The Best Reloading Press Comparison Reviews
If you’re serious about reloading ammo you should get the best reloading press possible, as it makes all the difference in terms of quality and results. Reloading ammo might seem like a difficult task and at first glance it looks something only advanced gun owners need. However that’s not the case at all and while a reloading press can be expensive, it’s actually going to save you money down the line. Before buying, let’s take a look at how it works.
What is a Reloading Press?
A reloading press is a machine that reloads shell cases. There are various types available but they all do basically the same thing, resize the shell, deprime, prime, load the gun powder, seat the bullet and crimp. A press reloader uses compound leverage to push up the brass in the die you are using.
It’s true you still need to lube and clean the shells prior to any reloading attempt, but they do automate a lot of the work and speed the process up. When handled properly, you’re going to end up with quality bullets.
Types of Reloading Press
If you want the best reloader, you have to learn to distinguish the three main types of reloading press. We’ll take a brief look at their features here so you’ll have an easier time understanding the reviews.
- Single Stage Reloading Press
This is one of the simplest and best reloading equipment available. It works using one case and one die. While this process is simple it does take some time and you need to change the dies per stage that you’ll be working on.
- Turret Reloading Press
Reloading press reviews often speak highly of the press turret and for good reasons. It comes with a turret plate that allows you to put all the dies you’ll be using for a specific caliber, and what this implies is that with a turret reloading press you’ll be able to complete the process without removing or changing the dies, something you need to do with a single stage press.
- Progressive Reloading Press
The best progressive reloading press is designed for rapid production of bullets, around 500 to 600 bullets an hour. It is more advanced than either the single stage or turret reloading press and progressive presses are designed to hold every die that’s required for a specific caliber and can also contain up to 5 cases. While progressive reload presses are the most advanced, they are also the most expensive.
Our Best Single Stage Reloading Press Picks
The single stage press is the most affordable of the three and the most widely available as well. Here are our top choices.
1. RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press
This is one of the best options today thanks to its sturdy built. The compound leverage system is well engineered and doesn’t wear down even with constant use.
In spite of the power, the RCBS is ideal for beginners as it is easy enough to use, but at the same time it offers plenty for long time reloaders in search of versatility.
As one of the best ammo reloader, the RCBS is versatile enough to be used by left and right handers, and it has a primer arm you can use to set the shell case. It also has four inches of clearance so you can use it for just about every type of bullet for reload. Even if you use this on a regular basis, the solid iron construction means it’s going to last for a long time, and you’ll still feel comfortable thanks to its handle. If you’re looking for a good single stage reloading press, the Rock Chucker is a serious candidate.
- Comes with just about everything you need for a reloading kit
- Installation is quick
- Plenty of help and guides available online
- Versatile and durable
- Spent primer trays included
- Doesn’t come with mounting hardware
- Dies not included
2. Lee Precision Classic Cast Press (Red)
The Lee Precision Classic is one of the best reloading press for the money, period. One of the most notable aspects of the Lee presses is they’re usually made from recycled iron materials off railroad tracks, giving you an indication of its strength.
Like any good press reloader, the Lee Classic is compatible with both left and right handers, and shifting from one side to another is easy.
The length handle can be adjusted fully, and in many cases it’s better to go with a shorter handle especially with shorter rifle cases or handgun cartridges. The O frame, a common feature in Lee press reloaders, has been expanded, allowing you to use a wide range of calibers and the automatic primer works as well advertised.
- Solid cast iron construction
- Design is simple but robust
- Generous hand clearance
- Setup is easy
- Requires specific dies to begin reloading
- Other accessories have to be purchased separately
Our Best Turret Reloading Press Picks
A turret press is a step up from the single stage, and if your ammo reloading needs have increased then this is what you should look for. There is no shortage of turret press reloaders in the market, but when it comes to features and functionality the following are tough to beat.
1. Lee Precision Classic Turret Press (Red)
Whether you’re looking for the best beginner reloading kit or a turret press, it’s hard to find a better option than the Less Classic Turret Press. It’s capable of producing more bullets than a single stage press, and its turret head has an auto indexing feature that simplifies handling of ammo. With the auto indexer, you don’t have to turn the turret when every stage is set, reducing the time it takes to reload. Like other Lee reloaders this is built to last: the ball grip is solid hardwood without compromising on comfort even when used on a regular basis.
Also, the frame design has a 12 sq. in. area, more than capable of supporting its ram, and more importantly the Lee is designed to work with shell cases that are over 3 inches high. In other words you can use this for rifle cases, something that’s not possible with other turret press reloaders. Last but not the least, the generous hand clearance allows for quick and precise adjustments especially when putting the primers on the arm.
- Large and small primer arms are included
- Compatible with pistol and rifle cartridges
- The auto indexing makes manual turret plate reloading unnecessary
- Dies don’t come with the package
2. Lyman Reloading Press T-Mag Turret Press
The T-Mag Turret Press is a good option for beginners and advanced reloaders as it strikes a balance between the basic single stage press and the more expensive progressive press.
The T-Mag is equipped with 6 stations on its head, allowing you to hold various die stages, speeding up the process significantly. There’s also a spent primer box thrown in that ensures everything is set after you’re done reloading.
The turret handle is ambidextrous and it’s easy to mount on metal, wood or other flat surfaces, making this not just one of the best but also one of the most convenient as well. The turret handle actually has a double function so you can use it to remove the turret head. With this feature, there’s no longer any need to make complex adjustments, and it also helps the frame is solidly built.
- Solid design
- Compatible with every standard die size
- Can be used with short firearm and rifle cartridges
- The turret handle also works as a utility for removing the turret
- Solidly built
- Priming is manual
- Dies have to be purchased separately
Our Picks for Progressive Reloaders
If you are a bona fide gun enthusiast and reload frequently, you probably won’t settle for anything other than the best, in which case you’ll want a progressive reloading press. Beginners might balk at the price and find the setup more complicated than a turret or single stage press, but these are not meant for novices.
1. Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press
The Lock N Load is regarded by many as one of the best reloading kit products today, in particular due to its EZ Ject system that accelerates production without requiring any special adjustments. Another notable feature on the Lock N Load is the Quick Change Lock N Load Bushing System: in simple terms it is this contraption that minimizes the amount of tweaking required for adjusting and changing dies. Regardless of the type of cartridge you’re working with, replacement won’t take long.
As one of the best progressive reloading press today, the Lock N Load comes with 5 stations so you can work on each stage without the need for other equipment. The unit also comes with a retainer spring where the cases are held as they go through the reloading process. The springs were built with compatibility in mind so you can use different caliber types.
- Setting up is quick and easy
- Swapping with different dies is straightforward
- The build is solid and effective
- Less adjustment required
- A bit expensive
2. Dillon Precision Rl550b 4 Stage Progressive Reloading Machine 14261
The Dillon Precision earns its place as one of the best reloading equipment by virtue of its useful and practical features. There are four stations which a brass passes, with the first station resizing the case, taking out the spent primer and putting the new one in place. The second station is where powder is added, while at station 3 the bullet is set in the brass. Station 4 is the crimping and ejecting the finished product.
As reviews have pointed out, the Precision Rl550b has a primer magazine bundled for storing all your new primers. The priming system on the Dillon reloader is compatible with small and large primers, plus there are a couple of pickup tubes included, one for small primers and the other for large ones. In addition the tool head is removable. With the dies connected to the tool head, you can remove it quickly by taking out the pins.
- Able to reload up to 100 different types of calibers
- The reloader works with both pistols and rifles
- It can produce anywhere from 400 to 600 rounds of ammo
- The Dillon Precision has received praise for its customer support
- The caliber conversion kit has to be purchased separately
- Setting up the unit is a bit involved
Which Press Reloader to Buy?
There is no single right answer to this question because it depends on your needs and budget. However there are a few things you should consider before buying one.
If this is your first time to use a press reloader, the single stage press is probably your best option. There is only a single spot for threading a die so you can do things only one at a time and you need to replace the die during priming, expansion and decapping.
They are basic compared to the turret and progressive press, but it’s easy to use. The benefit of using a single stage press moreover, is you will learn how the process works and you’ll be able to inspect and assess the situation. Single stage presses are also ideal if you don’t reload often and are on a budget.
If your needs have outgrown the single stage press then you can buy a turret or progressive press. As was pointed out earlier the progressive press is the most expensive, but it does come with all the bells and whistles so to speak, so it’s something only you can decide.
As you can see here there are a lot of press reloaders available and you really cannot go wrong with any of them. If this is your first time to use a press reloader, just refer to the buying guide above and then choose from any of the picks we have provided. Remember, the best ammo reloader is not the most expensive, but the one that satisfies your requirements.