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Old June 4, 2011, 01:34 AM   #25
Lost Sheep
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Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Posts: 3,060
There are pros and cons for each.

There are pros and cons for each.

Let me describe their operating modes, so there is no misunderstanding there.

Single stage presses do processing in batches. There is no reasonable way to do otherwise using a single stage.

When I first started loading, I used a single-stage press (RCBS Jr, then a Rock Chucker) I always processed in batches of 50. Because that's how many holes my loading blocks had.

I would put 50 empty cases in one block (supply block) on one side of the press with an empty block (receiving block) on the other side.

Size/deprime/reprime 50 cartridge cases, placing each one in the second block until it was full and the first empty. Switch dies, switch loading blocks.

Then bell the case mouth. All this time, the cases are mouth down, headstamp up.

Pick up each case, turn mouth up and charge with powder and place in the receiving block.

With 50 belled, primed and charged cases in the block, all mouth up, shine a light into the population and see that each one has the same amount of powder as its neighbors.

Putting the bullets into the case mouth can be done 50 at a time (in a loading block) or as each one is placed in the press for seating and crimping, but you get the idea of (my style) of batch processing. Other people's styles may vary slightly, but all are similar. Batch is batch.

On my Turret press, I normally do continuous processing (one case goes into the press and does not come out (exception: to visually check powder) until it is a finished cartridge. The turret head rotates and four strokes of the press ram produces a round.

Up Stroke - size/deprime
Down Stroke - prime.............rotate turret
Up Stroke - bell case mouth and charge with powder
Down stroke - manually insert bullet into case mouth.............rotate turret
Up stroke - seat bullet (and crimp if using a 3-die set)
Down stroke - no action but.............rotate turret
Up stroke - no action with 3-die set. Crimp bullet with 4-die set
Down stroke - no action but.............rotate turret

Here's the neat thing about the turret press: If I pull the auto-indexing rod out of the press, I could use it as a single-stage.

On a single stage, batch processing is the natural way to go and there is no (reasonable) way to do continuous processing with one.

On my Turret, batch processing is just as easily doable as on a single stage, but Continuous processing is just as natural. And much, much faster. There is less taking the cartridge in and out of the press.


Desperation buy: If you only have $30 for a press, by all means, get the cast aluminum, bottom of the line Lee Press. My friend and I each had one (it came free with a manual). I gave mine away. He snapped his in half when he tripped and tried to use it to break his fall.

Better: If you can possibly afford it, get a full frame (also known as "O" frame, as opposed to the open-front "C" frame) cast iron press if you want a strong press that will last a lifetime and never give you any question over its strength or stiffness.

(Possibly) Best: For only a little more, you can get the Lee Classic Turret, though, which is a better bet for the medium-volume shooter.

I started out with a single stage and averaged 50 rounds per hour, including setup, primer tube filling, changing dies, the "whole shootin' match" (pardon the pun).

The second time I used my Lee Classic Turret, I loaded 100 rounds in 47 minutes. Again, including primer setup and all peripheral activities.

I use my turret for everything, but I am also keeping my single stage (just in case I need a REALLY STRONG press and if there is a job whose tools will not fit into my turret).

This is my recommendation: By all means get the Turret if you intend to load in the few hundreds of rounds per sitting. Single stage if in the dozens or extremely low hundreds of rounds.

Get both if you can afford them, but don't buy cheap.

Why learn to load ammunition in batch mode? Repeating each intermediate step 50 times before going to the next intermediate step is good for the understanding, good for the muscle memory and good for visualizing the absolute consistency required for good quality ammunition. Each one of the intermediate steps MUST BE IDENTICAL (identical crimp, identical powder charge, identical primer seating and so forth).

After a few hundred or a few thousand rounds, reinstall the autoindexing rod and use the press in continuous (straight-through) mode AFTER you are completely familiar with the process (can visualize it in your sleep) and understand the reasons behind each adjustment, each operation and what effect varying the operations parameters will do.

I cannot emphasis enough the importance of THINKING about the process of loading. And not just thinking about it while you are doing it, but thinking about it before you do it. Ask yourself the questions before doing. Think only about consistency while doing. It is easier to do that thinking in batch mode. That (in my opinion) is why most people recommend learning on a single stage and why I recommend learning in batch mode (no matter what kind of press).

Lost Sheep
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