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Old April 29, 2012, 07:27 AM   #1
Join Date: April 29, 2012
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New to reloading

Great forum! I need some expert advise with equipment. I want to start reloading my rifle and pistol ammo but can't decide which press to go with. Dillon, Lee, or RCBS all look like great presses. I will be reloading small amounts for: 38/357, 9mm, 380, 45 acp, 338 win mag, Weatherby 30-378.

Any input for a newbie would be greatly appreciated!
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Old April 29, 2012, 08:16 AM   #2
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Not that it means anything but I've always used an RCBS single stage "Rock Chucker" press and have never had any problems with it. Good luck and have fun!
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Old April 29, 2012, 08:21 AM   #3
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Welcome to TFL Reef.

This is question that has been asked maybe a million times, there are a ton of posts with answers. First check out the sticky on new to reloading and then hit the search button and put in presses and you will have more answers than you have questions.

Again welcome.
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Old April 29, 2012, 09:19 AM   #4
David Bachelder
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+ On RCBS equipment. The RockChucker is an excellent single stage press.
David Bachelder
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I load, 9mm Luger, 38 and 40 S&W, 38 Special, 357Magnum, 45ACP, 45 Colt, 223, 300 AAC, 243 and 30-06
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Old April 29, 2012, 11:12 AM   #5
Brian Pfleuger
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You'd be hard pressed to beat the Lee Classic turret.

Can be used as a single stage for "batch" processing or precision rifle loads and as an auto-indexing turret for bulk loading... near or over 200 rounds per hour.

The press is inexpensive and works great. Only disliked (generally) by those who just hate Lee and/or have never used one.

As suggested, start by reading the sticky threads at the top of this forum.... also, use the search feature or scroll through the pages for other threads asking the same question. You'll see the Classic turret mentioned A LOT.
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Old April 29, 2012, 11:54 AM   #6
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Great forum! I need some expert advise with equipment. I want to start reloading my rifle and pistol ammo but can't decide which press to go with. Dillon, Lee, or RCBS all look like great presses. I will be reloading small amounts for: 38/357, 9mm, 380, 45 acp, 338 win mag, Weatherby 30-378.
Since you state you are interested in reloading small amounts of ammo in various calibers, I would rule out the Dillon. They make a great press, but it's not geared for small runs. Any of the manufactures' single stage presses or the Lee Classic turret will meet your needs. All of them are capable of turning out excellent ammo. Stick with an O-framed press, preferably cast iron. You'll appreciate the extra rigidity when re-sizing your rifle brass. Beyond that, pick the one you like, at the price point you want and go from there.
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Old April 29, 2012, 03:39 PM   #7
Misssissippi Dave
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Dillon presses and dies are all for doing quantities. They are into progressive presses. The Lee and other single stage or turret presses will work well for smaller quantities at a time. They are also easier to learn the process on compared to any progressive press. Progressive presses have a lot of things going on at the same time. The others for the most part only have a single operation per handle pull. That way you can concentrate easier on what you are doing. The dies all seem to work in a single stage setup. Some might be a little better then others, but, the end results are nearly the same.

I just like having the same company's dies in their press. If you read some of the posts here you will find which setups work with the fewest problems and give you the most bang for the buck. Save the progressive presses for the times when you need quantity. You will still probably be developing all you new loads on a single stage press even if you do have a progressive press some day.
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Old April 29, 2012, 04:26 PM   #8
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Many Thanks!

Thank you to all who replied, I really appreciate it. Good information, especially wrt Dillon.
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Old April 29, 2012, 05:54 PM   #9
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Single stage or two presses

What quantities do you consider to be small and what's your budget? Will you set up permanently or take down your gear after each reloading session?

Progressive presses are not meant for small amounts. Caliber switching is more trouble than it's worth to make small runs.

The magnum rifle cartridges beg for a single stage with good leverage. Forster Co-Ax, RCBS RockChucker, Lyman Orange Crusher, Redding Big Boss, Lee Classic Cast. (Hornady must make one too, but I can't remember the model name)

The handgun cartridges beg for a turret press unless you are loading fewer than 100 rounds at a sitting. For producing rounds at an efficient rate, there is only one choice. Lee Classic Turret, as it is the ONLY turret press (other than the somewhate inferior Lee Deluxe Turret) that automatically indexes the turret.

Other turret presses are available and do great, but just not as well as either Lee Turret presses, or as inexpensively.

All the above is my opinion, supported by experience since 1975 loading handgun (9mm, 38/357 45 ACP 45 Colt/454 Casull and 500 S&W) with my Rockchucker, RCBS Jr., Lee Pro-1000s, my friend's Lyman Turret and my Lee Classic Turret as well as a lot of reading. Others disagree with me on some points, but this is what works for me and, I believe, will work for you.

A good full-frame single stage for your rifle cartridges and a Lee Classic Turret for your handgun rounds. Get the Classic Turret first and get loading. Search around for a used Single Stage at a reasonable price. The Lee Classic Turret is adequate for the rifle rounds but the higher-leverage presses in single stage are more rigid and easier to use.

Good luck and thanks for asking our advice

Lost Sheep

Last edited by Lost Sheep; April 29, 2012 at 05:59 PM.
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Old April 29, 2012, 05:57 PM   #10
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+another for turrets. I do big runs of 9mm on progressive but all my others on Lee classic turret used as single stage.
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Old April 29, 2012, 06:32 PM   #11
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"Great forum! I need some expert advise with equipment."

Small quanities of anything can be handled on any single stage press and it's easy/fast to change the dies for other cartridges.

Small cases (any handgun) can be done on the least costly presses but the big rifle cases benefit from larger presses, especially the LONG big rifle cartridges. Lee's Classic Cast single stage press is big, it's very strong, very well made and it has the best list of user features of any press in its class, no matter the price; IF I had to replace my Rock Chucker tomorrow that's what I'd get.
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Old April 29, 2012, 07:15 PM   #12
Lost Sheep
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Originally Posted by wncchester
(edited for brevity) IF I had to replace my Rock Chucker tomorrow that's what I'd get.
I have it from a guy I met on another forum that the Redding Big Boss has more leverage than the RockChucker (though he didn't specify by how much). If I were to replace my RockChucker, I am not sure what press would get the nod.

I do agree that the Lee Classic Cast has some very good features, among them the spent primer handling and the best on-press priming system I have ever seen.

The Lee Classic Cast appears to have the same bottom end as my Lee Classic Turret, indicating the same leverage for both presses. If I were to want to handload large rifle cartridges, I might want more. Despite the expense, I would look long and hard at the Forster, but not rule out anyone else's offerings.

But I am not about to even think about replacing my beloved RC.

Lost Sheep
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Old April 29, 2012, 07:41 PM   #13
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Don't know your budget but when I first started I bought the lee anniversary kit and It did me no wrong I loved it. So if your on a tight budget go with a single stage kit they are doing similar kits with the RCBS rock chucker gives you everything you need except for the dies, powder, bullets etc. Then step your way up to a progressive. Midwayusa has the best deals going around.
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Old April 29, 2012, 08:02 PM   #14
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Great advice, I only bought a progressive for a first press as my son and I are shooting more and more. There are big differences in progressives too, 550 and 650 dillon much easier than a 1050 which is really meant for commercial application and not to be changed.
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Old April 29, 2012, 08:12 PM   #15
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I hem-hawed around on the same problem just a few months ago.. after listening to some of the wise men here... I went with the Lee Classic Turret. It wasn't a mistake! This whole setup came in under $400 for everything.. and now my rifle's printing 3/8" groups.... and... it fits in my coat closet next to the vacuum cleaner. (apartment dweller). The built in priming features, the Lee dies, the auto-disk, the little primer feeder thingy, the scale... they just plain work. I bought a kit from these guys as suggested here on the forum.. and added some other stuff.

Don't dwell on it too much... take a leap of faith on the Lee. My cent and a half.


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Last edited by WWWJD; April 29, 2012 at 08:21 PM.
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Old April 30, 2012, 12:32 AM   #16
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I use a Lee Classic Turret for .38 Spl/.357 magnum, 9mm, .44 Spl/.44 magnum, 6mm Remington and 30-06. I only have one 6mm Remington rifle and one 30-06 rifle. I do not full case resize and only neck size. The Lee Hand Press works for those reloads also. If I have more than one rifle in each caliber neck sizing would probably not be an option. It is in my case and works just fine. I am happy with about 125-150 handgun rounds, or 50-75 rifle rounds per hour.

Good luck in your quest and Happy Shooting.

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Old April 30, 2012, 09:10 AM   #17
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If you're reloading small quantities of mostly handgun and a little rifle you could probably go with something light like an RCBS Partner press or something similar.

With a smaller, lighter press you'll get a better feel for it, and it won't be as fatiguing as cranking the handle on a larger machine (for small stuff).

With only a small investment in a light press, you can always upgrade later if you need something specific. Even if you upgrade later it's always nice to have a light little press as a backup or for other reloading chores.
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Old May 1, 2012, 08:38 PM   #18
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Lee classic turret press gets my thumbs up. Nice and strong and will handle most cartridges. Any over 30/06 though might be too much for indexing. I purchased a single stage press first like many of us do just to later on spend more money on speed. Don't get the kit though, I think the lee scale powder measure is junk and cumbersome to work with. Spend that extra money on a nicer digital scale and good dies. Personally I use the lee pro powder measure on my turret press and it typically slings within .2 of a grain. Honestly it's very accurate for the money. I will say that the lee press shines more on small rifle and all pistol needs more so than large calibers. Just my 2 cents.
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Old May 2, 2012, 11:02 PM   #19
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The setup that WWWJD showed you is really, really good.I have the the same setup and thanks to that equipment and the info I pickup on sites like this I have been cranking out good, accurate ammo from my first day for what I consider to be good prices. Factoring in component costs only (not equipment, storage boxes or time) I am at $6.50 per box of 50 for 9mm and .38 using found range brass and lead bullets. And I live in an area where components are not easy to get.

If you are really serious and have around $1000 to spend on equipment, my recommendation (and take it for what its worth, I am pretty new to this too) is this for 3 handguns and 1 rifle caliber (prices are to the right):

Lee Classic Cast Turret Press Kit includes: 197
Pro Auto-Disk powder measure
Large and Small Safety Prime
Cutter, Lock Stud, Chamfer Tool
Large and small primer pocket tool
Case sizing lube
Modern Reloading Second Edition
Safety powder scale

Lee Adjustable Charge Bar 12
Case Length Gauge/holder 9mm 7
Case Length Gauge/holder .38 Special 7
Universal decapping die 15
Lee 4 carbide die set 9mm 45
Lee 4 carbide die set .38/.357 42
Lee 3 carbide die set .380 40
Lee factory crimp die .380 20
Lee 2 carbide die set .32 Special 35
Lee Cast Iron Single Station Reloading Press 90045 30
shell holders 9mm/.38/.357 5
powder funnel 3
Digital calipers 15
Bullet puller 13
Chrony Chronograph (walmart) 76
Gemini-20 Electronic scale 25
MTM loading trays (2) 18
25 MTM 50-round ammo boxes 9mm/.38/.357 70
MTM dry box 20
MTM storage box (3) 75
Lee Auto Prime handtool 30
Lee 9mm taper crimp 10
Lee double disk kit 15
Lee micro disk 10
Lee press stand and bins 110
Grafs Case chamfer tool 12
Lee turrets (3 extra) 30
Lee press plate 25
Tumbler 40
Tumbler media/polish 30
Graf's case chamfer/debur tool 12

total 1091

You will have to adjust for your calibers but you get the idea.

My sources were Grafs, Midway, Amazon, Ebay, FS Reloadingl, Walmart.

Then, plan on dropping another $500-$1000 immediately at powdervalley/gunshows or the like to get enough powder/primers/brass/bullets to get you into the $6-$7/box range for quality handgun reloads.

This is just my 2cents. My wife signed off on me going from 0-60 with this out of the box setup for my 40th birthday while we were waiting on our LTCs to process in this state. I could not possibly be happier. I got to pick up a great new shooting hobby at a time when I couldnt even legally shoot. (note- dont load up on any cartridge at first, always test your loads properly by starting low and building to full)

I look at Lee the same way I look at Ruger- if you are OK with doing a little of your own fit and finish work you are getting the same or better quality equipment than Dillon/RCBS will give you, for a whole lot less money. Same thing applies to Ruger vs S&W, in my opinion.

Good luck.
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Old May 3, 2012, 07:34 AM   #20
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I started off with the Rockchucker Kit (Press, scale, powder measure, reloading manual). I had to buy powder, dies, Shell holders, caliper, primers and bullets.

I still love the Rockchucker, but now I wish I had gotten a turret press. I have expanded my reloading quite a bit and reload for five different rifle calibers and five different pistol calibers.

My biggest like about RCBS is their warranty and customer service. They have helped me figure out what I was doing wrong with the powder measure (Wrong drop tube and I was not "Snappy/consistent" in my throws) and I have screw up a few decapping pins. RCBS has sent free replacements.

Lee has charged me for the replacement parts I need. I have both Lee and RCBS dies that I use in my press. I even have a set of Lyman dies. They all fit in the Rockchucker press.
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Old June 3, 2012, 12:56 PM   #21
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Fired my first reloaded ammo!

Well it took me long enough but today I fired 9 rounds of hand loaded 9mm in my Kimber Solo. I really took my time during the reloading process since this was my first attempt. Actually one of the simplest steps gave me a little trouble, charging the case. The funnels I have are all too big for the small 9mm case and I had powder go all over the place. A quick trip to the kitchen, "borrowed" a cake icing applicator, slipped the funnel neck into that and didn't spill any Bullseye!

I'm sure to get grief over using baking tools to load ammo, but what the heck, it sure worked!!

Thanks for all the expert advise that was given to this newbie.

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Old June 3, 2012, 03:12 PM   #22
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Congratulations on your first reloads. Now for the rest of your life you will be wondering if a different powder or bullet or even primer will improve your ammo.
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Old June 3, 2012, 04:02 PM   #23
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Less recoil

I did notice a lot less recoil than from the factory ammo. I assume due to starting with the "starting load" from the manual.
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Old June 3, 2012, 04:19 PM   #24
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my 2c i started off with a dillon 650 and glad i did i load as little or as much as i want with no trouble
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Old June 3, 2012, 05:05 PM   #25
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It would be hard to say for the felt recoil. It is kind of a subjective thing. Though if you started with the starting load, and used a fairly accurate scale to confirm that the loads were fairly close to within +/- 0.1 grains, and within specs of the published data then you should be good to go. Just do not seat shorter than the load data suggest with 9mm this can greatly increase case pressure. 9mm is a very high pressure round. All of my loads that feed and work best in all of my 9mm guns, as well as a few friends guns are longer than the ones in the tested load data. I tried seating as short as they listed, and all but one of my guns had feed issues with them hanging up on the feed ramp.

Telling the load would help. Also if you were using heavier bullets it can increase the perceived recoil impulse a bit. Though with 9mm the loads I use with BE have a .4 grain range from start to max. They feel about like standard WWB for recoil. Though they tend to shoot more consitantly than the WWB considerably. Way fewer fliers in the groups.
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