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Best Reloading Press [2020 Review] Progressive, Single, Turret Presses

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One of the most crucial elements of shooting is proper ammunition selection. Although a number of great ammo manufacturers support the market, there is still a large segment of shooters who prefer to custom load their own ammo. There are many benefits to doing so, and lots of options for shooters when it comes to the best reloading press.

​Out of the reloading presses we reviewed, it was difficult to narrow it down to the best one. In the end, the Rock Chucker Supreme from RCBS rose to the top of our list.

Built to last for years to come and with plenty of room for long magnum-length cartridges, this press is one that works well for those just getting started with reloading along with seasoned pros.

Our Top Picks for Reloading Presses

​If you’re in a rush, we have three top picks from our list:

Brand
Best Overall
​RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme
​Best Shotshell Press
​Lee Precision II
​Best Progressive ​Press
​Hornady Lock-N-Load
Product
RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press
LEE PRECISION II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA...
Hornady 095100 Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive...
​Type of Press
​Single Stage
​Progressive
​Progressive
Key Feature
Heavy duty reloading
​Accurate, powerful machine
​Quick change bushing
Rating
Best Overall
Brand
​RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme
Product
RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press
​Type of Press
​Single Stage
Key Feature
Heavy duty reloading
Rating
Price
​Best Shotshell Press
Brand
​Lee Precision II
Product
LEE PRECISION II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA...
​Type of Press
​Progressive
Key Feature
​Accurate, powerful machine
Rating
Price
​Best Progressive ​Press
Brand
​Hornady Lock-N-Load
Product
Hornady 095100 Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive...
​Type of Press
​Progressive
Key Feature
​Quick change bushing
Rating
Price
  • ​Top Reloading Press: Rock Chucker Supreme Press RCBS, This reloading press represents a mid-range investment for the reloader. It is a strong, sturdy single stage reloading press capable of handling everything from many handguns rounds per hour to ultra-long rifle rounds per hour.
  • Top Shotshell Reloading Press: Lee Precision II Shotshell Press: A low-cost, dedicated shotshell press. A good option for people who only want to load a shell or want to expand their reloading
  • ​Top Progressive Reloading Press: Hornady Lock N Load Auto Progressive Reloading Press: This Hornady automated progressive reloading press kit with quick-change Hornady Lock N Load bushings to quickly change out a die, and a number of other dies features to greatly increase output.

The RC Supreme press is highly reinforced and has several safety features, making it our top pick as one of the best gun safes.

With its simple to use operation, superior strength, and an ambidextrous handle, the RC Supreme is ideal for all users, regardless of skill level. Because of this, it gets our vote as the one of the best reloading presses.

RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press
  • Made of the highest quality materials
  • Hunting reloading presses
  • Another quality Bushnell product

Reviews of the Top Reloading Presses

​We’ve covered a lot of information already about reloading presses to help you pick the one that’s best for you! We’ve also identified 7 of our favorite reloading presses for different needs. Let’s take a look!

Best Reloading Press: RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme

RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press

​At the end of the day, the best reloading press is the one that will get the job done without fail and produce the best result. For this reason, we’ve selected the Rock Chucker Supreme by RCBS as our best press overall, along with the best single stage reloading press.

Some reloading operations subject the tools to a lot of force – when forming, bending, or even swaging metal (re-shaping a soft metal by pushing it through a die) the amount of force required can put serious strain on the tool used.

The reason for recommending the RC Supreme is its build quality and durability. With a cast iron construction, this model is easily one of the heaviest reloading presses you can pick up, and you can feel the quality immediately. After 1,000 rounds, it’s not hard to compare this press to a tank.

Operation on this press is smooth and comfortable, with an ambidextrous handle and no grittiness in the press operation.

The press is a single stage press, which may appear to present a problem for the high-batch loader. Although this is not really the target market for the press, RCBS does sell attachments which convert the RC Supreme to a progressive reloading press – giving the reloader the best of both worlds.

Obviously, the best reloading press has a number of very strong selling points. Let’s wrap them up into a list of the pros:

  • Very strong and durable progressive press
  • Solid cast iron construction
  • Ambidextrous handle
  • ​Plenty of room for long magnum-length cartridges
  • ​Comfortable and smooth operation
  • ​Supports attachments such as quick-change dies

However, as with any choice, there are some negatives to a progressive press such as this one. Let’s look at some of the potential downfalls for the user:

  • Very heavy (not mobile)
  • ​High price for single stage presses

So, who is this progressive press for? As our choice for one of the top reloading presses, we’re recommending this product to anybody who wants to start reloading and wants to invest in a good quality press that will last for years to come.

Because it’s a single stage press, it’s great for learning the ropes and will continue being great for building accurate ammunition for nearly any rifle imaginable.

Long-range hunters and shooters will appreciate this press because it will allow them to load very long, high-caliber rounds per hour where precision is far more important than quantity produced.

In general, any rifle shooter will find great use and versatility in it, but those who are solely production focused make sure to keep reading and consider some of the progressive presses we’ll take a look at a little later.

If you’re new to reloading, the RC Supreme is a good choice because it was built to be a single stage rifle press that can handle all manner of heavy-duty, high force reloading applications and continue to do so over a lifetime. For this use, it is highly recommended.

Against some of our other pieces, we see that the high quality of this press is very high and it is a press that can be counted on. However, the price is relatively high for what it is.

Not a lot of additional features are offered for the price, such as the progressive press we’ll look at or one of the complete reloading kits.

Why Buy?

​​Durable, versatile, and powerful, this press is one you can count on for years and years to come.

RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press
  • Made of the highest quality materials
  • Hunting reloading presses
  • Another quality Bushnell product

Best Progressive Reloading Press: Hornady Lock-N-Load

Hornady 095100 Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive...

​A progressive reloading system greatly increases the speed of production. In this category, we like the Hornady Lock-N-Load press.

The Hornady Lock-N-Load is a 5 station progressive press with plenty of features to make sure you produce faster.

One of the features that identify the Hornady Lock-N-Load is the quick-change bushing system for replacing dies. With the dies bushing system locked in place, the reloader installs and sets one die as would normally be done to a batch of ammo. However, the bushing (with one die attached) quickly removes and stays set.

The beauty of the Hornady Lock N Load system is in the ability to pre-set all of your bushings and have them ready to go at any time. When it comes time to change to a different caliber, simply swap in your other group of bushings and get ready to load. The whole reloading process can be done in under 5 minutes.

That’s not the only efficiency system the Lock N Load press has, however. Quick-change metering inserts make sure you can quickly change the powder drop dispensed, from one type of ammo to another very quickly.

The automated de-priming and priming system removes one annoying part of case prep, further automating the whole reloading process. It also features a priming system that make sure you can quickly change from a large primer to a small primer to speed up the caliber transition reloading process.

The progressive turret presses also work on an automatic indexing system with two part operation – half a movement on the down stroke, half on the up stroke – which reduces necessary energy. With an active spring retention system, the shell holder and shell plate can be easily removed or you can load the shell holders for inspection or manual adjustment at any time.

The result of all this efficiency is greatly increased manufacturing capability – the Lock N Load turret press is able to produce more than 500 rounds per hour with a shell plate and shell holder alignment. Compare those 500 rounds in an hour to 100 for a single stage press or 200 for a good set-up turret presses, and you can see the potential for output!

The Lock N Load progressive press has many wonderful features to make sure you increase the speed of production for the reloader. Let’s recap some of the advantages:

  • ​5 station automated turret
  • ​Smooth and powerful operation
  • ​Quick change bushing, priming and powder drop system
  • Wonderful Shell holders alignment
  • 500 rounds in an hour output

The Lock N Load progressive press is a very sophisticated piece of equipment designed for the high-throughput reloader. But, it might not be the best choice for everybody for exactly this reason. Because it’s a sophisticated system, there are some drawbacks.

  • Very high price
  • ​Requires extensive initial set-up

This progressive press is for the person who really wants to crank out a high volume of ammo, especially with the flexibility to “tool up” for several calibers.

Among this market would be the competition ho burns through a high volume of ammo in training and needs to maintain this amount with consistency.

This might include competitors who need to load a high volume for both their rifle and their pistol. Or, the person who shoots multiple divisions and needs to load different calibers for each game they shoot.

Of course, the up front cost and sophistication is going to prevent a lot of people from being the right fit for this progressive press. Additionally, precision rifle shooters who need to make every bullet count with extreme precision might want a bullet reloading process where they can see and control rounds and bullets much more closely.

Compared to the other products we’ve looked at, the Lock N Load press is definitely on the highest end of the price scale. It is an investment for those who really care about the shooting sports and want to really ramp up their capacity to stay in control of their ammo.

If that is you, one thing you should know is that this press is highly recommended as one of the best progressive reloading presses. If you don’t need this capability, though, you might be incurring extra cost and complication when it could be better served elsewhere.

Why Buy?

​​An accurate, and complex press for the sophisticated bullet reloader that gets the job done.

Hornady 095100 Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive...
  • Auto-progressive reloading press for quickly switching dies and loading other calibers
  • 5-station bushing system lets you change from 223 to 45 in less than 5 minutes
  • EZject system reliably ejects every cartridge, every time, without adjustments

Best Turret Reloading Press: Lee Precision Classic Turret Press

LEE PRECISION Classic Turret Press (Red)

The Lee Precision Classic Turret Press is a fantastic way to get started reloading on a budget.

​A turret reloading press splits the difference between single stage and progressive presses in terms of bullet production capability. Although less rigid than a stout single stage press, turret presses contain all operations of the reloading process in one process.

Recommended for both pistols and rifles, the Lee Classic Turret Presses can handle rounds up to 3.3 inches in length, enough for most non-magnum rounds. By setting up an independent turret for each caliber needed, the reloader can have several caliber setups ready to go as necessity indicates.

For the low cost of the press, it offers very reasonable quality. Although it won’t have the rock solid construction of a heavy single stage press like the Rock Chucker Supreme we looked at, it doesn’t fill the same need and instead focuses on bullet production capacity.

What the Lee Classic Turret Press does have for the very affordable price is a solid cast iron base. Besides the cast iron base, it also features a solid steel linkage for solid transfer of power and long term durability, making it the best reloading turret press.

Additionally, the press features a large diameter ram for stability. Even better, the ram is drilled all the way through and has an attached clear PVC pipe. When brass is deprimed, the spent primer is caught in the tube with no chance of a spill or loss. This is complemented by the Lee Lever Primer System.

The Lee Classic Turret Press offers a lot of functionality for a very reasonable entry cost. Designed to handle a wide range of users’ needs, this press represents a solid value for a good number of features. Some of the pros of this press are:

  • ​Approachable price
  • ​Guaranteed primer catcher
  • Solid cast iron frame
  • ​Interchangeable turrets
  • Smooth Operation

This press does a lot of things reasonably for the price and is a good, do-all press for the average person, but there are trade-offs:

  • ​Less rigid than other options
  • ​Some longer cartridges not easily supported

For the price, features, and build quality, the Lee Classic Turret Press is an appealing option for many middle-of-the-road reloaders. It’s capable of handling everything you need, from handgun rounds per hour to intermediate rounds for your modern sporting rifle and even full-length rounds for your hunting rifle.

Because of the compact, quick-change turret system, the press allows you to tool up for several calibers without too much additional storage space.

The ideal user for this cast iron press reloading kit is the one who needs a general-use reloading machine press, and wants to save money and wants something versatile with a good return on their investment. It provides great utility for the sport competitor who wants flexibility to reload for different kinds of target shooting, rounds per hour, sport competitions, and hunting with one unit.

For the price and range of features, it’s hard to beat for a good mid-level reloading machine press kit on our list. It’s not going to be as strong as the Rock Chucker Supreme, or as cheap as our budget option (we’ll get to that later) but would be a solid middle-of-the-road choice for many.

Of course, a reloading machine involves more than just a press. So, if you’re looking to get an all-inclusive kit with these kinds of features, keep reading to find out what else we cover!

Why Buy?

​Flexible, and efficient with different types of reloading ammo for your general usage.​

Sale
LEE PRECISION Classic Turret Press (Red)
  • If you are using the Auto-Disk Powder Measure on this press, the Auto Disk Riser will need to be...
  • Features Solid Steel Linkage
  • The Industry's Largest Ram is Drilled Completely Through to Dispense Primers in an Attached Clear...

Best Single Stage Reloading Press Kit: RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Kit

RCBS 9354 RC Supreme Master Kit

​Our favorite single stage reloading kit is back – and with a few extras to get the beginner started. Let’s take a look at the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Kit!

In addition to the great press (check the full review above), the RCBS Rock Chucker kit is full of other great accessories to get you started reloading. If you’re the kind of person who’s looking for a complete kit with recommended accessories, this RCBS Rock Chucker kit has been built to get you started in the right direction.

Some of the important tools that are included are the following:

  1. Nosler Reloading Manual: Arguably the most important piece of any kit! A reloading manual provides necessary information on safe and uniform cartridge loads and development to keep users within safe and established pressures and dimensions.
  2. Universal Case Block: Holds each case and aligns each case for loading.
  3. Case Lube Kit: Necessary for smooth operation. A properly lubed case move and re-size freely and help prevent binding, jamming, and other damage with the die.
  4. Hand Prime Tool: A simple hand tool for primer case, allowing you to perform this operation away from the reloading bench
  5. Mechanical Scale: Allows the reloader to accurately measure out an amount of powder using a reliable mechanical system. Sensitive to within 0.1 grains of powder, and taking advantage of anti-magnetic properties, the scale offers a high degree of accuracy, making it the best reloading press for accuracy.
  6. Uniflow Powder Measure: Dispenses a consistent amount of powder and eliminates issues with powder “clumping” and releasing in large quantities.

​Of course, this also includes other small parts such as a hex key and powder drop funnel, to tie the whole RCBS Rock Chucker kit together.

Although this RCBS Rock Chucker kit is almost everything needed to get started, it’s important to know that it doesn’t get quite there. Dies and a shell holder are required for your caliber of choice to get you started on your reloading journey.

Despite needing a die and a shell holder, this kit combines our favorite reloading press with a bunch of great tools needed to get the reloader started. There are many advantages to this kit.

  • ​Comes with a rock solid single stage press
  • ​Includes reloading manual and all necessary tools (minus caliber-specific tools)
  • ​Large cost savings over buying individual pieces

While this kit does provide a great amount of convenience and help a shooter get started in the right way, there are some potential disadvantages.

  • ​Large upfront investment
  • ​Still requires a die and a shell holder (separate purchase for each caliber)
  • Doesn’t give the flexibility to piece together desired products

Because of the super sturdy design of the Rock Chucker Supreme press, and the versatility of handling everything from a pistol to ultra-long rounds, we recommended the press for a wide variety of shooters who want to invest in a press that will do almost any job and last a long time.

The completed kit is highly recommended for shooters who are interested in investing and high quality and want to get started to save money and effort buying a pre-assembled kit.

More experienced reloaders might find that they don’t want all of the included pieces or would find that they would rather swap out pieces. In this case, buying the whole kit could be more costly for them.

Naturally, this kit is the most expensive item on the list, which may be an issue for the more price-sensitive readers. However, it does combine our favorite very high quality single stage press comes with a very nice package of components ready to get the reloader started.

For a reloader looking for a ready to go kit at a slightly lower price that’s easy to use, keep reading for our review of our favorite turret press reloading kit.

Why Buy?

​Our overall top pick, with all the accessories you’re ever going to need.​

RCBS 9354 RC Supreme Master Kit
  • Includes nosler #7 reloading manual

Best Turret Press Reloading Kit: Lee Classic Turret Press Kit

LEE PRECISION Classic Turret Press Kit

​Our favorite turret press has also come back in kit form, with the Lee Classic Turret Press Kit. Like the RCBS Rock Chucker kit we looked at above, this kit takes a solid, highly-recommended reloading press and builds a full kit around it.

As noted in the review above, the press is a 4-station turret press, which allows turrets to be organized individually for several calibers and swapped out as a whole. This is great for producing batches of handgun and small rifle ammo – however, the auto rotation can also be disabled for manual loading and operation of larger rifle rounds.

This kit comes with everything you need to begin reloading – with the exception of a group of Lee dies in the caliber you want to reload.

In addition to the press, it includes such items as:

  1. Case Prep Tools​: Case resizing lube and a variety of case prep tools – including cutter, chamfer tool, and cleaners for both small and large rifle primer.
  2. Powder Scale​: Mechanically measure the amount of powder dispensed to an accurate level. The Powder scale is also magnetically resistant and guaranteed accurate for life.
  3. ​​​Powder Measure​:  Auto drum powder measure to dispense accurate and consistent amounts of powder. Also comes with the required riser to create the appropriate clearance.
  4. Reloading Manual​:​​​​​​ As we stated earlier, the reloading manual is a crucial part of a reloading system to keep the reloader operating in known and safe territory. The included manual covers 167 different rounds.

This kit is aimed at getting reloading capabilities in the hands of an interested shooter with basic, quality tools at a very competitive price. Let’s take a look at some of the pros to this kit:

  • Affordable price to get into
  • ​Ready to go with the addition of caliber-specific dies
  • ​Quick-change turret system to easily hold several calibers

For what it does, the Lee Classic Turret Kit offers a lot of value. However, it would be a stretch to call it the best in any particular job. Some of the downsides are:

  • ​Less Rigid Press
  • ​Automatic rotation must be disabled for some longer rifle rounds
  • Is not capable of handling the longer end of rifle rounds

This kit is great for the person who wants to get into reloading and is more concerned about bullet production capability across one common spectrum of calibers. This would include a number of handgun and small rifle calibers.

It’s also budget-minded with one complete kit and the guidance to make sure you have the correct pieces.

One of the biggest comparative advantages for this press is what’s included for the price. The cost of this kit is very close to the cost of our favorite press, the RC Supreme, without any of the additional accessories included.

As far as bullet production speed, it sits in the middle of the road. The auto-indexing turret provides a bullet production capability of 250 rounds per hour – faster than our single stage press options, but easily eclipsed by the Hornady Progressive presses with Ezject system we looked at early.

In terms of value, progressive presses like this are easy to use, and a highly suggested item for somebody who wants to stretch a budget to cover the whole reloading process. For a real budget-stretcher (with fewer features and options the progressive presses) keep reading for our budget pick if that’s your most important priority!

Why Buy?

​​Progressive presses like this are complete sets coupled with a high ​capacity ​production press.

LEE PRECISION Classic Turret Press Kit
  • This kit and a set of Lee dies is everything you need to begin reloading
  • Note: the Bench Plate system the Classic Turret Press is mounted to in the photo is sold...
  • Made in USA

Best Shotshell Reloading Press: Lee Precision II Shotshell Press

LEE PRECISION II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA...

​For dedicated shotshell loading, we recommend taking a look at the Lee Precision II Shotshell Press.

Although it may be taken for granted that ammo is ammo, shotshell reloading is a whole different beast than metallic cartridge loading. There are more components to consider. Additionally, with no bullets loaded in a case to seal the bullets, each bullet shell is reliant on a crimp.

Rather than try to be an all-in-one reloading station, the Lee Precision II is a dedicated, unobtrusive loader designed to be a complete 12 gauge reloading station. The Lee Precision press comes with bushings to measure out powder, as well as to measure an appropriate amount of shot for different shot sizes.

With Lee Precision unit, speed isn’t the focus as much as simplicity and value. This is not going to be the Lee Unit that you buy to crank out a case of shotgun shells overnight. However, it is going to be the machine that you can buy for just the price, of a few boxes of shotgun ammo, it’s easy to use and help you make your own loads.

The Lee Precision loader is capable of loading and crimping both plastic and paper shells, so you can load antique style cartridges as well. The Lee Precision press is capable of loading shells up to 3” in length without any conversions or additions necessary.

The best thing about the Lee Precision Shotshell loader is the utility it provides to load shotshells for a very low cost – less than a case of trap shells.The Lee Precision has a lot to offer.

  • ​Very low cost
  • ​Complete set up to load 12 gauge shotgun shells
  • ​Offloads your shotgun reloading from your primary press

Although inexpensive and self-contained, this Lee Precision unit is highly specialized and places utility ahead of features. Because of that, some of the disadvantages are:

  • ​Only handles shot shells
  • ​Each Primer must be hand loaded individually (primer feed attachment available)
  • Bushings do not feed buckshot or slugs
  • Low Production Speed

The market for this product is pretty self-explanatory. Any shotgun shooter who wants to be able to load their own shells for cost or customization can benefit from this low cost investment. In particular, it would pay off well for those who have vintage shotguns and want to use low-pressure black powder or paper loads.

Additionally, it may be a worthwhile investment for the more seasoned reloader who wants to free up space on other equipment. By moving all shotgun reloading to a single unit, those resources can be permanently off-loaded from other presses.

This press is highly specialized. It does what it does, and that’s pretty much it. The value is in the simplicity.

It is the cheapest press on the list, which is notable for a person who only wants to get into reloading for shotshells. Unlike other products that we’ve looked at, it is completely self-contained.

Why Buy?

​Perfect for the novice reloader, this kit is great for use with shotgun shells.​

Sale
LEE PRECISION II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA...
  • Package length: 9.4 cm
  • Package width: 21.8 cm
  • Package height: 49.0 cm

Best Reloading Press For the Money: RCBS Partner

RCBS Partner O-Frame Design 87460 Single Stage...

​We’ve looked at a lot of the best reloading presses so far, and covered a whole range of options. However, maybe you’re looking for something solid and super budget friendly to get you started or even augment the equipment you already have. We’d like to recommend the RCBS Partner.

The most inexpensive of the RCBS Rock Chucker single stage presses, it still retains the solid construction they are known for while offering a very economical starter press.

The partner is a compact single stage press that weighs less than 5 lbs, making it ideal for setting up in a tight location or even bringing to a portable reloading location such as the shooting range or a hunting cabin.

Despite its small size, the Partner has enough room to handle cartridges from handgun rounds per hours to full size hunting rifle cartridges. The press is also capable of handling a full range of operation from bullets pulling to crimping, depriming, and even priming with its own prime arm.

For the money, this little press has earned a reputation for being a hard worker and, especially, an important tool for the reloader or match shooter on the road. Having the ability to load for the conditions of the range is an important advantage for the expert shooter and reloader who understands the game at a high level.

For the price and size, the RCBS Rock Chucker partner offers a deceptive amount of reloading power. Some advantages to this press are:

  • ​Great price
  • ​Lightweight and portable
  • ​Capable of loading a full range of handgun to rifle calibers
  • ​Capable of priming and de-priming

Of course, any time the words “lightweight” and “budget” are involved, there are going to be some trade-offs. Some of those are:

  • Lacks some rigidity for heavy-duty use
  • ​The de-priming system can be finicky

For the budget-minded reloader who wants a capable, portable reloading system to cover a wide range of calibers and isn’t bothered by a single stage press, the RCBS Partner is a very solid recommendation.

It’s also a worthwhile purchase for the reloader who already has other equipment and wants to boost their existing capabilities. You can dedicate this press to a single operation – such as crimping, pulling bullets, or whatever else reduces load from your other presses.

For portable use, the Partner offers a durable and relatively strong system that can be taken on the go. Load development can be done right at the bench, and the press is small enough to pack as gear for an event – such as a shooting competition – where having the ability to reload on scene is a huge advantage.

Compared to the RC Supreme that we looked at earlier, this could be considered kind of a “little brother” counterpart. Smaller, cheaper, more portable, but ultimately lacking the major muscle.

A shooter more minded towards production could purchase a turret press like the Lee Precision Classic we looked at earlier for not too much more money. That would ultimately be a personal choice, as a single stage press like the Partner is going to be more rigid and adept at handling a larger cartridge than the Lee Precision, as opposed to the higher production speed of the turret press.

Why Buy?

​​Powerful, compact performance that packs a punch.

RCBS Partner O-Frame Design 87460 Single Stage...
  • Made of the highest quality materials
  • Hunting reloading presses
  • Another quality Bushnell product

Why You Should Invest in a Reloading Press

​Shooting can be an expensive way of life, so it’s natural to look at the cost of reloading equipment and ask, “Do I really need that?”

The most important thing about reloading your own ammunition is the ability to have control. Whether you want to reload to save money, produce a more accurate load, or tailor charges to your own need, having the control over your ammunition is a great benefit.

As an investment, reloading equipment can ultimately pay for itself in the end. Whether you’re making plinking ammo or trying for a match-accurate load, reloading can save you a lot of money, especially if you reuse components such as brass and buy components in bulk.

We’ll get a little more into all of the capabilities of a reloading press later – but it’s safe to say that reloading equipment is a great investment for the dedicated shooter who will use it for years to come.

Photo of a green reloading press

Types of Reloading Presses

Although all the best reloading presses do the same job, they don’t get there the same way. The different types of reloading presses range from the very simple to fully automated workstations that work at a production speed.

Single Stage Presses

A single stage press, as the name implies, performs all of the reloading operations one single stage at a time.

Single stage presses are very common because they get the job done at a low cost, have few moving parts to break, do not take up much space, and are known to be very solid.

On the downside, a single stage press requires a long time to finish a completed round than more complicated presses.

Because each single stage of the process must be set up individually, the most efficient way to start reloading your own ammo with a single stage press involves setting up to do one part of the process – depriming, resizing primer, etc, and working in large batches.

​For the person who has to work within a restrictive budget, small space, or just wants to get started with reloading your own ammo, a single stage press is a great investment.

Even veteran reloaders find utility in single stage presses for their utility and strength. However, many reloaders find themselves later upgrading from a single stage press to a quicker process eventually.

Turret Press

​The turret press is the next stage in the reloader’s evolution. For somebody who needs to load larger batches of ammo, a turret press offers them flexibility, precision, and improved speed.

In a turret press, dies are set up individually in a rotating turret press. As the dies and brass are processed, the reloader simply rotates the turret press to the next stage. In this way, one cartridge can be completely finished through the rotary process without any additional dies set up. For an experienced reloader, this is a much faster way to produce a batch of ammo.

Additionally, a classic turret press can be a time saver in changing between calibers. Most will support the capability to set up additional turret press with dies for any caliber the reloader frequently uses. Once the dies are initially set up on the turret press, the whole turret press can quickly be replaced and the shooter ready to reload a different caliber with all of the dies already set.

Progressive Press

​The progressive press is the final stage in automation for the reloader who needs to crank out lots of ammunition. Setting up a progressive loading press can be very expensive and time consuming. As well, because of all the moving parts, progressive presses require maintenance and supervision to make sure that everything continues running smoothly – one thing out of place can affect the whole line.

With a progressive press, dies are held in a circle like with a turret press. However, each operation is done simultaneously. So, for instance, the first piece of brass is being deprimed while the next is being resized. As a result, in a progressive press the reloader goes from a piece of brass to a completed round of ammunition in one set up.

Obviously, the progressive reloading press greatly increases the speed of production. For the shooter who needs to produce many hundreds of rounds per hour (especially in one specific caliber) progressive presses give unrivaled output.

What Features to Consider When Buying a Reloading Press

​How do you know which reloading press is the right one for you? Let’s discuss some things to consider.

Size and Weight

The size and weight of a reloading press affect not only the space you need to house the unit, but also the performance of the reloading press itself. Any time you’re putting large amounts of mechanical force into an operation, extra mass equals more rigidity.

If you’re setting up a reloading room and have a nice, solid bench where the reloading press will go and not likely be moved, a larger, heavier reloading press may actually be in your favor. On the other hand, not everybody has access to that kind of space.

Consider the person living in a small house or even an apartment who wants to practice reloading for the benefits but doesn’t want to commit the large amounts of space to it.

In this case, a small single stage reloading press might get the job fine and fit within your requirements.

Single stage presses can be had all the way down to small, hand-operated single stage presses that require no mounting.

With single stage presses, obviously this wouldn’t be the most comfortable or powerful solution, but would solve the issue of limited space.

Different Types of Ammo

A row of gold bullets in a cartridge

​What type of ammo you intend on loading will tell you about the type and size of reloading press you need. A handgun cartridge require very little in the way of pressing power, due to their small size and relatively light tension on the cartridge.

The best reloading presses will handle a full range of handgun ammo as well as intermediate cartridges with no problem. Larger cartridges, especially many extra-long magnum rounds per hour, may require a specialized reloading press or may not be compatible with the full range of features on an automated press.

If you want the flexibility to load monster cartridges like .416 Barrett or .50 BMG, you might be looking at a whole other class of reloading press that has the capability for a cartridge of that size. And, if you want to load shotshells, that’s a whole other game than metallic cartridges!

Dies

A die is a non-consumable reloading component. Each die is caliber specific, which means that for each caliber you want to reload you’ll need one die set for that caliber. A die is responsible for forming the fired case into the right size, eliminating the old primer, and setting the new bullets into the charging case.

Sometimes, a die is also responsible for crimping the bullets into the case. You’ll find die sets that include a case trimmer die that serves as a jig to shorten the length of the case. You can buy dies set that include from two to four dies. It all depends on what the function you want each die to serve.

Part Compatibility

Buying dies and other pieces can get expensive. You’ll naturally want to be able to get your full use out of the equipment you buy. So, you’ll want to make sure that the dies you want are compatible with the reloading press you want.

​If you have some equipment already or plan to buy some in the future, it would make sense to plan your purchases so that all of the parts are compatible with each other.

Benefits of Reloading

​Loading your own ammunition offers many advantages. The ability to reload means not being dependent on factory offerings, making the loads that you need, and maybe even cost savings.

More Affordable

​Reloading is known to be a great cost-saving activity. By buying components individually, the prudent reloader can take advantage of bulk buys and large component purchases to drive down the cost per cartridge loaded.

Additionally, components can be reused. The first one, obviously, is brass, which can typically be reloaded numerous times safely. Of course, the primer and the powder are consumed and non-reusable. Along with the primer and powder, a bullet is expended also, but some reloaders take this to the extreme by trapping their fired bullet and re-casting the lead into a new bullet!

Firearm brass is often disregarded by shooters who don’t reload, so reloaders can often find themselves with free components by simply asking their shooting neighbor nicely to pick up unwanted brass.

Shooters who cast their own lead bullet can drive their price per shot way down. A lead bullet also tends to use low-pressure recipes (or even black powder loads) which will significantly expand the life of a piece of brass.

Greater Process Control

​Reloading your ammo puts you completely in control of the process. You choose what components to use, you work up your loads (often to a specific firearm), and you are responsible for each next step of manufacturing and quality control.

For a lot of people, this can make reloading seem daunting. It’s a big reason why many shooters are content to stay with factory ammo. On the other hand, for the shooter who really loves their craft, sometimes nothing else will suffice.

Many experienced reloaders feel that they trust themselves more than a factory, and like the facet of having control.The ability to load your own ammo also opens up possibilities that don’t tend to exist in factory ammo.

For instance, creating a low-recoil light load or a high-pressure “hot rod” load. Pushing either end of ammo being too weak or too strong can be dangerous. An experienced reloader has some safe space for experimentation outside of factory offerings.

Self-Sufficiency and Security

​As a general rule, gun owners tend to be an independent group who value their ability to take care of themselves. Gun ownership is seen as an essential part of freedom and preparedness.

Photo of some bullets and ammo standing upright

If you’re new to reloading, having the ability to load custom ammo gives one a measure of self-sufficiency and security. If the firearm is seen as an essential tool of independence and freedom, some don’t like being at the mercy of ammo being available on the market.

The ability to reload also creates the ability to reuse certain essential components, increasing the life of ammo availability in the case of a shortage.

Improved Accuracy

As was famously said, “only accurate rifles are interesting.” If you’re new to reloading, you should know much of the shooting sports community today revolves around shooting firearms as accurately as possible.

Although factory “match” ammo is getting better and becoming more available, nothing competes for true precision like custom loaded ammunition.

The first major reason is quality control and manufacturing. No matter how premium the ammo, it would really just be unfeasible for any ammo company to pay as much attention to every individual round as can the shooter who lovingly loads it for their rifle.

​Additionally, it’s a well known idea that rifles have a temperament and “like” certain ammo better than others. Experimenting with which ammo your rifle likes is an accepted part of accuracy testing and breaking in.

Sophisticated measuring gages and hand-loaded ammunition have the ability to truly wring the absolute best accuracy out of a rifle, filling all the gaps that factory ammo can’t.

Opportunity for Rare and Obsolete Ammo

​Guns have a fascinating historical element to them that many collectors and shooters love. The core of firearms technology (the metallic cartridge) has remained almost unchanged for close to 150 years now!

Unfortunately, at that time, many cartridges were invented to fill a need that did not take off commercially. There are many great historical pieces today which are rarely fired for lack of available ammo.

If you’re new to reloading, you should know reloading allows the historical collector to make their own hard-to-find ammo and enjoy their historical pieces without dealing with astronomical custom ammo costs. It’s a lot more plausible to buy a die for rare, obsolete ammo than it is to try to track down few, rarely-produced die boxes and paying several dollars for every pull of the trigger.

It also allows the shooter to tone downloads to low-pressure levels to preserve older, weaker firearms – especially those made of inferior metals such as Damascus twist steel. Although there is inherent risk involved in this activity, many reloaders find this to be very rewarding.

​Conclusion

​As you can probably see now, there are many factors to consider when beginning reloading and looking for the best reloading equipment. Although it can seem an overwhelming new skill at first, being able to custom load ammo really opens doors for the shooter who loves having more control over their craft.

Hopefully you feel better equipped to pick a good reloading press for you. Make sure you check out our other guides for more great informative content!

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created KeepGunsSafe.com with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.