There are some questions that just seem to come up all the time. I’ll highlight some of these questions in a new category of posts here on Ultimate Reloader : Q&A. Here goes our first question:
Equipment, where do I start?
Once a shooter decides they want to reload their own ammunition, one of the important questions they will need to ponder is what type of reloading press they should buy to get started reloading with. There are single stage presses, turret presses, and progressive presses to choose from. There are presses that manually index, presses that auto-index, and presses that don’t index at all. A shooter will typically ponder: “Should I start out simple, or go straight for a more elaborate setup?”.
In the “Info Center” here on Ultimate Reloader (home page, left bar), you will find a few articles that collectively answer most of the considerations for this question:
To summarize what these articles talk about, I’ll start by outlining the tree different types of presses:
The Single Stage Press
A single stage press holds one die, and has a shellholder that holds one shell casing. This press is the simplest type, but is the most time consuming to use typically.
The Turret Reloading Press
A turret reloading press is much like a single stage press, with the exception that on the top of the press, there exists a revolving turret that allows multiple dies to be installed on a press at the same time. Dies can be “indexed” into position (either manually or automatically). The turret press can be quicker to use than a single stage due to the die indexing feature, but is in most ways similar to a single stage.
The Progressive Reloading Press
The progressive reloading press is more complex than single stage and turret presses, but offers a much higher throughput rate. These presses take longer to setup, and are more prone to misfeeds, jams, and other stoppages. Progressive reloading presses also require more expensive parts in order to add new cartridges to your reloading portfolio.
So you may be thinking: Gavin, just tell me what to buy! Well, it’s not quite that simple as most purchasing decisions are not. (Too bad.) Depending on what you plan to load for, your mechanical aptitude, and other factors, there’s a “right type of press” for you. Here, I’ll focus on “progressive versus non-progressive” as those are the two major categories for types of reloading presses.
Take the survey:
Here are reasons that you may want to start with a non-progressive (single-stage or turret):
- You are mainly focused on loading rifle ammunition
- Precision is a primary focus
- You enjoy spending time reloading, and do not feel constrained on time
Here are reasons that you may want to start with a progressive:
- You are mainly focused on loading pistol ammunition
- Speed and quantity are important
- You need to make the most of your time
- You are good at tinkering and fiddling with machines
I do want to underscore one point here: Reloading pistol ammunition on a single stage (and even a turret) takes a lot of time! That’s why I do suggest that first time reloaders start with a progressive if they can take their time, work single rounds at a time (to get started), and they have mechanical abilities. This does not fit everyone, but can certainly be a good way to get started. On the contrary, if you are slow and methodical, starting with a non-progressive could be the right thing for you even if you are loading pistol.
There’s certainly more to it than that, but this gives you some factors to think about. If you do decide to start with a progressive, it would be valuable to have an experienced friend help you get things going. Another idea for first time press owners that have decided to start with a progressive would be to use a friend’s single stage to learn how to load a box of ammo. If you do the “one-box single stage” route, you’ll learn a lot from that experience, and have an easier time getting your progressive up and going. You will also want to watch videos (like the ones on this website) regardless of what type of press you decide to buy.
The best way to get going is to do just that (go for it)! Once you gain momentum and learn the ropes, you’ll have a lot of fun reloading ammunition. Just remember to be safe!
Do you want to submit a question for Q&A? Please leave a comment!
**Follow-up: I’ve posted a “Part II” blog post follow-up that includes a video showing each type of press discussed here!