I am quite certain that there are a lot of avid shooters out there who have considered loading their own ammunition in order to save money and/or to customize their ammunition to the type of hunting they like to pursue. But, many of them have probably also discarded the idea because they thought it was too expensive to get into or too hard to do. But, I assure you that it is not to difficult if you simply pay attention and, compared to the expense of factory ammunition these days, the equipment and components will cost you far less in the long run.
Reloading Press Defined
- The first of which is that loading your own ammunition is significantly cheaper than purchasing factory ammunition. In fact, loading your own ammunition can save you as much as 50% depending on the caliber you are loading and the components you choose.
- Second, when you load your own ammunition, you are the quality control expert and, because you are your own boss, you can afford to take the time to carefully perform and observe each stage of the loading process in order to assure that you have the most consistent loads possible.
- Third, by loading your own ammunition, you suddenly have access to numerous different bullet, powder, brass, and primer manufacturers as well as the myriad of choices each company offers and thus, you can spend countless hours (or just a few) finding a particular combination of components that your gun really likes. Consequently, between the ability to be your own quality control expert and the ability to customize the components to suit individual firearms, you have the ability to create ammunition that is far more consistent and far more accurate than mass produced factory ammunition.
- Fourth, by loading your own ammunition, you can choose specific types of bullet construction combined with different powder loads to match your particular application; be it self defense or hunting large and/or dangerous game (sort of the same thing!).
Top 3 Best Reloading Presses – Single, Turret, and Progressive
Top 3 Best Reloading Kits – Single, Turret, and Progressive
Reloading kits give you a little bit more than just the stand-alone press, with only the appropriate die set(s) for the cartridge(s) you want to reload needed. Kits are great for beginners who want to have basically everything they need to get started immediately, and not have to worry about additional purchases. It’s a nominal upcharge to attain the kit and with that being said, let’s look at the top 3 reloading kits are, by type.
1) Single Stage Reloading Kit – RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit
Sticking with RCBS as our top choice for best single stage reloading kit, this kit is often referred to as a ‘reloading shop in a box’ because you have most of the components you need on hand. The contents are made with quality in mind and meant to last dozens or more years.
This includes the RCBS Rock Chucker Press, 505 reloading scale, powder measure, hand priming tool, case loading block, deburring tool, powder funnel, and much more. RCBS provides excellent instructions and more can be found on YouTube for a step by step walk-through. A full review of the Master Reloading Kit can be found here.
2) Turret Reloading Kit – Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit
This is an extension of our top choice, the Lee Precision Turret Press, and you may want to consider this Kit because it includes Lee’s Pro Auto-Disk powder measure and riser and the Lee Large and Small Safety Prime for mounting directly on the press. The kit contains case prep tools such as a Chamfer Tool, Primer Pocket Cleaners, Cutter, Lock Stud and Case Length Gauge.
Finally you get some Lee case sizing lube, a powder scale and a hardcover copy of the latest Lee Reloading manual with new load data for 167 cartridges with over 28,000 loads. A complete review of the press and kit can show you why we value this turret so much.
3) Progressive Reloading Press Kit – Dillon Precision RL550B 4 Stage Progressive Reloading Machine
The Dillon 550B Progressive Reloading Machine is a powerful beast and certainly one of the strongest you’ll come across. It has the ability to load over 120 different calibers and can load both rifle and pistol cartridges, no questions asked. The unit uses standard 7/8 x 14 thread per inch dies, and the purchase includes a large and small primer system as well as a large and small powder measure. 300-500 rounds per hour is a cinch.
It’s a great blend of speed and versatility and you can’t go very far without hearing rave reviews about how well Dillon handles any issues that arise with their lifetime “no-b.s.” warranty. Read more detail about the Dillon 550B right here.
The Different Types of Bullet and Ammo Presses
Of course, if you are not already familiar with reloading, then you may not know what the difference between these three types of loading presses is and thus, I will attempt to explain them to you.
- Single-stage press, as the name implies, performs only one stage of the reloading process such as outside resizing, inside resizing, priming and charging, or bullet seating and crimping at any given time and it requires the operator to remove and change the loading die after completing each stage. The dies are inserted into an opening at the top of the press, while a shell holder is fixed to the ram, securing the cartridge case rim. The lever is then pressed, forcing the ram up and die acts on the case. Priming is generally completed separately with a hand priming setup, however there are multiple single stage presses with attachments for priming. They are considered the slowest in number of rounds produced per hour.
- Turret Press on the other hand, is like a single stage press in that it too only performs one stage at a time but, with a turret press, all of the dies can be inserted into the turret at the same time and thus, all the operator has to do to move on to the next stage is to rotate the turret which can be faster than replacing the dies individually. Many turret presses have the ability to auto-index meaning manual indexing is not required. Owners will still need to perform the same amount of strokes per completed round, but the amount of rounds completed will be faster due to indexing capabilities.
- Progressive Press is designed in such a way that all of the stages of the loading process are completed automatically and thus, a single pull of the handle results in one loaded round. This is achieved by using a shellplate which contains multiple cases together. At the point in which the level is pushed down, the ram is raised, and a number of processes begin to occur. When ram cycling is complete, the shellplate turns/indexes. This sets up the next operation for each shell with the last round being deposited into a tray. Progressives kick off the most rounds per hour by far, but are also more complex, require maintenance, and have a slight learning curve, especially for beginners. Progressives presses are also the most expensive type, which some containing auto indexing and others containing manual indexin. This being said, my personal preference is to use a bench-mounted single stage press to load high quality rifle ammunition for hunting and a progressive loading press to load copious quantities of 9mm, 10mm, and .38 Super handgun ammunition and .223 Rem./5.56 NATO rifle ammunition for plinking and action shooting competitions.
Choosing Between a Reloading Press and a Reloading Kit
Therefore, that leads us to the question of whether you should purchase a loading press and all of the components individually or purchase them as a kit? Well, the answer to that question depends on your level of knowledge and the type of press you would like to purchase. For instance, if you are a beginner, then you would probably be best off purchasing a kit containing a single stage press and all of the other basic equipment you will need along with an appropriate set of dies and a shell holder for the caliber you intend to load. On the other hand, if you already have at least some loading knowledge and/or experience, then you might want to purchase a turret press or a progressive press instead of a single stage press and you may want to mix and match the brand names and/or models of the other equipment you will need to purchase such as a powder measure, powder scales, a bullet puller, a neck trimmer, ect. But regardless of whether you choose to purchase a kit or purchase your tools individually, you will still need to decide whether you want to purchase a single stage press, a turret press, or a progressive press. Below we’re able to provide our top picks that you can further research yourself.
Bullet Reloading Presses Conclusion
Therefore, with a possible monetary savings of as much as 50% over purchasing factory ammunition, loading your own ammunition does make sense (cents?). Also, with the ability to customize your ammunition to your particular hunting situation and/or game species as well as the ability to control the quality and consistency of your ammunition, loading your own ammunition is an excellent idea. Plus, with single stage presses running under $125 and kits running between $125 and $325 on average, it is not too expensive to get into; nor is it too hard to do. So, as you can see, if you have been considering loading your own ammunition but have been putting it off, there really are no excuses for doing so!