Most shooters know that making your own custom ammunition will increase your accuracy, whether you’re shooting a handgun, a rifle, or a shotgun. No doubt, making something by yourself can be very rewarding, and being able to use the things you make is even better. You will be able to customize your bullets, so every time you go to the range you will shoot with increased accuracy. But many of them don’t know they don’t have to make them manually and that they can use a reloading press to speed up the process. But did you know that using the best reloading press can also substantially lower the amount of money you spend on ammunition? Besides helping you spend less money on ammunition, a refilling press will also provide a nice and productive way of spending your time.
The following article will present the main types of refilling presses, how they should be used, and the advantages of using each filling system. We will explain how each reloading press works and how it can help you lower your shooting costs, so you will be able to make an informed decision about buying or not buying a model for your workshop by the end of the article. Our reloading press reviews will analyze six of the best current selling models and reveal the pros and cons for every one of them, so you can decide which is the reloading press that best suits your needs.
Nevertheless, you might think that using a reloading press is easy, but you’re making bullets, after all! And since making bullets has many dangers and risks, so make sure you check out our security and safety section. We provide detailed explanations on how to make your bullets safely and what safety measures you should take every time you’re making them.
Lee Precision II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA
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RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press
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Lee Precision Anniversary Challenger Kit II
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Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit
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Lee Reloading Press 90045
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Hornady Auto-Progressive Reloading Press
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Best Reloading Press Reviews
1. Lee Precision II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA
This self-contained shotshell press is probably the best model out there for beginners. If you didn’t load your own shells until now, but you think you have the time and the patience for it this is probably the best press for you. The press can load both 2 3/4” and 3” 12-gauge shell with powder bushings and 24 shots. After you get used to using this reloading press you should be able to fill 100 shells or more in an hour, and you can use it for standard shells, trap shells, and slugs. The press will create nice scrimps on the shells, and once you get used to it, you’ll make factory quality shells, or even better.
- Great Value – This reloading press can make very nice shells, and it’s one of the cheapest available on the market today, making it a great value product.
- Easy Setup – The press is easy to set up and you can start making good quality shells right after you unpack and mount it on your worktable.
- Long Handle – The depressing handle is long, and it needs to go about two inches lower than the press to fill the shells properly. This means you’ll have to mount the reloading press on the edge of the workbench, making the surface behind it unusable.
2. RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press
This single-stage refilling press is very strong and versatile, making it a good choice for both beginners and experienced refillers alike. The lengthened design will allow you to use this press for refilling longer cartridges. This refilling press is extremely sturdy. It weighs over 20 pounds, and it has a rugged look. The operating lever is made out of 3/4” steel, so it’s safe to say that the press and all of its components are made out of heavy-duty materials. The press is well finished and the operation is smooth. The press is easy to set up, but since it weighs a lot, you might want to fasten it tightly to your workbench so you can prevent it from tipping forward and probably hurt you in the process.
- Durable – This refilling press is nice and heavy, made out of heavy-duty parts. You will be able to use it for a long time without having to worry about a faulty component.
- Great Customer Service – This product benefits from great customer service. The taking care of this service will answer your emails and phone calls promptly and will give you all the information you need.
- Bad Primer Catcher – This press has a bad primer catcher and many of the spent primers will end up on the floor rather than in it.
3. Lee Precision Anniversary Challenger Kit II
This reloading press uses a single-stage system to fill your shells. This press is very popular and it is one of the best single stage presses available on the market today. The press might not seem much at a first glance, but all the parts are well designed and the press comes with a funnel to help you fill the case and a scale to make sure the shell has the exact weight you want. This press would also be a good choice for someone inexperienced in reloading cases because you can use it to understand the loading process better before you go on to better and more complicated presses.
- Strong Frame – This reloading press has a very strong frame, and you should be able to use it for a very long time. The frame increases the press’ durability.
- Great Value – Even though this is a single-stage refilling press, it’s very good. You can load different caliber loads, and you can measure the amount of powder poured in each round with high precision.
- Slow – This is a single stage reloading press, so you will need patience if you’re going to fill a lot of loads. Experienced reloaders can make about 50 rounds every hour, sometimes even less than that.
4. Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit
This is one of the best-rated turret reloading presses available in 2021. The press is made out of durable materials, and the base is made out of cast iron for increased stability and durability. The difference between a turret reloading press and a single stage press is that a turret press uses four separate revolving dies at the top and a ram at the bottom. You place the casing on the ram, you crank the lever, and the ram goes into the first die. When you pull back the crank, the ram goes down, and the turret spins, bringing the second die over it. This process is repeated until your bullet is complete.
- Quick Refilling – Once you get used to the turret operation and find a rhythm, you will be able to make up to 250 handgun rounds every hour.
- Easy To Adapt – If you want to refill different caliber bullets on the same day, there’s no need to change the dies. All you have to do is to change the turret. The whole process of changing the turret shouldn’t take you more than 30 seconds.
- Quickness Can Lead To Faults – The disadvantage of working fast is not paying very much attention to what you’re doing. That may lead to misaligning between the dire and the primer.
5. Lee Reloading Press 90045
This single-stage refilling press is constructed out of aluminum alloy. The press’ C-frame design offers unlimited hand clearance and the ergonomically designed lever can be used with both the left and the right hand. The press is breech-lock enabled, so you won’t have to readjust your die every time you switch it. The breech-lock feature will keep your dies adjusted inside the breech lock bushings, making the change of a die very easy to do with just a switch on the wrist. This reloading press is able to accept any press shell holders, as long as they’re universal standard sized, and the threaded die adapter will accept 7/8 – 14 thread dies. The press’ design makes it good at bullet sizing, decapping, and bullet seating.
- Good For Large Caliber Cases – This reloading press is easy to operate and the mechanical advantage of the C frame and the lever will allow you to size larger caliber cases with less effort.
- Ideal For Decapping – This press is small and cheap, so you can use it with great results as a secondary press. It can be used for decapping in a well-ventilated space, where all the soot produced can stay out of your workshop.
- Powder Coating Scratches Easily – This reloading press is powder coated so it can withstand rust and humidity, but the coating peels off easily.
6. Hornady Auto-Progressive Reloading Press
This progressive refilling press is user-friendly and very easy to operate, but it wouldn’t be the best choice for a beginner, as the quickness of the operation and the pace set by the press can at some points become overwhelming. This five station reloading press allows you to switch between handgun and rifle dies, check dies, bullet seaters, powder dies, and crimp dies without necessarily changing the whole die head. Once the cartridge is complete, the press’s patented ejection system will reliably take it out of the way of the next one automatically. This progressive press can fill up to 500 rounds every hour, and the bushing system allows you to change between calibers like .45 and .223 in under 5 minutes.
- Very Quick – If you want a reloading press to refill bullets for all your family and friends, or maybe if you want to make some bucks out of your refilling skills, this is the press for you. With a refilling rate of up to 500 rounds per hour, this is one of the fastest refilling systems around.
- Large Capacity Hopper – This press has a large capacity hopper, so you will need to refill it rarely, even if you use it often.
- Lots Of Moving Parts – This reloading press has a lot of moving parts, so it can have higher maintenance costs
What Is The Reloader That Best Suits Your Needs?
Finding the right refilling press is not just a matter of finding the cheapest, the fastest, or the most durable one. You need to find the one that best suits your needs. In the following section, we explain which features you should look for in a reloading press.
The type of the refilling press will determine how fast you can reload your cases, but it will also determine the amount of manual labor you have to put in the reloading process.
- Single Stage Press – This type of refilling press is the first one that appeared, and people are still using it mainly because of one reason – It gets the job done. Most single press refilling presses have sturdy frames and a few moving parts, which usually makes them more durable than their more mobile counterparts. They are usually cheaper than other refilling presses and they can be adjusted to refill multiple caliber cases. They take longer to operate, but once you get the hang of it, you will be able to refill up to 100 rounds every hour, if you’re filling handgun cases, and less than 50 if you’re filling shotgun shells.
- Turret Refilling Press – The turret refilling presses are easy to use, and they are faster at refilling than single-stage presses. They have more mobile parts, so there are higher chances of something going amiss than with a single-stage press, but they’re usually very sturdy and durable nonetheless. Turret reloading presses are easy to use, and they can be used by both beginner and experienced refillers with great results. This kind of presses is faster to use, and you will be able to reload more bullets in an hour than you would with a single-stage press. An experienced reloader will be able to refill about 250 bullets in an hour.
- Progressive Reloading Press – A progressive refilling press is the best choice for an experienced or professional refiller. Unlike a turret press which has a spinning top, the progressive press has a spinning bottom, and you’ll be able to make a bullet from start to bottom in a five-step progression, so as each bullet is finished another one which only has one step remaining until it’s finished takes its place. These presses cost more, but they’re also more efficient. An experienced refiller can make up to 500 handgun rounds every hour, so this type of refilling press might be something you might want in a gunsmith’s shop. The only downside of using a progressive refilling press is that it has multiple moving parts, and in time these might need some maintenance operations.
- Operating Mode
Different types of refilling presses operate in different ways and you need to understand how each works to find out which is better suited to your needs.
- Single Stage Press – This is the simplest operating mode. For every stage of the refilling, you will need to manually do an operation. First of all, you need to take the case and secure it on the ram using the shell holder, then you need to put a primer in it’s bottom to make sure your powder won’t leak. The priming can be done separately, but most modern presses use priming attachments. You will have to put a different die on the top of the press every time you do a different operation. This is the slowest way of refilling bullets, but the advantage of using a single-stage press is that you can adapt it for most of the existing calibers. They are also cheap
- Turret Reloading Press – Unlike a single-stage press, a turret press doesn’t need to die changes during your refilling. You select the dies you’ll need for the case’s specific caliber at the beginning of the operation and your car refill as many rounds as you would like. When you activate the press’ lever, the ram goes up. When it comes down, the turret automatically turns to the next die in the process. Pull the lever, the ram goes up, and the process is repeated. This way of refilling is quick and efficient. You will be able to reload many rounds each hour, and you will be able to refill hundreds of them each hour in a short time.
- Progressive Refilling Press – This is the fastest way of filling your rounds. The progressive press is loaded with 5 cases at one time, and each case turns and goes under one die when you activate the ram. When a bullet is ready, it is ejected from the press, and you have to put an empty case in its place. The whole process is semi-automated, and all you need to do is put the empty cases at the beginning, and the bullet on the filled case near the end. With experience, you will be able to fill hundreds of rounds every hour. The major advantage of this system is the refilling speed. In fact, the reloading capacity is so high, only people who shoot hundreds of rounds at the range each week, or those who refill the rounds for more people will ever need it.
How To Use Your Reloading Press Kit Securely & Safely?
Loading your rounds can make a dramatic change in the amount of money you spend on ammunition. Even if you use a reloading press only for handgun rounds, you will still save a lot of money, but the larger the caliber of the case or shell you’re filling, the more you save. Refilling your rounds might seem simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. In fact, if you don’t respect a set of rules, you might end losing some fingers, or even worse. Every time you refill around, you’re exposing yourself to several risks. The following section will explain the risks and how to avoid them.
- Select Your Reloading Data Carefully
It’s very important that you choose the right data for your refilling. If you use different components than the ones you should, or if you choose different quantities than you should, you could end up harming yourself and those around you. If you fill a handgun round with the wrong kind of powder, or if you load it over it’s recommended limits, you can end up blowing up the gun in your hands or in your face. Keep the following rules in mind every time you’re filling rounds.
- Carefully select the components to match the ones recommended by the manufacturer.
- Check online or use a reloading manual to find out the recommended load data
- Check online reviews for tips – They can actually lead to a better performance sometimes.
- Cross-reference two sources – you can always check more than two sources, just to make sure
- Record your loading data and your shooting experience. If you adjust the load data using one reference or another, make sure you note the reference and load.
- Use Eye Protection
Eye protection will keep all sorts of debris away from your eyes, but it will also protect them in the case of a primer explosion.
- Keep A Clean Work Space
This is not about tidiness, it’s about preventing accidents. You don’t want to grab and sure something you shouldn’t when you’re concentrating on filling your rounds, now would you?
- Take Your Time
This is not about the filling process alone. Take your time when you’re preparing your workbench, so you have everything arranged and properly placed. Every component of the round should be properly labeled and placed. Keep in mind that every different component can come in different calibers, as well, so make sure you separate them from one another. Taking your time in preparation will enable you to work faster, so you will actually save time in the long run, and make more ammunition this way.
- Check Your Powder
You should always be aware of how much powder your rounds contain, especially if you’re using a turret or progressive filler. Sometimes you might end up filling a case too much, or you can but bullets on rounds that were not filled. This can lead to accidents and waste, so you make sure you check the powder from time to time.
- Check The Bullets Periodically
Whether you use a single-stage reloader or a progressive one, you should always check your rounds constantly. You should decide on how many to test depending on the amount of round you’re going to make at once. We recommend you check one out of every ten rounds.
- Don’t Mix Different Types Of Powder
Different types of powder can act differently, so make sure you don’t mix them.
- Use Gloves
Some bullets are made out of the lead, so you should always wear gloves when manipulating them and keep them away from your skin.
- Avoid Using The Shells Too Many Times
If you use the shell cases for too many times, they might crack and lead to accidents.
- Avoid Casting Your Own Bullets
Casting your own bullets can lead to accidents. You can inhale dangerous fumes, or you can cast them wrong and damage your barrel.
Planning to Have a Reloading Press on your Own?
Refilling your rounds has pros and cons. You have to decide if the pros outweigh the cons in your particular situation before deciding if you’re going to buy a reloading press.
- Costs: One of the main reasons people turn to make their own rounds is the overall cost of the ammunition. If you take the most common ammunition on the market and try to make it yourself, you might end up saving half the money. It’s true that you will have to buy a reloading press which will add to the overall production cost, but you will still end up saving a lot of money. But you have to ask yourself if it’s worth all the trouble. If you shoot a couple of hundred rounds every year, it’s clear that the overall cost of buying a reloading press and making your own rounds is not justified. On the other hand, if you shoot a couple of thousand or more rounds every year, making your own ammunition will definitely save you’re a lot of money.
- Accuracy: Unlike factory-made ammunition which has a standard level of power, custom-made ammunition can be adjusted to fit your needs to perfection. If you’re part of a shooting club, if you’re a law enforcement officer, or if you’re a sharpshooter in the military, you know that even a couple of grains of powder will influence the accuracy of your shot. But you have to wonder if you’re really one of the shooters who need custom ammunition. There is nothing wrong with regular ammunition, if your accuracy is good you will hit the target every time you shoot it. However, some scenarios might require some people to be more accurate. But are you one of them?
- The Filling Process: After talking with people who’ve been making their own ammunition for a long time, one thing became obvious. Most of them don’t care about the money they save, or how better their ammo is compared to the factory-made one. They care about the process. It’s relaxing to be engaged in a manufacturing process, and some people are actually using it as a way to relax after a long day or week at the job. However, other people bought a filling press a long time ago, and they only used it once or twice because they didn’t have the patience for it. You have to ask yourself if you’re really one of the people who can spend time doing the same thing for a long time.
- Dangers And Risks: Whenever you’re filling your own rounds, you’re exposing yourself to certain risks and dangers. Keep in mind that most accidents are caused by human error.
- Primer Explosions – This kind of accident are not often, but they can happen. While primer explosions might seem small, keep in mind that the primer usually represents 10% of the round’s charge, so it can hurt your fingers and eyes.
- Double Charge – This can happen more than you would think. It usually happens because after loading many rounds you start to lose track of which one is charged and which isn’t. This can lead to serious accidents.
- Not Enough Charge – Not filling the round enough can also be a danger. The round can get stuck in the barrel, and if you don’t notice you can fire another round which can lead to your barrel’s explosion.
- Using The Wrong Powder – If you switch between powder types and you don’t check the powder data carefully, you can provoke an accident even if you use the same amount of powder as you did before.
- Time Needed: Making your own ammunition can take a lot of time. Even if you use a progressive filling press, you will still spend tens of minutes, maybe hours filling your rounds every week, depending on how much you shoot. You have to make sure that time couldn’t be better used instead of spending it on making bullets.
Planning On Buying A Reloading Press – Think About It! Now that you know the pros and cons of filing your own rounds, you have to think of using a reloading kit will be an advantage for you, or if it won’t.
Best Reloading Press Comparison Chart
|Lee Precision II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA Load All||$$||8.6 x 19.2 x 3.6 inches||4 pounds|
|Lee Precision Anniversary Challenger Kit II||$$$||14.5 x 13.4 x 6.5 inches||11.2 pounds|
|Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit||$$$$||16.6 x 11.2 x 9.8 inches||6.6 pounds|
|Lee Reloading Press Md 90045||$||6.6 x 12.2 x 2.5 inches||2 pounds|
|Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press||$$$$$||10 x 19.6 x 14.2 inches||30.9 pounds|
|RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press||$$$||20 x 15 x 10 inches||19.8 pounds|
No matter how you look at it, making your own ammunition seems like a good idea. Even though it might cost more to buy all the tools and accessories you need to make the bullets, the overall cost of your ammunition will decrease, and you’ll actually end up saving money over time. Making your own bullets can also improve your shooting accuracy. Reading online reviews and guides can teach you how to improve the quality of your bullets revealing how much powder you should put in and more. Refilling your rounds can be a very pleasing and relaxing activity. You can get away from the stress of everyday life and just dive into your work, using it as a kind of meditation. A round filling can also improve your social life.
As soon as you start making your own bullets and putting them in close groups at the range, all your family and friends will want some too. You can either let them come over to your workshop and allow them to make the bullets themselves, or you can even make a little profit or take care of some chores by making the rounds for them. We’re confident that after you read our short unbiased reviews and the comprehensive buying guide, you’ll be able to decide which of the models we presented is the best reloading press for you. If you’re still not sure about buying a model, check our pros and cons section, and see if anything on the list makes your decision easier. Keep in mind that making your own bullets can be dangerous, so make sure you read our security and safety guidelines and follow our instructions, (you can also use a gun vise for more safety) so you can protect yourself and those around you and you have the right tactical gear.