Reloading presses come in many shapes and sizes, each with an intended purpose…
The most simple type of press is the single stage reloading press. This press holds one die at a time, typically has a very rigid frame, and is most commonly used for rifle reloading. The dies are screwed into an opening at the top of the press, and a shell holder is attached to the ram, which holds the cartridge case rim. When the lever is pushed down, the ram goes up, and the die acts on the case. Usually, priming is done separately with a hand priming setup, but some single stage presses have priming attachments. Single stage presses are the slowest in terms of completed rounds per hour, and for setup for die switching, etc.
The turret press is similar to the single stage press (one die acts on cartridge at a time) but holds multiple dies simultaneously so that you can manually index from one die to another quickly. Some turret presses can auto-index as well so that manual indexing is not required. Turret presses still require many strokes of the lever per completed round, but speed up the process with indexing capabilities. Turret presses can have more flex and therefore less precision for reloading compared to a single-stage press, but this is seldom and issue. A turret press can be a great starter press for the rifle or pistol reloader, or a great precision rig for the more experienced reloader.
Progressive Reloading Press
Progressive reloading presses produce a completed round for every cycle of the lever. This accomplished by using a shellplate which holds multiple cases simultaneously. When the ram is raised by pushing down on the lever, multiple processes happen at the same time. When the ram is cycled, the shellplate turns (indexes). Each shell is then ready for the next operation, and the last round is kicked into a completed round bin or chute. Some progressive presses index automatically (auto indexing progressive), and some require manual indexing (manual indexing progressive).
Progressive reloading presses are commonly used by pistol shooters, and semi-automatic rifle shooters (such as AR shooters loading .223 ammo). Progressive reloading presses can also be used for bolt action rifle loading, but due to the lower quantities involved, this type of loading is typically performed on a single stage press, or a turret type press.
Some progressive reloading presses are equipped with case feeder attachments. These case feeders automatically insert a case into the shellplate for each cycle of the lever. This can greatly speed up the reloading process. Case feeders can range from simple manually filled tube type feeders on up to motorized feeders that automatically refill the tube(s) (pictured above). Case feeders can increase the overall complexity of the press, and also require additional setup time for caliber changeovers, so they are suited best for bulk reloading operations.
Next: Choosing a press
Originally published 01/2009