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Old December 23, 2013, 06:12 PM   #26
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I'd say it depends on the mechanical aptitude of the individual.
Well, this is very true I have known people who have no business reloading on any kind of press.
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Old December 23, 2013, 06:42 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Nick_C_S View Post
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.

I'm with Nick...I personally enjoy loading on my single stage press. Granted, I haven't done it nowhere near as long he has, I still enjoy the process of the single stage.

I have looked at getting a progressive, but only because I load pistol for both my mom and dad, but also my father-in-law. So getting a progressive has almost become a necessity of sorts, otherwise I'll never get to load for myself. LOL.

I think a beginner should start with a single stage to help learn the process. If they get into rifle, then the single stage will really come in handy.
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Old December 23, 2013, 07:16 PM   #28
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New to forum and new to reloading. My brother and I have looked at different presses and watched countless youtube videos. In looking back do not regret at all going with a progressive press. We ended up getting a Dillon 550b and we are currently reloading 9mm and 45acp. It has been a learning curve but I feel we both are looking at all the individual stations closely and can't see going to a single stage press. In fact, we will eventually end up getting a 650 down the road. YMMV

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Old December 23, 2013, 07:33 PM   #29
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When I started reloading about 1 year ago I had to make the decision on weather to get a progressive press or a single stage press. At that time we where shooting about 1000+ rounds a month. So I decided to get 2 Square Deal "B" progressive presses from Dillon.

I have no regrets for starting with a progressive press. When I first set them up I ran them as a single stage presses until I got familiar with the process. I did have some minor issues at first but I feel I could have had these same issues with a single stage press.

Now that we are shooting 1500+ rounds a month I am looking at adding a third press the Dillon Super 1050 to my reloading setup.

If I am asked by people wanting to start reloading what press to get I always suggest that they consider a progressive press.

I currently reload the following rounds. .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, 9 mm, .45 Long Colt, .45 ACP and .40 caliber.
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Old December 23, 2013, 07:43 PM   #30
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The Dillon 550 is probably the easiest progressive press to learn on. Since the advance is done manually you can easily use it as a single stage press when starting out. You can then proceed to loading one round from start to finish. Once that is working well you can start using it as a progressive press.

Using a single stage or turret press is the normal press most people start loading on. I think if a person is planning to load large amounts of pistol ammo it might be better to start on a 550. At least it would be cheaper in the long run.

The hardest part of starting on a 550 is getting the new reloader to not try to use the press as a progressive until they are fully understanding each step in the process and have learned how best to watch what is going on and taking things slowly.

I think a 550 can be a good starting press for people loading pistol ammo. I base this on many pistol reloaders tend to load a fair amount of ammo. It also can work well for a person that has been reloading for quite some time. It is my opinion, a person planning to load rifle or rifle and low amounts of pistol ammo might be better served with a single stage press or possible a turret. There is not going to be a perfect press that will fit the needs or desires of every new person getting into reloading. This is why there are so many companies and so many different presses available.
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Old December 23, 2013, 07:53 PM   #31
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I started out on a lee pro 1000, which from what I understand is a piece of junk if you listen to a lot of reviews. It can be a lil fussy to work with at times, but it you take your time setting it up you will save yourself a bunch of headaches. I probably spent 2 weeks when I first got my press, setting it up, taken my time maken dummy rounds, tweeken it, going over everything again and again. Maken sure I had it set properly and now I can set it up for the calibers I load fairly quickly less than 30 minutes(I don't like to rush things) . I shoot pistol, so the progressive allows me to load alot of round fairly quickly and not take all night doing it.

So the answer to your question is, it depends, some people can pick it up and other won't. I honestly believe if your loaden pistol calibers only progressive is teh way to go, as other have said if your loaden rifle , you will eventually want a single stage anyway. So starten out on a single stage may be the way yo go. What ever you deside works for you just remember take yoru time read your manuals, doulb check everything and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun after all good luck and welcome to the addiction.
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Old December 24, 2013, 03:53 AM   #32
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my LnL AP was my first press, it was a bit of a steep learning curve, as I had to figure out the press, and reloading itself, at the same time. I figured it out after a few minor issues and broken part or two.
I knew I wanted a progressive for its pistol ammo production capability, but since most people will get a single stage for rifle as well, I would recommend going with a single stage till you are comfortable.
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Old December 24, 2013, 08:25 AM   #33
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Started years ago with a single stage, Still run a single stage, See no reason at all to ever change. I size and seat bullet at press,all other steps are done at a different table. 2 pulls on the handle are all I need. One to knock primer out and size,second to seat bullet. Never been in a hurry to load,I enjoy all stages with the exception of case trimming and chamfering.
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Old December 24, 2013, 11:23 AM   #34
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I think every reloader should own a single stage press, and more than likely most of them do.

Buy the Progressive first or after your single stage, I don't think it matters. I own and operate a Hornady LNL, I also own and operate a RCBS RockChucker. There are several jobs I do, that can only be done on the RockChucker so I will always have a need for it.

I do all of my cast bullet sizing, de-bulging, BHN testing jobs on the RC and I wouldn't be able to do it on the LNL.

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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 December 24, 2013, 12:15 PM   #35
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Example; you're 15 years old and want to drive a car. Would you start learning in a 3 axel Peterbuilt with twin sticks and no power steering, or a Toyota Corolla with auto trans? You can learn to drive in both, but which will be the least frustrating, and which will give you a better learning experience (learning the finer points of driving)?

Sure almost anybody can learn to reload on a progressive, but learning the press plus learning reloading is very often frustrating and extends the learning process much longer than necessary. Most of the time beginning on a progressive will just give the user "shootable" ammo, and it'll take much longer to learn the "finer points" of reloading than if one starts simple...

Progressive presses definitely have their place for shooters needing a lot of ammo in little time, but not as a teaching tool.

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Old December 24, 2013, 12:35 PM   #36
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If you're 15 years old, and want to drive a 3 Axle Peterbuilt with twin sticks and no power steering, should you buy a Smart Car, or a 3 Axle Peterbuilt with twin sticks, and no power steering?

You can try and warp the analogy all you want, but there's a difference between learning to drive a car on a big truck, and learning to drive a big truck because you want/need the big truck. Just like there's a difference between learning to reload on a single stage/progressive because you want to reload, or learning on a progressive because you want to load a high volume of rounds and need/want a progressive.
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Old December 24, 2013, 02:03 PM   #37
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I can see both sides, personally, but I think a single stage is not a good choice if you plan on doing *any* kind of volume. If you are gonna load for a bolt gun to go shoot a deer, they are fine, but if you are loading for a pistol to shoot cans at the range it's a bad choice and won't grow with your skill.

Even for rifle I'd get a turret as a first press (I'm a big fan of the Lee turret) because it forces you to deal with the processes one at a time curtailing new toy haste to some extent. But you will have a *very* flexible press if you decide to get a progressive in the future.

Ultimately getting a progressive first can be a problem if it's your only press since the progressives don't take shell holders, but shell plates. There will be operations that you will REALLY wish you had a second press rather than monkey around in the works of a dialed in progressive.

If this approach is taken, there is not going to be much regret, because the turret is a LOT faster than a single stage (and has easy repeatable accuracy since the dies stay in the turret) and you will have a tool that goes nicely hand in hand with the progressive if you decide the turret is too slow. And the turret might be fast *enough* for some folks.

FWIW I got a single stage and it for me felt like a horrendous waste of time. Then I got a progressive and discovered that I needed a second press and quickly got tired of fiddling with dies in the single stage and got a Lee Turret which is my favorite press even though I only use it for support operations. This progression of loading press purchases was HIGHLY ineffective for me. But it was a learning experience that hopefully will save someone else some wasted time.

For me it should have been: 1. Turret 2. Progressive 3. Dillon primer swage instead of single stage
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Old December 24, 2013, 03:07 PM   #38
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The Driving Car/Truck analogy

Jim Dandy (post 35 from Mikld and yours, post 36)

Is there any truck-driving school that will take a studen who does not already know how to operate a car? If there is, would they put said student into a truck or into a car or a simulator for first lessons?

The analogy is good as far as it goes. But keep also in mind that many, if not most novice loaders these days do not have a mentor in the room with them, but are learning from the equipments' owner's manuals (at a minimum), a few loading manuals and youtube videos.

There is no substitute for closely observing (and FEELING the forces that go into) each step. While you can do this with a progressive, it is much easier to do on a single stage or a turret. With a single stage or a turret, only the ram/shellholder/case is moving during the operation,

If you are talking about the learning process, there is no need for a progressive, as loading will be one operation at a time (absent extraordinary circumstances).

If you are considering a loader who will WITH CERTAINTY change up to a progressive in a short time, there is no need to start with a single/turret press.

In either case, the student should only load one operation at a time while learning.

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Old December 24, 2013, 03:22 PM   #39
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My press history is similar to totalloser (post 37), but my evaluation of the experience is diametrically opposite. Single-stage to progressive to turret was VERY valuable to me.

I never wonder if I want a progressive (except when I think of Dillon, sometimes). I very seldom set up my single stage. My turret takes care of my needs perfectly and it suits my personal style.

If I were to teach someone to load, though, I would use the single stage (without quick-change bushings) over the turret or a progressive. Reason? Setting up and adjusting dies is something only swapping dies often teaches you.

Having learned to adjust my dies every time I loaded (using my RockChucker) I retain the muscle memory of how it feels to set the proper crimp. If I had learned on a quick-change bushing single stage or an interchangeable-head turret or progressive, I would not have had the practice to get that muscle memory. Of course, I had more time on my hands back then.

"Slow learning is thorough learning." (to coin a phrase)

Thanks for reading my little bit of philosophy

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Old December 24, 2013, 03:45 PM   #40
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Lost sheep, I was actually pointing out the original truck/car analogy started to go apples and oranges. While comparing cars to single stage, and trucks to progressives was good as far as it goes, it then went on to move the goal post to driving a car, rather than which vehicle was the right one to buy for what goals.

And as I've already pointed out, the feel of a single stage doing one operation will be different than the feel of a progressive doing 4 or more.

I don't think there's any great benefit to learning on one or the other. I do agree you should stick to one operation at a time while learning. But I don't think we should tell anyone who wants a progressive they should spend money on a single stage first. We don't know their financials, and that sort of decision is a financial one.

We all know from history that most people who get a progressive also have a single stage. Some don't. I'm not comfortable telling someone to drop an extra hundred and a quarter or more for a single stage, plus parts they may not need i.e. a thrower, a mount for the thrower, etc. to learn how to make pistol rounds on a single stage for a few months and miss out of that great deal on a progressive press.
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Old December 24, 2013, 04:53 PM   #41
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It is fair to say there is more than one way to look at it.
On another thread,tactics,maybe,someone referred to "unconscious competence"
There is a progression of learning:Unconscious incompetence,Conscious incompetence,conscious competence,unconscious competence.

Given,incompetence in reloading can have disasterous consequences,

A good case can be made for simplicity.

It is generally accepted that distraction is to be avoided at the loading bench.

If the new loader is trying to learn the process of reloading from a loading manual,the press and die instructions,and youtube,then dealing with one simple issue at a time is quite enough.

Some suggest you can run a progressive as a single stage(Dillon 550).No argument.

Cost,well,you can get a light duty ,entry level press for $40 or so.It WILL do the job for learning the process of reloading.

If you have 1000 .556 military crimped brass,you can stroke your progressive press 1000 times to use a universal decap die to knock the primers out,or,yoy can move over to your single stage press.

A run of 40 rds of big game ammo can be set up and run in a progressive,or knocked out in a single stage.

Its not black and white.I have two single stage presses and a progressive on my bench.I have a powder measure between the two single stage presses.

In press one,I can with one operation size,decap,and prime.It has an auto primer feed.

The powder measure is between presses.I can charge,and stick it in the next press and seat a bullet.

I have slightly twisted the press mounting so the egonomics of stroking the press work out from one seat position..

Take your pick,its not worth a whizzing contest,its a preference.There isn't an absolute right/wrong answer.

IMO,progressive press or not,a single stage press on the bench is always useful.Its not a waste of money.

IMO,an entry level handloader has enough to focus on if he/she has one simple thing at a time to watch and understand.How you get there,even with a Dillon 550,is up to the person spending the money.

IMO,once unconscious competence in basic reloading is achieved,then the progressive process is a next step.

If possible,much of the learning can take place at an experienced reloaders bench without buying any equiptment.
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Old December 24, 2013, 05:41 PM   #42
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Many good points made in this thread. I believe that anyone that makes a serious DIY decision to start handloading probably is competent enough to master a progressive press. So the real decision becomes your volume needs. If you are a pistol shooter & like shooting your .45 ACP with a quart jar of bullets instead of a box or an AR enthusiast that likes doing mag-dumps with his 5.56, why not get the right equipment up front. But if you are a rifle only kind of guy, the single stage stuff will suit you just fine & would probably have end up being your first choice any way.


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Old December 24, 2013, 05:41 PM   #43
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I think a turret press is the way to start.
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Old December 24, 2013, 05:47 PM   #44
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I'm way past the "crumugeon" stage in my life....but I don't think there is any reason a new loader cannot learn on a progressive machine - and do it smartly - and well - both short term and long term.

I have no need for a single stage press ....and I've been reloading off and on for over 50 yrs....but a Dillon 650 with a case feeder is a much better press than any single stage out there today....its accurate, a solid investment and will do a large volume if that's what the shooter wants or needs.

I shoot a lot of handgun ammo / even though my competition days are long past me...but I average about 12 boxes a week in a variety of calibers ( 9mm, .40S&W, .45 acp, .38 spl, .357 Mag and .44 mag )...and the Dillon 650 keeps me well stocked. I like to reload / but I like to shoot more ....and I'm much happier with a high quality press that will crank out 15 - 20 boxes and hour, of high quality rounds, in an hour ...than spending half a day doing the same thing.

Its not about speed....its about quality and safe and accurate ammo ...

Like others have said --- you can make a good argument that a single stage has so many steps ( where human hands touch ) ...that a single stage has way more chance of an error ...than a good progressive machine. But dummies can make dangerous - squibs etc...on single stages and on progressives. Reloading requires attention to detail ...knowing and understanding every aspect of your press - and each stage in the reloading process - a good clean bench -- and good clean procedures.

At my local range this past weekend...a newbie reloader blew up a Ruger revolver in .44 mag ...with his reloads ( no one was hurt bad / couple of cuts ) ....but he's a new shooter - and a new loader....using a single stage RCBS press...and he had some squibs ( and he knew he had some --- he said he fired 4 or 5 squibs he said, out of one box ) ....before he blew up the gun / and inspection showed at least one bullet lodged in the barrel...when it blew...

Would he have been in worse shape on a progressive ...yes, probably ....because he had no idea what he was doing / and probably shouldn't be reloading.

But some guys read manuals.....and ask a lot of out a mentor to help them...and are careful as they get into reloading / and they don't need a single stage press that's going to give them one box an hour..or even less...
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Old December 24, 2013, 06:12 PM   #45
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(Re: Posts 35, 36, 38 and 40)
My apologies, Jim Dandy. I read into your post a slightly different focus than you intended.

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Old December 24, 2013, 06:18 PM   #46
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....and he had some squibs ( and he knew he had some --- he said he fired
4 or 5 squibs he said, out of one box ) ....before he blew up the gun...
Oh Lord.....

God does protect fools, drunks and little children... but He has to work overtime on occasion.
Merry Christmas.. and God bless us every one.
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Old December 24, 2013, 08:16 PM   #47
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Also think like Nick. I've been reloading for about twenty something rounds and loaded thousands upon thousands. Still got my first RCBS rockchucker As well got another same setup and gave to my son. Progressives may be nice, never seen one, never used one and have no desire to change. Progressives just not for me but I do think everyone should learn the basics before plunging in head first.
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Old December 24, 2013, 09:17 PM   #48
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People defend what they have, because they invest too much of their self-judgment in the decisions they've made, so everyone here will be biased, for the most part.

So, the obvious thing to do is get both.
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Old December 24, 2013, 09:38 PM   #49
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I believe people (most) could have whichever they choose. I believe they have what they have because it fits their needs its how they like to reload.
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Old December 24, 2013, 10:15 PM   #50
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I have been loading now for a little over five years. I started on a progressive and had a couple of squibs. Never blew up a gun, but did get a bullet stuck in a barrel. I backed up and started using the progressive in single stage which I liked much better. Then I got a single stage which I use exclusively now. It allows me to inspect each step on each cartridge closely. Maybe I am too obsessive but I do have good ammo! The only concern I have is are the primers good.
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