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Old October 15, 2013, 12:40 PM   #1
Vireye
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Getting into Reloading

Okay all, newbie to reloading here with a few questions.

My girlfriend and I recently moved down to Pennsylvania from New York and Connecticut, respectively. My parents also live in the area. For economic's sake, my father proposed that since since the three of us are such avid shooters that we start reloading.

My father is big on research, and has spent the last few months poring over every resource he could find about reloading, what equipment we'll need, techniques, etc etc. (We'll be reloading 9mm and .45 ACP, at least for the foreseeable future).

However, one thing that we keep getting conflicting information on is a single-stage press vs. a multi-stage press...

I get that there are advantages to each, but I wanted some more informed opinions.

To make our objective clear, we're just reloading target ammo, so essentially we're more interested in cranking out as many cartridges as we can. I can understand the craft of it; but at the moment we just want to go shooting. Because of this I'm leaning towards the multi-stage and just loading one bullet at a time until we get the hang of it, and then going into full-production mode. Is this an incorrect method of thinking?

Thanks in advance!
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Old October 15, 2013, 12:45 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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If you're reloading handgun ammo for multiple shooters, you almost certainly want a progressive press. A good progressive will do in an hour what a single stage would take 10 hours to do.

That said, I would suggest a start with either a single stage or better yet a Lee Classic turret until you get the process down.

The additional cost would be fairly minimal as you could easily resell the press if you didn't want to keep it for future rifle loading or other tasks.

The Classic turret allows you to load up to 200 rounds an hour but still only have to keep track of one single cartridge at a time. A progressive certainly CAN be handled safely and competently by a beginner but it unquestionably brings additional risks if attention wanders or there's a gap in understanding.
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Old October 15, 2013, 01:48 PM   #3
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You might be better served by a progressive press, but get out the calculator if you need to outfit that press for MANY caliber conversions, as it can to be an irrational expenditure in short order. And on the flip side, a quality single stage press is a tool that will ALWAYS be useful and give a lifetime of service, and they truly don't cost all that much to begin with.

I believe the purchase of a decent single stage will never be wasted money, no matter what you find down the road.

Myself, I use a hybrid system that almost nobody on the planet uses because it's kind of a system I came up with on my own, but it not only works... but works outrageously well and gives me a slew of different calibers covered for a very small outlay of cash and it also provides for me the ability to load in (somewhat) of a volume. I've loaded over 20k rounds in each of the last two full calendar years and though I've scaled back a bit this year, I'm over 10,000 so far.
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Old October 15, 2013, 02:27 PM   #4
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I agree with Brian P.

Getting started and learning, get an inexpensive single stage or turret press. You could sell it later but I bet you would keep it.

Keeping up with multiple shooters, you will want high output production (unless you are like me and enjoy experimenting ), that calls for a progressive in one form or another.

Enjoy,

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Old October 15, 2013, 02:56 PM   #5
dahermit
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Quote:
I believe the purchase of a decent single stage will never be wasted money, no matter what you find down the road.
I agree. I kept my RCBS Jr. when I purchased a Dillon 550b some years ago, and have not regretted it. The single stage comes in very handy for bullet pulling, de-priming and sundry other tasks not well suited for the progressive. It need not be an either/or decision.
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Old October 15, 2013, 03:18 PM   #6
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Another vote for getting both.
The single stage will come in very handy for all kinds of things, either in addition to a turret, a progressive or on its own.
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Old October 15, 2013, 03:33 PM   #7
AllenJ
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Quote:
To make our objective clear, we're just reloading target ammo, so essentially we're more interested in cranking out as many cartridges as we can.
Given this information a progressive is what you're looking for but as stated above, to learn how to properly reload you should start with a single stage or turret press.
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Old October 15, 2013, 03:41 PM   #8
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I have both, but bought a Hornady Lock n Load first and taught myself on it. If you're careful and take your time then it's no big deal. For three people that are avid shooters there's no way you'll be happy with the speed of a single stage. However, a single stage is useful when you need to fix a mistake and don't want to clear your shell plate. Also useful if you need to do one thing on multiple cases.
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Old October 15, 2013, 04:10 PM   #9
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I don't think you need to fool around with a single stage....you can learn on a good progressive ...

In any loading process - you need attention to detail, follow the manuals for recipes and for your press...and thoroughly understand each and every step the press is doing.

I would recommend a progressive press that auto indexes...for handgun calibers only a Dillon SDB is a good press....if you want to upgrade a little then go with the Dillon 650 or the Hornaday LNL ( they are comparable in quality in my view). Dillon 650 or LNL will handle most rifle calibers too...
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Old October 15, 2013, 05:53 PM   #10
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My vote is for both, BUT, i feel like, getting a single stage first and learning to reload and get comfortable with it would best serve a beginner. The advantages of this are you will get a "feel" for the feel of resizing and seating. And by this i mean, as you lower the handle on the press, you can accually feel whats going on and the case is resized and the bullet is seating. Once youve done thjs enough you will be able to immediately tell if there is a problem while sizing and loading rounds. Another advantage is, with a single stage press you have many more opportunities to "HANDLE" the brass and this will enable you to catch issues before they become unsafe issues. Another advantage to single stage is, when you decide to go progressive, you can still leave the single stage mounted to the bench to serve as a deticated press other additional steps in the process.

I reload for 9mm and .40s&w and i use a single stage. I can crank out 500 of either round in about 2-3 hours, after tumbling and inspecting of course. Also, if you dont mind me asking, where abouts in PA did you move to...just curious if you are close to where i live, we could meet up and shoot and i could even show you my setup for reloading so you can get a good visual idea of what you may be looking for.
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Old October 15, 2013, 06:26 PM   #11
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Ah, the irony: Reaching out to the forums to clear up a contradiction.

If you don't have a contradiction before a forum post, you darn sure will after lol.

Seriously, most all opinions will have at least an element of truth to them; gathering up information is always a good thing.

I've been loading with a single stage press for 30 years. Now, I approach the process as a craft - something I enjoy doing as a hobby in, and of itself. So even though I realize you just want to crank out target ammo - nothing wrong with that at all - I still think you should learn the "craft" of reloading on a single stage first. Then move over to a progressive, if so inclined.

I have considered a progressive as of late. But I have some reservations about progressives which I'll keep to myself because they are outside the scope of your basic question. But if I do go progressive, I know enough about the craft of reloading to know to get a good quality machine. Don't skimp on your original investment - you'll just pay later (with time and frustration, usually).

The RCBS Pro 2000 is the only choice for me - I'll skip the "whys" of my choice, other than to say that my current press is an RCBS, has prepped and loaded many 10's of 1000's of rounds, and it functions as good as the day I bought it.
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Old October 15, 2013, 06:38 PM   #12
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I totally agree with last response. Learning the craft/skill is the most important thing.
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Old October 15, 2013, 06:46 PM   #13
bt380
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Be prepared to spend some serious change once you get into reloading. It will get spendy w/ all the extras you will want. So make sure you really want to do this.
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Old October 15, 2013, 06:47 PM   #14
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How much money will you save by loading your own ammo?:

Absolutely none.

You'll just end up shooting more. Be advised.
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Old October 15, 2013, 08:45 PM   #15
Revoltella
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Jump in with both feet and get a Dillon 550. It manually indexes, so you can use it like a single stage while you learn the basics. Then you can ramp p the speed and use it like the progressive press it is.

I loaded my first 1000 or so on a single stage and I wasn't far into it when I decided I needed something more efficient. You'll probably end up with a single stage too, but if you're mostly doing pistol cartridges it's not necessary. They are nice to have around for rifle.
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Old October 15, 2013, 08:54 PM   #16
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In my opinion, progressive is definitely the way to go for high volume handgun ammo.
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Old October 15, 2013, 09:06 PM   #17
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Call me a fuddy duddy but I started with a Single Stage and now loading for 9 rifles and one pistol,I am still in single stage and have never found the need for a progressive. I shoot probably more than 80% of people here ( 300 to 500 rounds a weekend, mostly rifle ). I have no issues doing this all on a single stage press.
Other than resizing and seating bullet I do not need a press. All trimming,chamfering,ect is done while sitting in comfy chair watching TV. And no I have never had a oops yet from watching TV and powdering cases.
I do spend about 3 hrs a day doing something with brass,but hey I have no life so this is ok with me.. I shoot for accuracy only,so every step is slow and done right. It's not for everyone for sure,but fits my life style just great. I do everything in groups of 100 or 200 at a time.
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Old October 15, 2013, 09:24 PM   #18
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Hey fuddy duddy, same here, on average, i shoot 200(.223) 100(.308) 100(.40) 100(9mm) and a case of birds/150 (12ga 7 1/2). I dont reload for shotgun but everything else is done on a single stage lee classic. In ALL the rounds ive loaded, (gotta be close to 10,000 by now), a backwards primer, one time, was my only issue.
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Old October 15, 2013, 11:58 PM   #19
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This thread has prompted me to (re)look into getting a progressive. My single stage works great, but I am shooting quite a bit more and do need to crank out the everyday shooter/target rounds.

I went on Midway and built a wish list. The RCBS auto-index Pro 2000, with all the shell holders and die plates that I need, to dress it up real nice with all the goodies is $833. Good thing the press itself is on backorder - gives me time to start a piggy bank.

I do need to take this step.
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Old October 16, 2013, 02:55 AM   #20
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Progressives are all about time. Sure, you can load ammo on a single stage, and most progressive users have one of those too, used mostly for small lots or load development with unfamiliar components, but when you want to shoot 3-500rnds a week or more, there is nothing like a progressive. I have three, well 4 really, but I don't use the SDB anymore since I started using Dillon 650's for most of my reloading, and an LNL I use for stuff using large pistol primers (I hate converting presses I will have to use for more volume for small pistol stuff). And I have a Lee single stage I use for other tasks like a push through die for 40 brass of questionable heritage, or making a small lot of experimental ammo... like 20 at a time. When I find a group of components I want to shoot in large numbers, I will use a progressive, and that is most of the time.

Life is made out of time. You only get so much and only you can decide how to spend it, but I would rather be shooting more with that time than doing with a single stage what I can do on a progressive in one tenth the time.
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Old October 16, 2013, 09:19 AM   #21
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Definitions

Single-stage presses, as the name implies, have a single "stage" - they hold one die at a time.

So you set it up to do depriming/resizing and do that. Then you set it up to case mouth belling and you do that. Then you set it up to do bullet seating/crimping and you do that. It takes time to change steps as you have to uninstall one die and install and "tune" the next die.

Multi-stage presses, as the name implies, have multiple stages - they hold an entire set of dies. But you have to manually index the die you want to use over the ram. The advantage here is that you don't have to uninstall and re-install/tune dies as you move from step to step in the reloading process.

Progressive presses also have multiple stages, but the cartridge case automatically progresses (hence the name) from die stage to die stage with each up and down stroke of the operating handle. Once the machine is set up, you basically just move the handle up and down and bullets fall out one end until it runs out of bullets, primers, powder, or brass.

Pros/Cons

One of the advantages of a single or multi-stage press is that the operator can concentrate on only one operation at a time during reloading. You won't miss a problem with the primer feed while you are simultaneously watching a bullet seat.

Of course the obvious advantage to a progressive system is speed.

I learned to reload on a progressive press, the Lee Pro 1000, and it's all I've ever used. I personally do not think that it is so terribly complicated that someone who is mildly mechanically competent cannot keep track of what is going on. After all, you can stop the action on every up or down swing of the handle to see what is going on, and you can swing the handle as fast or slow as you want to to see and feel what is going on.

I have wished from time to time that I had a stand-alone single stage press for depriming, but I have learned how to use my Lee Pro 1000 to do that - I just fish the case out of its shell holder on the down-stroke after depriming so that it does not travel the rest of the circuit.

It's hard to beat the Lee Pro 1000 for price - you can get the press with a complete set of carbide dies for under $200. But it has some limitations:

1) The primer feed mechanism requires attention. If the primers bridge in the primer container, as they do frequently, the primer feed ramp will go dry. If there are not enough primers in the feed ramp to push the first guy in line into place under the case, it will miss-feed and try to cram it in sideways. The fix here is to give the primer container a thump on every cycle of the handle.

2) The case feeder also requires attention. When you get down to the last 2-3 cases in the feed tube, when the next case falls down to the loading ramp it will "bounce" since there isn't much weight on top of it. When it bounces it may creep forward a tiny bit (doesn't take much) such that the case is now under the top die plate. Now on the up-stroke the case will hit the die plate and you can't go any further. The fix is when you hear the case bounce you stick your finger in there and push him back out of the way before you start the upstroke.

3) The Lee Pro 1000 only has 3 die stations. This means that bullet seating and crimping is done in the same die/stage. I have not had a problem with this but it can be tricky to adjust a combo die such that it seats the bullet to the correct depth and also crimps the case mouth to the correct diameter. In a press with 5 stations you can put the seating and crimping in two separate dies. Also there is a special kind of die called a "powder cop" which can detect over and under charges and either provide an audio/visual warning or even lock up the press. You won't be able to use one of these with the Lee Pro 1000, which means you will have to rely on personal vigilance to make sure there is the right amount of powder in the case each time you place a bullet in its mouth.

But still, the Lee Pro 1000 is currently about $180, and to step up to a 5 or 6-stage press is going to be at least $500. It's hard to beat the value of the Lee Pro 1000.

Steve
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Old October 16, 2013, 07:52 PM   #22
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One small correction

Quote:
Originally Posted by maillemaker
Multi-stage presses, as the name implies, have multiple stages - they hold an entire set of dies. But you have to manually index the die you want to use over the ram. The advantage here is that you don't have to uninstall and re-install/tune dies as you move from step to step in the reloading process.
Also popularly known as "Turret Presses". They hold multiple dies (from three to seven to the best of my knowledge) but only one cartridge case as maillemaker describes, but Lee Precision does make two models that have the option of automatically advancing the dies with each stroke of the ram. This allows the choice of continuous processing (as on a progressive) or batch processing (as on a single stage). This feature is often known as auto-indexing or auto-advancing.

Otherwise, maillemaker made an excellent summary of the essential differences between the three types of presses.

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