 40 inches tall and is 30 inches deep so I do not have to sit on a short chair and can stand up to load if I want without my back getting sore. This is a very sturdy bench and does not move no matter what I am loading or doing on the bench. I have been toying withthe idea to dress it up and have been looking at different ways to dress up the top and the front of the bench and possibly add drawers or doors to one section. been looking at adding a laminated hardwood top and shelves and or building some cabinets for storage. I have reviewed many of the pictures of other members set ups and did not see any that were any stronger than mine. THe nice thing is that I have very little in mine since the lumber was all donated or salvage so my main cost is in screws and glue. My reloading room is 12x20 room set up in my basement and I am still working on finishing it as time and money permit. I hope to submit pictures when finished.
  20. James2

    James2 Member

    Nov 27, 2009
    Northern Utah
    You can buy one of the kits from one of the popular names in reloading, or if you want go the cheap route and have the patience to shop around eBay, you can come up with some very nice used equipment for few dollars.

    Go to eBay and search for reloading press, or RCBS reloading press, or you can be as specific as you want. I recently got a nice RCBS Jr 3 press there for what seemed like a very good price.

    Here is an example of a very strong press for an almost giveaway price.

    The only problem with these old Herter's presses is that they do not use standard shell holders. You may find what you need on eBay, or you can get an adapter that allows the use of standard shell holders. You can also order from Herters.

    My Herters press is about 56 years old, and just as good as the day it was new. I went the adapter route for shell holders. Now any of the standard shell holders work.

    Also you might shop the sales sections of any gun forums you may frequent. Interesting what used equip shows up in these venues.
  21. Centurian22

    Centurian22 Member

    Dec 22, 2011
    Another vote for the lee classic turret. After almost a year of research it's what I'm ordering. Along with lee dies, scale, perfect powder measure (because I'll be loading for .308), calipers, bullet puller, two books, and funnel.
  22. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Sep 10, 2008
    SW Arizona
    I've been loading on a single stage RCBS for decades and it takes care of my needs. But depending on how much you plan to shoot is going to have a lot of bearing on what to go with. In terms of speed. Single stages are not fast but they produce precision ammo and will last several life times, especially the RCBS Rock Chucker. At the press, and after tumbling and trimming, I can probably load 100 rounds of 38 spcl. in 1-1/2 to 2 hrs., which is pretty slow.

  23. Reefinmike

    Reefinmike Member

    Apr 17, 2012
    SW Ohio
    as 34 people have already suggested and is probably on the mail to you already- lee turret press. I can easily do 250 rounds of 38 an hour, 500 an hour if I have cases primed already.

    if you buy the auto indexing value kit, all you will need is a tumbler and media(bought mine at harbor freight for $45), die sets for 45 and 38, Id suggest a extra drop in turret but it isnt necessary, safety prime system, autodisk powder measure riser and a set of calipers.

    though the auto index is nice in theory, I dont like it as it makes it diffucult to pull the lever. i removed mine and simply turn the turret on the upstroke with my right hand while grabbing either a bullet or a new piece of primed brass with my left.
  24. Detritus

    Detritus Member

    Jan 19, 2003
    Central NC
    That sounds like something is out of whack with your particular press. I've worked with two different Lee turret presses, one of the older 3-holers, and the 4-holer that was my first pistol setup. Neither shows an undue amount of resistence with the indexing rod in place. it's more than without the rod, but certainly not enough to be called "Difficult".

    the Only issue i've had with either one is that on the downstoke out of the sizing die, when i'm repriming the case, since the portion of the rod that does the actual indexing conicides with the same portion of ram travel as the priming station ( i use the regular two sided primng ram/arm, not the safety prime) and requires a "Down to prime, slightly up to clear priming arm, down to finish index" proceedure, I have to be careful not to over-index the expander/charging die.
    So in a way my issue is that the indexing feature is actually a little too effective at that one station.

    Oh, i will add that I did have one incident where the index-rod became a PITA, but that was because the little nylon or plastic bushing that actually drives the index system wore out. as soon as i swapped to the spare bushing that Lee ships with all the turret presses, back to being trouble free and easy.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  25. PaisteMage

    PaisteMage Member

    Nov 2, 2011
    I am looking at the Lee CLassic Turret press as well.
    I will be loading for .357/.38
    This will be my first press and my introduction to reloading. I have a friend who has been doing it awhile on a progressive. For me with children a single or turret price fits the bill nicely.

    I do want, later int he year, a 45LC/45ACP revolver and will load for that as well.
    I am building the workbench in a week or two. Buying a scale and some books very soon as well.

    For me besides the obvious reasons to reload, it would be more of a relaxing methodical downtime in my work area. Time to clear the head I guess. Plus I want to reload lighter .357 loads for just target and heavier for other reasons.

    Layman question...could I use the same die for .357/.38?

    Any suggestions on powder for .357/.38? I didn't read the entire thread.
    Thanks in advance.
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