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Iowegan.....so maybe it’s not a safety concern for you but I view it as one. I believe it’s very important for a new reloader to have a complete and through understanding of the reloading process.......from start to finish. To me that entails hands on work, repetition, engaging your brain on the same task multiple times.That’s where a person learns. My belief..... my opinion, is that it doesn’t happen on a progressive or similar type press. Are progressives better.....of course they are, but I don’t think they are for the beginner.


I guess this is another thread we can agree to disagree on and that’s OK with me.
 

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Mark204,

DrHenley, BTW, Dillon presses are cast aluminum and I've never heard of one breaking …. and if they did break, Dillon's No BS warrantee would replace any broken parts free. I just sold my Dillon RL550 after owning it since 1993. It was just as tight after 27 years of hard use as it was when new.
Roger. I was referring to the Lee aluminum presses. I'll edit my post and make that clear.

Are the Dillon rams aluminum too? They are on the Lee aluminum presses. That's what wore out on one of the Lee presses.

In regards to progressives, they are great and everyone should have them, eventually...
But every serious reloader should have at least one good single stage press, and every serious reloader I know has more than one. As I mentioned, I am an admin on a reloading site, so I talk to a lot of reloaders every day.
 

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DrHenley, Dillon RL550s have steel rams and they are considerably larger in diameter than Rockchuckers. Likewise, they have steel pivot pins. I no longer have my presses so I don't know their exact diameter but maybe someone else can chime in with the details.

OK, you opened a can of worms so I feel like I should respond.
every serious reloader should have at least one good single stage press
Obviously you don't understand so I will enlighten you …. if you have progressive such as a Dillon RL550 you have 4 single stage presses on your bench that share one handle (5 single stage presses if you have a Dillon XL650 or a Hornady L-N-L AP). No where does it say you can't do one step at a time and use a progressive just like a single stage. Examples: You can use a RL550's first stage to size, deprime and reprime a batch of cases. You can even break it down more and do just one of these steps per handle pull …. no different than a normal single stage press. An example of this would be installing a universal decapping die on a tool head and just depriming a batch of cases. I actually did this very thing prior to running spent cases through my ultrasonic cleaner. After cleaning, you can pick up where you left off an resume reloading. You can use the second stage for a batch of cases to expand and flare case mouths and/or drop power, again …. no different than a dedicated single stage press. You can use the third stage to seat a batch of bullets and you can use the 4th stage to crimp a batch of cartridges ….. once more, just like a single stage press. Each stage is separately accessible by just removing a brass locator pin. With a Hornady L-N-L, you can remove unneeded dies in just a few seconds and accomplish the same thing. So tell me, why should every serious reloader have at least one good single stage press when they already have 4 or 5 ??? Seems to me it would just be a waste of money.

A progress press can also be used just like a turret press by just doing one step at a time, then advancing the shell holder …. 4 ~ 5 pulls per cartridge.

It's obvious to me that you never used a Dillon or Hornady progressive press yet you make comments that are out in left field. I highly recommend you do your homework before stepping on your sword again.

Mark204, I taught well over 100 people to reload. Most people brand new to reloading ended up buying a progressive press and those that bought a single stage were financially strapped and couldn't afford Dillon's prices. I will definitely say …. cost is a big factor. If you don't load very many cartridges per year, a single stage make more sense, however even a decent single stage and all the necessary accessories aren't cheap. I just can't see any difference in safety between the two types.

I whole heartedly agree … people should understand every step in the reloading process …. and by the way, the steps are identical with a single stage, a turret, or a progressive press. If you are one of those people that get intimidated by machinery then you should definitely use a single stage but don't assume everyone else is overwhelmed by the mechanics of a progressive or turret. My experience says just the opposite where people with less mechanical aptitude tend to enjoy a progressive more because changing dies and handling each cases 10 times with a single stage is just too much for them.

No doubt, the key to this discussion is "training". If you jump into reloading without a mentor or a good training program, likely you won't get far before you screw something up …. no matter what press you use.
 

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I started with a single-stage press and now have two. I won’t contradict Iowegan on the advantages of a progressive press, but I am a chaeapskate and was not sure then that I would like reloading as much as I do.

My RCBS presses came to me used and work well. So did most of my dies, scale, and other gear. EBay has deals for the patient. The scale was new old RCBS stock.

Now that I am a bit more experienced I have come to love Redding dies, especially carbide ones that let me skip lubing cases for my handguns. If I had to do it all again, I would opt for a progressive press.

As for needs, a good balance-beam scale, check weights, and multiple manuals. I started with scoops and a trickler but moved to a powder dropper for many loads. Still use scoops and trickler for some rifle powders.

Good lighting goes without saying. I clean cases with an ultrasonic cleaner I scored cheap on Amazon.

I would be sure to read all the fun and informative articles in the front of Lyman’s 50th, as you get started.

Did I save money? No. I shoot more. Only item I no longer use is a hand primer. I much prefer the ram-priming unit I found...used of course.
 

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.
It's obvious to me that you never used a Dillon or Hornady progressive press yet you make comments that are out in left field. I highly recommend you do your homework before stepping on your sword again.
.
I am not interested in a pissing match. I expressed my opinion based on 50 years of reloading 22 different cartridges, and conversations with many reloaders. But I respect your opinion on it. Let's just leave it at that.
 

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My take is to just keep it simple. Start with something that is quality, but not extravagant. A Rock Chucker or a Hornady Standard Press come to mind. My suggestion would be a single stage. A manual powder scale is a requirement. Nothing there to 'go wrong' really. I use the same scale that I started with, and it is never needed to be adjusted. And an adjustable powder measure. Don't go with say dippers... I believe you can buy a 'whole' package that has the press, scale, powder measure, funnel, all rolled into one.

I started on a single stage press back in the early 80s and still do not feel the need to complicate the process with a progressive. With my Single Actions and Black Powder shooting, I can easily keep up. In fact I put aside my perfectly good Pacific O Press for a new Hornady Iron Press last year just because I wanted to try the die quick change and it looked like a very 'solid' press. Turns out to be pretty neat setup although I did change how the primers are ejected. Nor to I use the priming system and I always hand prime with an RCBS hand tool (my preference).

To me, a progressive should always be the 'next' press. If, if you find yourself spending to much time at the bench, or just want to try one once the fundamentals are mastered. That's just my opinion though.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
My take is to just keep it simple. Start with something that is quality, but not extravagant. A Rock Chucker or a Hornady Standard Press come to mind. My suggestion would be a single stage. A manual powder scale is a requirement. Nothing there to 'go wrong' really. I use the same scale that I started with, and it is never needed to be adjusted. And an adjustable powder measure. Don't go with say dippers... I believe you can buy a 'whole' package that has the press, scale, powder measure, funnel, all rolled into one.

I started on a single stage press back in the early 80s and still do not feel the need to complicate the process with a progressive. With my Single Actions and Black Powder shooting, I can easily keep up. In fact I put aside my perfectly good Pacific O Press for a new Hornady Iron Press last year just because I wanted to try the die quick change and it looked like a very 'solid' press. Turns out to be pretty neat setup although I did change how the primers are ejected. Nor to I use the priming system and I always hand prime with an RCBS hand tool (my preference).

To me, a progressive should always be the 'next' press. If, if you find yourself spending to much time at the bench, or just want to try one once the fundamentals are mastered. That's just my opinion though.
Thanks for the advice!
I like the look of the Hornady “Lock-N-Load classic single stage kit”. Looks like it comes with everything I would need except the dies, a micrometer, and something for cleaning the used brass (if I decide to go this route).
How’s the quality and durability of the Hornady presses? Are they generally considered to be a step up from the Lee’s?
 

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I own two Hornady presses. The good ol' single stage and the AP. The single stage is what I started on and still use for certain operations and large rifle ammo. The AP is for 5.56 NATO and pistol ammo. Funny thing is I thought I would save $$$$ also and ended up buying all the latest reloading gadgets and had to have a Forster Coax press in the process also. Anyone who has reloaded more than once has started their own rhythm and habits be they good or bad. I also have made a few mistakes and learned from them. From squib loads to wrong powder charge and forgetting to lube a bottleneck large rifle case before re-sizing. It is a fascinating past time and addicting. One golden rule....always, always use popular published material for reloading recipes! A friend has the blown barrel and burn scars to prove what it can do. I only shoot other's reloads if I have worked with them and seen their process and then only a couple rounds. Have fun and remember...........slow is smooth and smooth is fast! Double check everything then check again!
 

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I started reloading in the late 70’s. I started with black powder in muskets and breach loading carbines. I then moved to loading for my 1860 Henry with black powder cartridges. I started with a Lyman single stage press. But quickly went to a Lyman turret press. The turret press works like a single stage press but it will hold 6 dies and it is possible to move between them quickly without having to reset the dies. Then I graduated to a Dillon 650 because I was now making blanks for Cowboy and Civil War reenacting and needed to make them faster. I still load the blanks on the 650 but also now reload for 44-40, 9mm and 45acp. If I had it to do over again I would have skipped the single stage press and gone to the Lyman turret press right away. I still have my turret press for doing touch ups on cartridges and building a new load but I have never regretted getting the Dillon 650 for most of my reloading.
 

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Seems everyone has their preference on what brand and model press they use …. and that's the way it should be. I was not trying to sell anyone on a progressive but I was trying to dispel the myth about "starting with a single stage". Granted, progressive or turret presses are not for everyone but the reasons are more for initial cost, available time for reloading, and the amount of ammo you plan to load ….. not because of complexity, quality of ammo, or one type being more/less safe. If you can keep up with your shooting demands with a single stage, there's no reason to buy a turret or progressive press …. unless you just want to.

Fact is, the learning curve for operating any reloading press is measured in a few hours … even the most complicated progressive press doesn't take long to learn. The most important part of reloading has a little to do with the equipment and adjustments but it has way more to do with understanding ballistic fundamentals such as powder burn rates, minimum and maximum chamber pressures, how bullet weights affect loads, matching lead bullet hardness to chamber pressure, dropping powder from a powder measure, trickling up powder charges, loading for precision accuracy versus loading for plinking, case preparation …. to include cleaning cases, conditioning primer pockets, trimming cases, annealing, etc. Although the same basic equipment is used for centerfire rifle and centerfire handgun ammo, the actual techniques can be radically different. Considering rifles are often fired at 10 times or more the distance than handguns, there's a lot to learn about bullet shapes, ballistic coefficients, and loading techniques to include producing ammo with concentrically seated bullets. It can take years to learn these techniques and when you think you have it all figured out, a new powder, product, or some new accessory will come on the market that will change the way you reload. Some examples …. digital calipers, digital scales, automated powder dispensers, auto primer feeders, auto bullet feeders, bullet comparators, ultrasonic cleaners, stainless steel pin tumblers, and the list goes on and on. None of these products were available when I started reloading. Do you really need all that stuff? At first, probably not but as your reloading hobby expands, you may find a need for all sorts of goodies. Some people go for may years with their head in the sand concerning loading techniques. If they are happy with their results, who can fault them!
 

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Along with all the other good advice I’d like to add, start out on the 38spl. and after you do that for a while then you might progress into the higher pressure calibers.
Simple mistakes are more forgiving on 38’s.

Be safe and no question is stupid. Ask away and read up on those loading books before you dive in.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #32
I’ve got to say, the enthusiasm on this thread is very contagious! When I made the original post, I was 50/50 about getting into reloading, but now I’m absolutely decided. It’s really cool to hear such a range of philosophies and approaches to reloading from folks that have been doing it for decades.
I’m fairly certain I’ll be going with a simple single stage press kit, probably the Hornady press because the “lock and load” die switching mechanism seems appealing. @Iowegan - I fully understand and appreciate your point about how Progressives can do everything a single stage can do and more; but at the moment, I just can’t justify dropping more than 500 on this pursuit, which I think limits me to either a single stage or a lower end turret press (along with all the other supplies I’ll be needing). Besides: for me, this endeavor is really more about learning and experimentation, not so much about volume (althoughI won’t be “experimenting” with loads any time soon: as suggested, I’ll be sticking to published and well established loads!).
Thanks again to everyone for their advice so far, and feel free to keep it coming!
 

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Based on advice from this forum, I started out very simply: Lee hand press, 38spl dies and Hornady reloading manual. I now reload primarily 38spl, 45acp and occasionally 357mag and 9mm.
 

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This is how I learned to reload and it's worked well for me for several years. I use a single stage press to deprime and resize. I then use a hand priming tool, (usually RCBS). With the brass primed I use 3 stages on a Dillon 550. 1. Powder charge, 2. seat the bullet, 3. crimp.

The really fancy progressive presses just seem too complex for me. I really like using a hand priming tool as it allows me to inspect each case as I go. I've never used an electric scale, the beam type works great for me. Calipers are a must and a bullet removing tool is very handy for when you goof up and need to do it over.
 

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Myg30, An excellent point! I've seen too many people get into reloading so they can make the hottest loads possible. Generally, these people don't stay with the hobby very long. 38 Specials are pretty forgiving as long as you stay within published load data.

Starting with a low pressure straight wall cartridge such as a 38 Special is what I always recommend. Most newer guns are 357 Mags that can also shoot 38 Specials. This give you a nice pressure cushion in case you make a beginner's mistake. There is a huge choice of bullets and powder that will work well in 38s. Further, brass cases are plentiful, last for many reloads, and are easy to recover when shooting a revolver. Revolvers are way more robust when it comes to load range … no slide or bolt thrust to worry about so you can develop loads from about 600 fps to 1000 fps or more. 38s are pretty hard to beat whether you are an experienced reloader or are just starting out. One of the most accurate handgun loads in the world is a 38 Special with a 148gr LHBWC and 2.8~3 gr of Bullseye powder and a standard small pistol primer of your choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
That’s an excellent idea. My plan at the moment is to start with some 38’s to shoot out of my s&w m64 and colt model 3-5-7 revolvers, then move on to 10mm auto (but I’ll be shooting these out of a revolver too, not a semi auto). I plan to stick with relatively weak loads for quite a while (I prefer these for target shooting anyways). Once I get the hang of it and start feeling more comfortable, I might work on some mid-range 10mm loads and maybe experimenting with 9mm as well (although 9mm is dirt cheap around here so I might not bother!).
So, irhiec’s comment about hand presses threw yet another option into the mix: I could go the minimalist route and buy a hand press kit! This might not be such a bad option since, if I find myself wanting to upgrade to a turret or progressive, the initial expense of the hand press will be fairly negligible. Plus, the hand press will still remain useful even after I upgrade due to the portability factor. So how does reloading with a hand press compare to reloading with a bench top single stage press?
Basically, at this point I’m debating between a hand press, a benchtop single stage, or a turret press. I’ve eliminated a full blown progressive press due to the high price. So: Given that I only plan to reload a few calibers (all of them being straight walled pistol calibers) and in fairly low volume (50-100 rounds/week), which one these options seems the most reasonable?
 

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So how does reloading with a hand press compare to reloading with a bench top single stage press?
It's slower, but I sometimes take a bucket of brass into the living room and resize them on the hand press while watching a movie with the wife. I've also reloaded at hunting camp and at the range using the hand press.

My Lee hand press is the only Lee press that is still in good working order.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Anyone else have opinions regarding the Lee Single Stage Hand press? On paper, it actually looks like a really appealing option to start with. The portability of a handheld press is particularly appealing, and the price is right.
The press itself is made of aluminum, so long term durability might be an issue...
 

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DrHenley, Dillon RL550s have steel rams and they are considerably larger in diameter than Rockchuckers. Likewise, they have steel pivot pins. I no longer have my presses so I don't know their exact diameter but maybe someone else can chime in with the details.


Iowegan
The RL550 rams are 1 1/2" dia.
 

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Taters, just a thought, though you're probably ahead of me. Since you plan on loading just a few rounds at a time, but may do some "experimenting", I suggest you track your loads by batch. Especially if it's going to be some time before you get to the range.

I make small form on my word processor, and pencil in the date, caliber, charge weight, and bullet type/weight and stick the paper in the box with the reloads. Use the back of the paper to make notes/comments after you fired the rounds, and use that info to make any "adjustments". This can be used to keep track of how many times you've reloaded the cases - not so critical for pistol brass, but can be important for rifle.

I use leftover factory cartridge boxes for storage - but put a colored sticky label on the outside so I can easily keep reloads separate from factory loads.

Just FWIW.

Sounds like you're catching the "bug". Reloading is my "rainy day / stay out of the way of the wife when she's cleaning the house" way of relaxing. Then go shoot and then reload and repeat as necessary.
 
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