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Reloading your own ammunition can be very beneficial, especially if you want to enter medium-range and long-range competitions. But did you know that refilling your ammunition can also be dangerous? If you don’t pay attention during the refilling process, you might end up squibs or kabooms that can harm your weapon, or even injure yourself.
In the following article, we present the best reloading presses of 2019 list including top-rated progressive reloading presses as well as single stage presses, and we explained the benefits of each type + how to use them. We also explain the pros and cons of using a reloading press and provide easy to follow instructions on how to stay safe when using them.
Table of Contents
- Best Reloading Kits (Updated List)
- Reloading Press Buying Guide
- Best Reloading Presses Comparison Chart
- Wrap Up
Best Reloading Kits (Updated List)
1. Lee Precision Challenger Press
Some people consider single stage reloading presses out of date, but that’s far from the truth. A good single stage reloading press can still be effective, and using one might be the best way to learn how a reloading press works. If you’re looking for a single stage reloading press, the Lee Precision Challenger is the right model for you.
This press comes with a high-quality durable funnel that will help you fill each case as much as you want. Even though it might seem a little bulky at first, the reloading press runs smoothly and it’s easy to operate.
- Sensitive Scale – The reloading press comes with a very sensitive scale, so you can be sure all your rounds will have the same consistency
- Great Customer Service – Lee guarantees a great customer service. If you have any troubles with the reloading press, or if you have any questions about it, you can contact the customer support service. Their specialists will reply quickly, and they will provide valuable information
- Spent Primers Can Slide On The Wrong Side – It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes the spent primers might slide on the wrong side. This might inconvenience some people.
2. RCBS Rock Chucker
If you’re looking for a single stage reloading press that’s capable of producing dozens of rounds without tiring you out, the Rock Chucker is the model you’re looking for. Unlike other reloading presses, this model comes with a great leverage, so it will work flawlessly for hours.
The Rock Chucker comes with a durable frame, and once you set it in place, you can rest assured it won’t move an inch. The lengthened design will allow you to load longer cartridges that are so popular these days.
- Strong Frame – The Rock Chucker comes with a high-quality frame. The frame is very durable, so you will be able to use the reloading press for years without any problems.
- Great Leverage – This reloading press uses a great leverage. The leverage will allow you to refill the shells in one smooth motion
- Used Primers Catcher Could Be Better – The used primer catcher slides back when you activate the ram, so the primers have enough space to slip past it. This can be an inconvenience, but you can improvise something to stop it from sliding.
3. Hornady Progressive Reloading Press
Some people don’t want to spend a lot of time when making their own cartridges, so they look for something better than what the single stage reloading press has to offer. If you’re one of those people, you should take a closer look at an auto-progressive press, like the one produced by Hornady.
This reloading press uses a 5-station bushing system that completes the whole process from an empty shell to a usable round. The reloading system might seem complicated at first and you might ruin some shells, but once you get the hang of it, it will be more efficient than the single press.
- Large Hopper – This reloading press uses a hopper that has a large capacity. This means you will have to refill the hopper less often, even if you use the press frequently.
- EZJect System – The reloading press comes with a cartridge ejection system that works flawlessly. This will help you make cartridges faster and improve your performance.
- Not For Beginners – Even though this reloading press is easy to operate and has a good productivity, it is not for beginners. If you don’t know what you’re doing, the whole process might seem overwhelming.
4. Lee 90045 Reloading Press
If you want to make your own cartridges, but you don’t want to break the bank when buying a reloading press, you should take a closer look at the 90045 model produced by Lee. Even though this press can work on various reloading tasks, many people choose to use it for de-priming due to its low cost and light weight.
This reloading press has a lightweight but durable frame, and if the weight of the press might make it difficult to reload large shells, it will do a good enough job for pistol ammo.
- Cheap – This unit is cheap, so if you’re looking for a reloading press to refill your pistol shells, you might have found the perfect model. The low price also makes this press a good choice if you only want to use it for a single reloading stage.
- Ideal For Light Duty – Thanks to its cheap price and lightweight, this reloading press is ideal for light duty such as de-priming or decapping.
- Can’t Handle Large Calibers – This reloading press can work as a single stage press for pistol ammo, but it can’t handle large calibers. If you’re looking for a reloading press for your rifle shells, you should find another model.
5. Lyman T-Mag Turret Reloading Press
A turret reloading press might be more expensive than other models, but it can also produce better results. If you get used to using one, a turret reloading press, such as the Lyman T-Mag will increase your reloading rate and improve your performance.
This reloading press has a very solid base, and after all the settings are dialed in, your performance will increase significantly. The turret press is also easy to use, and it has a low maintenance.
- Smooth Operation – Not only is this reloading press easy to operate, but it runs smoothly as well. Once you find the right settings, the results can be reproduced over and over, until you finish reloading.
- Robust – This turret reloading press is robust, and it has a good leverage. You will be able to reload even large shells without any problem, and you will do it quickly.
- Primer Catcher Could Be Better – The primer catcher looks and feels cheap, and it’s not very efficient. The catcher manages to catch most of the spent primers, but for most users, this won’t be enough.
Reloading Press Buying Guide
Finding the best reloading press might be more difficult than you expect, especially if you don’t have any previous experience with reloading your own cartridges. In the following section, we explain what to look for in a reloading press, so you can make an informed decision when you decide to buy one.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Making Your Own Bullets
You might be wondering what advantages making your bullets might present. Well, in this section, we present both the advantages and disadvantages of using a reloading press.
- Cheaper – Experienced refillers can make a box of bullets at a third of the price they would pay for one in a store.
- Custom Fit – All competitive rifle shooters produce their own bullets. Each of them has a special recipe for midrange and long range bullets
- Better Components – Some components you can buy individually, such as brass casings, can be better than the ones used by manufacturers
- Certainty – You can be certain your bullets will perform exactly as you want them to because you handmade them
- Starting Cost – You will have to invest in a reloading press, dies, ingredients, and accessories. The initial cost can go up to $500, but even to $1000 in some cases.
- Time-Consuming – Even if you use a progressive press, the refilling process is time-consuming.
- Takes Up A Lot Of Space – Most people will have a hard time producing bullets in their apartments
- Hazardous Materials – You want to bring gunpowder into your home.
- Might Not Be Worth It – Refilling your bullets might only be worth it if you shoot a lot. If you don’t, then the whole investment might not be worth it.
- Dangerous – You risk producing squibs and kabooms that might damage your firearm and even cause injuries.
- Not Allowed Indoors – Many indoor ranges prohibit the use of reloads because they are dangerous.
Types Of Reloading Presses
The first thing you should know is that there are more types of reloading presses. As you could already see in our reviews, not all the presses work in the same way. The type of reloading press you choose will affect the number of bullets you can produce in one hour, but it will also affect the amount of physical labor you have to put into when producing a bullet.
- Single Stage Press – This is the first type of reloading press that was ever used, and it’s still used today because it’s very efficient. Single stage reloading presses are usually cheaper than other models, and they are rather simple to understand and operate. Even though it might take longer to produce a bullet using a single stage reloading press, this type of press is usually the best one for beginners.
Unlike other models, single stage presses have less moving parts, so they will also have a cheaper maintenance. They have sturdy frames that are very durable, so a single stage reloading press will last for a very long time. Another advantage is that these presses can usually support large caliber shells, so you can use them for both rifle and pistol bullets.
Experienced refillers can produce up to 50 shotgun shells or 100 pistol rounds per hour, but you should not expect to produce more than 20 large caliber shells and 50 pistol bullets if you’re a beginner. However, learning to use a single stage reloading press is easy, so you will get the hang of it in no time.
- Turret Refilling Press – These refilling presses are faster than single stage ones at refilling, and they are not too difficult to operate. Even though they might be better suited for experienced users, they can be used by beginners as well.
Turret reloading presses are usually very sturdy and durable, but they have more mobile parts than single stage presses, so they might require more maintenance.
Experienced refillers can produce up to 250 pistol bullets per hour using a turret press, but beginners should expect to produce up to 80 rounds per hour until they get the hang of it.
- Progressive Reloading Press – These reloading presses are the fastest models available, and they usually come at a steeper price. They are not recommended for beginners, but they can produce good results when they’re used by an experienced or professional refiller.
Progressive reloading presses have multiple moving parts, so they might require more maintenance. If you’re not experienced in using one, you might consider the reloading process overwhelming.
An experienced refiller can produce up to 500 pistol rounds when using a progressive reloading press. These are the type of presses professional gunsmiths use for their shops.
How A Reloading Press Works
If you’re not familiar with reloading presses, you might not comprehend the differences in how each type of presses works. Here’s a short guide:
- Single Stage Press – The single stage press is easy to operate. You need to manually complete every step of the manufacturing process. That means you will have to take the casing and place it on the ram. Then, you will need to manually place the primer on its bottom. Some models come with automatic primer deployment, so that step might be skipped. After that, you will have to fill it, and so on. For every operation, you will have to change the die on top of the press.
This process is time-consuming, but it’s also easy to understand and follow, making single stage presses good for beginners. Experienced refillers and professionals still use these models because they can adapt them for any calibers they need.
- Turret Reloading Press – A turret press has 4 dies on its top, so you won’t have to change the dies during the reloading process. Every time you pull the lever, the die at the top changes and the next one takes its place. Pull the lever again, the turret rotates and brings the next die in place, and so on until the bullet is finished.
This process is much faster than the one used by single stage presses, and it’s not very difficult to understand and follow. Beginners and experienced refillers both can use turret presses with good results.
- Progressive Reloading Press – These are the fastest reloading presses, but they are also the most complicated to operate. Unlike a turret press that has a rotating turret at the top, the progressive press uses one on its bottom. The press is loaded with 5 cases at a time. Every time you pull the lever, all the cases go under a die at the same time. When a bullet is produced, you take it out and replace it with another empty case, and so on.
This process is very fast, and experienced refillers can produce up to 500 handgun bullets in one hour without breaking a sweat. However, the process is complicated, and it can be problematic for a beginner.
- How Much Should You Spend On A Reloading Press
Different types of reloading presses come at different prices. But are the higher prices worth it?
Well, if you’re an avid shooter and you spend a lot of time at the range, buying a reloading press that’s capable of refilling many bullets each hour might be worth it.
But if you don’t shoot very often, and you’re not into shooting competitions, it might not be. Refilling bullets is a time-consuming operation, and you also have to invest a lot of money to get started.
You should think about how much time you’re willing to spend refilling bullets before you buy a reloading press, and how many you’re going to use it for. If you’re planning on refilling thousands of bullets in the following years, buying a reloading press might be a good investment. By doing so, you will have the budget to buy other necessary tools for other maintenance like gun safes (read more here: https://www.shootingandsafety.com/best-gun-safe-reviews/), gun cleaning kits, gun oils.
How To Refill Bullets Safely
- Pay Attention – Don’t get distracted while you’re filling rounds. That can lead to producing squibs or kabooms that can harm your firearm and your person.
- Use Eye Protection – Not only will the protection glasses keep debris away from your eyes, they will also protect them in a primer explosion.
- Don’t Hurry – Always take your time when refilling rounds. Arrange your workspace so you can’t confuse one ingredient with another while refilling.
- Don’t Mix Powders – If your powder is running out and you bought another type, don’t mix the two together. They can act differently, and mixing them might lead to accidents.
- Use Gloves – Keep the debris and dirt away from your skin.
- Don’t Reuse The Shells Too Much – Reusing the shells too many times can lead to cracks. Cracked shells won’t behave as they should, and that might lead to accidents.
Best Reloading Presses Comparison Chart
|LEE PRECISION CHALLENGER PRESS||$$||13.5 x 6.8 x 4.4 inches||5.6 pounds||"O" frame press||All steel linkage with adjustable length lever|
|RCBS ROCK CHUCKER||$$$||20 x 15 x 10 inches||19.8 pounds||Lengthened design and longer cartridge designs||Handle is made of solid steel and features a comfortable ball-type handle grip|
|HORNADY PROGRESSIVE RELOADING PRESS||$$$$$||10 x 19.6 x 14.2 inches||30.9 pounds||5-station bushing system||EZject system / Quick-change metering inserts|
|LEE 90045 RELOADING PRESS||$||6.6 x 12.2 x 2.5 inches||2 pounds||Easy to use design||Single Stage|
|LYMAN T-MAG TURRET RELOADING PRESS||$$$$||6.2 x 9.2 x 16.8 inches||9.8 pounds||Non-Rust Handle & Links||New Turret System / Flat Machined" Base|
Not even using the best reloading press can guarantee that every bullet produced will behave exactly as it should. That’s why you need to pay attention at all times when you’re refilling them. Shooting a bad bullet can cause permanent damage to your firearm, and it can even be threatening to your life and well-being.
Using a reloading press can lower your shooting expenses, but only if you can put in the time to produce many bullets, and spend the necessary time to shoot them. One of the advantages of using a reloading press is that you can customize your bullets. You can make them be more accurate, and you can make them faster. In Shooting & Safety, our main goal is to introduce you the products worth every penny. By doing so, you will have more budget for the remaining accessories in your list. Happy shooting.