Have you ever thought how much do you spend on ammunition?
If you are a competitive or casual shooter, the number will surely be in elevation.
Herein, reloading your own ammo can be the best alternative to save money, and for that, you need the best reloading press out there.
There are variants of reloading presses, and you just need to pick the right one for you.
But how do I find the best press for me? – you might ask.
Well, it depends on what you exactly want.
However, to save your time and money, we compiled a list of the best reloading presses in 2018.
On top of that, you will also find a buying guide so you don’t struggle as much when making a buying decision.
Top 10 Reloading Press Reviews
1. Hornady Auto-Progressive Reloading Press
Are you seeking to increase your round output? Lucky you, we found the perfect reloading press for you.
The Hornady Lock-N-Load is one of the best progressive press in the current market. It has a great balance and many features that make reloading process a breeze.
The press can load more than 500 rounds per hour. It has a 5-station bushing system, meaning that you can change calibers faster than with other presses. This model can load almost every kind of cartridge as well.
Earlier models of this press had a problem ejecting the cartridge; the cartridges jammed a lot. This lowered the productivity since removing a jammed cartridge takes time. Nonetheless, the most recent model comes with Eject system that keeps the cartridge from jamming.
There are 5 bushing stations that run at the same time, but this may be both an advantage and a disadvantage at times. You can load more rounds each time you lower the lever, sadly, this means you will have to spend more on components.
You need a specific shell plate for the 5-station bushing system. These aren’t hard to find though. You can easily find one from wherever you bought the press. Additionally, you need to make sure you are using the right dies. One of the best things users like about this press is its versatility.
With a progressive press, many things can go wrong. You need to read the manual carefully and follow each instruction as specified. Please consider that progressive presses can be harder to understand than single stage presses because of the many stations they have.
It is complicated for a rookie to use this press since there are many things to consider. Due to this, only experienced users may find this press efficient and reliable.
Increases cartridge output significantly
Eject system to prevent jams
5-station bushing system
It is easy to install
Compared to other presses it seems a bit expensive
Since it loads more rounds it is prone to malfunctions
2. RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press Review
The RCBS Rock Chucker is an industry classic. This single stage press is specially designed to be sturdy and reliable.
It is easy to operate, and it has many useful features included. It won’t be an exaggeration to tag this as the top single stage reloading press.
This may be the perfect model to get your feet wet in hand reloading. It is an ideal press for beginners if the price doesn’t scare them.
Compared to other models it is a bit expensive. But don’t worry, it is completely worth it.
The frame has an “O” shape that is more durable than a standard “C” frame press. It weighs almost 20 pounds, meaning that it won’t be easy to install. It is considered heavy since many presses weight approximately 16 pounds. Due to this, it is not recommended for portable reloading stations.
Plus, the ergonomic lever can be switched around for right or left-handed users. The materials that were used to build the Rock Chucker are sturdy. Interestingly, several owners of this product independently admitted; it is built to last a lifetime.
One of the downsides of this press is that you won’t be able to have a large round output. Since it is a single stage press, you can only load one cartridge at a time. But if you wish so, you can upgrade it to a progressive loader with a Piggyback-4 kit.
If you are looking for a durable, stable and precise device, the RCBS Rock Chucker is the right one for you. It is considered the best reloading press for accuracy in the market.
Made with the best materials to ensure durability
It is easy to operate
You can upgrade it to a progressive press
It is heavy, so it may be difficult to install
Beginners may think twice before purchasing this model because of the price
3. Lee Precision Classic Turret Review
This sturdy cast-iron press takes reloading seriously. This turret can be the best reloading press for beginners because of its versatility.
If you are new to this kind of press, you should read the manual that comes with the box. With the user manual, you will find all the instructions you need to know about it.
The Lee Precision has a die holder with 4 holes so that you can use two pairs of different dies at once. Thus a median output is expected after a manifold of presets.
According to our research, the Lee Precision Turret Press can load over 800 rounds per hour. Therefore, this model can handle a vast variety of cartridges with ease.
The only bummer this product has is the primer arm gets stuck after a few months of use. However, if you take the press and the primer arm under proper maintenance, you won’t have this problem.
This press may seem simple, but veterans still purchase this model. It has everything you need to begin reloading your own rounds. It already has a set of dies and many cartridges, so you can get working as soon as you open the package.
Easy instructions you need to get started
Great price considering the quality of it
Rounds have a better finish
The hardwood tip may come out after continuous use
4. Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Press Review
Another single stage reloading press on our list is the Lee Precision. This model has several features that help extend the life of the product. Although single stage presses are slow since they can only load one cartridge at a time.
The Lee Precision speeds up the process with a breech lock quick change tool. This device helps you to quickly change and adjust the die. This way you will only have to give it a twist. You won’t have to worry about readjusting the die.
“O” frame design helps you save space. This is important since you want to stay comfortable when using a reloading press. As we mentioned before, this one of a kind frame stands more rigid and durable.
It includes a primer catcher. This catcher sends used primers to a trash can through a hose. It is obviously a valuable feature as it makes the loading process much faster. Plus, the big opening between the press allows maximum hand clearance.
There are many advantages of purchasing these press with a kit. For example, you want to have the exact amount of powder in each cartridge. Herein, the kit includes a Perfect Powder Measure tool, so you are sure you always add the right amount to the cartridges.
User experience of Lee Precision seems overwhelming, but there is only one thing customers aren’t satisfied with. The powder measure tool was the very first thing that requires a replacement. Apparently, it is not very consistent with the powder measures. So, apart from that, it is absolutely okay.
The kit also includes an automatic primer feed. The feeder will automatically fill the pocket with a primer each time you lower the handle. As with all single stage presses, you don’t need to be an expert to use this model too.
Frame design helps you save space
Integrated prime catcher
Breech lock quick change tool for the dies
The powder measure tool can be inconsistent
5. Lee Precision Classic Cast Press Review
This single stage press is great for beginners. Its rigid iron construction and classic design make this press one of the sturdiest models out there. Plus, the baked powder finish gives the press a stylish touch as well.
It has an automatic primer arm that primes the cartridge at the bottom of the stroke. Additionally, it comes with two extra primer arms that can be used for larger or smaller primers.
It has a 1/18 diameter hollow ram that catches used primers. A hose collects all used primers and automatically disposes them.
The dies are sold separately. Make certain you are having the right dies for the caliber you are working with. Please read the user’s manual that comes with the press, so you know which specific dies to buy for each caliber.
Its classic “O” frame allows a great support. This single stage model also has a steel compound linkage. If you know how to properly use this compound, you may prevent a “cam-over”. Plus, it can be easily installed with the 3 mounting holes that rest at the bottom of the press.
This machine boasts tons of positive feedbacks from actual users. However, there are some complaints about the paint coming off in months after buying it. And looks like this is a valid one.
You can adjust the handle to your convenience whether you are left-handed or right-handed. The long handle aids in maximizing your effort, and the shorter one to pull it quicker. This reloading press is simple, and that’s why it is one of the most recommended models for novices.
It is easy to install and to operate
Great for novices in reloading
Automatic prime feed makes the process smoother and faster
Beginners may think twice before purchasing this model because of the price
This turret is perfect for competitive shooters. The Dillon Precision is considered the best progressive reloading press that exists.
You can see the quality on each piece of it. Additionally, you will see how your round output upsurges significantly.
This progressive reloading machine hoards 5 stations. The first stage is resizing the cartridges if they got longer after continuous use.
Once the cartridge is resized, the next step is to place a primer by lowering the lever.
Next is the powder checking station, where the press automatically drops the exact amount of powder each cartridge needs.
The fourth station is simple as you only need to manually set the bullet into the case. The 5th and final station is just the compressing of the bullet and the ejection to a finished bullets tray.
The Dillon Precision XL has an auto-indexing feature that moves the shell holder with each cycle. This way you don’t have to do any other work than pulling the lever and positioning the bullet on top of the casing.
This model can load up to 800 rounds in an hour, and that is a lot if you relate to other single stage round outputs. Within the kit, there is also a priming system included. Make sure you undertake this device to regular maintenance.
Again, the only thing that makes people change their minds on buying this model is the price. This is hands-on the most expensive press on this very article
You’d have to buy all the dies for specific calibers you are working with
Most of the processes are automated, so the process is faster
Heavy Duty and Sturdy Equipment
One of the most expensive models in the market
You’d have to buy all the dies for specific calibers you are working with
7. Lee Precision Anniversary Challenger Kit II Review
This is one of the most popular picks among the beginners. It might be one of the best reloading kits out there because it is an all-round package you need to start working.
The accessories come with a Lee Precision Challenger single stage press.
Its “O” shaped frame is durable and perfect for any kind of rounds. It is easy to mount since it is not on the heavy side.
But sadly, that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t durable.
This kit has a Powder Measure tool included. It can distribute powder to cartridges of all sizes.
That said, the Powder Measure tool is not as consistent as other tools. But you can check every 10 or 20 cartridges to make sure it is still consistent. Also, the balance beam seemed difficult to get used to.
It has a safety prime mechanism to ensure that every case is primed correctly. You just need to set up the press, and as the handle is at the lowest point you just need to click the button on the primer arm. This will release a primer onto the pocket that is under the cartridge, and as you raise the handle the primer will set itself.
This special kit comes with many other accessories. Pocket cleaners, a length cutter, a powder funnel and a die set are included in this kit. It also comes with a manual that describes every step necessary to start with handloading.
The Lee Precision Anniversary Challenger Kit is not designed to be fancy. Hence, the price and the products are perfect for those who are still getting their feet wet in manual reloading.
Each item in the kit is useful regardless of quality, and with time you will have to change a few of them. Other manufacturers that offer beginner kits of the same quality seek higher prices.
This kit has everything you need to start reloading rounds
Economical option for those starting with reloading
It is a great press to learn (you don’t have to worry much about breaking or ruining parts since you can find cheap replacements)
The items in the kit are not of the best quality
8. Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit
It can be hard to get into reloading, but the Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit is designed to make it as simple as possible. It is a great kit to start, and you won’t have to empty your wallet to get your hands on it.
The kit also has everything you will ever need when reloading rounds. The manual included goes into the smallest details of the process and everything you need for it. It is one of the most complete manuals out there, so you can test the limits of the kit.
It comes with a safety beam scale that is built to detect even the slightest change in it. It is magnetically steadied for precise measures. You do have to get used to it since it is different from electronic scales.
There is a case cutter, and a chamfer tool included so you can properly prepare the casing for reloading. Additionally, the kit has 2 primers feed arms for both large and small primers. Once the press is at its highest point, you just need to push a button and the arm feeds the primer.
The Classic Turret press is robust and reliable. This 4-hole turret has an auto-index feature to make the process faster. It has an ambidextrous handle that you can freely adjust. With proper maintenance, it can operate smoothly and without problems for years.
User experience of this unit is variegated. There have been complaints on the accessories since most of them are made of plastic. Specifically, the primer feed arm is hands-on the worst part of it. We recommend that you invest in a good primer for long-term use.
Low priced kit compared to other options
A great starting point for beginners
Not the best parts on the market (You can’t expect them to be either)
Most of the parts in the kit are not durable (They are made of plastic, this makes them prone to break if mishandled)
9. Lyman T-Mag Turret Press Review
This manual indexing model is much more complicated than the Lee Precision Classic Turret, but it is a great product for experienced hand loaders.
This turret does not come with auto-indexing, but in this case, it is a good thing. It comes with 6 holes for 6 different dies that you can pre-configure.
The frame of the T-Mag is made of iron to ensure durability. It has an ergonomic handle that helps with manual indexing. Also, this handle doubles as a wrench to carry out the removal of the turret easier. It also has a mount for left-handed or right-handed users.
This turret introduces a Turret Retention System that allows the process to be smoother while keeping the machine stable. This means, regardless of the die configuration on the turrets, it won’t affect the performance of the press.
If you want the press to work for a long time, you must make sure you oil the ram occasionally. Moving on, this turret press may reload 250 rounds an hour. As most of the turrets we have talked about, this turret does not come with die sets.
This model approaches with a “flat machined” mount, that aids in smooth operation. Furthermore, the press comes with a priming G arm and a prime catcher. Both work as the ones we have talked about in the earlier reviews. The only negative comment on the turret we wanna make is that the paint comes off after a few months.
One of the things that keep people from buying the T-Mag Turret Press is the price. Overall, this removable turret can be extremely useful, especially when working with different calibers.
Removable turret allows changing between different configurations
The model has 6 holes to hold dies
Turret Retention System keeps turret stable
It is comparatively expensive
The paint may come off after a few months
10. Lee Cast Aluminum 4 Hole Turret Press Review
This heavy-duty turret press is great for the novice hand loaders. It is made from aluminum and has a hardwood finish at the end of the lever. Better quality presses are made from iron or steel, and because of this, Lee Precision Turret costs a bit less.
The Lee Precision Turret has the classic 4-hole die holder. Additionally, it has an auto-indexing feature. This allows you to have a smooth process since you will only have to pull on the handle to advance to the next die.
The ergonomic handle is designed to cut your efforts pulling on it constantly. Plus, its hardwood lever is longer than average, so it is easier to pull.
This model has everything included, so even the most experienced user will find it useful. Of all the presses we have reviewed so far, this is the only one that is fully equipped when you buy it.
It already comes with a set of dies and cartridges. Thanks to this, you can start reloading as soon as you have the product delivered to your door.
The Lee Precision Classic Turret Press has tons of happy buyers. The only complaint we could find was about the wooden handle tip. It falls after several pulls of the lever. However, this hardly happened. We have seen many that are satisfied with their purchase.
Comes with an auto-indexing feature
One of the most economic presses out there
Package includes everything you need to start reloading
The wooden ball can feel uncomfortable after a while pulling the handle
Facts that Help You Pick the Right Reloading Press
Choosing which reloading press to buy is not a laidback task. There are many factors you should take into consideration before you decide on a specific reloading press. Here are some of the most important ones, so you are confident in your buying decision.
How Much are You Willing to Spend
One of the first things that pops into your mind when buying something is “How much am I going to spend?”. When buying a reloading press for you this makes a crucial point, since the most expensive presses are usually the best ones.
If you are looking for a low-cost reloading press, you should go for a single stage press. These presses can only load one cartridge at a time, but they are precise and usually economic.
In most cases, you will find that progressive and turret presses are much more expensive than single-stage models. This is because of the complexity that comes with each press.
The Type of Your Work on the Press
There is a big difference between beginners and experts when it comes to reloading presses. More experienced reloaders will prefer a press that is intricate and customizable, so they can operate it as they wish.
If you are new to reloading your own ammunition, you would need a different press. One that is easy to use so you can learn the basics of reloading. Single stage presses are generally perfect to start with because of their low complexity.
Contrarily, if you are looking for a more customizable press so you can get creative, you should consider getting a progressive press instead.
These are by far the most complex type. Progressive presses usually come with an automatic primer feed and an automatic case feed. You need to pay more attention to details, so the rounds are perfectly reloaded.
How Precise You Want to be
When you are reloading rifle ammunition you must be precise and methodical. There is no place for mistakes or miscalculations. On the other hand, when you are loading for pistols or AR rifles you may prefer quantity over quality.
There is a specific reloading press for each of these cases. If you are looking for precision over quantity, the single stage press is perfect for you. Since you are only loading one cartridge at a time, you can pay more attention to details. This kind of press is seamless only if you are looking for accuracy over speed.
On the other hand, if you prefer quantity over quality, a progressive press can be the right choice.
Progressive presses lack in precision, but they can reload over 800 rounds in an hour. Since most of the process is automated, you can’t pay much attention to details.
How Many Rounds You Use in a Week
The most dedicated shooters can be found at a shooting range most of the time. This means that they consume a great quantity of ammunition each week. And as you may know, ammo is not as cheap these days.
This is why, a reloading press saves your ass. You will save a significant amount of money since you will not have to spend on ammunition anymore. But again, you need to know which press is the best one for you.
If you are looking for a high output model, a progressive press is a safe bet. A progressive press can load more than 800 rounds in an hour. Most of them are designed for mass production. It sacrifices quality for many rounds per cycle. Progressive presses are perfect for professional shooters or hunters.
Not looking for a product with a large output?A turret press could be the best choice. It is faster than the single stage press, and you can be more aware of certain details.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which kind of press should I get?
If you need to reload more than 250 round a week, a progressive press seems legit. If you intend to reload less round than that, it depends on your experience and your budget. Single stage models are slow, but they are more economical than turret presses.
Turret presses can complete several rounds, but they are a little bit more expensive than the single press.
Q: How do I know which components to use with each press?
There must be a manual in each model you buy. In it, you can find the specific items that you are gonna need for reloading. It will also have a guide to many safety measures you have to take. If by any chance you lose the manual, you can find them on the internet.
Q: Can I use a bullet that is damaged?
You can reload it, yes, but it is risky to use a deformed bullet.
Q: Can I use the same primer with all rounds?
It is dangerous to mix primers. Each round has a specific primer, it is not universal. If you change rounds, you can check the manual on specific primer details for that particular round.
Q: Is there any specific way to remove a cartridge that stuck in the shell case?
There are many tools in the market to help you with this problem. With such a utensil, it may be easier to remove it, and you make sure you don’t damage the shell chase. Also, you would like to have a look for special instructions on the press manual.
Types of Reloading Presses
Single Stage Reloading Press
These are the simplest models on the market. This press is perfect for any kind of cartridge, but the rifle case is its specialty.
The press is designed to hold one cartridge and one dies at a time. The die is screwed into the top of the press. When the lever is pushed down it collides with the cartridge holding on the cartridge rim.
Most of these presses don’t have a priming setup, so you will have to do this by hand if you need to. It is easy to use, but a slow process. You can attach priming setup to make it faster since it takes time to do it by hand.
If you are a beginner when it comes to reloading presses, this is the one for you. It will take time to do several rounds, but it will do the work.
Turret Reloading Press
The turret press can hold several cartridges at the same time. It is designed so you can index each one of them manually.
The process is way faster. You still need to constantly push the lever, but this might bring in some advantages. You can still control how many rounds you are loading and any specific problems with them.
The fact that you can load several cartridges at a time makes it more efficient than the single stage press.
Also, there are models that have an auto-index feature to make your work easier. With these models, you could load at least 250 cartridges an hour.
It works great with the pistol and rifle rounds, but as the last one, you can use almost any round you like.
This reloading press is great for those of you who have experience in reloading. It may require a little bit more knowledge on the topic than a single stage press.
Progressive Reloading Press
This press is mostly used in production plants. Each time you lower the lever, a specific number of rounds is completed.
You can hold several cartridges at a time with the shell plate, and when you lower the lever, all these cartridges are loaded. Once the shell plate is processed, the next round is mounted, and the process repeats.
They are used for mass production of handgun cartridges. A progressive press can complete more than 500 rounds a week.
To achieve these many rounds, a lot of presses come with a case feeder. Each time a shell plate is emptied, this device fills it up again.
But be careful if you choose to add one since this makes the press mechanism more complex.
Although handgun rounds are the most common rounds for this press, it can process many other cartridges as well.
This model also comes with an auto-index feature that changes the shell plate when it is finished. There are models that need you to index manually, but either way, this is the fastest press of all the mentioned ones.
How to Use a Reloading Press
Clean and Lubricate the Cases
First and foremost, you must make sure that every case you are going to use is clean. It shouldn’t have anything that makes the reloading difficult. Double check there is no deformities or any defections.
Now, you need to lubricate each of the cases. This is because the force that the cartridge will go through. Once more, clean any residue that might be inside the case, and add a coat of lubricant. You must also make sure that the brass isn’t under too much pressure.
Install the Shell Holder and the Sizer Die
Now, grab the shell holder and install it in the press. The shell holder will keep the cartridge in position. Keep in mind that different bullet requires different shell holders.
Next, install the sizer die and make sure it is in the right position. Make sure the sizer touches the shell holder when you pull the lever. Once it is in position secure the lock ring.
Fix the Case into the Shell Holder and Trim if Necessary
Lower the lever so that case fits into the sizer die. This way you make sure the case has proper dimensions. The case must have specific lengths, and after you have used it several times it may become longer than it supposed to be.
If the case isn’t the length it is supposed to, you can trim it for proper chambering.
Prime the Case
Scatter all the primers into a tray and make sure the anvil is at the top. Now, grab one and place it in the cup that is on the primer arm. Raise the ram and insert the case into the shell holder so the primer is at the bottom of the case. Now slowly raise the shell holder and set the primer in the case.
Fill the Case with the Correct Powder Measure
Use a reloading scale to make sure you are using enough powder measure. You don’t have to weight every case, but you have to check after you fill 10 of them. Double check the manual to make sure you are using the correct amount of powder for each shell.
Upon confirmation, pour it into the case.
Fix the Bullet into the Case
Now put a case that is correctly primed and charged in the shell case. Grab a bullet and hold it on top of the case while you raise the shell holder. This will make the die push the bullet into the case.
Finally, lower the shell case and check if the bullet is at the right depth.
Now you just need to take the loaded cartridge out of the shell holder and store it in a safe place.
Safety Tips while Using a Reloading Press
Safety first – as you have heard it all your life. You cannot overlook the safety of yourself and your loved ones. It is needless to emphasize on the matter, since you are a no fantasy living teenager.
Here you have three must follow on reloading safety;
Read the Manual
Reading the manual should be the first thing you feel like doing soon as you purchase a reloading press.
Take your time to read through the reloading press manual. Make sure you understand every instruction. If the manual is not clear with some instructions that leave you in a confused state of mind, contact the manufacturer for help.
Don’t Rush, Never
When you are reloading ammunition you must give the process your undivided attention. Only work when you have spare time, so you don’t have to rush on finishing.
A simple miscalculation on the powder may create the plot for a severe problem since it can be overcharged.
Be Organized, Always
Store all your components and equipment in a specific place. A lot of the items that are necessary for reloading can be poisonous or flammable, or both at the same time.
Store primers and powder away from any source of heat, since these are extremely flammable and can easily catch fire.
Make certain you put unused primers inside their original packaging. Additionally, you should keep your workplace clean after you finish a session.
There is a perfect press for everyone. And, you just need to find yours. Most likely the one that best suits your needs. But if you are still not sure of which one to buy, we have a recommendation for everyone regardless of the experience and budget.
Single stage reloading presses are usually slow, but Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Press is one of the best press anyone can have. The model comes with a breech lock quick tool to make reloading process faster. It is durable yet convenient, making it perfect for both beginners and experts. And it is pretty economical as well.
With this tool, you can swiftly change your dies and increase your loaded cartridge output without compromising the precision. More so, it incorporates a prime catcher for easy disposal of used primers.
Yet again, the best reloading press for your personal fit depends on you solely. So contemplate on our guide and choose accordingly, you won’t regret.
Joseph Fox is a 45 years old blogger & passionate hunter from United states. He is also a firearm enthusiastic & likes to share his experience with you. He has a teaching background & now works as an author of Gunloading.com.