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The Pressing Question for First Timers - What Kind of Press To Get?


If you are new to reloading the dizzying array of equipment and materials, it can be overwhelming at first. One item in particular people struggle with is their first press. The reloading press is also the most expensive component in your reloading setup, so choosing a model that works for you will ensure your investment is well-spent.

Press Types

There are three main types of presses; each has its own unique benefits, drawbacks and workflow. Before choosing a press consider the types of rounds you want to load as different presses work better for different types of reloading. Some presses work better for rifle rounds (which take more care and precision to reload correctly) and others work better for pistol cartridges and ammunition that uses straight walled cases.

Single Stage

The “single stage” is the simplest type of press. With a single stage press only one reloading operation can be done at a time, which slows down the handload process but offers a simple and reliable way to create finished rounds. Single stage presses also don’t require any maintenance or a complicated setup.

With a single stage press, only one die can be used at a time. For instance, the resizing die must be unscrewed after resizing and replaced with the next die in your reloading workflow. While this does slow down the process of creating finished rounds, it leaves less room for error, and, with precision rifle round reloading, it yields better results.

Many first time reloaders decide to go with the single stage press for its low maintenance, sturdy construction, low cost, and simple operation.

Turret Press

The turret press operates on the same basic principles as the single stage, except it can hold more than one reloading die in a top mounted rotating turret. This can speed up the reloading process by not requiring the user to unscrew reloading dies to replace them.

Some turret presses require you to manually rotate the turret to change the reloading die, whereas others will index the correct die for you automatically. Either way the turret press will typically be faster than the single stage.

The only small drawback of a turret press is in how the reloading die is housed in a component that moves, so it can have some wiggle and will be slightly less precise. This is rarely an issue, however with rifle rounds loaded for maximum accuracy, some users choose to stick with a single stage press to achieve the most precise and consistent reload.

Progressive Press

progressive press greatly increases the rounds per hour a handloader can create. It performs multiple operations at once, on multiple rounds. A progressive press typically has attachments to hold primers, empty cases, powder, multiple dies, and even a bucket to catch finish rounds as they come off the press.

On a progressive press, each pull of the lever is performing several steps at once, so the only manual work left for the handloader is putting the projectile loosely into the top of the case. Turret presses are typically used for handgun rounds, which require less precision than rifle rounds with bottlenecked cases. Still, any reloader who wants to create a high volume of handloads can benefit from a progressive press.

The progressive press does come with a few drawbacks. It’s a much more complicated piece of machinery, making it overwhelming for people new to reloading, and it will require a very careful initial setup and maintenance over time.

Tips to Review

If you want to get into reloading, you can’t go wrong with any of the presses available. However you will be up and running quicker with a single stage or turret press.

Keep in mind, even if you decide later to create a more advanced progressive setup for high volume reloading, the single stage is a great press to have around to create high-quality rifle rounds.

We hope this short guide helps you pick the perfect press for you and, as always, have a safe and enjoyable time shooting!

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