When you begin the search for the best progressive reloading press, you’ll soon discover that a handful of companies dominate this special market.
They lead the way for a good reason – they produce dependable equipment that delivers results. This is great news for shooting enthusiasts who might spend a fortune on ammunition if they had to go to a retailer every time they needed a new supply.
Shopping for a progressive reloading press should be based on three or four key features.
Most customers will be looking for how many rounds per hour the press will deliver, along with the ability to change caliber and make adjustments. Of course, you’ll also be looking for a durable product that will give you service for the long term, along with the number of stations the press offers.
The market for the progressive reloading press is saturated. Shopping for a progressive reloading press should be an informed process. This guide highlights important information you should note in your search for a progressive reloading press.
Top 5 Best Progressive Reloading Press (Summary)
For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.
Some products are designed to reload specific ammunition, while others will cover different types depending on the design details. The goal, of course, is to produce reliable cartridges in assembly-line fashion, to save you time and money.
What Is a Progressive Reloading Press
Anyone who spends time shooting for different purposes, whether as a hobby or for hunting, knows the cost of the activity. Ammunition is the biggest expense for shooters. The ammunition industry rakes in billions yearly.
A reloading press is a tool for an avid shooter who wants to save money. Instead of spending so much cash on ammunition, you can make it from scratch with a reloading press.
These tools are also essential for hunters. Apart from carrying a backpack for hunting, having the best hunting boots, and a premium hunting knife, every hunter looking to make the activity sustainable needs a reloading press with a comfortable shoulder strap. While hunting, it’s as important to carry a gun in your ankle holster as to find a reloading press that serves you well.
Benefits of Using a Progressive Reloading Press
A progressive reloading press stands out. Firstly, with this tool, you can make cartridges at an impressive rate. Most progressive reloading machines make hundreds of cartridges every hour.
The reloading process of these machines is also designed with precise measuring and deburring features that churn out accurate cartridges. With a progressive reloading press, you save a lot of money. It’s the most efficient machine for making custom ammunition.
Furthermore, you can use old ammo instead of wasting it. Over time these machines have also been adapted for ease of use. Although this tool has several pros, it’s important to mention the features of the machine that are not so flattering.
A reloading pres is easy to maintain, but the maintenance of these machines could cost a lot of money. The possible cost of maintaining a progressive reloading press is thus noteworthy. Other cons of progressive reloading presses are the cost of the machine itsel. A progressive reloading machine has several moving parts, which makes i keeping it in operation more pricey.
Types of Reloading Presses
Reloading presses are available in three types — single-stage press, turret press progressive reloading press, turret press and single-stage press. All the reloading presses make ammunitions from scratch with basic materials. The distinction between these three types is in the mode of operation and efficiency.
This type is generally known as the easiest to handle and the most suitable form for persons with little to no experience with these machines. The process of making ammunitions involves putting the required materials together and putting them into the press, with few manipulations.
Even with its ease of use, single-stage presses are laborious to use because of their time-consuming nature. This type of press, however, produces high quality ammunitions and is a good option for people who want to understand how a loading press works and study the process.
The turret press got its name from the attached turret for processing several dies simultaneously. It is thus more efficient than a single-stage press.
Using a turret press is quicker than a single stage press since the reloading process does not occur in batches. Although the overall process of using a turret press is more tedious than a single-stage press, it’s efficient for caliber changing. The efficiency of a turret press over a single stage press is attributed to the fact that these presses have 4 to 6 turrets.
Progressive Reloading Press
The progressive reloading press is the most advanced. Progressive reloading presses work automatically at a significantly high rate producing about 400 rounds every hour. However, you need to change the caliber of ammunition.
You’ll want to have some experience operating a press before trying this one, but the efficiency and precision are impressive on this type of press. Just like a hunter will invest in a premium hunting knife and high-quality tactical boots, a progressive reloading press is a worthy investment for achieving maximum efficiency.
When using it, you simply need to set up the dies and it churns out the required cartridges automatically. If you’re comparing these three presses, you should consider qualities like ease of use, production rate and cost. The single-stage press is the most suitable option for beginners.
The turret and progressive reloading press are much more complicated. Beginners may be able to use a turret press but will likely struggle with a progressive one. We recommend a single-stage option for anyone who doesn’t need to produce a lot of ammunition.
How to Choose the Best Progressive Reloading Press
The word “best” may be a bit misleading when you are trying to choose a reloading press. You may find the best press for reloading several different types of ammunition offered along with the best press for reloading a specific caliber and you’ll have to purchase various accessories to extend the usefulness
The real question is, “What kind of press is right for you?” You might want to begin with a single-stage, getting one reloading step at a time. This is a learning process for those who haven’t reloaded before. Your first lesson should focus on quality and safety, not on making ammo as quickly possible. Naturally, presses in this category will have a lower price tag but will deliver precision reloads. Competitive shooters and serious hunters often use the single-stage press for quality control.
Your next step may be to consider a turret press, which works with one cartridge at a time but has the dies you need for the complete process – installed and ready to use. You might classify the turret design as a hybrid or middle-ground press.
Otherwise, you can make the move to the progressive press. You’ll be reloading in the assembly-line fashion mentioned earlier, rather than completing one step at a time. Dies are held in a circle, with a cartridge under each one. When you pull the handle, a cartridge is engaged and the others are moved to the next position. Once a cartridge makes the complete cycle, it’s finished and ejected, to be replaced by an empty cartridge.
It may take some practice to get the process moving smoothly while still producing safe, quality ammo. The top-line presses can deliver 400 or more rounds per hour. If your setup includes automatic case and bullet feeders, you could increase production up to 600 rounds per hour. Of course, you’ll pay quite a bit more for this convenience and precision. You’ll have to decide if that extra money is worth the investment (400 to 600 rounds per hour compared to 30 rounds on a single-stage press).
If you want to purchase a biometric gun safe or buy a progressive reloading press, it is important to note certain features that are indications of its overall efficiency. Some of the factors that determine the best progressive reloading press are highlighted below.
You should opt for a machine that is aimed at the best user experience. Such machines are usually accompanied by accessories that automate different processes. For progressive reloading presses, many notable brands ensure that the important accessories are provided at purchase. These accessories include component feeders for powder, cases and primers.
Different brands offer a variety of accessories, particularly aimed at automating the process of ammunition production. If your focus is on automation and production of the highest quantities of rounds, you should opt for machines with a lot of compatible accessories. These accessories are typically pricey but get the job done and can significantly improve efficiency.
The durability of tools and accessories for shooting as a hobby or for hunting are indications of their quality. Just as one would note durability when shopping for the best hunting boots, it is essential to confirm the durability of a progressive reloading press before buying it.
The materials with which a press was made indicates its durability. Look for a press crafted from cast steel or stainless steel.
Type of Ammo Use
Progressive reloading presses are precision tools and can be designed for specific operations. You should thus confirm that they’re suitable for making the type of cartridges you use.
Ease of Use and Assembling
Generally, using a progressive reloading machine requires some form of experience. A novice is not advised to go for a progressive reloading machine. However, some of these machines are easier to handle and assemble than others.
You should confirm that your level of experience with progressive reloading is sufficient for operating the one you intend buying. The rule of thumb is that the ones with few moving parts are easy to handle and operate.
The reloading rate of a progressive reloading machine is a major determinant of its efficiency. This rate refers to the number of cartridges the machine can produce in a specific time. The standard time period is one hour.
If you’re an avid shooter, you would need a reloading machine that produces between 400 and 800 rounds every hour. If you don’t shoot very often, an option with a lower reloading rate would be suitable. The reloading rate, which could also be described as the production rate, is determined by features such as the automatic indexing feature.
If you’re looking for an option with a high production rate, your focus should be on options with the automatic indexing feature rather than the manual indexing feature. You should note, however, that presses with the automatic indexing features are always more complicated to operate in comparison with those with the manual indexing feature.
Generally, your usage would determine the reloading rate of the machine you choose. You should, however, note that progressive reloading machines have a high reloading rate, regardless of the option you choose.
Your budget will play a major role in determining the most suitable progressive reloading machine for you. In getting a good bargain, it is important to compare available options with a focus on the features you seek.
Number of Stations
While searching for the most suitable reloading machine, you should also consider the number of stations. The number of stations determines efficiency, especially at carrying out different functions simultaneously.
Typically, progressive reloading presses have 4 to 6 stations. These stations serve different purposes such as resizing, powder dropping and powder assessing. You should also be sure of the functions of the different presses.
Gunpowder Management System
The gunpowder management system determines its efficiency regarding the speed as well as maximum use of materials. Efficient gunpowder management systems provide the required amount of gunpowder for different cartridges. These systems also prevent the waste of gunpowder.
You should note that the typical progressive reloading press is heavy. They are heavy because the weight makes them stable. Look out for one with the most appropriate weight.
The ejection system determines the overall quality of the ammunition produced because it releases the bullets after they are produced. When the ejection system is ineffective, the bullets produced could become marred as they are released.
Caliber Changing System
The efficiency of a progressive reloading press is also significantly influenced by its caliber-changing system. Thus, tools with in-built caliber changing systems are the most effective. Reloading presses with caliber changing systems also have high reloading rates.
5 Best Progressive Reloading Presses
The first thing to note about RCBS 9356 Reloading Press is its sturdy construction. It’s made of cast iron which doesn’t break or wear down easily.
It also has an ambidextrous design. This means that you won’t have any problem no matter if you’re left or right-handed.
The loading window on this model is 4.25 inches so it can accommodate even modern, longer cartridges, which increases its efficiency.
It’s also designed to be easy to operate no matter how familiar the user is with a progressive reloading press. If you run into any difficulties, you can depend on the included instruction manual to help you out.
Cast iron design will last years to come
Loading window accommodates long cartridges
- Ambidextrous design
Primer catcher tends to slide out of place
2. Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press– Best for Versatility of Design
This is a heavy-duty press that also delivers efficient reloading every time. This unit stays maintains adjustment when you eject or replace dies, though initial adjustment takes some care and patience. The EZJect System from Hornady speeds up production without need for special adjustment. You can expect to produce up to 600 rounds per hour once you get comfortable with this press, which should be fast enough for anyone.
Ease of operation is one of the key benefits of the Lock N Load, with five auto-indexing stations and quick-change dies. Change calibers from .45 to .223 in minutes. The collecting tray is placed to work as a key part of the process. You’ll also benefit from the powder-drop design, which makes the work more efficient and prevents accidental spilling. You will need to buy dies and shell plates. You may also find you need an “O” ring under the powder-station bushing to keep it firmly in place.