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Old June 3, 2011, 11:18 AM   #1
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Single Stage vs Turret press for beginners

I am just started gathering info on reloading and wanted your opinions on single stage vs turret.

I will start loading for 357mag and 45lc and shoot around 500 a month of the 2 combined. (I also shoot a good bit of 9mm and will reload for them later).

How much fast is the turret over the single stage? How much can I reasonable expect to load in an hour with a single stage
If you went from a single stage to a turret did you keep the single stage and find a use for it or did you sell it?

I sorta feel that if I will eventually progress to a turret press why not spend the money and get one to start with BUT $30 for a lee reloader single stage press is not a huge investment, especially if I can always find a use for it.

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Old June 3, 2011, 12:19 PM   #2
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I just started reloading in January so I might be able to help. I started with a Hornady single stage press instead of a turret. With the quick disconnect Hornady bushings it is just a fast as some turrets I've tried. Your Lee would be slower since you will have to adjust the dies every time.

I can crank out around 100 .38spc and about 75 .45ACP per hour with the single stage press. I am real careful with my COAL's and powder.

I have already gotten tired of it and bought a Dillon 550b.
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Old June 3, 2011, 12:22 PM   #3
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Go to you tube and search for Lee classic turret, It's quite a bit faster than a single stage.
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Old June 3, 2011, 12:34 PM   #4
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I highly recommend the Lee Classic turret. You can produce at least 200 handgun rounds per hour if you also include the Lee Pro Auto-disk powder measure.

The Classic turret is MUCH faster than a single stage. A fellow made the claim a few weeks ago that he found the turret to be "only slightly faster" than a single stage. But using his own stated production numbers versus what I do with the Classic turret, I show the Classic turret to be more than 3 times faster than his single stage production.

The 200 rounds an hour is by no means a rushed pace either, it's almost leisurely.

Besides that, I can switch from bulk handgun production to precision rifle rounds in literally 5 seconds. I consistently shoot .5-.75 MOA with those rifle rounds.
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Old June 3, 2011, 12:46 PM   #5
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I don’t want to restart the whole Lee debate for the millionth time, I personally am not a fan, but that’s me.
The $30.00 Lee C-press is the cheapest one they make, and you will not be happy with it.
Speed should not be your top priority now, get the basics down.
As too which is faster, some guys that have a system down and reloaded on a single stage for a long time, can load just about as fast as someone on a turret press.
If I were starting out, I would go with a quality Turret press. You can pick up a nice used Redding, RCBS, or Lyman used. Use it as a single stage until you have the basics down, and then work out the system that works best for you.
The press is the heart of the operation, and a quality press will last you a lifetime, and later on if speed is a concern, get an Auto progressive to go with the Turret press.
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Old June 3, 2011, 12:49 PM   #6
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I have a single stage and wish I would have gotten a Turret.

It would be nice to have a whole turret plate setup for a caliber. I will say make sure you get a rock solid turret. I hear bad things about some having loose plates.
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Old June 3, 2011, 01:00 PM   #7
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If I were starting out, I would go with a quality Turret press. You can pick up a nice used Redding, RCBS, or Lyman used.
Or better yet, get a Lee classic cast- the others are jsut single stage presses with multiple die holders.

I highly reccommend them, I reloaded on a RCBS RS press for 10+ years before getting one, There is no way that a person could load as fast with a single stage as they can with a Lee turret. For a beginner they are simple enough to set up and use.
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Old June 3, 2011, 01:28 PM   #8
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Although you expect to turn out rounds faster via progressive, I'd caution about making your first press a multi-station/progressive.

There's much to know about reloading and I don't mean to lecture, but a good single-stage will teach you more - faster than will a progressive. 25 years ago my mentor and late father-in-law gifted me a 1960's Lee single stage that still gets lots of use. I did add a progressive press to the bench back in the early 90's, but only after I felt secure in my knowledge of what was happening at every stage of the process. Once you add more stations, there's a lot going on at once and the learning curve gets very steep indeed. Today, the old Lee gets as much work time as the Dillon.

Again, apologies if I seem to be lecturing - do what you feel is right for you but don't think for a moment that a single-stage would be a waste - it won't, guaranteed!
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Old June 3, 2011, 02:08 PM   #9
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I'd suggest you go to the turret press now / or another progressive press now ...they really aren't any more difficult to learn on than a single stage. If you are serious about reloading - you need to learn what each station on the press is doing / how to adjust it, etc ...

Budget is always an issue you have to do what fits your budget right now.

I've had single stage and turret presses in the past ...and I've long since gotten rid of them. I did keep one around for awhile / when I was still loading for the .30-40 Krag and .30-06 because they were very low volume ...and I had the dies / was set up for it, etc ... but the last time I cleaned out my shop and garage ...all of that stuff went to the gun club for a "garage sale"...

At this point in my shooting career ...I've quit reloading low volume calibers - and just buy factory ammo for whatever I need. These days I reload for handgun calibers from 9mm to .44 mag ....and in volumes of 2,000 to 4,000 at a time it up / then convert to another caliber...and I use a Dillon 650 with a case feeder that gives me about 1,000 rds an hour. I shoot quite a bit ...500 to 1,000 rds a week.../ but the Dillon 650 gives me the volume of ammo I need with very little investment of time.

I have a retired buddy ...who is very stubborn about giving up his single stage press ...for for .45 acp ...he only gets a box of 50 in an hour. He's careful and takes him time ...and he has no interest in changing his equipment ...but at 50 rds an hour / or even 250 rds an hour -- it would drive me nuts ( and I like reloading ...) but I don't like it that much !

Last edited by BigJimP; June 3, 2011 at 06:33 PM.
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Old June 3, 2011, 02:15 PM   #10
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The Lee Classic Cast Turret Press is nothing short of fantastic, and I highly recommend one for pistol ammunition production. I bought one a year ago, and it's made reloading fun again.
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Old June 3, 2011, 02:24 PM   #11
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Well I just started loading about 2 weeks ago so maybe I have some input.

I read tons of stuff (books, forum postings, ect). In the end I bought the Lee 50th anniversary kit. So for I have been %120 happy with it. It included everything (except dies) to start loading and only cost $130. Pretty cheap investment to start with.

My decision was mostly influenced by the fact that I only shoot 9mm right now. It was pretty hard to justify spending $400 + on a press to save $8 a box.

I have now loaded about 1500 rounds with it and shot 500 of those. So far the rounds have been perfect. When I first got it, it took me 5 hours to load 400 rounds. Now I can load 120 - 130/hour. A lot faster than I was lead to believe on a single stage.

I still believe a single stage press is the right place to start. My plan down the road, is to continue to load 9mm with and soon begin loading 45acp. Once I have loaded enough ammo to save the cost of the press times 2 I will sell it and buy a progressive. By then, I should be pretty proficient at loading.
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Old June 3, 2011, 02:34 PM   #12
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I'm a noobie reloader, so take this for what it's worth. The auto indexing feature of the Lee Classic Cast turret is easy to disable, making it a single stage press when you want it to be. The best of both worlds. I like mine a lot for pistol ammo. I have also decapped and sized some .223 brass using it as a single stage. Haven't loaded any rifle yet, but that's coming soon.
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Old June 3, 2011, 02:36 PM   #13
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A turret press (not a progressive) is simply a single state press with positions to hold your dies as they are needed. I use an old Lyman turret press very happily. I use what is called the 'batch' method of reloading. In the end it is almost as fast as a progressive but gives me more hands on control and opportunity to inspect rounds at every stage. That is something I consider very important for safety.
Edit: I do not any respect for Lee presses. I'll use some of the Lee products but not their presses.
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Old June 3, 2011, 02:55 PM   #14
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I never reloaded in my life. I did not have a freind to help or even an internet forum when I started. I was given the Dillion 650 for a present, bought some books, read a lot and started loading.

I went striaght into reloading and found as long as you took the time to learn you would do just fine. There is some common sense along with some knowledge you have to learn. Thus the progrssive was simple to leran with.

However later I found there are times that I needed or even perferred a single stage press. IMHO you can not beat the Lee Classic Cast single stage. I do my hunting rifle rounds on the single stage. It gives me a slower pace so I can make them as fine tuned as I like.

I did try a Turret, it was cool but never saw an advanatge over the single stage.

As far as setting up dies - never knew why the bushing thing was sold as being faster. It is cool but not really any faster than screwing in a die. Regardless in a short amount of time I can set either up fast. I mean come on when you talking just a few second to screw in a die there is that much lost time. I mark my dies so set up is easy.

Last edited by Farmland; June 3, 2011 at 03:00 PM.
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Old June 3, 2011, 03:12 PM   #15
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Two years ago I was in the same situation as you - trying to figure out which way to go. I was considering single stage, turret and progressive. I bought a Lee Classic Cast Turret and have enjoyed it immensely. I reload 9mm, .45 cap, .40 S&W, .223 and 30.06 for my Garand. Wonderful machine.
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Old June 3, 2011, 05:36 PM   #16
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I'd also recommend just starting with a Lee Classic Turret. You can run it as a single stage just by removing the indexing rod. I began with a single stage, and going to the Turret sped things up by a fair amount; I prefer to work one round at a time start to finish (as opposed to doing all the decapping/resizing, then priming, then...); IMO, it's less likely to result in missing one step on a round or double charging by accident.

While most single stages can have removable bushing to ease die swaps, it still isn't as easy and fast as just swapping turret discs (what's more, I find that a 3" length of 4" diameter PVC pipe is the PERFECT size to hold a disc of the Lee Classic Turret).
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Old June 3, 2011, 06:08 PM   #17
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Some of the opinions and built-in biases apparent in this thread smell like my dog's butt. I'll skip right past those and address the original question:

The real genious behind the Lee Classic Turret that kills every other manufacturer's version of a turret press is that the extra turrets are not only lightning-fast to swap, they are also incredibly cheap in price.

Compare Lee 4-hole turrets to those massive turrets for an RCBS, Lyman or Forster. It's not a close race. $49 for an extra turret? That's nuts. With the Lee Classic turret, you put your dies in the turret and you never take them out of the turret again for the rest of your life.

Don't even begin to think of a turret price as if it's a progressive -- it's not. It's not even close. Even the guys who absolutely adore their turret press and can operate the thing like Mario Andretti should be able to admit that it's not progressive and can't mimic progressive.

At it's core, a progressive press has a shell plate and a ram that puts at least three pieces of brass up in to loading dies simultaneously and if your favorite press cannot push three to five pieces of brass up in to 3 to 5 different reloading dies at the same time, it's not a progressive press no matter how many different ways you try to explain it or no matter what kind of lofty production goal you believe you can hit with it.

Even with a good turret press (Lee Classic Turret is the best available) you still must raise that ram for each and every operation. Not until you can size one piece while flaring another and dumping in a powder charge at the SAME TIME that a bullet is being seated and priming another piece somewhere in the lever throw are you talking progressive.

A good, solid single stage press is a tool that your grandchildren will still be able to use because if you don't abuse it, it'll outlive you and your kids. It's a great device that everyone should have. But if you have NO press and you need to buy your first one, the Lee Classic turret is a terrific choice, and may be the best choice.
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Old June 3, 2011, 06:42 PM   #18
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Lee Precision Classic Turret - I use my Lee Precision turret press in single stage mode. Highest rated turret press regardless of price on Midway USA
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Old June 3, 2011, 06:45 PM   #19
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I own a lee turret press and a lee single stage. I use the turret press for pistol due to the fact that is much faster than the single stage press, also if you want to load, say 20 rounds quickly you can do it without swapping dies out, and with the powder through die it throws powder as the case is flared. Being that you have stated that you are into pistol reloading I suggest the turret. The only reason I have a single stage is that I bought it off of a friend for ultra cheap and it has a longer ram making it easier to place my 270 win cartridges into it, otherwise I would use the turret for all loads. The Lee turret will not dissapoint
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Old June 3, 2011, 08:31 PM   #20
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Okay, I haven't started yet, but am going to in the near future. I have been reading the "ABC's of Reloading" good book, worth purchasing for a newbie. My first thought was, got to get a turret press, after watching You Tube on reloading, but after the reading I have been doing, I am going a single stage press. There is soooooo much to learn that I am not going to hurry. One step at a time for me. And in reality, I think I can keep up with the amount of shooting I get to do with the single stage. This is sport/fun for me, no hurry.
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Old June 3, 2011, 08:46 PM   #21
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". A fellow made the claim a few weeks ago that he found the turret to be "only slightly faster" than a single stage."

Well, for a conventional turret presses, the 'fellow' was correct. Lee's auto-indexing turret is NOT conventional!

I think every noob would be well served to use a single stage for a couple thousand rounds just to make the learning curve easier. THEN, when you get a more rapid press, having multipule things going on at once won't be so overpowering.

So, suggest anyone get the little Reloader press first. I have two for special work (I put a Lee universal decap die in one and a Lee Auto Prime II in the other) but I've used them to load .30-06 without a problem.

After you learn to load comfortably, THEN get a Lee Classic Turret; it's plenty fast for modest volumes and will last two lifetimes. And you too can use your little Reloader single stage for special tasks, it should not be $30 of wasted money at all!
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Old June 3, 2011, 08:48 PM   #22
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I started with a Lee Challenger single stage. I wish I'd just bought the Classic turret in the first place. It's noticeably faster, though I haven't done it against the clock. I'm not actually using it to it's full potential. I don't have the powder through dies and I don't have the primer feed. Plus it will function just fine as a single stage press, just remove the actuator rod. 10 seconds to switch it it out, even if it fights you.
The Lee has the auto index feature. I haven't checked to closely, but I don't believe that the other brands act in the same manner, at least not without addition add ons. (I could be wrong however)
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Old June 3, 2011, 09:11 PM   #23
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The magic of the turret is that it's a single stage just as easily as it is an auto indexing turret. In a couple seconds it can be changed back and forth between single stage, auto-indexing and one cartridge to another. I can go from producing 200 10mm rounds an hour to single stage, 1/2 MOA accurate .204 ammo in LITERALLY 5 seconds.

I see no advantage to a single stage. There is only the theory, for which I have never seen any evidence, that more accurate ammo can be produced on a single stage than a turret. Even if this were true (and I see no reason to believe it is) it would certainly have no meaning to a handgun shooter.

If you want to start single stage, which is probably good advice for many people, take the indexing rod out. When you want to go faster, put it back in. It's that simple. The fact that the Classic turret is "auto-indexing" is certainly no reason to buy a single stage instead.

The Classic turret does everything a single stage can do, and much more, and a single stage does nothing a Classic turret can not do.
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Old June 3, 2011, 10:18 PM   #24
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The Classic turret does everything a single stage can do, and much more, and a single stage does nothing a Classic turret can not do.
Well, you are right... but still, sounds like a challenge.

My Lee Classic Cast single stage can load .50 BMG. Can your Classic Turret do that?!
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Old June 4, 2011, 01:34 AM   #25
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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).

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