Sometimes less is more. Many presses are large, bulky, and very heavy. However, from time to time, a handloader may want a smaller, lighter press. The RCBS Partner Press is an interesting alternative to large, heavy presses.
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What’s in the Box
The box was suspiciously small and light. I couldn’t imagine it contained a reloading press!
A detailed set of instructions accompanied the tiny cast aluminum single-stage press along with the handle and a small plastic bag of parts for the on-press priming arm. The ram and linkage are steel.
About the RCBS Partner Press
I tend to like compact handloading gear. This may be left over from my days as a Marine, getting transferred frequently and often ending up somewhere with little room for a handloading bench and equipment. Compact gear has a place in the reloading world, particularly quality gear backed by a good warranty. The RCBS Partner Press can be counted as such.
If you are looking for a great reloading press look no further than the RCBS Partner Press. The Partner Press is loaded with great features like a 4″ operating window and 3.5″ stroke. It is incredibly durable and versatile making it a great press for a beginner or a handloader looking to add a second press to their bench. The lightweight and compact size make this press very portable so it can be used at the range. Need a second press? Give the Partner Press a try, you will not be disappointed.
- 4″ Operating Window
- 3.5″ Stroke
Setting up and Mounting the RCBS Partner Press
One thing I didn’t expect was having to use a hammer to pound the primer arm pin into the press! This wasn’t a complex task, just unexpected. I’m sure that Gavin would have used some more sophisticated means to press it into the aluminum casting, but the instructions said to use a hammer, and I did so. Once it was properly installed — with the help of our videographer Tyler — the priming system worked very well. A straightened paper clip or a thin allen wrench is useful for properly installing the primer plug, sleeve and spring. I used a thin allen wrench this time.
We decided to mount it to a wooden block to work with the Ultimate Reloader bench system. A drill and an impact driver smoothed that process, but non-powered hand tools would work just fine as well.
Demonstrating the Partner Press
This is always an interesting part of using brand new equipment. I hadn’t even seen the Partner Press before video day here at Ultimate Reloader. I decided to work with 30-06, a cartridge I’m quite familiar with, so I rounded up the appropriate RCBS 30-06 die set from the rather impressive die collection here at Ultimate Reloader.
Considering the compact size of the Partner Press, I was curious about the amount of force I’d need to resize the brass. I shouldn’t have worried. Lubed with Imperial Sizing Die wax, the cases slipped right into the RCBS die for resizing and decapping.
Something that often doesn’t get enough attention is the primer catcher. Most presses have them, but some seem like an afterthought and don’t work very well, sending spent primers bouncing all over the floor. Others work very well. I was impressed with the primer catcher on the RCBS Partner Press — someone put some thought into it. I was fascinated by how nicely the primer arm followed the ram and ended up in the proper place to prime the cartridge case.
Tip: be sure to keep your fingers free of case lube, so as not to contaminate the primers.
My load has been proven and worked well for me for some time.
- 178 grain Hornady ELD-X bullets
- 59 grains of Ramshot Hunter powder
- once-fired Norma brass
The RCBS Chargemaster Lite dispensed the 59 grains I programmed quite quickly without much waiting time. Seating the long Hornady ELD-X bullet was quite smooth.
RCBS presses are generally big, strong, heavy duty, cast iron presses. I started with them in the 1970’s and still use my old RCBS Rockchucker press all these years later. This press is different. It is compact and lightweight, and it’s currently the most affordable RCBS press. This press is ideal for several people: beginners who want an inexpensive press, veteran handloaders who want a second press for a single purpose like decapping, and those who want a portable press for handloading at the range. I seldom handload at the range but this compact and lightweight press would work splendidly for it!
Here at Ultimate Reloader we are fortunate to have a “micro cabin” up on the ridge, a place to get out of the elements and hang out or handload. The loading area is small, and this compact press would work fine there.
My own loading bench at home is compact, without little space for excess. I enjoy using more compact presses there and perhaps I’ll take this little press home to use for a while.
If a lightweight, compact reloading press suits your needs, this is certainly one to consider.
Get the Gear
RCBS lists it at $209.99 MSRP
Midsouth Shooters Supply. offers it at the considerable discount of $119.99
The Partner Press is also offered in a reloading kit.
Hornady’s sleek ELD-X is already a proven performer.
Ramshot Hunter works well with a wide variety of cartridges, including the 30-06.
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