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Old December 23, 2013, 10:34 AM   #1
hgmeyer
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Should a first time reloader get a progressive

So, I have always cautioned first time reloaders to start out with a good single stage or a manual turret press. But, I have had numerous acquaintances come to me for advice and already have a plan to buy a Dillon (or another) progressive loader based on advice from some other pistol shooter.

I just feel that there is a lot "going on" with a progressive and despite excellent engineering and design a "newbie" (and experienced reloaders) can get into trouble quickly. Maybe I am more of a curmudgeon than I think, but I think it is imperative that a person become knowledgeable in the process before introducing the complexity of progressive loaders.
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Old December 23, 2013, 10:39 AM   #2
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I still say load with a single stage first. The new reloader needs to understand just how much precision and safety is required for this hobby.
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Old December 23, 2013, 10:40 AM   #3
mehavey
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+1 ^

Single-stage discipline/procedure should be well in-hand before moving to a progressive.
Even then, the single stage stays part of the family forever. It's just too versatile.
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Old December 23, 2013, 10:43 AM   #4
JimDandy
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There is no reason not to get a progressive. It can be run in single stage. If I were talking to someone looking to load high volume pistol, I wouldn't tell them to spend an extra hundred or so on a quality single stage first. I'd tell them to run the progressive one operation at a time, and slowly add an operation each time they have it down with the previous (set of) operation (or Operations).
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Old December 23, 2013, 10:53 AM   #5
totaldla
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Zero reason to start with single-stage. Zero.

If you don't have the money, get a Lee Classic Turret. If you do have the money, get a Dillon progressive.

I just can't imagine anybody so lacking that they can't load on a progressive.
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Old December 23, 2013, 11:12 AM   #6
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Really it all comes down to the individual. I have friends that I wouldn't let even TOUCH my loading stuff and others who I trust with all of my tools. If the person is meticulous and organized and logical then I see no reason why they can't carefully work with a good progressive press. It's kinda like loading shotgun shells--who wants to do them one at a time?
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Old December 23, 2013, 11:23 AM   #7
SWThomas
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Yes. Using a progressive is very easy and way less labor intensive. I got a Dillon 550 as my first press and I'm very glad I did.
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Old December 23, 2013, 11:24 AM   #8
me26245
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loading

I have a friend that I've set up a couple of progressive presses for and he still loads on a single stage press.
Having had issues with the progressives I think he just feels more comfortable with a single stage.
And when he loads with his dad it give them more time together.
So I would say that yes, a new loader should start out on a single stage press.
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Old December 23, 2013, 11:49 AM   #9
AllenJ
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I agree with Myfriendis410, it really depends on the person. If the person is a meticulous type who has above average common sense, I'd have no problem recommending them a progressive.
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Old December 23, 2013, 12:21 PM   #10
Chili Palmer
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Very good replies. I've been reloading about a year and am happy with my Lee single stage.. but I don't reload a LOT. I kinda enjoy the different stages of doing stuff and it really keeps your mind wrapped around what you are doing.

That being said the point about using a progressive as a single stage is good too. Especially the point about a Lee Classic Turret.

Good luck, and take your time. Hint - it will cost exactly double what you estimate it will at this point(man I need a better sifter.. man I need better storage.. man these calipers suck etc)
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Old December 23, 2013, 12:49 PM   #11
madmo44mag
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I’ve always been one to suggest starting with a signal stage for many reasons.
You learn the basics, the feel of each operation, the sounds, of things when things are going right.
IMHO this makes the transition to a progressive much easier.
You know how things sound and feel and can spot a problem before it becomes a safety issue.
You will always have need of a single stage press.
There will be times when that will be the preferred method for reloading certain rounds.
Also there will come a time you may just want to work up 10 or so rounds for testing and you can do that much faster in a single stage vs a progressive.
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Old December 23, 2013, 01:02 PM   #12
JimDandy
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The inherent flaw in your "feel" argument lies in the fact that pulling the handle on a single stage, and pulling the handle on a progressive doing 4, 5 or more operations will, by definition, be different.

I agree that most people will want a single stage eventually. For those that don't, or those who want to start with a progressive because they can afford a progressive now, but maybe not later, they can learn one operation at a time, and get used to it that way.
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Old December 23, 2013, 01:06 PM   #13
salvadore
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save yourself some grief and get a progressive.
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Old December 23, 2013, 02:37 PM   #14
Kimber84
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I started with a single stage which served me well for years, however I really started shooting .223 a lot.

So I picked up a progressive. Even with having around 10 years of reloading experience I was quickly humbled by the progressive. Took me an hour or so to get my "system" down, but now I can churn out .223's at around a 450-500/hr pace.

If a newbie were getting into a progressive right off the bat it would be almost imperative to have a more experienced person to shadow them for a few hours as there is a lot of tribal knowledge that comes with experience.
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Old December 23, 2013, 02:40 PM   #15
Kimber84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chili Palmer View Post

Good luck, and take your time. Hint - it will cost exactly double what you estimate it will at this point(man I need a better sifter.. man I need better storage.. man these calipers suck etc)
Isn't that the truth. "I'm going to reload to save money"... Yeah right, you just shoot 5X as much as you did when you had to buy factory... I've yet to save any money... Lol.

It's a fun hobby and very enjoyable though.
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Old December 23, 2013, 03:19 PM   #16
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If you have never reloaded before I would suggest loading a single round at a time at first to set things up and so you can understand what is going on but you can do that with any progressive.
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Old December 23, 2013, 03:54 PM   #17
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Quote:
Save yourself some grief and get a progressive.
I've been loading for 29 years, 6 months, 19 days; on a single stage press.

After 10's, if not, 100's of thousands of rounds: I must be doing something wrong, because "grief" is an emotion I have yet to experience.
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Old December 23, 2013, 04:01 PM   #18
madmo44mag
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By learning the feel on a single stage one learns what feels wright and what feels wrong.
Even though you have several stations working at once in a progressive you know what it feels like and what happens if you have corn cob blocking the primer / de-caping pin. You know the feel of a primer not seating flat or up side down.
It all translates to a progressive.
I've taught a number of people to re-load and those that started out on a progressive always had more simple problems that would have been avoided if they just had know that feel / sound and of problem starting to happen.
I have seen ram drive system damaged, primer systems damaged and various other press parts damaged just because the operator did not know the basic feel and sounds each station made on its own.
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Old December 23, 2013, 04:05 PM   #19
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I am not anti-progressive. That wouldn't be fair because I have never even seen (in real life) a progressive press - much less, used one.

That said, I've been loading almost 30 years on a single-stage (the same RCBS "Reloader Special 2" press). I have no doubt it's slower than a progressive. But for what it's worth:

I have never inserted a primer upside-down.

I have never had a squib load.

I have never had a double charge (unlikely with a progressive, I know).

I have never had a mis-fire of any kind.

At least 90% of the recipes I've created are exceptionally accurate.

And although I am considering an RCBS Pro 2000, or whatever it's called; I'm only considering it because I am shooting now more than ever. It's becoming a necessity.

I truly enjoy the "craft" of loading. It's a labor of love; not a labor of quantity. And again, I don't really have anything against which to compare, but I can't imagine being a beginner and learning the craft of loading on a progressive. That's just me.
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Old December 23, 2013, 04:20 PM   #20
Damon555
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This question comes up often and gets many differing opinions. I started out with a single stage but now own both. My personal experience has taught me that learning the individual steps on a single stage is much more informative than loading on a progressive press or trying to use the progressive as a single stage.

Learning the basics of each step and the attention to detail that each step requires on a single stage is the only way to go in my opinion. Many folks go their entire lives loading on a single stage....but very few go through a lifetime of reloading without owning a single stage......I guarantee that eventually you will want to own a single stage press no matter what kind of reloading that you do. So start with the single and get a progressive when you've mastered the basics.

Last edited by Damon555; December 23, 2013 at 04:40 PM.
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Old December 23, 2013, 04:21 PM   #21
Eppie
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As new reloader I started on a progressive press (LnL AP). It caused me lots of problems and frustration. I used it as a single stage until I got the basics down. The problem is that by the time I got the basics down the accuracy/long range bug bit me, and in my opinion, a progressive press is not conducive to extreme accuracy.

If I had to do it over again I would probably it would have been way better to learn on a single stage.
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Old December 23, 2013, 04:24 PM   #22
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I'm still rocking a lee hand press two years later lol. 40$! If you don't mind a little carpletunnle lol. First time I'd work your way up. Get the beginner stuff the. Sell it off as you grow. I'm just now fixin to get my first progressive.
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Old December 23, 2013, 04:37 PM   #23
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I'd say it depends on the mechanical aptitude of the individual.

I have friends I say "sure, go for it, get a progressive". But I have other friends who seem frequently bewildered by what I consider simple mechanical processes. Them I'd seriously steer away from progressives simply because the number of processes happening simultaneously would confuse them completely.

You won't ever "waste" a single-stage, I switched over decades a go & still use my single stage for things.
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Old December 23, 2013, 05:35 PM   #24
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I started on a Dillon 550, and after tens of thousands of rounds still have 10, 10, 2 and 1.
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Old December 23, 2013, 05:52 PM   #25
pathdoc
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I am still on my first single-stage press and as yet have no need of a progressive. There are times I occasionally wish I had bought a manually indexed turret press to begin with, but I have made enough beginners' mistakes on a single-stage (and I'm not afraid to admit that) that I shudder to think how badly I might have screwed up on something more complicated.

We will see how that changes when/if I move on to shooting pistol.
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