The Best Reloading Press – The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Reloading Press
Hand loading your own ammo can be very rewarding. You might save a bit of money (ok, sometimes a lot of money vs. buying factory ammo) and you get the satisfaction of knowing that you made your own bullets. So there’s one very important product to allow you to make your own ammunition: a reloading press.
You may have been looking around at prices and they are all over the place. This price variance begs the question: what is the best reloading press?
Well, we’re going to help you understand the differences between different types of reloading presses and offer up our suggestions for the top reloading presses on the market today.
Here are our top picks for the best reloading presses below:
When you first start shopping loading presses, it’s difficult to avoid the simplicity of the lee O-type Challenger press. This simple setup is all you need for most calibers, and once you get comfortable with a single stage press, loading batches of rounds is easy and quick.
Change dies with a twist of the wrist using the Breech Lock Quick Change die system. Adjust everything once for the bullet seating depth, and never worry about it again. The cast metal housing is built tough, and the lever system is all steel, which will last a very long time.
If you are just getting started reloading, you don’t need to spend a ton of money, and single stage presses are great for bullets tuned perfectly for your rifle, with all the care and love required for the perfect round. This press is a great buy at this price point.
Personally, this is my favorite press. It’s not all sunshine and butterflies, and sometimes primers don’t want to cooperate; they will try to bypass the plastic tray, but they never go far, and you’ll find them when you are wiping up after a long reloading session.
The Rock Chucker is built tough, and will handle most reloading applications, even swaging smaller bullets, especially those made from softer lead alloys. The handle is adjustable for either right or left handed people, or depending on your preference, so it stays out of the way while you are working.
If you do get a case of runaway primers, I’ve found that mounting a paper towel behind the catcher solves that problem quickly and efficiently, without making any serious modifications. Dies screw in and out, and the locking ring will keep them from drifting once you finish your measurements, so you can ensure proper bullet seating.
One of the best reloading presses for your money, especially at this steal of a price.
If you want a turret press, lee makes the setup straight forward. You can even order extra plates, and keep one for every caliber, so setting up for a batch of rounds is quick and easy. Simply change the plate. Dies stay where they need to, giving you all the advantages of a single stage loader without constantly swapping dies. This allows faster turn-around on smaller batches of bullets.
The setup isn’t going to be as sturdy as a larger single stage reloading press, but the kit comes with everything you need to get started and the price is relatively low. Add some dies, shell holders, powder, primer, and cases, and you will be ready to start cranking out rounds.
Loading shot shells is a bit different than sizing brass, and requires a different technique. You also don’t need as much pressure applied to the press. These setups are light and compact. I still have my dad’s old one and it still works, so they are built to last. Everything is set up, so you can grab some wads, shot, and powder, and get started right away.
Make custom shotgun rounds, target fodder, or your dream self defense rounds, without worrying about a super expensive reloading setup. If you don’t see yourself messing with brass ammo in the near future, then this is all you need to keep your shotgun fed and happy. For around $50 right now, you can get an awesome shotgun shell reloading press.
Small footprint. In fact, it doesn’t have a footprint at all, other than the box you store your reloading equipment in.
Hand presses are nice for working in front of the television, or if you simply don’t have the space for a larger setup. They make a great way to get started reloading, and you can learn the basics while utilizing your rest time to crank out extra ammo for your favorite rifle.
Perfect for apartment dwellers who want to load practice ammo for their pistol in their spare time. Comes with hand press, powder funnel, and case lube. The press accepts any round with an overall length of 3.65 inches or less, so it will work great for all pistol ammo and most conventional rifle rounds, even 30-06. If you need a small reloading set up, it’s worth a try, and it’s a quality product from Lee.
Three Main Types of Reloading Presses
Yep, can you believe it? There are three different types of reloading presses available (or at least the most popular anyways).
Single Stage Reloading Presses
A single stage reloading press is a very simple type of reloading press that allows you to load one shell at a time. Every time you want to load a new shell with powder, you need to swap in a new shell and new dies for each stage of the process.
Single stage reloading presses are perfect for beginners to reloading that are just starting out. We do recommend them for people who want to occasionally reload their own ammo but not ready to reload thousands of shells just yet.
The best single stage reloading press is…
This is one nice press that will produce some very high quality reloads if you’ve got the time and the patience. It’s great for beginners and makes a smooth press every time.
Is it worth it to buy a single stage press? If you’re short on money and can’t afford a turret press (see below) then by all means get this single stage press. For most people, we recommend saving up a little bit more and going with a turret reloading press instead since it will be much faster.
In fact, all of these reloading presses pay for themselves over time. There’s really no losing in reloading unless you go out of your way to spend a ton of money on junk.
Turret Reloading Presses
A turret reloading press features a turret plate that has spots for all of your dies to go into. This will allow you to reload a shell without having to swap out dies for each step like you would with a single stage reloading press.
Some turret reloading presses have an auto-index feature that turns the turret plate automatically so that you don’t have to do anything to move on to the next stage of reloading.
Turret reloading presses are great for both beginners and hardcore reloaders. They’re a good compromise between reloading speed and value.
The Best Turret Reloading Press Is…
What we like about this turret reloading press is that it’s so super easy to use and it says quality all over it. Plus, Lyman has been around FOREVER, as I can remember buying one of their presses back in the 70’s.
It’s got over 40 reviews on Amazon right now and people love the smoothness of this press. It’s very repeatable and pumps out some really high-quality reloads. If you’re wanting to get into reloading or if you just want the best turret reloading press, this is it.
For under $200, you can’t lose with the Lyman T-mag.
Progressive Reloading Press
Progressive reloading presses are sort of like turret reloading presses on steroids. A good progressive reloading press will allow you to do hundreds of reloads per hour and features a systematic process that moves on to the next stage of reloading with a simple lever pull. It’s faster and more efficient than any other reloading press.
The Best Progressive Reloading Press Is…
There are so many good reviews on this thing online that you just can’t deny it. If you’re serious about reloading and you want to save some money on ammo, this is the reloading press for you.
This reloading press has some pretty cool features that people really like such as:
- EZject system – ejects cartridges easily every time
- A built-in priming system with hopper
- It’s so fast to switch dies
- It’s incredibly quick to change calibers on the fly
For under $450, this reloading press basically pays for itself easily over time.
Which Reloading Press is Best for Me?
No matter how you cut it, reloading your own ammo is a great idea. We certainly think that the Hornady Lock N Load AP reloading press is the best on the market right now and many others agree. If you don’t want to wait forever to do a decent amount of ammo, definitely get the progressive reloading press.
Do you know what goes good with the best reloading press? The best reloading bench.